Pura Vida: Part 4


Best of 2017

So.  2017 was an…interesting year.  So much craziness went on in the world (including, but not limited to, somebody’s President acting a fool constantly) but plenty of good things happened too!

Here’s is my list of personal highlights from 2017 (in no particular order):

  1. Getting back into acting…kinda:  I completed recording for my first lead role in an audio drama!  I’m used to acting for stage and screen, so doing just vocal work was new to me, but it was a fantastic experience.  And y’all–this story is SO GOOD.  I can’t wait for you to hear it.  Please check out Who Killed Julie?, debuting later this year!
  2. #relationshipgoals:  My boyfriend and I celebrated one year together!  Wonderful can’t even describe this man.  He has been so supportive and understanding (given my rocky last relationship) and I can’t imagine my life with out him.
  3. International travels:  It was a bit late in the year, but I went to Ontario, Canada for a work trip in December.  I had never been to Canada before and was excited to get another stamp on my passport.  I’d love to go back for fun instead of work (preferably in the summer months).
  4. Mommy/daughter Costa Rican extravaganza:  I guess technically this falls under international travels too, but it was so awesome I had to give it a special shout out.  My mother and I took a trip to Costa Rica in October that was so wonderful.  Look for more details on our adventures in a FOUR PART series next month!
  5. Three decades of life:  This year, I turned 30!  Honestly, I feel like I acted like a 30-year-old long before my actual birthday, so it is nice to have my age match my maturity level.  🙂  I’ve come a long way from that girl who first boarded a plane at the age of 16, who thought she’d live and die in the great commonwealth of Kentucky.  I’ve learned a lot along the way and I can’t see what the good Lord has in store for me for the next 30 years.
  6. My squirrel friend’s wedding, my other squirrel friend’s baby, and just general squirrel friend shenanigans:  This year I was blessed to see my good friends make awesome moves in life.  One had a daughter, who is now a DRDIT (Drag Race Diva In Training).  One got married in a beautiful ceremony in upstate New York (which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend).  One finally freed herself from an abusive relationship.  And so many called, texted, Skyped, or just hung out with me.
  7. Girls Trip:  If you haven’t seen it, you must.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever laughed that hard in a movie theater.
  8. StellaMy brand new car!  You know, after seven years, I finally feel safe driving in these Wisconsin winters.  It’s amazing.
  9. Workin’ on my fitness:  2017 marked one full year since I started working with my personal trainer.  I’ve lost 20 lbs so far (and improved my eating too)!
  10. Fully realizing the awesomeness of Amazon Prime:  “Why yes, I did order a dish drainer online.  Couldn’t I have just gone to the store and bought one?  Absolutely!  But…why?”

Tell me–what’s on your “Best of 2017” list?  What are you hoping to accomplish in 2018?

New Developments #100HappyDays

Day 60:  Developing new processes makes me happy.  I worked with a few coworkers to improve a process for getting trainer review for updates to our software and I think it’s going to make everybody’s job a lot easier.  No complaints there!

Day 61:  Seeing where my company is going next makes me happy.  I had the opportunity to preview some development coming in the next version of my company’s software, and it was so cool!  I never imagined I’d work in IT–especially healthcare IT–but I truly enjoy what I do.

Day 62-63:  Spending time with my parents makes me happy.  My parents were in Wisconsin for a motorcycle club event and I got to hang out with them!  I know I post a lot about my parents, but they really are the most wonderful people on the planet and any opportunity I have to see them is really special to me.  We went to a fun ’70s themed dinner and dance and then hung out in the RV talking until almost midnight.

Day 64:  Small classes make me happy.  I taught a class of 10 students today.  Most of our customer classes are somewhere between 20-30 students, so having this smaller class was a welcome reprieve.  Also, I feel like I’m able to really connect with each student when the class size is small–I like being able to answer out of scope questions and spend extra time with them one-on-one.

Day 65:  International travel makes me happy.  My sabbatical is in October, so my mom and I will be heading to…Costa Rica!  I had a call with my travel agent today to go over our itinerary and I am PUMPED!  My last jaunt to a foreign land wasn’t the best experience (Long story short:  I was racially profiled by a hotel employee and accused of being a prostitute.) but I’m really looking forward to this trip.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to traveling with my mom!  This chance to take her around the world is the least I can do to thank her for being the best mother ever.

Mail call! #100HappyDays

Day 59: Getting things in the mail makes me happy. 

Quick clarification: Getting things in the mail that aren’t bills makes me happy. 😉 I ordered some pictures to hang up in my home and they finally arrived! For so long, my walls have been bare. But my boyfriend’s recent home decorating inspired me to do a little decorating myself. Family, friends, travels, and of course my favorite drag queens–I’m covering the walls with them! 

Looks like I’m gonna need to do some thrifting to find frames for all these (and the ones I still need to order)…

Yes, the picture of me with RuPaul is an 8×10. To quote Queen B, “And I don’t feel bad about it.”

Solving Problems and Celebrating People #100HappyDays

Day 32:  Solving people’s problems makes me happy.  This was my last day of customer class this week, and I love seeing how our software will solve the problems people have at their organizations.  I spoke with a woman who was very excited about the provider suspension workflow she saw in class–apparently it would make her job much easier–and her excitement made me excited.  I know I didn’t develop the software, but being able to share it with customers and see their delight makes me happy.

Day 33:  Finalizing decisions makes me happy.  This day was a rough one.  I had a headache that just wouldn’t go away, a rough morning class, and a million things on my mind.  However, something did make me happy–I signed papers to purchase a new car!  I love my current car–I’ve had her since I graduated college–but she is not the best car for Wisconsin winters.   I’d been stressed about my car situation all winter, so finally making a decision on which car to get and getting everything signed was my happy point of the day.

Day 34:  #HomeownerProblems make me happy.  I know it’s odd to be happy because of a problem, but that’s the case for this day.  🙂  This summer I finally decided to do my lawn maintenance myself, only to find that my lawn mower wouldn’t start.  I was initially very frustrated by this–once I made up my mind to mow the lawn myself I just wanted to get it done–but the situation taught me a lot.  I learned how to change a spark plug and that a clogged carburetor can cause small engines to refuse to start (#TheMoreYouKnow).  I got an exercise in patience and realized that I have a great support network.  And now I’m extra motivated to mow the lawn myself sometime soon.

Day 35:  Boyfriends and moms make me happy.  This day was twice as special as most days–it was my boyfriend’s 31st birthday *and* Mother’s Day!  My mom is the most spectacular human being–she is my role model in life and I love her more than anything.  My boyfriend is such a great man; he’s kind and patient and funny and actually lets me be myself.  Honoring both of them on the same day was so powerful and I’m so blessed to have both of them in my life.

Day 36:  Travel agents make me happy.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to plan my sabbatical, but thanks to the advice of my officemate I now have a travel agent to help me!  Originally I thought that a travel agent would be too expensive, but her rate is very affordable and she’s got decades of experience too.  Planning this trip has been stressing me OUT and the thought of someone doing the heavy lifting for me makes me so very happy!

Safe Travels, Staff Meetings, Dinners, and Open Doors #100HappyDays

Four days of happiness comin’ atcha in three…two…ONE:

Day 7:  Safe travels make me happy.  My parents headed back to Kentucky on this day, so it was bittersweet for me.  I was sad to see them go, but happy when I got the text from my mom telling me they made it back safely.  I always worry about them when they travel–too many crazy drivers out there for my comfort–so getting the confirmation that their travels were safe put a big smile on my face.

Day 8:  Staff Meeting (oddly enough) makes me happy.  Most folks wouldn’t say they enjoy attending a staff meeting at work, especially when that meeting is over two hours long.  But I enjoy attending the monthly staff meeting at my company.  I like learning what’s new with the company and the software and hearing our CEO speak about topics related to the business we do.  I also appreciate the monthly grammar tip–who doesn’t want to improve their grammar?  🙂

Day 9:  Making dinner with my boyfriend makes me happy.  I’ve always been able to throw a recipe together, but wasn’t really someone who enjoyed cooking.  That changed after I started cooking with my boyfriend.  We make dinners together a few nights a week and it is always more fun cooking with him than when I cook solo.  Whether we’re trying something completely new or making an old favorite, we always have a good time.  (And the food usually turns out pretty great too!  Check out my Instagram for photos of some of the meals we’ve made.)

Day 10:  Being appreciated makes me happy.  After pinch-hitting for a coworker who was out with a sick kiddo this week, my team lead (TL) told me I was “the reason why we keep the doors open for HIM training.”  Apparently this isn’t the only time someone has said that–she said she stole the phrase from another TL who supervised me while my TL was out on maternity leave!  In a company of 9,000+ people, it’s easy to fly under the radar.  I love helping others and I don’t need to be recognized for it, but knowing that someone notices and appreciates the ways I help out makes me very happy indeed.

Like We Used To

This post comes after a long weekend of family, food, and fun times. For the past few years, my parents journeyed to the frozen north to spend Thanksgiving with me. This year, I headed back to my old Kentucky home to celebrate Thanksgiving in my hometown or, in the words of my mother, “like we used to.”

Airport chic.

For as long as I can remember, my great-aunt (or as I called her “Granny”) Aloma hosted Thanksgiving dinner at her house. The whole family would come over to eat, play games, watch football, and cut up in a way that only family can. Since her passing, we haven’t had a Thanksgiving celebration that’s been the same. This year though, we all got together and had that down home gathering.  

My “ready to eat” face.

I think it was hard for all of us without Granny Aloma there. We had a great time though, eating traditional southern dishes and laughing for hours. Family and friends all together, bonding over food and fellowship–my heart was so full (and my belly was too). 


This turkey was for the post-Thanksgiving dinner.

We kept our tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving night alive too. The five of us (my mom, stepdad, brother, stepsister, and I) saw the late showing of Mockingjay, Part 2 and even ran into a few distant cousins at the theater! We got home and went to bed for a few hours in preparation for the next day…

Coffee required for 6am shopping.

Black Friday! My mom, stepsister, and I got up around six to go shopping.  We got some awesome deals at the mall, and I purchased my very own selfie stick (at 50% off). I even found my favorite soda from middle school!

Testing out the selfie stick!

Ahhhh, tastes like sixth grade.

We had breakfast, then hit a few other stores before making our way back home. After a nap, we went out shopping again and got even more deals. Mom and I managed to mark a few people off our Christmas lists (and picked up some goodies for ourselves too of course). 


Shop until you’re drop dead gorgeous!

Saturday I made a country breakfast of sausage, biscuits, and gravy before we went to watch my brother play basketball. He made some great plays! The fact that he’s dang near 7′ tall probably doesn’t hurt–I call him my “big little brother.” 🙂

Ready to rebound.


Later that day, we had visitors come through–cousins! Clearly cute runs in our family because these little girls are the most adorable people ever! The big sister is a cheerleader/gymnast who is smart as a whip. The little sister is the sweetest, calmest little baby; this was my first time meeting her and she stole my heart right away. 



To make the night even more awesome, my stepdad brought me a delicacy I’m unable to get easily in Wisconsin…White Castle! 

The deliciousness is indescribable.


Today consisted of a lazy morning at the house before the family took me to the airport. Hugs were given; “I love you’s” and “be careful’s” exchanged. And here I am, writing a post about my wonderful weekend on a plane. 

Bags packed…

I love my family so much. I am so thankful to have grown up with people and traditions so honest and real. I’m glad we are able to come together and support one another “like we used to” and, hopefully, how we always will.