Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year

It's New Years Eve. Surprise! Just kidding, I am more than sure that you already knew that. But just in case you didn't, now you know. And with a new year comes reflection and looking ahead, and thinking about all of the things that you want this new year to bring with it. I for one will be sad to see 2014 go - with all of its adventures and learning experiences and new opportunities and laughter and answered prayers and challenges and so much more. It's been one heck of a year, as I have mentioned over and over again, and though there were certainly both ups AND downs throughout the entire year, and it maybe didn't end the way I expected it to (but when does life ever go according to plan?), I'll still chalk 2014 up to being one of the very best yet. That being said, however, I am excited to ring in 2015, and see what surprises it holds. I could go back and wrap up all that 2014 brought me, but I feel as though I've done that quite a lot lately, so I'll spare you that trip down memory lane, though it would certainly be a good one.

I have no complaints, no regrets, and no sadness when I look back at this year. Because I put a lot into it, and I got a whole heck of a lot out of it. I will cherish every single memory that was made, every laugh that I laughed, every tear that I cried, every decision that was made, every change that happened, every moment spent with friends and family, and so much more. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and I have so much to look forward to, and because what would a new year be without some new resolutions, I'll share a few of mine with you.

I want to love bigger, and I want to tell people how much they mean to me. I want to show love through my actions, and I want to be a source of encouragement to other people.

I want to try new things - things that scare me, things that I might have otherwise brushed off, things that might be out of my comfort zone. That includes signing up for a sand volleyball league, because that is so out of my comfort zone and will help me to meet new people, something that isn't always easy for me.

I want to continue to be active, and that means running 2,015 in 2015. Before you look at me like I'm crazy, I am going to do this challenge, inspired by Run the Edge, with my friend Amira. Because running 2,105 miles on your own means running approximately 5.5 miles a day, and let's be honest, we all know I'm not going to stick to that, running 1007.5 miles apiece seems much more manageable. That comes out to about 2.75 miles a day, which also won't happen, but a 6-mile run here and there takes care of a couple of days. I love a good challenge, and this will certainly challenge me.

I want to find an organization that means a lot to me, and become an active volunteer. Lately I've been thinking a lot about Girls on the Run, because running is something that is such a huge part of my life, and something that a lot of people associate in a negative manner. I like what Girls on the Run stands for, and I hope to make some extra time to do that.

I want to see the great in every day. A very wise person once told me that "Every day isn't going to be great, but there is something great in every day." And I firmly believe that. And I hope in 2015 that even on the no good, very bad days, I can find at least one redeeming thing about that day.

I want to be present. Too much of my time is spent looking at my phone screen, and while I will be the first to admit that technology is a great thing, it is also very consuming. I want to unplug a little bit more often than I do, and get outside and enjoy what's around me. I want to enjoy the company I am in, I want to forget about social media and FOMO, and learn to be content no matter the circumstances.

I want to forgive more readily. As someone who has been forgiven in the biggest and most powerful way possible, I want to learn how to forgive more and bigger, and to not hold grudges the way that I definitely know how. To forgive someone is the highest form of love, and that goes back to resolution number one.

I want to read more. And that will be hard, as an English teacher (is that an oxymoron or what?), but I found a great Reading Challenge (on Pinterest, of course) that sounds like something that is right up my alley. Chances are, I won't get to all of them, but it will prevent me from rereading the Harry Potter series for what is probably the seventh time (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that).

I do want my own library one day, though maybe a bit more organized than this one! (Source)
I want to be the best me possible. I want to complain less, I want to dream big, I want to dedicate myself 110% to the commitments I make. I want to worry less, I want to relax more, I want to treat myself to things and not feel guilty. I want to travel, I want to blog more, I want to write more, and I want to challenge myself to be the best me I can be each and every day. I want to reach out to old friends, I want to make new ones, I want to be the best teacher and coach and daughter and friend and sister that I can possibly be. I want to be able to forgive myself, and give myself grace where I need it, because I'm an imperfect person, but I am a daughter of the King. I want to wake up every morning and choose joy. I want to laugh more and be genuinely and consistently happy. Because tomorrow is the first day of a 365-page book, and there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus hasn't written me one that is just what I need. I can plan my own steps, but He's up there laughing at me, telling me to trust Him and all that He has for me.

And here's to knowing that 2015 will come with good days and bad days, successes and failures, accomplishments and letdowns, gains and losses. But here's to also knowing who holds my future, and I can walk confidently in that.

Enjoy your evening, be safe, and think about what you want from 2015. I'd love to hear from you. And again, thanks for keeping up with this little blog of mine - it brings me a lot of joy, and I absolutely love it when it gets read. Call me a narcissist, but I love sharing what I learn with you all, even if it's in the form of a silly old workout.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Miracle Mile

Good morning! Do I have a workout for y'all! This post has actually been quite a long time coming, when my brother and I went up to Stratford one time to workout together (yes, this was a one-time thing). He told me about an old football offseason workout called "The Miracle Mile." When he explained what it consisted of, I knew I had to give it a shot. This workout has been something I have wanted to do for a L-O-N-G time, but gaining access to the Stratford track is always a guessing game. Yesterday evening I went to burn off some energy at the famous hill, and I decided that I would finally give this workout a shot the following morning, aka this morning.

The Workout:
  • Run up the bleachers
  • Run across to the next set of stairs and run down
  • Repeat until you reach the end of the bleachers
  • Run one lap around the track
  • Repeat x4
Hence, the "mile" at the end of the name "Miracle Mile." I'm not entirely sure where the miracle part comes in, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the fact that finishing the workout is a miracle. It's a toughie, but it's definitely a goodie, and one that I hope to do again very soon. BUT, it should be noted that I may have cut this workout a little bit short. I learned since returning home that I was supposed to run down and up the same set of stairs before crossing over. Whoops - next time! And while I won't be running any hills in the Houston half (hallelujah for a flat city), I recently signed up for the Austin Half Marathon taking place in mid-February, and that one has a killer hill at mile 12. If you've ever run that course before, you know which one I'm referring to. Darn you, Enfield. So anyway, this hill and bleacher training will be put to good use.

And now I am going to meet one of my dear college friends for lunch, and I get to have dinner with some of my dear high school friends. It's a good Tuesday, folks, and I hope you enjoy yours as much as I anticipate enjoying mine. Adios! And I promise I will share a new recipe with you guys on my next post - if you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you have been anticipating it! :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Student Quotes

Two days in a row. I’m on a roll. But, what else is there really to do? I’ve been sleeping in later and later each day – the real world wears you out, and setting an alarm doesn’t sound very appealing – and I need to feel like I’m doing something productive.

I did manage to finish a 400+ page book this morning (yes, that I started just two nights ago) – it was a very quick, dumb little read, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I may have majored in English, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good “beach read” every now and again. Anyway, football in Texas is always something I can get behind, even if the school in this book had a big rivalry against my very own Longhorns. Hook ‘em Horns, by the way! I’m hoping Charlie Strong will get to bring home a final 2014 victory, before rocking 2015 with all of these new recruits we’ve locked up.
I also went for a run around my neighborhood, followed by some very pointless wandering of the Houston Galleria. I made zero purchases, but there are quite a few good sales out there. I followed up my shopping expedition with lunch at the new Whole Foods on Post Oak, where I enjoyed a delicious salad filled with lots of protein and veggies. I also stocked up on a few ingredients for a new recipe that will hopefully be making an appearance on the blog sometime tomorrow. It’s not a Kelli original, but it should be delicious (and dairy-free!) nonetheless.

And for a little end-of-the-year humor (because who doesn’t need some of that with the post-Christmas sadness?), here are the top 10 best quotes from my students in the fall semester of 2014. Many of them are face-palmers, some are sweet, some border on inappropriate, but I guarantee all of them will make you laugh, or at least smile. So, without further ado:

10. “Miss, your eyebrows are on fleek!”
Once I received this compliment, I knew I had made it.
9. “My favorite character is Katniss because she is very brave and very hot.”
I asked my reading students to tell me who their favorite character was, and why, in the book that they were reading, and this particular student had a thing for Katniss from The Hunger Games. Can’t blame him, to be honest.
8. We were reading The Odyssey, and I was talking about how money can’t buy love. One student responds with, “Yes it can! You can buy strippers, and that’s love!”
7. Thunder sounded one day, and we were experiencing quite the rain and thunderstorm. A student asked me, “Can I go home? My hair don’t like this weather.”
6. A fellow teacher walked into my room and asked a student, “Oh, your teacher isn’t here yet?” This isn’t uncommon – I am often mistaken for a student. But this time a dear student of mine replied, “I know, she’s too cute to be a teacher, isn’t she?” I won’t lie, I was flattered.
5. Because I teach both reading and English, I have some of the same students twice a day. I have one student first period, and then again fourth period. He wasn’t in first, but he sauntered into fourth. When I asked him where he was, he said, “You know I was hitting up Chick [Fil-A] for the free breakfast.”
4. Again, while reading The Odyssey, a student remarked, “See, you women just marry us for our money.”
They learn the ways of the world early.
3. Please, just Urban Dictionary what ‘THOT’ means. And as a student advised me, “DON’T say that in reference to your mother!”
2. When I asked a student where she had been the day before she replied, “Oh, I was getting my hair done!”
Thanks for the honesty.
1. And finally, while taking an exam over The Odyssey, a student asked me this, “Miss, is Odysseus a boy or a girl?”
And I thought I was doing an okay job.
Like I said, my students constantly keep me on my toes, and while they frustrate me to no end sometimes, they also keep me laughing, and remind me that I truly, truly love my job.

Until tomorrow, and Hook ‘em Horns!  

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Back, Back Again

And here I am again, with another month off from blogging. It’s turned out to be much more difficult than I thought – holding down a full time job AND keeping up with my blog. It has clearly been neglected, but I really am going to try and have more regularity with it in this new year. It’s just hard because I’ll have some free time, and the last thing I want to do is stare at a computer, for fear that I’ll start doing something school-related, as opposed to doing something for myself. But I am going to try.

Anyway, it would be much too difficult to sum up the past month for you, but can you guys believe that I have a whole semester of teaching under my belt? Sometimes I still can’t believe I get paid to do this, because while it’s very difficult, it just doesn’t feel like real work. That might not make any sense to you, but until you’ve been in the situation, you probably just think I’m talking nonsense. Maybe the 15-year-olds are getting to me. Anyway, it was a wonderful semester, full of learning experiences and frustration and humility and laughter and yes, a few tears, and reassurance that I’m in the right place and lots of support and growing up a lot more than I thought I would. I have much more appreciation for my former teachers, as I am sure that I have mentioned before, and I wish I could go back and individually thank each one of them for not only teaching me something, but for caring about me as an individual. As much as I want to love each one of my students, some of them make it very hard. But then I remember that each one of them has a different story, and that it matters, and that my greatest goal is to be a bright spot in each one of their days. Talk about philosophical, huh?

I love Bellaire and again, I am so thankful for this sweet opportunity that I have been given. What a place to start my teaching career!

And because it’s Sunday, let’s do a little survey action. Because I can’t think of any better way to get back in my blogging game. I am sure you have learned by now that you can’t necessarily trust me when I say this, but here’s to getting back into the food and fitness writing sooner rather than later! There’s a strong possibility that I’ve done this survey before, but I’m sure the answers have changed a little bit.

1. What did you eat for breakfast?
On school days, I always take some scrambled egg whites with spinach and salsa (yes, this breakfast is still around!) with me to school, but on weekends, and holiday breaks, I tend to eat yogurt and granola or fruit, or some of my banana-oatmeal-almond butter muffin “dough.” Or sometimes I sleep in so late that breakfast becomes lunch. So sue me!

2. How much water do you drink a day?
I drink a LOT of water, especially at school. Which probably accounts for the fact that I often have to squeeze in a bathroom trip between every single class! But dehydration is a very real thing, so I almost always have a CamelBak water bottle on hand.
3. What is your current favorite workout?
Right now, with this cooler weather, I’m enjoying running (which is a good thing because I am running a half marathon in exactly three weeks from today), biking (because this girl got herself a new bike), and rollerblading (though I did take a nasty fall a couple of weeks ago. Lots of cardio, as per usual. Maybe I should try and do some more strength training with this new year.

4. How many calories do you eat a day?
I have never counted calories, but with all of the exercise that I do, I don’t typically feel as though I overeat very often. And if I do, I try not to dwell on it. Easier said than done, of course.

5. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
Luna Minis (especially Chocolate Peppermint Stick and Chocolate Dipped Coconut), Apple Cinnamon Chobani Yogurt, grapes, Cuties, carrots and hummus, are among a few of my go-to snacks these days.
6. What do you usually eat for lunch?
I’m so boring, but I take the same spring mix salad with grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, Spanish olives, and Kosher Snack’mms Pickles to school for lunch each and every day. And so far, it has not gotten old. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

7. What is your favorite body part to strength train?
Probably my legs. From years of volleyball, they are fairly strong, and I can do things with a little less.. struggle!

8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?
Probably my triceps. Or any part of my arms, really. Which is probably why I neglect to do so much of the time!

9. What are your “bad” food cravings?
I love all things chocolate, and I have a hard time resisting it. Sometimes I think it’s a good thing that I can’t have dairy, because it’s my excuse for saying no!
10. Do you take vitamins or supplements?
I mean, okay, I take gummy vitamins each morning, and who knows how much they really do, but I take them nonetheless!

11. How often do you eat out?
Honestly, not that much. Moreso this break when I am catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and I ate out MUCH more when I was in Austin than I do now, but I try not to make it a habit.

12. Do you eat fast food?
No, I do not. I’ll occasionally eat a Subway sandwich, grab Chick-Fil-A, or the super occasional Panda Express (guilty pleasure, okay?), but it often makes me feel horrible after I eat it, so I stay away as often as possible.

13. Who is your biggest supporter?
My parents, for sure. They never discourage any of my crazy ideas or dreams, and support me every single step of the way, making sure to remind me how proud they are of me.

14. Do you have a gym membership?
I do. I actually currently have TWO gym memberships – the Memorial Athletic Club right up the street, and 24 Hour Fitness, because there is one right next to Bellaire, and I would go workout after volleyball practice instead of battling traffic home. I should probably cancel that, but it’s not outrageously expensive, so we will see!

15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Over this break? 9-10. On a regular school day? 7-8. Which is enough, but I am loving this little bit of extra sleep I’ve been getting!

16. Do you have a “cheat” day?
Nope. I have some sort of sweet (usually dark chocolate) each and every day. Some days are better than others, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.

17. Do you drink alcohol?
I do. I actually just last night discovered that there IS some wine that I like! I really enjoy champagne, and of course, the fruity cocktails, but I still think beer is horrendous. But maybe it will grow on me.

18. Do you have a workout buddy?
I don’t, but stay tuned for a 2015 exercise goal that kind of, sort of includes an exercise buddy. A workout buddy could either be really good or really bad – I’m ultra-competitive, so it would push me, but it might not be good for our friendship!

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle?
I’ve always been active – I played sports my entire life, and as soon as my volleyball career ended I found new ways to stay fit, but mainly the happiness that it brings me. I truly understand the “runner’s high,” and the feeling that one good workout can completely change the course of a day. I know some people might disagree with this statement, but exercise is a huge stress reliever for me, and it is something that I hope will always be a part of my life. I have also discovered a plethora of healthy (and delicious) recipes that I am constantly pinning to my “kitchen fun” board.

20. What was the last healthy thing you did?
I swam this afternoon, and then I followed it up with a fresh salad from Salata. And then promptly sat on my behind and watched Harry Potter with my friends. It balances itself out!

And on that note, I hope the rest of your Sunday is a really wonderful one. It’s hard to believe that 2014 is almost to an end. There are lots of things that have changed – both good and bad – lots of things that have been learned, lots of things to be thankful for, and I am so glad that even though the year may change, and who knows what will come with this new year, my many blessings will remain the same.