Target, the New Fashion Mecca

It occurred to both my daughter and I today as we strolled through Target that one could really get anything in life you need there. We all know they have basic household stuff, groceries in most, books, electronics, & sporting goods. I’ve also been noticing that each year the clothing lines at Target get better and better.

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Case in point – I’ve had my eye on an adorable coral sweater from a not-to-be-named designer. Said sweater is in the $120 range. Lots of money for most people. I am one that believes in the occasional splurge purchase. But this particular sweater is pretty basic and I’m starting to see it everywhere. This morning I had an email from LOFT advertising the exact sweater for only $44 with 30% off. Now THAT’s what I’m talking about! Put it on the list of things to take care of today or tomorrow. 

Lo and behold on my stroll through Target today my daughter drags me to the clothing section. What do I spy? That coral sweater! I dive across the aisle, taking great care not to knock any shoppers over and grab the sweater. Take a good look at it. Super cute. A few differences, but it’s exactly what I want. Price? $19.99. Yeah, SOLD. 

Now just to be clear I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for”, however there are certain items that you just do not need to drop the big bucks on. 

A few tips if you’re debating between the real thing or the knock-off:

1. Fit, fit, fit! Be sure you’ve tried both on. Many times those higher priced pieces are more tailor-made. A lesser quality may have gapping somewhere that you don’t want it or other fit issues. Jeans and pants are one that I have a hard time going bargain on. I’ve got short legs and if I find them to fit my waist and hips in the stores, many times the length doesn’t work. Petites don’t always cut it either. Find what things you can fit into easily and use those as your bargain items!

2. Quality counts. Sometimes you can’t tell from the initial purchase or try-on. But do pay attention to little things – loose threads, loose buttons, uneven seams, cheap feeling fabric. If you’re bargain hunting and you do see these issues you may want to consider the pricier option. Sometimes the quality issues do not show up early, but may be something related to how well they handle wear and tear. Is this a staple piece that you plan to have and wear for a long time? If so I always opt for the better quality/higher price. Exception to this – shopping sales. Whether it’s designer sample sales at the end of the season, or department store clearance sales. Sometimes you can find these normally higher priced items at deep discounts. Keep your eyes and ears open and sign up for emails from your favorite places. 

3. Unique/Hard to Find: So there’s this jacket. It’s got just the perfect shape, these adorable buttons, a beautiful inner lining and destined to be a classic piece – not too trendy. In my quests around town and online I’ve yet to see anything similar and I am IN LOVE. You know the answer to this one – splurge! I will say if it’s one of those pieces that I really love but don’t truly need I may hold on and see if the designer drops the price or does a sample sale. It’s a risk, but when you’re pinching pennies it makes no sense to put your finances in a bad place just to get that coveted piece.

Another word on bargain shopping. Be sure to check out sites like Groupon, GroopDealz, Zulilly, No More Rack, MyHabit, Uncovet, One Kings Lane. These have amazing short term sales on brand-name items. Also, don’t forget Rent The Runway. If you’re looking for something more formal, this might be the ticket.

What other great suggestions for bargain shopping for clothes do you have? 

 

 

 

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Math? Really?

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What on earth would make a 43 year-old woman sit down and learn college level math?

Did I mention that I’m an artist? I paint, draw, write, love literature….math? Not so much. Numbers give me a headache. I usually do my best to avoid them at all cost.

So how is it that I, self-proclaimed math phobic, spent the first hour of my morning today working on math problems? And will be continuing to do so for the next 6 weeks? Because I have to – horror of horrors – pass the College Math CLEP exam! And not just sometime “down the road.” No, I have to pass it no later than early May!

It was one of the obstacles to this path of becoming a nurse. Last year when I first entertained the idea, this was one of the main reasons I felt I could not embark on a nursing career. But as time passed and I really developed that burning desire to become a nurse I knew I had to get past the math thing. Because if I don’t have college math I do not get into nursing school. Period.

I’ve always loved a good challenge AND I did home school my daughter for several years. It’s not going to be easy, but I KNOW if I put my mind to it I’ll succeed. So here we go. Step one on the adventure to becoming a nurse.

 

 

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the……..

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One thing I’ve experienced in my life – whenever I say “never” it’s as if God thinks I’m issuing Him a challenge because whatever I say never about – that thing always happens. Always.

So I should have known as I spent my summer working a new part-time job in the health care industry that every time I said the words “I have no interest in being a nurse. I’ve never wanted to be in patient care.” I was digging myself deeper and deeper into a brand new career path.

A dear friend had been the hiring manager at this particular job. Timing was perfect and the hours such that I still had plenty of time to take care of my family and work my other business. After spending the last six years working from home, setting my own hours and having no boss to report to, it was quite a culture shock! I spent those first couple of months miserable, doing everything I could to keep from settling into my new job, including applying for other jobs. One other one in particular that did not pan out was a devastating blow to me, on many levels and really got me re-evaluating where I was in my life and what I wanted to be “when I grow up.” I’m always a glass half-full kind of girl, so instead of dwelling what I’d lost I decided to focus on giving thanks that I had a job and look around for the blessings that I knew were right there in front of me. It did not take me long to settle in and begin to actually enjoy where I was and what I was doing.

With two kids entering college in the next four years I started to explore further career options in the healthcare industry. One in particular kept being brought to my attention: nurse. No thanks, no way! I had a list a mile long of why I could not/would not go that route. Curiosity got the best of me though so I started talking to my nurse friends and exploring what I would need to do to get into the nursing program. I observed nurse-patient interactions a little more closely when I had the opportunity (and between my job and my daughter’s health issues those opportunities are plentiful!) I thought about it, I wrote about it, I prayed about it. It was a big, scary endeavor but I started to feel it was exactly what I wanted and needed to do.

It’s going to be hard – probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have to take lots of pre-requisites, apply to the nursing program and then actually go through the program itself. None of those steps are going to be easy. My nurse friends tell me to plan to have no other life outside of nursing while going to school. And I’m okay with that. When I think about the reasons WHY I want to be a nurse it really makes it all worthwhile!

If all goes as planned I hope to have my RN in May of 2016. It’s going to be quite a journey! In the meantime if you see me looking bleary-eyed and stressed you’ll know why.

 

 

 

 

To Live Life Fully…

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When I posted earlier this week about the gift of saying good-bye, I had no way of knowing that just a few days later I’d lose someone that I adored in a tragic car accident. Even more tragic, this beautiful soul was only 21 years old. Not only did she have her whole life ahead of her, but she also happened to be wise beyond her years and someone that exhibited such a kind, sweet spirit to everyone – every day.

I’ve found myself bursting out in tears at random times and places thinking about her and, even more so, the family and close loved ones she left behind. If I feel like this – and to be fair, I only saw her a couple of times a year and loosely kept in touch via facebook messages – oh, how her family must feel. This is not the first friend I’ve lost in a car accident. The suddenness with which life can be plucked away becomes painfully all too real. Because really – if it can happen to them – all good, wholesome, selfless people – it can happen to any of us at any time. And perhaps that’s where it hits home for all of us. One minute you’re talking, making plans to see them the next time and then you suddenly have to come to terms with the fact that you will never see them in this earthly life again.
 
I cannot imagine the pain that a parent feels to have your child’s life come to a sudden and abrupt halt. It happens every day. Children have accidents, teens and young adults are in car crashes. It’s a very real and present danger. But, like all other “threats” we must live life without fear. And honestly, to honor those that have left us so abruptly I’d say we HAVE to live life as if there truly is no tomorrow. Always tell the ones you love how you feel, follow your passion and live each day to the fullest. Because we just never know when the course of our life will change on a dime.

Lectio What?

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It’s called Lectio Divina. I discovered this practice years ago when I worked on staff at my church. It’s certainly not new or innovative in any way. An ancient practice that dates back to the fourth and fifth centuries, it was a staple of life for Benedictine monks in the 9th century.

With everyone giving up various things for Lent, I wanted to find a way to deepen my spiritual practices by adding something. This is what I will be doing. A good friend also pointed out that I’m still giving up something: time every day to focus and meditate on the word.

What is it and how do I do it?

I’m glad you asked. Lectio Divina literally means “divine reading” or “sacred reading” in Latin. There are 4 steps:

Lectio (to read): Find a short piece of scripture or inspirational reading. No more than 10-15 verses/lines. Read aloud slowly.

Meditatio (to meditate): Reflect on the reading. Try to identify a word, phrase or idea that most catches your attention. Reflect on this word or phrase for several minutes. You can write out your thoughts/reflections if you want. There’s no right or wrong way to do this.

Contemplatio (to contemplate): Ask yourself “where does this passage apply in my life or the life of others right now?” Reflect on this question for a few minutes. Next ask yourself “What is God asking me to do or be?” or “How does God invite me to change?”

Oratio/Prayer: Pray as you are led from your reading and reflection time.

That’s it. Very simple and very powerful. I’ll be spending the next 40 days practicing Lectio Divina daily through the season of Lent. Would love for you to join me!

The Gift of Cancer

I know – for someone that promised a light blog, this isn’t exactly a light subject. But it’s what’s on my mind right now, so bear with me.
 
Cancer – really, how dare I even say the word “gift” in the same breath. 
 
I can say it because I’ve personally had vast experiences with the “Big C”. Most remarkably my own father who died from the disease at the age of thirty-eight. I was a mere sixteen year-old, more concerned with boys, friends and my oh-so important social life at that time. I had a baby sister, 7 years old and a brand new baby brother, only 6 months old. My parents were divorced and I lived with my mom and her husband, who happened to be a very abusive man. Teen angst much?
 
As for my Dad, he was remarried and during the course of his cancer treatment, became a dad to his first and only son. Dad was diagnosed with melanoma in the fall, when I turned 15. It was so far advanced that it had already spread to his brain and he was diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor. Sometime around the time my baby brother was born, the January after his diagnosis, I remember that he became ill again. (Between not living with him and the fact that this all took place almost 30 years ago, some of the details are sketchy.) I remember him being hospitalized and making many trips to the hospital. It wasn’t long before he was moved home for Hospice care. The cancer had returned and was in his lungs. Just a few days after my sister and I had our birthdays, in early June, he finally passed. 
 
Where is the gift in this? Some days I’d be very hard pressed to give you an answer to that question. It’s an insidious disease that shows no mercy and does not discriminate. Even those that survive it usually go through hell and back to get through it. There’s nothing pretty about cancer.
 
However, the one thing I have in common with the families left behind from a cancer diagnosis is the fact that we got to say good-bye. I had the gift of being able to visit with my dad more frequently and to end every visit with “I love you. Rest easy now.” How many times have we lost someone suddenly and wished we could relive those final moments? If only we’d known they weren’t coming back perhaps we would have made sure they knew what they meant to us. I was able to do this. I visited with him regularly as his health declined. Our conversations quickly became one-sided as he became weaker and weaker and unable to talk back. But still I talked. I told him about school, about home, my sister and sometimes God. Sometimes he would nod his head ever so slightly. Most of the time I’d hold his hand. On my last visit with my dad when I said “You rest easy” he actually spoke back: “I’ll rest easy.” His last words to me. And I knew without any doubt as I left that room that I’d never see or talk to my Dad again. I got to say good-bye. And THERE was the gift. It helped me to be almost completely at peace with my father’s passing. Did I grieve? Of course. Though I did more grieving many years later than I ever did early on. Grief is funny that way, as is growing up. 
 
So while cancer itself is certainly not something I would wish on anyone, that chance to say good-bye – to know ahead of time that the person you love is spending their last days on this earth and you MUST say what you want and need to say now, or literally “forever hold your peace”, it is indeed a gift.