[C] is for [cats]

location // Delphi, Greece

Let's get this post started off right: 

Now that you have a clear idea about how Debbie feels about cats, you are somewhere in the ballpark of my feelings towards cats.  I just love them, but I don't want to have them in my bed. Animals just don't understand personal space.

Greece was a cat-lover's heaven.  You don't even have to try to find cats - look anywhere and it's pretty much guaranteed that you will see a cat! This was especially unfortunate for the three cat-loathers that I was traveling with, but hey! more cat pictures for me.  To show you how dominant the cat control of the Grecian streets is, I made a collage for your viewing pleasure.

Since I had so many opportunities to express my affection towards cats, I gained a reputation.  By the end of the trip, I was responding to CL like it was the name on my birth certificate. Cat Lady, that is.  Whenever anyone would see a cat, they would run over to me and point it out so I wouldn't miss it. Everyone showed me their own cat pictures and made sure that I noticed all of the cat themed merchandise.  I even got a "Cats of Greece" 2015 mini-calendar from a lady that I traveled with, so y'all can be excited for that after the new year. 

In the top photo, you see me stealing the show with my feline friends.  We were waiting for some people to take a bathroom break for the seventh time that day before we went up to see the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. Standing in this little outdoor cafĂ© area, I counted - no joke! - 14 cats lounging around and pretending like they didn't see us.  

However, there was this little guy who stole my attention.  
 To him, this stick was dabomb.com. He was having a ball pushing and tossing it around.  In my infinite cat-wisdom, I decided it was a good idea to take the stick to play with him a little bit. And he loved it! But so did the 13 other cats.  

In no time, I was surrounded - literally surrounded! - by a hoard? school? flock? (I like flock) flock of cats who all decided that since I was now providing entertainment, they would acknowledge my presence. And then this drew a crowd of people who all watched me play with the cats.  

Here I was, kneeling on the ground, trying to please all of my new cat acquaintances with equal stick-playing time, surrounded by cats, surrounded by people. 

That is officially the peak of my cat lady-ness. 

I'm very cool. I know that already; you don't have to tell me. 

Happy Thursday!

(And if I ever do decide to pursue "cat lady" as a career, I know a place where my business can take off!) 


[B] is for [bridges]

I was having a really hard time deciding how to tell all my stories from Europe.  I don't want it to drag on forever but there are just so many things I want to share!  I decided to start Italy & Greece from A to Z.  I'll go in alphabetical order and pick a picture with something that starts with the letter that we're on and I'll tell the story behind it. But don't worry, it won't be 26 days straight of  Europe stories. Promise. 

location // Venice, Italy

It's what you've all been waiting for: Europe pt. 2!  Out of all of the places that I went to, Venice takes the cake for having the most bridges.  So if you're a bridge enthusiast of any kind, I would recommend Venice! 

The first taste of them that I got was when we took a mini-walking tour of the Italian islands. Our guide told us that every time we crossed a bridge, we were on a new island, which for some reason, I thought was really cool! 

One of my favorite things about the Venetian bridges was that all of them were different.  Each had its own distinct "personality." The black and white one above was one of my favorites because it just seemed so sophisticated to me.  I know, I'm a snob about my bridge preferences, you don't have to tell me.  

After our walking tour, you've probably guessed by my spoiler pictures that we took a gondola ride! Unfortunately, my expectations crashed and burned because our gondolier didn't sing to us.  What.a.bummer. 

A few times, I was honestly concerned that we were going to tip as we had been seated extremely unequally weight-wise.  Other than that, I really loved the canals of Venice.  When you take some of the back canals, everything is so quiet, peaceful, and quaint.  I could have stayed for hours.  

Can you imagine looking out your bedroom window and having this canal as your view? 

Of course, I couldn't show you all these other bridges without showing you the Bridge of Sighs! For those of you who don't know, the Bridge of Sighs is named this because it connects the prison and the interrogation room in the Doge's Palace.  As prisoners would cross the bridge, it was said that they would sigh because they knew that they were pretty much walking to their execution.  

Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to walk on the bridge.  I unknowingly turned around to head out of the Doge's Palace just before the entrance to the bridge.  I was so bummed when I found out what I had missed.

Have you ever been to Venice and crossed any of these gorgeous bridges? Do you want to? 


Runners Tell All: Bucket List Edition

Bucket lists are my thang.  If anything even slightly piques my interest, you better believe that I'm googling the heck out of that thing as soon as I can get my hands on the internet.  (I know that's literally impossible, but for the post's sake, let's continue.) If I like what I see, POOF! it's on my bucket list.  Just like that.  If I physically wrote out my bucket list, it would span several miles. That's probably not even that much of an exaggeration.

When I saw the Runners Tell All link-up prompt for this month, I got excited.  Really excited.  Because like I said before, bucket lists are my thang.

So, without further ado, I present my race bucket list to you! (Warning: this may get very long. I'll try to contain myself, but no promises.)

1. Austin Half Marathon

My Texas-dwelling, Austin-loving cousin has run this race for the past 3? 4? years and has absolutely loved it.  She keeps telling me to come down and run it with her, which I think would be so amazing. However, there is just one small problem to this race. It's held in February and the weather is slightly different in Michigan than in Texas.  I would have to train in knee-deep snow and freeze my ears off or on the treadmill (gasp!).  Either way, I think that I would endure the elements or the torture machine treadmill for the opportunity to run with my cousin! 

2. Disney Princess Half Marathon
Besides Hogwarts, running a Princess Half through Disney is as magical as it gets in my mind.  I've heard that this is a good beginners half marathon as there are lots of opportunities to stop for photo ops with the princesses. Sign me up! (and pay the registration fee for me too, while you're at it!) 

3. Hot Chocolate Run 15k (Chicago)
As everyone knows, themed races are fun. But using some simple math (Chicago+running+chocolate), the Hot Chocolate Run has the formula to beat them all.  I mean, its not every race where the food at the finish includes a chocolate fountain.

4. Great Turtle Trail Run Half Marathon
Things this race has going for it: 
1. It takes place on Mackinac Island, which as every Michigander knows, is pretty much the best. 
Umm, yeah. That's pretty much everything. Mackinac Island is amazing and if you're ever in Michigan in the summer, it's worth the trip. Amiright? 

5. BTN Big 10k

Living smack dab between MSU and UofM means that the B1G is a big thing around these parts. We take Saturday afternoon football seriously and there has been many a relationship ended over divided rivalries. (Actually, I made that up, but I'm sure it's happened!) Growing up a UofM fan, but anxiously anticipating my acceptance letter (I'm being optimistic!) from MSU, I definitely have a fair share of B1G in my blood.  And the fact that it's in Chicago? I'm there. 

6. Detroit Free Press Marathon Relay
One of my pet peeves is when people, especially people who have never been, hate on Detroit.  While it's true that there's a lot of things that need some fixing, Detroit has so, so much to offer.  One of these things is the annual marathon relay that accompanies the marathon and the half among some other shorter races.  I've wanted to run a marathon relay for a while and I'm hoping that next year will be the year as it will be the first year in a while that I'm not wrapped up in a cross country season.  Oh, and I'm just documenting it here that I call dibs on the leg that crosses the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Canada! 

7. Firenze Marathon
When I went to Europe this summer, I spent about a day in a half in Florence, Italy. And I left my heart there. Running a marathon through the medieval cobblestone streets and passing by my love, the Duomo, would be the experience of a lifetime.  And quite possibly the last experience of my lifetime considering that this is a full 26.2 miles! 

8. Athens Marathon
What better a marathon to run than the original marathon in Athens, Greece? Although, as I've been taught in world history, the runner of the first marathon who was a messenger died from exhaustion after he finished.  So maybe this isn't such a good idea? 

Writing about all these races has made me excited to get out there and go for one of them.  Link up with Beka and Amanda and share your running bucket list! Ready? Go! 

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us . . . 
                                                                  - Hebrews 12:1


What I'm Reading Wednesday: Part 3

Books and fall just seem to go together like peas and carrots like my mama always says. (Thanks, Forrest for the quote mash-up.)

When the temperatures drop, the sunlight wanes, and the leaves start to fall, the best thing that I can think to do is find one of my cats and force them to sit on my lap while I curl up with a good book. It's so perfect while my cat pretends to like me for 3.4 seconds before he decides to dump me for food.  Whatever, I don't need you. 

I'm really, really loving the books that I'm reading this fall.  I've got the bases covered between a classic or two, a modern non-fiction and a super-challenging Jesus book.  

So, here's what I'm reading on this almost-autumn Wednesday.  

|| 1. || 
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Malcom Gladwell

Here's a quick rundown on what I want to do with my life: become a sociologist and publish my findings to help solve world problems. (Told you it was quick!) Here's what Malcolm does with his life: be a sociologist/psychologist and publish his findings to better certain aspects of the world.  

Obviously we are meant to be.  This is the second book that I'm reading by Gladwell and it doesn't disappoint.  The thought-provoking content with the extremely readable writing style make this an easy read and most definitely an enjoyable/interesting one.  Go read Gladwell right now and come back and tell me all about how much you love him when you're done.  Ready? Go! (The credit for this obsession goes to Allie who knew that Malcolm and I would hit it off. So really, thank her.) 

|| 2. || Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen

I read Sense and Sensibility when I was in seventh grade, but I'm a little tard-ay to the part-ay when it comes to Austen's most famous work.  I started this about a month back and haven't moved very fast at all. Read: I haven't picked this up in at least three weeks, but I'm counting it as currently reading anyway.  I'm not even supposed to know that I'm going to fall in love with Mr. Darcy by the end.  Right now, he's still the arrogant and pompous brat that Austen is leading me to believe him to be.  So, shhhh, don't tell me that he turns out to be the heartthrob of the 1800s because that would definitely ruin it for me.  

|| 3. || Not a Fan
Kyle Idleman

I've been reading this book since July June May April March errrmmm . . .  February.  I mean, that's only like seven months.  Not too long . . . 

Despite my dismal time it's taking me to complete this book, I.LOVE.IT. Idleman comes right out and challenges you to be a true follower of Jesus rather than just a fan that sits on the sidelines.  And let me tell you, it stings quite a bit.  Well, at least it did for me.  But that has motivated me to make some changes in my life that have been a long time coming.  

|| 4. || Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable
Thomas Bulfinch

(I think his name is Thomas at least . . .) 

This book came to me on a lovely August day that also regrettably served double-duty as the first day of school.  I was told to have it read for a test in a little over a week.  So there I was, day of the test, scrambling to read the last 90 pages that I had somehow neglected. I mean, between school eight hours of the day, cross country practice for two, commuting for two, sleep for six if I'm lucky and all of the other random stuff I'm supposed to cram into my day, I don't know how I couldn't find the time to read!

I shouldn't be complaining.  People much busier than I am found a way to finish, so obviously it was me.  Needless to say, my 45 minute study hall didn't quite give me enough time to get through all 90 pages, so I still have a little to read! I hope to finish this one up with a cup of hot chocolate or chai tea some cool weekend morning.

And that is what I am reading this Wednesday.  You should definitely feel privileged because it's not like the whole internet knows this or anything.  Nope, just you.

I have some decisions to make next!  This tower of paperbacks is the compilation of some of the books that I have acquired but not yet read! Besides P&P, I want to know: What would you read next?


Did you hear about . . .?

First of all, let me just put this out there: No, I am not going on anymore vacations (tears, much tears.) even though my last two mysteriously titled posts may lead you to believe so. 

Good. Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to business (to defeat the Huns . . .! Sorry, my Disney escaped there for a moment). 

How many times have you heard the words "did you hear about . . ." and without even thinking leaned in a little bit closer to get the latest scoop? If I'm being honest, you could find me in this exact senario playing the role of either the news-bearer or the news-receiver multiple times a day. 

And I hate it. But it feels so good. Relaying secrets, stirring up drama, and repeating stories that most likely aren't true but will probably gather an audience are all things that I do over and over every.single.day. 

But why? 

What do I gain through mindless chatter and intentional gossip? 

Let me play the role of my former math teacher/current cross country coach and answer my own questions here for a moment. 

Here's what I gain: temporary satisfaction, attention from others, knowing the latest news, when in awkward situations, something to fill the silence, and the reputation as someone who sticks her nose into other people's beeswax just so she can let the rest of the world know. 

Yep, that's my reward for running my mouth and tearing down the reputations of others just to build my own (which by the way, is a lie. How is it even logical that I could conclude that people would think of me as a better person if I babble on and on about others? Answer me that.). Are those things listed as so-called "rewards" worth the feelings and social well-being of a fellow human? 

Absolutely not. 

God makes it clear how he feels about gossip. Like extremely Windex-clear. I didn't realize how much God had to say about gossip until a quick google search enlightened me about all that I had been missing. 

Take Proverbs 10:18 where we learn that whoever slanders others is a fool. 

Or 1 Thessalionians 4:11 where we are told straight up to keep our noses in our own business. 

Look at Proverbs 21:23. "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." 

Hmmm, not too, too hard to see what God is trying to get across to us. If you're in need of some more proof, check out Proverbs 16:28, Matthew 12:36, and Exodus 23:1. 

None of those concepts are new to me though. I know how God feels about gossip. I've known it for my entire Sunday school life, but that doesn't stop me from mindlessly running my mouth just to be the top dog in the rumor mill. 

However, I feel as though God has really convicted me of this lately. I haven't felt the same amount of satisfaction after I passed on some juicy tidbit of information. Instead, I wish that I could take my words back and have everyone forget the pointless speech that I had just poured out of my mouth. 

But it doesn't work that way no matter how much that I wish it did. 

Remember how I said in my last post that things in my life were going to change? Well, get ready because here comes the change. 

To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."

God has blessed me with a mind that can do amazing things. And guess what! If you're reading this, you have a mind too! And your mind came from God whether you believe that or not. He has beautiful plans for each and every one of us. I can bet you that those plans don't include sitting around a table with your best friends, sipping pumpkin spice lattes (because it's fall! Duh!) and talking all about how Laura cheated on Ryan with Morgan's boyfriend, Dan, and now Laura and Morgan aren't friends anymore. 

No! His plans for you and me are so much more spectacular than limiting our minds to discussing rumors that no one even knows for sure if they are true. 

So I decided to run my own mini version of Jen Hatmaker's experiment Seven. However, instead of physical, material things, I've decided to purge myself of one of the biggest things that distracts me from loving God with all that I have. You guessed it: gossip. 

From September 2 - October 2, I am going to work my absolute hardest to keep gossip off of my lips. Instead of gossip, I will replace that mindless chatter with encouragement, heartfelt praise, prayers, and new ideas. If I find that I cannot do that, then I will just stay silent during moments that I am tempted. 

In James 3:8, James writes that no human being can tame the tongue for it is a restless evil and full of poison. I have found this to be more true than I would have originally thought. All of my previous attempts to vanquish gossip have crashed and burned. Hard. I will have to learn to call on God and rely on Him to help me get rid of this harmful addiction. 

So here's to one month of uplifting, encouraging, and positive talk!