Wednesday, November 26, 2014

special moments

throughout life we often have "ah ha" moments. special moments. those moments that ignite you and remind you of your life's purpose.

yesterday i had one of those moments.

throughout the year our school has various performances, feasts, and school community programs. events that we do together as a school. ages three to twelve. it truly is endearing. yesterday was our thanksgiving celebration and feast. it was a day of fun, games, singing, and eating. there are so many things about this event that moves me. the children plan almost every aspect of the day, with little adult intervention. they plan the games and activities that included face painting, arts and crafts, jumping rope, a snack station (because we all know kids are always hungry!), four square...the list goes on. they also prepared the feast environment. they arranged and set the tables, made name cards and napkin holders and decorated our dining space. it was beautiful.

their independence is remarkable.

before we all came together to give thanks and shared our meal as a school, we spent time with our music teacher singing songs that the children have been practicing for several weeks. the excitement, joy and level of participation is immeasurable. to hear a room full of children singing their hearts out, together is such a sweet sound. to hear this group of children sing, to hear their desire to perform for each other and with each other is truly amazing. this moment was blissful, carefree, and jubilant. these moments are often difficult to describe. it's a moment that feels so perfect in a world of imperfection. it's a moment of "wow! i am a part of something that is breathtaking!". it's a moment of wonderment. moments like these are so meaningful through something so simple.
so, it is difficult to describe because these moments don't happen everyday. that is what makes them extraordinary. that is why they ignite your soul.

it is moments like these that are so special. that remind you of the "why". why you are doing what you are doing. what makes it all worth it. some days our impact feels so small, but on days like this, when we are a community doing great things together, it reminds me of my "why".

no matter how small or large the impact we make on others, it's important. and they remember. so make it worth your while. remember your why.


Monday, November 10, 2014

semi-organic life

so. i made a change to my "workout" tab. some of you may have noticed. some of you may not. the "workout" tab really wasn't doing it for me anymore. i write down my daily workouts on paper. so, for me to log-in and also document it here, well, you can see i was really failing at that. plus, i never really received any feedback on it. so i am going with the assumption no one really benefited from it being there.

BUT! i have been wanting to write more about our lifestyle. not to shove it in anyone's face, but because i enjoy it and it excites me. and anything that creates passion, is worth sharing. and by writing about it, we can talk about it and share ideas, thoughts, concerns...anything!
the tab above is entitled "semi-organic life" because that is exactly how we live. we eat as clean and organically as we can. but, for us, we know that it's not possible all the time. my exercise and wellness regime is a huge part of my lifestyle too. so that will filter in here as well. my thought is to put up a regular blog post, much like this one is, and then store all of the "semi-organic life" blogs under that tab. it will be a away of categorizing some of my blog posts. so, if you are interested in just our lifestyle blogs, you can gain access to them all in one place instead of having to sift through everything.

so, what will i write about in "semi-organic life"?
  • food!
  • healthy eating
  • recipes [hopefully. i am so bad at writing down my recipes.]
  • workout ideas
  • my personal workout schedules/routines
  • workout goals
  • struggles with living an organic life [costs, resources, etc]
  • workout challenges [injury, illness, travel]
this is a new project for me. i am excited about it and look forward to continuing this journey with you all.


Sunday, October 5, 2014


just a quick note:
after writing this, i then realized how heavy it is. i don't usually have posts like this, but it is something that has been on my mind. i don't touch on all the reasons these things happen, but rather, i maintain a level of simplicity. i took this stand because when dealing with our very real societal concerns, sometimes it is necessary to look at through a different lens. 

i am around children everyday and what captures me the most is their overwhelming zest. their spirit and passion for life is immeasurable. they are so innocent. they are eager. excited. happy. thoughtful. silly. kind. inquisitive. compassionate.

then life happens.

life and exposure to our world slowly crushes these amazing characteristics of a child. of course, there are people in this world who possess these qualities, but not like when they were a child. not like when they truly did not care what others thought. not like when others did not shame them. not like when nothing else mattered.

the world changes us.

as i sit here and ponder this complex, yet simple notion, i wonder - can we avoid having the world change us? is it better that this cruel, challenging, true, and harsh world changes us?

is it better that people cannot manage the emotions that come with getting fired from a job so they return to that job and simply start killing people?
is it better that being transferred to a new job is difficult to deal with so the immediate solution seems to be to set fire to a local air traffic control center?

events are constantly happening in our country that shed light on people struggling with life. as of late, there are so many times that a person cannot handle life and the emotions it throws at them. they end up lashing out in very permanent ways.
the typical human life includes things like school, work, church [for some], obtaining food [groceries, restaurants], travel. all of these places require us to interact with each other. because these places are so necessary to survival, it seems fitting that they should be safe. we are far past the days of the cavemen. our lifestyle, especially in first-world america, is not based the evolutionary idea of "survival of the fittest". we are not fighting each other for resources. in fact, we have an abundance of everything we could possibly need. so much so that we often throw away things that others could use [food, clothes, household supplies].
since our primary concern is not the battle for resources, the places that we frequent for survival [work, school, places with food], should be safe. for them not to be is fundamentally wrong.
we must work everyday to earn money to pay for the food and the house we live it. work is necessary for survival in our first-world society. we must go to school everyday. education is required by law [until a certain age] and it fosters employment opportunities, which helps pay for the food and house. we must eat to live - that is basic biology. all of these things we must do in order to survive [and then to be successful] in our society. because these things are necessary, they should be safe. since we all must do them, and do them together - it should be safe. our schools, workplaces, stores, parks - none of theses places are a battleground. we are not at war.
we should not fear these places because of another person's emotions, difficult circumstances, or mismanaged situations.
we should be safe. so that we can survive.

in it's most simplest form, we all are just trying to survive life. what we do with this life is what makes it special. our chance at survival should not be affected because another person didn't want a chance at theirs.

how did we get to this point?

it's whenever that five-year-old lost their sparkle.
when the world took over and crushed that sweet, hopeful spirit.


Friday, October 3, 2014

the 2nd annual VOCV

hello and ohmigosh, it's friday!

we've been home from our family vacation for almost a week. it seems like the week before and the week after vacation are always completely nuts. am i right? the week before a vacation is crazy because you are are busy trying to organize, make lists, pack for you [and your family] - and packing doesn't include only clothes, you must bring food, entertainment [computers, games, workout gear], linens and household products [paper towels, soap, etc]. it's a lot. plus, you have your regular life to maintain during this week before your magical vacation. and once you return it feels like you are running on E, going 100mph, just trying to get through the week. there are 40 loads of laundry, groceries that need to be bought because there is nothing to eat, the house needs to be cleaned even though it sat clean and empty for a week [how does this happen!], there is this silly thing called work that you have to return to.
so yeah...that is three weeks of life that is just nuts all for a vacation. but it is worth every second of the crazy.

this was the 2nd annual vinson/o'connor clan vacation [VOCV - nice acronym, eh?]. our families met up in rehoboth beach, delaware. never heard of it? i hadn't either until we planned this little trip. southern delaware is beautiful. i keep telling everyone that i am not sure what i was expecting of DE, but what we found, definitely was not what i was expecting. what i loved the most is that it reminded me of home. everything about the landscape eastern north carolina is beautiful. it's luscious. green. full of farmland. vibrant. southern delaware was much of the same. farms as far as the eye could see, pine trees, beautiful beaches and marshlands.


we enjoyed relaxing, a lot. but we managed to do a lot too. here are some of the highlights of our trip.

cape henlopen state park 
this park was amazing, in many ways. it had well over 20 miles of biking trails [of varying terrain]. we biked as much as we could without our bodies revolting against us. we spent a good 3 days at that park, biking and saoking up all the history it had to offer. as cited from the park's website," With the onset of World War II, the U.S. Army established a military base at Cape Henlopen in 1941. Bunkers and gun emplacements were camouflaged among the dunes, and concrete observation towers were built along the coast to spot enemy ships." the history that lies inside this park is truly what attracted us to it. there are 13 observation towers along delaware's coast that were used during WWII. we were lucky enough to be able to climb one. it was amazing!


dogfish head
dogfish head brewery is located in rehoboth [the original brewery location, which is now a brewpub]. the current brewery is located in milton, delaware [which was only about 30 minutes away]. dogfish head [DFH] makes amazing beer. so knowing the brewery and brewpub were so close just made our trip. i think we went there every day of our vacation. and i am not even kidding. we enjoyed trying beers we can't get at home and beers they only serve at the brewpub and brewery. plus their food was delicious. we didn't mind becoming regulars for a week.


no sales tax
this should maybe be self-explanatory, but i'll offer some details anyway. there is no sales tax in delaware. i am not sure how many other states have this awesome law, but as a guest of delaware, i think it's wonderful. mostly because i benefit greatly from it. it is a very novel thing to see an item on the shelf for $12.99 and when you get to the register...guess what? the amount you owe is also $12.99!!! it's freaking amazing. and this also maybe shouldn't be so exciting, but whatever, it is.

time well spent with my family
this was by far my favorite part of the trip. we celebrated two birthdays, played cards against humanity [parents included. eep!], and shared lots of good beer [and wine and champagne!]. all of the silly and funny things that you do on vacation, you can take home with you as  memories, but you can't incorporate them into your life. well, because the people that made it funny aren't there [bye felicia!]. believe me you guys, it doesn't work - no one understands why they are being called felicia. but for real, i love learning more and more about my family. they live too far away and we don't get to do enough with each other, so this is our time to give each other a "crash course" on our lives over the past year. the more we do get together, the more we learn about each other and the closer we become. and that is truly what makes this vacation so special. vinson/o'connor clan, you all are wonderful, beautiful people. i can't wait for next year!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ray rice

ray rice.

where to start. i have so many emotions, thoughts, concerns, questions. if you don't live under a rock, you have heard by now, that TMZ released the video of him TKO-ing his now wife. and shortly thereafter he was released by the ravens and indefinitely banned by the NFL.
i think both of those were appropriate responses.

i didn't watch the video. i didn't want to. i didn't want to see domestic violence in its most brutal form. the description was enough for me. but then...EPSN so kindly shared the video during halftime of monday night football. i was so caught off guard, i couldn't look away. i hate you, EPSN.
however, having watched the video, just reinforced how awful the attack was. whatever the altercation was about, whatever started their argument, whatever led to the pushing and eventual left hook by ray rice - well, it doesn't matter. he had so many other options other than PUNCHING OUT HIS WIFE. if punching something was what he felt he needed to do, there were four walls to chose from. pick one.
what engaged me about the entire thing is that this is a person he cares about, supposedly. and he knocked her seemingly unconscious. who the fuck does that?! i mean, let's talk about that for a minute. think of the maddest you have ever been at a person. a person you care for - wife. mom. brother. friend. husband. sister. dad. aunt. whoever.
have they ever made so mad that you wanted to knock them unconscious? that you wanted to hit them so hard you quite literally knocked their lights out? sure, we've all wanted to punch someone before, but to the point of sleepy-time? would that make you feel better to know that you now need to take them to the ER?
i mean, fuck!
seriously guys, who does that? more importantly, who thinks that is OK? who thinks that hitting someone that fucking hard is acceptable behavior? ever. even if you are split-second angry. even if you are "lost your shit" angry. how is it an appropriate response? since when is giving your wife a concussion the right way to end an argument?
because once you gather yourself, regret consumes you. "what the hell did i just do?" consumes you. when it comes to your relationships, if you feel the need to hurt the people you are involved with there is either something wrong with you, them, or a combination of you together. so, the best solution is to let that relationship go.
hurt, physical and/or emotion, is not worth it.

i am not trying to preach advice. i am simply stating what should be obvious. but, we as emotional beings, have a hard time letting go of things we know we should.

today, janay defended her man via instagram. i guess, as she should. she was the one who decided to marry him. some suggest it was for money. some suggest that she can't find her way out of this troubled and abusive relationship. some may suggest that they really do care for and love each other. i have no idea why she did. on the surface, i think she is crazy. because i know if i was with a guy who knocked me out, there would be no wedding date, there would only be a court date.

she does say some things that shed light to the other side of the story - it is their life, we don't understand how it affects them, she mentions unwanted opinions from the public and media, having to relive something they regret, blah blah blah.
the thing is - they live in the eyes of the public. forever and always. it comes with being a professional athlete. if she didn't want any of the things mentioned above, then she shouldn't have dated and married a famous person. good or bad, the public is always going to offer their opinion on the matter. it is just the way of it. we always have something to say. ray rice could have been the best running back in the league, and someone would have something to say about it. it just comes with the territory. it doesn't matter what the issue is at hand, if you live in the view of the public, they are going to have "words of wisdom" for you. if janay didn't want the public involved in her life, then she shouldn't have chosen such a public lifestyle.
dealing with this incident specifically, if she wants to blame the public for ruining their life [which is ridiculous], then she should reconsider where she wants to have her arguments with her husband. because if they are going to have knockdown, drag-out fights [quite literally], then they should not have them in public places that have surveillance cameras and possible witnesses, like casinos.

at the end of the day, it is her and ray's life. but they both must evaluate and understand the life they have chosen. all of the things they have, they have chosen. everything that is happening to them is because of decisions they made. no one else. all of this is happening because of two, well, ultimately one person.

ray rice.

had he not punched the shit out of his wife, they would not be where they are today.


Monday, September 8, 2014

what makes us southern

one day i was sitting in our classroom cutting out pictures from the august 2013 our state magazine. as i was looking for particular pictures to cut out, i was also skimming the articles, features, events, and stories. it is such a soft, sweet, and inviting magazine. i wish everyone spoke with the grace and kindness that this magazine is written. the feature article particularly struck my fancy. it is entitled what makes us southern. there are so many amazing things about living in the south and being southern. i am quite certain that among all of us we could come up with a very lengthy, yet accurate list.

the our state article listed only six things. i find each of these things so important to being southern and to being north carolinian.

screen doors. you just can't live in the south without a screen door. [at least] three seasons of the year, there are days where it beautiful enough to have the windows and doors open. [last night was a perfect example of that].

grits. most people either love them or hate them. southerners love them. they complete the country breakfast. what is breakfast without grits? well, it just isn't.

tobacco barns. our state is covered with farm land. and with farms comes old tobacco barns. some are falling apart and a complete mess, and some are still intact and used today. both are quite beautiful. all of these barns tell a story and share our history.

from our state august 2013

swamps. i don't think i appreciated the beauty of swamps until i moved to eastern north carolina. they are so mysterious. so silent and so still. they are eerie. and they are full of life, hidden right before your eyes.

copyright: me :)

cheerwine. i don't think this one really needs an explanation. if you are from north carolina, you love cheerwine. there is no other option.

kudzu. it's nice to look at, but it ruins everything. it takes over the world because it is so invasive. it fills in gaps and softens jagged edges, but it is cumbersome. it is everywhere! as a southerner, you understand the love/hate feelings that are associated with this plant. it just wouldn't be the south without it.

i encourage all of you to read the full article [scroll down to FEATURES and you will see each item listed] to learn more about why these six things are just so important to being southern. other than being an old "stand-by" or simply present in a southerner's daily life, together, they have created a way of life.

i find all of these things truly southern. what i loved the most about this list, is that it wasn't overly cliche. these things truly represent the south as a culture instead of a stereotype. these simple six items show that the south is made up of far more than BBQ and football. i would suggest that each region/state of the US represents a specific culture that consists of its own history, traits, and functionality to which each respects and is extremely proud of.

and the south is no different.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

we need help

our emotions are complex. they are massive and deep. our thoughts control us. we often feel things that we cannot explain, and cannot overcome. our lives are channeled by our emotions. we bury how we feel, but it's still there. we have emotions about ourselves, about our lives, about the people around us. it surrounds us. our emotions can suffocate and drown us. we become trapped and have no way out.

emotions control us.

on the outside we may seem happy, successful, and motivated; while on the inside we are crying and dying a slow death.

it is a constant battle. where there is no end.

we seek happiness, yet have no way of finding it.

depression and anxiety, and addictions are real. mental illness is real. our society and health care system needs to provide more support for mental illness. it is complex and difficult to understand, diagnose, and treat. however, there are real people who need real help.
simply because it is something that we all do not understand or grasp, does not mean it does exist.

from robin williams instagram

i am sick and heartbroken over the death of robin williams. we have no idea what a person is going through. we don't always know what their journey has been or what their current journey is. our outside persona is not always who we truly are. get to know those around you, pay attention to warning signs, and offer support.

the simplest thing we all can do is offer kindness, a smile, a hug. showing a loved one [or a stranger] that you care, can go a long way into changing their day, or perhaps their outlook.
no matter your journey, no matter how close we may be, i am always here - to offer a silly blog, conversation, virtual smiles, or support.

lots of love and hugs to all of you.


"you will have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to." -robin williams

if you need help, here are some people who can provide you the attention, advice and support you may need. please visit their website or call.
suicide lifeline
phone #: 1-800-273-8255