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Hurricane Ida has come and gone, but her visit has left an indelible impression on anyone she inconvenienced during her stay. For many of us in Louisiana and beyond who experienced Ida’s wrath, the effects left in the wake of her fury will continue to be felt for the remainder of this year and well into the next.

Hurricanes are part of the package when you reside in Louisiana. They are ferocious, destructive, and unpredictable. I have lived through several hurricanes in my lifetime, and in my experience, Ida has been the worst in my community.

Ida made landfall in Louisiana near Port Fourchon (about 130 miles away from my house in Hammond) just before noon on Sunday, 29 August. This happened to be the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a hurricane that wreaked havoc in southeastern United States and devastated the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas with major flooding.

Around 12:30 in the afternoon, we lost electricity for about an hour. There was a slight breeze, but the rain had not yet started. My family and I continued prepping for our uninvited guest. We really started feeling the effects of Ida’s arrival between 6:00 and 7:00 in the evening (light rain and winds gusting).

7:07 pm on 29 August 2021

About 45 minutes later, I had showered, microwaved a bag of popcorn, and had nestled in my bed to watch the second episode of The Walking Dead. Then, the electricity went out and chaos ensued shortly afterwards. The eye of the storm was right at Laplace. Between 8:30 and 9:00, my hubby and I heard a loud thud not far from our bedroom window. He grabbed a flashlight and headed out the front door. The pear tree on the side of the house near our garage had uprooted and fallen down either on or near Andrew’s car. It was too dark to tell at that point. I told my husband NOT to tell Andrew.

Shortly afterwards, about 9:30, all hell broke loose when a large oak tree crashed onto the roof of my house right above Andrew’s bedroom. He had been sitting up in his bed, talking to his girlfriend Aileigh when sheetrock debris from the ceiling fell on top of him, getting into his eyes. Then, water started coming in fast and furious where the plywood in the roof above had separated and the beam had been broken. There was a crack across the ceiling from point of impact to the other end of the bedroom. As soon as we knew Andrew was safe, the four of us worked feverishly to minimize the damage to his room, his belongings, and the rest of the house. My husband and Barry, Jr. went outside, climbed onto the roof and tried to seal the area while Andrew and I quickly started removing his belongings from his bedroom. The tree had also knocked the chimney stack off of the roof, causing a small leak in the fireplace. Parts of the ceiling started falling into the room. With the help of my husband and Barry, Jr., we were able to remove everything that belonged to Andrew, except for few items left in his closet which were unharmed when we checked the next morning.

We could see bubbles in the ceiling in other areas of Andrew’s bedroom, so we knew there had to be other leaks. Barry, Sr. climbed up into the attic and discovered the tree had punctured two more holes in the roof. We were going to need more buckets.

Thankfully, Barry, Jr. emptied the buckets throughout the remainder of the storm (hours) which included repeated trips up to the attic to empty the bucket under the bigger of the two holes in the attic. He was exhausted; we were all exhausted. However, we had survived a frightening experience. I am not sure how I was able to finally fall asleep because the ferociousness of the gusting wind, the creaking and cracking of the trees, and the fearful thoughts of another tree falling on the house assaulted my mind. I later found out from my sister, who lives in Atlanta, that we were hit by sustained winds of 80 mph with gusts up to 100 mph. Ida beat the crap out of us for hours.

I was not prepared the next morning for the destruction that Ida left behind when she left town. The ceiling in Andrew’s bedroom had collapsed, and I could now see the sky through the two holes. Debris covered the floor.

Uprooted trees littered the backyard outside. Another tree had fallen in the front yard, missing the house by about two feet. And, the pear tree that we thought might have landed on Andrew’s car spared it. It knocked the cover off of the mirror on the driver’s side of the car, but snapped right back on when it was discovered under some tree debris. My yard and my neighborhood looked like a war zone.

Walk the Backyard

A couple of days after the storm, I recorded some video footage of the trees that had fallen on our property. It was heartbreaking to look at all my beautiful, healthy trees on the ground. I was worried about all the squirrels, birds, and bunnies that live on our property. I sent the video clips to my friend Kelsi, and she graciously edited them together so I could share with you, dear reader.

The days following Ida’s unpleasant visit just seem a blur now. The holes in the roof were covered with tarp, the opening in the chimney was securely covered, a claim number (thanks to my sister Rachel) was issued by the insurance company, and we got an estimate from a tree guy. Andrew’s eye healed completely from getting ceiling debris in it when the tree hit the house. Thankfully, my sister-in-law Natalie, who works in eye care, looked at his eye on Monday afternoon after the storm and did not see anything in his eye; therefore, she said it was probably a scratch which would heal within 48 hours. And, she was correct! Communication with others outside my neighborhood was almost nonexistent. The first few days were extremely rough, but I remained hopeful.

Then, Tuesday, 07 September arrived with many blessings. Garbage service and mail delivery resumed, an insurance adjuster visited the house and assessed the damage, and the electricity came back on later that afternoon. My glimmer of hope just got brighter.

Rise and Fall of the Tree

The next morning, B N R Investments removed the tree from the house. What a relief! I felt like we were finally making progress. I recorded video footage of the tree removal and sent the clips to Kelsi, so that she could edit them together. She is SUPER awesome! She even included graphics for both videos.

It has been three weeks since Hurricane Ida made her forceful entry and exit, dear reader. While my circumstances are improving, there are still challenges. My hubby has used the chainsaw to cut up the pear tree and the oak tree in the front yard. Barry, Jr. and I spent days piling up a great deal of the debris from both of those trees near the street plus debris from trees in the backyard. I am still waiting on the results of the insurance adjuster’s visit. I have no internet/cable tv at my home, my cellular service is weak, and restoration of these services cannot be determined by the provider. It is as if I live in a dead zone. My hubby returned to work on Friday, 10 September. I returned to work on Friday, 17 September for a staff meeting and quite a few changes due to the damage my school sustained because of the storm. School resumes for both Andrew and me on Monday, 20 September. Barry, Jr. works remotely, so his biggest challenge is finding a place where he can access the internet. He may be spending his days at a local coffee shop or SLU’s library.

Despite the damage, the inconveniences, the unknowns, as well as the stressful and overwhelming moments, I am eternally grateful and feel blessed beyond measure. My family and friends who dealt with Ida are all safe. My sister Rachel helped my family immensely with getting the insurance ball rolling and provided me with much-needed emotional support. I am thankful for the provisions we received through the generosity of my neighbor Rita and my husband’s company. I can still live in my house while Andrew’s room and the chimney are being repaired. I have ELECTRICITY which is huge! Our vehicles were not damaged. A volunteer group cut up many of the trees (for free) that insurance will not pay to remove. I have firewood for my fireplace for several years. My squirrels and birds are returning to our yard. My husband and I both have our jobs. The list goes on and on with all the blessings that I am currently experiencing while dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. As I have mentioned before, my community and I will prevail. Happiness!

The Lutheran Early Response Team left my family this memento from one of the trees they cut on our property.

“No matter how difficult the situation is, it won’t last forever. What follows the night is the day; what follows winter is the spring.” ~ Tony Robbins

Kat standing in front of neighbor’s tree after Hurricane Ida.

Good morning, dear reader! Due to Hurricane Ida, I am currently unable to access internet at my home. Today, I went into the city of Hammond with Andrew to take care of an issue at the post office, and we decided to stop at PJ’s, a local coffee shop, to access the internet and take care of a few online tasks. Just wanted to say hello, let you know my family and I are fine, and will be publishing posts when I can get back online.

Yes, that is me standing in front of an oak tree that uprooted in my neighbor’s yard during the hurricane. It was one of the many trees that uprooted in her yard as well as in my own.

Despite challenges that Hurricane Ida has presented in my personal life, my community, Louisiana, and other areas of the United States, I am grateful, hopeful, and have faith that with time, we will all prevail and regain some normalcy. Happiness!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Did you know, dear reader, that cardinals are considered visitors from heaven? Many cultures believe they can travel between the heavenly realm and the earthly realm. These beautiful backyard birds also represent a sign of hope for those who are worried or feel anxious.

Imagine my delight when spotting one perched on a squirrel feeder in my backyard yesterday morning after my slow, uncomfortable walk around my neighborhood. This morning, I should have done my third run/walk session for this week. Sadly, that did not happen because both of my knees still feel EXTREMELY achy when I run (and walk fast). And, I am not even running fast. My running is more like jogging. So, I begrudgedly walked instead for 35 minutes just to continue my walking streak.

Did I progress too much, too soon? Perhaps. Ugh! I am immensely disappointed by this setback. I really had high expectations when I started my run/walk program. I think my knees are hurting because I am still carrying too much weight, and I need to strengthen my legs with exercises other than just walking. Therefore, this upcoming week, I will repeat Week #1: Walk 30 minutes a day, at least three times a week. I will practice self-care and nurse my knees. I may attempt to ride my bike if I can do so with no discomfort. Seeing that cardinal has given me hope. Good things come to those who wait…a lesson in patience. I am not an Olympic athlete, and I have nothing riding on when I can continuously run for 30 minutes. It is a personal goal, and this setback is a just speed bump, telling me to slow down. As a result, I will eat healthy foods, strength train, cross train, and walk at least 30 minutes per day (at least three times a week). I’m starting my Clean & Lean program on 01 September (Wednesday) which should help me shed some more weight.

Now, that all sounds terrific and doable as long as my family and I are not severely impacted by Hurricane Ida which is coming directly towards Louisiana. Hurricane Ida is predicted to make landfall tonight (the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina). It is also a Category 4 storm. What does that mean for my neck of the woods? Lots of rain, storm surges which contribute to flooding, winds up to 85 mph, risk of tornadoes, and loss of electricity. I am staying put in my home with my hubby, our two sons, and our four fur babies. We have food and water, as well as gasoline for the generator. We have natural gas, so we can still cook meals. Items outside have been picked up and put away, and the gutters have been cleared of leaves and debris. Our bathtubs are full of water in case we need it to flush toilets. We are ready. All we can do now is patiently wait for the impact of Hurricane Ida and pray that everyone in her path remains safe. I hope my cardinal brings us good luck.

Before I sign off, I want to share a video chat I had with Kelsi where we talk about the slasher film, Sleepaway Camp, we both watched as part of our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon in July. If you watch it, please consider hitting like, leave a comment, and subscribe to Kelsi’s YouTube channel. She also vlogs, reviews books, and talks nostalgia from the 60s through the 90s.

Despite not being able to run/walk this morning, I am truly grateful that I was able to enjoy my morning walk before it started raining. As you go about your day today, dear reader, please keep the residents of Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully, my next post will be filled with good news that we weathered the storm with little or no issues. Happiness!

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Greetings, dear reader! On Sunday evening, I completed a second round of Fast Burn. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 152 pounds, gaining back 3.5 pounds of the 13 pounds lost in the first round. With that being said, I did lose 1″ in my chest, and 1/2″ in my hips. My measurements stayed the same for my waist, arms, and thighs. Did I meet the goals I set back in June for Round #2 of Fast Burn? Yes and no. Clearly, I did not lose an additional 10 pounds. While I did complete another nine-week round of Fast Burn, I did not follow it as closely as I did for the first round.

So, what did I do? I continued intermittent fasting; however, my TRF schedule changed week-to-week between 16:8 and 14:10; this was based on what was going on in my life during the nine weeks. I walked between 20-30 minutes every day. I started following a run/walk schedule (see sidebar for the schedule). I continued to incorporate the Burner Smoothie, the Sumptuous Strawberry Shake, as well as lots of fruits and veggies in my eating plan. I observed the rule about waiting two hours (sometimes longer based on TRF schedule) after waking to eat and stopped eating at least two hours before bedtime.

So, what didn’t I do? I did not bike very often or incorporate any strength training. I did not eat as clean as I did during the first round (incorporated some added sugar/processed foods back into my diet). I was not consistent with drinking a glass of water before meals. I picked certain weeks in the nine-week plan and followed those weeks instead of following the weekly schedules outlined in the book.

Initially, after weighing in on Monday morning, I felt I should have waited a couple of weeks before doing another round. After reflecting on it throughout the week, I now feel completing a second round right after the first round was ideal for me. Even though I did not follow the Fast Burn plan as perfectly as I did the first round, I still incorporated many of its components. And, we all know that we cannot rely on the scale to tell the whole truth when it comes to weight loss. My body measurements dropped in two areas and stayed the same in other areas. My clothes fit exactly the same as they did when I completed the first round. Additionally, I can see the difference with how I feel when I fuel my body with the wrong foods. I do not like feeling unhealthy.

What’s next?

I want to read Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian and complete the 30-day plan in the month of September. My original goal for 2021 was to try intermittent fasting for one month using the Clean & Lean book. However, when Dr. Ian published Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance in April and created the Fast Burn Challenge Facebook group, I could not pass up that opportunity. And, I am so happy that it has worked out the way it has because the Fast Burn Challenge group is both inspirational and supportive. It also helps me with accountability. The Cleaner Get Leaner group also provides inspiration and support. Therefore, between the two groups, I’ll continue to receive inspiration and support.

Additionally, I will continue my fitness plan that will include the run/walk schedule and as many of the exercises outlined in Clean & Lean. Maybe, just maybe, it will give me the nudge I need to put strength training exercises back into my fitness regimen on a regular basis. I do not want to slip back into bad habits. I now have plenty of resources to hold me accountable and keep me on track to live my healthiest life.

Kudos to everyone trying to eat better, getting back into shape, and improving overall health and well-being. There are so many benefits to eating well and exercising daily. It makes me happier, healthier, more energetic, and more creative. Thanks for reading, dear reader. I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Happiness!

“It takes time to see wholesale changes, so don’t obsess on a scale or a mirror. In fact, it’s a lot more likely that someone else will notice physical changes before you do.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D., Clean & Lean

In order to get back on track and reFOCUS on my goals for the remainder of the year, I tracked my time for two weeks (week of 02 August and week of 09 August). Both of these weeks started out with 168 hours on Monday at midnight. Since school has reconvened after being on summer break for the last two months, my day job (instructional coach at a PreK2-8th school) and sleep take up the bulk of my time. However, the hours at my day job have been reduced this school year; I am currently working four days per week as opposed to five days when I tracked my time back in January. The reduction in work hours will ultimately allow me to spend more time on creating content and embarking on a new career path.

Week 1: 02 August – 08 August

During this week, I worked 32.5 hours at school and devoted 52.75 hours to sleep. This left me with 82.75 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

That being so, how did I spend those remaining 82.75 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11.25 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 4.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 9.75 hours
  • Chores: 7.25 hours
  • Exercise: 5 hours
  • Errands: 4.5 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 20.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 3 hours

Therefore, 74.25 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 8.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.

Week 2: 09 August – 15 August

During this week, I worked 33.5 hours at school and devoted 51 hours to sleep. This left me with 83.5 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

In that case, how did I spend those remaining 83.5 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 6.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 8.75 hours
  • Chores: 6.5 hours
  • Exercise: 4.5 hours
  • Errands: 8 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 3.5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 8.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 2.25 hours

Therefore, 63 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 20.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.


Clearly, no two weeks are exactly the same. And, all the banked hours are not entirely spent on effortless fun. Some of that extra time gets spent on small tasks that just take a minute or two, such as writing a grocery list, a message in a card, or a check for a bill. I may be purchasing an item or researching ingredients for a meal online. I might spend a few minutes clearing off the kitchen table, reshelving books that I recently finished reading, or snapping a picture for my Instagram gratitude project. With that being said, if I take the average of both weeks, I realistically have 14.5 hours that I could be using to complete courses that I have purchased, scrapbook, read more, or strength-train (fitness). It is now up to me to prioritize my time which will ultimately help me achieve my goals. Additionally, I must adhere to that scheduled time that also includes built-in wiggle room.

Why is wiggle room important? You just never know when something unexpected will require your attention, such as getting a call back for a play you auditioned for earlier in the week. Yep, I auditioned at the Columbia Theatre for The House on Haunted Hill this past Monday evening. Surprise! I got a call back for Wednesday evening. I auditioned strictly for the experience since I had a conflict the second weekend of the show. While it would have been terrific to be a part of this production, I did not get cast which is fine because Kelsi and I have oodles planned for September and October. Happiness Boost!

Thankfully, I have only one commitment after work this week, and it is to spend a wonderful evening with my fabulous book club friends to discuss Mexican Gothic. Therefore, for the remainder of today, I will schedule my upcoming week and create a to-do list of the tasks that I need to accomplish before this weekend. As for my running schedule, I’m on Week #4: Walk 10 minutes (warm up). Run 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute (repeat this 3-minute session 5 times). Walk 10 minutes (cool down). My goal for this week is to follow this routine at least three days this week. On the other days, I will walk at least 20 minutes to keep up my walking streak and try to incorporate some strength training and biking. I did not strength train or bike this past week.

Life is unpredictable, dear reader, but that is what makes it so interesting. My hubby, Andrew, and I enjoyed breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel, and I treasured every minute we were together just being together. I’m excited to start a new week, especially one that is practically a blank slate. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon by spending your time doing something that boosts your happiness and adds value to your life. Happiness!

“When you feed your soul by spending time on things you love, that you are excited about, your enthusiasm becomes contagious.” ~ Rita Davenport

Top photo by Juan Vargas on Pexels.com

Happy Sunday, dear reader! My hubby and I decided to have breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel before grocery shopping at Walmart. We had wonderful service provided by Kenley and a yummy meal. I ordered the Momma’s French Toast Breakfast (French toast, two eggs cooked over easy, sausage). Barry ordered the Sunrise Sampler. Kenley also brought me a small bowl of grits. I definitely did not eat clean this morning, but it was well-worth the extra calories.

After breakfast, we briefly looked around the Cracker Barrel store which always has neat merchandise. I was specifically looking at autumn and Halloween decor. Kelsi and I have planned a few hours at the beginning of September to go shopping for Autumn/Halloween decorations. We are actually planning to vlog about our shopping adventure.

On Friday evening, I actually tried vlogging for the first time to get some practice. The hubster and I planned to enjoy a Friday the 13th thematic date night at home. As soon as Barry got home from work on Friday afternoon, we headed over to Ultimate Party Store in Hammond to purchase a Jason Voorhees mask and found some cheap shot glasses and drinking glasses for the adult beverage we had picked out for the evening. Our next stop was Walmart for our summer camp food and Jason Voorhees drink (hotdogs, hotdog buns, asparagus, mashmallows, Hershey bars, graham crackers, Vodka, Rumchatta, and blue raspberry mix). Unfortunately, Walmart did not have the blue raspberry mix. Neither did Rouses, Winn-Dixie, or Albertsons. Since we struck out on obtaining the last ingredient needed for our thematic drink, I settled on a bottle of Seagram’s Calypso Colada in honor of Camp Crystal Lake (setting for Friday the 13th). On future grocery shopping trips, we will be on the lookout for blue raspberry mix, so we can eventually make a Jason Voorhees drink for either another Friday the 13th evening or as a Halloween treat. I had a great deal of fun recording our quest for the elusive blue raspberry mix. Maybe, one day when I learn to edit a vlog, I’ll share that vlog with you, dear reader.

Once we returned home, Barry prepared the bacon-wrapped asparagus (perfect tribute to Kevin Bacon who stars in Friday the 13th), hotdogs, and chili while I set up the movie. About midway through the film, I made s’mores. Barry passed on the s’mores. The marshmallows we bought were too big. I definitely should have cut one in half. Despite not being able to make our thematic drink, everything turned out terrific, especially the bacon-wrapped asparagus. Additionally, we loved watching the movie which neither one of us had seen in a REALLY long time. Friday the 13th is an American slasher film that was released in May 1980. In my opinion, it is a classic slasher film that holds up well even today. Fun fact: Jason Voorhees as an adult wearing a hockey mask does not even appear in the first film. It had been so long since I had seen it last that I totally forgot about him not being in it. Barry and I had so much fun rewatching the first film, that in the future, we plan to watch the rest of the movies in the Friday the 13th franchise.

While on the subject of slasher films, Kelsi and I had an overall chat about our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon, and we streamed it on YouTube LIVE from her lair. It was the very first time that I have ever streamed live online. Usually, we record our chats via Zoom. We had so much fun being together again in person, and I’m proud of myself and how well our chat turned out. I put my improv skills to good use. You can check out this conversation, our other movie marathon chats, and much more of Kelsi’s awesome content on her Slime and Slashers – A Nostalgia & Horror Channel. You can also click on the link below. Collaborating and creating content with Kelsi is a definite happiness boost for me.

It’s time for me to wrap up, but before I do, let me update you on tracking my time and my running schedule.

Time Tracking

Instead of tracking my time for just one week, I chose to track my time this past week as well. This gives me two weeks to compare time sucks, scheduled commitments, and free time that can be devoted to my personal/professional goals. My time tracking officially ends at 5:00 tomorrow morning. I’ll share my findings this week. It will be interesting to see how my time tracking logs from August compare to my time tracking log from January of this year. The logs will determine how I plan to spend my extra time for the rest of the year and which goals will be completed in 2021 or roll over into 2022. I’m excited to analyze the data and get back on track.

Running Schedule

As for my running schedule, Week 2 (09 August-15 August) was a continuation of Week 1 but with picking up the pace, pumping my arms, and breaking a sweat added to the mix. I successfully met my goals for both weeks. For Week 3, I am making a slight adjustment to the times since I will be running and walking this week. Week #3: Walk 10 minutes (warm up). Run 1 minute. Walk 2 minutes (repeat this 3-minute session 5 times). Walk 10 minutes (cool down). My goal for this week is to follow this routine at least three days this week. On the other days, I will walk at least 20 minutes to keep up my walking streak and try to incorporate some strength training and biking.


School is in full swing, and I’m slowly but surely getting back into my daily day job routine. I will tell you, dear reader, having Fridays off is a huge game changer. I am extremely happy that I was given the opportunity to work only four days per week. Of course, there will be a couple of weeks sprinkled throughout the year that I may work a Friday, but I will have another day off during that week to compensate for it. Lots to look forward to in the next couple of weeks, including a final chat with Kelsi related to our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon and a Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club meeting to discuss Mexican Gothic. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of what this Sunday has to offer, stay safe, and choose kind. Happiness!

“Live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find eternity in each moment. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Today starts a brand new month with a blank slate to create new habits, new memories, and new content. I love the start of a new month, especially after a long break or being out of my normal routine which has definitely been the case for me the last two months. It’s time to begin anew!

Tomorrow morning, I report back to work to start another year at HGCS. I’ll remain in my position as an Instructional Coach; however, I will only be working four days a week. YEP! I’m extremely excited about having Fridays off to pursue other endeavors. I’ve been wanting to reduce my hours at my day job for quite awhile, so I am happy that it has finally become a reality. The faculty will meet for the first two days this week with time to work in our classrooms after lunch each day. Our students officially start on Wednesday which will be a half day for them.

Since I truly embraced the summer break with vim and vigor, I will track my time for a week, starting tomorrow. Tracking my time will help me to reFOCUS and get back on course with my goals which I mentioned in my “A Lesson from Impatience” post. I’ve been suffering from hayfever for about a week, so I’ve abandoned some of my good practices and been kind of lazy. It will be a good week to get back into the swing of things at work and use my afternoon/evenings for contemplation and creative work.

My new running shows arrived yesterday afternoon. You know what that means, dear reader! Tomorrow starts my running program. I have been on a walking streak since 23 March 2020 and lost 13 pounds on the first round of the Fast Burn Challenge. I’m ready to take it up a notch by adding running and strength training to my fitness regimen. My running goal is to become a 30-minute runner by the end of the year. The running program that I use is designed for 10 weeks; however, I plan to listen to my body to determine my progress. Week #1: Walk 30 minutes a day, at least three times a week.

And, I would be remiss if I did not mention that today is my sweet baby’s birthday. Andrew is officially 20 years old today. What an AWESOME reason to celebrate the first day of August! We actually celebrated the anniversary of his birth yesterday with family. He had simple requests…his dad to BBQ hamburgers and hotdogs, and I bake him a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. My gift to him, books of course, at his request.

Even though the summer season has technically not ended, my summer break is a few hours away from taking its final bow. Surprisingly, I’m ready for the next season in my life. I feel certain I can accomplish a great deal in the upcoming months and finish this year healthier and happier. I’m almost finished writing my blog post on my adventure at This Is The Place Heritage Park in Utah which I hope to publish sometime this week. Kelsi and I will also be chatting this week on the remaining films we watched for our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon. If you haven’t checked out our conversation about the Fear Street trilogy that premiered on Netflix in July, please check it out on Kelsi’s YouTube channel or click on the link below. And, finally the members of the Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club chose Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia as our August selection. Lots of awesome content to pass the time. In the meantime, dear reader, please stay safe, appreciate the little things, and spread lots of love. Happiness!

“Life isn’t a race, it’s a dance. Every step forward and every step back, stepping sidewards and twirling in circles, are part of the dance we call life.” ~ Matthew Kelly 

Top photo by Fauzan Fitria on Pexels.com

I woke up yesterday morning in my own bed at home filled to the brim with gratitude after spending an incredible week in Utah with my sweet Aunt Carolyn and my awesome cousins. Their hospitality was AMAZING, the mountains were beautiful, and the memories will last for a lifetime. My Aunt Carolyn is one of my favorite people on the planet. We always have lots to talk about, and we pick up where we left off, like no time has passed since the last time we saw each other or talked to one another on the phone.

The only two people missing from this visit were my cousin Max, who now lives in San Antonio, and my charming Uncle Charles, who passed away three years ago. Uncle Charles was one of my Daddy’s older brothers and Aunt Carolyn’s sweetheart. Thankfully, I was able to visit his place of rest to tell him how much he is missed. He loved to tell stories and jokes. I always enjoyed spending time with him.

The last time I was physically in Utah was back in June of 2000 when my Daddy, my hubby, and me flew to the beehive state. With my Aunt Carolyn turning 80 years old in November 2020, and it being seven years (yikes!) since I had last seen my family from Utah at my cousin Max’s wedding in San Antonio, I knew it was time for a visit. I sent a message to my cousin Karen, who Aunt Carolyn lives with these days (in her beautiful basement apartment), and we set a date for me to come stay with them.

Back Row: (Daddy, Karen, Kat) and Front Row: (Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Charles, Barry, Sr.)

The week started off with my friend Kathryn and I traveling together. We flew out of the NOLA airport early Monday morning (12 July), changed planes in Houston, and landed in Salt Lake City before noon. While I was visiting my family in Tooele (about 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City), she was visiting her daughter and son-in-law in Salt Lake City.

Karen and Aunt Carolyn retrieved me from the airport, and my vacay in Utah was underway. This trip to Utah was all about spending time with family. Karen is married to John, and they have three terrific children (Samantha aka Sam or Sami, Zach, and Taylor). The last time I was in Utah, they were all young children.

Zachary, Taylor, and Samantha

On Monday and Tuesday while Karen and John were at work, my Aunt Carolyn and I hung out at the house or ran errands in Salt Lake City or Tooele. We ate lunch at Applebee’s on Monday and Chili’s on Tuesday. On Monday evening, Karen picked up pizzas on her way home for dinner. She bought them from Papa Murphy’s Pizza where they make fresh from scratch pizza that can be baked, grilled, or smoked at home. I had a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza along with salad and a breadstick. The meal was delicious! Sam along with her adorable three-year-old twins, Carsen and Cory, joined us for dinner.

On Tuesday evening, Karen and Sam cooked dinner for all of us which was yummy (pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans). I got to spend some more time with the twins. They are so much fun! Zach, his wife Teshia, and their adorable baby Maverick joined us for dinner. Zach has a lovely family. Later that evening, Taylor and I took the family dogs, Hobbs and Murphy, for a walk around the neighborhood. Even on vacation, I need to keep up my walking streak, and Taylor was the perfect walking buddy.

On Wednesday morning, Karen went with the twins to swim lessons because Sam, who is pregnant with her third baby, had a doctor’s appointment. Afterwards, Karen, Aunt Carolyn, and I had lunch at American Burgers which is one of Aunt Carolyn’s favorite places to eat. I ordered a BLT (my favorite sandwich) which was tasty. Later, Karen took us for a scenic drive. I love the mountains! We passed through Pine Canyon, and when returning to the house, we stopped above Deer Hollow; then, we rode through some neighborhoods where we spotted lots of deer. Deer are beautiful creatures. Utah is unfortunately experiencing a drought, so they’ll come down from the mountains searching for water. In fact, recently, Karen filled up a baby pool for a deer that wandered in her backyard. Her kind gesture was greatly appreciated.

Later that evening, I went out to dinner with Aunt Carolyn and her girlfriends from church. Her friend Cindy provided transportion for us as well as for Joyce, Janine and Janine’s daughter Barbara. Joanne met us at the restaurant, Los Primos (formerly Stockton Miners Cafe), which is located in a nearby town called Stockton. Karen had driven us to Stockton earlier in the day on our sightseeing adventure. I decided to order breakfast for dinner (French toast with two sausage links, an egg, and coffee). I was so excited about the French toast that I forgot to take a picture when I first got my food. HA! The food was awesome and the company was wonderful. Aunt Carolyn’s friends are cool, and I was thankful to be included in their outing. Back at Aunt Carolyn’s place, I walked around the neighborhood (definitely needed a walk after all those carbs). I spotted some quail in a neighbor’s driveway before heading inside. Sam and the twins had come over, so I was able to see them for a little bit. After they left, I hung out with Karen and John. Karen and I stayed up pretty late talking that night. What a delightful day!

On Thursday after noon, we drove to Salt Lake City and spent time at This Is The Place Heritage Park. I am writing a separate post about this excursion later this week. This is the day that I finally got to meet Sam’s husband Michael. Stay tuned!

On Friday morning, I walked around the neighborhood before breakfast since we were having a big family gathering in the evening. Karen had to work, so Aunt Carolyn and I ran a bunch of errands and ate lunch at Jim’s Family Restaurant. I ordered breakfast for lunch (avocado, mushroom, and cheese omelette with hashbrowns and coffee). Scrumptious! On the way back to Karen’s house, we stopped at the cemetary to visit Uncle Charles’s grave. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his funeral because I was out of town for a professional development conference for work. Back at the house, I spent the afternoon getting organized for my departure on Saturday morning. I also spent some quality time with Murphy. Both of Karen’s dogs are super loveable.

Friday evening was FANTASTIC! My cousin Scott and his wife Kim came to the house for dinner with their three children. Zach, his family, Michael and Carsen were all there. Sadly, we were missing Sam and Cory. Cory was feeling unwell, so Sam and Michael decided that he should stay home for the evening. It was an enjoyable evening spent eating fabulous food (everything was sooooo yummy), engaging in carefree conversations, and taking family photos. Karen’s savory macaroni salad and mouthwatering key lime pie were a hit with my taste buds. Scott’s daughter Tylee made a delicious chocolate cake that I thoroughly enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (and chocolate sauce). I definitely splurged this week. Carsen came inside to find me, so I could see the rainbow she spotted in the sky. What a perfect way to end such an amazing week!

Well, dear reader, Saturday morning arrived too quickly. Michael drove Aunt Carolyn and me to the airport where we said our final good-byes. It was time for me to meet Kathryn for our returning flight to Louisiana. What an incredible visit with Aunt Carolyn and my Utah cousins! This trip was assuredly well-spent with some of my favorite people. I felt so welcomed and enjoyed everything that was done for me to make this visit special. The hospitality, generosity, and thoughtfulness of my extended family will never be forgotten. Happiness!

Kat and Kathryn at the Utah Airport (heading back to Louisiana)

“The memories we make with our family is everything.” ~ Candace Cameron Bure

For the most part, I consider myself a patient person. However, I recently learned that I am selectively patient. I had a few days where I was in a sort of holding pattern that forced me to play the waiting game. Initially, it caused me stress, worry, and unhappiness, but then it necessitated several days of quiet reflection. The universe was telling me to slow down and rest. So, I listened and took a break for a few days. I watched several episodes of The Good Place, read, spent time in prayer, reflected, watched a couple of horror movies, read and reflected some more when I realized that I have been in a state of impatience for the last couple of months.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.”

~ Saint Francis de Sales

When I started this year with my 21 for 2021 list and a schedule to accomplish the goals on that list, I was optimistic and energetic because I had a plan. I quickly realized a couple of weeks into January that decluttering and organizing each room in my house was not going to happen. It was difficult finding the time to devote to that task with everything else I wanted to accomplish on my list, so I nixed it in February and planned to revisit it later in the year. Unfortunately, I have not revisited that task since I put it on the back burner and have not even attempted to start many of the other ones on my list.

I really thought that once I wrapped up commitments in April and returned from my trip to Colorado, I would hit the ground running and check items off my list left and right. Instead, I modified one of the items on my list that took more time than was allotted (intermittent fasting), added new activities for the summer (summer fun list), and abandoned some items altogether (completing courses) which led me to becoming distracted, overwhelmed, frustrated, and unproductive concerning my goals. Ultimately, I grew impatient with myself because I set too many goals that required a huge amount of time and commitment and veered off course by creating more options. This epiphany finally hit me when I got sidelined days after writing about my mid-year checkup on my 21 for 2021 list.

The silver lining is I can recuperate from this bout of impatience since I now know what I have been dealing with these last couple of months. I must take the time to re-evaluate my goals for the year, make a few decisions, adjust some of my goals, and restructure how I plan to spend my time for the remainder of this year. I want to have a new plan in place before school starts again in August.

In the meantime, dear reader, I leave for Utah tomorrow morning to visit my Aunt Carolyn and my cousins for a week. I look forward to spending time with family while enjoying a change in scenery. This trip will be a nice way to change my mindset, gain a little clarity, and recharge my batteries. Happiness!

“Patience is power…it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” ~ Fulton Sheen

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

We are at the mid-year point in 2021, dear reader, and it is time for me to evaluate the progress I have made on my 21 for 2021 list thus far. Yesterday marked the end of the second quarter, and I am pleased overall with the progress that I have made from April-June. I not only tried intermittent fasting for one month, but I also created weekly meal plans and maintained a regular fitness regimen. I joined the Fast Burn Challenge on 19 April and for nine weeks followed Dr. Ian K. Smith’s program outlined in his newest book, Fast BurnThe Power of Negative Energy Balance. Since I successfully lost 13 pounds, I am participating in a second round of the program. My hope is to lose another 10 pounds by the end of this nine-week cycle. In addition, I tried seven new restaurants (four just in Colorado) in the second quarter which brings my total up to nine new restaurants in the first half of 2021. I only have three more to go to reach my goal.

The only two goals that I did not reach during the second quarter is completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. Additionally, I did not scrapbook at all during April or May. Honestly, I have had a difficult time managing my time since I returned home from my trip to Colorado. After really thinking about it the last few weeks, I have come to realize that COVID-19 restrictions started loosening up about that time and are almost nonexistant at this point since many people have received the vaccine. Like so many other people, I am doing more (a great deal more) since the first quarter of the year. Therefore, my schedule has changed dramatically because I added new commitments and summer activities to my schedule, and I am spending less time at home. Basically, this means that I will need to be a bit more strategic with managing my time, so I can accomplish both the items on my 21 for 2021 list and enjoy all the fun additions on my schedule.

So, what’s next for the third quarter of the year?

The third quarter (July-September) will essentially look similar to the first half of the year. I will continue to manage my time, eat more vegetables, focus on my health and wellness goals, and scrapbook at least two times per month. Before tackling any new items on my 21 for 2021 list, I will work on completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. I have quite a few fun activities scheduled for July, and school starts back on 02 August. I want to be realistic with how I will be spending my time this next quarter without getting too overwhelmed.

In regards to the fun activities happening in July, one of them is a Summer Slasher Movie Marathon that officially starts today. Kelsi and I will be doing this marathon together and plan to chat about it. Originally, I had chosen 10 movies for the marathon; however, Netflix is releasing three Fear Street movies this month based on R. L. Stine’s Fear Street book series, so I added them to my list.

I will also be reading quite a bit during July. As many of you know, Kelsi and I started a book club, Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club, back in April of this year, and we really love our group. Our members are awesome, and we have had some delightful discussions. Our book club selection for this month is Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz. It is our third selection for this year. Our first selection was Later by Stephen King (May), and our second selection was Video Night by Adam Cesare (June). Both books are terrific reads. I am 86 pages into Children of the Dark and enjoying it up to this point.

Today starts the third quarter of 2021, and I am hopeful (as always) that I will spend the next three months accomplishing some goals while having fun and boosting my happiness. With that being said, it is time to reFOCUS and get started. Happiness!

 “The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.” ~ Barbara De Angelis

Movy

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