Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Blog Readers!

Love, Ben, Monica & Cali

Stay tuned in 2011 for an exciting announcement regarding our blog!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Friday Quickie!

At lunch today
Monica: I really need to find a new hairdresser, I'm starting to look Amish.
Ben: Hmmm...
Monica: Ugh, I even have split ends.
Ben: You're just now noticing?
(Ben has no idea what split ends are.)

What the Art?!
A few weeks ago we (mostly Ben) painted our living room and dining room a light gray and it turned out great! I was in the process of reaccessorizing and came across a metal wall art piece that was 50% off at Hobby Lobby.
I held it up for Ben to see and he described it as "dreadful." In my defense, I wasn't sure about it from the get-go. I proceeded to drag Ben kicking and screaming to Garden Ridge where we picked out a piece of art that was much more our style.
Cali Update
Our poor puppy was doing fantastic on her raw diet until we had a minor set back while traveling over Thanksgiving. She's been pretty scratchy since then, but I think a b-a-t-h (that's how we say it when she's around) this weekend will help a lot. Also, she has transitioned to her "winter bed" and spends most of her time doing this...
So do any other hubbys out there actually know what split ends are? Any couples ever run into a decorating dilemma with wall art? I'm pretty sure we have the cutest, and laziest puppy in the world! Enjoy your December, "Christmas month" weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

"A Ravenous Wolf"

Ben recently informed me that this is the other definition of his name besides "son of my right hand" - I think it fits! He is my favorite person in this world & I would like to wish him an amazing 30th birthday! Here are 10 of my favorite things about this guy...
  1. His solo interpretive dancing skills
  2. How he can invent games at will with random objects
  3. Being a fantastic daddy to Cali
  4. How he sings Carol of the Bells with me in barks & meows
  5. Even after 7 yrs, we still have our own couple language
  6. His introspective thought process
  7. When we walk up stairs, he spanks my butt (usually at church)
  8. His FD (final decision) skills
  9. How he secretly loves to cuddle every night in bed
  10. He's my sugar daddy & works hard to provide for our little family
I love you, b!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Packin' Heat Like an NFL Player at a Nightclub

9 PM Last night
Ben:  We need to start packing for tomorrow.
Monica:  You know how I pack.  I don't feel like it tonight.
Ben:  You know what I like to do when I don't want to pack?
Monica:  DANCE!
Ben:  Exactly!

I then proceeded to dance, solo as usual, to a Genius Playlist on the iPhone, starting with the song Hangin' Around by Counting Crows, for the next 30 minutes. One of the advantages of having all wood floors is that the dancing can carry on to any room! Monica read her book about a girl who apparently mutilated herself with tattoos of dragons (What?!?! No vampires!). Finally, we went to bed...unpacked!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've Got a Bad Case of Lovin' for You

Post Lunch Conversation
Monica: You really need to give me more positive reinforcement for all the times I get water instead of Dr. Pepper, like I did today.
Ben: I noticed, but I didn't say anything because I assume you are getting water because you want to.
Monica: Well, all I get is negative reinforcement when I get Dr. Pepper, even when I've gotten water the last ten times before getting Dr. Pepper.
Ben:  That's not true.  Negative reinforcement is really positive reinforcement for you when it comes to Dr. Pepper ("and most others things," I thought, but did not say).
Monica: You're right about that.
Ben: What's with you and all this talk about "process"?

I think this stuff would make a good comic strip. Also, I beam with pride when my wife speaks about process, except when she uses it against me. That's it! Our comic strip will be called "Processed Benica," which kind of sounds like a type of deli meat one should avoid putting on sandwiches.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthday Present

Monica:  I thought of something perfect for your birthday, and I need to know how much I can spend, because I know if I spend too much, you won't enjoy it.
Ben:  Okay, $50.
Monica:  It is an experience, something we can always remember.
Ben:  Sounds like something you really want to do.  You just want me to keep going up until it meets how much you want to spend.
Monica:  <silence>
Ben:  $150.
Monica:  Deal.
Ben:  I knew I should have started lower.  Just take back that coffee table you bought and that should help.
Monica:  No, that is an investment in our house.

If you carpooled with us every morning, you, too, could be privy to such stimulating conversation everyday. It would be worth the gas money we'd make you pay.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"There is nothing more demoralizing than a small but adequate income." Edmund Wilson

My typing fingers are back by popular demand (i.e. one of my avid readers requested I put the "Friday" back in my Friday blog). Last weekend we drove up to Nashville for a super fun Halloween party. I know everyone has been dying to know what our most original costume idea was (drum role please)... we dressed up as none other than our friend's dogs, Little Mister and Little Sister!
We were a big hit, even though we only took home 2nd prize in the overall costume contest due to a pretty awesome Beetlejuice and Lydia couple. Where's Waldo?
My Office Quote of the Week
This week I asked "Hey good looking guy" how he was doing to which he responded, "My head is above ground, so pretty good." If that isn't a positive attitude, then I don't know what is.

The return of the cocoon. When Ben and I were dating, he and his roommate Austin had a funny habit of sleeping in their sleeping bags on the floor of the living room of their apartment instead of their beds. I saw this as a little odd and simply passed it off as one of those "guy things" I didn't quite understand.

Little did I know that the "cocoon" would become a constant companion to Ben in the winter months throughout our marriage. I've tried everything from complaining about the smell of this hideous green bag to referring to Ben as Linus with his security blanket, but nothing has worked.
What were you for Halloween this year or what has been your favorite Halloween costume of all time? Anyone else out there have a spouse who brought an unwanted item into their marriage that they can't seem to get rid of? Did you ever find Waldo? Enjoy your extra hour of sleep and have a beautiful fall weekend everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Halloween should be a day where we honor monsters and not be mad at each other."

Did you miss me? I have pretty much been MIA since our Portland adventure, besides that last pondering life/Debbie Downer blog post I snuck in. I guess you could say that we've had the post-vacation blues. You plan and look forward to something for months, then you come back to everyday life. After you've made sure your house hasn't been broken into (is that just us?), pet your beloved dog and watch all the TV shows you DVR'd, you begin to wonder what you have to look forward to. In our case, it's Halloween!

The costume debate of 2010 was a doozy! Since we said our "I do's," there have been several disputes about Halloween costumes including what we should be, whether it should be homemade or prefab, and whether or not we should dress up in the first place. We are both against prefab costumes and the arguing usually commences when I pressure Ben to come up with the perfect costume idea - after all, he's the witty, humorous one.

I spent hours researching the internet for ideas and spouting off ones I liked just to have a grunt here and there from Ben which translates into "no" in man language. In the end, we went with one of Ben's original ideas and we will definitely be in the running for the Most Original Costume award at the party. Tune in next week for pics!

Cali is going raw. Has anyone seen the documentary Raw for 30 Days? We watched it several months ago and really liked the concept. We had a fleeting pipe dream of trying to go raw ourselves, but then we went out for juicy hamburgers and forgot about it. We took the philosophy of all good parents and decided to do something good for our dog that we aren't willing to do for ourselves.

The past 6 months Cali has been suffering from severe allergies and last week we started her on a completely raw diet. It will take awhile to see if this will be the miracle cure, but she LOVES it! It is a little inconvenient having to de-salmonella her dish, the counter tops and our hands at every feeding, but if this works it will totally be worth it!

What do you do to jump start your zeal for life post-vacation? What original Halloween costume ideas have you come up with? Has anyone out there tried a raw diet for themselves or their pets? I leave you with a sneak peak of our family fall photo shoot done by one of our favorite Oklahoma photographers, Mandy Stansberry.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas Edison

We are all waiting to be inspired. We were talking to our chiropractor yesterday and he was telling us about a wellness seminar similar to one we had been to previously. Ben jokingly told him that the last one we went to didn't make us change, so why would we go to another one.

I started thinking about how many things we've done and invested in lately to inspire us to change. It all started with one crazy book and an impromptu road trip to Taco Bueno. Ben bought me a nice camera, I trained as a home stager, we were trained in Japanese Reiki, I invested in marketing for my business, Ben is investing in office space to start a private practice, we have read countless books and watched countless movies about this subject, and finally we flew across the country to Portland to go to the Storyline Conference.

In a sense we've come full circle. It has been almost exactly a year since we started making investment after investment to be inspired. Are we living a better story? Are the characters in our story any different than they were a year ago? Have we created inciting incidents? 

If a good story must include conflict, then we are some of the greatest storytellers of all time! We decided not to be on a mission team to Ireland that we were committed to and had trained with for over a year, while on a walk Ben decided that if this was what marriage is then he didn't want it, Ben's truck died and we became a 1-car family, my grandpa passed away, I went from working 40 hrs/wk to 10 hrs/wk nearly cutting our income in half, Ben made a professional decision that would potentially keep us in Memphis for 3 more yrs. Some of these were choices and some of these were just life ...all of them have been incredibly difficult.

What have you invested in the last year to inspire you? If you were reading a book about your life, would your character be exciting? If there's anyone in our family that's living a great story, it's Cali:)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Portland: An Inciting Incident

We just returned from a 5-day trip to Portland, Oregon which is currently weighing heavy on our hearts. I feel like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire listening to Free Fallin' after having just been fired from his job, pondering the all important question we all ask ourselves at different intervals in our lives, "What now?"

Just as Tom Cruise created an Inciting Incident for himself, our trip to Portland was definitely an inciting incident that we will look back on as the launching point for some big life decisions.
Unfortunately, conflict tends to piggyback change and is ultimately how we grow. It seems much easier to just call it a day, not make any changes and watch more TV. Oh the comfortable lives we live, they are both a blessing and a curse!

I asked Ben today if he thinks he will have to tell our kids someday how their mom is crazy, to which he responded, "You really think I'll have to tell them?" I am usually the one who comes up with the crazy ideas and Ben is the realist who brings me back down to earth. Our goal now is to find a happy medium that we both want and can commit to.
Here's what all we squeezed into our trip in less than 100 words: Mark Spencer Hotel, Little Big Burger, Powell's Books, Kenny and Zuke's, Voodoo Doughnut, Saturday Market, Stumptown Coffee, Nike World Headquarters, Seaside Beach, Cannon Beach, Jake's Famous Crawfish, Eagle Creek Trail, Multnomah Falls, The Storyline Seminar held at the Gerding Theater at the Armory, Henry's Tavern, test screening of independent film Sironia at Living Room Theaters, Clyde Common, city view at Portland City Grill, Columbia Employee Outlet Store... WHEW!
We also met a wonderful couple named Matt and Laura Corbin who were nice enough to take us hiking, show us around Portland and have us over for an amazing dinner in their home.

One of my best friends from college and her husband (Christel and Sam) who live in Houston also joined us on the trip. It's probably a rare thing that you have the opportunity to share a hotel room and put your make-up on with your college roommate several years down the road and we loved sharing this experience with them!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Great Northwest Awaits

We're headed up to Portland tomorrow for a little vacation in conjunction with Donald Miller's Living a Better Story Seminar.  His book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years was/is a life-changer for us.  We decided part of our story would include this trip to Portland as an investment in our lives.  Plus, it's Portland, hello!

I was joking with Monica the other day because after being inspired by Don's book, we had some real excitement about a new story; however, as the inspiration dwindled and time moved on, we started a new story called "How to Try Without Really Succeeding."  It's like we have these ideas and want to live better stories, but our efforts just lead to more of the same.  And yet, sometimes the conflict to overcome in a story is self-sabotage...

In fact, as the saying should go, the more things stay the same, the more they change [in order to stay the same]. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's amazing what we will do to survive, yet what we are willing to endure not to suceed.

Fallin' for Fall
Last weekend when I got my last pedicure of the season with my sis-in-law, I realized how excited I am about fall! This summer during the weeks of 100+ degree weather, I daydreamed about wearing cute scarves, brisk cool mornings and taking walks with Ben and Cali without almost passing out. Ben is excited about making crock pot stew and chili. Is there anywhere in the world that has fall-like weather year round? If so, sign me up!
Is Entrepreneurship a Trend?
I've noticed in a lot of movies lately the lead actor/actress owns their own business. In Love Happens, Burke is a motivational speaker and Eloise owns a flower shop. In The Back-up Plan, Stan takes over his parent's goat farm/cheese manufacturing company and Zoe owns a pet shop. The list goes on and on and in every case it seems simple enough to be a successful small business owner.

Hollywood has fooled us once again my friends because I am here to tell you that it is not so simple! There are days that I wonder if anyone in this world will ever actually pay me to do what I want to do. Yesterday was one of those days and Ben promptly took me to Memphis Pizza Cafe (while scoring some major husband points!). I know, I know, it's the journey not the destination blah, blah, blah. I'm just having a tough time seeing the big picture where all of this is going to work out and I can be a happy, carefree business owner like Eloise or Zoe.

What Inspires You?
Another way to phrase this is "What gives you energy?" For me personally, it can be as simple as doing a mini room makeover or adding a few splashes of fall decorations to our home. I love buying fresh flowers and planning our weekly menu around fresh veggies we pick up at the Farmer's Market.

I like to entertain and to set our table with fun centerpieces and napkins. Organization is my middle name and I can't be much happier after tackling a disorganized drawer or closet. Traveling, ahhh traveling - experiencing new things, smells, cultures. Sleeping in, cuddling with Ben while watching a movie, listening to the rain...

What are your favorite things about fall? Is being a small business owner only for fictional Hollywood characters? What everyday things give you inspiration?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. ~Gandhi

"Benica the Tool Men" Thompsons
I have been on the verge of "going ape on our house" for awhile now in the form of home improvement projects. I've held off using everything from the weather to being addicted to HGTV where I watch OTHER people do home improvement projects as excuses. Today I took a big step and started the prep work for fixing the giant crack in our living room ceiling (of course while watching HGTV steps!). Ben has joked for awhile that when it's time to sell our house that we'll be able to sell it as a duplex, so I thought this was a good place to start.

Friends are Friends Forever
This week was probably one of the most emotional weeks of my life! We said goodbye to two of our bestest friends in this world, Craig and Merschon. As Ben said, they have been some major players in our lives and have been a part of our story ever since we arrived in Memphis almost exactly 6 yrs. ago. We were able to spend a lot of time with them last week reminiscing and telling each other all the things we love about each other.

This was not just a goodbye, but also a huge blow to my heart that we are not going to Dublin to be missionaries on the team with them. We are super excited to see how God works through them in Ireland!
Happy Anniversary to b and m
We also celebrated our (drum role please) ...7 year anniversary! Not too much to report. There were surprise flowers, a nice lunch and dinner and two Hallmark cards purchased that were never filled out because we got into our traditional "big days are too much pressure and we eventually argue" moods.

We have a trip planned to Portland in September that was supposed to be a belated anniversary trip, but now I'm going to say that it has nothing to do with our anniversary so it won't suck. Thankfully, the day after our anniversary we were back to normal and liked each other again. One thing that has kept us smiling in our marriage is Ben's humor. The pic below shows what happened when I dragged Ben to Michaels one day - gotta love that guy!
Anyone have any big fall home improvement projects planned? How do you stay motivated to accomplish said projects? Are there any other couples out there that suffer from "anniversary paralysis" when it comes to making that day perfect? We'd love to hear your feedback!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"And may my love travel with you everywhere Yeah may my love travel with you always." TP

Workaholics Anonymous 
I sit here at Panera alone this Saturday morning while Ben entertains 4 ladies at our house. You heard that right, the past several weeks I've lost Ben to these women because they have had meeting after meeting after meeting. They are the other therapists that Ben is partnering with to share office space for his private practice. Of course, this may be nothing compared to the night and weekend hours he will spend apart from me when he starts seeing clients.

We have somehow managed throughout the course of our marriage not to become workaholics. Unfortunately, it seems inevitable that, to take that leap of faith we've both committed to in pursuing careers out of who we are, this may have to be a chapter in our story. Ben will soon be balancing working a full-time job with starting a private practice. Someday, I will be balancing having a home staging business with being a full-time mom.

Ultimately, our goal is to both be working part-time with full-time incomes because we are so awesome at what we do. Then we will both be able to play a big part in raising our future children (ScreamFree, of course).

My New Goal
This may sound silly, but I've been thinking a lot lately about how much I admire people who seem truly happy and content about where they are. It seems that in life we are constantly looking forward to the next step... kindergarten, junior high, high school, turning 16, college, turning 21, finishing school, starting a career, getting married, buying a house, getting a puppy, having kids, getting those kids out of the house, becoming a grandparent, retiring, traveling.

I think I tend to miss out on the good stuff because I'm so anxious about the next step. I want to love the city and house I live in, the number in my bank account, the things I have, the mistakes I'm making and learning from, the point I'm at in my faith, and the people I share life with right now.

That would be an accurate description of the early anniversary present I gave Ben yesterday. I had this brilliant idea when looking for a gift for Ben on the internet last week that I would give him a piece of art and that could become a tradition (I heart traditions by the way!). The problem was that I may have chosen a piece of art that was a lot more me than him. He likes it, but you could see in his eyes that he saw this as an "excuse" for me to get something that I really wanted. Back to the drawing board I suppose...

I can honestly say that this past year of marriage with Ben has been the toughest yet. We both grew and challenged ourselves, and in doing so our marriage, more than ever before! We stopped being content in life and took leaps of faith.

I can also say with absolute certainty that Monday when we celebrate 7 yrs. together that I love and want this man on a level I never thought possible. Every single day he challenges me with his thoughts, his actions, and of course his humor. When I said "I do" I had no idea the adventures in life we would share. I love where we are right now and where we're going. I love you, Ben. Happy Anniversary, baby!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Funny Story and Quick Update...

Ben-1, Monica-0
This Memphis summer has been sweltering to say the least! Several nights right before bed, Ben and I have debated about whether the ceiling fan in our bedroom was rotating the right way because we could hardly feel any air blowing. A couple of those times Ben suggested that these ceiling fan air filters I put on the top of the fan blades may be causing the problem. I, being the self confident wife that I am, scoffed at this idea - I mean why would they even be allowed to sell such a thing if that were the case?!

Last week, as I was about to enter my usual hot sleep coma and was too tired to protest, Ben took off the air filters and WALA! Magically the fan became like Ooook-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain! We have enjoyed sleeping in much cooler conditions and Ben has enjoyed rubbing it in my face that he was right. I have to give him one every now and then.

What have we been up to you may ask? What HAVEN'T we been up to is the more appropriate question. I have been on road trips to Hot Springs, Springfield and Nashville within a 2 week span. I celebrated my big birthday with friends and family and Tom Petty was very excited to see us at his concert in Nashville! I will leave you with a couple of pics from the concert and with the anticipation of the return of my regularly scheduled Friday blog this Friday...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Epic 3-Day Battle with the Lawn Mower

I don't have the greatest history with yard equipment. The fight is usually not pretty and does not usually end well. At some point there is a comical scene where I end up hurting myself trying to show the yard equipment who's boss.

So, when the lawn mower quit starting on Monday, I knew it would be another battle in the war on lawn equipment...

Monday, I pulled and pulled on the rope with the handle that is just a little too small for an average human hand. After pushing the primer bubble 10x more than needed, the thing still wouldn't start. In my frustration I put the mower back in the shed and proceeded to slam the door shut. <SNAP> ...the force broke the handle off the shed door. Lawn equipment 1, Ben 0.

Tuesday, I let all the excess gas drain from the over priming on Monday and proceeded to try to start it again. No luck. Beat the learning curve, Ben, you can do it! I stopped trying to start it and took the air filter off the mower and it was caked in 6 years of oily, gassy gunk. I cleaned it and tried to start the mower again...nothing. Moving up on the evolutionary scale exponentially at this point, I went to Home Depot and bought a new air filter and read on the package, "Replace this every 3 months or every 25 hours of operation." Whoops! Hoping this would be the salvation, the turning point of the war, my Saratoga, I installed it. Victory! The mower started for 30 seconds and then died, even with an oil change. Mower 2, Ben .5 points for not hurting myself or breaking anything.

Wednesday: Thinking back to Home Depot, I knew I had to go back like Jack Shephard knew he had to go back to the island. I had to get a spark plug, especially after seeing how burned up the one was that I pulled off the mower. Spark plug replaced, engine primed, cord pulled...BLAST OFF! Battle won! This thing purred like a cat that just figured out how to receive love without having to give any back.

On another note I must admit that this mower has not been running well for 4 years. Rather than doing anything about it, I just figured each mow might be its last. Like a good American consumer, I thought, "I'll just buy a new one when this piece of junk dies" (albeit, due to my neglect of oil changes, spark plugs, and air filters). I was not motivated to do anything to take care of it until it didn't work anymore, but I had plenty of motivation to complain about its quality along the way. Isn't that life for so many of us? It's not much of one, that's for sure!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Blog Susbstitute--The One Call Resolution

So, I am guessing with Monica's awesome birthday entry, that she would take the day off from blogging. I could be wrong, but I'm going to go ahead and not ask her. Oh, that just happens to be what I am going to write about today.

I have observed the One Call Resolution lately. The One Call Resolution is a term I use to describe those things that you don't know, but could know by making one phone call. I guess you could also use email and face-to-face conversations as well. I think the fewer degrees of separation between you and your answer, the weaker your excuses are about why you don't have that answer.

For instance, we want a second car. I need to make one call to the local credit union to see how we can get a loan and for how much. I've known this for a long time, but continue to make excuses about not knowing if we can afford a car. Based on the Resolution principle, my excuses about not getting the answer are exceptionally week because there is only one degree of separation here.

Why do we keep putting off things we could know by making a simple call? If we apply this idea to the relational aspects of our lives, it seems to make more sense.  I mean how often have I assumed somebody thought or said something about me, but I never made a call to find out if it was true? How many times have I thought, "I wonder what so and so meant when they said such and such?"  Why is it harder to make a call than it is to complain about how I don't know know what is going on?

This seems like one of those things I should blame on Satan! He/she/it seem to get all the credit for emotion and anxiety these days!

And that, my friends, is what I call a blog comment squasher! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's in a Birthday?

Here I sit on my 30th (that's right, I admit it with pride) birthday treating myself to a bday bagel at Panera. Some might say that I make too big a deal out of my birthday and that it is a classic case of "oldest child" syndrome. I am one of the only people in our group of friends that still has a bday party year after year. It's like as we get older, we're supposed to feel less special on this day. I break all the rules and relish in feeling special and loved and able to do anything I want!
A good friend asked me last night, if I thought back when I turned 20, who I thought I would be and what I would be doing by the time I turned 30. In the summer of '00, I was about to be a junior in college and was preparing to go on a study abroad program that fall semester. Oh the things I learned on that trip and how it changed the course of my life! I had done very little traveling prior to that and then somehow by experiencing different cultures and realizing just how big this world is, it became a part of me. Since then I have continued to add stamps to my passport and have made it a priority.

At our families going away dinner for Pac Rim, the speaker told our parents to look around the room because he said it was very possible that their future son or daughter-in-law were there. That ended up being the case for us because it was that fall that Ben and I first met. About a week into the trip at the Summer Palace in Beijing, Ben and I went under a bridge together in a boat that we were told by our tour guide had a legend that whoever went under the bridge would be married someday. What an amazing man I have been blessed to share life with these past 10 yrs!

Finally, I think of how confused I was entering my junior year of college still not having declared a major. My degree and the knowledge I obtained during those years was great, but the life experiences and people I met helped shape who I am today to the core. I have had several careers since then and have learned things about myself in all of them. I don't know back then if I would have ever dreamed I would be 30 and own my own business, but here I am doing a job out of who I am and my gifts.

Throughout my story of travel, love and career I am feeling beyond blessed on this, my birth day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wanting a Better Marrriage Story, Take 1

In a turning point of our marriage, I had a forbidden thought for a married Christian man and summoned the courage to say it out loud:

“If this is how our marriage is going to be, then I'm not sure I want it.”

Expecting my wife to respond with the fury of God Almighty, she surprised me by thinking about it calmly on the outside, although I had offended her on the inside, she later told me. By the end of our walk, however, we decided to have the marriage we never wanted because we were too busy needing it. In other words, we wanted a better marriage story, because this script sucked.

Marriage is hard when it is about meeting each other's emotional needs and striving for an unrealistic compatibility--I've tried and I've just ended up losing myself trying to be someone I'm not. The result is always two needy people. If marriage is about meeting needs, then I will make sure I have needs my wife needs to meet. If all our previous efforts to be more fulfilled by the other failed, then we had a choice: we could either spend the rest of our lives in a story similar to that of a carousal horse, or we could live something that doesn't spend forever going in circles with the fear that a fat kid will sit on us.

In the next year, we plan to do two things. The first is to live our own separate lives creating stories that don't fully depend on the other. We are committed to supporting each other without functioning for each other because we found that getting over-involved with the other person's story always makes the over-involved one the conflict to overcome in that story.

I would rather not be the conflict that Monica needs to overcome to achieve her goals. It would be much nicer to be her husband.

As a result, on a career level, we are both starting new businesses that play to our God-given, life-developed strengths--Monica as a Professional Home Stager, and Ben as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. One tiny vow we've already made to each other is this: "I, insert name, will not tell you how to run your business or do your job."

The second thing we plan to do is to preach the good news of living a better marriage story. We don't know exactly what this looks like and don't want to tie ourselves down to a definite plan, but this message is beating in our hearts right now. All we know is that wanting our marriage is so much better than needing it! A story worth living is a story worth talking about, so our first goal is to live more fully by taking risks and seeing challenges in marriage where we used to just see roadblocks. We've filled up white erase boards with our story and our ideas to impact others with it. In Portland at Don Miller's seminar, we hope to experience new ideas and thoughts to impact our stories even more; plus, we also want to go to the Saturday market...

At this point I read the rules for the Don Miller "Living a Better Story Contest" and realized I needed to be a bit more specific and that it was way too long! However, I loved what I wrote so far and thought I would post it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

When you decide to be something, you can be it.

Just Call Us Roger Ebert
We have been movie watching fools lately! I would much rather be in the great outdoors walking our exercised deprived puppy, but the 100+ heat index temperatures will not allow that. Here's our tally from this past week: When in Rome (F-), Date Night (A), Bottle Rocket (A), The Bounty Hunter (F), Leap Year (B+), The Departed (A) and we plan to see Invictus, Inception and possibly Eclipse (A+) again this weekend!

The Biggest Loser - Thompson Style
Ok, so not really, but I did stick to my goal of doing Barry's Bootcamp three times this week and it feels great having a regular work out routine again (I don't think that's happened since the summer before Ben and I started dating - gasp!). Let's just say that my motivation is that we want to have a baby SOMEDAY and I would like to start with a healthy slate.

I'm getting into more of a regular schedule with only working two days a week and I am choosing to be productive rather than being an HGTV couch potato (oh HGTV how I love you, let me count the ways...).  I even began doing my first pro bono home staging job this week, so stay tuned for before/after pics! 

What's for Dinner for Dummies
After talking to several couples, I realize that we are not the only people on the planet that have trouble planning meals, going to the grocery store to buy ingredients for said meals and actually following through by making them. This issue spills over into  other areas of our lives as well such as our budget (since most of our money goes towards food) and communicating (when we're at our worst, which is usually at the end of the work day when we're both tired, hungry bears).

Our recent health kick has made this even harder since we're trying to buy healthier food. This week I had had enough! I made a list of 5 meals, went to the grocery store and we actually made dinner at home every night AND took our lunches several days - ahhh, sweet success! We are trying to take baby steps and hope to expand our pasta/pizza/soup and grilled cheese menu.

We Go Places
I had a co-worker ask me this week where I'm going. I was confused by the question thinking he was asking me if we were moving, but he just said that Ben and I seem to always be traveling somewhere. I took it as a compliment because I like to be someone who goes places. I confirmed by telling him that we have a weekend trip to Nashville planned in mid-August to see Tom Petty in concert and that we're headed to Portland at the end of September for our belated anniversary trip.

My previous post about arguing was meant to be thought-provoking, nothing more, nothing less. I got a different impression when my parents called to console me after reading it. No worries, Ben the hen and I are back to our fun and crazy life together! Anyone watched any must-see movies lately? What has motivated you to stick to a regular work-out routine? What do you eat for dinner? Happy weekend everyone!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. ~Barnett R. Brickner

This past week has been crazy town at the Thompson household to say the least! We were able to spend time with lots of friends over the holiday weekend and even caught some fireworks that weren't being illegally shot off on our street. Contrary to the smiles you see above, on Wednesday WWIII broke out in our home and it was NOT a pretty site my friends...

I know that some couples argue a lot and some couples rarely ever argue and I don't think one is better than the other (depending on your definition of arguing). We happen to be one of those couples that have lots of discussions about things and situations that we disagree on, but we only have knock-down, drag-out fights every once in a blue moon.

The best part was that Ben's parents were coming into town on Thursday for a few days. I'm 99% sure that Ben somehow planned the timing of this fight because it got him out of virtually ALL housework in preparation for their visit. We were speaking to each other when necessary and giving pity hugs goodbye (you know, just in case one of us died), but otherwise you could have cut the tension between us with a knife!

Amazingly, several things happened that made me completely flip-flop the stance I was digging my heals into the sand on and we were able to kiss and make up (not because I was in any way wrong of course). Most of our super-size fights all stem from the same basic issue: one of us is trying to force the other one to change in some way.

So what do you guys think about arguing in marriage? Is it healthy or should people that love each other never argue? How do you balance focusing on yourself and your stuff while also living with your spouse and their stuff? Stay tuned for a new book coming out on 2.1.11 called ScreamFree Marriage by Hal Runkel for a very different and insightful approach to marriage.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Walgreen's Phenomenon

Have you heard of the Walgreen's Phenomenon? I hope not, because that means I didn't make it up and I am not as original as I thought. The phenomenon shows up at other stores, but is most pronounced at a Walgreens-type establishment (you know, places that unashamedly sell two liters of Soda for $4).

Here's how it works: You're doing your shopping for some item you just have to have and are willing to pay too much for, and you find it. At this point you decide it is time to go to the front of the 360-degree mirrored store and pay.

What happens next?

Apparently everybody else in the store gets the same idea at the same time--it's time to pay. By the time you get to the front of the store, if you are not first in line, you are now behind 8 people, 6 of whom must have spontaneously regenerated themselves there because you know they weren't in the store a few seconds ago. How in the world is everybody always ready to check out at the same time at Walgreens? And, this is a separate but maybe connected question, why is there always only one checker available at that time?

I have been reading a good deal about different quantum theories lately and actually believe there is more than meets the eye to the Walgreen's Phenomenon. I believe there needs to be some studies done to look for a change in the zero-point field that resonates in every person in the store and then that affects their collective consciousness--as if they are all becoming one.

This is different than the Walgreen's Conundrum which tries to discern why people buy food items at outrageously marked up prices when they could just walk across the street to a real grocery store.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Yeah, but ain't it a blessin to do what you wanna do..." ~Shawn Mullins (Twin Rocks, Oregon)

What a crazy past couple of weeks! It's been SO crazy in fact that I am blogging on a Saturday instead of my traditional Friday blog. Cali had a date with the vet yesterday due to a skin infection and after I had a meltdown (tears and all) while they were shaving big chunks of fur off her, I just wasn't feeling it.

Campy Camp
Last week at camp was a hot one! We had an amazing week out in nature with campers, staff and my entire family! The theme was "Take Heart" and focused on five scriptures where Jesus says those words to people he heals and forgives of their sins. Ben survived being around people for an entire week straight and enjoyed a break from work - he claims he even had some fun <gasp>.  

I ♥ Twilight
Tuesday night I was sitting in a theater a little before midnight hearing people chanting "Team Edward", "Team Jacob" back and forth. A part of me wondered how I had gotten there and how I couldn't remember the last time I was up until 2:30 in the morning. Eclipse was fantastic and it was a lot of fun being there at the premiere with all the die hard fans! This was my favorite out of the three films so far - lots of action and lots more Edward/Bella oooey gooey scenes. I'm heading back to see it for the second time today while Ben watches World Cup games - ahhh, the beauty of compromise.
First Staging Gig
Bright and early this Saturday morning (6A) I had my first official event staging job. I know, I know, you didn't realize that home stagers can actually "stage" anything. A good friend of ours was in charge of hosting a Republican Club breakfast and he gave me the opportunity to stage the event.

I definitely learned a few things such as... ALWAYS wear your hair up in a ponytail when staging because you will get sweaty and DON'T accidentally light an American flag on fire at a political event in your flower arrangement while you are lighting candles (that didn't happen, but I was nervous). I also had to correct a man who kept referring to me as the "table decorator" and explain that I am a professional stager, not a housewife who does this in my free time.

Mostly though, I learned how amazing it feels to wake up in the morning (no matter how early) excited to do what you want to do. The thought of doing that every day is intoxicating.
In case anyone forgot to put it in their iPhone calendars, July 1st marked the first day of my birth month and as Ben revealed to the world in his previous post, this one is a biggie! We're trying to have fun with it instead of freaking out.

I do have one crazy idea about my birthday present I want from Ben - I'll give you a hint, it starts with a "tat" and ends with a "too". One benefit of being friends with people from high school on Facebook and being the youngest person in my grade is that I get to see all of them turn the big 3-0 before I do.

That's all I have for your reading pleasure for now. Stay tuned for more exciting "Not Yet 30 Nights" to report! Happy 4th of July everyone!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not Yet 30 Nights

Lately, we've taken up what we call "Not Yet 30 Nights." They consist of staying up too late with disregard for the next day and doing something fun, you know, like people under 30 do. Once we both hit 30 this year, we're afraid we will turn dreadfully boring, especially since we will be hitting 30 with no kids. That means a two things:  no vicarious living options available via little ones and an increased pressure to have kids for said vicarious living.

Memorable "Not Yet 30 Nights" this week included staying up late on Monday night (okay, only 11:30) to watch a movie having something to do with pineapples and the dangers of drug use, and on Tuesday/Wednesday, Monica going to the midnight premiere of Eclipse while I stayed home and watched Wassup Rockers.  I think Monica got back home at 3 AM. Only one of us had to go to work this morning while the other continued dreaming about eternal vampire love. I hope you can easily decipher who did what!

It was my Great Uncle Roy who introduced to me the term "draggin' bottom" (he used the a-word). What a good description of what I feel right now--of course, I am almost thirty...

Friday, June 18, 2010

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

I would just like to state for the record that I am not writing a Friday blog because Ben wants me to. In fact, as discussed in his previous post, I'm surprised that I would ever write one again considering that strong will of mine. I am choosing to take it as a compliment that I am able to balance out our blog with my fun, witty, less serious posts. Besides, how can you say no to these puppy dog eyes?
Technology Hiatus
We are spending this next week in the great outdoors counseling at my dad's camp session in Missouri. Until last year, my phone did not even get reception there & I was forced to take a break from TV, computer, phone, blog reading, Facebook etc.

Unfortunately, I got my new iPhone right before camp last year & was mesmerized by all the bells, whistles & awesomeness that is the iPhone, so I cheated. I missed out on the one week of the year that I always look forward to for that much needed break from technology! I have vowed this year not to so much as update my FB status. Ben, on the other hand, says that he may die if he can't check the scores of the World Cup games, so I will be abstaining alone.

Systems vs. Twilight
This has been the theme of casa Thompson the past few weeks ...well that & some World Cup game that Ben has DVR'd playing in the background. Ben has been reading more crazy, insightful books about Systems Theory & I have been rereading the Twilight books for the third time in anticipation for the premiere of Eclipse.

I already have tickets for the midnight showing & am super excited! Ben is equally excited about systems & this makes for some interesting conversations. He will be explaining how family systems work with a gleam in his eye & I will pipe in about how that is like the Cullen family or Edward & Bella to which he will respond with "Sure" & an eye roll. Personally, I think we have way more fun conversations than the average couple.

Portland, Here We Come!
At the end of September, we will be flying out to the Northwest to celebrate our 7-yr. anniversary. We had discussed going to that part of the country anyway & then when Donald Miller (one of our favorite authors) decided to do a seminar there, the deal was sealed!

Planning vacations in our family is an interesting ordeal. Since I used to be a travel agent, Ben says I get to do all the planning & then throughout the process he has small heart attacks as the charges start showing up on our bank statement. Then we go, have a great time, rinse & repeat the next year.

Well, I'm off to get my biannual hair-cut. I hope you have all enjoyed my "completely my idea that had nothing to do with Ben wanting me to write it" Friday blog.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blog Imbalances and Strong-Willed Women

Our blog is trippy, as in I almost trip over myself when I look at our blog (I'll get commission from the Grandpa's League for that brilliant one-liner). The balance is off without regular Friday blogs. I've done my pleading to Monica and hope she can help the inner ear problem of our blog. Her Friday blogs are crucial to the order and progress of the world.

With that said, one of the worst ways to get somebody to do something is to will them do it. Have you noticed this? And yet, it is one of the most common strategies for change. If I can come up with really good reasons in my head for Monica do something and proceed to tell her why she should do it, I have now rendered myself almost completely ineffective. Rather than abandoning this strategy after it doesn't work, I get sneakier/more passive about it and throw in little comments like, "Our blog balance is off," or, "But the children LOVE the blogs" (adapted from Elf and to be read in the voice of a sweet nun).

I used to use the term strong-willed to describe my wife. I can't use it anymore because it puts me in a bind. If I refer to her as strong-willed, what is she really strong-willed against?* [Drop head, mumble level 1 expletive] My will! It is one of life's great ironies. One of my major marriage goals is to be unwilling.

As a result of this, when Monica is not paying attention to one of my brilliant expository lectures on why she should change or do something, the question changes from, "Why is she using that stubborn, strong-will again?" to, "Why am I trying to will her?" Of course, the answer to the latter is, "Because I know best." After all, I am now an LMFT--Licensed to Make Families Terrific! (More commission!)

Be careful, though, this might change the book you reach for when you are trying to deal with a "strong-will." This is where I am supposed to say, "And I've written that book," and have a pretty little link to Amazon where you can read reviews about how people bought my book for others who needed it more.

*Hal Runkel and Edwin Friedman are my main influences for this way of thinking.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Truth, Fluff, and Fake Prison

You know what's worse than fake prison? Knowing you are in fake prison and feeling helpless about it. I have done my time in fake prison, and it's time to get out.

Lately, I have immersed myself in a world that tells me if I follow my dreams and ideas, I can be successful. In this world there is a premium on following what I am passionate about and pursuing it as my mission in life. If I break out of the limiting world I've created and accepted, they say, I have a very good chance at success. In essence, I can do what I love to do for a living.

But is this world true? Or is it part of a business plan to keep me buying into something that will make a profit for someone else. They have a found a great and vulnerable niche--those of us that feel unfulfilled in our lives and need a glimmer of hope that life is more than what we've accepted. Maybe the ones who create this world are only a tiny minority that have found a larger voice and larger bank accounts.

I'm choosing to believe them. They can cash in on my vulnerability. I have the passion, the message, and the vision...and I am ready to be successful. I have something I know the world needs, or should I write that I am something that the world needs. If I die, what I have will die with me!

Most of us are not in physical prison, and yet still feel trapped. Then, you run into annoying, yet compelling, people and books that tell you that you don't have to feel imprisoned. In fact, they say, there is a way out and you already have the key, because you are the key. Thanks for nothing! Now, I feel like I am in prison, but I am being told there are no bars and no guards, and the door is wide open.

Is it true or is it fluff?

I don't care anymore...I just want out of prison.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Are you in your skin?

Miss me? I have spent the past couple of weeks living life & haven't made my Friday blog as much of a priority. As usual, us hippie Thompsons have been filling our heads with more inspiring, slap-you-in-the-face stuff. My dad has said to me countless times that from one year to the next, the only difference in you will be the people you meet & the books you read. I used to respond to this with an internal eye roll, but now I'm beginning to understand how true that is.

Starting A Business 101
I really wish I would have taken a course like this in college if such a class existed. Fortunately, I have a lot of amazing people who have given me great advice & wisdom. I was talking to my friend Bobbie yesterday & actually heard the words come out of my mouth, "I'm afraid my business will fail, so if I never start it, then I can't fail." It is truly amazing all the distractions you can find to do in 20 hrs. a week if you put your mind to it!

One e-book we recently read is called A Lazy Man's Guide to Success by Bill O'Hanlon which talks about not being afraid to fail. I feel like this book was written by future Ben because it envelops so many of his thoughts & this author is like a mirror image of him in many ways. Why do we talk ourselves out of success so much throughout our lives? Why do we continue to do the same things that are getting the same negative results? Why do many of us continue to go to mind-numbing jobs that we don't like? This book will give insight on all of those questions & more.

Part-time and it Feels so Good
Regardless of my hesitation in starting my business, I am absolutely loving working part-time! I feel like I have my life back & I can be me again. I realize that not everyone has this option (or is willing to live on a smaller income), but I highly recommend it. When I'm at work I am much more focused & productive because I want to make sure I get all my stuff done. The feeling I have on Thursdays driving away from the office at noon knowing that my weekend is beginning is priceless. I think I'm about to drive Ben crazy with all the home improvement projects I think up, but secretly he loves it.

Farewell, Friends
We are about to say goodbye to two of what I call our "staple couple friends." I am either going to be an expert on how to let go of the people you love in a healthy way OR have abandonment issues the rest of my life by the time this is all over.

I honestly never thought when we moved to Memphis nearly 6 yrs. ago that we would still be here, but we have experienced more growth during this time than I ever would have imagined. Much of that is due to the friendships we've made here. I know this is cliche, but I feel this is all happening for a reason which will soon be unveiled. Besides, after watching the LOST finale I'm pretty sure at the end of our lives all of our friends will be waiting for us with smiles & hugs in a church once we've all worked out our stuff in our sideways world.

I leave you with several pics of our 'b & m's business trip o' fun' in Nashville last week. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

What would a trip to Nashvegas be without Maggiano's?
Ben bringing me an amazing chocolate cupcake
= Best Husband of the Year Award!
Iron Man 2 = awesomeness

Friday, May 7, 2010

Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.

Here I sit in a coffee shop on a Friday morning with the nagging feeling that I'm supposed to be at work. I also have a weird sense of deja vu since it was 2 yrs. ago this June that I quit my job & spent many hours in coffee shops soul searching. The difference is that this time I know what I want to do & I just have to figure out how to convince people to pay me to do what I love - no biggie, right?

On the Fence
Ben ordered another insightful, yet incredibly frustrating, documentary called Raw for 30 Days which chronicles six Americans with diabetes who switch to a diet consisting entirely of vegan, organic, uncooked food in order to reverse disease without pharmaceutical medication. We are considering trying this for a short time to achieve optimal health, but our elephants keep getting in the way.

The Ultimate Marriage Test
As Ben mentioned in his previous post, we spent most of Monday doing a lot of spring cleaning. After the pile of stuff we intended to donate got bigger & bigger, Ben said those 7 little words I've been waiting to hear since we tied the knot... "Maybe we should have a yard sale?" to which I responded, "YES, I thought you'd never ask!" Since then I have been like a bumblebee buzzing from room to room, cleaning out every nook & cranny. Ben, of course, begged to take back his suggestion & now can't wait for it to all be over. My goal is to make enough money to replace our $50 couch that we've had the past 6 yrs. Wish us luck!

Pet Peeve of the Week
I'm sure many of you have had the experience of using an automatic paper towel dispenser in pubic restrooms. I'm not sure if my DNA is vastly different than normal humans or what, but they NEVER work for me! I look like a crazy person waving my dripping wet hands up & down forever before it will work.

Now, I will say that I have had unpleasant experiences in the past with other automatic devices. I once got my entire arm stuck in an automatic door at a grocery store because I tried to open it like a regular door & it sucked my arm in. It got even better because I couldn't get the door to close & release my arm since I was stepping on the mat & couldn't move - that was both traumatic & embarrassing! I do like the sanitary & environmental purposes behind these contraptions, but I just wish they would make them usable for the average bear!

In honor of the National Day of Prayer yesterday, this is Cali praying not to have to take a bath...
And these are the beautiful flowers that bloomed last week in our front garden...
 Happy spring, everyone!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Critical Sense of Non-Urgency

This weekend I was kind of studying for my final Marriage and Family Therapy test before licensure, but mostly debating whether or not to attempt going to Nashville to take the test on Monday. It became obvious I would not be taking the test when I-40 was still shut down 5 different places between here and there at 9 PM on Sunday night.

Having already been approved for PTO, it also became increasingly obvious how much I would not be going to my job. So, we just slept in and had a day of fun. You may be thinking a day of fun means a Farris Buehler's Day Off re-enactment scenario, but it actually turned out to be a day where we cleaned some junk out of our house and found enough stuff to host a decent garage sell. The only thing that could have made it better was having an epiphany and realizing how to make Windows 7 better, so it could have been my idea.

This led me to educate my wife on the idea in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey of spending more time in the important/not urgent quadrant. When I say educate my wife, I mean telling her an idea I really need to tell myself, but doing it in such a way to protect my pride. I didn't go to "man school" for nothing!

Hanging out in the important/not urgent quadrant for a day is a lot of fun. Getting rid of junk and papers now and knowing someday we'll be moving without them produces a nice feeling. I've found dealing with junk and excess stuff when in the important/urgent quadrant produces a less desirable feeling and increases the chance of profanity.

I encourage us all to take time for the important/not urgent stuff in our lives. It is usually easy to notice what this stuff is, because we've been consciously avoiding it--the messy desk, the continuing education courses, an oil change in the car, the date we promised our spouse, etc. Careful, though, because time in this quadrant can be addictive, and can even lead to wonderful things such as taking steps towards a better career, better health, and better relationships. Of course this is all confusing because we say these are the urgent and important things, but live lives that are too busy to focus on them. Don't worry if you can't do this, because I've found if I wait long enough, an illness or a threat of loss will bring these things back into focus every single time!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Happy Friday everyone! That amazing quote is by Howard Thurman & has really impacted us this week.

The One with the Sharks
Usually when we get home from work we watch Friends & Seinfeld on TBS. This week I saw an episode of Friends that I had never seen before which was like finding a $20 in your winter coat. This episode aired on October 17, 2002 which was around the time Ben & I started dating & we were probably making out like bunnies instead of watching Friends (it’s ok mom, I can say that because we are married now).

I also saw the finale of Seinfeld which I had never seen after all these years & although I was prepped to be disappointed from every Earthling, I thought it was true to form. This originally aired on May 14, 1998 which was right around the time I graduated from high school & I was in one of those drama-filled HS relationships, so that makes a lot of sense. Ben was shocked that I had never seen the finale, but I argued that back in the day you couldn’t just watch TV shows online, download them on iTunes or buy them on DVD. No flying cars yet, but at least we have that going for us!
Random Quote of the Week
“But there are singing cats on TV!” Ben (said while justifying turning the TV off mute while I was telling him a story that I had prefaced with “Are you listening to me?”)

What’s in a Name?
As all you loyal blog readers know, my absence last Friday was due to my home staging training! It went great & I am still processing everything. Beginning next week, I will be going part-time at my job so that I can focus on starting my home staging business which I’m super pumped about! One of the top things on my list is to come up with a name for my business. I am up for suggestions with the following stipulations:
  • the word “stage” or “staging” needs to be in the name
  • I would prefer it not be location specific in case we move
  • I will not be wasting $ to be listed in the yellow pages, so it doesn’t need to begin with ‘A’ so that I will be listed first
  • I’m looking for something catchy, short & sweet
On the second day of training we got to go to an actual house on the market in Nashville, break up into small groups & stage one room. This was our room before:
And after:
Yep, that's what I do! Well friends, I hope your lives are as exciting & terrifying as ours are right now – that’s what makes the story fun, right? Here’s to taking the leap & never working another Friday again for anyone but myself!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Heavy Blankets and Horses at Night

Occasionally I have a good nightmare. I define a good one by its ability to transcend my sleep state and enter into reality-land. It must manifest itself audibly, physically, or both.

On Saturday night I was being chased by a man I had just helped after a bad go-cart accident. I ran to my grandparents' old house and began to bang on the door because I knew help was inside. I was screaming, "Help me, Help me!" Monica then woke me up telling me I was having a nightmare. I wasn't yelling "Help me" in the outside world, just unintelligible noises.

She cuddled with me for a few seconds, turned over, and fell asleep--leaving me to the post-nightmare, paralyzed fear state in the dark. How dare her! I was also really hot and way too scared to leave the safety of the covers to change the temperature.

Monica's home stager training is finally here this week and we are both excited; however, she'll be gone three nights to the young adult TN mecca Nashville. This means if I have a good nightmare, I will have to resort to the "pulling the covers over my head for a false sense of security" method. I've found the heavier the blanket the better the false sense of security.

I also have some nightmare reduction techniques:
  • No violent or scary multimedia watching after 8 PM.
  • No falling asleep with the TV on, even good TV.
  • Dealing with daily stress before I go to sleep.
  • Reminding myself that I can trust my dog to warn me of any problems on the outside world, and for her to tell me if anyone is under the bed, especially since she already sleeps halfway under it.
  • Whatever I do, don't fall asleep, especially right at midnight (thanks Mr. Krueger). I don't really follow this last one.
If all else fails, I can always remember how "nightmare" is a funny word. I mean really, I'm afraid of a horse at night? A wolf or a bear, maybe, but I think I can handle a horse.

Friday, April 16, 2010

So if you’re not the one telling the story, who is?

Friday literally snuck up on me this week – gotta love that!

K-LOVE vs. Ludacris
Ben picked me up from work one day last week & when I got in the car he was listening to rap music. Our car radio pretty much stays continually on K-LOVE with two exceptions: 1. K-LOVE is doing their insanely annoying bi-yearly fundraiser or 2. Ben gets in the mood to listen to jazz music. I was a little taken back & thought possibly that my husband’s body had been taken over by a rap music listening alien. One song we heard included the lyrics “My chick bad, my chick hood, my chick do stuff that yo' chick wish she could.” Ben said something about trying to understand Memphis better, but I’m still betting on the alien theory.

Writing Our Stories
Yesterday, Ben & I both decided to write down our stories. According to Donald Miller, a story is just a person that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. We took a blank piece of paper & wrote “What is my story?” at the top, briefly described our current life situation & then told our exciting, adventurous story about how we wanted something (top secret stuff) & overcame conflict (unfulfilling jobs, unhealthy lifestyle, continuing to do more of the same) to get it. I can’t tell you how much energy I got from writing it down & because of that, I’ve committed to read my story every day for the next 30 days!

The Final Straw
This morning, Ben & I were getting ready in our tiny bathroom with one sink. Ben was shaving & I was brushing my teeth when I looked down in horror & realized that I was using BEN’S TOOTHBRUSH!! I will say that our toothbrushes do look exactly alike except that mine is pink & Ben’s is green on the back, so it was an honest mistake. I was torn between boiling the toothbrush in water while acting like this was a catastrophe in our marriage & simply continuing to brush like it was no big deal. Where do you draw the personal hygiene line in your marriage?

This weekend we have a fantastic camping trip planned with some close friends & next week is only a 2-day work week for me! The long anticipated home staging training is next Wed-Fri in Nashville & I am super excited! Next Friday around 5:30P I will be an ASP (Accredited Staging Professional). Very soon, Ben should get 4 little letters at the end of his name as well after he completes his final test, LMFT (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist). That rascal, he’s always trying to outdo me:) Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shirting the Issues

As a kid, all it took was a shirt to believe something about yourself. Some kids don't "go" as something for Halloween, they "are" that something as soon they fill the costume.
I bet I loved this shirt! I wish I still had it (in a larger size, of course). I have no doubt I believed I was the Hero of the Year. I bet it was more of an identity than a belief. My goodness, I wore it to a photo shoot!

I wonder when I quit wearing this shirt? Probably after it was stained, ragged, and too small, it didn't make the final laundry cut and went into a different bin.

I've worn a lot of shirts in my life. At some point point I began choosing the shirts I put on each day. I learned quickly which shirts to wear on certain days and around certain people. Sometimes I ask my wife what shirt I should wear. More often than not, I wear the one with the least wrinkles.

Then, there are those mornings when I open the closet and don't like any of my shirt choices and a voice in my head whispers that I'm crazy because 1) I have a voice in my head, and 2) I shouldn't complain about what I've got, much less consider shopping for new shirts. This is why a lot of my shirts are faded. I don't often wear the ones that are newer and brighter because I don't want them to get faded.

I bet when I was the age I was in the picture I knew exactly what shirt I wanted to wear! When did it get so complicated to choose a shirt?

Friday, April 9, 2010

In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! We ventured to OK & had an eventful weekend with family & friends. I wore a dress, Ben wore a spiffy new polo & we got to watch our nephews & niece hunt Easter eggs.

Holy Antarctica, Batman
When we got home from OK on Sun, the house was very musty so I turned on the A/C for the first time this season to get some air circulating. After reprogramming our programmable thermostat for spring, we left Mon morning for work. Little did we know that we would come home to a refrigerator (58ยบ) & that a kink in our thermostat would cause our A/C to run for 9 hrs. straight! Apparently, the wires were crossed, but Ben Vila called the thermostat people & was able to fix it.

Analysis Paralysis
This is a term we learned from a new book we’re reading called Switch. Basically, it means that when we are offered too many choices, our brains shut down & we feel incapable of making a decision. Ladies, if you’ve ever tried to pick out a hand soap scent from Bath & Body Works or guys if you’ve ever stood in the aisle at Home Depot scratching your head, then you know what I’m talking about.

I was at Target & found a water pitcher on clearance, but then I made the mistake of venturing to the water pitcher isle to see what ALL my options were. I was faced with pitchers in all different colors, styles, water capacity & numbers of filters included – ugh! I left Target empty-handed, but went back later in the week confident in my decision to purchase a cute, orange pitcher even though it wasn’t the best deal (Ben says we needed to “stage” our pitcher so that I will use it).

Thanks, Stranger
There are many things that you learn or pick up from your spouse that never would have even crossed your mind. One thing I’ve learned from Ben is the courtesy of getting over in the left lane at an intersection if you are the first car & are not turning right, in case someone needs to turn right on red. I have poked fun of Ben for doing this religiously many times over the years.

This week, we pulled up to an intersection & at the last minute Ben, in true fashion, changed lanes. A lady in a minivan pulled up next to us & avidly motioned for me to roll down my window (which in Memphis is always a little scary), so I did & she eagerly thanked us for getting over & said that not many people would do that. We both had a good laugh & Ben was beaming in pride for his good deed for the day.

Red Pill
Recently, since our better health kick, we have been getting those “you guys are turning into crazy hippies” looks from our friends. I feel like we are choosing between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) & embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red) when it comes to the food we eat & the chemicals we use. I don’t mind people asking us questions if they really want to know more, but sometimes it stinks when you feel like they are internally rolling their eyes. Our goal is to find a happy medium & to live longer, healthier lives.

Happy Friday everyone, I hope you enjoyed my novel blog! We plan to post pics from our Easter weekend shortly.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Two Things to Change Your Life

First thing: We only choose 5% of our behaviors and reactions. According to some recent literature and research, about 95% of what we do is outside our awareness. We behave and react from a place we do not have conscious awareness. When did we develop the repertoire of responses in this 95%? F. Scott Fitzgerald nails it in the first line of The Great Gatsby: "In my younger and more vulnerable years..." One of my favorite opening lines of all time. Yes, when we are born to age six, we are basically walking around hypnotized, quite literally. Our early brain wave states matched those of adults under hypnosis. We were completely vulnerable to suggestion and took what we saw for the truth, including what we were taught to believe about ourselves. We are learning at exponential rates! Our parents represented our model of how to deal with the world through everything they did. If you have kids, you are their window to the world.

The last half of that famous Gatsby line is, " father gave me some advice I've been turning over in my mind ever since." In fact, we are turning all that information from our parents, siblings, TV shows, teachers, etc., over and over in our subconscious minds. Good thing we don't have to think about everything every time there is a situation--we'd surely die. So much of what we learned in our hypnotized state is very important. However, there are also some thought patterns and ways of relating to the world that don't serve us so well, and yet, we see our ways as normal, and further, not like our parents. Believe it or not, we are so much like our parents because they were major factors in developing how we see, act, behave, and respond to the world. If you know your in-laws, you know a lot about your spouse, and if you are not too bright, you bring this to your spouse's attention.

The second is this: Knowledge itself does not bring change. I can know it doesn't help to ask my wife 3 times if she really wants to eat at Jimmy John's--she has made up her mind and it is not helpful to challenge it. It just comes out and the consequences follow, which in this case, are an eye roll, a sigh of frustration, and a wife who no longer wants to make choices if she is going to get interrogated about them. But, my need to make sure she is sure of her decision comes from my childhood where it was "normal" and "rational" to second-guess decisions. We learned not to raise our hands because we were not really "sure."

So what makes the difference? In one word, intentionality. The more you are intentional with your responses, the more you are able to respond in more productive ways. This grows your "response-ability." The more I practice not second-guessing my wife's dining decisions, the more I can choose a beneficial response. The best part is that it really doesn't matter if you know why you say or do what you do, although a therapist can help you with that. What matters is knowing how to choose different responses that may not feel natural (indeed, they are not), but have better chances at being beneficial, and more importantly, getting your wife fed!

Two books to consider: Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, and Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Friday, March 26, 2010

Essentially what we have here is one of those stories where a mother lifts her car to save her baby.

Ben kinda stole my thunder for my Friday blog with his previous post about what’s been going on with us. Good thing I am creative & will just have to wing it!
Craigslist Fiasco
Last weekend we invested in a firmer mattress that we bought from our friend’s estate sale. Who knew you could sleep 10x’s better if you had support & weren’t constantly gravitating towards the center of your mattress where it sloped in the middle? After WWIII while trying to decide whether to get rid of our queen mattress or the full mattress in the guest bedroom, we decided to list the queen on Craigslist for $100.

We did get several inquiries due to my amazing staging skills that I used for the pic we posted. Unfortunately, our anxiety got the best of us & we opted to donate it to the DAV rather than dealing with the craziness that is Craigslist! Having nice people come pick up our mattress & feeling good about donating to a good cause won over dealing with strangers emailing & calling us with all kinds of deals & haggling.

Here are some small adventures that happened to us this week:
  • I saved 15 cents just by bringing reusable bags to Target & Whole Foods
  • Learning Japanese Reiki was actually fun & not as wacky as I thought it would be
  • I watched the movie Remember Me with a friend & am begging Ben to go see it with me again this weekend
  • Panera makes amazing bunny sugar cookies with lemon frosting around Easter
  • Apparently, Memphis humidity can make hand-tossed pizza look like thin-crust pizza
  • Watching movies where the actors smoke & drink all the time makes me want to smoke & drink
  • Ben is killing my buzz by buying documentaries about the way our bodies work & the food we eat
New Blog Segment Unveiling
I have a friend that is a home stager who had a great idea to blog about projects she does around her house. I love doing this kind of thing & have decided to incorporate this into my Friday blog in the near future, so stay tuned. This will consist of before/after shots & good deals I get because if there’s anything in this world I like, it’s a good deal!

On the way to work this morning I said to Ben, “Guess what I want to do this weekend?” to which he responded, “Probably a whole lot of stuff with me.” He was right on. We have been asking ourselves a lot of “What if…?” questions like, “What if we didn’t live for the weekends?” or “What if I started my career over from scratch?” The story we find ourselves in has a high probability of change & I can’t wait! Here’s to hoping that you do not “live for the weekends”!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Universal Self-Care

The Thompsons are embarking on what we call "Universal Self-Care." We had to call a special session within ourselves and push through our resistance to make a change. We found ourselves in the critical place where we knew what we needed to do and were not doing it. Why not take an active part in our health, rather than feel crappy all the time? Monica also got tired of me complaining about feeling fatigued all the time, and I got tired of her telling me she was tired of my complaining.
So here's what we have done over the past month+:
  • Substantially reduced our sugar intake and almost eliminated high fructose corn syrup intake completely
  • Began regular chiropractic appts. and are actually sticking with the plan for adjustments
  • Participate in almost daily moderate exercise
  • Practice deep breathing, meditation, and Reiki self-treatments regularly
  • Bought a newer, firmer mattress which has greatly increased the depth of our sleep
  • Moved our bedtime to 9:30 and observe it almost every night (our bedtime was TBD every night)
  • Eat a higher percentage of organic food in our diet, esp. fruits and veggies
  • Eat more raw seeds and nuts, and switched to healthy whole grain bread
  • Decided in our minds based on solid evidence that changing our thoughts changes our biology and, as a result, have decreased the negativity and hopeless thought patterns keeping us and our energy captive
It has really been great and my energy has increased. Sometimes the sugar cravings are huge, but the craving to be healthy often overrides it. Of course, the problem with doing preventative and healthy stuff like this is that you don't really know what you are preventing, because you don't get it in the first place! However, we find this better than the current model of health in which we are the victims and taking medications or going to the doctor for whatever comes along "out of the blue" and affects us.

It is either take charge of our health and wellness or be charged by doctors and drug companies for them to take care of our health. Personally, it has been really empowering to choose better options (the other night at a get-together I had 2 cookies instead of 8) and to know I can make the difference--quite freeing!

Universal Self-Care is the change we need. When did we decide we couldn't heal ourselves? Whereas it will be great for everybody to have health coverage, it will be even greater for more people to have self-care, so the medical industry can focus on those who really need medical interventions. It is a Self-Care Revolution! Please join us! What are you actively doing to positively impact your health? We'd love your comments...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wait, what day is today? Um, tonight is Ghost Whisperer. So Friday.

American Girl
I have been a fan of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers ever since I got out of my Vanilla Ice phase around jr. high. My awesome best friend, Bobbie, introduced us & it was love at first sound.

Over the years, I have been involved in many road trips to see him in concert & I even decorated our guest bedroom completely around a TP poster (don’t believe me, come stay with us!). This summer shall be no different - we bought tickets to see him in Nashville this August!

Census Spensus
This week we received (drum roll please) our highly anticipated census form in the mail. For the past several months, we have been bombarded with cool, hip advertising on why we should do our part & more importantly, "get what gov’t money our communities deserve!"

Ben recently had the luxury of filling out our passport renewal applications, so I was voted to tackle the census. I was prepared with our laptop cushion, a pen & determination, only to be finished in all of 2 minutes. That’s right, none of those embarrassing height/weight/income questions. It was simple, short & sweet – the most anti-climatic event I’ve experienced in 2010.

Out of the Industry Loop
Has anyone ever had a previous job that you learned a lot in a specific area & then later on down the road felt out of the loop not knowing up-to-date info. in that field? I had one of those experiences this week when I was researching Caribbean vacations for this fall. Apparently, since Delta took over Northwest they have pulled the direct flights from Memphis to both Jamaica & Mexico - augh! After having been a travel agent several years ago, this was like a punch in the gut that I was unaware of this vital travel info.

I also had a similar experience when I could not for the life of me remember what “ERN” stood for after having worked several years at a health care technology software company & dealing with this term every day. It stands for Electronic Remittance Notice in case you were dying to know. Fortunately, I have not lost my ability to critique websites, which I learned at my first grown-up job working in web marketing – whew!

I don’t think I have ever been MORE ready for a weekend than today - & the weather is supposed to be beautiful! We are just doing the usual… you know, Sat breakfast at Panera, yard work, Japanese Reiki training, watching movies. Happy Friday, friends!