Friday, August 2, 2019

Still Inspired: Five Years Later

This month marks the five year anniversary of the day my sons left the house for the first day of the school year and I sat down and started this blog. I had just left teaching to pursue personal goals and spend more time with my family. The freelance work I performed during that time landed me in the nonprofit world as a grant writer, a position that gave me valuable experience and expanded my skills. However, I was recently given an opportunity to return to the classroom, bringing a new level of meaning to this year's Back to School

First Post: The Adventure Begins (August 18, 2014)

Much has changed, both personally and professionally, in five years. My own sons are growing fast, and when I think they were only 10 and 12 when I started this blog, I am reminded of how quickly the years pass. Professionally, I have become a confident negotiator and advocate for myself - skills that have spilled over into my personal life as well as I work on building strong relationships by expressing my needs. While I don't blog as much as I would like, I appreciate the outlet when the mood to write or need for self-expression hits me.

Most Read: Learning to Let Go of Unrealistic and Unnecessary Expectations (June 11, 2015)

I have shared 340 posts on Lavender Inspiration on a variety of topics including parenting moments and trials; experiences and local events; the choice to become vegan; thoughts on  books, movies, and music; and often passionate commentary on topics that are near and dear to my heart. I want to thank all the readers who have stopped by once, and particularly to those that keep coming back. As part of this five year anniversary post, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of my most notable posts over the years.

Most Popular Parenting Post: When Raising Your Teen Son Feels More Like an Encounter with Cujo (December 18, 2014)

Most Popular Book Review: Leaving Time (December 6, 2014)

Most Popular Movie Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (October 28, 2016)

Social Favorite: For Cecil, For Them All (August 3, 2015)

Parenting Favorite: My Greatest Gift (May 9, 2018)

Local Event Favorite: That's a Wrap! (April 27, 2016)

Personal Favorite: Finding My Trail (December 3, 2018)

Readers' Choice: Out of my Comfort Zone and Into a Swamp (April 23, 2015)

Do you have a favorite post or topic? I would love to hear from you. Thank you all again for reading and being an inspiration. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Three Days

Buddha, Time, hope

Throughout my life, there have been three days a year that torment me on an emotional level. 

The first is New Year's Eve. While I enjoyed staying up late as a child, eating fancy foods by the television as we waited for the Times Square ball to drop, and ultimately celebrating with noise makers, part of me always felt sad. To me, even more so than my birthday, New Year's Eve symbolizes saying goodbye to time. In recent years, I have attempted to flip that feeling around by looking forward to all the new adventures time will give me, but that only works on the surface. Deep down inside, I am still that child saying goodbye to time.  Reflecting on this now, perhaps the reason letting go was difficult was because I actually enjoy my time, and who wants to lose something they enjoy? I imagine if I was a prisoner, counting down the years to my release would actually be a joyous event. But, since that is not my reality, all I think about is the loss of precious moments. Amplifying this feeling is the fact the entire world is "suffering" this loss at the same moment.  

Success and Failure

For the last 16 years, Mother's Day has been the second thorn in my side. I know you're probably wondering what could possibly be upsetting to me about Mother's Day - my mother is a healthy and vibrant woman who is a big part of my life. And, I am the mother of two wonderful teenage boys. But, for me, the day represents my own journey with motherhood, and, in typical Nikki fashion, I am very hard on myself. Instead of celebrating being a mother, this day reminds me of all the failures I've had as a mother. I should have spent more time with my sons, I should have made them eat better, I should have sacrificed more......and, so, Mother's Day is never a good day for me emotionally. What could possibly be good about a day that reminds you of all your failures

Then, as if having to get through Mother's Day isn't enough, my birthday is shortly thereafter. I honestly can't remember when this day started to be difficult for me, but it was quite long ago, when I was still young. The difficultly lies in the culmination of both the loss of years (there's time slipping away from me again), and the brutal reminder of all I have not accomplished in my life (Hello again, failures!).  As the years pass, the realization that certain things may never happen begins to overtake all my thoughts.

This is not to say I haven't had fabulous birthday celebrations, Mother's Days with loved ones where I feel spoiled and loved, or fun New Year's celebrations with family, but, what those around me do not understand, is that regardless of what is happening around me, on these three days, my inner self is tormented. Each of these days represents the loss of time and the opportunity to make my life worth something. Perhaps the problem with being a dreamer is you get disappointed more easily, so the bigger my life's goals have been (or are), the harder it has been to accept a mundane existence. 

I am, however, working on diminishing these negative feelings toward these three days. I have never lost sight of my dreams (although they have changed over the years), and truly do look forward to new adventures and what lies ahead. If the time I've spent living and the failures I've endured have taught me anything, it is to never give up hope. And, with hope, I am confident I can live the rest of my life happily, which is all anyone should ask for. 

Related Posts:

Time: Glancing Back and Looking Ahead

Finding My Trail

My Year as a Stay at Home Midlife Mom

My Greatest Gift

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Simply Vegan Ideas

Being vegan today is a hundred times easier than ever! New products, access to lots of creative recipes, and more and more restaurants jumping on board and offering vegan options. Sure it helps that my man cooks for me, but many of these recipes are simple enough even for me!  Don't know where to start? Head over to my Going Vegan page for some of articles and recipes then follow me on Instagram for top cruelty-free products and new recipes weekly! 

Here are some teasers......

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Summer Read: Origin (Book Review)

Summer Reading With the unofficial start to summer upon us, I want to mention my top pick for your summer read. Although released in the fall of 2017, and on my bookcase almost that long, I finally had a few days of fun and sun, which included some much needed time to read Dan Brown's latest novel, Origin. Although the story started out very strong and had me glued to the pages (as all previous Brown novels in this series have), I eventually found the story somewhat predictable and disappointing. I do not mean to take away from it being thought-provoking and an interesting take on society today. It was! Yet, I was expecting a bigger WHOA! at the end. 

OriginSet in Spain, the story centers around the mysterious announcement by one of Langdon's former students that will challenge everything we know about human evolution, and, more importantly, our religious beliefs, as he finally offers a scientific answer to the two questions that haunt human existence - Where did we come from? and Where are we going? 

I am excited about the possibility of Tom Hanks bringing Robert Langdon to life once again on the big screen. (Note: However, I am still bitter over the fact that Columbia Pictures skipped over what I consider the most interesting of the Langdon books, The Lost Symbol.) I enjoy this series because of its historical content and the cities it brings to life, especially if I have visited them and can relive my time spent there.  Although not my favorite in the series, I recommend Origin regardless of whether or not you're familiar with the others, as they are standalone stories, especially if you enjoy thrillers.

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