Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thank You Note to God

Dear God,

Being as this time of year always makes me feel closest to You, I thought I would write You a Thank You note.  If there is anyone more deserving of this type of correspondence, I genuinely have no clue who it would be.  Here goes nothing.

Thank You for the GORGEOUS display of changing leaves this year!  I thoroughly enjoyed every drive I took this fall because of the incredible colors.  I especially appreciated the amazingly vibrant colored skies You threw in as an added bonus.  Thank You for my family, my friends, my jobs, my furbabies, and for the little rented space I call home.  Thank You for my health.

Thank You for leading me into a new church that has honestly felt personal to me each Sunday.  It's always refreshing when the sermon feels like it was written just for you, and I know I wasn't the only member of the congregation who felt that way.  I'd been on the hunt for a new church to revive my structured relationship with You, and I feel much happier now that I've tried new places.

Thank You for helping me overcome obstacles this year, even when I questioned whether my strength would be able to sustain me in some of those instances.  (I later came to the realization that it didn't matter if I had strength left because You would always sustain me).  Thank You for answering some of my prayers, and for purposely ignoring other requests that I know I prayed entirely too hard for.  Thank You for educating me that it's not my place to try to force something I want, but that it's so much sweeter when I simply relax and let the plans You have for me play out.

Thank You for welcoming my darling Papa into your Kingdom of Heaven.  I should also thank You for being there for all of us as we embarked upon the journeys that are Alzheimer's disease and cancer.  It was very taxing at times, and no matter how dark things became, You never failed us.  Thank You for letting him pass on so peacefully after enduring so very much while fighting to live.  This will be our first holiday season without Papa, Lord, so I will again ask You to be there for us and look over us as I know this will be tough.  Thank You for welcoming my wonderful Uncle Deano into Heaven, as well.  Our family lost some of its best men, but I know they will have the most wonderful Thanksgiving of all at Your table, Lord.

Thank You for teaching my family resilience, once again.  We need to be reminded how to face fear and death and hard times, and the only way to be reminded is to go through them once again.  Although I doubt anyone would ever volunteer to go through those things, I have come to learn in hindsight that these experiences are more blessings from You in that they cause us to learn.

Thank You for making me into the woman I am today.  I know that every decision I've ever made has not been without Your watchful eye, and I know that I would not have been ready to receive the blessings You've bestowed upon me without Your continual grooming.  Thank You for the tests You put me through, and the supposed "failures" I faced.  Thank You for encouraging me to push on when I had "decided" I'd had enough.  Thank You for laughing at me when I made plans, and for reminding me that there is only one plan I should be worried about - Yours.

Finally, thank You for the newest blessing in my life.  I call him Comanche around here.  Thank You for showing me that all my struggles were worth it.  Thank You for believing I was ready for something really grand.  Thank You for opening up the "Big Picture" for me and for letting me in on the secret.  Thank You for the genuinely happy feeling I get every time he takes hold of my hand, and for the smile that has consistently been on my face since the first day I met him.  Thank You for this incredible gift - I really don't know how to say thanks enough for that.

P.S. - Happy Thanksgiving, Lord!

Your Servant,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do What You Love FREE Print!

It's no secret that when I find goodness, I want to send it your way.  Today, some extreme goodness was found.  If you haven't heard of Joy Kelly, then you are missing out, Peeps!  She is one of the most talented and amazing women I've ever "met" on the interwebs.  Although I don't know her personally, I can plainly see the ridiculously crafty goodness she possesses.  Her blog is How Joyful and in it, Joy showcases the amazing things she makes.

She is the proud owner of a shop on Etsy, also called How Joyful, where she creates accessories like belts, hair flowers, headbands, wristlets, purses, etc.  She also finds time to run How Joyful Design, where she custom designs templates and codes for blogs, websites, and pretty much anything!  She even makes clothes, and they are amazing!  She made her own wedding dress, for crying out loud.  (To see the finished product in the amazing pictures of her wedding day "first look," click here.)  Literally, this woman astounds me with her craftiness!

Basically......I declare today the day that the How Joyful blog has been officially given "Chicken Wing Approved" status!

In addition to showing her some love for all her hard work, I wanted to share with you an amazing free printable download that she is offering!  Joy made this gorgeous graphic in several colors, and you can pick which one you love the most.  I plan to put mine in my home office, as it is such an inspiring saying!

Natually, I chose the pink one!
If you would like to score one of these beauties for yourself, all I ask is that you head on over and check out Joy's blog by clicking here.  She truly is an amazing woman and an incredible talent, and I'd love for my Peeps to throw some love and support her way!  And a HUGE THANK YOU to Joy for the amazing poster design!  You rock, lady!

Until next time,

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Holidays Are Coming!

Wowee, where has 2010 gone?  Thanksgiving is next week, Peeps!  I mean, seriously!  I can't believe that less than seven days from today, we will be gorging ourselves with turkey, watching football, playing football (if the weather's decent), and taking my beloved turkey naps!  I love it!

With Thanksgiving comes Black Friday, and let's face it - you either love the day or hate the day.  Some people have that thirst-for-blood type of adrenaline rush when this day rolls around.  You know the type - they camp outside of their favorite store, and they are the first in line for when the doors open at 3:00am.  Then, there are the folks who make up the other side - we'll call them the haters.  The haters would rather chew off their own arms than deal with overly agressive mothers who would actually endanger the life of their toddler by trying to take you out with their stroller.  "Don't touch that Tickle Me Elmo or you're going to wake up with stroller tracks all over you!"

I, myself, have been on both sides of the shopping madness.  I love the deals that you can score, but I have to be honest and say that I loathe getting up that early.  I mean, I'm not even myself at that hour.  And, I have had a woman try to maim me with her child-in-stroller, and I honestly believed that one of us was going to jail that morning.  (By one of us, I mean her.  It would be easier for me to get away since she did bring her child, and what do they do if they're not slowing you down?)

The reason this topic came about is because Comanche and I were sharing our stances on this special day, and I learned that he actually likes the thrill of the hunt, and he likes to go early.  That conversation got me to thinking about cute holiday things that you get while Christmas shopping.  Those thoughts got me to thinking about using said things while decorating my home for Christmas.  Then, I started to get excited.

Every year about this time, I try to find some of the cutest holiday gifts and decor around, and I love to share them with all of you.  I mean, as long as y'all don't go crazy and buy them all so I cannot attain one, I'm cool with sharing.

First up, some great ornaments for your tree! 

The girly girl in me dies for these Pier 1 beauties!

Purses + Heels + Glitter = Love

Oh Em Gee these penguins are adorable! They're called "Wrapped In Love" and you can put you & your honey's names on them!  Hallmark strikes again with impeccable cuteness!

Cute for the sister God gave you, or for one you chose yourself!

If I wasn't a novice camper, I would totally rock this cutie!

Preppy Chic - yes, Lilly Pulitzer makes ornaments!

Maybe you have a grillmaster in your life.  How cute!  It even opens to show some delicious hamburgers!

Stay tuned for the next installment of 'The Holidays Are Coming!'

Until next time,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Story About A Unicorn

In my last post, I did a lot of talking about animals:  I touched on horses, donkeys, and finally, the ever-elusive unicorn.  I'd like to delve a little deeper into this topic, and so today, I bring you a story about a unicorn.

Let's start from the very beginning.  As you all know, I was rocked by a series of changes in my life several months ago that had me feeling like life was completely spiraling out of control.  For those of you who actually know me, or I guess everyone who reads this blog, you know that I am a control freak to beat all control freaks most of the time.  Clearly, this was a major problem.

Very soon after the first change in my life, I was approached by someone who I considered to be a friend.  While we probably were more like acquaintances in regards to how well we knew each other, we got along  well and I had come to adore his wife in the few times that I'd met her.  This friend informed me that he had a friend I needed to meet.  Well, as nice as that gesture was, and as much as I sincerely appreciated it, I was clearly not in that frame of mind.  Moving on....

After time passed, and I was ribbed by pretty much everyone to "get back in the saddle" and get out there, I started dating. I'd been out of the game for more than six years.  The last time I had been on a first date, I was nineteen years old, and I was a completely different person.  Enter some of the strongest fear and most active nerves I'd ever experienced.

I had first dates with some great horses, and even some second and third dates.  I had first dates with a couple donkeys and needless to say, they didn't go anywhere.  I was starting to get the hang of this dating adventure, but that was also coupled with the thoughts of, "I can't believe I have to do this all over again."  It was weird answering the same questions over and over again when you were used to being with someone who already knew all the answers. 

This dating thing was work, I tell you!  Not only was it emotionally draining, but I found that my regular routine for my life suffered because I was running out of time to do things. It was exhausting and to be honest, more than once, I wondered how people serially date in this day and age.

I don't take this part of my life for granted though, because I really believe I needed to experience that fear and that nervousness about not knowing what was going to happen.  The control freak in me needed a reality check, and I'm pretty sure this counted.  I needed to know that people plan and God laughs, and that if I don't know exactly where I'm going or what activities are going to be done, or what outfit is appropriate, or if I will be liked, I'm not going to die.  I actually will be able to still exist in the world and breathe just like I did before.  Dating like that really opened my eyes to a lot about life, people, relationships, and most importantly...myself.

So, I know you're probably thinking, "Chicken Wing, this is grand and all but I only read this post because I like unicorns, and so far you've failed to mention any."  Well, remember that friend I was talking about earlier who had someone I just needed to meet?  Throughout this dating I was doing, he popped back up and suggested multiple times that we make this meeting happen, and after stalling and stalling - finally, I decided to jump.  The dating of other people gave me the tiniest bit of confidence to put myself back out there.

We decided to have a double date/blind date.  My friend, his wife, and this friend I needed to meet would meet me at a restaurant and we'd have dinner, and then we'd go play mini golf to give us plenty of time to talk.  This was the first blind date of my life.  All I knew was this guy's first name, and that he couldn't have a facebook because of his job.  I was also told that we should meet during the week because it was better for his work schedule.  I honestly thought I was going to throw up or have a heart attack.  I wasn't sure which, but in my eyes, neither is favorable.

I tried on at least 12 outfits the night before and finally settled on a simple black dress that could be dressed up or down.  I accessorized with silver jewelry and flip flops (because I had no idea if he would be tall or not, and a girl has to consider these things). I got in the car that night and panic immediately ensued. I literally thought my heart would beat out of my chest or that I would pass out - I don't know what I was worried about.  Who wouldn't be interested in a girl that passes out as soon as she sees you?  I know, right?

I had fleeting thoughts of the blind date horror stories I'd been told by my friends and colleagues as I walked into the restaurant.  I opened the door, and there they were - and HELLO, HE WAS GORGEOUS!  Then, he smiled, and he was even more gorgeous, and I really thought passing out might happen at any moment.  He had a strong handshake, and we were seated soon after.  The boys sat across from the girls, and I hid my shaking hands in my lap. {Sidenote: Why did no one tell me how scary this was?!?!}

As an ice breaker, I said, "So here's what I know:  Your name is Comanche* and you can't have facebook because of your job.  What's your last name and what do you do?" He laughed and answered my questions, and I was extremely pleasantly surprised to learn that he was in law enforcement! (Much better than the part-time college student or bartender I had in mind, not that there's necessarily anything wrong with either of those).

As the date went on, stories were told, questions were asked and answered, mini golf was played, and laughs were had by all.  I could not believe how easy this had come to be, and I was so excited!  Needless to say, I think my friend was right - I needed to meet Comanche.  I needed to meet a good man who knew how to treat a lady - how to respect her, how to make her smile, and especially, how to make her feel like she was different than anyone else.

I can't say that the journey from the first date was easy for Comanche - it took me quite a while to really open up to the thought of being monogamous again.  I'd been burned and I wasn't sure it was really worth it.  To put it mildly, he'd had more time to become open to the idea than I had, and even though I didn't really realize it, some part of me tried to push him away multiple times because, let's face it - I was scared to death.

Despite all the opportunities he probably should have thought that I was more trouble than I was worth, Comanche never cut and run.  He continued to treat me the way he believed a lady should be treated - opening every single door every single time, taking me out to dinner, surprising me with flowers (he genuinely is a flower-delivering ninja), etc. An example of the level of thoughtfulness he showed me that is as fresh in my mind today as it was when it happened:  he planned a picnic beside a small waterfall and had made chicken salad sandwiches.  Because he wasn't sure if I'd like the way he'd made the chicken salad (he'd picked up on my pickiness regarding food), he had prepared a second sandwich for me (a peanut butter and jelly sandwich fixed just the way I do it) as a backup.  Let's all say it together now, "Awwwww!"

Due to my fears, I still had walls up and kept a cautious distance, and while he chided me about it, he never pushed me in any way.  He just continued behavior like I just shared with you.  I thought there was some magic time frame that had to go by before I could move on.  I never expected to meet someone so great so quickly. Would my friends that had known me as part of the last couplehood accept someone else in that role? Everything was an excuse, and finally, with a little help from close friends, it dawned on me that I was being ridiculous.

Here's the giant life-changing discovery:  If I had a daughter, I would tell her to wait for a man that treated her just like Comanche had been treating me.  If I felt that strongly about that, why would I pass up the opportunity to have a man like that?  Why didn't I deserve the same thing?

Guess what?  I do deserve the same thing.  Every girl deserves to be treated this way, and God in Heaven, I hope each and every one of you find it!  It's amazing what it can do for your state of mind to be blissfully happy.  The next logical step for me was to follow the sage advice of one of my coworkers: "Girl, lock him down and lock him down NOW!" That's what I did and I'm ecstatic to report that things have been smooth sailing ever since.  I'm not saying it's cotton candy and snow cones every single minute, but it's pretty doggone awesome!

I know you all want to see pictures of Comanche, and I would love to show them to the next post! 

HA!  You didn't actually think I'd be mean enough to leave you hanging like that, did you?  This isn't American Idol and I'm not Ryan Seacrest, y'all!  Without further ado....

Well, hello.....

Candid shots are the best! Great job, Little Sister CW!

Carving the pumpkin = mission accomplished!

Hey there, handsome!
Until next time,

*Of course, I always strive to protect the innocent in this blog, and this case is no different. Obviously, my boyfriend's name isn't Comanche but he did help pick it out (it originates from one of our adventures - it's not really that interesting, or I'd share it with you)!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gather Round For Story Time

First, I would like to apologize for the extreme blogging hiatus!  This little Chicken Wing has been uber busy and has not found very much time for herself lately!  I am sorry that you've not had new reading material by way of this blog, and I'm getting back into it slowly but surely!  Things are starting to calm down a tad, and that is good for me and for you!  So, please check back often for updated posts, and don't give up on me yet, Peeps!

This is a little story that I will be retelling later in life if I'm blessed enough to have daughters one day.  I hope you enjoy the madness that is my mind.  Let's get started!

Source a land far, far away, there lived a man who loved to tell the most fantastical stories.  He especially loved to tell tales of the fairy variety that excited every little girl in the land!  Princesses, castles, and princes, OH MY!  Who was this magical man?

This man helped me to formulate what I now call the unicorn theory when I was just a wee Chicken Wing.  His colorful stories told me that I should wait for a unicorn (he called them Prince Charming in his tales) and never settle for less because, "dreams can come true" (as he had one of his communication directors, Cinderella, inform me).

So, Mr. Disney constantly showed me pictures of unicorns, and on screen, I witnessed average girls like myself meet these incredible unicorns and live happily ever after.  I knew it was possible, and it was something I wanted out of life!  Thank you, Walt, for helping me realize a dream!

Then, I grew up.

While I still wanted to believe that unicorns existed, real life experiences were clouding the waters for me.  Whether it was happening directly to me, or to friends or family members, most of the girls I knew were ending up with types like these:

The horse.
The horse.  While not necessarily a bad type, the horse can be fickle and/or ordinary.  He is inconsistent with his affections and while the relationship with a horse can be good, it's never really great.  You can sincerely love a horse, but you usually find that something is missing.  You then have to choose whether you want to tough it out or keep looking.

The donkey.
The donkey.  Usually very cute, usually also an ass.  (Har-dee-har-har!)  We'll toss the liars, cheaters, and all-around bad guys in this group (and I truthfully hate to do that to the cute picture of the donkey above).  But that's how they get you - you hate to hate them.  They treat you rotten, and you love them anways.  Luckily for me, I got out of my donkey-dating stage years ago and never looked back.

So, I was bombarded by real life examples that made me feel like maybe unicorns didn't exist after all.  As I grew ever older, I was even told that by cynical women who'd been done wrong.  "Get your head out of the clouds, girl," they said.  "If you want to be happy in life, adjust your expectations because unicorns don't exist.  Those Disney fairy tales really do a disservice to girls because it skews their expectations to something unattainable.  Go find yourself a good horse and learn to be satisfied with that."

That was discouraging. 

Then, you'd meet someone who had a fantastic relationship that had, say, sustained 20+ years.  They'd tell you stories about the sweet things their unicorn had done for them, and why they were so lucky to have one.  They'd tell you to hold out until you found a unicorn - you know, that special someone that treats you the way you truly deserve.  Mind you, they couldn't point out any unicorns for you, but they told you to keep a look out.

That was frustrating.

So, to recap:  You believe in unicorns even though you've never seen one.  Then, you realize you're only dating horses and donkeys.  Then, you're told to settle for a good horse.  Then, you see someone who has a unicorn (you get insanely jealous), and you're told to wait for the unicorn.  (And people wonder why dating is so difficult and confusing).

Then, a relationship with what you thought was a good horse ends, and you're moseying along throughout the fields they call life for awhile.  A few months go by, and you get set up on a blind date way out in the field.  You show up, see this date and BAM! 

What the hell is that horse doing with a horn on its forehead?!?!?!

You can't quite believe it, so you inch over very cautiously to take a closer look.  You decide that it does, in fact, look like a unicorn.  But, you're skeptical because let's face it -  you've never seen an available unicorn in your life!  It couldn't be true.

So you try your best to listen to what this "horse-in-unicorn's-clothing" has to say.  You go on more dates with him.  You still don't let your guard down because of all the failed horse and donkey relationships before. This cycle continues, and while he could have cut and run because you were so hesitant that you seemed like a lost cause, he doesn't.  Instead, he continues to show you that he is a unicorn.  He continues to treat you like a piece of treasure that he wants to keep and protect.

At this point, you have two options.  The first is to either deliberately or subconsciously be destructructive to this new and wonderful situation you're in because you're too afraid of letting something good happen to you.  The second is to just accept that you've found a unicorn, throw a lasso around him, and put him in your yard so some other girl doesn't get him! 

Guess which option I chose.  (You'll have to stick around to find out for sure!)

I hope you've enjoyed Story Time with Chicken Wing.  I'm sure there will be more editions of this pre-school, carpet square discussion for your enjoyment in the future!  I hope you all had a great Halloween weekend and are enjoying your candy highs!

Until next time,
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