Truth be told, when I got up this morning, I didn’t really have any desire to write a blog post called “Good Things.” The school shooting in Florida, watching some friends try to help a child through a tough situation, not knowing how or exactly when to help people. . . it’s just been a heavy week. And I wondered if I even had any good things from the week to report.
Turns out, I do.
This blog series started as a way to practice thankfulness, and it turns out that sometimes thankfulness is something you have to continually do. It’s also sort of like a doctor practicing medicine—you have to do it when you feel like it and when you don’t.
And more than often, in those don’t-feel-like-it-times, He reveals even some of the smallest things you have to be thankful for. So here we go!
- Slow Burn. At some point last week, a friend of mine was asking for podcast recommendations on Facebook. I’m always looking for new podcasts and she and I have similar interests, so I “listened in,” so to speak. Someone suggested “Slow Burn,” which is a Slate podcast about Watergate. It’s no secret that I like history—but I listened to the entire first season in a week. It’s well done and interesting and I may listen to it again on a long drive when the episodes won’t get so broken up by me getting to my destination. Next season will be about the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Can’t wait to listen to history I lived through!
- Ceiling fans. So guys, I’ve seen it posted that Nashville hit 70-plus degrees yesterday. It was muggy and warm, but it’s also February and who is going to turn the a/c on? So all day long, the office was stuffy and uncomfortable. Last night, I thought my house was better. . . until I woke up at 4 a.m. and was hot and grumpy. Thank goodness for ceiling fans!
- Amazing amounts of Olympic coverage. So guys, back in the day, high school Mandy loved figure skating, particularly pairs figure skating. And my favorite pair of all time was Gordeeva-Grinkov from Russia. They first won gold on the Olympic stage in Calgary in 1988, which I don’t remember, but they won gold and my heart in Lillehammer in 1994. I loved them so much that I’m pretty sure they’re on a poster collage I made that hung on my bedroom door in my parents’ house for years. A year after that win, Sergei died on the ice while training in New York. I was heartbroken. I’ve kept up with Katia since then. My mom and dad bought me the memoir she wrote about her love story with Sergei. This year marks 30 years since their gold medal turn at the ’88 Olympics, so NBC Sports aired a retrospective talking with Katia and she and Sergei’s now-grown daughter, Daria. I missed the segment on Wednesday because I wasn’t at home, but thanks to Hulu and the backlog of Olympics coverage, I was able to watch it last night. Daria has Sergei’s smile and for some reason that makes me happy.
- Doughnuts. It’s my coworker’s birthday and we’re having doughnuts. It doesn’t have to be much to excite me!
- Hope. In days when it feels so dark, it’s good to know that hope is not lost. That my hope is in a Person (Jesus) and not circumstances.
Well, guys, we made it through another week! It’s been a busy week full of lots of activities, but it’s still been good. Here are a few of the “good things” I’m celebrating this week:
- It’s FRIDAY! I firmly believe in making every day special, and I think Fridays are a good enough reason to celebrate. The prospect of sleeping in, even if just a little, is reason enough for me to smile!
- The Olympics kick off tonight. I’m a huge fan of the Olympics (it’s even a category of posts on this blog!), and I’m ready for the next two weeks. While I’d say the Summer Olympics are my favorite, I do enjoy ice skating, skiing and all the other wintertime sports, too. (Except curling, which I don’t get at all.) I’m interested to see how these games play out!
- I’m a HelloFresh subscriber, and I got my latest delivery this week. I often skip deliveries because of the pace of my life, only getting a both about twice a month. Because of the holidays and getting back into the rhythm of life in January, it had been awhile. This week, my picks included spinach ricotta ravioli with chicken sausage and tomatoes (I already made it, and it’s delicious!); rosemary-crusted chicken thighs with mashed potatoes (YUM!) and Southwestern stuffed peppers, which I am looking forward to. I’ve learned I like some things I’ve always thought I hated (sweet potatoes) and enjoy not having to go to the grocery store as often.
- One of my responsibilities at work is producing a quarterly magazine for the university. The latest issue, the President’s Report, hit mailboxes this week. I couldn’t be happier about the way it turned out!
- I saw The Greatest Showman last weekend. I’m a sucker for musicals, so I was predisposed to like it, but I loved it. I’m not someone who often feels to compelled to clap for a movie (something that happens in Nashville on the regular. . .) but I did for this one.
- My friend Mindy gave me some coffee to try last weekend and I’ve brewed a couple pots this week with it. It’s fantastic!
So, it’s a little later than I usually post and you probably thought I’d forgotten about our little weekly get-together. But alas, I have not! It’s just been a bit of busy day. So let’s get on with celebrating the things that made this week special!
- My employer recently added a new benefit, Smart Dollar. Truth be told, I didn’t want to do it. I’ve always been reticent to do “money” programs, mostly because I think I don’t like being told what to do. . . and I don’t want to have to admit that I haven’t always made great money choices. I admitted here a few weeks ago that finances were something that consistently caused me stress, so when the opportunity arose, I knew I had to take it. I went to the info session and signed up. I’ve been using the budgeting tool and hope the info helps me to be less anxious about finances.
- I got in the habit of grabbing breakfast on my way to work one day a week. For whatever reason, I stopped several months ago. But yesterday, I was running late, it was a gloomy day and I needed a pick-me-up, so I stopped in at one of my favorite places, Dozen Bakery. Their blueberry muffins are my absolute favorite, and they serve Crema coffee. DELICIOUS!
- I cut the cord on cable last weekend and chose to go with Hulu with Live TV. For me, the switch has been mostly seamless. I still get to watch all the shows I want to watch, have more sports channels than before and by donating to PBS, I get access to all the local NPT and Masterpiece shows I like. I may add the Hallmark Movies channel on Amazon Prime in the future, but for now I’m happy. Even if my live CBS station on Hulu wasn’t so great this morning.
- It’s been a weird week of odds and ends at work, with me tacklings tasks on lots of various bits and pieces of my job. Even though it’s felt disjointed, my planner seems to say that I’ve made progress.
- I got a haircut and color yesterday from Elliot at Aura Salon. He does such an excellent job on my color that everyone thinks it’s natural! (Which makes me laugh and laugh.)
- I get to hang out with a few friends tomorrow for a brunch and then we’re going to do a little crafting. We may sound like little old ladies, but it will be fun. And with our lives going in so many different directions, it will be good to get to hang out and see one another.
It’s been a week. A week full of beautiful things, hopeful things and some incredibly terrible things, like the school shooting in Benton, Ky. But, as the week closes out, I’d rather focus on the good things in my life and invite you to do the same with yours. With no further ado. . .
- I got my MoviePass card this week. I signed up about 10 days ago, and the card came in the mail earlier this week. Truth be told, after doing several social media searches about MoviePass before taking the plunge, I was hopeful, but also doubtful that the card would arrive quickly or that I’d have problems using it. Nothing could be further from the truth. It came quickly; I used it last night, and everything was flawless.
- Speaking of movies. . . I saw The Post last night. Granted, being me, I’m predisposed to like movies about journalism. I loved it! I thought Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks (as Ben Bradlee) were phenomenal. I also loved how the use of Nixon tapes and nuanced references to the historical record really placed this movie at a particular time in history and made you understand it better. At the same time, the film is also a product of this particular moment in history. If you’ve read an essay I wrote here months ago, you know where I stand on journalism’s role in our republic. The movie seemed to think it was a “for such as time as this” moment to declare the same thing. I get that The Post isn’t the movie for everyone, but I loved it.
- A good friend of mine is celebrating a milestone birthday with a big party this weekend. I look forward to good food, friends and music!
- I stopped by Red Bicycle today and got a butterbeer latte on the way to work. That will brighten anyone’s day!
- I had my performance review at work this week. It’s good to be encouraged!
- A friend and I made some progress on a project we’re planning for the students we work with at our church. I’m excited to guide them through the process of using their creative gifts and talents to serve and encourage the church.
What are some of the good things in your life this week? Share a few in the comments!
Because of winter weather hitting Middle Tennessee this week, I had an unexpected day at home on Tuesday. Every morning since then, my first coherent thought upon waking up is to ask, “What day is this?”
All that aside, today is Friday, which means it’s time to celebrate all the good things from the week that was!
- Snow day! Snow days don’t usually mean sleeping in for me, mostly because I’m part of the process of notifying local TV stations when the university won’t be in session because of weather. But Tuesday did mean a day at home in cozy socks, eating yummy soup and trying to write a story while it peacefully snows outside my window. Oh, and chasing my dog, Mac, around in the snow, which he thought was the best fun.
- A good night. I help with an arts ministry at my church that helps students develop their artistic gifts for the glory of God and edification of the church. We teach them to sing and lead worship as well as other ways they could use artistic interests like graphic design, writing, photography, etc. We kicked off the spring semester last Sunday with a hot chocolate bar with all the fixings and played some fun games. It was good to be back with my students (7-12th grades) and to see some new faces.
- Blessings. There are moments when I am just thankful to God for the way He provides. During a recent sermon at my church our pastor asked us to consider what it was in our lives we were withholding from God, not letting Him have control of. As I prayed, the answer was clear to me: finances. I acknowledged that truth: I don’t trust that You’ll truly provide for me, God, I prayed silently. I walked out of the service determined to loosen my grip on the financial resources He had given me. But Christmas was expensive. And life is expensive. And I have some medical bills, and Mac needs to get his teeth cleaned. . . the list of things goes on and on. This week, God gifted me with two—count ’em, two!—freelance opportunities.
- Completing to-dos. Strength Finders ranks my top strength as “achiever,” so it just makes sense that the fact I’ve been able to check a number of items off my to-do list at work and home despite the snow day makes me happy.
- Warmer weather. I love living in a place where I can experience all the seasons. I don’t mind cold weather, to a point. And apparently that point was a windchill below zero. Warmer temperatures are on just around the corner, though!
- Book suggestions! We almost have a winner. Help me pick the final book in my 2018 reading list. The finalists are By The Book by Julia Sonneborn, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain; Unseen by Sara Hagerty and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. Follow me on Twitter (@countessmandy) and vote in my poll to pick the winner!
Each week, I try to end on a high note: with a list of good things that happened over the course of the week. My life is fairly busy and often I tend to focus on the bad, stressful or distressing things that happened. To help myself see, appreciate and be grateful for the blessings in my life, I’m choosing to set aside time each week to list out a few of them.
I highly recommend it and suggest you do the same. With no further ado, here are a few good things from the week that was:
- A fun dinner with sweet friends. Once a month, I get together with a few of the coworkers who became like family to me during my decade (plus) at LifeWay. My friend Mike and his wife, Tricia, set the menu and open up their house to us, and the rest of us brings sides and desserts. It’s always a good time of conversation and laughter—and suggestions of what to watch next on Netflix. I’m grateful for these people and the sweet ways they continue to pour into my life even though we don’t see each other every day anymore.
- Making progress on a goal, even if it hurts. I don’t really do resolutions. But I do like to go into a new year with some goals. One of my goals for 2018 is to get back into a routine of exercising regularly. So this week, I went back to a class I have loved in the past at the YMCA, Les Mills Body Pump. The Downtown Y started offering a course on Tuesdays, and that’s fairly easy to get to from work (not as easy with the demolished LifeWay building in the way) and I could take a class while Nashville traffic died down then head home and eat dinner. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty getting back into the routine of regular exercise. I thought I might die somewhere around the bicep track. But I persevered and am glad I went. Even if I’m really, really sore.
- Chocolate, coffee and great coworkers. There have been some stressful days in the office this week, to say the least. In the midst of it, some of the moments of sanity have been brought to you by Ghiradelli squares, a lot of coffee and wonderful coworkers who were some of my biggest cheerleaders (and bringers of coffee).
- Inclement weather. I don’t often wish for snow days since I am involved in communications for a university and canceling class often means early mornings filled with emails, cancelation posts and calls to TV stations to announce the closure. But with impending ice apparently on the way, classes are canceled and administrative offices are closed. It’s nice to not have to worry about driving anywhere!
Let’s just say the last two weeks have been a little busy. There’s been fun things and hard things, work things, stressful things, happy things and, well, good things. So let’s focus on a few of those!
- A former coworker of mine recently approached me about doing some freelance editing on a project she was working on. It had been awhile since I’d been in that particular editing headspace (Bible studies), so it took me a couple of days to respond. But I think it’s definitely a good thing I did. The project we’re working on is so, so good. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence … I think God put this project in my life at this time because He knew I needed to hear, ponder, drink in and dwell on its message. That I needed His truth to seep into my bones and infiltrate my heart. He also brought it to me just as I was beginning a more concerted effort to take on freelance work. I’m grateful for His graciousness in both.
- Another good thing? I had to have the first session of that freelance project edited and ready to submit for approval by the end of this week. I’m proud to say that I turned in all my stuff last night!
- I got a new planner that started in August. I love it maybe way too much. Shout out to Emily Ley and the Simplified Planner!
- Last night, after I finished one last part of the first part of the freelance project, I told myself I could celebrate by making popcorn (yes, in my Cusinart microwave popcorn contraption) and watching an episode of Poldark on Amazon Prime. I didn’t realize I was on the last episode of Season 2, though! And, if you follow me on social media, yep, I’m still mad at Ross. And a bit at Demelza. But mostly Ross. (Actually, Mac is a little peeved, too.)
- It’s Friday! I have copious amounts of caffeine in various forms, I can sleep in tomorrow and all is well!
What are the good things in your life this week? Share them in the comments!
For some reason, this week has felt like a month. It could be the days with back-to-back headaches and an attempt to be healthier—physically and spiritually—by getting up at 5:15 a.m. It could just be it’s that time in the life of a university employee when life starts to get a little busier. All that said, I’m happy it’s Friday, and I’m excited students will be back soon!
So, let’s focus on all the things I’m grateful for this week with this week’s “Good Things” list!
- Professionally, it’s been a good media relations week, with two local stations coming out to cover an event on campus I pitched to them.
- I took friends to a lunch spot I love, but one they’d never been to. They loved it! (Sometimes, sharing your favorite things with someone makes you a little vulnerable. What if you put it out there and they hate it? Thankfully, that was not the case.) And if you happen to be in Nashville and hungry for lunch, you ought to try Clawson’s Deli sometime!
- Good coffee. On Wednesday, I had a headache that felt like the back of my head was in a vice grip. I was thankful when I went home and got to eat and lie down for a bit. . . then I realized I had to go buy dog food for my dog, which means going to a particular store because he can only have limited ingredient foods. So, I hopped in the car and drove to PetCo. After I got Mac’s food, I stopped in at a grocery store I love but don’t often have a chance to go to. I came home with delicious brioche bread and a delicious coffee roast I’m enjoying right now!
- I attempted a new recipe this week, one that I was basically making up on my own. It still needs some fine-tuning, but I think crockpot BBQ peach chicken will be an actual recipe soon!
- Hope. I took on a freelance editing project last week and spent some time early this week reading through parts of the video transcripts and content. And I cried as I read some of it, in a good way. I think there are times when God brings you to a particular place at a particular time and uses things you don’t expect to speak to you.
No, your eyes do not deceive you. It is indeed Saturday, and “Good Things” usually posts on Friday. Let’s just say yesterday was a day full of technical difficulties. But, yesterday’s over and there are still plenty of great things to celebrate from this week.
So here we go!
- Last week, I bought a Cusinart silicone microwave popcorn maker at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I’d glimpsed it a few weeks earlier and decided I didn’t need it, but I really, really like popcorn . . . and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. For me, buying popcorn kernels that can be popped rather than prepackaged microwave popcorn bags tends to be a little more cost effective. I had my reservations, but guys, this things works! Granted, I burned my first batch, but the second was delightful!
- I’ve been trying to reign in eating lunch out a little, just to help my budget a little. This week included two $3 meals in the Caf at work and 3 meals of Baja Burrito catering leftovers. It’s still good on the second. . . and third day!
- The last few days have been miserably hot in Nashville. I’m not going to lie: I’m super thankful for working A/C!
- Yesterday, I went to used book sale at a local library. I came home with quite a few treasures I couldn’t pass up, including Lion, Peace Like a River, The Light Between Oceans, A Thousand Acres, While I Was Gone and an 1947 copy of Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking. As soon as I finish Stephen King’s On Writing, I’ll have a wide selection to choose from!
- While many things didn’t go quite as planned this week, I can say that I did an interview and turned around a story in two days time, which can be a little hard to do in my line of work. So despite all the setbacks, I’m counting this week as a success!
It’s Friday, so that means one thing, right? Another installment of “Good Things” here on Unfinished Business.
OK, so maybe you thought that meant something else, but you’re already here, so why don’t you just peruse a few of the good things from my life this week and try to think of a few in your own?
With no further ado . . .
- Blueberry muffins from Dozen. I tweeted awhile back that they were my love language, and I really wasn’t joking.
- A/C. Have you guys been outside at all this week? Here in Nashville, it’s been pretty miserable. I’m thankful for working A/C this week. Because let’s be honest, I’d pretty much be dead without it.
- Hope. I started this week a little down. I’ve had a cold all week and am now on the upswing, but I also just felt emotionally exhausted and bogged down, really convinced of my “not-good-enough-ness.” But the other night, I was reading Scripture and Romans 15:13 shone like a beacon on the page of my Bible: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” I felt hope flood me. Because my “good-enough-ness” isn’t what He’s looking for. It’s for my trust, and in trusting Him, I find hope.
- This guy. When you’re not feeling well, he’s your best friend.
- When persistence on a project pays off. I am hopefully reaping the harvest of some of that persistence this afternoon.
- Things to look forward to, from dinner with friends to seeing my brother and his family to a night of good music on a so-called “school night” with a good friend.
- Opportunities that come from nowhere. I’ve been trying to increase my freelance opportunities and this week an unexpected offer came out of the blue.
- Movies that make you feel something. I watched the movie Before We Go about a year or more ago on Netflix. A few months later, I saw it on Netflix again and rewatched it. Last weekend, I bought it on Amazon Video. While the Chris Evans-directed film didn’t get a lot of attention and actually seems to be disliked by almost everyone, I like it. And I don’t mind that the ending leaves things a little up in the air—because I have an imagination!