27 May, 2018

30 Day Writing Challenge - Day 05

Today, I am going to talk about five places that I want to visit. This is tough for me - I want to visit everywhere. To make it easier, I am going to limit my list to places within the United States that I would like to visit - I know there is a great big wonderful world out there, but there is also so much to see right here in my own country, and I kind of want to do that first (or at least chip away at these places first!).

After writing my list, I realized that only one of my must-see places is a city - the rest are wild, and free, and full of natural beauty. I think this probably says a lot about who I am. Also, I have visited so many awesome places already, in case you're wondering why a lot of cool spots didn't make the list. I think I will have to sit one day and make a list of places I have already visited that I would love to get to again.

The Grand Canyon. I feel like this one is on most peoples' lists, and it really should be. I have heard that there is something amazing and awe-inspiring about actually just standing there at the edge, and taking in all of the beauty. I want to stand at the edge, with no distractions - no cell phone, no camera, no attempt to get the perfect shot. I just want to be for a while, and take it all in.

Austin, Texas. I have been told that this would be an amazing city for me to check out. I love country music, but the current state of country radio makes me sad. I would love to be in a city where I can hear things that actually sound like country music, and not some over-produced attempt to sell more records. I want to visit dive bars and hear people I have never heard of sing their stories.

Acadia National Park. I have been wanting to get to this Maine spot for a few years, but I have just never gotten quite that far (I just hang around the Kittery area when I pop into Maine). I have this crazy need to see a moose, and I think that perhaps I could actually catch a glimpse of one out in the wild, doing moosey things if I made it up to Acadia. Maine is AMAZING in general, and I highly recommend it to everyone!

Alaska. I don't even have a certain part of Alaska that I would like to visit - I just want to go there, in general. Everyone else I know wants to go to Hawaii, but if I am going to hop out of the forty-eight contiguous states, I am definitely going to go to Alaska first! I would particularly love to do an Alaska cruise!

Yellowstone National Park. Another spot that my nature-and-animal-loving self would love to see. Bears, wolves and buffalo living out in the wild, being as natural as they can be with annoying tourists like me looking at them all day. Plus, the scenery?! It looks absolutely stunning! 

26 May, 2018

30 Day Writing Challenge - Day 04

I've somehow always mean to write about it, but never actually sat down and got around to it - today, I get to tell you about the meaning behind my blog name!

I am going to admit that I am super-boring, and the name for my link - twentysixx - is only because 26 is my favorite number, but spelling the link as twentysix was already taken. I often feel like it looks like one of those obnoxious links, where people throw in unnecessary X's for attention no reason. I somehow never managed to have a username with obnoxious extra X's, through all of my AIM and Yahoo Messenger days (am I aging myself right now? I am getting up there....) but ended up with one now.

"Feels Like Home To Me" (which I later shortened to just "Feels Like Home" (but I used "Home to Me" back in my Livejournal days) is a name that I have loved for what seems like forever! When I realized that I could take a handful of my favorite songs and use them to make a username? I was obsessed. The phrase Feels Like Home/Home To Me was ripped from a bunch of songs that I love, so I will include a snippet of lyrics, and a link to a video of each song if I can find one.

Firstly, "Home to Me," written by Thom Shepherd and Memarie Gayle. You can hear this song on Thom's "Tonkyhonk" album. Thom sent me the lyrics to this song (and later a demo recorded by Brad Cotter and Jenny Farrell) years ago. It's one of my favorite Thom songs ever - despite never getting to hear it live. I think it has a special place in my heart because Thom and Memarie met at an event that I co-hosted with some friends.

How did we get so lucky? All I have to be is me and you still love me. You're my friend, you're this ring, honey you're my everything. But most of all, you're home to me.

 I feel like the song that is most often stuck in my head with my beloved phrase in it would be Chantal Kreviazuk's "Feels Like Home to Me." Undeniably a classic, which always reminds me of a road trip I took with my friend April back in 2008 or so, from Nashville to Gatlinburg, where she kept replaying bits of the song until I knew all of the words. Ten years later, and I still know all of the words, and love the song.
If you knew how lonely my life has been, and how long I've been so alone. If you knew how I wanted someone to come along and change my life the way you've done. It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me. It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from.
Blue County's "Sounds Like Home" gets me right in the feels every single time. Remember Blue County? They're the guys that brought you "Good Little Girls," and "Firecrackers and Ferris Wheels" several years back. I'm generally that girl that falls in love with the random song on the album that was never released as a single, and no one ever knows what I am talking about when I mention it. These guys were always a favorite of mine - I got to see them several times back in my concert-going-days, when I would road trip with girl friends nearly every weekend.
I hear the dancing of the raindrops while we tumble in the hay loft. I hear you laughing at my bad jokes and singing oh so sweet. I hear the creaking of a screen door, and bare feet on a wooden floor. But to hear you whisper my name is all I really need. Your voice sounds like home to me.
And of course, there is the always-amazing Little Big Town, with "Bring it On Home." I have adored these four since their first record deal, and mostly loved them during that in-between period when the four of them would drive themselves around in a white van to shows. I was there in the days when they would set up their own equipment, and Karen would belt out "Maybe it Was Memphis" for her sound check.  "Bring it On Home" has been one of my favorites for a long time. There is something so pure about their voices on this song. This, to me, is the Little Big Town I fell in love with all those years ago!
When your long day is over, and you can barely drag your feet. The weight of the world is on your shoulders, I know what you need - bring it on home to me.

 I now feel like I am drawing a blank, because I am almost positive that there was at least one more song with the phrase that I had drawn from. But this is why my username has been Feels Like Home or Feels Like Home to Me for several years. Music has such a huge piece of my heart, and I had to find a way to include it. Plus, getting to include some of my very favorite artists - and people - in a subtle way in my username made me so happy!

25 May, 2018

What's Up Weekend? 05.25.2018

How has another week passed by already? How is it possible that it's Memorial Day weekend, when it feels like it was just Easter? Heck, it feels like I was just Christmas shopping. I swear - the older I get, the more time just zooms right past me - sometimes I really wish it would just slow down a little bit, because I am sure that I am missing something along the way. It's time again to link up with the lovely, talented, and kind folks from The Peaceful Posse Facebook group for the "What's Up Weekend?" link up.

This week was, much like last week, full of a lot of working! I get paid bi-weekly, and between the two weeks, I pulled thirty hours of overtime! I am very much looking to next Thursday's paycheck, and possibly paying some bills for the coming month a little early (or, of course, just treating myself to something fun and silly, just to pat myself on the back for working so hard these last two weeks). 

I received a pin at work this week as a little "thanks for helping out" incentive. I wrote a little bit about it this morning, and in the scheme of things, it really isn't a huge deal - but it's nice to be recognized. Kind words from the store manager and co-manager the last few days also helped me to feel like I was pretty awesome, so I am grateful for that. I have somehow felt better at work lately... like I somehow finally have it all figured out (despite being crazy-busy this week in our tourist-heavy store, and despite being sent out of the store several times). It just feels like something clicked lately, and it's cracking me up - just in time to change positions.

I felt really pretty after showering last night, so I took a selfie that I am kind of in love with. I have never been vain - in fact, I have always been very hard on myself, and swear that I am plain-looking at best. But then there are these rare moments, where I feel like I am not too bad, so I grab a few pictures while standing in front of the mirror. This was one of those nights.

I am off from work tomorrow - I'm kind of going to miss my Saturdays off when I switch to another department in a week or so, but from what I hear, I should be getting every other Friday/Saturday off, so that's kind of amazing. I am so looking forward to a summer with "weekends" off. The boyfriend works both of those days, and is off on Sundays - but this could allow me to plan little overnight trips with my girl friends, or other fun little outings. Plus, I am sure I will be able to grab one or both of my nieces some of those days, and either let them sleep over, or just pick them up early and make a day out of going to the gym or going for a hike, and then relaxing by the pool in my community (I want to spend so much time by the pool this summer - especially now that I am sixty pounds lighter than last summer).

I really am feeling overall happy lately, and I no longer have that constant "waiting for the other shoe to drop" feeling lurking about, reminding me that life could get bad any moment. I feel fine, and happy, and like I am figuring things out. Why did it take my thirty-four years?!

So happy to be linking up with Lindsay, Beth and Charlotte again this week, and being able to sit and reflect on happy, positive things!

30 Day Writing Challenge - Day 03

Today I get to speak about my day, in great detail. I've done this one before, other than putting in extreme details about what I do at work, but I feel like extreme detail about my days would absolutely bore someone to death (it bores me just thinking about it!).

Instead, how about some details about yesterday. Of course, this does not include my entire day, but I'll give you some of the highlights.

My morning consisted of trying to clean up the freight that had been left for me from the night before (or, technically the night before that... though from what I gather, it had actually been there since the night before that, but c'est la vie). Going into Memorial Day weekend, my department is shaping up to be super busy these next few days (it's actually already started). One of my departments is the paper department, and things like cups, plates, and plastic cutlery are flying off of the shelf. Luckily my managers gave me some direction with where to go with some of these items to help take some of the pressure off, and I am looking at features of paper everywhere in my department. I feel like a good part of my day for these next few days is going to be filling them constantly.

When your store is right down the street from the world's largest indoor waterpark, you sometimes get special orders for large quantities of items for events that they are throwing. I somehow got in the middle of an order that wasn't being organized for them, grabbed the grocery manager to help me with it and to meet their representative, and took care of that. I actually felt like I was doing something important - not just taking care of a pretty big order that was bringing in a nice little chunk of money for us, but creating relationships with the people at the park to help with any future transactions. Getting a "thank you!" text from them later made my day! I am actually looking forward to working with them more in the future - I have fun doing things that are beyond the normal scope of my position.

In the afternoon, I called my vendor who takes care of the fish tanks. We sell live pet fish, but it's been a struggle keeping them alive, after some issues with the water in their tanks. I had to call the vendor that changes out the big filters to talk to them about coming out to clean so that I could get back into the business of selling fish (well... not me... because by the time they get out here to do it, I will be on my way out of the department... but the next person... the next person can sell fish...).

I was surprised toward the end of the day with a pin. The store gives out five each month to people who are "happy to help." I kept saying I should get one, mostly as a joke because I think the program is fairly silly for my own reasons... but I have never gotten any kind of recognition at work (despite being told for months that my department is so much better since I took it over, that I've done a good job to get certain things fixed, that I am great with customers...). I had joked about it so much that I guess someone finally said something to a manager, who decided I deserved a pin. As silly as I think the program is at times, I was actually really grateful to get a pin, finally, after being a pain in their side for such a long time. I mean... I might be a pain, and I might be obnoxious... but I am pretty much always the first person to help anyone in that building. And now I have a cute little pin to wear on my uniform to prove that.

On the way home from work, we stopped at my friend Trish's house to drop off a have-a-heart trap she had let me borrow when I was attempting to catch the mother of the kittens I caught. No such luck, of course, so I was done with the trap. I was hoping to meet Trish's new dog (or jokingly try to kidnap my favorite of her eight dogs), but she was super busy, so we will have to try that another day.

We came home to pet cuddles and kisses, and were invited to the neighbors' house this weekend for a get-together. I love that I live in a place with neighbors who I actually know (not super-well, mind you, but it's nice to go outside and actually speak to the neighbors, have them ask how you are doing, etc). Whenever we are outside working on anything, the neighbor always offers help - "what are you doing with the car? Can I help you?" Heck yeah you can! It's nice to know what we live in a place where not only is our neighbor friendly to us, but that he would probably be able to keep an eye on the house if anything was going on. I love my small-town Pennsylvania life!

I am gearing up right now for another day at work - day six in a row - but everything I do today is overtime, so I am not even stressing! I hope the store is super busy and that I get to spend tons of my day helping customers (who knew I was a people person?! When did that happen?!).

24 May, 2018

30 Day Writing Challenge - Day 02

Today I get to write about ten likes, and ten dislikes. This ought to be fun. ;)

I'm going to start with my dislikes, because I would rather end on a positive note - and pick myself back up after thinking of ten things that I don't like.
  1. When people are loudly political, but can never give any proof or resources to tell you why their side is right. I'm all for "my opinion is..." but it bothers me terribly when someone states things as though they are fact, and then refuse to back it up, or tell you where they heard that, or in any way support their claims.
  2. Snakes. Yup, just going to put that there. Yes, I am referring to the slithering animals - not to people who act like snakes. Something about them just freaks me out, even though as a kid I used to be able to catch them in my yard. One day, my opinions on them just changed, and I find it hard to even look at them. That being said, I wish no harm on them - I just don't want them near me.
  3. When people refuse to fact-check things they share online. I've actually written about this on here before, but it annoys the heck out of me.
  4. Super cold weather.
  5. Super hot weather.
  6. People who are constantly negative. I get it - we all have bad days, and I sure have plenty of my own. But when people can not seem to find a single good thing in life ever, I just have to distance myself from them.
  7. Drinking. It just never appealed to me, really. I'll have an occasional wine cooler or some girly drink with umbrellas and fruity bits floating in it, but if I have a dozen drinks over the course of the year, it's been a big year.
  8. Particularly formal events. I don't own a little black dress, and the idea of dressing up, and going to an event that's fancy has no appeal to me. Jeans, a t-shirt, and sitting out on my deck or by a bonfire are just fine with me. I also have no desire to have my nails done, sport fancy hair dos, or wear cute shoes. No thank you - comfortable is more my style!
  9. Music with foul language. I can't even explain this one, but I will cuss like a sailor... but I have no desire to hear it in my music. Even I don't understand this about myself.
  10. New York City. I know I'll probably get a lot of nonsense for this, but I just don't see the appeal. It's too big for my tastes (but I love Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Nashville as far as cities are concerned). The idea of driving into NYC bothers me. There's nothing there I particularly need to be a part of, and it's only a little bit further of a drive for me to go to Philadelphia if I desire some hustle and bustle. I get strange looks when I admit that I do not, in fact, heart NY.
I like so many things... where do I even begin?!

  1. Country music from the 1990's and early 2000's. I feel like this will always be my go-to music, for as long as I live. While there is some music currently on the radio that I find myself enjoying, as a general rule, I think it all sounds the same these days. It's easy to tell what direction country music labels are going, and it makes me kind of sad, when I know so many wonderfully talented, unique artists. I miss being able to turn on the radio and know who was singing, even if I had never heard the song before.
  2. Zoos and aquariums! I know there is so much controversy over whether these are a good thing, and animals should be let to live in their natural habitats, but I still love a good zoo. I don't mean little roadside zoos with lions cooped up in 15x15 spaces with no room to run - I'm talking about places that do their best to give the animals an amazing life, with room to roam and plenty of enrichment. I'm talking about places with knowledgeable staff who can tell you about their animals. I love being able to get up close to animals that there is no way I would otherwise have a chance to see.
  3. Animals, just in general. I've spent most of my life living in areas where herds of deer roam across my yard, and I still get excited when I see them. Wild bunnies make me smile. Chipmunks are welcome little buddies in my yard. I swear I am like a child when it comes to seeing animals in the wild.
  4. My furry family, obviously. I am especially fond of my dogs - as annoying and untrained as they are - and I have a huge soft spot for cats that have any kind of special need (hence how I ended up with feline leukemia positive cats, a cat that can't walk in a straight line, a cat who's deaf, a cat with chronic breathing issues...).
  5. People who love animals. I have, in the last couple of years (particular since I started rescuing special needs cats) met some pretty awesome people who are involved in rescuing pets. It's such an awesome common ground to have with people.
  6. Walking! I never thought that I would like walking for pleasure, but I've fallen in love with it! Just me and the great outdoors... sometimes the dogs come along... sometimes I convince friends that being healthy is fun. There are a lot of really cool places to go walking in my general area, and just take in the scenery, and breathe in fresh air.
  7. "Parks and Recreation." I'm kind of obsessed (also with "The Office," to be fair) and will watch it repeatedly. Once I finish re-binging through it on Netflix, I start over again. I have zero attention span most of the time, and no desire to really watch anything that is going to require me to think, so my trusty old Parks & Rec saves the day, time and time again.
  8. Happy and inspirational quotes. I have a folder on my computer desktop, just chock-full of pretty words that I browse through when I need inspiration, particularly in the morning.
  9. Early mornings! I'm fairly certain that most of my co-workers think I am out of my mind when I am greeting them happily at seven o'clock in the morning with "good morning, sunshine!" Only one regularly growls at me, and one actually noticed that I stopped saying it for a while, and told me that she was sad that I didn't greet her with my normal morning greeting.
  10. Road trips! I love just getting in the car and going, especially with my girl friends, and especially when we have no real timeline to get anywhere, and are just enjoying each other's company, and stopping when we feel like stopping. I particularly love driving through New England.