My Fuel

I’ve tried time and again to start this blog post, to begin personal blogging again after months and months of a hiatus, but keep failing to write more than a few paragraphs.

grad

It just seem there’s too much to say, and I fear my words will be inadequate in describing what has thus far been one of the most monumental and beautiful years of my life.

But I think it’s time I at least give it the old college try.

Speaking of college, I’d just really love to give a quick shout-out to my eighteen-year-old self. The girl who never even thought she would step foot inside a college campus. Who nearly failed her freshmen level geometry class as a senior. Who was so awkward that if someone was to say something that she didn’t know how to respond to, which was often, she would simply giggle manically in response. Who worked as a waitress, and a cashier at Blockbuster and a lunch lady with a hairnet until she saved up enough money in a plastic baggy to buy her 1997 Toyota Avalon.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my twenty-year-old self too. Who was newly married and wildly in love and did not have a clue what she was doing with her life, or really, about life at all. Who had peers taking bets on how long her marriage would last. Who was once called “Some stupid girl that I don’t even know.” on the internet by someone that she, in fact, did not even know. Who would soon be accepted to her first four-year college after applying on a whim. Who would find a spark for learning and living that she didn’t even know could exist up until that point. Who would soon let this spark turn into a flame that would change her entire life.

graduation

And then there’s twenty-five year old me. Who was a new college graduate and a happy but terrified new mom. Who loved her family more than anything but still cared about her own passions too, and wondered how this might fit in with the expectations that society has placed on women. Who worried that the dreams she had worked so hard for would be put on pause indefinitely.

If there is a reoccurring theme to be found here, something that has bonded all of these years into a cohesive story, it would be always finding a way to fight back.

It took time, but eventually I learned that I shouldn’t just attempt to ignore my doubts and insecurities, the opinions and judgements of others and the standards that our world sets for women. That I should listen to every single negative word, every self doubt, every ridiculous expectation. And that I should let all of these things fuel me. To be stronger, to chase my dreams harder, to love wilder and to live based on not what anyone else says I can or should do, but based on what I know I can and should do.

roadtripdc

So do y’all mind if I fast forward to my twenty-eighth year? Because this is kind of my favorite part so far.

A few months back, I flew back to Austin after completing a road-trip from Texas to Washington D.C. with my best friend. She spent the entire summer with me, and much like the previous few months, we spent hundreds of miles laughing and exploring and laughing and dancing and laughing and arguing about things like “Should the Easter Bunny be classified as an animal when playing 20 Questions?” After adventuring and eating our way through Alabama, North Carolina, and a handful of other states, we made it to DC where I got to love on my second family for a couple of days.¬† I left on a Monday with a killer cough and had a few hours before I had to rush to my university, where I stayed up until nearly one in the morning with my MBA group. We were practicing for our final presentation that would be delivered the following day, and we practiced until we were nearly delusional and until I was gasping for breath between my coughing fits. But we also spent the night drinking wine and playing piano and taking goofy photos and reminiscing on the past two years and dissolving into bouts of laughter at various random interludes. I told them that night because I already knew in those moments, “Guys. This is going to be such a great memory for us one day.” And for me, it already is.

nc

By Tuesday morning we were all sleep deprived and I was still miserably sick, but the show must go on. And that it did. We presented to The Alternative Board, a CEO support group that we had been consulting for the past semester. They loved it, and the owner even requested a separate meeting with me afterward. If you would have told eighteen-year-old Christina that she would one day be giving business advice to CEOs, she would have giggled manically in response. But then, a lot of things would surprise that girl.

Mba

That girl who was too young to get married? She just celebrated eight years of happiness and laughter and wedding vows (and fights and tears and gross inside jokes) with her very best friend.¬† That girl who would have to choose between being a mom and living her dreams? She’s hustling as a social media director, training for a full marathon, forever having dance parties to new Taylor Swift songs with her three-year-old redhead and recently returned from learning to surf and getting her finger stuck in a zipline in Costa Rica. (But that’s a story for another time.) That same girl who never even dreamed she would go to college? She just graduated with her Master’s in Business.

kisses

I write this partly because I like to record how I am feeling and what I am going through at certain moments in time, and this moment in time is a big one for me. But I also write this because, maybe one day my daughter will be doubting herself. Probably someone will say something unkind to her. Most likely the world will be telling her what is or isn’t a possibility for her. Or maybe another soul will wander onto my blog and be experiencing these same things. I write this because I want that person to know that I have been there. I have been there, and I once never thought I would get to where I am right now. But here I am. So please, love, dream your biggest dreams. Work towards them ferociously and without apology. When you feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, most of the time you probably don’t. Keep going until you do. Focus on the good stuff. Let everything else be your fuel.

Hashtag Goals

So I have this resolution for 2017 to blog once weekly, and I’m already like CHRISTINA. What were you thinking?! seattle5

I’m in the process of writing three papers for grad school. I’m also writing a blog for a company I’d freelanced for before grad school, and was¬†recently asked to freelance for again. I obliged, because I’m insane. Did I mention I also have a full-time job and a toddler? Manic laughter goes here.

But anyway, here I am blogging. Mostly to say HI, GUYS I’M SO BUSY HELP and to get my once a week blogging goal in.

I hope to soon find the time to blog about my Seattle and Vancouver trip. I was so smitten with both of these places, you guys.

vancouver5

For now, here’s a picture of me and two sweet strangers I found at the¬†Trump Tower in Vancouver. It felt so wonderful to leave the country and to still feel such solidarity¬†with other likeminded ladies.¬†Though I have no problem asserting my opinions in person, I purposely¬†avoid talking politics on any form of social media. Part of this is because I don’t feel like getting into online¬†debacles with my¬†mostly conservative family. Another part is due to the blatant hypocrisy¬†and belief perseverance that I so clearly see on both sides,¬†and especially online.¬†But what is¬†the¬†saying¬†about a picture being worth a thousand words? That.

Damn. It’s 12:10 and officially Monday. Can I get an A for effort on this trying to blog weekly stuff?

2017 Resolutions

I was hesitant to publically¬†show my 2017 resolutions this year as I have a few lofty goals and a couple of scary ones.¬†It’d be easier to skip them if I didn’t flaunt them which is exactly why I’m sharing them. You guys get to hold me accountable. Yay!?

mtbonnell5

Here they are:

  • Run a full marathon (see “lofty goals”)
  • Visit three new-to-me states, one¬†new-to-me country
  • Graduate with my MBA
  • Take a solo trip (I have fond memories¬†experimenting with the starts of solo travel. In 2013, I flew to Detroit to film a commercial and met up with the production team upon arrival. Last year¬†I drove to New Orleans solo to meet up with friends and flew companionless to¬†Ireland to¬†then adventure with cousins. I’ve found all of these unaccompanied moments both meditative and thrilling. I’m keeping my options open here. Maybe I’ll have a weekend away in a sleepy little Texas town. Maybe I’ll fly to new lands. Either way, I’m excited for this one.)
  • Get a tattoo (see “scary goals”; I have one tattoo. I’ve wanted a second for years.¬†My one big¬†irrational fear¬†is needles and I was¬†a huge baby when getting tatted at eighteen. Like, the tattoo artist kind of hated me. But at this point I’ve given birth¬†to¬†an actual baby so I figure that process must be¬†scarier and I¬†can¬†handle this.¬†Eh?)
  • Record books read (Every year, I¬†devour¬†so many delicious words¬†and recollect very few of them. I hate that! I started on this¬†goal slightly¬†early, by creating a Goodreads account in late December.)
  • Blog¬†1+ times weekly, post to Instagram 3+ weekly
  • Vlog¬†Resolution Progress Report¬†(I want to have some way of keeping up¬†with these goals, and I’ve also¬†been wanting to start vlogging. Thought I might as well combine the two! This is another lofty¬†objective for me as I have a record of being terrible at keeping up with video blogs. Wish me luck!)

I’m doing my best to get off to a good start with¬†said goals.

girlwithallthegifts

I recorded my first book read of the year, The Girl With All The Gifts. I’m¬†no¬†sci-fi or fantasy fan, and usually shy away from books in either¬†genre. But I found this zombie book for 50 cents at a little bookstore in Brenham, Texas and thought I’d give it¬†a go. Y’all, I surprised myself with how much I adored this one. I originally gave it four stars but when I found myself still thinking about it¬†days later, I¬†went back and changed it to five.

Tomorrow, I¬†fly to¬†Seattle and¬†Washington will mark my first new-to-me state¬†of the year. This has been on my travel list for years, and I’m¬†eager to start¬†exploring with one of my best gal pals.

2017

It’s January and I’m already feeling the butterflies that travel and good books and¬†new things¬†bring my way. So I’d say 2017 is off to a pretty swell start.

Christmas Trees and Those Things

Two nights ago we, in typical Boudreaux fashion, did some super last minute Christmas tree shopping.

treefam

My little fam and I found our perfect little tree and struck a pose. Bryn promptly took our directions to smile, but decided to aim that sweet grin at me instead of the camera. I love that it gives a perfect view of those crazy red curls.

We’re celebrating three Christmases this week, one with¬†each side of my family and a Cajun Christmas with the Boudreauxs. Maybe it’s having a big family¬†paired with¬†my¬†tendency to be easily thrilled by things like shiny lights, but¬†I have always loved this time of year. Having¬†a little person to share the joy with makes it all the more magical.

This whole month, and really year, has been one full of such magic.

wine

The above picture was taken at a lovely winery in Florence, Texas this past weekend. I look slightly like a twelve year old boy from the back, but I love it anyway.

The¬†month has been one of wineries, and festivities and shiny lights and people that I love. The year has been full of self growth and progress. Baby steps and big steps too. You know those cheesy movies where they play an upbeat, motivational¬†song in the background? And the protagonist, through mixed moments of frustration and¬†happiness and laughter and¬†tears¬†and¬†screaming at her computer (or is that one just me?) eventually realizes what they’re capable of and shit? It has been that kind of year for me.

winery

I’ll save the full annual review for later, but y’all, 2015 has been such a monumental¬†point in my life. Speaking of monumental things, grades recently came back from my first semester of grad school. The verdict? A 4.0. I was practically¬†walking on air when I found that one out. I felt confident about Critical Thinking, but my main goal was to just pass Quantitative Methods and Stats.

When I started my MBA, I feared failure. Many of the classes are math intensive, and I have told myself for years that I am no good at math. And you know what? I was lying to myself.¬†And I was underestimating myself.¬†I’m not doing¬†those things¬†anymore.

That feels like the best Christmas present I could possibly ask for this year.

Sipping Wine Out Of Styrofoam Cups

We had taken an empty classroom and turned it into our last minute study break room.

And we’re¬†sipping wine out of Styrofoam cups.

cohort15

The atmosphere was light and celebratory. I brought the¬†bottle of vino as a “prop” for my group’s regression analysis. We had chosen wine scores and prices as our topic.¬†Weeks ago I had jokingly asked the professor if this would be an appropriate research topic for stats. Turns out,¬†it was.

When our stats prof walked into our study room to find us all mingling, I asked her if she’d like a glass of wine. Our cohort was in chuckles as she politely and amusedly¬†declined.

Tuesday night I completed my first semester of grad school.

I was sick and miserably attempting not to cough up an entire lung throughout presentations and four hours of class.

And yet, I’m still smiling with memories of the evening.

It may have been presentation night, but we kind of made it into our own little party.

Sam shared cookies from the cafeteria, offering them up in that delightful English accent of his.

In the 45 minutes we had to spare between classes, part of the crew made a fast food run. Jake delivered vanilla milkshakes to Tracy and I upon his return.

Much of the evening was spent in laughter. And cohort inside jokes. And impromptu second presentations filled with more laughter. Did I mention wine and vanilla milkshakes?

Finals are over and now I’m getting a month long break from how and with whom I’ll be spending roughly the next 1.75 years of my life.

I’m giddy looking at the stack of non-school related books I’ll¬†finally get¬†to binge read and thinking about the¬†family-filled holiday¬†memories that I’ll be able to completely devote myself to making.

Still, I’m already just¬†a bit¬†sad for the day I’ll graduate with my MBA.

Because I know I’ll be looking back, thinking of nights like this. When we sat around laughing, drinking wine out of Styrofoam cups.

Feeling Strong and Stuff

The past couple of months have gone by in a haze of craziness, a little bit of stressfulness and a whole lot of happiness.

halfmar

Where to start?

In October, I ran my second half marathon and partied in a museum.

I renewed vows with my husband of five years at a cheesy little chapel in Vegas and drank pumpkin beer up in the mountains of Nevada.

tuba

museumparty

On top of my full time job, I freelanced as a social media rep for a Mexican restaurant branch and got my first (literal) taste of what it’s like to be paid to eat things and attend fun food¬†events. At one of these events a complete¬†stranger all but made out with my cheek and at another I watched a real life¬†jimador harvest an agave plant. It’s all about those new experiences, y’all.

brynpumpk

diadelos

diade7

I spent Halloween dressing my daughter up like a pumpkin and later having a fabulous time at¬†a work friend’s place. When I asked this friend if I could bring¬†a¬†gal¬†pal¬†along to¬†his party his response went something like, “Yes! The less gay men, the better. Well, not the less gay men, but the more other people with all of¬†us gay men, the better.”¬†The people in my life are the greatest.

halloween5

halloween6

leif

In November, I organized a group for and ran Race for the Cure with work buddies. I also had the opportunity to help give away a car to a very happy and deserving family. It still sometimes baffles me that I get paid to do stuff like this.

rfc

I’m in a good place to start 2015. Professionally, I am learning and growing. Socially, I am surrounded by¬†lovely people that I am pretty fond of. I’ve found a good balance between mommy-hood¬†and my¬†adventures and goals, and I feel fulfilled within all of these roles. I ran 13.1 miles after having a baby six months prior, and unlike my first half marathon, I didn’t throw up or even feel like barfing at the end. I felt awesome and strong. I’m proud of that.

I hope it isn’t too vain of me to say that I’m feeling just a little bit like superwoman this year. Because I’m feeling just a little bit like superwoman this year.

Still Running

Since announcing my pregnancy, I’ve received a lot of mixed comments whilst continuing to live in the nonstop fashion that I do. My mother-in-law, much to my amusement, told my husband to tell me that I needed to just relax and let myself get fat.¬†My sweet friend Rachel told me that¬†I still looked like a supermodel at five months pregnant.¬†(And when¬†I told her that my uterus was supposed to be bigger than a cantaloupe, she told me that I probably needed to be bigger than a cantaloupe for that to happen.)¬†After telling my friend Cierra that I could meet her for lunch after I got done cleaning and jogging, she¬†let me know¬†that I was the craziest prego woman she’s ever met. (I told her that I would take this as a compliment.) I think my poor mom is relatively certain I’m trying to give her a heart attack.run5k

Amongst many other things in trying to maintain a healthy and adventurous¬†lifestyle, I’ve made the choice to continue my frequent¬†running. My doctor gave me the okay on my first check-up, and that was all that I needed to keep going full swing ahead. My goal for 2013 was to run six races.¬†It’s an interesting combination to be both extremely goal-oriented and¬†rather disorganized. Things often get done at the last minute. Until September, I was only up to two races. I was¬†at three by the¬†beginning of December. I ran two 5ks in a week last week and¬†they were both incredible.¬†On a chilly, beautiful Thanksgiving morning, I ran behind a man¬†fully dressed in a turkey costume at the Turkey¬†5k. At the Reindeer Run, I ran¬†through a gorgeous, two-miles worth of¬†elaborately displayed¬†Christmas¬†lights on a warm, Saturday evening. It was¬†a breathtaking¬†(and only partly due to jogging) experience, to say the least. I’ve completed a half-marathon before, but two 5ks in a week¬†was still a new accomplishment for me.¬†I’m proud of myself for keeping my fitness level high enough to still be able to run both¬†with ease in my second trimester.

turkey

I¬†take in¬†the¬†occasional concerns of¬†loved ones¬†with both an open heart and a grain of salt. It’s been an important lesson to me over the past few years to¬†know that¬†I don’t always have to¬†follow what every friend, family member,¬†message¬†board or random fellow has to say. I’ve learned that it’s¬†often¬†more about listening to what my body, my heart and my mind wants, needs and can handle. Of course, I¬†do take into account the opinions of those who are wiser than I and those who truly want the best for me. It’d¬†be foolish of me not to.¬†But¬†sometimes it turns out that, before any well-wisher or self-help article, I know¬†what’s the very best for me.¬†In this particular case, my body has¬†let me know¬†me that it can definitely do¬†these runs. That it’s doing a swell job of keeping baby perfectly safe in there whilst I jog about. As for heart and mind, they love the¬†exhilaration,¬†endorphins and inspiration¬†that running brings me.¬†It sounds cheesy, but this being in tune with myself¬†before always¬†listening to¬†9,432,842,930¬†different incoming sources stuff¬†has been¬†such a¬†good thing¬†for me. I¬†know I would have missed out on a lot of¬†pretty amazing¬†stuff otherwise.¬†Like running behind a giant turkey¬†or jogging through a massively spectacular array of Christmas lights on a perfect,¬†magical December night.

lights

I’m scheduled¬†to finish up my goal of six races for 2013 with one last 5k next weekend. I’m already eagerly anticipating the inspiration of jogging through crisp, morning air with my fellow joggers by my side. I’m still running, and that feels really great.