my life in my words

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Skip To The Good Part

2011 was filled with some pretty amazing things! I am so grateful for all of the lessons I learned and experiences I was able to have this past year, and now, am looking forward to 2012! Yes my friends, only 12 more months before the Mayan aliens come to abduct us all and take us to their fearless leader in a loin cloth . . . so we better make it a good one! With that, I will close out this year on the blog with 5 of my favorite memories and my top 10 songs of 2011. Enjoy and I will see you right back here in 2012 . . .  errr . .  . tomorrow. 😉


It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve gotten to see my brother and this past Christmas, he surprised me by picking me up from the airport! We also got to spend some quality time together during my visit. It really was a Christmas miracle!!


I’m so glad that my best friend Heather invited me to participate in the Glee Flash Mob this past year. We still remember the dance moves and break ’em out when we can! Read all about it here: TEENAGE DREAM


For our annual double vacay, my best friend joined me in Seattle for a Birthday weekend full of love, laughter, and quality time! It was such a special time for both of us and just reminded each of us why we became friends in the first place. We’re pretty much just sisters separated at birth. 😉 Read all about it here: ALL THAT YOU ARE | AMERICAN WOMAN


I got to go on an incredible road trip to Spokane, WA with my best friends, Heather and Korin, to see our other best friend, Cindy J. and her wonderful family! ♥ From dance parties, to lemon bars, to guys on bikes, so many priceless memories were made!


This year I got to work with an amazing new friend to help support a band that we both love! Helping Kendra with Parachute HQ has been such a treat. Even though I won’t be able to help with PHQ or with Parachute’s Street Team this upcoming year, I will treasure every phone call, e-mail exchange, and creative brainstorming session I had with my partner-in-crime, Kendra, as well as all of my interaction with Parachute’s amazing promo manager, Lauren! My involvement with Parachute’s Street Team has been an enjoyable one and I wish them all the best this upcoming year! Read more about it here: KENDRA’S PARAKATE TOUR POST

TOP 10 SONGS OF 2011

I figured that since music has played a major part of my life since I left the womb, I should probably do the obligatory top 10 songs list, eh? 😉 But really, these songs have helped shape my year and each of them hold a special place in my heart . . . and hips. The majority of them are songs that make you feel like you can conquer the world, and that’s pretty much what this year has been: rising out of the ashes, facing fears, and moving forward. I also have this playlist available for your listening pleasure on SPOTIFY! So feel free to listen there or just click the titles to go to the YouTube video for that particular song. Beware: You may be inclined to shake your hips or throw up your rock fist! 

1. The Joy Formidable  | WHIRRING
Just get up and dance already! And while you’re at it, join me for some slammin’ air guitar action!

2. Florence and the Machine | ONLY IF FOR A NIGHT  
Hauntingly beautiful. Brilliantly written. Golden vocals. I just can’t shake the awesomeness of this song.

3. Foo Fighters | WALK  
This is one that I still play on repeat for extended periods of time because it’s so completely relevant to where I’ve been and what I’ve learned this year. Also, if you aren’t throwing up your rock fist during that chorus, we need to talk. Seriously.

4. Jack’s Mannequin | AMY, I
Another long winter trying to fight this freeze.” Okay, besides the fact that my dream come true would involve a songwriting retreat with Andrew McMahon (like he did with Matt Thiessen on this song), this song’s poetic presentation of one of the different facets in a deep relationship inspires me as a writer. Also, Andrew’s inflections on “Freeze” sends chills up and down my spine every time I listen to this song . . . which is a lot . . . so you can imagine how odd any innocent bystanders think I am.


5. Cobra Starship (feat. Sabi) | YOU MAKE ME FEEL 
Dance! Dance! Dance! Don’t stop!! This is one of those songs I play in the morning to help get me going and pepped up for the day ahead.

6. Lady Antebellum | WE OWNED THE NIGHT 
This was a definite wild card. I’m really thankful for my friend Heather M., who sent this song straight to my Spotify inbox. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because I haven’t really spent much quality time in the country genre. However, after a few listens, I couldn’t stop listening and now it’s an everyday staple song and it rules!


7. The Naked and Famous | YOUNG BLOOD  
I found myself embracing a lot of the more techno/indie-pop songs this year and this is a definite favorite. It reminds me of how great it is to be young, free, and ready for more adventures!


8, Mat Kearney | DOWN 
I’m working late again slaving to make the rent. I’m slanging coffee with dreams heavy as cement.” There . . . you now have a summary of my past year. 😉 But seriously, this song is such a jam and it’s gotten me through many late night projects. Okay, okay, the coffee helped too.


9. All Time Low | GUTS 
I think if there was an anthem for me this past year, this was it. Through every twist and turn, I’ve been able to find my voice and let it be heard without regrets. I’ve done a lot of brave things this year and as I look back, this song just paints the picture so perfectly. Viva la pop punk goodness!


10. Parachute | YOU AND ME
Not only does that string intro just get me going, but the theme of taking on the world in a Bonnie and Clyde fashion has given me a lot of momentum in many situations this year. That might be why it’s been my cell ringtone ever since the song came out. 😉


I want to say a great big THANK YOU to all of my friends and family who have made this year amazingly memorable and filled with hope, love, and laughter! You all rock my world and I could not have made it through this year without you!




Here’s to another great year!

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Marvelous Things

Christmas 2011 | My Merriest Christmas Yet!

This past week, I got to go home (Austin, TX) for the holidays! It was great to be back around everyone and enjoy some much-needed time off. Here are some of my favorite pics from my time at home:


Fun at the airport is a great way to start a vacation! An added blessing was that I flew standby both ways and made it on the first flight out both times!


I got to spend some much-needed quality time with my big bro!


Spending time with my dad, stepmom, and step sibs on Christmas Eve!


Comfy, cozy, warm, bright, caffeinated Christmas morning!


Christmas morning with my grandma (Mamo) and her amazing tamales & homemade tortillas. Please note the UT wrapping paper in the bottom left hand corner—our fam is dedicated!


I got to take my nieces, Vanessa and Annabelle out for a little photo shoot! I ♥ these cute little ladies!

My favorite shot of the girls


Photo Booth fun with my mom at the mall!


And of course . . . 

My favorite part of the holiday season: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!


Light Up The Sky

Mr. Mayer: You should have been a lawyer, Miss March. 
Jo March: I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer.

There have been many instances in my life where people have offered me the opportunity to do wonderful things and to be a part of some hefty endeavors. However, in the grand scheme of things, I have gleaned on the wisdom of Jo March. She KNEW who she was and what she wanted to do and who she wanted to be on the large scale of life. She knew what to pursue, what to lay down, and that no matter where life took her, she wasn’t going to let it keep her from reaching her dreams. Since watching Little Women, I’ve often seen some of Jo March’s traits oozing out of my pores. Just as she was a dreamer, so am I. She was a protector, which is one of my personality traits as well. She found comfort and joy in her writing, just like I do. She was full of ambition, craved discovery, and had a wild prankster side the way I do. She also had a passion for education and teaching just like me! Though, if I was her, I’d have definitely preferred Christian Bale over Gabriel Byrne . . . just sayin’. 😉

Make no mistake, even in the olden days of Little Women, Jo March was a busy woman. I definitely “get that” too. There are times that I wish I would learn to settle down and “smell the roses” but a lot of times, I’d rather chase the stars and just come back to the roses later. I have a 9 to 5 job working in the publications industry doing graphic design, layout, and editing. I’m also part of a community group at my church that meets weekly and I ADORE this group so much! I also do freelance graphic design and photography. I am also part of a team that runs the Street Team for one of my favorite bands, Parachute. I also do a lot of traveling either to Texas to see my family or to other places around the states to see friends. I spend my free time doing design projects both freelance and for my family, as well as dabbling in my hobbies—songwriting, screenwriting, reading, playing my electric guitar, photography, hanging out with friends, Biggest Loser night at the Siers’ house, working out at the gym. And on top of that, I live in a house with 5 other amazing young ladies that I want to spend time with and  want to spend time with me. I’m lucky to have the chance to do what I love and what I’m passionate about. However, there is one other thing that I do and it is the thing I’m MOST passionate about—I volunteer time as the youth pastor for 2Twelve Student Ministries at Westside Church. I realize that there will come a point in my life where some of the other things I do will have to take a backseat to the more important things, but the one thing that I will never put on the back burner is my opportunity to teach and spend time with the students at 2Twelve. They are my heart beat!

As a youth pastor, I develop the curriculum for the students each semester—planning (and teaching) the sermon series, topics, discussion questions, games, events, etc. I go to their soccer games, theater productions, etc. I’m at the church early on Sunday to set things up, since Saturday is generally my Sabbath day, and I’m with them all morning until the last student leaves. I’ve gotten the chance to counsel them through bullying issues, family trauma, self harm/depression issues, and much more. I’ve gone horseback riding with them, done a lock-in, taken road trips and more with them. Every moment that I get to spend pouring love, encouragement, and truth into their lives is like Christmas!

Every year, our church hosts a Staff/Elders Christmas party and usually it’s held at someone’s house and food is brought in. This year, we all gathered at Ristorante Piccolinos for a fancy catered dinner! It was truly a huge treat! Along with some hilarious and creative Christmas games, our pastoral staff took time to share their gratitude for all of the staff, ministry leaders, elders, community group leaders, and community group hosts that help make our church run so smoothly and in a way that focuses on personal connection and care for our attendees & neighbors. When it came time for our associate pastor, Corbett, to thank the ministry leaders, he took extra time to thank me for my work and for building our successful youth ministry from the ground up. He also shared a very special poem that he (with some help of his lovely wife, Amanda S.) wrote for me. It was PERFECT!! I was completely honored by it. Everyone at the party loved it and asked me to get it from him and share it! So, here it is. Enjoy!

Ode to Amanda Martinez

Amanda Martinez, I so enjoy seeing
So much talent, and fun come from one human being

You’re always so happy.  Your demeanor is sunny
We know this from your status updates, which are funny

She’ll watch your kids, clean your house, or come over for praying
Just not on the weekends that Parachute’s playing

When she enters a room, all the bad feelings vanish
But do not say “Hola,” cause she does not speak Spanish

You work with our youth, even though they’re uncouth,
Like Superman from a booth, you bring them the truth

You’ve got grace from on high, so that nothing can stop you
You’re going to be famous, I know this to be true –

But stay with us forever!  I’m just being proactive
Don’t ever leave us!  Unless he’s really attractive

He needs to be perfect, the man who will choose her
As handsome as Bob, from the show Biggest Loser.

All joking aside, I feel I must say
You brought sunshine from Texas, and brightened our day.

We know for a fact, you’ve been sent from above
From the joy that you spread, and you bring so much love

You are part of this family, and for that we are blessed
Amanda Martinez, you’re truly the best!

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Life’s a Happy Song

The Birthday fun continues! Alright, so I’m pretty sure last night was the conclusion of my Birthday celebration. My best friend, Heather, took me out to dinner and a movie at our favorite theater—Cinebarre. Cinebarre combines dinner and a movie for you by setting up little bars in front of your seat. You write down your order on a sheet of paper on that bar and stand it up for the waiter to come grab your order and they will bring your food to your seat so that you can eat dinner while you enjoy the movie. Every time I go, it makes me think of all the fun times I had watching movies at the Alamo Draft House back in Austin, which is essentially the same thing with a different name.

After work, I met up with Heather and we grabbed some coffee and gabbed about our upcoming holiday plans and just got caught up on what was going on in each of our lives, which was the perfect kick-off to the evening! Now, when we go see a movie together, we HAVE to fun it up a bit. Since we were going to see The Muppets, we decided to dress up like muppets! She dressed as the Swedish Chef and I dressed up as Miss Piggy!

Please bear in mind that I wasn't able to get a blonde wig and that the pig nose I bought at the store was actually a boar nose. So I looked extra ridiculous, which is kinda perfect.

You can just imagine how many laughs and smiles we got from people at the theater who happened to notice our fresh fashions. 😉

Okay, here’s a close up, just because I’m sure you could use the laugh:

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the movie, since I had only seen one trailer and had stayed away from a lot of the online reviews. I wanted to go in with a fresh approach to one of my childhood classics. I grew up watching The Muppet Show and Muppet Babies—Gonzo was my favorite! From the moment the first musical number started, I had a giant smile on my face and couldn’t help but sway from side-to-side. I loved that it was just a feel-good movie and didn’t take itself too seriously. It moved at a good pace and carried so many great messages in it. A couple of unexpected highlights for me were:

  • Dave Grohl’s cameo
  • Jim Parson’s cameo

No but seriously, the MOMENT that Jim Parsons came on the screen, I grabbed Heather, and whisper shouted, “SHELDONNNNNNNNN!!!!” I was having an ultimate fan-girl moment:

It was ridiculous. I was grabbing her arm and giggling and then after he went offscreen, I had a moment where I had to catch my breath because I was barely breathing through the freak-out. I was grabbing my heart and swooning and then Heather stretched out her hand to pretend to rewind the scene. IF ONLY. 🙂

Look, I know he’s gay, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he is so ridiculously adorably quirky and handsome. PS: If you know any straight guys that embody the wonder that is Jim Parsons, please send him my way. 🙂

Anyway, back to the movie . . .

I loved seeing all the modern-day celebs interacting with the muppets and the storyline was sweet. It reminded me what it was like to be a kid again and how important it is to fight for what you believe in. I walked away thinking about how I needed to get my nieces Muppet things for Christmas, as opposed to Hello Kitty or Bratz or whatever else is out there for them. I want them to be able to appreciate the simpler, sweeter, more wholesome things in life.

Since Heather is such a huge giver, she not only paid for my dinner and movie, she also blessed me with 2 other amazing gifts:

A converse tree ornament that is going on my tree when I set it up this Saturday!

A jar of her homemade lotion—lemon scented! This stuff is so wonderful! Every time I put it on, it reminds me of a lemon merengue pie and it just rejuvenates my senses and makes me smile.

I could not ask for a better end to all of my Birthday celebrations! I really am blessed to have such wonderful quality friends who share life and laughter with me.

And because I love it too much NOT to share, here’s a sparkly iced leaf we found on the way out to the car:

So sweet and special, much like my friendship with Heather!