My Bucket List

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Since yesterday was about resolutions, today can be about the items on my bucket list. Here are five things I’d like to do before I die:

  1. Attend a papal Mass: To be honest, I’d like to have the whole Vatican experience seeing the holy see, especially the Sistine Chapel. I’d be happy to see any pope, I’m sure, but Pope Francis was pope when I was baptized and is part of the reason why I joined the Church. Seeing him preside over liturgy would be very special.
  2. Go on a safari: Elephants are my favorite animals. I have great respect for rhinos, giraffes, and all the many African wild life. I’ve only ever seen them at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, to see them in their natural habitat would be amazing.
  3. Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef: The coral reefs are in really big trouble because of pollution. I’d like to see one of the greatest places of colorful diversity our planet has to offer before it disappears forever.
  4. See all 50 states: I guess I should say the 49 I don’t live in. There are so many natural wonders I’d like to see like the volcanoes of Hawaii, Niagara Falls, and the Rocky Mountains. There are also plenty of cultural wonders like Freedom Tower, Mardi Gras, and the Hollywood sign. We have a beautiful, vast, diverse country that I would love to experience.
  5. Travel Europe: London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Rome, Milan, Venice, Paris, Madrid, Prague, Amsterdam, Budapest, Barcelona, Vienna, Florence, Athens, Krakow, Stockholm, Munich, Lyon, Bucharest, Warsaw, Naples, Geneva. I want to see the art, music, architecture, and most importantly, the FOOD. Culture, language, and books, it would be so nice to get out of my little corner of the world.

These are my top five bucket list items. Have you been adventurers and done of them? Or are they on your bucket list too? I wonder how ours compare. If I ever have the spectacular opportunity to do any of these things, I will happily share the with all of you.

Have a sparkly day!

New Year’s Resolutions

It is that time of year again, the time of New Year’s Resolutions. Part of me wanted to write this last week; but then I thought, by week two, many will have already given up (unfortunately), and saving this for week two may provide you with some encouragement to stay devoted to your resolutions throughout 2017. Here are my there:target-1747236-copy

  1. Attend an extra daily Mass: I used to go to Mass everyday, lately I haven’t been as devoted to daily Mass and only doing the required Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. I know there are a few days during the week where I will be unable to attend but I’d like to make it a priority to go at least twice per week.
  2. Run a 5k: I loathe running, I always
    have. I enjoy moving and I love lifting weights, but running is not my thing. The older I get,t he more I’d like to make it part of my fitness routine. I know it will improve my heart and cardiovascular health, so I’d like to make it happen. My hometown does a Thanksgiving 5k every year so hopefully 11 months is enough time to prepare.
  3. Learn a new language: Several years ago, I started learning Italian and gave up after a couple weeks. A couple months ago, the girls at work started teaching me Spanish. I’m doing okay, but I’d like to be fluent. I’d love travel, see the world, and knowing another language would be helpful.

These are my three resolutions for this wondrous 2017. Let me know what yours are, I wonder if we have any in common.

Tips for BTR (back to reality)

Well the holiday season is over, children are going back to school, and we are traveling back from Grandma’s house. I’m a little bummed out the season is coming to a close but it is time to get back to reality. Here are my top 5 tips on how to snap back to real life:

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  1. Go to bed early. I’m sure you’ve heard, “early to bed early to rise, makes you health, wealthy, and wise.” That means going to bed early is a good start to your BTR. If you’re like me and have a tough time winding down and warming up when your schedule has been disrupted, try doing a routine. For example, take a bath an hour before bedtime, make yourself a cup of chamomile tea, do a few stretches and say your prayers. It may also help to put up some blackout curtains and turn on some white noise to help relax yourself. Now when it comes to waking up early, also have a routine and a plan for the day. For example, say your prayers, do a quick workout (10 crunches, 10 pushups, 10 squats, 10 lunges each side, 50 jumping jacks), and take an invigorating shower. Then, grab your to-do list of the day and commit yourself to completing the first three things. When you start to crash, grab a cup of green tea and keep on truckin’!
  2. Make a (realistic) to do list. I have a habit of making ridiculously long to do lists which sometimes discourage me. During this time of year, it can be detrimental to my productivity. Instead, I make a list of three things that MUS be done, three things I’d like to get done, and 3 things it would be awesome to get done. Breaking up my list this way is amazingly helpful because I will usually say to myself, the top three things must be done before 11am. That way, if I hit a wall after lunch, I haven’t set myself up for failure. Then for the rest of the list, I do something similar for 3pm and 6pm.
  3. Refresh your New Year’s Resolution. Chances are you made one and statistically speaking you’ve already given up. Well don’t! The first week is the toughest especially since we don’t go back to work and school until the second week. So renew your commitment to your resolution starting in week two.
  4. Do something new. Do something that you can get excited about: learn a new language, learn a new skill, go on an adventure to your local state park. Finding something that you fin fun and new and fresh will help you power through the dreaded transition BTR.
  5. Be patient with yourself. You may need a nap, take one. You may need to skip a day for your New Year’s Resolution, that’s okay, but get back on the bandwagon after your one free day. You may not get your top three things done on your list, that’s okay. Just realize 2017 is a long year and as long as this time next year you can look back and see the big picture of things you’ve accomplished, then you’ve done what matters. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re only human after all.

I hope you use these 5 tips to help you rejoin society at work or school after a well deserved holiday break. My last recommendation is to remember the things you learned this holiday season. Like being thankful, not taking life for granted, spending more time with family, and the recommended internal temperature of a turkey.

I hope you have a very sparkly year!

Word Association Game

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I think word association games are so much fun! Here are 50 words I found online and my first thought about them. Please feel free to judge me for these.

1. scrap: book
2. coupon: book
3. mystery: novel
4. static: electricity
5. a place that would need volunteers: humane society
6. fallen: angel
7. lilac: purple
8. string instrument: violin
9. pepper: salt
10. archery: Katniss
11. rainforest: cafe
12. grape: strawberry
13. icy: cold
14. lucky charm: magically delicious
15. telescope: stars
16. radio station: what
17. butterscotch: candy
18. bouquet of: flowers
19. boiled: potato
20. pottery: barn
21. youngster: kiddo
22. vanilla: chocolate
23. lock: smith
24. upwards: downwards
25. legal: ly blonde
26. attire: fashion
27. register: voter
28. frothy: Starbucks
29. credit: card
30. squirrel: YES
31. shaving: cream
32. brand: new
33. furniture: couch
34. flavor: scent
35. limited: edition
36. low: cut
37. island: beach
38. card: holder
39. licorice: yucky
40. art: history
41. hall: of fame
42. contest: loser
43. opinion: piece
44. futile: hopeless
45. remarkable: amazing
46. crab: dirty
47. mischief: Loki
48. broom: stick
49. solo: so, no
50. squeamish: blood

This was so much fun and I’m definitely judging myself right now. I’d love to see your associations so put them on your blog or social media and tag me @TheGenFem.

Have a sparkly day!

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The Day for Birds

Happy Bird Day! For today’s post I’ve decided to give you a list of some of my favorite birds.

  1. Dove: I love doves because they represent the Holy Spirit. They also represent love and relationships. Aren’t they beautiful?
  2. Flamingo: I fell in love with flamingos on my first visit to Walt Disney World. They are gorgeous and PINK! This comes from the crustaceans they eat, isn’t that fascinating–and a little scary to think about what I’m eating.
  3. Blue Jay: These delightful little gems remind me of my favorite gem, the sapphire. Their blue feathers amaze me.
  4. Crows: Probably a surprising choice for this list but they remind me of Game of Thrones, so I have great respect for them.
  5. Peacock: Let me specify, the male peacock. They re so grand and boisterous, I love how they spread their feathers to attract a mate.
  6. Cardinal: As a Chicago girl, I both love and hate cardinals. On the one hand, they are the state bird of Illinois. On the other hand, the St. Louis Cardinals are a rival of the Chicago Cubs. They are beautiful and their gorgeous red color compliments the snow in early winter.
  7. Puffin: I think puffins are precious, mostly because they are like penguins that can fly! How cool is that?

Let me know which birds are your favorite, and check out the sites below about bird conservation, and have a sparkly day!

American Bird Conservancy
Bird Conservation Network
Bird Conservation Research

My Favorite Quote

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There are so many wonderful quotes out there, especially in fandom. I find myself saying this quote all the time, especially as a Catholic. There are a lot of misconceptions about people of faith. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Saints are sinners who keep trying.” No Catholic should claim to be perfect; if we were, we would be in heaven already. Even Pope Francis, when asked who he was when he became pope, he answered, “A sinner.” We are all striving to live imperfect love with God and neighbor. This means we have to act on the light side of ourselves. The side that feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, shelters the homeless, visits the sick, visits prisoners, buries the dead, and gives alms to the poor. It is a difficult battle we all face, but it is one that must be fought.

At the same time, our culture demonizes certain subgroups: cops, black people, Muslims, etc. Again, we all have light and dark within us. Sometimes, some people, make decisions that lean toward the darkness; things like hate, greed, intolerance, violence. We often talk about how not all cops are bad or not all Muslims are terrorists. But the reality is, cops aren’t all bad, even the bad ones. Many of them have spouses and children, moms and dads. Surely someone loves them and it’s probably for a good reason. God calls us to love all people even those that have different views and circumstances.

Terrorism cannot be tolerated. Shooting unarmed people cannot be tolerated. But if we approach a conversation about how to solve our country’s problems, with love, respect, kindness, and generosity. We may be able to get things accomplished. We have to first recognize we all have light and dark inside us, but what matters is the part we choose to act on. We have to always strive to act on the light and not judge others by the dark.

Favorite Science Fiction Franchises

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Happy Sci-Fi Day! Today is the day when we celebrate some of our favorite works of science fiction. Below are my three favorite franchises. I am relatively new to the science fiction world but I am a member of the new generation of fangirls. Each of these franchise have had a reboot for younger audiences.

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3. Planet of the Apes: Sirius Black is in the reboot of these movies and I think Gary Oldman is golden in everything he puts his hands on. I came to the world of Planet of the Apes for Harry Potter’s godfather and stayed for mankind’s impending doom from our insatiable desire to violate the natural world.

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2. Star Trek: I have found memories of Dad watching Star Trek on weekends. I enjoyed watching the JJ Abrams reboot of this franchise. They pulled in some amazing actors and, of course, the special effects are insane. Although the solar flares seem to be a little overdone, I think this is a franchise destined to take place in our modern era of movie magic. Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch is Kahn in the second movie, is there anything better?

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1. Doctor Who: I have internally saved the best for last (in my opine). Doctor Who seems to be at the core of British movies and television. Some of London’s most amazing actors have had their faces grace the very long running show of Doctor Who. It is also the great example of fandom acting superior to normies. Have you ever tried to explain to someone why you love Doctor Who, or had someone ask what is so special about Dr. Who, not realizing his name is The Doctor and Doctor Who is the oldest question in the universe.

All of these franchises have sought my attention because of their amazing talent in the departments of acting, writing, and special effects. They have done a tremendous job by having all the classic episodes on Netflix and Prime. So I can take a walk down memory lane with Daddy. I find the best things in the entertainment industry grow with you and can be enjoyed as a family.

Disclaimer: This is just my opinion on MY favorite sci-fi franchises. It does not include my favorite fantasy franchises—let’s be real, Harry Potter beats everything!

Have a Sparkly Day!