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I am going to eventually catch up on my blogs. I took a long hiatus because I have had so much going on and writing was feeling more like a chore and less like fun. I am basically working two full-time jobs at the moment with my regular work and then my volunteer work with the Austin Foundation for Eating Disorders (AFED). I love my volunteer work and feel like even though it takes up the majority of my time, the work that I am doing is so important. I am creating resources for people that weren’t available to myself when I needed them and my outspokenness on eating disorders (and general advocacy for mental health issues) is helping fight against the stigma. I am helping others learn that it is okay to ask for help and that they are not alone.

I had the opportunity to testify at the capitol for the passing of HB3227. It was a bill that would require eating disorders to be added to Texas’ list of serious mental illnesses. If we have eating disorders on the list, it will help many more people get coverage for treatment from their insurance company. This is an issue that is dear to my heart since it was something I struggled with myself when trying to get help and it is something I hear about on a weekly basis from members of the support group I facilitate. There are so many people that want to get treatment and simply cannot afford it. Women and men are suffering for years and even passing away because of this. Did you know that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness? Why is it that such a deadly disease is not considered by Texas to be “a serious mental illness”?

I have to tell you, I have no prior experience in politics or the process of how a bill gets passed; it was a very exciting experience. Our bill made it through the insurance committee, calendars committee, House of Representatives, and finally was killed before reaching the Senate. We think that at the very end, some insurance companies with a lot of money whispered in some ears and didn’t let our bill even get considered in the Senate. Of course, we were just told that there were too many bills and they could not move them all on to the Senate. It was an upsetting defeat, but we are just going to try again next session and find more representatives to sponsor the bill.

image1Here is a photo of all those that helped testify and/or showed up to provide support for the bill!

I visited the lovely Zilker Botanical Gardens with group members recently. It also happened to be a day when there was a special event where groups had made “fairy houses” throughout the gardens. It was fun to spot them!

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20130414_122355Fairy home!

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20130414_123338Too fun!

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20130414_120534I think I have never visited when so many flowers were in bloom before. It was really nice.

I have started a new hobby recently. Cardmaking! I was frustrated by how expensive cards are these days and how I rarely find what I am really looking for. So, I have started making my own cards. They are still pretty crafty looking since I am just using whatever items I happen to have, but I think that they make receiving a card feel so much more special.

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20130423_140123This was my nephew’s 5th birthday card. :)

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I have been super busy lately, so my posts are probably going to be less frequent for now. I work full-time and am moving into a new part-time role at my job to help with written communications, I am heavily involved with AFED now that I am treasurer and I am still facilitating support groups weekly; additionally, I am now trying to study for the GRE. My free time is extremely limited and I am trying to learn to say no more often.

Let’s be honest. I am simply burnt out. Right now, my blog is towards the bottom of my priorities. I would like to pick it up again in the future, but need to cut back for now.

Over a month ago, I visited St. Edwards Park and snapped a few pictures.
20130225_104219Small waterfall!

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The park was a hidden gem.  I am sure it will look even more beautiful when the leaves are back on the trees. There was only one other person at the park when I went so it was super relaxing. I need to schedule some more park time soon.

I went and played Bingo last weekend for the first time with my friends. I was unsure on what to expect, but ended up having a blast.  No one in my group won anything, but we sure had fun.

This weekend I bought tickets for the Austin Poetry Slam Finals. It was amazing, I am so lucky to live in a place with such a strong writing community. If I only had more time, I would love to be part of the world of competitive poetry. I sincerely hope for a day when I am less overworked. In an ideal world, I could make my work with AFED my job and writing my hobby. Instead, AFED is my hobby and there is simply no time for anything else. :( Again, I need to start saying no more often to my friends. It is a tough balance to  take care of yourself and make sure you are able to accomplish what you want while also being a good friend and maintaining relationships.

I am very good at waiting till the last moment. Here it is, the last day of the month at 11:15 pm and I am struggling to get a post out before I go to sleep. I have a to-do list a mile long, but I have never missed a blogging deadline. For those who may not know it, I have had a goal of always posting at least once a month and have met that goal the last 4 years. So, here I am!

It has been a busy month and I can’t even remember all that went on. I will stick with what I have photos of! I went to my friend Estee’s birthday party. We went to an event called the “Night of the Living Art” which was at Trailer Park Bar in downtown Austin. The event had live paintings, photography, various vendors, “living mannequins,” and live music.

photoThe gang! Kimberly, me, Cait, and Estee!

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Me and Cait! :) After the event, we strolled into two other bars and danced until the wee hours of the morning. It was not the sort of thing I would usually do, but it was a lot of fun!

I got back into hiking this month because the weather started to warm up. I went with a friend to Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park.

IMG_0004I am a goof.

IMG_0008I like the park because it is just 2 miles from where I live and it is huge!

My mom came to visit me last Saturday and Sunday. We had a blast! We started the day with free tacos from my apartment complex. After that, I went and used a gift card I had for a fancy salon downtown called ROAR. After my appointment, we explored some of downtown Austin; we went to the Susanna Dickinson and O.Henry Museums (conveniently, they were right next door to each other). Then, we wondered into some clothing boutiques and walked down 6th street before things got too crazy there. In the evening, we went to dinner at Z”Tejas. To add to the awesomeness, the next day we got breakfast at the nearby Cafe Java restaurant. Suffice it to say, I was spoiled rotten.

IMG_2597My mom likes taking pictures of me, especially if Eowyn is involved.

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Well, I am going to have to stop here for now, but will do what I can to catch up next month! Hope you all are well!

I have been steadily keeping this blog for a whole 4 years. It is amazing how many things have happened during that period of time and I have just continued to blog away. I appreciate all of you who have read and commented regularly over the years as well as those of you that just sneak a peek every now and then.

One of the fun things about running my blog is looking at the site statistics and how people found my blog. The most commonly searched term that leads people to me? The shire followed by picasso dove/picasso dove tattoo. Clearly, these people know me. I am still in love with the shire these days and I still have a craving for picasso’s dove as a tattoo. I am thinking I may get it later this year in celebration of my strong recovery. We’ll see. :)

Other common search terms include: sheep being sheared, shorts in snow, waipoua forest, Frodo is still in love with the shire, girl no shoes, NEDA walk, and various other terms from Lord of the Rings and locations in New Zealand. A  couple random search terms that made me laugh are: bad kitty rips up toilet paper and amazing girl’s photos.

Last Tuesday, I went to one of my favorite slam poetry readings in Austin because I found out their feature poet for the evening was TAYLOR MALI. I have been a fan of Taylor for about 10 years when I first heard his poetry at a speech competition in high school.  It was amazing to get to see him live and even more awesome to meet him after his performance. Granted, I can’t take all the credit for meeting him. I would have been to shy to introduce myself to him, but luckily my friend Baldemar pushed me to meet him and take a couple pictures!

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Me and Taylor Mali! Oh my goodness!

imagejpeg_sIt was so cool to meet him in person. If you want a sample of his work, check out the poem he is most well known for below:

Thanks again for reading and supporting me over the years! I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

This last year went by so quickly. I feel like I went through so many obstacles and learned so many things about myself. I also just learned more about the world in general and about the people in it. My job has allowed me not only to help amazing people over the phone, but to meet  all the wonderful people that are working alongside me. I have made so many good friends through my work and feel so fortunate for them.

Anyways, December snuck up on me. I went to the Trail of Lights with my friend Baldemar. We went on the last day of the lights and it was really crowded, but also really amazing.

IMG_0221It took us a long time to actually walk through the lights. It was really crowded at the entrance!

IMG_0224It was totally worth it though!

IMG_0226When you first enter, it is just this crazy vortex of lights.

IMG_0239Then, they have a bunch of small displays that each have a different theme. I love The Little Mermaid.

IMG_0243Winnie the Pooh!

IMG_0245Oh, Eeyore!

ROX7BD6Beauty and the Beast. :)

IMG_0247At the end of the trail, there is a giant tree. It was really beautiful.

On New Years Eve, I went with Baldemar to the Frontier Bar to see his roommate’s band play. They are called The Sun Machine and they were really great. There was actually a lot of great bands that night.

imagejpeg_2Baldemar snapped my picture at the bar. Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving.  :)

bBlurry phone picture! After midnight passed, we went and spent some time with a group of Baldemar’s friends at their apartment. Then, I requested my driver to take me home. It was past my bedtime and I was sleepy.

I am excited for a new year full of new hopes and dreams. I was asked by my friend Chris what I wanted for myself in 2013. I told him all I needed is good health and good friends.

While I was visiting Utah, it snowed! I had a blast playing with the kids!

20121210_101339Lily was all bundled up.

20121210_101243So was I! My sister let me borrow all her jackets while I was visiting. This one was so warm!

20121210_100449Snow outside my sister’s! It snowed even more later on and you couldn’t really see the grass.

20121210_100641Lily made snow angels… sort of. :) I took a really cute video of her doing this. I’ll have to see if there is a way I can upload it off of my phone.

IMG_0212On my last day, we visited the public library in the morning. It is in this super cool building.

IMG_0214Pajama kids. We tried to dress them and make them wear jackets, but pajamas are much easier when you are in a rush to fit in some last minute sightseeing. :)

20121210_094218Lily (and Ashley’s hand)! Too cute.

20121210_094231Walking around outside the library in the snow. No big deal. :)

The inside of the library was really nice. We spent the morning reading books to the kids in the children’s section.

IMG_0217There was even a secret passage in the library. How magical is that? :)

I had a blast in Utah with my sister, Reid, and the kids. I can’t wait to visit them again!

I had an amazing birthday last month. I have noticed that as I’ve gotten older, my birthdays have continued to be less memorable or exciting. Well, it turns out that birthdays can still be a blast even as an adult; I simply haven’t been doing it right. :)

I invited several friends to go out to dinner at Z’Tejas. I had never been there before, but the food was amazing and the company was even better.

IMG_0187I love each and every one of these people so much. I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. They even surprised me with gifts. I was so flustered by it all and so happy to call them my friends.

IMG_0186Also, it is only good friends that are allowed to sing happy birthday in a restaurant and draw all the attention to me. :) I had a great time. After dinner, I spent a couple hours dancing downtown. I was tired by midnight though. I guess I am getting old. ;)

At the beginning of December I went to Provo, Utah to visit my sister and her family. I have missed them so much since they left Austin. My first day there we did some awesome sightseeing in Salt Lake City.

IMG_0191We saw the Assembly Hall which was completed in 1880. I love Gothic Revival architecture. Supposedly, the truncated spires were originally chimneys when it was first built.

IMG_0193This is the inside of the Assembly Hall. It is used for public worship as well as church meetings or conferences.

IMG_0206Here is Ethan and I at the Salt Lake City temple. It was huge!

IMG_0195Lily, me, and Ethan in front of some of the temple doors. I believe Ethan was dancing. :)

IMG_0196Lily! :)

IMG_0198We also went to the top of another nearby building to get a better view of the city. You can see just how big the temple is.

IMG_0200A view of the city. It reminds me a little bit of Austin minus the mountains in the background.

After our sightseeing, we drove to my sister’s place in Provo. It was fun to see their new home.

20121207_221801This is Leon on my bed. We are best friends.

20121208_182218I love Lily. She is too cute.

20121207_180443Also, this is what happens when you tell children you want to take their picture; all kinds of craziness occurs.  Lily’s face is priceless.

One of my favorite things that Ethan said my first night there was, “Shannon, I am going to have to wake you up in the morning because I am going to be too excited.” He didn’t lie, he woke me up long before the sun lit up the sky.

I also will never forget a Skype session we had before I visited when he said, “Shannon! Does everyone know that you’re the cutest?!” Kids say the darndest things.

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