In 2016 I Hope

My best (person, friend, soul-sister) is so wise. May 2016 be the best yet

SARAH CUETO

The past year seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye. In 2015 I got promoted, travelled to Vienna, Austria, as well as to Chicago, Austin and Orlando, saw Garth Brooks live in concert (a lifelong dream of mine), adopted my pup, and took on an additional contributor role with Elite Daily. I was challenged within an inch of my life and also experienced some of my greatest joys. 2015 was a year of learning, growing, surrender and acceptance. 2015 showed me that in 2016…

I hope that you fight. I hope that you make mistakes. I hope that you watch something fall apart so you can learn to build something better. I hope you experience pain so that you may be given the chance to feel joy. I hope you see sadness so that you may learn to someday help others through theirs. I…

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A Fall Day in Apple Hill

First off, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful with loved ones and good food!  Thought I would share a fun fall post!

I’ve been wanting to go to Apple Hill for years, and this year, we went!  On our way home from a Tahoe getaway – we made a little pit stop.  Apple Hill is literally right off HWY 50 between Pollock Pines and Placerville – with lots of great stops within seconds of each other.

Not having a clue where to go, I did a quick yelp review – and was very pleased with my stops:

Bodhaine Ranch
YOU MUST STOP FOR PIE!  We got a slice of raspberry sour cream pie and it was insane… if you listen to anything I say, stop here for a slice o pie!  It was also a great stop to take some fall family photos.

Bill’s Apples and Felicia’s Dolls
To be honest, we just made a quick stop here to walk the grounds.  The flowers were glorious, and they handed out FREE spiral sliced apples.  I didn’t go into the Doll shop because, well, I don’t like dolls, but it was a cute brief stop.

Rainbow Orchards
GET AN APPLE CIDER DONUT!  Trust me… yes, again.  They are so delicious!  There’s also free samples of the apple cider, overflowing pumpkins and plenty of picnic tables.  Another photo shoot opportunity too 🙂

Enjoy your day in Apple Hill!

God id good friends.  God is good.

National Puppy Day

Happy National Puppy Day!

Having a dog is one of the greatest joys.  For me, it was my first experience receiving unconditional love.  Lynard (my sweet, severely anxious, min pin) was truly a God send.  The love we feel from dogs is pure, sweet, and comforting.  I thank the sweet Lord everyday for my little poochie poo.

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On a sad note, it breaks my heart that not every dog receives the love they willingly offer to anyone who passes by.  Shelters are overflowing, dogs get abandoned, and people can be cruel.  During my brief stay in Colorado, I learned of fostering dogs.  If you’re not familiar – fostering means working with a rescue agency who pulls dogs from kill shelters and put them in temporary foster homes until they find their forever home.  Yes, it is desperately hard to let the dogs go, but it means they found their home, and it means more room for more rescues!

Here’s the poochies I have fostered so far…

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I’d like to make a suggestion…though I know this will offend some folks, please know this is coming from the heart.  DON’T SHOP.  ADOPT.  Why pay heaps and heaps of $$ on a custom pup, likely over bread, when you can save a life!!!

dontshopadoptIf you’re considering getting a dog, please realize this is no small commitment.  You need to be willing to love, support and care for this pooch for upto 29 years or so (ok so 29 was the oldest dog in the world….but depending on the breed, dogs can live a long time)!

Foster agencies I have volunteered for:

East Bay Animal Rescue & Refuge – http://www.ebarr.org/

MuttSavers Rescue, Broomfield, CO – http://www.muttsavers.org/

The Perfect Days

This it what it means to have joy my friends.

SARAH CUETO

Have you ever had a perfect day?

I am talking about the kind of day where things aren’t really perfect, not by a long shot, but for today and maybe only today you are content with things exactly as they are. There isn’t any rhyme or reason- nothing particularly great has happened and you still face the same challenges you have any other day- but today you feel wholly and absolutely free.

And that’s as close to perfect as you had ever hoped to get.

You tear yourself away from your desk to take your little lunch break that is never quite long enough but just long enough to save your sanity on a day that is busy but for once not overwhelming at your job that is challenging but exactly what you have always dreamed of doing. You eat your salad with the sunshine on your face and you…

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Challenge Day

Do you all remember Challenge Day from when you were in middle school?  If not, here’s an overview of what they do:

Challenge Day is created to build connection and empathy, and to fulfill our vision that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved, and celebrated. Challenge Day is more than a one-day program. Our programs go beyond traditional anti-bullying efforts, building empathy and igniting a movement of compassion and positive change, known as the Be the Change movement. (www.challengeday.org) 

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I attended Challenge Day when I was in 8th grade at Martinez Jr. High School, and I remember it being incredibly emotional – breaking down walls, raising awareness and creating community.  I don’t remember if the momentum lasted long, but I remember being incredibly moved in the moment.

I had the opportunity to be an adult participant in a Challenge Day event for a middle school in Oakland. I figured it would raise the same emotional scars it did for me 14 years prior, and it did, but that wasn’t it.  When we had this event in Martinez, a relatively well-off, and mostly safe Bay Area community, it was hard to see my peers cross the line, but for the most part, I was crossing it with them.  We all had similar circumstances for why we crossed, and there were minimal crossings for other scenarios.  Today, well, today was different.

As an adult, watching these 12 and 13 year olds cross the line completely broke my heart.  How could these children have gone through this much?  HOW? Though I crossed over with many of them, it was different now.  I have healed from a lot of my scars, and these sweet children were in the midst of it.  I was grateful to be there, but felt such anger, sorrow, sadness – pain, for these kids.  They’re just kids.  KIDS.  Why are they going through this?  WHY.

I know asking why isn’t going to do anything.  I believe things happen for a reason, I believe we heal from our scars if we work at it, but today, being submerged with these young humans, seeing their pain, the tears on their face, it broke me.  I hate that each one of them has experienced what they have, are experiencing things daily – so with that, I’ll do the only thing I can do.  PRAY.

Lord, let the bonds that were formed today remain. Let these sweet children feel peace in knowing they are not alone.  Let them seek help, stay strong in believing this too shall pass, lean on each other and feel your love completely overwhelming them.  In your sweet, sweet name I pray.  Amen.

God is good friends.  God is good.

27 – See ya!

27 year old me wore yellow pants, owned fake glasses and took way too many selfies.
Ah screw it… 28 year old me will too 🙂
So why was this year so great? Because I allowed myself to indulge in the fruits of my labor.  I decided to fulfill the goals for myself over the last 27 years. And it has been awesome!
Goal #1:  Buy a home.
Perhaps being raised by Realtor parents influenced this desire, but being a homeowner has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I always imagined it to be an actual house with a huge yard for the multiple dogs and kids I’d have – but for this time around that wasn’t the case.  I was however blessed with a lovely, cozy, quaint home. I was able to buy myself a fixer-upper condo which turned out quite darling!  Goal complete.
Goal #2:  Go to Ireland.
This is been on my bucket list for maybe 5 years or so and I decided to finally do it. I can’t actually pinpoint how I thought this trip would be, but somehow it was different than I expected.  I think I imagined it as a place I could see myself living – which turns out, I can’t.  I did however fall in the love with the tiny towns, colorful doors, lush landscape and neat castles.  The downfall of this trip was learning the hard way that I’m allergic to sheep. I knew I was allergic to wool but this blonde didn’t put 2 and 2 together. Either way, Ireland is a must see.  Goal mostly complete.  I need to go back…
Goal #3:  Be genuinely happy.
I decided to choose joy is this year. I gotta tell ya – it makes a difference when you decideto be happy. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I feel the most sincere, genuine, through to the core joy. And it is a great feeling.  Growing up I was never genuinely happy.  I would smile, but my soul hurt.  There was a lot of contributing factors that kept me down, but thank the sweet, good Lord, those are gone.  I feel joy, even in the sorrow, and it’s a joy I strive for daily.  Hallelujah!
I’m very grateful for having such an incredible year and I can only hope each year gets better and better. I thank God for being such an awesome awesome God and for blessing me beyond imagine. I am thankful for my friends, family, my sweetheart and for the little black dog.  I’m grateful for God’s perfect timing, for His will in my life, and for giving me the courage to choose joy.
Thank you 27.  It was a blast. 

God is good friends.  God is good.

Me, the introvert

I don’t believe in coincidence – I believe in God’s perfect timing.  So when the talk happened today, it couldn’t have been at a more “this has got to be God”  time.

I was taking a brief break from work, and was writing in my journal.  I don’t know what made me want to write, at this particular moment, about this particular subject – but hey, that’s God J
Here’s an excerpt on what I wrote:
I’ve had to grasp the truth that I am in introvert.  It’s odd to say because I use to be so outgoing in my younger years.  Now, I find that I have zero interest in small talk, and honestly, I’m not very good at it.
As I am writing, a coworker comes up to my desk and says something along the lines of “I’m sorry, I know this is weird but can we talk?”  **On a side note – this is a coworker whose name I can’t remember for the life of me (still), and someone who I’ve shared a “ good mornin’” with at most.  I really don’t know this person.**  I have to admit – I hadn’t  clue what this relatively perfect stranger wanted to talk about, so when they escorted me to a private area I was a little confused.  Ok, I was really weirded out.   
The conversation went as follows:
Coworker – I’m sorry, I know this is odd.  But I notice you never engage in conversation with me.  I know we say hello, but you never make the effort to talk to me or engage in anything more than that.  I’m getting the vibe I’ve done something wrong or offended you so I wanted to clear the air.
Me – [oh God you’re a funny one] I have to say your timing is quite funny.  That book I was writing in when you walked up – I was writing about being an introvert and how I genuinely am terrible at small talk.  You’ve done nothing wrong, I’m just not good at small talk.  It’s something I have recognized and am working on it – it’s just hard for me.
Coworker – Ok that makes me feel a lot better.  Maybe we could grab lunch and talk sometime.
So why do I share this?  Because I had no idea that my introverted tendencies were having an impact on someone I barely know.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being an introvert.  It just didn’t occur to me that maybe this person wants to get to know me, was offended at my lack of [unintentional] engagement but cared enough to say something.  That speaks volumes to me and really opened my eyes on how I carry myself – in a professional or nonprofessional setting.
I’m planning another post that focuses on being an introvert – and some of the struggles I face, but this was a good eye opener for me.
Thanks God, as always, your timing is perfect.
Has anything like this happened to you?

10.2.14 I Will Remember You

Every morning, right when I get in my car and start my drive to work, I start my day with a prayer of thanksgiving.  I spend anywhere from a minute, to the whole 25 minute drive just being with God.  It’s become a habit, and I cherish my moments with God each day.
As I was driving to work today, I was thanking God for such a beautiful morning, for my new bible study group, for just another day.  In the middle of my prayer, as I am sitting in the turning lane on Bailey and Clayton Rd, stopped at the red turning light, two car rush through the intersection, just making the yellow light before it turns red.
It happened so fast, I’m still in shock.  I see him running, missing the first car, and then I heard the hit.  He flew up into the air, slammed on the ground, his body cut, torn and broken.
I remember the drivers face in front of me.  We were stopped.  He ran out of the car, but we made eye contact.  That oh God what did I just see feeling sunk in.  He ran to the man, I called the police.  It was just a few hours ago now, but I still can’t believe what I saw.
I parked right there, in the turning lane and mindfully ran across the road.  There he was.  This man I see almost every day on my morning drive.  He’s either riding a bike or walking somewhere, but he’s always up early.  And now he’s here, lifeless in front of me.  The 2 people who had just made the yellow light, one of them being the car that hit this man, stood back, dumbfounded.  There’s no pulse, no breath.  No life.  He was on his side, so they turned him on his back, his eyes were open.  The guy who was in front of me desperately started CPR.  Nothing.
I feel like I’m writing a story.  I just can’t believe this happened.  How, in a matter of seconds, did I go from joyful prayer, to sitting over a lifeless man, praying God please, please help him please God please help him.
Fire, Police and Ambulance arrive…at an uncomfortably leisurely pace.  A firefighter is the first there – and he literally walked over to the scene.  I wanted to scream DO SOMETHING NOW but I didn’t.  He finally started CPR, and you could see the man’s abdomen inflating, but still, nothing.  This went on for a while, they got him into the ambulance, and as they drove off, I could see the fireman still doing CPR.
Because I witnessed the scene, I had to stay to give my statement.  Honestly, how did this just happen?  HOW??  Even though I knew the answer, I asked every cop how will I know what happens to him??  It doesn’t look good they say. I sat there for a bit, and realized what a blur it was.  They were asking me questions about things I just saw, but somehow nothing was clear.
I don’t know anything about this man that lost his life today.  They said he might have been living in a halfway house down the street, and that he’s frequently seen running through traffic.  One cop even said “I hate to say it but it was almost bound to happen.”  I didn’t like that.  All I know is that in a moment, one tiny, minuscule moment, everything changed.  What if this man had a family, kids, parents, friends?  What if he didn’t?  What if there’s no one to remember him?  No one to miss him.  It’s all too sad to digest.  I will remember you.

2 October 2014, 6:35am.  RIP dear sir.

Home Sweet Home

As many of you know, I made a gigantic leap and purchased my first home.  When I was a teen, I set a goal to buy my first place by 22 years old.  While most people my age were buying designer purses and expensive makeup, I was saving.  Though I am a few years behind – I was finally in the position to be able to accomplish this goal…and learn a few things in the process.
So friends, here is the big reveal.  It has been a long, trying process to say the least. One month and 2 days behind schedule, but it’s DONE.  Yippee. 
Panoramic shot from the front door

The condo I bought is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath – around 940 sq. feet.  There’s a kitchen, wood burning fireplace and a decent size patio with great views!  I did about a 90% remodel, and will get to the bathrooms once I win the lotto. 

Here’s what I did:

©      Dark hardwood floors throughout common area
©      Speckled/tan carpet in both bedrooms
©      Greystone (by Kelly Moore) paint on all walls, with white ceilings
©      Simple white baseboards throughout
©      White cabinets with brushed nickel hardware
©      Cement colored quartz countertops
©      All new stainless steel appliances (I got a fridge, stove, microwave and dishwasher for under $1,700!) and a huge stainless steel single bowl sink
©      Stained wood shelves in the kitchen

©      Tan, white & stainless steel tiles around the fireplace with a white hearth & mantel

God is good friends.  God is good.

Family Room
Eating area
Master Bedroom
The Wall of “Us”
Wooden Shelves in Kitchen
Fireplace.  Need to get a decorative screen
TV & Fireplace

Square one. It’s not so bad.

Nature is my true love!  Mt Baldy, Half Dome, Desolation Wilderness & Ireland
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7
So here I am.  Back to square one.  I don’t mind being in this square, again, but perhaps this will be the last time.  Wishful thinking?  Who knows.

The last 2 weeks of my life has been a bit crazy, to say the least.  After returning from a great Ireland vacation (post to come soon…) I packed up my home, and moved, for the 26th time.  Yes, you have read the correctly.  I have moved 26 times. During the move my dog got into a terrible accident, my contractor is light years away from being done with my condo and my bf/roomie and I decided to call it quits.  But hey, that’s life.  A beautiful disaster – to say the least!

Instead of feeling like “woe is me” I’m taking a different, intentional approach.  I’ve grown to realize and truly grasp that happiness is very much a choice – and a choice that needs to be made every single day.  So without getting into too much detail – here are the joys I feel through the disasters:

Moving:  This 26th move was into MY home.  That I own.  I’m not paying someone else’s mortgage anymore, or following strict guidelines on what I can/can’t do.  Though it’s unfinished, when it is done, it will be lovely.  I haven’t had a place that truly felt like home in quite some time, so I am excited for what this place will become.

Lynard:  Seeing my dog in such pain was heartbreaking.  Truly.  But praise God, he is just fine.  He has some cuts and bruises, but that’s about it.  He’s happy, healthy, comforting and darling.  It was incredibly time-consuming for me to have to care for him through this injury, but perhaps it gave me a brief glimpse into what parenthood will be like… (ha… I bet all you parents out there are shaking your heads…lol)

Break up:  This relationship was truly great.  I learned so, so much about myself and how to have a good, healthy relationship.  We started as friends, got along wonderfully, always had fun and treated each other great.  Why did it end you ask?  A little thing called love was missing.  I’ve always heard “love is not enough” and in this case – it was pretty much the only thing missing.  And since I’m being honest – I can’t wait to truly love and be loved.  Even though it ended, for the first time in years I learned to trust again, I now understand how to have effective communication, I’ve grasped the importance of compromise, and know how vital it is to have someone who is happy to pack up the car and runaway for the weekend.  These last 10 months we’re 99% joyful and I don’t feel an ounce of regret.  PRAISE GOD.  (Well, break up only lasted a week.  We’re back together – trusting God and waiting to see what happens.)

So – there you have it.  Being back to square one use to terrify me.  I would feel defeated and completely vulnerable.  Now, all I feel is God’s peace and guidance for whatever He has planned for me.  Thank you to the friends who have truly been there.  You’ve made my life so much more beautiful, and I am grateful for you all.

God is good friends.  God is good.