Category Archives: blog

my wish for growing old

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When_I_am_an_Old_Woman_____by_mamjakty

I want to grow old gracefully. I want my face to have lines and wrinkles that tell a story of a life well lived. I want my eyes to show that I have asked questions and sought out answers. That I felt joy and pain. That I made mistakes along the way but didn’t let those mistakes keep me from continuing the journey. There will be a sparkle of wisdom that glimmers in my eyes to signal that I have lived life with a curious spirit.

I want to feel comfortable in my wrinkly skin; feeling beautiful because of the stories the lines and wrinkles tell. I will dress in colorful frocks and wear interesting jewelry that I have collected during my travels. I will change my haircut and color depending on my mood. I will have developed a deep sense of my personal style and will not let others dictate what I wear.

I want to have colorful stories to tell of adventures I took and things I experienced. Adventures full of family, friends, lovers, and strangers. I want others to be able to read on my face that I have lived a life that was full of joy and hope, love and loss.

A life well lived.

I want my laugh lines to be deep and to continue to grow deeper because my days are speckled with laughter that leads to tears of pure joy.  The best kind of laughter.

I know there will be days of pain, sorrow and loneliness, but I want to be able to gather the wisdom and strength of my years and navigate these days with grace. To come out the other side with the lesson I was meant to learn.

I want my eyes to sparkle with the same curious spirit that was the driving force in my younger days.

My possessions will be few when I am old because I will have learned along the way that too many possessions  have possessed me before.  I will have sold, donated or discarded many of my possessions, paid off all debt,  and spent my money on experiences and travel that fill my heart and life with intangible gifts.

I will have life-long friends whom I speak of with a love as deep as I have for my family; because I will have learned that these people are just as much part of my family as those related to me by blood. I will meet friends and family regularly for long dinners or afternoons chatting over a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

I will have become a great listener. I’ll have learned that being a great listener is much more valuable than being someone who always has something to say. I will have learned to listen with compassion and not always try to fix the problem that might have been shared. I will absorb the stories shared with me and will celebrate the celebrations and be a soft place to land when life seems unfair. I will not preach or try to fix. I will be there to love and comfort and listen.

I will remember stories of days long gone that live fresh in my memory. These memories will live right next to the new ones that I will be creating each day. My age will not mean the end of adventures or make me shy away from learning new things. It will be quite the opposite. I will have realized the true gift of being able to get up for another day on the Earth. I may not be as quick on my feet and I might have more aches and pains, but I will know that I am lucky to be alive and will live with that in mind each and every day.

I will be someone, who regardless of the number of candles on my birthday cake, will approach each day with the curiosity of a child. Allowing the excitement of learning something new or turning a stranger into a friend to pump through my veins and remind me of the gift of another day.

I will continue to be a person who finds solace in being alone sometimes. I will still know that having time alone does not equate to loneliness.

I will be a voracious reader and will write letters to those I love on a regular basis. I will not clutter my mind with things on TV, but will fill my soul with books, music, and the love of family and friends.

I will be old and wrinkled with a head full of stories and experiences, and a heart full of joy.

When I am old and I look back on the life I lived I will not give much time to “what ifs”. I won’t reminisce about things I hoped would happen that didn’t, or spend time on “the hand that I was dealt” during the difficult times in my life. I will just be thankful I was invited to the table to play.

I will know with a full heart that I had a lion’s share of great things happen for me and I will be grateful.

 

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I am a work in progress to become the old woman I wish to be. Here are some things I need to remember now so that my wish for my old future self will happen.

Remember:

  • Faces are meant to move and bodies are meant to age and wrinkle. No matter what the media says otherwise.
  • Possessions can posses you. Only have what you truly need, the rest just bogs you down. So does debt. Do what you have to do to get rid of your debt. Sell the things you don’t need and give away the rest. Spend money on things like a good mattress, good food and travel. Get rid of things that don’t serve a true purpose in your life.
  • Listen. Don’t always talk. Don’t always try to solve what is shared with you.
  • Don’t gossip. It’s not attractive or productive. It’s also a sign of insecurity, so if you catch yourself gossiping stop to see why you feel the need to do so.
  • Be a good friend. Be honest, even when it is difficult. Be there for friends when they need you and when they don’t.
  • Allow others to be a good friend to you. Reach out when you need to. Real friends will be there for you no matter what.
  • Meditate. It’s hard, but it really does change your perspective.
  • Don’t stay in a job that makes you miserable. It’s just not worth it.
  • Travel. Travel alone sometimes as well as with others. Go off the beaten path. Explore.
  • Help other without judgment.
  • Be comfortable with silence.
  • Make time for the little things, they usually mean the most.
  • Love deeply and honestly.
  •  Be grateful and express your gratitude.
  • And most important….don’t wait. start now.

 

I am looking forward to becoming my old self, wrinkles and all.

 

love,

~e

 

 

next….

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image from: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lxnr0vjSOi1qbygswo1_250.jpg

As phases go some are abandoned forever, some are started and finished and some are put on the shelf for a while until I am drawn to them again. Blogging falls into category 3. It has been a while since I have posted… and what is interesting is that my life has been extraordinarily busy, disappointing, exciting, sad, scary, joyous, and most of all… challenging…sometimes these feelings happen from day to day and sometimes there is a melting pot of many of these emotions flooding in at the very same time.  From my acceptance into graduate school to the death of my grandmother, life has been moving along at a very fast pace with some of the highest highs and lowest lows.

 I have sat down many times to write, but have felt it wasn’t time. Emotions were too raw or the sadness too heavy. On the joyous days I would want to share but didn’t want to remove myself from the joy to write it down.

Some days I wish that the days would fly by even faster than they already are…wishing bad days away so that I can move onto what is next. Of late, there seem to be more bad days than I am accustom to, as I have lived a pretty blessed life. Through the bad I have learned a lot about myself as well as others. I have seen the magic and power of friendship, the importance of letting people be there for me, being willing to say “I can’t do this anymore” and knowing that it takes strength and courage to walk away from something that isn’t right for me. I’ve also being reminded that I have one of the best families anyone could ask for.

I have refused to harden my heart as the challenges presented themselves. Sure, I’ve learned to better protect myself but I am not going to change the person I am because some people are miserable and want everyone else to be miserable too.

 On other days I ask the Universe to slow down so I can take it all in. The days filled with laughter, friends, family and happiness. Because these days have been less frequent of late, I work to enjoy every second so that I can save up some of the happy moments and sprinkle them into those days where I have climbed in bed at 7:30pm just to be able to say I made it through another day.
My wishes have been granted in both cases, allowing me to move through the difficult parts knowing that the less difficult parts are waiting in the wings.

This has been a year of me having to be selfish at times so that I could hold it all together. I haven’t felt like I have been able to be there for those who have been there for me.  I guess that is what makes the strong friendships I am so lucky to have. I am allowed to let it be about me for a while. What’s even more awesome is that when it shouldn’t be about me, my friends let me know that…and I am a better person because of it. They have kept me sane.

I never ask to not experience the difficult…I just ask for the tools I need to get through it so that I come out on the other side…maybe a little scarred but also a little better. Scars tell stories. A life without stories would be a pretty boring life.

 This has been a very challenging year for me, but with most challenges there are amazing lessons to be learned. I’m trying to find the lessons in the chaos and the calm in my heart to take advantage of the lessons. It is about creating a life that is well lived. It is about trying to find the “awesomeness”.

There is always awesomeness around. Sometimes it is just a little harder to find.

As the light becomes quite bright at the end of this dark tunnel, I am excited about all of the amazing possibilities on the horizon. I will be able to look back on the challenges I have encountered and I will know that they have made what is next that much sweeter.

~e

p.s.
as I was proofreading this post, it almost reads like I ended a bad relationship. In some ways I have but not in the realm of a romantic relationship. This isn’t a post about a lost love but about finding myself and holding my ground when adversity is part of my daily work life. The bright light at the end is only a few weeks away and I owe a big “thanks” to those who have listened, advised, allowed me space, shook me back into reality when needed, made me laugh when it didn’t seem possible, and most of all for showing steadfast love and support. xoxoxoxo

"Enveloped" in Happiness

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Have you ever had an envelope bring a HUGE smile to your face?

Over the holidays I received an envelope in the mail from a long-time friend. Her creative, beautiful spirit flowed through the Christmas card that was enclosed in the envelope that had my address written in her signature handwriting. I know it may sound odd, but as long as I have known my friend Dawn, I have been obsessed with her handwriting. She tutored me in Math when I was in middle school and I remember going home after our tutoring sessions and trying copy her handwriting. It was so creative and unique…and my handwriting was atrocious…so I went home and practiced and practiced. I have never been able to write like her, but I have become obsessed with people’s handwriting ever since!

This envelope in my mailbox made me realize that there are so many small things that can bring about large amounts of happiness and joy. It is something I sometimes forget when life gets a little tough, and this sweet card was a gentle nudge to pay attention to things…because there are hidden bits of loveliness all around.

It was also a great start to an AMAZING holiday season! The envelope was a fantastic reminder to pay attention to the little things that bring joy… because the joy I feel can become contagious to those around me. I wanted to spread joy around like the flu…a good flu (if there is such a thing).

By being focused on happiness, my holiday was profoundly affected. It was a peculiar phenomenon. When you focus on joy/happiness you don’t have the time, energy or need to focus on the negative things. I was able to be more engaged in the things I was doing and I was engaged for no other reason than the fact that the activity or conversation I was involved in brought me joy. Whether it was helping out with dinner, reading my book, laughing at the most ridiculous things, or deciding that the 1/2 inch thick bolt that was stuck in the front tire only after the third hour of travel on a 13 hour road-trip…wasn’t going to ruin the fantastic vacation I was driving home from. It helped that my friend and travelling companion, Carolyn, also decided to find the humor in this otherwise complicated “challenge” we were facing…and we turned this “challenge” into a road-trip that will have memories and inside jokes to last a life-time!

The amount of joy and happiness I felt during this time was directly related to my choices. My choices about how I would “spin” something, what I focused on and how much I was willing to stop trying to control. It was awesome. I was “enveloped” in happiness.

So, as this New Year begins…..my focus will be on finding joy and happiness in the little things. Enveloping myself in the never-ending loveliness that appears each day….and taking the time to search for it on those tough days…when it takes a little more effort. It is worth putting forth the effort because when I don’t take the time to look for the good things, I am really missing out. I am so thankful for the fantastic holiday that I just wrapped up.

A holiday season that started with a sweet Christmas card from a dear friend…who has the coolest handwriting I have ever seen.

xoxo

happy new year!

e~

A lack of a 5 year plan makes some nervous. This post will not help with that nervous feeling.

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Somewhere in our lives we are taught that we need to grow up, be responsible, have a savings account, be insured, buy a house, get married, have a 401K, earn, save, plan and all of the things that supposedly make us “grown”. As I was thinking about this idea, I am not that person. I never have been (as you will read…I’ve tried to be)…but I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work for me. 
 In a post a few weeks ago I wrote about my lack of a 5-year plan. That thought has been on my mind a lot lately. I changed careers from one in a more creative field to one that is more stable. Before that I had many various jobs that make my resume look like a patch-work quilt of randomness… I am thankful for all of those amazing adventures. The places I’ve been, the lessons I’ve learned, and the amazing people I’ve met have made my life fun, interesting and pretty fantastic!
My current “career” path is one that has stability and longevity. It’s a “respectable” job that has all of the normal bells and whistles that make one “secure”. I have moved up quickly in my profession and now that I have reached the level of being a “leader” (I use this term loosely)… I’ve realized that I moved to my current position for the wrong reasons. When I began in this career it was truly a calling. A moment when I had a realization that I was supposed to become a teacher. It was random, sudden and urgent. It was clear I was meant to follow this path. I went back to school, got my degree and started to teach. it was awesome and I was pretty good at it! I taught for a while and began looking at options. The options were to move into a leadership role. 

My current leadership role came out of necessity (necessity because the position I was in was being cut) as well as a desire to make more money… eventually.  This isn’t how I’ve done things in the past. My choices are based on passion….this was based on money. 
I’ve ventured away from my calling….to “climb the ladder”. I don’t regret taking this detour in my life,  because it has allowed me to see that it isn’t the path for me. I won’t have to wonder if it was meant for me.  I know for sure. It isn’t.  I’ve learned that I like to work where there isn’t much that is black and white…where the possibilities outweigh the restrictions and creativity is looked at as a contribution to the greater cause.  Where rules are flexible or created as you go, where taking risk is celebrated and failure is a tool to learn and do something even better.  I’m never going to work for the money again. I’d rather live in a rented studio apartment and have my soul sing on a regular basis because I love what I do, than have lots of stuff that I don’t really need. 
As my realization grew that my current job isn’t “my calling”,  I’ve discovered that I’ve missed teaching. Teaching brings me great joy. I love sharing ideas, collaborating with colleagues and helping people discover new things. Teaching is as much about sharing as it is about learning. I miss that. A lot.Where I am now isn’t the right “venue” (for lack of a better word). It is too restrictive. I’ve had to box away parts of myself to fit into my current role. I was very idealistic when I took this job and the reality is clear…I need to be in a place where I can be creative, take risks and ask questions that may seem silly to others but that allow me to grow, flourish, and create. 
I miss parts of me that I feel like I gave-up to “grow up”. The risk taker, the parts of me that followed my heart (even when it makes others nervous or uncomfortable). 
In chaos comes clarity. I am working on finding that clarity. It isn’t easy, but the rewards are great. 

 Maybe that is why I am going through a phase where I really want to get rid of a lot of the stuff I have acquired over the years. It’s just stuff. And I think the more I am attached to my stuff, the more I feel I have to be what is considered ‘grown up’ so I can afford all of my stuff.
Sure, I know I need some things…. Money for food, bills, and shelter… clothes and books. Insurance is important. I get it. But I think I got lost in my desire to secure a job that made those around me feel secure about my future… and in doing so I was willing to conform to a point that doesn’t work for me. Now I’m realizing I need something different.  I am  thankful for the career path I’ve been on. It’s brought me so much joy through the amazing friends I have made as well as the millions of things I have learned about myself through the process…but I think I have come full-circle in realizing that somewhere on this journey I neatly put aside some parts of myself that I really miss.  I’m looking forward to “unpacking” and rediscovering the creative risk-taker that has been on hiatus for a while. 

 watch out world…I’m making a comeback!

~e

40….. is the magic number

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I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. My friends threw me the most FANTASTIC party! I knew it was going to be awesome, but I had no idea how awesome. I mean…what kind of friends make jello shots that looked like little orange slices?  AWESOME friends! That’s who!

This post isn’t going to be about the fabulous party they threw for me or that the party also included a unicorn piñata (what did I tell you….awesome!!!) I can write more on that later; 
You see…. When you turn 40, you become reflective…at least for a few minutes. I think it is because it really could be the middle of your life.   For me it was a time to take stock in the things I have accomplished and my future endeavors phases. My reflective moment had me creating a list of things that I felt were a part of what makes my life awesome. Some things on the list you might have heard before…but I thought I would share anyway.  I will keep the list to 20 nuggets of “advice” ( I use that term very loosely).  Please feel free to comment with your own little nuggets (that sounds weird…but funny weird, so I’m not editing it out) So….here you go:
  1. Don’t “collect” friends. It’s better to have a close group of friends who will really show-up for you, instead of a contact list full of friends who will show up for your Superbowl party… but won’t be there for you when you decide to adopt 2 puppies at the same time and are totally regretting your decision. (that’s a true story… for a later post)
  2. There is nothing wrong with turning down an invitation to do something. If you don’t want to go out, just say so. Don’t  make up an excuse.
  3. Your relationships with your family members can change over time. A lot of it has to do with how you deal with things. Remember…you are now an adult, act like one even if the other adults aren’t.
  4. Don’t be so serious. Make sure you have as much fun as you can… at most everything you do. 
  5. The “fun” (see #4) should include lots of laughter (which might require Depends if you have a weak bladder).
  6. If you’ve picked your friends according to #1… then #2 shouldn’t be a problem. Real friends learn who you are…but you need to do the same for them. They also need to call you out on your shit. That’s what friend do. 
  7. Forgive yourself for stupid things you did as a kid, teenager and young adult. Once you’re 30…you’re old enough to know better and will have to live with that guilt until you die, sorry.
  8. Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission
  9. Fart jokes are still funny at 40. If you don’t think so…I’m sorry that you are missing out
  10. Not every friend has to be a best friend. Friends play various roles in your life, and sometimes the roles change as time goes on. It’s OK. Sometimes a friendship might have run its course. It takes courage to walk away from a friendship that isn’t working out anymore, but it is worth freeing up yourself and that person to have the right people in your lives. 
  11. You can have views that are different than your family members and still be able to get along really well…but you have to be brave enough to set ground rules when it comes to touchy subject (ie: politics, religion, paper or plastic) Sometimes the rule is that no one can talk about the touchy subjects.
  12. I would rather live paycheck to paycheck doing something I love than have lots of money that I earned doing something that doesn’t bring me joy. (but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy winning the lottery….even just the $100,000 jackpot….I’m not greedy)
  13. Be sure to have at least one friend who will honestly tell you if your ass looks like a billboard in those pants…and be sure she goes shopping with you every time. 
  14. Don’t do something you know you won’t enjoy doing just to go along with the crowd; but also be willing to try something new, if you have some interest in it…even if it scares you. (example: I won’t go skydiving…ever. I have NO interest in trying it. I don’t understand the concept of voluntarily throwing yourself out of a plane….. I did, however, have a group of friends convince me to backpack across Mexico and work on an organic farm with them for a month, a few summers ago….I had NEVER been camping before this trip. Yes, it was outside my comfort zone…but traveling is something I love…it was a life changing experience…totally worth it!  I’ll blog about the Mexico trip at some point too!)
  15. Everyone should live in a big city for at least 6 months in their life. It’s good for your soul…and it also makes you appreciate the small town you grew up in (hopefully…unless you grew up in a small town that totally sucks…if you did, just skip #15)
  16. The level of happiness in your life solely depends on you. No one else.
  17. If you are still blaming you parents, siblings, exes, 8th grade Volleyball coach, etc…for your problems/unhappiness…you are wasting a lot of time and missing out on life
  18. Your presence in this world changes people’s lives. Think about that. 
  19. Know that everything you post on Facebook or on your blog goes into your permanent record
  20. Just because your opinion is different than someone else’s doesn’t mean either of you are wrong it just means that you have a differing opinion…unless it involves the following..then you are TOTALLY wrong:
        • If you like Rick Perry (he is an asshat…I don’t care what you say)
        • If you like Mariah Carey’s music (although I can forgive you for this one… I may hold it against you, but I can forgive you..but you’re still wrong)
        • If you think it is OK to bash someone because of race, sexual orientation or special needs. (policial affiliations are fair game…just sayin’)

I could have gone on and on with my list of nuggets….but I’ll stop (because I’m really tired and want to go to bed)…but I will leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes….


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
~Dr. Seuss

~e


The importance of being liked…and followed

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No, this isn’t a co-dependent stalker’s manifesto.  It is a request to my readers.

If you like my blog, please become a “follower”. I promise to only use my powers for good and not evil. (most days)
Commenting on my posts is absolutely free! No strings attached. 
Lastly, as your mom taught you…it’s important to share! If you really do enjoy my blog, share it! There are links at the bottom of each post so you can share it on your various social networking sites.
Thank you for being a part of my latest phase! 
e~

200 Mile Radius

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Last winter I decided my new phase was going to be all about eating locally grown/raised groceries.  Anyone who knows me knows that dream big and deliver small when it comes to my phases. No, that isn’t a typo.  I generally want to make HUGE changes…..I talk about them and the things I am going to do….and then the reality and size of the undertaking rears it’s lovely head and I am knocked down a couple of notches.

I really don’t mind this process though… because as I am falling down… onto the hard ground of reality, I generally tear away a few nuggets of knowledge that make their way into my daily life, making it better…or at least more interesting.

How was I going to do this? It started with a blog.

200 Mile Radius

Here is the outcome:

The blog lasted about two weeks. The plan was to only purchase foods that were grown/raised within a 200 mile radius of Austin. That meant that my food sources would have to be farmer’s markets or from a delivery service that provided farmer’s market products. It would also mean that I would only be eating produce that was in-season.

 I used Farmhouse Delivery and they were pure AWESOMENESS! I started this venture in the winter. That made it hard for me because I don’t really care too much for many of the winter veggies. Honestly, there were several times when I didn’t even know what some of the produce in my bushel actually was! One of the many genius things Farmhouse does is they send you a picture of the produce in the bushel that has the name of each item. They also provide some killer recipes!

Here is a picture from one of the bushels I received:

 I had them deliver for a few months, but it wasn’t working out for me as I was working an insane number of hours at work and didn’t even have the energy to make myself a PB&J…and the thought of actually cooking wasn’t going to happen. I started giving the produce to a friend of mine so it wouldn’t go to waste. It was too much for me to take on. So I cancelled my deliveries. That was the day the blog died too.

                                     
One day I hope to return to Farmhouse Delivery. They are that good!

Since I was working 10,000 hours a week, going to the farmer’s market wasn’t happening either. So I went back to my old ways….Starbucks for breakfast, maybe grabbing some almonds or string cheese for lunch, and dinner was something ordered through a microphone and given to me in a paper bag through a window… or delivered directly to my house by some teenage boy trying to buy new rims for his Kia.

I’ve learned that I am either “all in” or “all out” when it comes to most things. Especially healthy eating and exercise.

I’m either going to see my FANTASTIC acupuncturist/nutritionist  on a regular basis and following all of her advice. (btw….Marlene is the best! Even when I come back after a long time away she is kind, helpful and totally awesome. She is also very real. She “gets” it. She rocks!)…..or the baristas at my Starbucks are creating my beverage of choice before my car even pulls up to the drive-thru speaker-box. (they are nice too…but they aren’t really into helping me get on a road to health…they sell coffee that tastes like ice cream…touche´)

I’m the same with exercise. I’m either working out with a trainer 3 times a week, or you can see the imprint of my butt on my couch and I’m considering the walk up the stairs to bed my “exercise” routine.

My newest phase is to find my place “in the middle”.

It’s harder than you think.

I was raised on casseroles, juice from concentrate… and corn was the top vegetable in our house. The only thing that was green in our kitchen was the apple-green linoleum on the floors and the Formica counter tops. During my childhood I ran around with a permanent purple grape-juice mustache.

I have come a long way from the days of “cream of mushroom soup” being the staple ingredient in my meals but it isn’t hard for me to return to those roots. My generation was the first to have Frakenberries and Fruity Pebbles….many of these sugar-laden cereals came out the year I was born.  Yeah for me! The processing of food hit an all-time high for my generation…and I have the big butt to prove it. I’m not blaming anyone for my challenges with food. The facts are that I love some “foods” that aren’t good for me and it has taken me many years to change some of my bad habits, and some of my bad habits still have a vice-like grip on me.

One of the biggest “nuggets” of information I have learned in the past few years is how delicious real food can be! I know it sounds weird…but until you have eaten the goat-cheese salad from Blue Dahlia, you haven’t lived.

I am going to work on balance in my eating. Farmer’s market foods whenever possible, talking a walk around the block instead of having to have a $60 a month gym membership. I’m going to try to start small. This isn’t usually how I roll….but I think it is what I need to do right now. No crazy stuff. Just getting back to the basics.

The 200 Mile Radius idea didn’t happen as I wanted, but here are some of the “nuggets” I learned:

  1. The seed to healthful eating has been planted in me and will hopefully grow slowly into good choices I will make for myself every day
  2.  I know that it’s worth taking the time to make it happen
  3.  I am much happier when I am eating foods that are good for me
  4. My brain works better when I’m eating healthful foods
  5. Almond butter is awesome
  6. Farm-fresh milk is sent directly from God
  7. I don’t like Cilantro or Anise…even if it comes from the farmer’s market…ick!
  8. Buddha’s Brew is the best Kombucha ever!
  9. There is something called pecan butter by Local Baby out there. Once you try it you will be willing to hurt people to get more of it. (please don’t hurt people…just order it online… it’s easier that way)
  10. The best jams and jellies come from Confituras. There is no reason to argue this point. You won’t win.
So I guess this is the reincarnation of a past phase in smaller more realistic “bites”. We shall see….
Happy eating!
e~