Category Archives: phases

a joyful life

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 Wow. I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post. Life has been an incredible journey over the last two years. Yes, it has been TWO YEARS since I have posted!

Life is a funny thing.

 In the last two months I have come full circle to things I had left behind during the last two years. I have come back to rediscover things that bring me joy, happiness, creative energy and peace. I have taken a big leap of faith that has brought about a kind of child-like joy that can only be felt and seen, but not described in a way to do it justice.

 I AM BACK!

 I feel more alive than I have felt in several years. My heart is full, I am creating some beautiful wrinkles on my face because I am smiling and laughing more than I have in a very long time. It’s interesting how we can lose ourselves in our lives. How our jobs become our world and how we sacrifice ourselves (our health, relationships, sense of self, etc…) for a paycheck to buy things that we don’t even have time to enjoy. A joyful life is what I have always been working on. I don’t search for it, I have to create it. Sometimes the creating of a joyful life makes many of those who love me a little bit nervous, but I am scrappy. I can figure it out and make ends meet. You see…when I am truly seeking a joyful life, through hard work, kindness and being true to myself; I create a life that is authentic, fulfilling and meaningful. A life worth living.

It is funny how life decides things for you when you can’t decide them for yourself. It is the small voice I have disregarded for a long time that lead to the unimaginable roar that I could no longer ignore. (it can also come in the form of a very knowledgeable and caring doctor showing you that your life is literally killing you quickly and if you (I) don’t get off this road you’re (I’m) on, life is going to end much sooner than you (I) want it to).
 
What is amazing is that when I finally embraced what that little voice (and my doctor) was telling me,  I had a feeling of relief, wonder and excitement wash over me; all the way down to my bones.  There is no more hesitation, second guessing or fear. There are fewer self-deprecating thoughts, feelings of anxiety or concerns about the future. It’s pretty damn awesome!

I am also aware that some of these feelings will come back at some point, but I am basking in the joy that I feel today. The joy that comes from making hard decisions that lead to a better life. The joy that comes from realizing that our days with those we love are numbered, and that we have more control over how we spend those days than most of us give ourselves credit for. The joy of realizing that I am the only one with the power to make the decisions that I must make to live the best life I can. 

So, going with the theme of this blog, a new phase has started! This isn’t a small phase, such as taking on a new hobby. This is the start of a life-changing phase. So, how big is this new phase? Well…

  •  I quit my job without having another one lined up (I’m scrappy and can figure it out!)
  • I have taken a month off and not looked for a job (I started my job search after my one month of unwinding, regrouping, and relaxing! )
  • I have been swimming laps 4-5 days a week (I have finally found an exercise I LOVE to do!)
  • I have FINALLY been following the expert advice of Marlene Merritt and have been eating healthy foods, given up all fast-foods, sodas and sugar….and that make me feel AWESOME! (she has been waiting for this day to come for over 5 years!)
  • I have made time for friends, family, reading, sleeping and anything else that brings me joy 

It’s a new phase. A big, awesome, exciting, delicious new phase. 

 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

Oh Crap. I feel another phase coming on…

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I’m feeling a phase I’ve had in the past trying to make a comeback. This is both fantastic and frightening all at the same time.  It is the “de-cluttering my life” phase. It’s a dangerous place.

My de-cluttering phases of years past have usually grown out of necessity. When I moved from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 400 square foot studio, so I could return to school at the age of 30…I sold or donated tons of my stuff. It felt really good. I enjoyed knowing what all of my possessions were and I only kept things I needed.

After finishing school, securing a job and not being a starving college student anymore I began purchasing/obtaining/finding stuff I liked. Over the last few years the amount of crap stuff I have has grown exponentially. I moved into my current dwelling almost 2 years ago. I have a huge indoor storage/attic area that is full. I’ve only been in there once to look for something. Once. So that tells me that all of the stuff in there is really not important to me. At all. So unimportant that I don’t even know what is in there!

I also have a glorified storage closet guest room. It too has become a haven for misfit items. From the guest closet (which, by the way, is bigger than the closet in my room) to under the guest bed. All areas that could hold stuff… have stuff.

So…you ask…how do I know this phase is trying to make a comeback? The proof is in the 9 garbage bags full of clothes I am going to donate and the 6 reusable grocery bags full of books that will be sold at my local Half-Priced Books. I have also filled my recycle bin with stuff…and have only filled one trash bag with actual trash (trying to be eco-friendly in my de-cluttering). Luckily most of the stuff I have can be given away or sold.  This part is the FANTASTIC part.

The frightening part, you ask?

All of this crap is from the guest bedroom/closet and the bookshelf downstairs. I haven’t even opened the storage closet upstairs. And it is bigger than my whole guest room and guest closet combined.  I think I’m going to need to tackle that space with a plan (and a bulldozer).  No. You don’t need to call A&E to let them know they have a new episode of Hoarders ready to go in ATX. Yes. I do have a lot of stuff, but luckily I also have a home that has lots of closet space. Space to keep crap I don’t need.

To be honest, I kind of know what has spurred this little de-cluttering adventure. I am thinking about returning to school next year. If I do that, I know I will downsize and actually have a need to get rid of some of my stuff. I guess I am really just being proactive!

Thinking about going back to school reminded me of the last time I downsized… and I lived a pretty de-cluttered life then. Not just de-cluttered of stuff, but everything else seemed a little more organized. It was nice. It was simple. It worked for me… better than having all of this stuff.

I will be making a trip to Goodwill and Half-Priced books in the morning. My goal is to have the whole downstairs of my house clutter-free before I go to bed tonight. It might be a late night…I wonder if a glass of wine will help?

e~

Large metal letters and other important obsessions

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I have a few obsessions. They are somewhat random but they all make sense to me.

Saturday morning I went to my local Farmer’s Market. I haven’t been in a while, but I was craving some of their offerings…and the dairy products you get at the F.M. can’t be beat. On my way home I decided to get off the highway and take the neighborhood streets home. In a random parking lot I could see that some kind of art show was being set up. As I glanced over, I saw them… I couldn’t breathe… I had to have them.

Leaning against the wall were these huge letters. The letters M and K were both metal and the A and E were made of wood. (spelling MAKE).  Each letter was approximately 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. They were magnificent!

The logical part of my brain told me that I had dairy products from the Farmer’s Market that needed to get to the fridge…so I couldn’t stop. It just wasn’t practical to allow Farmer’s Market priced milk to go bad while perusing the art show.
What I love is that the logical part of my brain said NOTHING about the fact that I have NO reason and/or space in my home for these beautiful useless letters… Nope…only the groceries kept me from pulling into the parking lot.

After arriving home and unloading my Farmer’s Market goods, I decided I “needed” to go to the bookstore. I really never need to go to the bookstore. I generally go because, for some reason, walking around the bookstore for a good chunk of time makes me feel good.  As I was on my way to the bookstore I noticed that I was traveling in the opposite direction of said store… I was heading toward that parking lot that held the letters that were meant to be mine. I guess I was subconsciously obsessing about the letters. obsessing.

I pulled into the lot.
I walked around looking at the other art, as not to show my excitement for the letters…. You never want to look too eager to purchase art.
I stealthily walked towards them trying to act disinterested.

They were stunning. They were awesome. They cost TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. yes. $2000 for 2 metal and 2 wooden letters. Seriously??

I can be disgusted by the high price tag… since I don’t have a cool $2000 burning a hole in my pocket.
Because I know think if I did, I would have been loading up my 2002 Ford Explorer with these fantastic letters without batting an eye. yes. seriously.

Instead I had to settle for a photograph of the M. The letters were too far apart to get them all in one photo…and since I wasn’t going to buy anything and the guy working there was looking at me suspiciously (possibly because I gasped loudly at the price and the began quietly weeping when I realized the letters weren’t coming home with me) I quickly snapped a photo and left.

Here she is..in all of her glory, the letter M:

I guess I will just have to continue to dream. Maybe one day I will have extra-large useless letters in my home. (I currently own a small metal E and a small letter Q…they are only about a foot-and-a half tall. Small beans compared to these monsters.)

I left the parking lot, blotting my tears as I drove away and onto the bookstore where my next 3 obsessions can be found. These next three items can also be what spurs a new phase, or can be part of a phase.

They are Journals, Calendars & Books.

 It is rare that I ever leave a bookstore in less than an hour. Today’s adventure was about an hour and-a-half long. Not a record…but I have some other things to accomplish yesterday…so I was on a time crunch.

Since it is September they have all of the calendars out on display. I walk by the display.

I think to myself: “I have an IPhone that has a great calendar that can hold all of my work obligations as well as my personal plans. I don’t need a paper calendar.” I high-five myself (in my head…because high-fiving yourself in public leads to sideways glances and whispering by others.)

Since I knew I had tons of willpower today I head over to journal section. Whoever said I wasn’t a glutton for punishment doesn’t know me very well.

I think to myself “You have approximately 10 journals at home. You don’t EVER write in them.”

At this point I am telling myself to quit rationalizing all of my desired purchases…but I know I am right to stop myself. If not, I would end up with another journal I don’t use and a calendar that ends up being twice the work since I would have to write in all of the stuff from my IPhone calendar so I don’t forget anything. It makes logical sense…but for some reason I always find myself wanting these things.

I know that part of it is that the paper calendar doesn’t really work for me right now. My job is one that all of my appointments are done via email/outlook and I have to be able to access my calendar quickly. Lugging around a paper calendar isn’t practical.

As for the journaling… I’ve wanted to be someone who journals, but my handwriting can get sloppy and journaling isn’t really meant to be edited. I like to edit. I think that is also why journaling

I walk away from the calendar and journals empty-handed. It was a small personal victory.  Yay Me!

As I finish up my bookstore adventure, I run across three books that “need” to come home with me. They are:

My purchases actually made me laugh a little. Finish This Book in some ways is forced journaling. It is in workbook style and it also includes whimsical tasks to complete. Since my track record in following through with journaling is an epic fail, maybe this format will help move me along.

thx thx thx is also somewhat aligned with my journaling obsession. This book is filled with little thank-you notes the author wrote to everyday things in her life. It is brilliant! It also falls into my current phase of trying to have more gratitude (which is aligned with  my desire to be more “mindful”). The book itself takes 30 minutes to read, but it will be one of those treasures that stays out on the coffee table to remind me that there is a lot to be thankful for. Which is A WHOLE lot! I also might try her method in being thankful. It’s quick, simple and pretty awesome.

Lastly, (insert justification here) I just really like Malcolm Gladwell’s books. This purchase made some sense. I like the author and it seems like it will be an easy read.

Honestly, it really doesn’t make much sense. I don’t need another book. I probably have 40 books here at home that I have yet to read….

hum…

Maybe I’ll make a list, I LOVE a list… a list of the unread books in my house. Then I NEED to buy the paper calendar so that I can organize my time to get all of the unread books read. And THEN I need to purchase that journal so I can write about all of the books I read in the next year, as well as ideas I get from the books. Plus, I didn’t spend $2000 on the metal and wooden letters…so a little calendar and journal are such minor purchases.

Yep…that is how my brain works. I have a pretty amazing justification process. The likelihood of a future calendar purchase is pretty-much guaranteed.  As for the journal, I am getting my “journal fix” through blogging. Luckily blogging doesn’t cost anything….and it allows me to edit. 🙂

Happy Sunday!
~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~