in my mind

Standard

This video was posted on my blog before. It’s by Amanda Palmer; an amazingly creative, courageous and authentic artist. She lives her life for her, but in doing so gives back to so many. It’s an interesting way that works. She is also not afraid of profanity, so if you are…you have been warned.

I will also include the song lyrics below. It’s one of those songs that to me, is a reminder of the never-ending evolution we go through as human beings. The dreams we have for ourselves that we sometimes don’t chase, the challenges we allow ourselves to face so that we are grow as people, and the little things we try to change about ourselves on the quest for becoming what we think we should become for whatever reason we think it. And the realization that this is who we are and that’s just how it should be.

Since I took a long hiatus from blogging, I was going back through some of my earlier posts and rediscovered this video. Upon reading that post again I see that I was searching for the same things then as I am now. The difference is that I am not just searching for them passively at this point. I have thrown caution to the wind and have theoretically walked off the precipice and am seeing what awaits below. It’s such a freeing feeling.

Where will I be 5 years from now?
Who knows.
 Do I have a 5 year plan?
That would be a negative, Ghost Rider.
 Am I OK with that?
Absolutely.

love,
~e

Here are the lyrics to”In My Mind” by Amanda Palmer:

                                       

In my mind
In a future five years from now
I’m a hundred and twenty pounds
And I never get hung over
Because I
Will be the picture of discipline
Never minding what state I’m in
And I will be someone I admire
And it’s funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I’ve just forgotten how
To see
That I’m not exactly the person that I thought I’d be
And in my mind
In the far-away here-and-now
I’ve become in-control somehow
And I never lose my wallet
Because I
Will be the picture of discipline
Never fucking-up anything
And I’ll be a good defensive driver
And it’s funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I’ve just forgotten how
To see
That I’ll never be the person that I thought I’d be
And in my mind
When I’m old I am beautiful
Planting tulips and vegetables
Which I will mindfully watch over
Not like me now
I’m so busy with everything
That I don’t look at anything
But I’m sure I’ll look when I am older
And it’s funny how I imagined
That I could be that person now
That that’s not what I want
But that’s what I wanted
That I’d be giving up somehow
How strange to see
That I don’t want to be the person that I want to be
And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren’t really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I’ll start pounding the lid
Saying, “I haven’t finished yet,
I still have a tattoo to get,
It says, ‘I’m living in the moment'”
And it’s funny how I imagined
That I could win this win-less fight
Maybe it isn’t all that funny
That I’ve been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it’s funny
If I want to live before I die
And maybe it’s funniest of all
To think I’ll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be
Fuck yes
I am exactly the person that I want to be
 

 

a joyful life

Standard

 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….

Standard
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

Standard

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~

Happiness, Gremlins, and Clarity

Standard

image from http://www.squidoo.com/braintest

I’ve been in a interesting space in my head over the last few weeks. It’s questioning, fearful, uncomfortable, exciting, creative, and has the potential to move me to the next phase of my life. I am 100% certain that a new, and pretty awesome change is about to take place for me. I don’t exactly know what it is, or how soon it will happen… but I know it is coming. I’m not sure how I know…I just do.

I’ve always had a pretty good instinct so I will trust my instinct right now, knowing change is in my future… and it will be pretty awesome.

Because I am someone who knows when it is time to make a change, I also know that the changes I make will generally cause some upheaval in my life.  I also know that there are parts of the changes that aren’t enjoyable. The good thing is that these parts are manageable if I make sure to take the time to manage them. The areas that generally cause me discomfort or even pain when I am moving into something new, usually revolve around non-tangible things. The discomfort is almost always related to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what others will think, fear of causing others discomfort because my pursuit doesn’t fit into the mold of what they think I should do.  It is fear that really isn’t necessary but is always present in some form. I think that it is natural to have some fear when making a big change. The fear is there to help protect on some levels, but it is usually quite irrational and it generally fed by my “ego”…that annoying negative thought pattern that always has an opinion about my choices.

As I work on being open to whatever is next in my life, I’ve also been working on managing my fears and negative thoughts. There are two things I have been doing that seem to be working well for me. The first thing I’ve been doing is writing what are called “morning pages”. The idea came from a book I have,  The Artist’s Way. It’s about unblocking creativity. I’ve owned the book and supplemental journal for many years, but had never read it (that is a habit I have….buying books that go unread). As I was working on de-cluttering parts of my house I ran across them. I read the beginning of the book and decided to start on the Morning Pages. In the book there are many other things I could be doing to help open up my creativity…but for now I just need a method and space to clear my head of the things that keep me from being open to what’s next.

As soon as I get up in the morning, I head downstairs and sit down at my desk. I pick up my pen and start writing anything that comes to mind. Anything. I have to write 3 whole pages. The actual journal pages are pretty big, so it can be difficult to fill them up. I don’t censor myself or worry about my handwriting, grammar or spelling.  I just write. I write without stopping, without thinking, without judgement. I am barely awake when I start writing. You see, my “ego” hasn’t had time to wake-up to begin editing my writing. I write freely and purely from my heart.

It’s amazing how much better I feel after I “dump” all of my thoughts out in the morning. It really does clear my brain for the day. It clears my head of my irrational thoughts as well as gives me focus on the ones that need attention. It’s the closest thing to meditation that I have been able to do. It’s also pretty awesome.

The other thing I’ve been doing is a little harder to explain without sounding a little nuts! I’ll try to explain it though. 🙂  Once I am more awake, the negative thoughts start coming out of the dark recesses of my brain. Some call it the ego, my friend Jamie calls it her Chicken Coop (check out her blog!), and I call these negative thoughts my Gremlins. All I do is notice my thoughts. When a negative thought enters my mind, I acknowledge it and then move on. It’s simple but powerful. Once I see that I’m being irrational or negative with my thoughts I can move past them. In some of the books I’ve read, it’s also called “mindfulness” or being mindful…whatever it’s name is….. it is called “sanity” for me.

As I use these two techniques I find more clarity. Sometimes to get to clarity there is a lot of “stuff” you have to get through. I’m realizing more and more that my “stuff” is irrational stuff. It’s all fear based. It’s all based on my ego.  I’m working on quieting my negative thoughts and trusting my own instincts. My instincts have served me well, when I have listened.

A big change is on the way. I can feel it deep down in my bones. I can’t wait to see what it is. It will be good. It will be awesome…and it will happen soon….I can feel it. 🙂

I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

xoxo
e~

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

Standard


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

Oh Crap. I feel another phase coming on…

Standard

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~