A few things I’m loving about the Spring.

As expected, life is feeling a little nutty since I’ve been back at work, and my days off have been spent trying to connect with friends, and take care of my personal life (you know the usual, laundry, cleaning the kitchen, going grocery shopping, menu planning, exercising… and a little bit of vegging)  But I did want to write a quick post about a few things I’m loving about the Spring.

Firstly, I love Spring in Oregon, because it is the season in which there is all of this hopeful change. The days are getting a little longer, and plants and flowers are budding all over the place, and we are starting to get a little break from the dreary Oregon winter. It just feels like the perfect time to be starting something new, and I feel like I’m bringing that energy with me to my new work environment.

I love that I can walk into the grocery stores right now and get bouquets of ranunculus, which are my all time favorite flower. I think they are so delicate and whimsical, and they come in an amazing array of colors. Right now I’m swooning over these peachy pink ones that are currently living in my bathroom, but last week I was tempted to buy about 7 bouquets of them! They have this deep purple ones that were super sexy, and this burgundy wine color that was amazing. I also picked up some yellow ones for a little pop of color in the kitchen… I’m so glad that I get joy out of the small things in life.

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Spring also means that color is slowly making its way back into people’s wardrobes (lets face it, it never left mine, even at times when it probably should have…. Don’t have anything that matches? Just add another color and walk out the door… seriously, most days I look like a very colorful yoga clown, but whatever.) I also feel like I can wear super bright nail polish and be seasonally appropriate… currently I’m rocking this Siren colored polish… but I can’t wait to get out the mint greens!

Please ignore the terrible manicure, and my gross dry dragon hands... my body is adjusting to life in a restaurant

Please ignore the terrible manicure, and my gross dry dragon hands… my body is adjusting to life in a restaurant

Also last week at Salt & Straw they had Lucky Charms ice cream to celebrate St. Patrick’s day…. Sweet Jesus, that stuff was good. Good enough to make it on my list of things that I’m slightly obsessed with/ loving this spring. I know it was a limited time flavor, and it is probably gone… (which is really too bad for all of you reading this now… cause it was pretty mind blowing).  But eating a scoop of it last Tuesday was quite possibly the highlight of my week.

 

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Magically Delicious

My yard is exploding with flowering things right now… I’m kinda on a time crunch, and it’s a little dreary out, so I don’t have any pictures to post, but the bleeding heart is emerging from the ground, hundreds of teeny tiny daffodils are starting to pop out, the fruit trees are budding, and I can’t wait to get outside and start planting my garden! Stay tuned for pictures and updates.

 

Shifting Direction

I’ve been at my new job exactly one week (or 5 actual working days) and I’m settling into the change of pace. Life is definitely taking a different direction than I ever expected it to, but I’m pleased to report that I’m actually pretty happy. There have been a lot of ups and downs, and I think I’ve had to adjust my life plan about 17 times in the last few months… and now that I’m on plan Q) I’m realizing that sometimes it really just is better to not plan out your life… This method has really worked for me up until a few months ago when I actually started to make plans… suddenly I was thinking about my future, my education, getting married… what I really wanted to do with my life, and my efforts to actually take a step towards all of those goals pretty much crumbled around me… (got the rejection letter from graduate school last night).

But I have a really good feeling about this new adventure that I’m starting on, and am deciding that, at least for now, I’m a-ok with living one day at a time… Sure I’m still making plans… I know that my computer is about to bite the dust, so I’m going to start saving for a new one… and after that, perhaps a Dyson vacuum (Bulldogs shed more than you would ever think possible… seriously… imagine a shedding dog, and then multiply it times a million… Tiny. White. Hairs. Everywhere. It’s a good thing I love him).

I’m still in that awkward phase of training where everyone I will be managing has been there much much longer than I have… and knows much much more about what needs to be done… but overall it is very humbling. I’m not so full of myself to go in there and say “I’m the manager, lets shape things up. “ I’m more the female version of George Michal from Arrested Development trying to manage the Banana Stand “I’m Mr. Manager!” and then he lets Maebe throw away all the bananas and take money from the register. (just to clarify, I’m not throwing away product, or taking money out of the register! But my employees do know a little more than I do, and for right now, I’m perfectly ok with that). I know I will find my stride… in the meantime I’m running the till like a rockstar (as the owner told me “on the weekends, if you are on till, don’t leave your station unless someone has a gun to your head” he was kidding of course, but it is good advice) I’m also testing the waters as a Barista… which I mostly have down until it comes down to the milk steaming/ coffee art… My first attempt at latte art was rather phallic looking… who knows, maybe I found my niche, some people might be into that! But since it is a family friendly place, I’d better keep practicing… (side anecdote… We had to go to the coffee headquarters for training, and the barista who trained my group just happened to be the barista that I may or may not have asked out 3 years ago by passing him a note… personally I thought the note was kind of charming…but I never heard from him, so obviously it wasn’t that charming… anyway… there I am somewhat terrified of making coffee, and then I end up making a latte with foam in the shape of a penis for a guy I awkwardly asked out 3 years ago… Welcome to my life.)

And with that being said, it is my day off, and it’s gorgeous outside, and I have a plethora of things to catch up on… so I’m going to go do just that… I’m sure I will be blogging a bit less until I settle into my schedule, but I hope to keep it interesting, I hope you keep reading… and if you are in the area, stop in for a latte so I can get some practice!

 

2013 Vision Board Project

I created my first Vision Board almost five years ago…I think this was right around the time The Secret was at its height in popularity. And though I never read or watched it…everyone knows the basic principles… you have to put out there what you want back. AKA go boldly in the direction of your dreams…  Miraculously I have moved this poster board with me 4 different times  ( clearly I have issues with getting rid of things).  Currently, that original vision board lives in my storage shed… but a few months ago when I stumbled across it, I realized it might be time to make a new one. After all, my life has been in a huge transition period, and also just about everything on that original board I’ve already accomplished. Time to start new!

My Vision Board from 4+ years ago

My Vision Board from 4+ years ago

I always struggle with getting a little too specific… I think it is great to manifest something, and work towards things and sometimes that is exactly what you need… and with my last vision board it actually worked really well… I did get a bulldog named Toby, I went to Fenway Park, I got my RYT certification, and I am blogging… I didn’t get the tattoo that I was planning, but I got one I like better, and sure, I don’t have a kumquat tree… but I’ve had 3 Meyer lemon trees in the meantime, so I think that counts for something! Some stuff on there is stuff I no longer really want… like attending the University of Montana, or weighing 135 pounds (ok I still want that, but it probably doesn’t need to go on a vision board… Being motivated, sure. Healthy choices. Yes. Having perfect abs? Not so much…Ha, what was once important to me at the age of 23 now seems a bit shallow, go figure.)

This time around, I’m not as worried about specifics, as I am trying to manifest a direction I’d like my life to go in, and focusing on the things I value and things I want to incorporate more of into my life. Creativity, Love, developing my yoga practice, creating a home…  These last few months I’ve had to really take a step back and completely revise what I want to do with my life and kind of start from scratch  as far as how I identify myself and what goals I want to work towards…it’s a bit challenging to manifest specifics when life seems to be going in every which direction… so I’m going a little more abstract… and what I found was that as I was searching for materials, I was less drawn to pictures, and more drawn to words… which as a writer, I think this makes a lot of sense.

I also did a little “research” on vision boards, and actually found this article on Oprah.com really interesting.  Like its important not to over-think it, and just go with what you are drawn to. “When you start assembling pictures that appeal to this deep self, you unleash one of the most powerful forces on our planet: human imagination. Virtually everything humans use, do, or make exists because someone thought it up. Sparking your incredibly powerful creative faculty is the reason you make a vision board. The board itself doesn’t impact reality; what changes your life is the process of creating the images—combinations of objects and events that will stick in your subconscious mind and steer your choices toward making the vision real.” ( by Martha Beck. Read the full article here.)

And I think this is mostly true… for me going through old magazines and finding those few things that jump off the page is really therapeutic. And I think that is probably a huge part of the vision board, is trying to focus in on what things resonate with you, and taking the time to cut them out, consciously making a decision that “yes, this is something that I want to focus my energy on.”  Cutting stuff out, and finding those key pieces is the hard part… gluing things together is where it gets a little more creative.  I have been assembling collage supplies for years (just ask my parents how many magazines I have refused to let them recycle/ how many folders of things they had to move out my childhood home.) I started making collages when I was in high school… I even have a collaged bookshelf sitting out in my garage… (and that has moved with me 11 times… 11. It’s not even my aesthetic anymore, and wouldn’t really fit anywhere in my home, but I cannot part with it! )  and today I went through a few of the folders just making sure I didn’t have something perfect for my vision board squirreled away. It was pretty hilarious to see some of the stuff I’ve cut out over the years. Some things are very much what you would have expected a 15-year-old to hang onto (I really can’t even tell you how many magazine cut outs of Prince William there are… it’s pretty sad)  but some of the stuff just made me think “yup, I’ve always been an old soul.” And then there was an awkward moment when I started to sift through things and realized that stuff I had cut out of fashion magazines is actually now currently living in my closet… I guess manifestation really does work… because the amount of things I had cut out that I now actually own is a little creepy.

I literally have over 10 years of collage materials (condensed into one expandable folder, for the most part), and I am happy to say, that today upon the completion of my vision board, I actually recycled all the old magazines I had around the house. I’m slowly purging… it’s the little victories in life.

Once I had everything cut out, I tried to organize the pictures and words into categories or pods. There are basically 3 main themes running through the board… Yoga, Love, and Everything else (meaning, working on me, life, motivation, goals etc.)  And I tried to arrange them on the board in a way that they were concentrated in their groups, but also connected with each other, so it had a natural flow… And here it is… here I am, putting these thoughts, and this energy out into the universe, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes back as I’m starting this new chapter in my life.  It is definitely a little busy, so I tried to get some different sections so you can see more of the details.

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Signs of Spring: A few photo nuggets from around the yard

I love springtime in Oregon. Love. Love. Love it. I grew up in Montana, and even though I’ve lived here for ten years, I still tend to think of February as a snowy cold month full of blah. I’m still pleasantly surprised every year when we get a week or so of epically beautiful days full of sunshine and the promise of spring. Since  I moved into my house last July, I missed springtime in the yard, so the past few weeks have been ones of excitement and discovery and trial and error. My dad and I have been trimming all the fruit trees, and various bushes throughout the yard… we have no idea what we are doing, but we are doing it with great confidence.

Some aspects of the yard are not a surprise. Even though I missed the blooms last year, I knew there were lilacs out front, and peonies in the back, and a lovely winter Daphne off the back porch. I saw the Rhubarb plants in a state of disarray. I knew that spring would bring about some amazing things, but one thing I wasn’t expecting was the plethora of bulbs scattered pretty much through every corner of the property. It’s been a really fun surprise. There are literally hundreds of crocus, hyacinth daffodils, and tulips emerging right now, and each day I pop outside with baited breath hoping that something has started blooming. I still have a ways to go most of the plants… but the ones that are up right now are absolutely lovely, and I’m quite excited to see what other spring time surprises are in store for me here.

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Tulips emerging around the terracotta bulldog

Hydrangea starting to bud out

Hydrangea starting to bud out

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The most amazing crocus I've ever seen

The most stunning crocus I’ve ever seen

Daffodils?

Daffodils?

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Tree Peonies budding out

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Mystery Bush

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Rhubarb

More Mystery Bulbs

More Mystery Bulbs

Mini-Iris

Mini-Iris

Peonies peaking up

Peonies peaking up

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Crocus

Daphne

Daphne

Budget ramblings from a poor and happy writer type.

“In those days, there was no money to buy books.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

 

I have always been able to live within my means… sometimes more comfortably than others…Budgeting has always been somewhat of a creative endeavor, and sometimes I have been better at it than others. As I’m unemployed at the moment, I’m definitely trying to reign in my spending, and prioritize my purchases… and as with everything, I have good days and bad days.

Being unemployed has had a few unforeseen budgetary side effects. Obviously, I’m trying to cut a lot of corners, and  though I’m not going out and spending a lot of money, I am now spending a lot more time at home, and with that I’m noticing a much higher heating and electricity bill. I’m torn… should I be going to bed earlier so I use less lighting? Using more blankets? Lighting more candles? Would I actually be better off spending a few bucks on a small cup of coffee and sitting in a café afternoon with my laptop?  It’s hard to say…

When it comes to finances, I think a lot of people in my generation are used to treading water. Sometimes doing really well with their heads way above pool level, and other times floundering. In the past I’ve been really good at saving money, but to some degree I save money for the same reason I exercise… so I can enjoy indulging a little bit without feeling guilty. Thinking back on some big purchases over the past few years, I’m sure they weren’t always the smartest financial choices… (Bulldogs are not cheap, and neither are their medical bills!) But there is something to be said for fulfilling a dream, and I definitely would not trade in Toby for more money in the bank. I seem to be living in the cycle when I do great at saving money… and then of course life happens, and my car insurance is due, I go to the dentist, take Toby to the Vet, get my hair cut, and visit the gynecologist all within 2 weeks of each other, and the cushion gets depleted, little by little, and built back up again little by little.

Maybe someday I will have a job where I’m making more money than I know what to do with… maybe someday I will be able to think seriously about saving for retirement, and planning for investing in my future…But is it bad that I’ve never really dreamed of that? I know you need to be able to work towards a dream… but being a Creative Writing Major, I don’t think I ever had the dreams of making copious amounts of money…  at least I’m not disillusioned… and I don’t think I’m “settling” either… I just think I’m realistic… and I think there is something that is just a little bit enchanting about the idea of living within your means. Was it just me, or was anyone else excited to be out of college, and be somewhat dirt poor living in a shoebox apartment, eating raman noodles? Wasn’t that what we were supposed to be doing, at least for a while until we figured our lives out? And those years right out of school were some of the happiest I’ve ever had… Then again, I realize that my whimsical writer dreams aren’t always on-par with the rest of society, but  mostly when I think about my 20s, I always go back to that quote from A Moveable Feast  where Hemingway says “We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”  And maybe I need to have bigger dreams… but living well and cheaply being in love sounds like a pretty amazing way to go through life.  And if I could somehow attach my current yard to my tiny-loft apartment, I would go back in a heartbeat!

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be in a situation where I’m not living paycheck to paycheck, where I don’t have to worry about how many times I go out to eat during the week, and how much money I’m spending on gas… But I’m also really proud of the fact that I am totally able to live within my means, and able to budget, and have the ability to make good financial choices on a daily basis… and I’m really happy doing it!

Sometimes this involves saying “no” and sometimes it means being a little anti-social… but mostly it just means getting a little creative. I was supposed to drive to Portland yesterday and go to the ballet with some friends… we were going to wait in line for “pay-your-age” tickets, which would have been a great deal, and overall something I actually could have afforded… but I made the choice to instead stay home, and spent the money on electric toothbrush heads…it was at this moment, that I felt really boring, and maybe a little too adult… but hey, cleaner teeth/ better oral hygiene is future money saved on dentist bills, right?

Though I have always been fairly good at budgeting, my dad always says that I have champagne taste on a beer budget, and he is kind of right. My biggest indulgences when it comes to spending are usually food and wine related… (and books… I love buying books… I’m trying to be better at the library… key word trying… but I also passionately believe in small independent bookstores, and I think they are really struggling right now…. So though buying books might not always be the BEST financial decision for my personal situation, books are ALWAYS a guilt free purchase.)  This goes back to the eating and drinking well thing… I started working in the Oregon wine industry when I was 21 years old… meaning that my fairly inexperienced palate quickly developed a taste for fine wine… and along with that came fine food… because, let’s face it, they go hand in hand. I wouldn’t say that I am a wine snob… more so I have wine/food snob tendencies. Over the past several years I have really developed an appreciation for good wine, and a healthy appetite for good food. It’s all but unavoidable when you are in the industry…(it also helps when you are dating a chef)  because everyone around you is drinking good wine and eating good food, everyone around you is talking about good wine and good food… it becomes a lifestyle, the universe is kind of wrapped up in good wine and good food… and with that comes good coffee…  And there are worse lifestyles to have… but there are also cheaper lifestyles to have.  Hence the champagne taste on a beer budget…  And yes, my wine/food snobby tendencies haven’t completely turned me over to the dark side. I still eat an occasional packet of Top Raman, and I have been known to keep a box or two of macaroni and cheese in my pantry for emergency dinner situations. I shop at bargain grocery stores most of the time, and make a few special trips for Organic Kale, and specialty cheeses… because life without at least a little indulgence is just too dull, but I am being a lot better about eating in!

So I’m not buying books, and I’m cutting back on designer coffee, I’m wearing a few more layers, and trying to drive a little less. It’s not the perfect budgeting strategy, (and yes, I still desperately need to find a roommate), but it’s something.

Little Things

I’m kind of a pessimist… I really don’t mean to be, but when things get rough I tend to be more of a glass half full kind of person… I’m trying to work on this, because I know that no one wants to hang out with the Debbie Downer… and I know that it tends to bring people around me down as well… It’s a little funny actually, because one of my fatal flaws is that I want to believe the best about people… I always give the benefit of the doubt, I make excuses for people, I think that everyone out there has good intentions…even when people are being jerks I tend to give them an out and day “oh well so and so has this happening in their life right now, so he/she has every right to act that way.”  But I’m pretty sure sometimes people are just jerks… I’m also pretty sure that even though I’m going through a bit of a rough time right now, I don’t want to be pessimistic Debbie downer jerk face who brings everyone around her down… so I’m trying to focus on the little joys in my life.

Someone I once knew told me that when you ask the universe for something you also need to put out there what you are thankful for… (I’m pretty sure he got this from The Secret… which I haven’t read or watched… but it seems like a reasonable thing) and he used to think about what he was thankful for while he was washing his hair. Shortly after he told me this, I started to as well… and it was a little generic, but a step in the right direction. “I’m thankful for my family, I’m thankful for my job, I’m thankful I have this person in my life, I’m thankful for my friends, that I have a place to live”etc.  and it was a brief little morning reminder that life was good.

Weeks went on, and when this person was no longer in my life I switched to “I’m thankful for my family, I’m thankful for my job, I’m thankful that I met this person, even though things feel shitty right now, I’m thankful for my friends, that I have a place to live, I’m thankful for my bulldog…” etc.

A week ago I got into the shower, and had a fleeting thought that if things kept up the way they were I was going to find myself with a very short list… and so I started trying to focus on the smaller things that I was thankful for, rather than the big picture things. I’m still thankful for my family, my friends, that I have a place to live, for the trundly bulldog who recently barfed up a chunk of one of my shoes and a Christmas ornament…  But my challenge to myself is to find the little everyday things that I am thankful for.

Today and everyday I’m thankful for my yoga students. Even on the days when I feel like I don’t have it in me to teach, they show up with joy, and thankfulness, and no matter what I have going on mentally or emotionally, they are always happy to see me and share a practice with me. They make me feel needed and appreciated (especially now, when I need to feel needed and appreciated) I have so much gratitude for them…

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I am thankful that the Winter Daphne right off my back patio is about to start blooming…

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I am thankful that I have people in my life who meet me at sports bars to drink wine, and who bring my charming little crocs of homemade peanut butter

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And I’m extremely thankful that my troll of a dog slept on the couch for six hours yesterday without doing anything bad or eating anything of my roommates while I was out teaching yoga, and networking. (Victory!) I’d be more thankful if he vacuumed the house while I was gone… but  still thankful that I didn’t come home to some sort of messy destroyed carnage of furniture and chewed up skivvies…

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I know I’ve posted this poem before, but it seems to fit into the theme, so I’m posting it again

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I tell my students                                                                                                                                                                                                       “Inhale, and fill your heart with gratitude”
I think of this, as I put the quinoa on the stove
the front door open,
I can hear
the summer rain.
And isn’t it just perfect?
I want to run, barefoot into the street
to fling open my arms to the sky…
instead I stand in the doorway,
licking my beet stained fingers
and think about the bounty and
the gifts of the earth
And I too, inhale.

So this is what it is to be blessed.