Words for 2019

 

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My 2019 Vision Board

Happy 2019! Since we are still lingering in January for a few more days I’ve decided that this still counts as a “New Years” post, especially since I have yet to publish anything on the blog this year. Though I’ve had my 2019 intentions solidified since January 1st, in my typical introvert fashion, I’ve been letting them marinate for a while before getting them on the page.

First off, let me just say that I don’t buy into the whole “New Year, New Me!” hype. I’ve spent the last 33 years becoming the person that I am, and for better or worse cultivating my current habits. I’m all about growth and change and working towards goals, but I’m not so much a fan of putting all this pressure on yourself that suddenly on January 1st you give yourself these ultimatums of change. I understand if NY Resolutions ARE your thing, but they aren’t mine. I spent a good part of 2018 delving into some self study, and I certainly learned a lot about myself, the most useful piece of information I gleaned from this was that I am an Obliger ( Gretchen Ruben, the Four Tendencies… I highly recommend) There is certainly no point in denying it, the entire chapter I was like “Hi, it’s me. Thanks for describing each and every thing that goes on in my brain” I don’t think anyone really loves being put into a box, and there are certainly aspects of this tendency that don’t seem very flattering, but rather than focusing on what some would consider negative traits, I’m choosing to act on things that will help me manage them (IE I need accountability if I want to accomplish my personal goals, and needing to be more firm in my boundaries to avoid burn-out.) I bring all this up, because it has made me realize that as a human with this tendency, I’m probably not going to be super successful at keeping any concrete resolutions… But I am heading into 2019 with a handful of words/ themes and areas of my life that I’m wanting to give a bit more attention to… and hey if some new habits happen to appear in the mix, I’m certainly not going to chase them away.

Words/ Themes for 2019: Why pick one when you could pick three? Maybe this is my indecisiveness, or fear of committing to only one idea (I’m a complex creature) but the words that I’m embracing for 2019 are Connection, Boundaries, and Ambiance.

  • Connection: Though I am a full-fledged introvert, I do understand that some of the most meaningful moments in life are shared through connection. I love being a part of a “small town” community, interacting with my yoga students and customers at the shop, volunteering, and exploring new ideas with book clubs etc. and I want more of this is 2019. More personal stories, meaningful conversations, handwritten notes, thoughtful smiles, coffee dates, accountability groups etc. . I’m especially excited to embrace this idea of connection in March as I head to Alt Summit and get to meet and interact with hundreds of creative, entrepreneurs, artists and kindred spirits.
  • Boundaries: This might seem awkwardly juxtaposed next to “Connections” but one thing I’m really learning about myself is that I need to set clear boundaries in order to be successful creatively. I tend to be the person who over-commits to things, volunteers to help out, and generally say yes when asked to help with projects, to sub a class, or work on something… and that is good a lot of the time. I like when people ask me for help, I like to feel needed, I like to give my time, and so a lot of times I just give an enthusiastic “YES!” and am then often putting my own personal projects, ideas, creative pursuits on the backburner. I know there is a lot of ebb and flow, but what I’m realizing is that I’m tired of saying yes to projects I’m not 100% passionate about just because I feel obligated to. And the bummer thing is that sometimes this means saying NO to things you want to do. It means passing on happy hour when you are trying to get your budget in order, or missing a gathering because you need an introvert recharge, or passing on an opportunity so you have time to focus your creative energy on something else that fills you with more fire. And you know what? It’s hard. People don’t like hearing no (and some of us don’t like saying it) and I’m finding that there are actually a fair amount of people out there who don’t want to respect your boundaries, or pushback against them, or can’t understand why you have them / make snarky comments about them! BUT I’m practicing anyway. So as much as I’m saying yes to connection, to getting out of my comfort zone and to building relationships, I’m also saying no. I’m planting my feet and respecting myself and my creativity and my needs. (and guess what, it feels awesome.)
  • Ambiance: Hygge seemed too specific for a year round feeling, and I’m still trying to vocalize exactly what I mean when I say I’m spending 2019 focusing on ambiance, but I’m trying to be more intentional about creating ambiance at home and around me. Thus far this has looked like turning up the heat and lighting candles when I come home. I’ve started to work on some clutter issues, I’ve completely organized all my jewelry, and added some new art to my gallery walls. I don’t know exactly how this is going to look and evolve, but I know that I’m bringing more attention to my patio space, the garden, and I’m paying more attention to where I’m spending my time and what feelings these places evoke.

Areas of Focus: Mid November I attended a workshop that encompassed yoga creating healthy habits, and organizing your life and finances (UM yeah, talk about all the things I need all the time). My biggest take-away from said workshop was that we (the proverbial we) can only have three priorities at a time. If we add more than that, our plates become too full, and we can’t actually achieve the things we were hoping to. BUT the cool thing is that if we make something a priority, and carve out time for it, we begin to go through the process of making that priority a habit, so over time we can shift our priorities because those things we were making time for and striving towards have either a) become ingrained into our daily habits or b) are no longer a priority. This makes sense (at least to me.) I’ve noticed this with meditation and my morning routine. I gave it focus, I made it a priority, and now without thinking, I have this set routine that involves getting up, making coffee and crawling back into bed for 20 minutes of mediation, intention setting and spending a few moments drawing a Crystal, Spirit Animal and Inner Compass cards.   Sometimes is feels silly, other times is feels luxurious, but it has become my standard routine , so I no longer need to focus on making meditation a priority. It is already incorporated into the day to day.

My three priorities for 2019 are Creativity, Health and Home.

  •  Creativity: Though with priorities I think specifics are good, I wasn’t willing to say “writing is going to be my priority for 2019” Writing is definitely a huge part of being creative for me, in fact it is my favorite medium, and part of making creativity a priority does involve carving out designated time for writing each week. But creativity also takes the form of cooking and trying new recipes, planting new things in the garden, making a collage, color coding my planner, writing letters, planning yoga classes. And each of these things feeds the same part of my brain as writing, and I’m allowing some space for that. ( but naturally, by making creativity a priority in my life, I do expect more writing will be a result.)
  • Home: I know this seems big and general, but it sort of goes hand in hand with Ambiance. I love my home, I love being at home, I love entertaining at home, I love working in the garden… and all that being said, I LIVE in my home. I’m a person with a dog, and clutter, and an extensive closet, and more greeting cards and stationary than one would think necessary, and tons of yard work that needs to be done, and I’m also just one human. One human with a full time job, and a side gig, and responsibilities outside the home and of course some excuses. And you know what? I spend a lot of time at my home, and I put a large chunk of my take home pay towards rent, and I’m ready to make my home and its tidiness a priority. I know this is definitely going to take a shift in thinking, and a shift in my actions… I am mostly ready for that.
  • Health: This probably needs less defining than the other priorities, but I’m taking Health to be the overarching umbrella for Emotional, Physical and Financial practices. It encompasses a lot of things like getting more sleep, moving my person, drinking more water, cutting back on coffee? (maybe next month…) being intentional with my budget, reading more books, having deep conversations, evaluating relationships, making more time for stretching and yoga, drinking less alcohol, and surrounding myself with people and projects and things that bring me joy and cutting out the things that don’t.

One last observation before signing off. I’m trying to get better at is the idea of having grace with myself and others. Do I want to cultivate healthy habits? Absolutely… (I’m on day 23 of oil pulling! ) but I’ve come to accept that I’m living day to day, and if I fail miserably today at drinking enough water, or moving my person, or loading the dishwasher that is OKAY, because tomorrow is a clean slate. I understand it is a fine line between just letting yourself completely off the hook, and grace, but I think the important thing to remember is setting realistic expectations for yourself, and then striving to meet them. Some days you will, and it will feel awesome, and you will think “I’m going to keep doing this!” and you keep doing it until life kicks in and you oversleep, or you stay up too late working on a project, or you make a conscious choice to eat take-out and glass of rosé rather than drinking the last 20 oz of water you were wanting to, because LIFE. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but also don’t give up!

Anyway… I’d love to hear what sort of words/ themes/ ideas are resonating with you for 2019 and if you are a resolution keeper or attempter I’d love to hear about that too! Leave your themes/ resolutions/ new years practices in the comments below.

A little bit of vulnerable

Last week I had one of those lonely-hearted moments. You know the ones that totally sneak up on you in a kind of blind-sighting way and leave you feeling exposed and sad and a little bit ridiculous all at the same time?They don’t happen to me very often, and so when they do I tend to get a little overwhelmed… My entire adult life, I’ve been a fiercely independent, introverted soul, so when I occasionally have those vulnerable moments of lonely-heartedness it always takes me by surprise.

Let me just give you a little back-story.

I have never been one of those women whose soul mission in life is to settle down, get married and live happily ever after. The sticky sweet fairy tale ending has never really appealed to me (unless of course it’s the  Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella featuring Brandy… because that speaks to everyone.) Sure, I went through a phase somewhere in middle-teen-hood where I planned out my dream wedding (to Han Solo, duh.) But I’ve never really held onto any romantic notions of dating, marriage, relationships… Sure, I would like to be in one… I would maybe even like to be married someday, but I’ve never really understood the women who are clearly on that mission to find “the one.”   A few years ago I was taking a trip with some girlfriends, and I picked up a novel in the airport to read on the plane. One chapter in and my mind was totally blown, this book was on the best seller list, and one of the main characters was a high powered lawyer who quit her job so she could date full time. One of the other women was so terrified of being alone, that she agreed to marry a man she didn’t love and then was too chicken to cancel the wedding, so she decided they should get married in Iceland so no one she really cared about would see her marry this man she didn’t love. HOW IS THIS A REAL BOOK THAT REAL PEOPLE READ???? Ok, I did read the whole thing, because I was hoping that maybe eventually it would have some sort of ah-ha moment where the women realize that they are ridiculous, and then one of the married women sleeps with a male prostitute in South America, and I gave up all hope.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about my outrage of this book before… ) But the whole book just left me feeling really dis-enchanted… And here is the truly terrifying thing… there are probably actually women out there who are like this!  Needless to say, my life is pretty much the antithesis of this. Call me crazy, but I’ve always lived with the belief that if you live your life authentically and passionately, everything else is just going to kind of fall into place. And so 99.9% of the time it doesn’t bother me that most of my college friends are married, that I am approaching 30 and chronically single… because I’m living a life that I love, and I fill it with things that I love.   When people read my tattoo that says “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” and ask “well?” I usually say things like (and almost always get blank stares or awkward laughter)  “write, have a bulldog, garden, teach yoga…thrive…”

Last week I was feeling overstimulated… I had family in town visiting, was working a few extra shifts, and was eating out a lot, trying to catch up with friends, prepping my house for a new roommate… the anxiety was building, and all I wanted all week was a night in with a home-cooked meal. I wanted to dance around my kitchen, sit on the patio and eat by candle-light, and absolutely revel in my aloneness. I didn’t want any distractions or interruptions, I didn’t want conversations or company, I just wanted my solitude…. that is until about 10 minutes into cooking dinner, and that is when it just came welling over me. And in that moment, all I wanted was for another person to be there… not just any person but THE person… I wanted us to awkwardly be in each other’s way as we made dinner… to talk about our day, I wanted to sit on the porch listening to bluegrass music and talk about what to plant in the garden next year, wanted to exchange meaningful glances while having a glass of wine as he did the dishes… I wanted countless little insignificant moments. I wanted to have someone to share my life with and build a future with.  BAM. How’s that for blind-sighted?  Introverted re-charge turned hyper-sensitive heart ache in 2.5 seconds.  And I hate it when these moments sneak up on me, and it goes back to the whole “well you have your life together, and you shouldn’t feel this way! You can have it all” mentality. I keep thinking that I shouldn’t feel this way, that I shouldn’t be lonely, that I shouldn’t be filled with longing for a person to build my life with…It seems to go against the whole “I’ve got my life together and I’m fabulous” anthem that so many powerful and confident women have… but you know what? Even though I hate having these moments of heart-ache and fear and vulnerability… I also welcome them to some extent, because it means that I’m not afraid to be open.

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Dinner for one (well you know, dinner for one with some left-overs)

Sometimes I worry that I’ve spent so much time cultivating this life that I love, that I forgot to leave room for my future. Because when you are a young, single, independent woman, everyone tells you that you can do anything, that you should cherish these moments, that you are strong and beautiful, and charismatic and that the world is your oyster, and that you don’t need a man or anyone else to be complete. They tell you this over and over and over, and you being to cling to it like a mantra, like a beacon of all that is good, until one day you realize that  you were so busy thinking about what kind of independent life you wanted, how all you needed to be happy in life is a Bulldog and to write,  that somewhere along the line you forgot to think about things like “I want to be somebody’s wife someday.” And maybe it just goes without saying that this is what “normal” people think about… that there is this underlying unspoken expectation that you grow up, get educated, fall in love, and start your life with someone. Maybe at some point I just figured this was a given, and that I didn’t actually need to plan for it… and yet I am such a huge believer in Intention, it kind of baffles my mind that I haven’t spent the last several years putting this intention out into the Universe. Because realizing that you want to build a life with someone meaningful is not the same as quitting your job to date full time. Realizing what you want your future to look like is not being a ridiculous romanced crazed single…  And maybe I’m just a late bloomer (well ok, there are no maybe’s about it…) because I’ve known those people who instinctively have known their whole lives that they want to be mothers, or wives, or whatever… and that has never been me… I mean I’m not opposed to the idea of either (though I don’t think I will personally grow a human, I reserve the right to change my mind) but I haven’t spent the last 29 years knowing that that is what I was destined for. I HAVE known for that long that I wanted a bulldog named Toby, that I wanted to have a love-affair with writing, and that I wanted to get dirt under my fingernails.  And quite honestly, I am still years away from being ready to be married (at least in the conventional sense), but every now and then I have that twinge of wanting to share the everyday with someone.

And of course everyone (the proverbial everyone) says that it will happen when you least expect it, when you aren’t looking for it, and yet the “proverbial they” still think I need to try online dating… and maybe I am dead wrong, but I just don’t think I’m going to find MY person on the interwebs… There is still the tiny part of my soul that wants the meet cute scenario, and a real life story rather than “Well we were a 86% match.” Sure, I’m all about being with someone who shares my passions and interests… but I’m also holding out for that moment in a coffee shop/ famer’s market/ winebar where he sees me reading Steinbeck/ buying peppers/ being flippantly sarcastic and thinks “I’ve got to get to know her”   Because isn’t that a nice and wonderful idea?  That someone out there saw you and thought “hmmm my interest is piqued. I think she is worth the effort of getting to know”   And… really, I don’t know why I cling to this particular dream, since  literally every single guy who has piqued my personal interest in the last 15 years and who I’ve actually had enough courage and gumption to ask out has either said nothing at all (hello, this is a check yes or no situation, no response??? that is a thing? Oh it’s a thing…) , or said yes, but then canceled, or changed his mind, or never followed through… And most of the time I can cling to my self assured independent and confident self… but there are the occasional raw  moments when I’m taken aback by the loneliness and can’t help but think “but at what point  did I become un-datable?” I mean, I don’t really think that I’m un-datable… I can make pickles, and I like baseball, and I’m a yoga teacher… some guy, somewhere is going to be into that!  And I also have to quickly remind myself that  dating is actually THE worst, so there is that… but it’s a little hard to just fall into a relationship without the dating part. Which is really really unfortunate. Because I’m great at the relationship part. I love the comfortable everyday moments, the trips to the grocery store, the reminiscing, the meaningful conversations, time spend walking the dog and holding hands, and curled up next to each other reading, and staying up too late talking…the ins and outs of  living everyday life. That is what I’m good at. But what I’m not  so great at is everything preceding that. I’m absolutely terrible at the small talk and the weird obligatory getting to know you questions of first date land…  “what kind of music do you like?” and “how many siblings do you have?” and then I get awkward and nervous, and the once cool, confident and interesting person retreats behind this muttering, bumbling version of myself…
It get's awkward real fast

It get’s awkward real fast

Take Today, for example. I asked a guy out for drinks a few weeks ago, with no expectations, just getting to know each other… New Friendship? More than that? Who knows! I just had this inkling of “I think you are interesting and want to explore that.” So I asked him out for drinks.   He actually said yes, and asked what my schedule was like, and I told him… and then nothing. Which was fine, because he is busy, and I am busy… So I waited a few days, and followed up, and when I bumped into him last week he apologized for not getting back to me and said he would give me a call soon. Perfect, I’m not worried about it! So flash forward to today, when I ran into him I had every opportunity to be confident, to be direct to say “hey! I know you are really busy, BUT let’s make this happen. Are you free  to grab a drink tonight?”  and I had this whole cool and casual attitude happening, and what did I do? I saw him talking with another girl, so I  barely made eye contact, and ordered the usual, and ran away as fast as humanly possible… there was no mention of our future plans, of getting together, or really even that we knew each other… my mind ran wild with the assumptions about who she was, and what it meant, and I totally choked. Insert social awkwardness and anxiety…What is wrong with me? What happened to the confidence and the “you have nothing to lose” attitude?  (oh yeah… awkwardolive… comes with the territory.)  Because Dating makes me NERVOUS, it accentuates my awkwardness in a very specific and not always endearing way (because I will forever cling to the idea that a little bit of awkwardness is somewhat charming). And then I just get mad at myself… because even in this situation, I’m making assumptions. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, Maybe he is interested and just busy… or maybe he isn’t but just want to be friends so obviously he isn’t in a hurry to call me back… maybe he isn’t actually available…Or maybe he is just weirded out because now I’m being weird. OR maybe nothing, and I’m overthinking everything.  (or maybe he will read this post and think I’m nuts… what can you do?) It’s unclear if there is any reciprocal interest other than friendship, and that could very well be OK with me, because I’m always wanting to expand my horizons, to meet new people, to make new friends.  But it seems like I am incapable of even getting to the point of figuring that out without totally tripping all over myself.

And every single person I know says “well you just need more practice.” and then I look at them somewhat blankly, and somewhat with a “really? is that what I need?” look, because here is the thing, YOU CANNOT PRACTICE DATING IF NO ONE WILL AGREE TO GO OUT WITH YOU. I’m just saying, that seems like, pretty obvious right?  This is my plight… but I’m working on it.

And in-spite of my track record, my ever awkward encounters, and my complete lack of successful dating stories… I’m still optimistic enough to think that any minute now, my “meet cute” is going to happen.  And maybe it’s naive, and I’m sure as a result I’m going to have many more moments where the loneliness sneaks up on me, where the heartache creeps in, moment’s where I’m going to long to share the everyday encounters with a non-existent partner… but I’ll also have those wildly authentic moments where I”m not worried about impressing anyone, or rejection or really anything besides living a life that I love… and hopefully one day I’ll be able to share it with someone else. In the meantime I’m going to have many more dinner’s for one and glasses of wine shared with a bulldog, and I’m going to be open.

Let’s just take a moment to talk about body image…

 

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Lets just take a moment to talk about body image… Because it’s something that resonates with everyone… Even if it’s not something that you personally struggle with, you probably know someone who does… These days there are movements and initiatives, foundations and the works all about building self-esteem in young girls and empowering the next generation. There is constant controversy about how the media is portraying  beauty ideals and promoting a warped view to young girls… And whether we went through a chubby stage in middle school (check), gained the freshman 15 (check), or have watched our bodies change with age (check) its a topic that dances in and out of conversation, and has lingering effects.  Full disclosure, I gained about 12 pounds last year, and I could write several excuses about how I was working in a restaurant, how a broken toe f’ed up my running routine, how I have no self control when it comes to things like Chantilly cream and full fat dairy, but the truth of the matter is, I made the choices that I made, and I’m in the body that I’m in, and I’m totally ok with that. Was I more comfortable in my body 12 pounds ago? Probably. Am I spending countless moments throughout my day fretting about my size and how my clothes fit and how I look? No.  Because 12 pounds isn’t worth the negativity. I simply think “this is where I am today, and I’m going to make choices accordingly.” When I look in the mirror every morning I see myself, just the way I am, and sure, I have those fleeting thoughts of  “I should go for a run” or “I need to move my person a little bit more” because everyone has those thoughts from time to time, but I think the important thing is to recognize them without dwelling on them.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that having a positive body image is something that I’ve struggled with for years and years, because really, I haven’t. I’ve always been comfortable with who I am, and how I look… and yes I have fat days, and bad hair days just like everyone else. I have days where I wish I had less cellulite and better abs. I have moments of being unhappy with my body, but they are just that, moments.  They aren’t something that hinder my self-esteem, they don’t affect how I live my life, how I see myself… and I realize that I am incredibly lucky in this regard. ( I have other hang ups, its ok).

I DID go through a pudgy phase when I was younger… (didn’t everyone?) I don’t remember ever feeling like a fat kid, though I do remember my mother encouraging me to go outside more and maybe jump on the trampoline… And I vividly remember a few years later when  my pediatrician came up to my mom and said “wow, Tayler was so beautiful in the recital! I remember her being kind of chunky!”  I of course also gained some weight when I went to college, and have this somewhat horrific memory of coming home for Christmas and one of my “friends” actually pinched my cheeks and loudly announced “Look at these! I’m so glad you are getting fat like the rest of us!” Can I just say that sometimes girls are the worst? I mean the worst.   And the older I’m getting the more I’m realizing that there seem to be two types of insecure women… the type that put others down because they are insecure, or the type that put themselves down. And really, both make me so sad.  Now that I’m in my late 20’s I can look back on adolescence and of course recognize the mean girl mentality, the bullies who were constantly spewing negativity about other people  because they were struggling to feel good about themselves… But when you are in the thick of it, when the negativity is coming your way, and you are 14 its almost impossible to be objective and say “well really, she is just insecure, so she is trying to make me feel bad.”

But, what I have discovered recently, is that women of a certain age are almost as bad as middle-schoolers, only they take all that negativity and insecurity and turn it right back on themselves. I can’t even tell you how many women I come across who are a size 4 and have hangups about their arms, or think they look too fat in something and then turn to me and say “you don’t have these problems, you are tiny.” and I’m thinking “Well thank you, but I’m actually 3 sizes larger than you, and my arms are like 6 of yours put together…”  And then you have the mothers who are looking in the mirror who are verbally berating themselves, saying how fat they look, how they hate their legs or whatever, as their daughters sit there observing their behavior. And it’s interesting because it seems like these days there are so many movement about building self esteem in young girls, programs that are trying to teach you that uniqueness is beautiful, that individuality should be celebrated, that curves are ok, and I think that these programs are great, but there is a part of me that wonders if maybe we also need these types of programs for our Mother’s generation. Maybe we need to be helping the women who have been dealing with years and years of negative body image see themselves in a different light.

So now I have to tell a story that is going to horrify my mother… (its ok, she has been warned… Also, she is my mom, and we love each other, so there is that. )  Last week she was in shopping at the boutique and one of my bosses was there, as was my best friend.  My mom was asking an opinion about a shirt she was trying on, and we started to tell her how we had just been talking about body image, and how we really thought that women should be celebrating their curves and dressing the bodies that they have, and not the bodies that they wish they had, or the bodies that they think they have… working in a clothing boutique this is something that we see everyday… and my mom was like “Really?” and we told her “Well, we want you to be wearing something that you feel good in, and that also looks good on you, so if it’s something that just doesn’t work, we will tell you.”  And then we were talking about curves and body shapes and dressing them, and I said in passing “yes, I have curves, and I’m not self-conscious about them, I kind of have a belly and its fine! ” and then I stuck out my stomach for full emphasis… and without missing a beat my mother was like “Yeah I KNOW you do, I see it all over the place.” … OK MOM!

The moment was a little shocking, my boss was totally taken aback, and my mom did follow up with something about how I think she doesn’t have a filter… (case in point… I’m at a fairly new job, and she just made a comment about my belly fat in front of my boss and my best friend while I’m working… yeah, there is NO filter) And the thing is, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t embarrassed… I was sad. Not because of the offhanded comment,  but because I was sitting there witnessing my mother subconsciously succumb to the mean girl mentality. I could feel her trying on this top and not feeling 100% great in her body and there was a group of us, and without meaning to and without being aware of it she took all that insecurity and directed it at me. She put me down around my peers. We talked about it later and I totally called her out on it, and we had a good conversation, she felt terrible, she wasn’t trying to be mean, and legitimately we are fine… I’m not telling this story to embarrass my mom, or to make her out to be a bad mother, she isn’t. She is human, and she has her hang ups just like everyone else. And though it would be nice if those hang-ups didn’t manifest at my place of work, I did also realize that, as a mother, she was feeling insecure and in an back-handed way she was trying to be helpful. Like when she corrects my posture… because she wants me to learn from her mistakes… She sees things in herself that she doesn’t like, and so she points them out in me, not to be hurtful or a pain in the ass, but because she wants what is best for me. She wants  me to happy and healthy… and sometimes it comes out completely wrong. Sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy, but I do know that it comes from a place of love… And at the end of the day, I’m very familiar with intentions being lost in translation…

If anything, the whole situation made me appreciate my mom, and my upbringing. I can only imagine how her life was 60 years ago.. growing up I was told I could be whatever I wanted to be (ok, ok I was told once that I probably shouldn’t be an artist… in retrospect, that was probably very good advice.) I was allowed to do activities that I liked, I was allowed to develop my own interests, I was uplifted and supported and loved… not to say that my mother wasn’t, but our upbringings were VERY different. Being in Generation Y my entire childhood  was pretty much a self-esteem building exercise, I was allowed to make my own choices, make my own mistakes, and become my own person without any preconceived notions. And as a result, I don’t seem to have any of my mother’s hang-ups  (as I said, I have plenty of my own!)

I guess in a way, this blog post is a Thank You to my Mom.  She has her moments, for sure, but overall, I think I turned out the way that I did because of her, and not despite of her… Thank you for raising me to be comfortable in my own skin. Thank you for not passing along any of your hang ups, and for wanting what is best for me always, and Thank you for putting up with me and letting me tell stories about you on my blog.

And to all you ladies out there who ARE struggling with body image, I hope you can take a moment to just settle into your own skin, even if it’s just a moment.  Celebrate your curves (or lack of them) appreciate where you are right now, and give yourself permission to not dwell on your flaws.

Some epiphanies. Life, Love, and dressing for the part.

I’ve been mentally blogging a lot over the past few weeks… so much so that I kind of almost forgot that I haven’t actually typed anything out and sent it into the world… As a result, I’m ending up with one giant blog post, that really could be multiple little nuggets of bloggity goodness, but instead I’m going to do my best to roll them all into one epic post… the topics are varied, new jobs, dressing for success, body image, dating… But I’m pretty sure my brain has tied them all together in a fairly cohesive way… either that or I’m fooling myself and am desperately in need of an editor… I’m going to go with cohesive.

Whoever coined the idea of dressing for the job that you want vs. the job that you have clearly never worked in a restaurant… For the past year my daily work wardrobe has consisted of jeans, basic tees and kind of grungy Danskos that I’ve been rocking since high school. I tried to make it a point of wearing my “real person clothes” on my days off, but after a while my days off started filling up with yoga classes and exercise and eventually the idea of doing 3 costumes changes in a day just so I wasn’t caught wearing yoga pants to the grocery store seemed a little excessive. Plus, I’ve never really been that self-conscious. I absolutely believe in taking pride in how you present yourself, but I also believe that your confidence and self work shouldn’t come from how you look…..

Tangent alert! Once a few years ago, one of my acquaintances went off about how she thinks that women need to wear “real” clothes all the time and take pride in how they look because if we don’t we are communicating to men that we don’t value ourselves and therefore they shouldn’t value us either. I’m of course paraphrasing here, but this is something that has really stuck with me over the years… mostly because it irritated the hell out of me, and also I think she had a point. (to some degree) It goes with the whole dress for success mantra. In theory you take pride in how you look, you make an effort and along with that comes poise and confidence and professionalism etc etc…. But I just keep thinking that if my poise and charisma and overall energy doesn’t translate to a stranger in a grocery store because I’m wearing yoga pants and a hoodie… then I’m pretty sure he wasn’t my soul mate anyway. Am I right? Someone who isn’t willing to look past the superficial shell is probably not someone who is worth my time in the first place. But I get it, first impressions, snap judgments, we all do it. But my self worth isn’t tied up in what I’m wearing or how much makeup I have on, and just because I occasionally run errands or maybe even grab brunch with my girlfriends after a barre class when I’m sweaty and wearing workout gear doesn’t mean that I don’t value myself.

I’ve never been the woman who puts on mascara before going to the gym, or eyeliner before a yoga class. That just isn’t the authentic me, and as a yoga teacher I feel like authenticity is extremely important. Of course I have the students who always feel the need to comment about how tired I look, or how large the bags under my eyes are, or make a huge deal on the day I actually come to class with my hair somewhat styled… and each and every time a comment is made it totally boggles my mind. Maybe I am just wired differently, but when did it become the social norm to tell someone how terrible they look, even if it is in an offhand way? I would never in a million years tell one of my students that they were looking ragged or worn down, or tired, or out of it, nor would I ever call them out on days when they are wearing more makeup than normal… But customers at the restaurant would do this to me all the time as well… I think people are searching for ways to make conversation and so they say asinine things like “gosh you look exhausted today!” Since when is this an acceptable conversation starter for anyone, let alone people you barely know? Anyway, I’m getting off track… but overall I understand the importance of poise, of grace, and of somehow conveying to the world that you value yourself… and yes, this can be done with how you style your person, but overall I think it more has to do with how you carry yourself and your confidence.

Anyway, all this to say that I firmly believe your overall essence shouldn’t be tied up in material things like how you dress and how much makeup you wear. I like getting dressed up, and I like looking nice, but I’m not going to be  hung up on how I look every moment of the day.

That being said… after years and years of buying outfits with no real place to wear them to, this week I started a job in fashion. Before your imagination gets rolling I’m not working for a designer or magazine or anything like that, I’m working for a small locally owned boutique that I’ve been shopping at for about 10 years… and it is absolutely lovely. It is owned by two lovely sisters, it is in a lovely part of the town that I live in, and it has lovely things. And though I still advocate for not letting your appearance dictate your confidence, I am definitely a little more concerned with how I look when I walk out the door in the morning (at least when I’m heading to work.) a big part of my job is helping people pick out clothing for specific occasions, and just like wearing a ball gown to the restaurant would have been highly inappropriate, showing up for work looking like a disheveled yoga clown is not going to fly… I still maintain that I’m not going to wear makeup to the gym, and I’ll probably still run to the grocery store in yoga pants when its convenient, but I am much more aware of how in this particular setting my appearance and what I’m wearing matters.

Thankfully I’ve been stockpiling some classic pieces from this shop for years, and opening up my closet I would say at least 1/3rd of my wardrobe is probably from this boutique… I have always been able to justify purchases from there saying “well this is a timeless piece, its high quality, I’ll have it forever.” And its mostly true! Granted, after a year of working a few feet away from a deli case full of coconut macaroons, Chantilly cream, daily access to full fat dairy hot chocolate/chai/lattes, and all the gluten free pizza of my dreams, I’m a little bit rounder than I used to be. Not everything I’ve stockpiled fits me quite as well as I’d like, but what can you do? (go running… that’s what, and not dwell on it. Cause I’m 28, and my metabolism is slowing down, and I really like to eat, and I really like gumdrops and I really really like full fat dairy… but I’m not going to let body image and vanity get in my way, I’m going to work hard, and hope that eventually my pencil skirts aren’t quite as tight… I digress.) Literally my first purchase out of college was a black tulle Nicole Miller dress I saw in the shop window. Looking at that dress I just knew that in it I would feel put together, I would feel polished, and accomplished. (looking back, of course I still feel all of those things when I’m not in the dress… but sometimes you just need a little black dress.)

So I guess after all of that, I have actually been dressing for the job I wanted and not the job I had… I just didn’t realize it, and it was of course in my down time… Though I know there are going to be days when I really miss easiness of jeans and clogs, I’m really excited to be able to dig into my wardrobe and finally be able to wear some of the pieces I’ve been holding onto.

I’m also quite excited about this job because I will be working “normal” hours. I guess normal is a relative term, but I’m thrilled to be able to spend at least one weekend day with my friends, and I will be home in time to feed the dog every night. Ya and hoo. My somewhat normal retail hours will also mean that I’ll have more time to have a life. IE evenings free. Lord only knows if that will actually translate into things like dating, but one can only hope. I’m realizing that for the last one million years or so (ok, for the last 6 years) I have been married to my job. And now suddenly having a little bit more freedom, and less stress is a little bit terrifying. I’m not going to be working until 11PM every Saturday night… and at long last, I’m out of excuses. It was pretty easy to hide behind things like “well I work 70 hours a week, and mostly evenings, I don’t really have time to date anyone.” And it was true… but it was also a really really convenient excuse for anytime anyone would look at me with his/her head a little tilted to the side and ask “well why aren’t you dating anyone?” (Again, how is this really an appropriate conversation starter? Its not like there is really a good answer… the only thing I can really say is “because everyone I ask says no, and no one asks me” But the way in which people ask it with this befuddled and somewhat offended tone with that underlying hint of “what is wrong with you?” Um… I don’t know, do you know any single guys? No? Well then why is it so dumbfounding that I don’t’ really either? The end. I think everyone is hoping for something more dramatic. People want me to secretly be a lesbian or something… but really its just that I live in a town with not a lot of dateable people, and for reals, no one is asking me out, and everyone I’ve asked has said no… what more can I say?)

Anyway… flashback to two weeks ago, I’m out car shopping because my vehicle was totaled, and I get this amazing job offer. I take it , and as I’m trying to wrap my head around giving two weeks notice, life transitions, and am living through the ever trying debate of Mini-Cooper vs. Honda Civic, and trying to figure out buying my own health insurance. My mother turns to me literally 30 minutes after accepting the job and says “This is great. Now you will have time to do on-line dating!” Me “um…. No thank you?” Her “I swear, every other day I hear about another great couple who has met online… you just need to do it, its how everyone dates now. You will never meet someone in real life.”… yes, this was a real life conversation.  (side note. My mom is going to read this, and probably freak out, and get mad that I take her comments/ conversations out of context and then write about them, and then everyone thinks she is weird. She isn’t weird, she is my mom, and I think we have a pretty typical mother daughter relationship. But she does actually say these things to me, and I do actually roll my eyes and sometimes get really mad, but mostly I know that she is acting out of love, and she just wants me to be happy, and sometimes rather than just saying that directly it comes out as “you should join an online dating site, you will never meet someone in real life”  Its fine, I understand her motives.. but in the meantime, I continue to operate on the premise of “I blog about my life, and sometimes you say things to me that are awkward and therefore I will blog about them… if you don’t want me to blog about them maybe think it through before you say it out loud.”   I think it’s learning and growing experience for us both. P.S. I love you Claudia Jean.)

Anyway, needless to say, with everything else that was going on, dating in general was pretty much the last thing I was thinking about. (I mean I was secretly a little worried that she had already set up a profile for me somewhere because suddenly she seemed to know A LOT about online dating,… ) And the week goes on, I buy a car, I give notice, I try to get my immediate future somewhat organized, and as I’m driving to work one day last week I heard an interview with Judy Greer on Q with Jian Ghomeshi. I’m always pretty captivated by the interviews on the show, and I really like Judy Greer anyway, but something that she said really resonated with me. She was talking about how she put things out there with intention, and how one day she decided that she was ready to be married, so she started acting like a wife. This kind of stopped me in my tracks, because I realized that as much as I was mentally saying “I’m ready to build a life with someone” my actions were pretty much sending the opposite message. Pretty much my house is in a constant state of functioning chaos. Which works for me… really. I live alone, I’m young, and its not like my house is dirty, I’m good a keeping up with the physical cleanliness of things (thank you disinfecting wipes and my fancy vacuum) but really my house is a bit cluttered. I’m not awesome about picking up after myself, putting away my laundry, and organizing my office. And I’m terrible about getting rid of things… And I know that I make a lot of excuses for this… It is what it is, but as I was sitting there driving to work, listening to this radio program it started to sink in that no matter how emotionally ready I think I am for a relationship, I am certainly not acting like a wife. And let me just clarify… I’m not actually looking to get married anytime soon, I actually don’t know if I want to be married ever, at least maybe not in the conventional sense of the word, and I certainly don’t have any preconceived ideas about how wives should act, or certain things that wives should be doing. But I do want to be someone’s person, and I do want to start building a meaningful life with someone other than my dog.  And do to that, maybe I need to start taking a little more responsibility for my home life. Maybe I need to start making an effort to keep things a little more orderly. Maybe I need to start making my home a place that feels a little less chaotic, and a little more inviting. Maybe I need to make some more room in my life for the unexpected, and maybe need to start building a home and not just filling the space up. Maybe I need to start spending a little more time outfitting my day to day for the life that I want, and not the life that I have.

Maybe I need to start approaching my life like I have my wardrobe… I’ve been stockpiling some key pieces for a while, maybe its time to dust them off and start putting things together. I need to start “dressing” for the life I want, and not for the life I have.

 

 

Words and Intentions for 2014

Three weeks into January and my resolutions are still going strong (I know, I know, anyone can do anything for three weeks) I will admit, I have yet to see a nutria, and I’m taking some creative licensing with what defines a salad…

While I was sitting down typing out my resolutions it seems like everyone else was out there picking a few key words and intentions they wanted to focus on in 2014. Resolutions are out, intentions are in, and though I try not to be a jump-on-the-bandwagon type of person,  I do kind of like this idea.

As a writer, words are a pretty big part of my life, and I like the idea of choosing a few words help to define my intentions for this year. This also got me thinking about words I might use to describe myself, and words that people I know might use to describe me… its funny how you can have what you think is a 100% clear view of yourself, and then you ask others to describe you and they see something completely different.

Sometimes it is fun to try on other people’s view of you, to try and see what they see, and it can be really empowering and uplifting… other times it just makes you feel  totally mis-understood, and like you have failed at building  your own brand (or at least failed at  communicating it…) but a lot of that depends on how well people know you, and the context of relationships.  I know that I am an introvert, and at times I can be quiet and reserved… but I also know that my inner dialog is pretty quick witted, very sarcastic, and sometimes snarky… Therefore, I perceive myself as vibrant, confident, and secure person… but I’m pretty sure a lot of people view me as this quiet, demure, ball of awkwardness….  In reality, I’m probably somewhere in-between.  (and I’m pretty ok with that.)

As I began to make a short list of words I wanted to focus on this year, I started to think a little bit about my own personal brand.  What are some key words that I want people to use to describe me? What are some of my assets that go un-noticed? How can I adjust my focus this year to  help myself stand out for the right reasons? How can I start to  “re-brand “myself so that what I see, and what other people see are the same thing?  I’m not trying to be self-involved here… I’m a little nervous is it going to come off that way… I’m 100% confident with who I am, and I am not the type of person who goes around fretting about what other people think of me… truly.  This is not me saying that I’m trying to change for other people, or that I want to change who I am… more so just that I’m figuring out some characteristics that I already have that I’m ready to take off the back burner.  I think a little energy, and a little intention can go a long way, and when you are taking the time and investing in yourself, its only a matter of time before other people notice that shift in energy.  I like to call it the “je ne sais quoi” factor… and I’m excited to head into the next 11 months with an open mind and a whole lot of intention.

 

Words for 2014

Words for 2014

 

My words for 2014

 

Welcoming 2014 with open arms and a few goals

Happy New Year from Us to You.

Happy New Year from Us to You.

Le sigh…. I spent a good 90 minutes typing up a blog post two days ago with the intention of having time to edit it and post it fresh for the new year…. Turns out my computer hates me and randomly closed the window without saving it…. Grumble grumble piece of turd computer.

The gist of it was this: I usually kinda sorta hate the idea of New Years Resolutions, and yet seem to always make them anyway. Sometimes they stick, sometimes they don’t, but mostly that is ok, because sometimes you just need a moment to re-focus your energy, even if it is only for the first month and a half of the year. This year, I have every intention of sticking with my resolutions, but if for some reason, life happens, and things get in the way, I’m not going to let myself feel bad about it.

Basically I’ve been feeling a little stagnant over the past few months… my motivation seems to be shot, and I’ve been letting myself just sort of glide by… no real projects, no real goals… which is fine for a brief  time, but I’m finally getting restless and feeling like I’m ready to head into 2014 with a super charged sense of motivation. In short, I’m not 100% fulfilled by my job, but on the bright side I am 110% passionate about where I work, so even though my hours have been cut back, and my day to day isn’t as meaningful as it could be, I’m perfectly content to stay where I am, at a place that I love, and am planning on filling the extra hours of my day with more meaningful projects. If I’m not working full time there is no reason why my free time shouldn’t be filled with things that make me tick…. Of course, I’ve crossed paths with that feeling of utter panic when people start to ask you where you see yourself in five years.  If you say you don’t know, it makes you sound totally unmotivated, but then you start to think about where you are and what you are doing and realize that this isn’t going to cut it five years from now, and you are trapped somewhere in between knowing you want more, but not having a clue about what to do about it, and instead of actually addressing these angst producing issues, you just repress everything, and ignore your future , and try to make the stress go away by curling up in a corner and chewing on your hair…. (side note: I don’t actually chew on my hair… but I think the image conjures up the correct amount of anxiety.)   Anyway… I’m not ready to quit my job and do something drastic in the pursuit of passion… I’m much to practical, and my credit card bill is too high. But I am indeed ready to buckle down, find my motivation and utilize my free time to it’s fullest potential. I’m vowing that 2014 will be the year that I spend trying to figure out exactly what my passion is, and hopefully a few other fun things along the way. For example, I’m going to start teaching barre classes this year. I don’t exactly know when, or where for that matter (I’ve been promised there is a studio on its way!) I’ve never really thought that being a fitness instructor was in my future/ even something that I was passionate about, but as it turns out, I really really love taking barre classes, and I think that teaching them will actually be a lot of fun… here is to 2014 and trying new things…

As far as resolutions go, I think its best to put them out there in the open. I know some people write them down, stick them in a safe place, and then return to them a year later, half forgetting what was written down… I’m all for tradition, but for me, Resolutions are a little bit about intention, and a lot about accountability. Putting something out into the universe is swell, but putting something out into the universe and then asking people to keep you on track is even better.

 2014 “projects”/ “Resolutions”/ “goals”/ whatever you want to call them.

—     Putting myself out there.  This is something I majorly need to work on. The fact of the matter is that I’m an introvert. Classic IMFJ personality here, and though I really like being social, I’m not always the best at meeting new people.  There was an article this year in the Huffington Post that was all about introverts, and as I was reading it all I could think was “I need to keep a copy of this to give to future employers and suitors” because I often worry that my introverted personality is misunderstood… I tend to just sit on the sidelines and watch people interact, and to be perfectly honest, I find it so informative. I know some people probably think that I’m totally uninterested, and socially awkward (which sometimes I might be) but mostly, I’m observing relationships, watching interactions, forming opinions etc. etc… also, I work in a fast paced, customer service driven job, and so most of my work day is spend being “on”. At the end of the day all I want is to be home, glass of wine in hand re-charging…. I think this is one of the reasons why the idea of dating is so daunting. I like meeting new people, I really do… but really, I’d much rather just skip all the small talk and be in a comfortable relationship where we can curl up in our sweats and watch Mad Men and eat take out. I realize this is kind of putting the cart before the horse, and also this is not how the world works.  I know that I have to suck it up, put on my happy face, and get to know new people. I need to actually work at it, and get out of my comfort zone. I need to put myself out there in 2014. Wish me luck (I’m totally going speed dating.)

—     Blogging once a week. This is going to be tough, I know it already. I can feel the excuses starting to creep up (was this one of my resolutions last year? It feels familiar, but I’m too scared/ lazy to look up posts from last year… perhaps I failed…)  But, the bottom line is that I have the time, I just have to actually make the time… and ask any writer ever, and they pretty much all say that if you are going to write, you need to be writing often and much, even if it is terrible. Sometimes you just have to keep writing, and keep writing, and keep writing through the bad stuff until a little tiny nugget of something that doesn’t suck comes out, and then you hold onto that, and nurture it, and tweak it, and maybe, just maybe it turns into an idea, a train of thought, a glimmering of something… so really, the least I can do is make myself sit down, and write/ put something out there once a week. I don’t have a writing group, so you all get to be my peers. It might be jumbled some days, and others it might just be pictures of my bulldog… but I’m going to try, and see what comes of it.

—      Writing more letters/ keeping an address book. I absolutely suck at keeping track of addresses. Every time I send out a holiday card, or need to send someone a birthday card or invitation, I have to send out massive text messages, or chain emails, begging and pleading for people to send me their addresses.  I can practically feel the eye rolls that are accompanied by the “I STILL live at…”  Don’t get me wrong, I could drive to most of these houses blindfolded, but when it comes to addressing an envelope… I’m half tempted to just write things like “Abe & Jason, the apartment above the Starbucks on 23rd & Overton, the one with the mint on the balcony.” (I think it would totally get there…)  Anyway, I actually purchased an address book (ok its just a notebook that I’m going to keep addresses in, because all the address books at my local book store were sort of dull) and I have collected everyone from my Christmas card list, and am vowing here and now to keep track of addresses, and also send more notes in the mail.

The Art Deco notebook on top is my new address book.

The Art Deco notebook on top is my new address book.

—     Eat a salad every day. I am pretty good at this normally… but also I work at a restaurant where sometimes all I want to eat is gluten free cheese pizza with duck confit and peach chutney.  And gluten free pizza with duck confit and peach chutney almost always sounds better than a salad…. But I’m pretty good with tangible goals… and I’m also pretty excited to see how many different salad combinations I can come up with. I of course reserve the right to not eat salads on days that I’m doing a juice cleanse (and I also reserve the right to maybe sometimes eat salads on the days that I’m doing a juice cleanse).

—     Speaking of Juice… Use my juicer so many times! I actually already use it quite a bit, but I want to make sure I use it enough to justify the investment. Viva la juice. The next cleanse starts on January 6th. Be on the lookout for lots and lots of juice photos.

Juicing my way into 2014

Juicing my way into 2014

—     Paint my fingernails more often (ok wait… I know this was actually a resolution from last year, spoken or not… (I did ok, but I could have done better) Mostly, I’m a jeans and tee shirts kind of gal, but there is just something about having my nails painted that makes me feel like I absolutely have my life together and am a fancy lady. It’s complete bullshit, but sometimes you just need that little extra boost of fancy! Of course with my job, one hour in the dish pit, and any manicure will be totally ruined, but a girl can still attempt to be polished every now and then!

—     See a Nutria in real life: Remember in 2009 when there was that story on Wait Wait Don’t Tell me about a woman suing Walmart because she was attacked by a Nutria? (if you don’t, you should listen to it now… it was clearly quite memorable. Its on May 16th, 2009 in the “Bluff the Listener” section. Also,  you should just Google Norman the Nutria, you know, for fun.) Ever since then, I’ve had a mild fascination with them… and have yet to see one in real life! My parents see them all the time on their morning walks…(do you know how many early morning texts I’ve gotten with pictures of baby Nutria? At least two…) I was discussing this very thing with my friend Janet the other day, and she decided that I should make 2014 the year I see a Nutria. The good news is that I know where to find some real life Nutria in their wild habitat, so if I don’t happen to stumble across one on my morning run, or while shopping for toilet paper at some big box store, I will know where to go looking for them next December when my deadline is approaching, and I’m starting to think of new resolutions.

—     No beer in January:  Full disclosure, I’ve gained a little weight over the past month. It doesn’t bother me, but it also doesn’t delight me. And I like beer, but I don’t LOVE beer, and I think that If I’m going to be pumping my body full of empty calories, I would rather pump it full of wine or hot chocolate, or gumdrops. So I’m cutting out beer for a bit, and seeing what happens. I blame the 24 year old boys that I work with who drink beer after beer every night, and who subconsciously peer pressure me into drinking with them… like I said, beer is ok, but its not something that I ever really crave, so this month I’m going to do without it.

I’m also going to work on keeping my house clean and organized, spending more time reading, and work on seeing the glass as half full.   (ARE YOU F’ING KIDDING ME….. I just found the blog post I thought was lost forever… it essentially says all the same things I say here… maybe I will just post them both and you can judge for yourself.)  Of course there are other things I plan on doing this year… but as we head into 2014, I think its good to start with a small list (and I think these are all totally attainable and maintainable things) and go from there. Wishing all of you a marvelous year, and the best of luck with your intentions, goals, resolutions etc.

At least I will be a good tipper.

Sitting here tonight I realized today was my last full day off before Christmas. It’s not a huge deal, all my holiday shopping is completed, everything is in the mail, the laundry is folded all the major priorities are taken care of… But I’m sitting here, feeling a little restless, so rather than getting sucked into Mad Men on Netflix, I’m here, blogging.  I can’t help the cliché, but this time of year I always start to reflect. What did I do this year? What did I learn? How did I grow? How am I different?

So there is this woman who comes into work all the time who drives me absolutely insane. I have a little bit of guilt about this actually for multiple reasons, and every time I contemplate how irritated she makes me, I feel like the biggest bitch in the universe… because really, she is lonely. I know this, I know this is why she comes in every day, why she talks everyone’s ear off about her work projects, how the lasagna in our deli case is just too rich for her, how she has tried to make replicate our quinoa salad a million times, how she used to sleep with her bike next to her bed so she could sleep with her hand clutched around it, about how impressive the symposium she just hosted was. Once she asked me what shade of lipstick I was wearing, and then literally came in a few hours later wearing the exact same shade and then started to refer to is as “our lipstick” And it shouldn’t bother me. I should be a bigger person. I should just embrace the fact that it makes her day when she comes in, when one of us asks about her day. And most of the time I do, but there are some moments when I see her walk through the door, and the other employees and I glance at each other, and we silently and quickly figure out who has has the most coffee, who is the least irritable, and who will be the one to interact with her that that particular moment. But really, the icing on the cake is in the ten months I’ve been working there and in her almost daily visits she has never tipped once. Not once. Ok, its bitchy of me… but you go to a place, every day, sometimes multiple times a day, you get all the free refills, you make sure you include us personally in your life, that we know every detail, that you share every story, and we smile and we listen (ok, some of us go home and write about it on our blogs) but for the love… throw in your change every now and then.

I get the being lonely part… mostly.  I’m a total introvert, so I don’t always understand the whole forcing of small talk thing… I love interacting with people, but only to a certain point. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you, I’m quiet, guarded even, and sure, I’ve got a blog, and I’m rambling on about my personal life, but that is not something that I tend to do face to face. I would never stroll into my neighborhood coffee shop and unload on the barista about how rough of a day I was having. I might think it, I might sit quietly in the corner sipping my Americano, and would probably divulge a little information, a brief insight to a passerby who might ask how I was doing… but I would never come in with a sense of entitlement and just completely unload… but give me twenty years and we’ll see where I am… I know one of the reasons why I’m so annoyed with her is because deep down, I have this fear that someday that is going to be me.

About six months ago,  I jokingly told my brother that his first born was going to end up taking care of me. Naturally in my mind, its more like the situation from Little Women… without me being old and kinda crazy. I will be the fun aunt, and we will run off to Europe, and we will read, and eat and drink and live, and I will not be the annoying woman with the tendency to undert-tip and over-share. I will be the mysterious American woman who keeps to her self, I will have a certain je nais se quoi about me. Done and done. Contingency plan, check.  But one thing I’ve realized is that over this past year, my fear of being alone has started to dwindle…

Looking back on this year, its been a little rough in patches. I lost one job, I lost someone close to me, I’ve struggled trying to find what I’m passionate about, I’ve lost motivation, but one insight that I’ve gained is that heart gripping fear of spending my life alone is not quite as scary as it used to be.

In 2013 I went on approximately 1 date. It was actually a pretty decent date, as far as first dates go, but it was with a person who was just so incredibly wrong for me. He was 24, and here is the thing about 24 year old men… rather, 24 year old boys. The age difference is too much. I say this to my friends in relationships, and they all vehemently insist that I’m full of it (its because they aren’t out there dating 24 year olds, so they will never really understand.)  I just finished reading Wild a few days ago, and I felt so vindicated, because there is a part of the book where Cheryl Strayed is talking about being a 27 year old women and how at that age , age really does matter. “It was an absurd crush, I knew. He was four years younger than me, and we were at an age when those nearly four years mattered, the gap between what he had done and what I had done was large enough that I was more like a big sister than I was someone who should be thinking about being alone with him in his tent—so I didn’t think about it” Yes, vindication. Thank you Cheryl for getting it, and for writing about it in your best selling book.

Sure, I feel a little hypocritical talking about age being an issue, since I am in fact 15 years younger than my ex boyfriend. Here I am saying that 4 years younger than me is too young, and yet sitting there at the table across from the one date of 2013, I was looking at where I had been, and not where I was heading… I suppose then I have to let go of all resentment being told on one occasion or another that I was too young for someone  (though I still maintain that I am an old soul, and will probably end up with a man who is older than me…  its just a gut feeling… if you have been on a date, or even in the same room with a 24 year old man/boy lately you will understand where I’m coming from.) The guy really was very sweet, and he actually came into work the other day with a very young looking hipster girl on his arm… because at the end of the day if it isn’t right it isn’t right. Which is the main thing I’m taking about of 2013. Though I certainly don’t have a full repertoire of dating experience from this year, I have gained a lot of insight from watching other people in relationships. And I won’t pretend to be an expert, and I certainly won’t be the one to judge, because I know that all relationships are hard at times, and require a lot of work , commitment and compromise. But this year as I have embraced my choice of not settling, of not choosing to be with the wrong person, I’ve become acutely aware of all the people around me who have settled in relationships, who have jumped in an compromised maybe too much, and my heart goes out to those people. I’m not sure I’m able to convey this properly, because again, I’m not coming from a place of judgment, and really as an outsider I know I don’t always see the whole picture, or know the full context of situations. Love is a complex thing, and I admire the people who are stumbling through it on a daily basis.  For me being single isn’t necessarily a choice, but I do feel empowered knowing that by being alone I am choosing to not be with a person who isn’t right for me. (is that a double negative? It doesn’t sound quite right, but its late…)

But going back to my reflection, I’m still figuring out how this year has shaped me, and what sort of path that will lead me on in 2014. But mostly I have realized that I’m no longer afraid of being lonely. I still have a lot of fears (hello I practically have a nervous breakdown every time I get a paycheck, and then look at my credit card bill) I still have a lot of uncertainty… and there are nights when the loneliness still haunts me. When it’s actually a physical ache in my person… but it is also somehow remarkably ok. Over the past year I have been able to branch out and cultivate some new friendships that I’m forever grateful for.  Hello, I actually sent out all of the holiday cards that I ordered, a first for me.  And it might not be much, but its nice to know that even if I spend the rest of my life deciding not to settle, I’m still going to have some of these amazing people to go through life with. These amazing people who embrace my neurosis (or at least tolerate them quite well) call my bulldog nephew. And at the end of the day, at the end of this year, I can at least take a little comfort knowing that if I do end up becoming an entitled single women who comes into coffee shops and lipstick stalks the employees, at least I will be a really good tipper.