I’m the girl in the dinosaur leggings

 

““Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person, and only attracts more love into your life.” Amy Poehler.

 

This afternoon I was running errands in these obnoxious bright green dinosaur print leggings. I’m actually a little bit obsessed with them (fun yoga tights in general) and I had just finished taking a killer barre class and was at Trader Joe’s stocking up on snacks and cheap wine. I wasn’t necessarily trying to make a statement, but as an introvert, I do find crazy pants are a sure fire way to get people to interact with you (for better or for worse.) No fewer than six people stopped me in the aisles to comment on the leggings, and as I was waiting in line one of the checker’s yelled “Hey Dinosaur, I can help you over here!”

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I wore these leggings on a first date once. We met up in a Portland coffee shop at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, me before heading to a barre class, him before heading to an all day seminar on Social Justice. Both of us yoga teachers… he ordered a macchiato, and we talked a bit about yoga and to make the date even more Portlandia, I discovered that he didn’t have a car, and though he did have a “Real” job he wasn’t that into it and would rather teach yoga and focus on his Social Justice book club. I wasn’t sure what his reaction to the dino leggings would be, but he didn’t even bat an eye at them. I subconsciously wore them, thinking at all else they would be a conversation starter. Lord knows meeting someone for the first time at 8:30 on a Sunday, before you’ve even consumed coffee is a risky first date scenario, so it couldn’t hurt to have a built in conversation buffer. The pants were never mentioned… he drank his tiny tiny coffee and we went our separate ways.

When I was a Junior in college my roommate and I made up a song we would sing to each other as we were getting ready for bed/ hungover on the weekend mornings called “Wasteland of love.” Looking back on this, it might have been somewhat of a clue as to why we were both single at the time, but you cannot live in the past like that. I was coming off of this epic crush from the previous year, and making up a show tunes style ballad seemed like a pretty good life choice. I met the guy in a Religion class of all places, and the second he walked in the door it was one of those “I’ve got to get to know this guy” moments. He was ridiculously handsome (at least to me) and a complete nerd all wrapped into one, and by some miracle we ended up in the same small discussion group. The weeks went by, we talked about the Old Testament, and our friendship developed outside of class. We spent the weekends watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and eating pomegranate seeds, talking about Post Season Baseball, and chatting in dorm entryways until 2 in the morning. We nerded out about Star Wars, and went to a few parties, and talked politics, and finally towards the end of the school year I got the courage to send him a note through campus mail that told him how I felt about him. I mean, after two semesters of hanging out, of Instant Message conversations of constant weekend hang-outs he had to kind of already know, right? And he got the card… (which, I wish I still had it, because it was this perfectly witty thing, and I don’t entirely remember what it said on the front, but it was this whole monologue about ketchup and jiggling a toilet handle, and it was of course this really round about way of saying how much I liked him etc. etc.) So we decided we should talk in person to figure out what this all meant, and when we were finally sitting in my dorm room and I’m like trying to keep my shit together, he looks at me and says “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet.” And then kind of flopped over in this epic way like cats sometimes do , (and he had this amazing long-ish hair that that kind of flopped over this glasses) and that was basically our entire conversation about my year long crush on him… Twelve years later, and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but whenever I find myself in a state of dating confusion, I often flash back to that conversation. And honestly, when people ask me why I’m not dating anyone, this is often the answer that pops into my head. “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet. “

I’ve tried the whole swiping thing, and though a lot of my friends swear by it, I just cannot seem to get on board. My Freshman year of college I got a letter from my grandmother and at the end it said “look out for all the jerks and weirdos out there!” and my friends and I laughed about it at the time, but flash forward to the current dating scene, and let me tell you, there are a lot of jerks and weirdos out there! Yes, there are also nice ones, and funny ones, and I get that I should probably keep trying, but let me just set the scene of the last guy I met online. Picture it. Sicily, 1937… kidding…  We were out at a wine-bar and he spent a good seven minutes telling me this anecdotes about how he recently watched the best of Chris Farley episodes of SNL, and how funny they were, and how emotional he got because he grew up on that kind of comedy. I interjected how I could totally relate because I had recently listened to Amy Poehler’s book on a road trip, and started to get a little teary when she was talking about her last season and how it really resonated with me during that time since it was an election year and her portrayal of Katie Couric really resonated with me. And he turned to me and said “um… I don’t know who that is” and I said “Amy Poehler?!?!?!” and he got SUPER defensive and said “Hey I don’t really know authors that well ok!”

I’ve been on two “blind dates ” in my life.  Granted, this last one, the guy didn’t know it was supposed to be a set up, and I ended up spending the evening with my best friend and MY PARENTS at a dive bar in Salem, listening to a bunch of Doctors cover rock songs, and my BFF used the “countdown to St. Patrick’s Day” clock as a timer to when we could leave. The other guy got my name and phone number while he was under the influence of Anesthesia… (hashtag welcome to my life)

Then there was the guy I met speed dating. He was nice enough, well spoken, had two master’s degrees, super involved in his community, and seemed kind of like a catch. Then I get a 3 minute long voice mail at 2PM on a Friday, and he’s curious why I’m not answering my phone, and talking about how he’s going golfing but he just had some dental work done, and it had been about 10 years since he had a cavity, and how his mouth is numb and how weird it is, and he literally said “you know like when your foot goes to sleep, only its your mouth!!!” and I’m sitting there wondering why he thought I wouldn’t be at work at 2PM on a Friday, and who leaves 3 minute long voice mails rambling about dental work… and then the next day he told me he didn’t want to see me again because I was TOO rooted in my community and he thought we had different communication styles. Fact: we do.

And I get it, I think there are still some good eggs out there (which is in no way a veiled reference to my biological clock, because I do not want to have children…) and lord knows I keep putting myself out there, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Thankfully, people don’t seems to ask as much as they used to as to why I’m not dating anyone… When you are in your 20’s it seems as though people feel entitled to ask, and once you reach your 30s that line of questioning seems to mostly fizzle out, though occasionally it pops up, and once my brain stops screaming “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet” my second impulse is to give out the phone numbers of all the men I’ve asked out who have said no, and say “ask these gentlemen, because I don’t know!” (disclaimer, if any of them are reading this… I’m not actually that crazy or that jaded, your numbers are safe) I live in a small town, I work in a women’s clothing boutique, so let’s be honest, most of the men I meet on a daily basis are shopping for their wives. I’m putting myself out there, I’m trying to stay open, but I honestly don’t have an answer to the question “Why aren’t you dating anyone?”

I did have a bit of a flirtation with one of the fill in UPS delivery men. It was always kind of exciting because I never knew when he would be on our route, and then randomly he would show up, all smiles and flirty banter, and it got to the point where my heart would kind of flutter anytime I heard a handtruck outside. My friend, who works at another boutique, started to text me when he was out on delivery so I could compose myself or put on lipstick before he arrived. Once I awkwardly dropped the signature thing and was thinking “pull it together Brisbin.” So finally, after a Summer of this, I get the text alert that he is out and about on delivery, and I calmly get a to-go cup, write my name and number on it, and make him a latte (of course it had a little foam heart on top, because that is the only latte art I can actually do, and also just because.) and I waited. I waited and waited and waited, and then I finally saw him walk by the shop, and realized that we didn’t have any deliveries that day, so he didn’t come in! Of course, I had a store full of customers so I couldn’t chase down hot UPS guy and give him the coffee/ my phone number, but had he actually come in that day, I still believe this would have been the COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE! But alas, I just had to sit there and somewhat pathetically drink the coffee with my own name and number on it.   (follow up… the next time he came in, I did give him my contact card, and he was totally sweet, and told me he just started seeing someone, and I said “can’t blame a girl for trying.” And then he was our UPS guy for the next 10 days in a row and I somehow managed to not be a spaz that entire time. And now he comes in sporadically and I’m mostly a spaz, but hey, at least he has my number.)

Fast Forward to now. (sitting at my kitchen table, drinking wine, still rocking the dino leggings, listening to jazz) This month for Bookclub we are reading Quiet by Susan Cain… and I’m not going to lie, I’m having a little bit of a hard time getting into it. And though we haven’t discussed the book yet, I’m kind of thinking that most of us in the group are going to say “It was interesting… but I already identify as an introvert, It was basically like reading a book about myself… and I already know that I’m like this. “ At least this has been my response to the book. There is part of me that feels like it should be required reading for extroverts, or maybe for anyone that I date (doesn’t dating me sound fun?!? I have hand outs and recommended reading about how to best get to know me and deal with my quirks… LOL) But honestly, I don’t need a book to tell me that I’m a careful thinker, that I think before I act, that I take longer to digest information and that if left to my own devices I “tend to sit around wondering about things, imaging things, recalling events from my past, and making plans for the future.” ( Quiet, pg 168)

Granted, I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but thus far the part that has resonated the most with me is a section that is talking about small talk “ In most settings, people use small talk as a way of relaxing into a new relationship, and only once they’re comfortable, do they connect more seriously. Sensitive people seem to do the reverse. They “enjoy” small talk only after they’ve gone deep”… When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else. “ (Quiet, pg 152.)   This I get, this is my jam, this is the section that I’m going to highlight and put on my nametag at speed dating. This is the flyer that I’m going to hand out to all my potential suitors, this is my new mantra, This is the key to the decoder ring of my life.

I recently got blindsided by having feelings for someone… and though I’m totally in life recovery mode right now, because things didn’t work out the way I hoped they would, I have to say, that the things you don’t see coming are often times the most exciting. Anyway, I’m still kind of in the middle of it, and figuring out the day to day, but basically the blindsiding thing happened, and I decided to act on it, even though I knew it was complicated, because in this day and age, dating is complicated (per an e-mail I recently received from a dating site, the Dating Apocalypse is here… just so you know… ) life is complicated, so why not just go for it and see what happens, and pick up the pieces of your ego and self esteem later? (kidding) But really, I’m a firm believer in embracing vulnerability, and most of the time it’s scary and kind of sucky, but also awesome, and so, once again, I found myself dropping a note in the mail saying, “I’m interested” (side note… I didn’t really realize until just now that this is apparently my MO. I’m boycotting technology based dating, but damn it, Jane Austen would be proud of my snail mail declarations of love… at least I’m consistent?) and maybe putting a letter in the post wasn’t quite as cool as writing my number on a cup of coffee, but it still felt like this amazing force of forward motion.

And here is one other observation I have about being an introvert… you have to be your own advocate.I feel a little conflicted with this one, because generally speaking, as a woman, as a human, as a person, looking for love, you shouldn’t have to convince the other person that they should have feelings for you, am I right? If they don’t get why you are the cat’s pajamas (where are these antiquated sayings even coming from? I’m just rolling with is) then they are NOT your person. You shouldn’t have to explain why your quirks are charming, why your awkwardness is endearing, if they don’t get you, then onward and upward…. ONLY! I’m an introvert. And I’m slow to warm up, and it takes me a long time to process things, and establish this comfort zone, so mostly I listen and observe and think, and process, and then I end up totally surprising everyone when I just put it all out there. And then everyone is like “Her?” (Oh my God, am I Anne Veal?) because it goes against everyone’s preconceived ideas of me. I think I would have thrived at the Milford School where Children should neither be seen nor heard. ( if you aren’t getting the Arrested Development references, I can’t really help you.) And so, yes, I shouldn’t have to advocate for myself as to why I’m awesome… but sometimes it feels like maybe I actually need to. And it goes kind of goes back to that big talk vs. small talk thing… It seems so much more natural to just tell someone you have feelings for them and approach things from a larger angle before getting into the smaller and more trivial things. At least it does for me… then again, I’m kind of realizing I’m in the minority here, and basically it feels like maybe my approach to dating is kind of like living in The Upside Down. Everything is vaguely familiar, but it’s different, and you can’t get through to the people on the other side, and its maybe slightly scary. But why bother with the small stuff when the big stuff is so much more interesting?

Anyway… its been a challenging few weeks to be a single gal in McMinnville. Then, add in the fact that I had a huge fight with my father over politics, and I’m basically feeling a little lost as a single.   I mean, I should have known better than to ask him point blank if he was voting for Trump, and when his answer was “probably” I literally burst into tears. My mom immediately asked me if there was anything else going on in my life… and well yes, I’m feeling a little vulnerable, and not necessarily trusting my gut right now, but also his answer really devastated me. As a little girl you are supposed to look up to your father as this ideal, this larger than life representation of how all the men in your life should treat you. And I realize that I’m exceptionally lucky, because my dad is, without a doubt, a keeper. But finding out that he was most likely supporting a candidate that boasts about sexual assault, who degrades women, and who I view as an all around terrible human kind of destroyed me. What is that supposed to say to me as a single woman, that my father is willing to support that sort of behavior from the man who could run the country? What is that supposed to say to me, that my father is willing to support someone who could speak that way to his daughter, to his granddaughter? And how can I look at him the same way? (and then, as I was having this meltdown, my mom backed her car into my car… I can’t even make this up.)

Anyway… round back to the story at hand… it didn’t work out. (Lol, you know that scene in Dirty Dancing Havana Nights? No? Just me? “I liked this guy once… it didn’t work out. He didn’t even know I existed.” Go watch that movie immediately, if not sooner). My dad might vote for Donald Trump, and I’m just trying to wrap my head around it all.

But here is what I know for sure. I’m an introvert. And I’m witty. I’m well read, and I’m a little awkward at times. I drink Whiskey. I like to listen to jazz when I make dinner. I sing Sinatra songs to my dog a lot. I’m quirky, I probably know more about Star Wars than you do, I teach yoga, I love to hike, I don’t like IPA, but I understand if you do. When I’m stressed out I like to watch The Golden Girls, my books are color coordinated, and I hate folding laundry. I’m not a morning person, but I’m really trying to be, I don’t like mustard, but I do like pickled mustard seeds. I like to cook, I love The Red Sox, but I tolerate most sports pretty well. My idea of the perfect first date is going to the batting cages. I like action movies, and I tell it like it is. I’m a good listener and I’ll probably remember random little details about the first time we met. I’m sentimental, I hate drama, and I value authenticity. I love gardening, and pickling, and my favorite place on the planet is Tintern Abbey (Fenway Park is a close second) I like real conversations, and binge watching things on Netflix. I’m snarky and cynical and also a hopeless romantic. I hate sappy novels, I love to cook, and being creative. I quote Arrested Development at least 3 times a day, and a good Meme makes me surprisingly happy. I’m quiet, and reflective, and dorky and driven. I like to dance in kitchen, and I can’t do a cartwheel, but I do make a damn good Manhattan. And I’m in the girl in the dinosaur leggings.

 

 

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Themes for 2015

Happy January Y’all. Tis the season, of Inventory, resolutions, and motivation.  Last year I listed off several goals/resolutions/projects… and like most people they kinda fizzled out a few months in, though I did use my juicer SO many times, and I did succeed in taking January off from beer drinking. Alas, I still haven’t seen a nutria in real life (and I’ve been told by a few people that if this was my goal, I need to dream bigger.. but whatever… I did some pretty amazing things in 2014, I don’t think having the goal of seeing a giant gross water rodent should deter from all the awesomeness that transpired last year. And lets be honest, a Nutria is pretty much the closest thing to a Rodent Of Unusual Size I’m ever going to see, so I still maintain, it was a legitimate goal… clearly I need to get up earlier and hang out by more water… anyway I digress.)

Last year I also decided that I wanted to draw inspiration and focus on a few key words and ideas in my daily life, and for me this was a much better approach to the whole New Years thing. Because, setting an intention and seeing how that unfolds in your life is just as rewarding as setting a tangible “I’m going to do this specific thing.”  To some, I’m sure it doesn’t feel as satisfying as saying “I’m going to run a half marathon” or “Be a vegetarian” or “Floss my teeth twice a day” and typically I am a giant fan of tangible lists, but when it comes to setting goals and intentions for the year, I’m more of a right-brained individual.

This year, I have 3 major Themes that I’m trying to focus on and I’m excited to explore where they will take me.

Themes for 2015

Themes for 2015

1) Self-Care
The same people who are skeptical about Nutrias have also commented “What are you talking about, you are great at self care! You go to yoga, you eat healthy.”  And these things are true, but a few weeks before Christmas I was sitting in a restorative yoga class (literally strapped in and propped up in a supported boat pose) and I just couldn’t shake the idea that I needed to start taking better care of myself. Not just in the physical sense, but also mentally and emotionally.  Yes, I DO teach yoga and barre, and I DO try to eat healthy, and I am oh so very good at letting myself put my feet up and relaxing with a glass of wine when things get stressful, but I think there is more to it than that.  For all the aspects of self care that I’m really good at, there are others that I’m pretty terrible at. I don’t get enough sleep, I sleep with my cell phone and laptop next to me, I don’t push myself to exercise daily, I drink too much coffee… the list goes on… and overall I don’t think these things are terrible, but I know there are times when I could be making a better effort to take care of myself… I’ll probably still eat boxed mac and cheese from time to time, and let’s be honest, the coffee isn’t going anywhere, but I’m excited to explore Self-Care as an overall theme for the year. (afterall, I’m turning 30 in 2015!) And I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know exactly what this is going to look like, but I imagine it will involve drinking a lot more water, and a little less booze. Being outside more, making meaningful connections, and taking more yoga classes. Spending more time in meditation, drinking a little more green tea, and a little less coffee. Incorporating essential oils into my daily life,  reading more books, taking more introverted re-charge moments, and also pushing myself out of my comfort zone more. It’s giving myself permission to say no, and inspiring myself to say yes. It’s going to bed a little earlier, and turning off technology at 10pm (ish). Its taking  occasional Spa days, and grown up vacations.   And what I love most about this idea of Self-Care, is that I know it’s going to look different every day. It’s not an all or nothing thing that says “You have to do ABC to achieve XYZ”  It’s more about tuning in to how I’m feeling in each moment, and giving myself the support that I need physically and mentally.

 

2) Authenticity 
This year I’m going to try and focus on being the most authentic version of myself. I’m not saying that I have a tendency to be fake or in-genuine, this blog is pretty real!  but Authenticity is another word that keeps coming to mind when I think about 2015. It’s interesting, because I feel like there is so much encouragement out there to celebrate what makes you unique (and I fully agree with this!) but sometimes I think maybe We (I’m using the general WE here, and) are a little guilty of pushing our uniqueness on people. Maybe pushing isn’t the right word… Let’s say we tend to lead with what makes us different, as a way to stand out to make an impression. And overall, I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with that. I think people need to own their quirks and what makes them different and celebrate their unique view of the world, but I think sometimes in doing that it is easy to lose other parts of yourself. I know that I sometimes play to my audience, I highlight areas of my personality that I think other people will be interested in, I post photos on social media that I think other people might like etc… And its ridiculously easy when we are building our own personal brand to put a spotlight on a few key things we want people to remember, while we squirrel other things away. Again, I’m not saying that I have this secret life, and that I’ve been creating a false persona… But I am saying that in 2015 I’m not going to worry about playing to my audience or pushing things into the foreground. I’m going to focus on having authentic interactions, I’m going to own my opinions, (even if that means jumping on some bandwagons) and I’m going to let my authenticity be the thing that attracts people.

 

3) Gratitude
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Gratitude is a game changer, and this year I’m going to try to focus more on the things that I’m grateful for. Big stuff, little stuff, totally random off the wall stuff. Whenever those little nuggets of negativity start creeping in, I’m going to try to focus on the good and have a sense of gratitude.
What are some of the themes you are wanting to focus on in 2015?

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.

Little nuggets of gratefulness

The past few weeks I’ve been doing a fair amount of mini “working on me” projects. I started a 21 day meditation series on Happiness, I joined the Kitchen Cure, a month long kitchen cleaning excursion, I’ve signed up for a 21 day juicing challenge, and I’m getting in my last few practice runs before tackling a half marathon next weekend! It’s a crazy busy life, but I’m loving the little daily tasks, and am feeling inspired, revitalized, and on track with my ever-present goal of living a life in forward motion. But with all the busyness, I’m finding it is even more important to take those little nuggets of stillness everyday. To actually carve out time for meditation, and to slow down and focus on the things in this life that I’m grateful for. As my dear friend Kali would say “Gratefulness is a game changer” and yesterday as I was out on my very long, and very slow run, I started to piece together a few of the everyday things in my life that I’m grateful for this week.

I’m grateful for :

The fact that even though I'm 29, I have parents who let me rummage through their refrigerator for leftovers on a regular basis. "Do you have plans for this salmon?" "Can I take some of this mac & cheese for lunch tomorrow?"

The fact that even though I’m 29, I have parents who let me rummage through their refrigerator for leftovers on a regular basis. “Do you have plans for this salmon?” “Can I take some of this mac & cheese for lunch tomorrow?”

 

My body, and that it allows me to do semi-crazy things like train for a half marathon, and take crazy fun outdoor barre classes.

My body, and that it allows me to do semi-crazy things like train for a half marathon, and take crazy fun outdoor barre classes.

 

That I have two wonderful bosses who had enough foresight to install an espresso machine in a clothing boutique. And also, that they do amazing things, like purchase almonds in bulk so we can snack on something healthy when things get a little nutty.

That I have two wonderful bosses who had enough foresight to install an espresso machine in a clothing boutique. And also, that they do amazing things, like purchase almonds in bulk so we can snack on something healthy when things get a little nutty.

 

That even though my best friend doesn't like dessert, he keeps a freezer full of Choco Tacos for when we have dinner parties.

That even though my best friend doesn’t like dessert, he keeps a freezer full of Choco Tacos for when we have dinner parties.

 

My students,Who show up to my yoga and barre classes every week with open minds, and let me teach what I'm feeling in the moment. I'm so blessed that they keep coming back week to week (and have for almost 4 years!) even when I ask them to do some semi-ridiculous things that get them out of their comfort zones.  Photo Cred: Ryan Jones.

My students, who show up to my yoga and barre classes every week with open minds, and let me teach what I’m feeling in the moment. I’m so blessed that they keep coming back week to week (and have for almost 4 years!) even when I ask them to do some semi-ridiculous things that get them out of their comfort zones.
Photo Cred: Ryan Jones.

That I've been able to cultivate relationships/friendships with local farmers who grow amazing things and who help support my pretty much constant craving for pardon peppers & fermented vegetables.

That I’ve been able to cultivate relationships/friendships with local farmers who grow amazing things and who help support my pretty much constant craving for pardon peppers & fermented vegetables.

 

photo 5(5)

padrons and kimchee in a sparkle bag, the usual Thursday MO.

 

That I have friends who say things like "Oh you haven't showered either? Great! We'll be smelly together, lets go get drinks!"

That I have friends who say things like “Oh you haven’t showered either? Great! We’ll be smelly together, lets go get drinks!”

 

A Niece that orders bear pancakes

A Niece that orders bear pancakes

 

the cutest nephew nugget around

the cutest nephew nugget around

 

The space and the ability to grow my own food

The space and the ability to grow my own food

 

 and always Tobias Wakefield, heart of my hearts.


and always, Tobias Wakefield, heart of my hearts.

Dear Universe: Merci Beaucoup. An excercise in gratefulness.

My 28th year seemed to come and go at an alarmingly fast pace. I know they say that time speeds up as you age.. perhaps this is true. This past week I’ve been doing that typical birthday thing of thinking about what I want my next year to be like… naturally my mind starts to wander towards planning my 30th birthday party, but I’m trying to keep mostly focused on goals… Goals are great, putting ideas and intentions out into the universe seems to come as naturally as breath, but every now and then I have to remind myself to step back into the present moment. To stop projecting into my future and just live life in this exact moment. Sometimes I have to remind myself to embrace the now.

And this is where gratitude comes into play. Because how can you possibly expect to be living your life in forward motion without taking some moments to really stop and be grateful for the things in life that you already have? I just finished reading “The Tools” (I would highly recommend it) and one of the major themes throughout the book is combating your negative internal voice with little nuggets of gratitude. Because it’s amazingly difficult to live under a cloud of doom and negativity when you are constantly reminding yourself to be grateful for the weird, tiny, everyday things. Yes, it might feel a little “first world” to sit down and think “I’m so grateful for this cappuccino.” but in reality, if you can’t find joy in the everyday stuff, life is going to get boring. I say, embrace the joy, even if its coming from something trivial…    And here is the thing about gratitude:  it’s contagious. Even if you aren’t sharing out loud what small things you are grateful for,  it radiates out of you and fills the space around you, it has an energy all its own…  and I don’t know about you, but  I’d rather be the type of person who has an aura of positivity than a Debbi Downer cloud of doom! (and trust me, I’ve been that girl… we all have… sometimes it happens. Sometimes negativity is just there, and frustrations abound, and misery loves company, and for whatever reason it is just easier to complain and be an ass-hole or pout and bitch and moan … sometimes. And sometimes people don’t want to be around you… and sometimes that is ok, because a lot of times you don’t want to be around people anyway… BUT in the long run as my mother or grandfather would say “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  )

My sweet friend Kali has been doing a really great job of this lately on her blog. Even while having Mono, she is finding the silver linings and cultivating a sense of gratefulness. She captures the little everyday things in the most amazing photos, and every time I read her posts I think “I’m so lucky that I know this person.”
I’m sure I will still have moments filled with cynicism and snarkiness, mental eye rolls, and personal anecdotes filled with sarcastic comments and “people be crazy!” That is just who I am. But going forward I’m also making an effort to open up and let the amazing little things in life totally overwhelm me with gratitude.  And I think that is a good place to start.
Some things I am grateful for:
This Troll Baby

This Troll Baby

Nephew Nugget

My Nephew Nugget

My Niece and Nephew Nuggets

My Niece Nugget

Friends who go on random adventures with you

Good friends who are willing to go on adventures

Sparkling Rosé

Sparkling Rosé

Bee Balm, and other things blooming in the garden

Bee Balm, and other things blooming in the garden

New Adventures

New Experiences

Garden Fresh Strawberries

Garden Fresh Strawberries

The new barre space and being able to teach there

The new barre space and being able to teach there

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

 

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.

Gardening instincts, SAD, and finding my motivation.

These last few days have been beautiful in Oregon. I typically don’t miss the Montana weather (its currently blizzarding and 2 degrees in my home town. No joke. There is a live webcam…) But these last two days the sun has been shining, the sky is blue, and I keep having a twinge of nostalgia for the clear crisp winter days… the blizzards not so much. I crave snow about once a year… one weekend is the perfect amount. Preferably around Christmas, anything over that just seems excessive.

 So yeah, I don’t miss the snow, but I would definitely take a few more crisp sunny days. Don’t get me wrong. I adore the dreariness of Oregon winters. I crave it a little bit, actually. The cozy foggy mornings that just beg you to snuggle in with a good book and a cup of tea. The bright green grass contrasting the dark charcoal sky. The drizzling rain… It soothes my soul, which is probably why I moved to Oregon in the first place. But every now and again, a little bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder sneaks its way in, and I’m left feeling a little blasé this time of year.  Thankfully, I have a happy lamp, which typically does the trick, even though it is a little ridiculous.

When my parents first made the move to Oregon the weather transition was a little rough on them. My mom’s doctor suggested a light supplement, and as it turns out they were selling them at Costco. Score. After about two weeks though, my dad had deemed the Happy Lamp the “unhappy lamp” because its actually a bit abrasive. After a bit of complaining, the light made its way over to my place, and mostly I used it for my house plants, but every so often I pull it out for personal use. I usually just place it in the bathroom, getting my extra dose of light as I get ready for the day, which is a win-win, as it turns out my bathroom doesn’t have the best lighting.  

 Anyway, the last few weeks I’ve been feeling rather unmotivated. I’m not depressed per say, I’m exercising, eating well, getting myself out there, and even meditating… but all that aside, I just haven’t been terribly motivated to work on the things that make me, me. I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t really been working on anything creative, my house is a bit of a disaster, I haven’t been cooking… I’ve kind of just been coasting aimlessly, not feeling passionate about anything.  And overall, I think that is allowed, and I haven’t even been overly concerned about it… until Today I realized how elated I was that the sun was shining. Hello productiveness! Hello  goals. Hello achievements (mental note: add vitamin D to my vitamin regimen stat. This sun can’t last forever) 

Thankfully, this motivation came on my day off (isn’t it the worst when you get super motivated, and you realize that if you actually stop to clean the bathroom you will be 20 minutes late to work? This happens to me often).  So I took the motivation, I took the sense of purpose, I took the energy from the sun, and put on some garden gloves. I’ve pretty much been avoiding putting my garden to bed for the winter like the plague.  I do this every year, and then make it so much harder for myself each spring… Mostly I got a little too excited about my garden this year, and then didn’t have a ton of time to do anything with it, so the idea of cleaning it out was a little daunting. I started the project a few weeks ago, but still had some beds that needed clearing.  Today was the perfect day…. And then I kept going. I clean out the tomato beds, I pruned the raspberries, I did a little weeding, trimmed back the mint, and even swept my patio. I would have gone so far as to pick up dog poop, only my super duper pooper scooper broke into a million pieces after 1 scoop. Tragedy. I’ll deal with that later.

 BUT one thing I did observe in this midst of this yard project was how happy it made me. Working in my garden, and growing my own food brings me epic amounts of joy, and even though this is the not fun part of gardening, I still found myself getting excited by the pruning. Mostly I have no idea what I’m doing… last year was a huge pruning experiment, and it seemed to mostly work, and so I decided to forge ahead with false confidence… only once I got going I realized that it was all pretty instinctual. I imagine this is sort of how first time parents feel. “I have no idea what I’m doing, but this feels like the right thing.” Granted, I am not a parent, and don’t have plans to become a parent, but it seems like its kind of the same thing.  There I was, in the raspberry patch, and I could just look at the branches and say “this one won’t produce next year, it’s a goner!” and I really did have every confidence that I was right (talk to me next June, and lets see if I have any raspberries). Once I cut about five branches, I started to notice that each of the branches I was eliminating was tied to the trellis with a green twist tie. I haven’t had time to confer with my father (who tamed the raspberries this spring) but it almost felt like a road map. “These are the ones that are producing now, and won’t do anything next year”  at least that is what I kept telling myself. It might just be a grand coincidence that every branch that was tied up was one I was getting rid of…. I’ll have to confer with Mike.

Who knows how long it will last, and what the rest of the winter will bring, but two days of sunshine, and I’m feeling more like myself. I’m feeling like I’m ready to tackle more projects, and ready to get more back into the things that make me feel like me.  We will see how long it lasts… Hopefully a while!

 

Mini-life detox.

Here is the thing about blogging: Its so much easier to write things in your head. I might be slightly biased, but I write some amazing mental drafts of things. I then finally find a few hours to sit down at my computer, and what comes out on the screen is usually a little bit more like verbal diarrhea. Sometimes I edit it, sometimes I delete it, but mostly I just post it, hope for the best, and move on to the next thing.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m wordy. I go where my mind takes me, and I realize for other’s it might not be the easiest to follow… But at the end of the day this is an exercise. It is getting thoughts into words, and it is exposing my jugular by putting them out there for other people to read. You might relate, you might not, you might think its funny, or terrible, you might only read it because you feel slightly obligated, or like my parents, you are looking for some more insights into my life. (love you guys). Whatever your reasons, thanks for reading.

 

I had a doozy of a weekend. The kind that makes you take a step back and decide I need a mini-life detox.  Which is exactly what I’ve done this week.

Backstory: Saturday night I had a fight with my ex-boyfriend. Mostly I was calmly saying “can we just talk about this like rational human beings?” as he yelled obscenity’s over the phone about how crazy and unstable I was, that I was too immature and that I needed to seek professional help for all of my issues etc.  (all I’m going to say about that, is that I was not the one yelling at my ex over the phone at 2AM… but I’m the immature unstable one, right?)  The fight was probably a good thing, it really helped me process some things, and see the situation a little more clearly, and overall I walked away feeling like “well, I sure dodged a bullet”. But it also left me feeling really sad.  I know that everyone has baggage and issues, and life is never simple, but arguing with him made my heart hurt, just seeing the reality that he lives in thinking that everyone and everything is against him. I know we all have defensive mechanisms, it’s a form of self preservation, but its really hard knowing that he decided a very long time ago that his life was too messy for anyone else to handle (which isn’t true, but he thinks its true) and so he just pushes people past their breaking point each and every time they get close.  It’s a self fulfilling circle… It’s hard to see yourself through someone else’s eyes, especially when you know that your heart and your intentions are come from this genuine and true place, and that someone else has twisted them into something completely malicious and negative.  Knowing that there is this version of you out there somewhere, even if it only exists in someone else’s mind is a little unsettling.  But overall, I’m just trying to let that go. As I writer this is something that I deal with a lot as well. Putting things out there and not having any control about how people interpret them is a really scary, and sometimes frustrating thing.  (I am constantly thinking, “But that’s not how I meant it! If someone took it that way does it mean that I’m not being very clear? Am I not able to get my point across? Do I basically suck at this?”) And then I let it go, because at some point you just can’t worry about it any more.

 

And at some point on Saturday I decided that I just can’t worry about him anymore. And it’s hard, because there are his kids to consider, and though I do worry about them every day, I have finally come to terms with the fact that he can no longer be in my life in any way shape or form. (12 hours after I decided this he was still texting me verbally abusive things about how what a crazy bitch I was… and saying that I was the one who kept bugging him etc… No communication seems like a no brainer).  I’m not trying to bad-mouth him, and I do really want what is best for him and his family. He is damaged and I knew that going in, and I hope he finds what he is looking for, but I also know that it doesn’t involve me in anyway, and that I need to focus on my own happiness.

 

I’m also going through a transition at my job right now. Over all it’s a really good thing, but I’m no longer Managing, and I went through a few days of mental battles with this. I love having more free time, and it’s a bit of a relief to not be in charge of people, to be able to clock in and out and leave things at the door.  I’m not exactly passionate about washing dishes, waiting tables etc. but I am passionate about the place that I work, which is at least something. I had a few fleeting moments of  “I have a liberal arts degree, I’m 28. All of my friends have careers and THIS is my life?”  but I have let go of that thinking. I’m thrilled to have a job that pays the rent and puts food on the table, and for the first time since I’ve been out of school I’m not married to my job. This is wonderful and also terrifying. I’ve been able to hide behind my job for so long… (I am fine being single 100%. However when every other person on the planet tends to repeatedly ask you a million times why you aren’t dating someone, its nice to be able to say things like “well I work  a lot, and not a lot of available men are frequenting the lavender farm these days” or “I barely have time to walk the dog most days, do you think I have time to go out and meet men?”) But all this to say, I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my life, I don’t have a 5 year plan, and every time someone brings this up, I get a little panicky. Had you asked me this a year ago, I could have told you with unwavering certainty exactly what I wanted with my life.  (move to Portland, Marry this guy, go to graduate school, be a part time step mom, teach yoga. Things change. It happens. I haven’t picked a new dream yet… but I’m giving myself some time to work on that… and hopefully now that I do have more free time I’ll be able to follow some more passions. )

 

ANYWAY, long backstory per usual, but Sunday morning left me feeling like I was kind of hit by a bus… well actually more like my face was stung by like 10 bees. I was sad, and puffy, and emotionally belittled and I decided right then and there I was going to do a 5 day mini-life detox.

 

Mostly this just consisted of a few key things. 1) exercise daily. 2) make healthy choices. 3) surround myself with positive and uplifting people. 4) drink a whole lot of juice. 5) be joyful.  Mission accomplished.

True, I’ve eaten some junk food, and rolled my eyes a few times this week.  But I’ve also gotten up every day and made the decision to be happy. I’ve frolicked in the amazing fall weather, I’ve seen and talked to some great friends, I’ve been moving my person, and focusing on the good things. And you know what? Life is pretty delightful.

 

Here are some other things I’ve done recently to detox my life and work towards being a better me.

 

3 day Juice Cleanse from Portland Juice Press:

AKA the best thing ever. I had such a great time doing this juice cleanse, and Portland Juice Press was amazing to work with. They offered us a group rate, even delivered it all the way out to wine country, the juices were interesting and delicious, and it was such a great way to jump start some healthy habits. I cannot recommend it enough.

Post Juice cleanse I kind of jumped on the juicing wagon. I got a hand me down juicer from a good friend, and started juicing up a storm. After juicing at least once a day for a month, I thought it was time to invest, so this week when I was feeling a little down, and maybe a little impulsive (though if I was really feeling impulsive I would have bought the $300 Frye boots… instead I got a juicer… which is really just investing in my life) The new juicer is amazing, and I’m juicing just about everything in sight. Yesterday I put fennel bulb in there! And you know what, it was delicious.  Some of my other favorite things to add to juice, Cilantro, Collard Greens,  and red peppers.  But the fennel was like blow your mind good.

Starting tomorrow I’m doing a 21 day “Get Your Juice on” challenge. Its free, and simple. 1 juice a day for 21 days. It’s not a cleanse, its not a diet plan, its just “add this juice to whatever you are already doing, and see what happens” experiment. Last time I checked there were over 150 people signed up for it, and it should hopefully be a fun way to share recipes and stories. It starts tomorrow, so its not to late to join! http://getyourjuiceonchallenge.com

 

I also signed up for this 10 day whole life cleanse. My Good Friend Amanda over at The Savoury Soul is putting it together, and I’m looking forward to not only supporting her as she launches her first program, but also digging in and finding some ways to let go of some of my own baggage.

 

And I’m also listening to more Country Music. Um what? Since when did my Montanian roots catch up with me? Its not for everyone, and some songs are way too redneck, my cheated heart, or my mama taught me themed for my liking. But a lot of it is just happy… and lately it kind of makes me happy. Go figure. (Maybe its a phase?)  Feel free to groan and eye roll, and then listen to some Keith Urban or Darius Rucker.

 

 

 Some Pictures from this week.

Frolicking in the Fall Leaves

Frolicking in the Fall Leaves

Arebequina Olives. Its almost Olive Harvest time in Oregon!

Arebequina Olives. Its almost Olive Harvest time in Oregon!

 

My trusted steed.

My trusted steed.