So, it's my Mister's 31st birthday today and I was super excited to give him his handmade gift that I'd been working on in secret for the last week. I found this darling idea for a garland on one of my go-to blogs, Creature Comforts
who was subsequently inspired by Lovely Indeed
, another favorite of mine.
The garland boasts the Mister's favorite motivational saying of the moment which is "Don't Talk About It, Be About It", which I have shortened to "Be About It." The condensing of the phrase seems to have worked in my favor because at random times during the day, I'll hear the Mister yell out "Be About It!" or if it is directed at me, "Be About It, Baby!" coupled with some strange man-dance and shake move that I have yet to understand. It's part Fred Flinstone and part Gangsta.
The project turned out to be fairly simple and the materials were fairly inexpensive. I bought stencils from the craft store, traced the letters for the phrase and cut them out on sturdy paper.
I did my best not to give away the finished product, but it's kind of hard not to let on when your working with glitter. My poor cats now twinkle and I still shimmer in the right light.
I took special care to touch up any areas that needed a little extra glitter love. This seemed the most tedious part, but the finished product was well worth it. It was a rather grey day so the glitter is not as shiny as I would like it in the final photo, but it didn't matter. The Mister absolutely loved his gift.
I secretly nailed the wall when he left the house yesterday and hung the garland in the wee hours of the morning while he was sleeping. Yay for surprises and handmade birthday gifts!
Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure
You would navigate through the book, choosing what would happen next. Page 20 would lead you to the edge of a fiery volcano or page 22 would send a rescue helicopter.
Life is kind of like that, except many of us deal with outside pressures (the “shoulds” of society) that can deter us from choosing the adventure we really want.
A recent phone conversation got me thinking about the choices we make and how happiness is derived or derailed as a result.
Take my best friend for instance, a 30-year old single woman with a good job that requires very little office time, a hot Italian boyfriend and a sweet brownstone in Philly. Prior to that she sold all of her belongings to take a leap of faith and live in Sydney for a year. Conventional? No. Adventurous? Yes!
The day we spoke, my friend was feeling uneasy about her place in life. Her sister, two years younger than she, was giving birth to her first child with her high-school sweetheart and all-American husband. My friend, although happy for her beloved sister, was questioning her own life choices. She felt it "should" be different.
Why? Because she’s the oldest. The oldest sister gets married first. The oldest sister buys the first home. The oldest sister gives birth to the first adorable grandchild. That’s what “should” be happening.
If you ask me, all those “shoulds” start making one feel very misplaced and unhappy. I had to remind my friend that she was living the life she always wanted. She’s been afforded the opportunity and courage to travel and live in another country. She has a kickass job which allows her to support herself and she lives in a vibrant city, the real kind where you don’t even need a car to get around. She IS
the quintessential modern woman- a real life Carrie Bradshaw, except her Big is a hot Italian boyfriend.
Although my life is much different, I could totally relate. My whole life, up until now, has revolved around what I thought I “should “be doing.
Where I grew up, it was understood that I “should” graduate high school then, I “should” go to college. I “should” get my degree in four years and then I “should” get a good job, settle down, buy a house, get a promotion, start a family and live the American dream. Right?
Well, I did most of that. I was, for a long time, programmed to believe that this common formula (all those things we “should” be doing) was the only path to success, fulfillment and happiness. Until now.
It’s taken me 30 years to realize that what I should be doing is following my
heart. I should be doing what I
love. Everyday. No matter what.
Here’s my new lists of things I “should” be doing:
- I should stop comparing my life to others.
- I should quit measuring my own worth based on what others think.
- I should do what feeds my soul.
- I should create my own brand of happiness.
If that means choosing the road less taken, so be it. If that means climbing the corporate ladder, go for it. Whatever that means for you, do it with your whole heart and listen to that still small voice.
It’s trying to tell you something.
When we choose to let go of all the “shoulds” that we carry, we are rewarded with experiences that far surpass anything we could have ever dreamed. When we choose to follow our dreams, we gain courage. We become the person we were meant to be- authentic and true.
I write today to follow my bliss. I have no idea where this road will take me. All I know is that this brings me joy and feeds my soul. Anything after that is gravy.
I can't remember the exact time when I stumbled upon this poem by Max Ehrmann, but it has stayed with me for years. Some people have a way of capturing the beauty of life and, for a moment, it all makes perfect sense. Enjoy.
by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you
to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham,
drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
It's no secret that I love food in all of its delicious forms. I consider myself a conscious eater, and I try to stick with a diet that is mostly organic and whole foods based. When I can, I like to use vegetable from my own garden. During the week, I often find myself eating vegetarian simply because it just works out that way. It's kind of easy, too, when there are amazing websites like 101 Cookbooks
(love me some Heidi Swanson!) offering up wonderfully creative and simple ways to enjoy healthy food.
I don't consider myself exceptionally talented in the kitchen, but I've found sites like 101 Cookbooks
which do a swell job of making me look good. I made this Orzo Super Salad
recipe for lunch this week and loved it. It contained lots of green goodness (asparagus, cucumbers, green onions, broccoli and avocado) along with orzo, toasted almonds, feta and a lemon vinaigrette. It was surprisingly easy to make and didn't cramp my wallet.
The photos don't really show you all the delicious feta that I crumbled over top, but it was in there and it was tasty.
This past week I also made a mixed mushroom soup
(which is a house staple) and a dish called Otsu
, which we tried for the first time. It was phenomenal. Wish I had pictures to show you, but we ate the Otsu in record time.
I try to find recipes that incorporate similar ingredients so I can keep our food costs down. I also try to make one soup to slurp on during the week. It's quick and beats the impulse food buy when we're feeling ravenous.
This week, I'm trying out recipes with lots of carrots in them. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes. In the meantime, here are a few other websites that are on my short list for recipes: Smitten Kitchen Barefoot Contessa
( I just love Ina!) You can also find her recipes on the Food Network
website. Hungry Hungry Hippie
(particularly for her healthy ideas and killer quinoa granola
recipe) Whole Foods
I discovered most of these through my foodie friends (ahem, Skye) and welcome any new suggestions to add to the queue. Looking forward to hearing from some of you. Happy Eating!
Good morning! The birds are chirping. The sun is shining and the world is alright with me. This is more of a sing-along, but it certainly makes me smile and makes my day feel lovely. Hope yours is too. Happy Friday!
The road to happy living is paved with interesting twists and turns and a healthy dose of honesty. Here's a little bit of my latest. It's raw. To thine own self be true.
I'm starting to get my elevator pitch down and with more ease. I can now sit tall, look someone in the eye and with confidence tell them why I won't be accepting my recent admission to graduate school.
"I'm going down the road less taken," I say.
I vacillate between feeling passionate about my decision and trembling with overwhelming doubt. Even the slightest experience knocks me off kilter.
Last night I met a woman who, in the 1980's, almost won a Mazda hatchback car but instead won a Mary Kay package on The Price Is Right
. No kidding. She showed me the video
Today, that same woman lives a privileged life as the National Sales Director of Mary Kay Cosmetics. She's been privileged to drive 15 pink cadillacs and has been a conversation piece for Bob Barker twice. Once when she was a 21-year old contestant (Bob had brown hair back then) and 12 years later when, a grey-haired Barker referenced her success as a credit to his show.
This woman and her husband of 36 years took a special liking to me. I was articulate, intellectual and "not your typical server." No offense taken.
Their story of faith, family and fortune fascinated me. Their kindness signaled a genuine connection, a look into the crystal ball of my own life, maybe. Just like that I came home, lip trembling, tears welling up- Should I be looking into the Mary Kay Empire? Why did our paths cross? Was God trying to tell me to pursue cosmetics? I was confused. Am I even supposed to be writing?
Currently, any stable faith in myself is short-lived. The only thing that restores my shaky house of cards is a loving fiance who reminds me that I love to write, that I've always talked about this sort of thing. But have I? I'm not sure.
Still, the words "I'm not going to graduate school" come out of my mouth and I am writing. And reading. And reading about writing. And posting.
Something is stirring. It's terrifying. It's schizophrenic and it feels like something I could get used to.
Sitting in th bookstore today I think I cried, laughed out loud, thought of three short story ideas and witnessed my future self receiving a spot on The New Yorker's
list of 20 Under 40, all within a 20-minute span.
Sitting here today I remembered the times I wrote just to write. Traipsing across Europe documenting the sights and smells, making up stories about my server while eating breakfast in Midtown Atlanta, scribbling my coked-up soul on to anything that would hold ink including the refrigerator which, turns out, soaks up permanent marker surprisingly well. Journaling, reading,writing, thinking. I've done this off and on for years.
When it comes to writing, I've never consciously turned on the faucet and left it running. I've always been too afraid to flood the house. Too worried about ruining all the things that lived inside. I'll never be able to replace what's there. Or will I? I'll make too much of a mess. I won't have any place to live. I could lose everything.
I'm so dramatic. But, it's true.
I don't know what's going to happen by choosing this path. All I know is that, at this moment, I'm definitely not going to graduate school.
A friend of mine recently posted this picture of Katherine Hepburn on a skateboard along with the comment that she was the embodiment of "grace, femininity and balls." Amen to that!
As a woman, this photo made me sit up a little straighter today and feel grateful for my feminine gifts and graces (although some would argue the grace part).
Nonetheless, I hope you feel empowered to go about your day knowing that you possess the gifts and graces to conquer anything you wish. You are a force of nature. Fierce. Feminine. Fabulous.
Now, go get 'em Tigress!
Self-Portrait, February 2011
I was never one for silence or for sitting still. In fact, it's really hard for me to do both. I've got a loud mouth and I'm constantly jiggling something- my foot, my leg, sometimes my whole self. If I'm not doing that I'm daydreaming (how Aquarius of me), conquering my to-do lists or biting my cuticles. What I’m saying is that silence or stillness, for that matter, are certainly not my default setting.
However, it has been brought to my attention that meditation is a key component to happy living. So, in my quest for happiness, I have made a commitment to make time for quiet reflection and meditation each morning. This is much easier said than done. Meditation takes discipline, another quality that does not come naturally to me.
I'll be honest. I've only really started taking responsibility for myself about three years ago (yes, I'm 30 years old and yes, three years ago is accurate). I'm a spiritual kindergartner. I'm just a babe in the woods when it comes to this kind of stuff. Still, I want a meditation practice.
I've read too many books by too many people who lived many, many years ago in separate places of our vast world who all say the same thing: Happiness is an inside job. The key to the Universe is within you. Look inside yourself.
I began the year journaling my experiences. I also decided I would try to go on some sort of retreat at least once a month, even if just for a day or few hours. Nothing went as planned. It all went to shit by February. I have journal entries for three days. That's it.
January 2, 2011
15 min. meditation. Stomach gurgling. Heart rate up due to the two cigarettes I just smoked in rapid succession. My blog name showed up. Gathered some light to set my intentions.
* I do have January 2 to credit for finding my blog name. It's about the small victories, right?
January 3, 2011
Meditated for 24 minutes, 13 of which my mind ran completely amuck. Brief periods of stillness. Am I trying too hard? Feels like I'm playing hide and seek with God.
February 11, 2011
Made it to the Starrette homestead for a miniature retreat. Turns out I'm the only person here today. Looking forward to being silent. My intentions for today are to release my negativity and receive guidance. Let go. I have no plans except to listen.
It is now March and I've made minimal progress. Apparently, meditation practice takes practice.
I do believe that it's all about finding what works for you. There are so many techniques, tips and tricks out there that would alone make my head explode. The first step for me is to get quiet, rather, find time to get quiet. For me, that means waking up early and having those few moments alone.
What do I hope to get from this?
I want a connection to the still small voice. Some people call it intuition, your gut, your soul’s voice. All I know is that my head cannot be making all the decisions. What swims up there is not meant for real life. It’s a bad neighborhood. No one should go there alone.
The still small voice is the machete that hacks through the tangled jungle of my thoughts. It’s the lighted pathway that shows me where I should go next. It’s the feeling that tells me, “this is right, go with it” or “this is very wrong.” It’s my parental guidance and I need that.
Life throws curveballs all the time and I am constantly bombarded with the social pressures of what I “should” be doing. The still small voice is my answer to all that.
My next post discusses the latest decision I made to pursue my happiness. It wasn’t an easy one. Let’s just say I’m headed down the path less taken. Grab your machetes- it’s going to be an adventure!
Must remember to always live life this way. Happy Saturday!
Awww, yeah! You know you wanna turn this up and disco. Let's boogie 'til we just can't boogie no mo'- it's time to dance!