Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

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For whatever reason, I never watched “Gilmore Girls” when it was on – I’m not sure if I didn’t get the channel in Canada or what, but…the entire thing went right over my head. I know that I didn’t see it on British TV when I lived in the UK, and by the time I moved to the US it was nearly over, so…totally missed the boat. Over the years (and especially as my Muppet has gotten older) many people have commented on how the Wee One and I have a relationship that’s not that different from the one between Lorelai and Rory. I hoped that this was a compliment, but was never entirely sure – until a few weeks ago. During a particularly raucous bout of cryptospiridium poisoning (which is nowhere near as fun as that flashy title sounds), I was stuck at home for days. I wasn’t chained to the pot in my bathroom, but things were pretty damn close. I did nothing but lay in bed, wishing to perish a quick and painless demise – it was vile. I passed the time by finishing all five seasons of “Alias” (another show I had missed out on – what fun! Bradley Cooper was so dreamy!!), the “Wet Hot Summer” series on Netflix (featuring the ageless Paul Rudd, that bugger), and the first few episodes of “Gilmore Girls”. And…I’m hooked. I friggin’ LOVE this show – it’s so awesome. I want to move to the town of Stars Hollow yesterday, and I could become very accustomed to having the lovely Luke make me my coffee every morning. Lorelai and Rory’s relationship is kind of similar to the Muppet antics that go on at our house…while I hope that I am slightly more mature and responsible than Lorelai, I do certainly think that my attitude towards things with the little one is not that far off from hers. I am crazy for this show – so awesome! :-) Even though I’ve never seen it before, there’s something so familiar about it…it reminds me of home. :-) (Plus, I’m mega-nostalgic for the 90s these days for some reason, so….yet another reason to binge-watch!)

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I’ve been feeling really homesick lately, and longing for small town life…words I never thought I would utter. The traffic here in San Antonio has absolutely plummeted down the shitter this summer, and it’s wearing me down. I’ve taken to planning my social life around traffic patterns, which is a practice I absolutely loathe – and something I swore I’d never do again after my years living in traffic purgatory (AKA Washington, DC/Northern Virginia). The start of the school year has not helped our already craptastic traffic patterns, as every fool (and their dog) are on the road at the same time, and nobody is getting anywhere. It’s terribly frustrating, and really cramping my style – I’m over it! I told someone the other day that I want to move to a small town, work at a school there, and have livestock be the only traffic barrier that I contend with….wouldn’t that be nice??! :-)

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The other alternative is move to a metropolis, put the car in storage, and go public transportation all the way. While grocery shopping would take some major adjustments, I think I could SO adapt to this way of life. I love having other people drive me places (probably because it rarely happens), I like looking out the windows and watching the world go by. I love being in cities where you can walk everywhere (which never friggin’ happens here in San Antonio – things are so far apart, and since it’s hotter than the depths of hell here for half of the year, walking isn’t an option), I love sitting on benches and people watching…all of the things that I bet I could do if I moved to a bigger urban center. My beloved New York would be nice!!!! :-)

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However, despite my longings for new beginnings and change, I guess I will have to stay here for now – wandering is tough when you’ve got a Muppet in tow. Time to pretend that San Antonio is just a slightly overgrown Stars Hollow (I wish!).  I wonder if the longing to roam and wander will ever leave my system…highly unlikely, I imagine – but I think I’m pretty okay with that. :-)

xxx

I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing

The start of a new school year is an exciting, chaotic time….I tend to lose myself in all of the excitement of new students and new notebooks, rarely stopping to take time to smell the roses or the aroma of the binding on said new notebooks. However, I took a five minute time out today, sat under my desk (it’s my happy place :-) ), and thought about a few of my favorite things these days. Here you go:

1) The song ‘S.O.B’ by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats:

This song is EVERYTHING. EV-ERY-THING. Love. :-)

If your hiney isn’t up and dancing, then you need to consult a medical expert…there’s clearly something wrong with you.

 

2) These shoes:

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I ordered these babies from Italian shoe campany Tipe e Tacchi….at least I think I did. I fell in love with them when Kat from Rock’n’Roll Bride shared a picture of them on Instagram, and I knew that I HAD to have them. The damn shopping site is only in Italian, and while I can holler ‘gelato’ and ‘manicotti’ with the best of them (think Kevin Kline in “A Fish Called Wanda”), I still remain uncertain if I did indeed order them or not. I check the post hopefully each day…because those are some seriously fab shoes that I think will be perfect on my feeties! :-)

 

3) Speaking of awesome things, behold my new Betsey Johnson bag:

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Yep…it’s a hot pink typerwriter bag. With chain straps. It’s AMAZING!!! I love it with all my heart! Yaaa!!! It really doesn’t take a lot to have me excited, does it? 😉 (NOTE: This is the annual First Day of School picture of the Wee Muppet and I – could she be more gorgeous??! I doubt it!!)

 

4) My Bando Agenda:

This thing is everything for a planner nerd like me – I love it SO MUCH:

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I’ve always delighted in a good planner, but man alive is this one ever a life changer. I don’t know how people survive without a good planner!!

 

5) This:

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I’m a graduate again! Yaaaa me!!! :-)

 

What are you excited about these days?

xxx

A Change Would Do You Good

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A couple of the things that I’ve always thought of as fun, cute little ‘quirks’ in my personality have really started to get on my nerves lately…and I’ve concluded that I need to make some changes. For example, I don’t know when it happened, but I have become very awkward in social situations, and I just don’t get it. I used to do fine around other people, but not anymore – I think I’m okay when it’s people that I know very well, but man oh man do I struggle when it’s folks that I don’t really know. I find it so hard to strike up random conversations with people, I feel irritated by others far too easily (apparently my tolerance for stupidity has REALLY changed, as I am willing to do just about anything possible to avoid conversations with the idiots that walk amongst us)…something has got to change and quick – and it has to be me.

The greatest mystery is how to facilitate that change, though…I am trying to think a positive thought and acknowledge that realizing that I have an issue is the first step. However, where to go next? I Googled this (because I Google everything), and came across this article – and I think it’s pretty great:

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Do you have some personality trait, quirk or habit that you would like to change but have yet to succeed? Well I know the easiest and fastest way to change anything about yourself. That sounds way too good to be true, but I guess you’ll have to keep reading if you want to know for sure.

Step 1: Decide what you want to change

Examples include confidence-level, speech impediments, ability to converse with the opposite sex and other sources of insecurity.

Step 2: Lie to yourself

I know this sounds stupid at first, but hear me out. You need to tell yourself that you are exactly what you currently are not.

If you are very shy, then tell yourself that you are considered by most to be “the life of the party” and that you love addressing entire groups of people. You are a magician with words and have a special knack for social interaction that others admire. Yadayadayada.. you get the idea.

Step 3: Imagine the change in yourself

Create a minute-long movie in your head of yourself after the change has been made. Get as detailed as possible and remember to also feel the emotions of that moment while you imagine it.

It’s almost like you’re planting a false memory in your head. So just as with any other memory, you should be able to be somewhat transported back to that moment when you think about it. Just ignore that voice in your head that says this never happened. Logic isn’t important in this exercise!

Step 4: Become a method actor

You need to emulate the person you want to be as if you already are him/her. Keep telling yourself that you ARE that person and continue to act like him/her as often as possible. Play the character at the grocery store, at work or with friends.

Body language, diction and actions should all reflect how that changed version of you would act. But remember, you are actually being the person, not just acting like him/her. In your head, your thoughts should read “I am confident!”, not “I’m acting confident!”

A really effective option is to choose a character from a movie, TV show or someone you know well that has the trait you wish to attain. This way you have a visual example of how you should be acting instead of having to make it up. My go-to characters are James Bond and Tyler Durdin from Fight Club.

Step 5: Believe

All of the previous exercises are meant to get you believing that you are already that changed version of yourself. Heck you already act like this person on the daily anyways, so what’s to stop you from believing you are him/her?

If you’re still not buying that you ARE the changed version already, go back and practice steps 2-4 more until you do. I guarantee that this will heed faster and more satisfying results than anything else you read about.

But remember, it’s like Peter Pan: you have to believe.

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Good stuff, eh? I like the idea of fakin’it ’til you’re makin’ it – I have applied that theory in my professional life more than once, and I’m perfectly okay with giving it a whirl for my personal life as well. On a somewhat related note, give this one a quick read – it’s about being happy at every age, and I LOVE it! :-)

In a world where everything is quite literally at our fingertips, we can have almost anything we want instantaneously. However, the advent of modern technology and its many luxuries hasn’t made us any happier than we were in the past—it may even have created a disconnect between us. New research suggests that wealth doesn’t improve our happiness either. So if money and technology can’t lift our spirits, what can? According to a Psychology Today report, researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California states, “40 percent of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.” Jeannine Morris—founder of health, wellness, and lifestyle site JMEdit and studying health coach—agrees. She believes you can “train your brain to think happy.” Want to learn how? Scroll down for more of Morris’s simple secrets to happiness.

Change Your Thoughts
Have you ever thought about how you think? Did you know that how you speak to yourself plays a huge role in your mental and physical health? According to Morris, your thoughts control your feelings, and in order to become a happier person, you need to think happier thoughts. “While it seems simple, it actually takes a lot of practice because you need to retrain your brain,” she says. “A good example that I find a lot of people can relate to is the thought or idea of not being enough—not skinny enough, rich enough, smart enough, and the list goes on.” She adds, “When you begin to tell yourself—and realize—that you are enough, you can experience abundance.” Morris explains how to train your brain to think happy on her website.

Set Daily Intentions
What’s the first thing you do every day before you get up? We bet that most of you reach over for your phone and check it for work emails or scroll through social media. Well, if it’s happiness you seek, Morris has a different approach. “Each morning before I get out of bed, I meditate for 20 minutes and set an intention for the day,” she notes. “Sometimes it’s as simple as ‘Today is going to be a great day.’ Starting your morning off on a positive note, with an intention, will help guide you through the rest of your day in a similar positive manner.”

Treat Yourself How You’d Treat Your Pet
We all love our pets, and a study has proven they make us happier and healthier, too. So just imagine how happy you’d be if you put yourself on the same pedestal you put your pet on. We dote on them with constant affection, only feed them the best produce, and spoil them with treats. Morris says we should mimic this behavior and treat ourselves the same way. “Your health and happiness is in your own hands,” she adds. “What are you eating? Are you making time for relationships, fitness, and pampering? Well, it’s time you did.”

Learn How to Emit Your Own Frequency
This tip can be summarized in one quote by inspirational speaker and best-selling author Barbara Marciniak: “Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.” It might seem a little evangelical, but Jeannine says we (human beings) are composed of energy, just like everything around us, and “it’s important to understand that our energy (our soul) is living a human experience and can emit its own frequency.” She adds, “Too often, we pick up the negative energy of others and can easily become absorbed by it. You know the Kendrick Lamar song ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe?’ Well…”

Forgive, Forgive, Forgive
We’re all accustomed to the usual form of forgiveness, where you excuse someone for any wrongdoing against you. But what about when you need to forgive yourself for something? Morris strongly believes this simple act is the “ultimate secret to achieving peace and happiness.” She notes, “Whether you need to forgive yourself or someone else, it’s important to recognize that until you can forgive, you’ll never be fully liberated and able to live life to its fullest.”

Donate Your Time to Those in Need
We’re all familiar with clearing out our wardrobes and giving our old clothing and belongings to the local thrift store, but how often have you donated your time? We understand how precious this is, but if we want to experience true happiness, Morris urges us to give back. “It’s one of the most rewarding things we can do on this earth,” she says. “We’re conditioned to think of time as money, (and in many cases… yeah, pay up!), but you have more than 10,000 minutes in a week. Taking an hour out of your schedule to help those in need is a humbling and fulfilling experience.”

Unplug and Tune In
We’re all a little addicted to our social feeds, but too much scrolling can impede our happiness as we start to lament over the things we don’t have, or how our lives lack the glamour or fun compared to our favorite influencers. Morris begs you to quit comparing yourself and remember that Instagram is a just a well-edited version of what’s really happening at home. “Stop spending so much time on social media platforms. Unplug and go create a life of your own,” she says.

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Practice Mindful Eating
Have you ever stopped to think about the food that’s on the end of your fork? Food is the best form of medicine—with the power to heal you from the inside out—and if we feel better, we’ll feel happier, too. “As Americans, most of us grew up not paying attention to the food we consume, and that needs to change in order for you to feel your best,” she says. “Each time you sit down to eat, look at your plate and make sure everything on it has nutritional value. Food fuels our body and keeps our systems running properly, so imagine what’s happening inside when we’re full of sugar?” Jeannine explains more about using food as medicine in her post “6 Steps to Healing Yourself.”

Learn How to Meditate
The powerful benefits of meditation, including health and happiness perks, are well known and proven, so if you haven’t tried it yet, maybe it’s time you did. “Meditation helps to relieve stress, allows the mind to explore deeper levels of thought, and clears any irrelevant thoughts, making you able to focus,” says Morris. “I practice transcendental meditation, which is 20 minutes of repeating a mantra twice a day, but even if you sit for five minutes repeating an intention, or focusing on your breath each morning, you’re helping yourself.”

Keep a Gratitude Journal
There’s been a lot of buzz around gratitude and its impact on happiness, but just what is it exactly? Angela Simson of The Gratitude Project says, “It makes everything you have, all you need.” Morris believes that recognizing and expressing gratitude are very powerful activities. “Without gratitude, you’ll take things for granted, so before bed, I try to think of three things I’m grateful for that day,” she says. “I’m old school, so I like to practice journaling in an actual notebook. I like to write them down, but you can also keep a running list in the ‘notes’ section of your iPhone.”

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I’m so crazy about this list! I’ve been a huge fan of gratitude journals, but with my crazy busy work-life schedule, I don’t have the time anymore to sit down and properly journal every day. Sad trombone! However, I’ve started jotting down three things that I am grateful for each day in my agenda (as tech savvy as I am, I still use a paper agenda…and I am madly in love with my new one from Bando – LOVE it!!), and seeing those cute little entries is filling me with happiness. Yaaa! :-) I should have done this ages ago!!! Woohoo! :-)

What do you do to make yourself happy? What things are important enough to you that you want to focus on changing? For me, this social awkwardness crap has got to go, as do a few other things (trying too hard with people who don’t give a shit about me, taking things that others say entirely too personally…I could go on). I’m going to really work on this, lean the hell in – I’ll let you know how it goes. :-)

xxx

 

We Are The Champions

As we get ourselves ready to embark on a new school year, please watch this short video from educator Rita Pierson….and, even if you aren’t a person who makes their livelihood by teaching the minds of tomorrow, adopt her philosophy and apply it to your encounters with those around you – she was a smart woman, that one. :-)

 

xxx

Shake It Off

Taylor Swift sure knew what she was doing when she penned the catchy little ditty “Shake It Off”… that’s wise life advice that I seem to have SUCH a hard time learning. When something irks me, which has been known to happen approximately 4,279 times per day (seriously – I need to learn to quit getting so irritated by things…it doesn’t help me in the least), I get massively annoyed – and I can let one idiot and their stupidity put a cloud over an entire day! What a waste! Why I do this, I can’t even begin to explain…I need to learn to embrace the idea of letting go, and just letting the nonsense of the day wash over my shoulders until it is poof! gone. But how?

Heehee!

Heehee!

I have often asked myself the question, ‘Is this the hill that I choose to die on?’…and take it from there. Usually, the answer is no (I have very little interest in perishing on a hill, it seems)…and that helps me to get up and get over it.  The thing I need to realize most is that letting go and moving on doesn’t mean that I don’t care anymore – it just means that the only thing in life that I can control is ME…and that moving on is a necessary (and critical) part of adapting to the inevitable changes that happen around us.

Give this article from CNN a read – it’s full of good advice on not sweating the small stuff:
Blowing up over small things takes a strong physical and emotion toll over the years
Research suggests that we can train ourselves to not sweat the small stuff
When the cable guy is a no-show, reframe the situation in a positive light
If you feel anxious about something, think about ways to solve the problem
There are two types of people in this world: those who swoop up their accidentally dropped keys with no complaints and go along their merry way and those who, more often than not, can’t pick them up without cursing or letting out a big, miserable sigh.

An insignificant occurrence, yes, but it’s often the mundane incidents (a whining child, an on-the-fritz printer) that reveal how vastly different human temperaments can be, says Michael D. Robinson, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at North Dakota State University.

Some people take life’s small slights and setbacks with a shrug, while others freak out, blow up, or fly off the proverbial handle in a loud huff or with silent seething. Why such a yawning gap in behavior? This is a question that scientists have only recently recognized as being significant to health.

Just as life’s most challenging experiences can flood the bloodstream with stress hormones, the smallest hassles can take a toll as well, says Nancy Nicolson, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

“The changes are small — a 10 to 15% increase in cortisol levels in response to typical daily annoyances, as opposed to a 100 percent or more increase during very stressful events,” like a college entrance exam. But these small fluctuations “happen more frequently and can have a cumulative effect,” says Nicolson.

Feeling chronically stressed increases the risk of heart disease and weakens the immune system. It can also compromise some types of memory and learning, says Carmen Sandi, Ph.D., the director of the Brain Mind Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. If we could all be more even-keeled (so we didn’t sweat the small stuff), we would enhance our physical and mental health.

Recent research suggests that we can train ourselves to not sweat the small stuff. To be a more even-keeled person, first you need to think like one, says Rosalind S. Dorlen, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in New Jersey. That means using mental strategies that exercise the region of the brain that’s responsible for reasoning, so that it isn’t overwhelmed by the part of the brain that’s involved in emoting. To do that takes practice. Consider every irritating incident as a chance to work out the reasoning area in your brain and you’ll realize that what constitutes a stressor is subjective and that little set-backs will ruin your day only if you let them.
Real Simple presented a few everyday nuisances to experts in the field of emotional regulation and asked, “What would an even-keeled person do?” Here are their answers.

You feel: Inconvenienced

The situation: You put off your errands. You canceled your lunch date. All so you could be home for the cable guy between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. He never shows up.

How to stay calm: Reframe the circumstances. “Thinking differently calms down your brain’s emotional region,” says James Gross, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Stanford University. For instance, if you spent your morning lingering over coffee and the paper while waiting, try to view this as a rare, unexpected luxury instead of a waste of time.

It’s also helpful to think of the big picture. As Dorlen puts it: “What’s going on and how you end up feeling depend on where you point the lens.” Perhaps the cable guy simply had more assignments than he could humanly keep up with. This is not to say that you should let it go. You absolutely should call the cable company and express your frustration. But by readjusting your perspective, you can voice your displeasure in a less angry way and still get results.

You feel: Defeated

The situation: You’ve prepared for a presentation for weeks, but you end up blanking on key points. Back at your desk, you’re about to break down in tears as you replay the episode in your head over and over again.

How to stay calm: Focus on the present. After all, “it’s never the stress-inducing event that you’re freaking out about,” says Steven Berglas, Ph.D., a life coach in Los Angeles. “It’s what you’re afraid might happen because of it,” whether that’s being reprimanded by your boss or laughed at by your colleagues.

But that’s not real at the moment; what’s real is that you can take control of the situation. Quell the angst with an impromptu meditation session. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in San Francisco and the author of Hardwiring Happiness, suggests quietly taking a moment to breathe in and two slow moments to breathe out. “Inhaling speeds up the heart rate,” he says, “and exhaling slows it down.”

At the same time, say to yourself what you feel (I am upset), then let that label disappear from view. “Naming your emotions as you’re feeling them reduces the activation of your emotional brain and engages your reasoning brain,” says Hanson. Now you can focus on fixing the problem, which could be as simple as sending out a recap memo on your presentation that includes a summary and the points that you missed.

You feel: Anxious

The situation: Your husband is running late (though he swore he would be on time). Now you’re going to be late for your appointment, and your toddler just wiped his nose on your skirt.

How to stay calm: Problem-solve. If even-keeled people rarely appear stressed, it’s because they’re too busy looking for answers. A tardy spouse and a soiled skirt aren’t catastrophes to be cursed at but circumstances to be fixed. Dorlen suggests asking yourself, immediately after the offending incident happens, How am I going to solve this?

“Once you phrase the question in your mind, you have awakened the reasoning portion of your brain and put yourself in a position to find an answer,” says Dorlen, the clinical psychologist. “You’re no longer the victim of your emotions.” Next, pretend that you’re a coach with a game plan, such as pulling on a clean skirt, taking your child with you, and texting your husband to meet you at your appointment. Now take action.

You feel: Disrespected

The situation: Somehow, your offer to bring back coffee for an office mate has turned into an order for six complicated lattes. As you rattle off the list to the barista, you notice that she is rolling her eyes.

How to stay calm: Speak positively. To understand why this is important, it helps to know a little brain anatomy. The brain is made up of cognitive and emotional parts, and the emotional part is composed of various circuits, says Andrew Newberg, M.D., director of research in integrative medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia.

These circuits include the reward system, which reinforces positive experiences, and the sympathetic nervous system, which connects the brain to the body and issues a fight-or-flight response when you feel stressed. Positive words (which we grew up associating with something pleasant, such as caring teachers) activate the reward system. Negative words (which we associate with something unpleasant, like playground bullies) spike angry or sad thoughts.

So, if you’re not willing to let it go, say, with a good-natured laugh, “I know this long order is annoying. I wish I had a shorter list, too,” as opposed to “Hey, you’re rude!” The words will calm you, and they will also put the other person in a more generous frame of mind. “Our emotional states reflect those around us,” says Newberg. If you speak pleasant words in a calm tone, chances are, the other person will reply with pleasant words in a calm tone. Starting the exchange in a peaceful way increases the chance that you’ll be sipping on your espresso sooner rather than later.

You feel: Disappointed

The situation: You’ve been planning this cocktail party for weeks. Now that the big day is here, it’s snowing. Heavily.

How to stay calm: Embrace optimism. “Behind every setback, there’s an expectation that things should be different,” says Dorlen.

Even-keeled people are no different, but when things don’t go as planned, they feel hopeful that circumstances will get better. Which in this case may mean thinking, “with fewer people, our gathering will be much more intimate and relaxed. And who doesn’t love that on a cold winter’s night?”

Optimism buffers the effects of stress—not only for everyday hassles but also for life-altering challenges,” says Madelon Peters, Ph.D., a professor of experimental health psychology at Maastricht University. Optimism is also associated with resilience. That’s why optimists are better able to bounce back after difficult times.

While it’s tough for natural-born pessimists to don rose-colored glasses instantly, they can condition their brains so that it gets easier to do so over time. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, women who participated for two weeks in an imagery and writing exercise in which they imagined an optimal future reported a sustained increase in optimism compared with those who wrote about random topics.

To try this technique, imagine yourself 10 years from now under the best possible, yet still realistic, circumstances. Write down specific details. (Where do you live? What do you love about your life?) Then spend five minutes each day visualizing these details. “Imagery can create vivid and, in this case, positive emotional responses. These images and associated emotions end up living in your memory almost as if they were real,” says Peters. In the short term, compared with the world created in your mind, the once unbelievably aggravating everyday letdowns may become small and surmountable.

The biology of chill

Anyone can become more even-keeled using the mental strategies on these pages, but naturally irascible personalities might need to put in a little extra effort. Temperament, after all, is partly genetic. Think of the brain as a seesaw: On one side are the frontal lobes, the region associated with reasoning; on the opposite side is the amygdala, where emotions, both good and bad, are generated. In between, where the imaginary fulcrum sits, is the anterior cingulate, which mediates the opposing forces.

In each person, one side is inherently more influential than the other, explains neuro-scientist Andrew Newberg, M.D. What results is a person’s temperament (an internal balance or emotional tone), which can shift further to one side or the other depending on external forces. These forces can be traumatic (a divorce), annoying (traffic), or health-related (poor-quality sleep, inadequate nutrition—both of which can trigger chemical changes that compromise brain activity).

For a hotheaded type, whose brain already seesaws toward the emotional side, negative events can exacerbate imbalance. For an even-keeled personality, the brain may tip over to the emotional side only ever so slightly. No matter which group you fall into, just a small push toward the reasoning area of the brain can mean the difference between a run-in with a colleague that ruins your entire weekend and one that you can leave at the office without a second thought.

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Great advice, right? I know – yet, I also know how hard it is to remember these things in the moment. I so need to work on this, and remember that I can only control myself and my own actions…everyone else is not my concern. Words to live by! 😉

 

This article is somewhat related, and I love it! Let’s consider 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Life:

1. Don’t Put Off Things Until Tomorrow
We all say, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow!” What you should really be saying is, “Oh, I’ll do that right now!” Living in the moment and getting things done now are great habits to have regardless of making the most of your life or not.

Living for the now is even better if you want to make the most of your life. It is indeed quite helpful. Give it a try. Leave that procrastination far behind.

2. Get Engaged With Your Community
Whenever you do something, do it with all your heart. Even if you don’t want to do something, give it your heart and soul. You don’t want to regret what you could have done. Get engaged in your community.

Do some activities offering to help in the church, cleaning in the park, or helping the elderly. I’ll tell you, these kinds of things make you feel so special from the inside. The feelings they bring you are so indescribable.

3. Enjoy Yourself At Every Opportunity
Regardless of how you feel, enjoy each moment you are in. It makes life so much easier and valuable when you actually cherish each breath you take on the planet of Earth. You need to be grateful.

When you are grateful for things around you, everything seems so much better. Life seems like a sort of gift from heaven. Do yourself a favor and enjoy yourself at every opportunity. Be grateful for the life you have been given. I am telling you that you will feel a hundred times better than you felt yesterday! Really, it feels great! I can tell you from personal experience.

4. Show Appreciation
Appreciate all you have instead of reaching out for more. You always should, even if things don’t go your way try and appreciate whatever is around you. This can be family, friends, your home, food, or even pets.

Respect these things as they are hard to come by and have no price tag. Appreciate everything you have been given. I guarantee everything will work in your favor. You will start living the life you have always dreamt of. It will make you feel lighter, brighter, and much more happier. I tell you this from personal experience! Give it a try yourself.

5. Be Grateful
Always be grateful. You should be grateful that you have one more day on the face of this Earth. Some would die for just one more single moment on Earth. By appreciating these little things, you can make your experience of life a billion times greater.

There is no greater feeling than being grateful to all that you already have. Some people don’t even have the basic necessities to live life. However, you are lucky and fortunate enough to have the things you already have. So, be happy and glad of the life you have been given. There truly is no greater feeling than gratitude.

6. Help Others In Need
Helping others in need is the primary goal of humanity. In other words, helping people is acting human. Living your life to the greatest has to incorporate and include this goal. Help people whenever you get the chance. Make the most of the life you are living.

If you see that someone you know needs help, offer them your kind help. You know, karma is a major factor in today’s world. What you bring to others you usually get. If you help someone then you too will receive good. Just wait. Your time will surely come. Just have a little patience on your side and things will fall into place.

7. Do Activities You Find Pleasurable
Do activities that truly give you happiness. Go out and do whatever brings you joy, whether it be horseback riding, fishing, partying, or going to a friend’s house just to hangout. Pursue whatever it is that makes you happy every day.

8. Learn New Activities Too
When you learn new activities you push the boundaries to what you already know. You can push the boundaries by learning a new language, traveling the world, or exploring new places. Whatever it is that brightens your horizons is what counts. Just get out there and see what the universe offers you. There is so much out there! Just open your eyes, buddy. You will find the world at your feet. Keep your eyes wide open all the time. But, also… don’t forget to sleep once in a while!

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I love this list! :-) It’s so important to do the things that you love, to learn new stuff, and to – above all – be grateful. Our lives, while we may find it sporting to bitch and complain a whole lot, are really not so bad. Be grateful….express gratitude, and even more good stuff will come your way. :-)

 

xxx

 

In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

 

 

Austin

I spent some time in Austin recently…there aren’t words to express how much I love that town – it’s so awesome!! :-) Here are some highlights from my trip:

I stayed at the Hotel Ella, a place that was SO BEAUTIFUL I cannot recommend it enough – gorgeous! The staff were outstanding, the place was stunning, there’s incredible artwork all over the property…I could have stayed there forever. Love. :-)

 

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Don’t you want to just sit on that veranda and drink cocktails all day long? I know…me, too! :-) I did some amazing eating (and drinking!) while I was gone – I visited The Salty Sow, which was really great…and The Odd Duck, which I absolutely LOVED!!! I can’t remember having a meal that I enjoyed so much! Delicious!!!! :-) Here are some highlights:

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Bangers – one of my absolute favorites in Austin!

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Isn’t Bangers pretty at night? :-)

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My new favorite summer drink…Crispin Apple Cider with a splash of raspberry! Yum!

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Poutine – my very, very favorite :-)

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Duck and fig sausage – heaven in casing!

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This was antelope and venison sausage…I can’t recommend it enough! So good!!!

 

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This sign makes me happy :-)

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No visit to Austin is complete without visiting the bathroom at Craft Pride! Woohoo!

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Sitting on the patio at Shady Grove

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Tamale Pancakes from Shady Grove – ridiculously delicious!

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Truffle Devilled Eggs from The Salty Sow

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Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese – SOOOO GOOD!!!! :-)

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Pork Belly – should get in my belly more often!

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Smashed new potatoes

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Bananas Foster Beignets…a highlight of the weekend!

A Moroccan dish from the Hill Country Food Truck Festival in Luckenbach

A Moroccan dish from the Hill Country Food Truck Festival in Luckenbach

Parker House Rolls stuffed with pig face - that's what the menu said, so I had to order them. You don't walk past pig face, friends.

Parker House Rolls stuffed with pig face – that’s what the menu said, so I had to order them. You don’t walk past pig face, friends.

Meet the pig face!! It was INCREDIBLE!!!!

Meet the pig face!! It was INCREDIBLE!!!!

Eggplant fritters in house-made ricotta...delicious!

Eggplant fritters in house-made ricotta…delicious!

Grilled okra - I'm not much of an okra fan, sadly.

Grilled okra – I’m not much of an okra fan, sadly.

BBQ shrimp - divine!

BBQ shrimp – divine!

Twice baked potato with cheese fondue and goat - holy crap for yummy!

Twice baked potato with cheese fondue and goat – holy crap for yummy!

This is the business - it's a pizza with jalapeno, red onion, mango, and lamb bacon on top. You read that correctly - lamb bacon. Who even knew that was a thing? It was friggin GORGEOUS - so yummy!!! :-)

This is the business – it’s a pizza with jalapeno, red onion, mango, and lamb bacon on top. You read that correctly – lamb bacon. Who even knew that was a thing? It was friggin GORGEOUS – so yummy!!! :-)

 

If you’re assuming that all I did in Austin was eat, you would be assuming correctly…the food there is magical! I am not a lover of chain restaurants and generally do all that I can to avoid them – and doing that was super-easy in Austin, as there was a wealth of great choices to pick from. I can’t recommend the above dishes enough – yummmmmy!!! :-)

I did a few things other than eat and drink while I was there (not much, though) – I went kayaking, which I absolutely LOVED, acquired a new tattoo (woohoo!), and visited the art gallery at UT Austin. There were a few exhibits there that I was interested in, and I loved the museum a lot! :-)

My foot!

My foot! :-)

Isn't this cool?

Art is cool :-)

LOVE :-)

LOVE :-)

 

I don’t know why I don’t go to Austin more often (probably because I whoop it up a lot when I’m there and that gets costly!)…but I need to visit more often. I love that place – and, I can’t be certain, but I think that Austin loves me, too. :-)  What’s not to love, eh?

xxx

 

Love is in the Air

I came across this again recently…and I LOVE it with all my heart! :-)
What Love means to 4-8 year old kids …
‘When my grandmother
got arthritis , she couldn’t bend over and paint
her toenails anymore.. So my
grandfather does it for her all the time , even
when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.

Rebecca- age 8

When someone loves you , the
way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name
is safe in their mouth.’

Billy – age 4

 

‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume
and a boy puts on shaving cologne
and they go out and smell each other.’

Karl – age 5

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Love is when you go out to eat
and give somebody most of your French fries
without making them give you any of theirs.’

Chrissy – age 6

 

‘Love is what makes you smile
when you’re tired.’

Terri – age 4

 

‘Love is when my
mommy makes coffee for my daddy and
she takes a sip before giving it to him , to
make sure the taste is OK.’

Danny – age 8

 

‘Love is what’s in the room with
you at Christmas if you stop opening presents
and just listen.’

Bobby – age 7
(Wow!)

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‘If you want to learn to love better ,
you should start with a friend who you hate. ‘

Nikka – age 6
(we need a few million more Nikka’s on
this planet)

 

‘Love is when
you tell a guy you like his shirt,
then he wears it everyday.’

Noelle
– age 7

 

‘Love is like a little
old woman and a little old man who are still
friends even after they know each other so
well.’

Tommy – age 6

 

‘During my piano recital , I was
on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the
people watching me and saw my daddy waving and
smiling.

He was the only one doing that.
I wasn’t scared anymore.’

Cindy – age 8

 

‘My mommy loves me
more than anybody
You don’t see anyone else
kissing me to sleep at night.’

Clare – age 6
william-shakespeare-love-quote_large

 

‘Love is when Mommy
gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.’

Elaine-age 5

 

‘Love is when Mommy
sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and
still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.’

Chris – age 7

 

‘Love is when your puppy licks
your face even after you left him
alone all day.’

Mary Ann – age 4

 

‘I know my older sister loves me
because she gives me all her old clothes
and has to go out and buy new ones.’

Lauren – age 4

 

‘When you love somebody , your
eyelashes go up and down and little
stars come out of you.’ (what an image)

Karen – age 7

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‘Love is when Mommy
sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think
it’s gross..’

Mark – age 6

 

‘You really shouldn’t say
‘I love you’ unless you mean it.
But if you mean it,
you should say it a lot. People forget.’

Jessica – age 8


And the final one:

The winner was a four year old child
whose next door neighbor was an
elderly gentleman who had recently lost his
wife.

Upon seeing the man cry , the
little boy went into the old
gentleman’s yard , climbed onto his
lap , and just sat there.

When his
Mother asked what he had said to the
neighbor , the little boy said ,

‘Nothing , I just helped him cry’

 

 

Don’t you just love it?? I know! Me, too!!! This makes my heart super-happy! :-)

 

xxx

Amazing

Do you know Lindy West? She’s a super-amazing and fantastic writer – and she’s kind of my imaginary friend. I mean she’s real, like a real person….but she is sadly not my friend. Yet. I firmly believe, that if we knew each other, we would totally be friends. For realz. :-) Anyway….Lindy got married recently, and looking at the pictures she tweeted filled me with so much joy, I could hardly stand it. First, she looked RADIANT – like not just typical bride glow-y happy, but other-worldly happy…which was awesome. Second, her dress was the stuff that princess fantasies (at least in my mind) are made of.  Finally? Her new hubby looked at her like he wanted to devour her – who doesn’t want a love like that?!!

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When Lindy got engaged, she wrote a piece entitled ‘Why I Can’t Wait to be a Fat Bride‘ , which brings up a lot of interesting things.  She wrote about the idea that society usually expects couples to ‘match’ – I will let her explain:

I wasn’t surprised that this woman took so many wilful leaps past “couple” and landed on “roommates” in her split-second sussing-out of our relationship – it happens literally all the time. But it was a disheartening reminder of an assumption that has circumscribed my life: couples ought to “match”. My partner and I do not. He is thin and I am fat. He is conventionally desirable and I am a “before” picture in an ad for weight-loss tapeworm eggs. It is considered highly unlikely – borderline inconceivable – that he would choose to be with me in a culture where men are urged to perpetually “upgrade” to the “hottest” woman within reach, not only for their own supposed gratification but also to impress and compete with other men. It is women’s job to be decorative (within a very narrow set of parameters) and it is men’s job to collect them. My relationship throws off both sides of that equation, and a startling number of people find it bewildering at best, enraging at worst.

 

Isn’t she right?? Mind blowing – why is it that men are generally taught (by their friends, society, some secret boy-coven that meets outside of NASCAR and WWE events) to always seek out the most conventionally attractive woman that they can possibly get and lock her down – when sometimes, said woman may in fact be a raging idiot??! Thank goodness that there are loads of men out there who don’t ascribe to that, or I would have never had a date in my life! I have never been, nor ever will be, the hottest girl at any party…and I am so cool with that. However, having said that, I have never wanted for the company of men, either – it’s interesting to me how I have always managed to attract men (some of them – a lot of them – I wish I hadn’t, but…c’est la vie). I was hit on recently while grabbing take out from the bar counter at a local Chili’s, and I giggled as I was walking out of the place at the ludicrousness (is that a word? Should be) of the situation – I’m 41 years old, not skinny, showing the wrinkles, etc…yet somehow, there’s still something alluring enough to bring a complete stranger over to throw some lines at me. How funny. 40 is the new 20…and my milkshake is still bringing the boys to the yard. Bonus! 😉

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Anyway – back to Lindy and her magical wedding. When discussing her impending nuptials, she wrote:

So, I grew up assuming that I would never get married (unless I found my own John Goodman – swoon), because marriage was for thin women, the kind of women who deserved to be collected. How could I be a bride when I was already what men most feared their wives would become? I was the mise en place for a midlife crisis. I was the Ghost of Adultery Future. At least, that’s what I’d been taught. And that’s why I can’t goddamn wait to be a fat bride.

As soon as you start making wedding plans, you’re bombarded with (among a million other beckoning money pits) a barrage of pre-wedding weight-loss programmes. Because you’re supposed to be as thin as possible on your special day. After all, there will be pictures! And what if someone remembers your butt as looking like what your butt looks like!? “I’m only eating grapefruit and steam until my wedding.” “I enrolled my whole wedding party in bridal boot camp.” “I bought my dress in a size four even though I’m a size six.” And that’s totally fine, of course, if that’s your priority.

But when I think back on my teenage self, what I really needed to hear wasn’t that someone might love me one day if I lost enough weight to qualify as human – it was that I was worthy of love now, just as I was. So I’ll be fat on my wedding day. Because being fat and happy and in love in public is still a radical act. Attention, every fat teenager on earth: you’re invited.

 

Isn’t that gorgeous??! I love her – and she is so right: being fat and happy and in love in public is a radical act. And it bloody well shouldn’t be. Everyone one of us deserves to be in love and happy for the whole world to see – regardless of the width of our arses.

 

Lindy wrote a follow up article after her wedding, and it’s so beautiful that it made my heart sing – you can read it here. Here’s my favorite part:

And to my 16-year-old self, if you’re reading this, listen to Alithea; she is wise: “When I enter into a relationship, I am not filling a hole that society has dug out of my soul, telling me that I am fat, and because I am fat I am ugly, and because I am ugly I am unlovable. I am there, in their bed and in their life, for the purest of reasons, not because I am insecure and need the external validation that a patriarchal society has taught us to seek. I am not seeking validation from a partner, I am seeking partnership in that partner.”

I have never in my life been fatter than I was on my wedding day, I have never shown my body in such an uncompromising way, and I have never felt more at home in that body. I was fully myself, and I was happy. We are happy. This life is yours, fat girls. Eat it up.

 

And I’m leaking from my eyes. Again. Bloody hell… what’s better than that? Not much. There is so much crap thrown around in the media these days about how we need to look, and what we need to do to look that way, and it’s such pure bullshit. We look how we look. It’s pretty straightforward. And you know what we need to do to look that way? Nothing. Just do us. We are more than enough. Satis sum – I am enough. Words to live by, friends.

xxx

 

Follow Your Arrow

This summer has been decidedly different for me – the Wee One and I have stayed home, and spent a lot of time together…it has been lovely. We have done lots of fun things, and we’ve been getting out a fair bit – but we have taken time to relax, chill, and smell the roses, too. While I’ve missed having one of our great ‘fancy girl trips’ that we love so much, we have had such a good time together…and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. The end of the school year was rough, and frankly I was in desperate need of some time to just slow down and take it easy – which is exactly what I’ve done. In one day in May, a young girl had a drug overdose in front of me (she’s fine, thank god) and a dear friend and colleague suffered a heart attack and collapsed in my arms (she’s okay, too)…followed by a second colleague entering the hospital the very next day with a mystery illness that’s still not been diagnosed – two months later. This trifecta of misery reminded me of the fragility of life and the fleeting nature of us, and of our mortality…and I realized that I could not keep up the pace that I’ve been operating at – or I would be the next to drop. As Kacey Musgraves sings in her excellent song “Follow Your Arrow”, ‘Say what you think / Love who you love / ‘Cause you just get / So many trips ’round the sun / Yeah, you only / Only live once’. Life is too short to not enjoy yourself….it’s not worth it. So….this is what I’ve done! I’ve hardly gone in to work on my time off, I’ve turned down quite a few social invitations, I’ve only said yes to that which matters to me – and I’ve done a lot of nothing. I have been binge watching a bunch of great TV, watching my kid swim at her swimming lessons, and done a ton of good eating at great restaurants. This is how summer should be! :-)

Deviled Eggs from Whisky Cake - yum!

Deviled Eggs from Whisky Cake – yum!

I've been on a quest to learn to like Brussels Sprouts...these ones at Whisky Cake are damn respectable! :-)

I’ve been on a quest to learn to like Brussels Sprouts…these ones at Whisky Cake are damn respectable! :-)

The Twice-Fried Chicken Wings from Hot Joy are what dreams are made of. DIVINE!!!!

The Twice-Fried Chicken Wings from Hot Joy are what dreams are made of. DIVINE!!!!

Smashed Cucumber salad from Hot Joy - I am aware that it looks rather odd, but....SOOOO GOOOOOD!!!

Smashed Cucumber salad from Hot Joy – I am aware that it looks rather odd, but….SOOOO GOOOOOD!!!

I've spent a fair bit of time kicking back, not fussing with my hair/makeup, and enjoying wine - yaa! :-)

I’ve spent a fair bit of time kicking back, not fussing with my hair/makeup, and enjoying wine – yaa! :-)

The Wee One had a gift card from her favorite store - instead of buying herself a cute outfit, she chose to get us matching sparkly unicorn necklaces that say BFF on them. My heart is so full. :-)

The Wee One had a gift card from her favorite store – instead of buying herself a cute outfit, she chose to get us matching sparkly unicorn necklaces that say BFF on them. My heart is so full. :-)

 

I’m well aware that these images are nowhere near as exciting as most people’s summer vacation pictures, but….they mean the world to me. They are visual representations of time well spent with the people who love me most – and what could possibly be better than that? :-)

xxx

 

Barbie Girl

Aqua’s classic song “Barbie Girl” came on the radio today, and I damn near had to pull the car over to get my groove on appropriately – there’s something about that bloody song that makes me physically unable to stop wiggling. It’s ridiculous – both the song and my reaction to it. The same thing happens with “Ice Ice Baby”, but…that’s a lot more understandable. If you don’t bust a move when that one comes on there’s something terribly wrong with you. Seek medical attention immediately.

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I’ve never really listened much to the lyrics of “Barbie Girl” for my IQ exceeds 90 points, but I’ve always understood the point of the song. When I hear it now, though, at the ripe ol’ age of 41, it sounds different to me than it did when I was in my 20s…probably because I’m such a different person. I think that getting older has been so good for me – I’ve really come so far in terms of accepting who I am and being good with it…the me of my 20s was an insecure mess, I had no idea who I was and I changed my personality and interests with the wind. I was like the Barbie girl – plastic, but there was absolutely nothing fantastic about it. I’m still constantly changing and evolving (thank god), but I’m doing it so differently now – every change and adaptation that I make is thoughtful, and all about bettering myself. I change now because I damn well want to – not because I think somebody else would like me to do so. It’s liberating!

I read this article online today – 5 Signs You Need a Life Makeover…it’s a good, quick read:

For a long time, I was settling in every aspect of my life. My career wasn’t ideal, my friendships were toxic, and my relationships were abusive.

The moment I realized this, I committed to a journey to self-love. Through my increased sense of worth, I acknowledged and released the things in my life that were not aligned with my new direction. It became easier to say no, and to be confident that better things would come. Once I knew what I wanted and needed, the fear dissolved. Recognizing the problem is the first step to fixing it.

So, here are five signs you might be settling for less than you deserve.

1. You’re bored or unchallenged.

When we’re doing things that don’t align with what we want or who we are, boredom is inevitable. I had an absolutely fabulous career in marketing, but I eventually stopped feeling challenged, and began to resent my job. That’s when I decided to go after my dream of becoming a life coach. I’m now working in a career that truly motivates me.

If you’re bored or unchallenged, examine the area (or areas) of your life that aren’t aligning with your desires. Then, take a risk that will move you closer to the life you truly want to live. It might be the scariest thing you’ve ever done, but the payoff will be worth it. And, besides, if you’re unhappy where you are, what do you have to lose?

2. You feel stuck.

We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives. We feel helpless to effect change, and that makes what everyone else is doing seem so appealing. I used to feel stuck in my destructive party lifestyle. I was surrounded by toxic people and in an abusive relationship. I felt as though I had no choice other than the life I was living. But here’s the secret: We’re not helpless. We have the power to move. We have the power to change our lives.

I finally came to that realization and began taking baby steps in the direction of the life I wanted to live. Rather than expecting myself to change everything immediately, I committed to creating small, regular shifts in my life. I took up healthier habits, started cutting out toxic people, and eventually, all the small shifts added up to a totally new life. The key is to remain dedicated to your journey.

3. You’re anxious.

Anxiety can be a result of us acting in ways or participating in things that don’t align with our true desires. Before my career change, I began to experience extreme anxiety. There were days where I found it difficult even to type on my keyboard because I was so anxious. My body would lose control and I’d shut down. I blamed my anxiety on stress, thinking it was a normal result of my workload.

In reality, I was just in the wrong career, and my body was reacting to that. When you experience high levels of anxiety, the best thing you can do is listen to your body. Find out what your body needs in that moment, whether it’s rest, movement, or meditation. Do what you need to do to calm your nerves. Once the anxiety has passed, start creating a plan to help you shift out of the toxic situation.

4. You’re feeling insecure.

We aren’t always willing to admit we have needs, or acknowledge that they aren’t being met. If you’re in a relationship where your partner isn’t providing you with the level of support that you truly need, it’s a definite sign that you have settled. It’s OK to need things in your relationships.

Ignoring your own needs and desires is telling yourself that they don’t matter. This is a surefire way to damage your self-esteem, and it means you need to course correct fast. Acknowledge that your needs exist, then step up to the plate and communicate them. You’ve got to learn to get comfortable with admitting your needs, and the only way to do that is through practice.

5. Your gut knows something’s wrong.

If the situation you’re in doesn’t feel right, don’t push those feelings aside. Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. If you’re experiencing one or many of these things, take the time to explore areas here you might be settling. Reflect on your goals and aspirations — is your current path bringing you closer to accomplishing those things?

Write a list of the things that aren’t working and acknowledge the areas of your life in which you’re settling. From there, begin creating an action plan to step into a life you truly love. Don’t overwhelm yourself with huge shifts. Instead, create small, actionable baby steps that will lead you to where you want to be.

Connect to your true self-worth and start to listen to your inner voice by taking time to sit with your own thoughts, without any outside influences. You deserve to love your life.

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Good stuff, eh? I know!! If you are a regular reader, you will know that I was really struggling a couple of years ago, and felt like I had totally lost my way. I was bored, anxious, a miserable and insecure wreck….it was painful just putting my feet on the floor each morning and making my way through the world. I kind of gave myself an intervention of sorts – I made lists, put together some plans, and figured out what I was going to have to do to get myself out of the funk that I was in. As you will undoubtedly know, I still fall into the funk from time to time, but happily things are moving in the right direction. I am certain that the biggest part of this process working was giving myself a break, and becoming better at taking myself for who I am. I’m also learning to forgive myself for the mistakes that I’ve made – I am learning to really embrace the philosophy of ‘when you know better, you do better’ …and now I know better. I am not finished with the things that I want/need to sort out, but every day I’m moving closer (…every day I’m shufflin’….), I know that I am not far from getting rid of all of the barriers to happiness that are still lurking about, and I’m going to get my Barbie dream happy ending. I just know it. :-)

xxx