You’re Beautiful

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I’ve started watching the final season of “Downton Abbey” – I love this show with all my heart, and I’m so sad to say goodbye to it…so I’ve put it off for a few weeks. However, I finally started the first episode last night, and nearly lost my mind with glee – this season is going to be AMAZING!! One of the real standouts for me was watching Mrs Hughes discuss her concerns about marrying Mr Carson with Mrs Patmore…Mrs Hughes doesn’t know if he is going to want a traditional marriage (i.e.: including visits to Pound Town), or if they will live like friendly brother and sister. She is too embarrassed to discuss it with him herself, so the delightful Mrs Patmore embarks on this information quest for her – and much MUCH hilarity ensues! My very favorite part was when Mr Carson says this of Mrs Hughes: “Tell her, Mrs. Patmore, that in my eyes she is beautiful. She asks if I want a full marriage and the answer is yes, I do. I want a real marriage, a true marriage, with everything that that involves.” He then goes on to say that he’s “happy and tickled and bursting with pride” that Mrs Hughes accepted his proposal. Aww…..LOVE. :-) At the end of the episode, she is relieved that he still wants her, and exclaims “Well then, Mr. Carson. If you want me you can have me, to quote Oliver Cromwell, warts and all.” They kiss, and I applauded in my living room. I friggin’ love love, and I love this romance….YAAA!!! :-)

 

 

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Don’t you love it? “In my eyes, she is beautiful” — I could do with hearing that myself. Anyone know any single and available butlers?

xxx

 

PS: The runner up for the best line of the night was from the Dowager Countess…who asked Isobel, “Does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?” Hahahahaha! Dame Maggie Smith is EVERYTHING. :-)

 

The First, My Last, My Everything

Let’s just talk about this for a moment, shall we?

 

We got it together, didn’t we?
Nobody but you and me
We got it together, baby

My first, my last, my everything
And the answer to all my dreams
You’re my sun, my moon, my guiding star
My kind of wonderful, that’s what you are

I know there’s only, only one like you
There’s no way they could have made two
You’re, you’re all I’m living for, your love I’ll keep for evermore
You’re the first, my last, my everything

In you I’ve found so many things
A love so new, only you could bring
Can’t you see if you, you’ll make me feel this way
You’re like a first morning dew on a brand new day

I see so many ways that I can love you
‘Til the day I die
You’re my reality, yet I’m lost in a dream
You’re my first, my last, my everything

I know there’s only one, only one like you
There’s no way they could have made two
Girl, you’re my reality, but I’m lost in a dream
You’re the first, you’re the last, my everything

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have nearly enough Barry White in my life – listening to his music makes me feel fuzzy and sparkly inside…and I have such an urge to do a spirited dance around the room. He and his music were featured A LOT on “Ally McBeal” (I have three episodes left on my binge-watch!)…this scene is fantastic:

The video quality isn’t outstanding, but that is indeed Taye Diggs (that man is sure not ugly, eh? Wowza.) and Robert Downey Jr joining Peter MacNicol (as one of my favorite television characters of ALL TIME – the lovely John Cage) in a unisex bathroom dance party. It’s so awesome. :-) My work place doesn’t have nearly enough dance numbers…that’s going to have to be my goal for this year! Yaaa! :-)

 

What music instantly makes you want to get jiggy, friends? :-)

xxx

 

I Will Always Love You

Please join me in wishing the DIVINE Dolly Parton a very happy 70th birthday! How is it possible that my favorite sparkly butterfly is 70???! We should all be this fabulous at any age, don’t you think? Let’s look at some of Dolly’s greatest:

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Don’t you just LOVE her? I know….me, too. :-) Here’s a couple of her songs, guaranteed to brighten your day:

 

This is the best thing ever:

 

I regularly refer to Dolly as my spirit animal – she and I are both members of the big hair, bigger boobs club…and I think that she is just the greatest person. One of the happiest days of my life was spent at her theme park (Dollywood is the BEST, and if you haven’t been there yet, RUNDONTWALK immediately to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for a fantastic good time!), and I can’t wait to plan a trip there with the Wee One – she will love it. :-)

Happy 70th, Dolly! :-) May we all be so lucky to be this fabulous at 70! :-)

xxx

PS: Further proof that Dolly is everything – her arms and boobs are covered in butterfly and flower tattoos. My love and heart just grew for her. :-)

You Belong To Me

I mentioned the other day that this new year was one that I hoped would be full of positive changes,  as I am good and bloody sick of the way things have been – here’s some good vibes I need to put out to the universe, to set the pace for the year…

Do yourself a favor and listen to this version by Vonda Shephard, who was the in-house singer on Ally McBeal (such a great show)….it’s awesome. :-)


See the pyramids along the Nile
Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle
Just remember darlin’, all the while
You belong to me
See the market place in old Algiers
Send me photographs and souvenirs
Just remember when a dream appears
You belong to me
I’ll be so alone without you
Maybe you’ll be lonesome too and blue
Fly the ocean in a silver plane
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain
Just remember til you’re home again
You belong to me
Fly the ocean in a silver plane
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain
Just remember til you’re home again
You belong to me

 

You can sing along if you want….I won’t judge. :-) I love this song. :-)

xxx

PS: Don’t you love it? Just remember darlin’ all the while…you belong to me. Love. :-)

Stuck Like Glue

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Now that Christmas is out of the way, things are in full swing for the new year…I find myself feeling a weird mix of eager anticipation and trepidatious dread. On the one hand, I’m hopeful and optimistic that this will be the best year of my life, the time when all of the different pieces of me fall together, landing exactly where they are meant to be. Then there’s the other hand, (attached to the shoulder where the cartoon devil lives) – that side of me thinks that 2016 is going to be nothing more than the same old same old shit, the same shortcomings and frustrations…how can I change things up and make sure that there are changes, and that they are of the good kind?
I read this article on getting out of a rut – it’s a good place to start. Let’s look at it together, shall we?

People naturally want stimulation, challenge, and meaning out of life. But people also become used to their daily routines, and feel unfulfilled by things like a terrible commute, a monotonous job, and the free lukewarm coffee at the office that Ted always finishes off right before you’re about to get some anyway, so why do you even bother?

The point is: life can get boring. Everything might be “great” — no layoffs or breakups, no money or health problems — except it’s not great, and there’s no explanation. You’re in a rut. If you can’t seem to get out of your rut, here’s your path to feeling more excited about things.
Don’t beat yourself up about it
Maybe you think of it as being in a rut, or having an existential crisis, or being depressed. Whatever it is, people often criticize themselves, thinking something like, “This is such a privileged-person problem. I’m embarrassed I’m even complaining.”

But you won’t get out of a rut by denying its existence — it’s just important to acknowledge it without beating yourself up for being in one.

How do you do that? Follow these steps:

1. Congratulate yourself for noticing you’re in a rut. That means you have some level of emotional intelligence.

2. Give yourself permission to be in it right now. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Without ruts, we wouldn’t know joy. Every person goes through ruts. It’s human nature.

3. Ask yourself what the rut is telling you. Are you bored? Understimulated? Depressed? Morally conflicted? Disconnected? This is an important step. If your rut is telling you you’re understimulated in your entry-level position and desire more challenge, it might be important to act on that. But if your rut is telling you you’re bored in your relationship of 10 years, especially since your new assistant started, you might want to take a step back and explore that one a little bit before acting on it.

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Check for your standard rut-inducers
If you were perpetually exhausted, and you went to the doctor, she’d asses for various nutrient deficiencies. How’s your iron? Your thyroid? Your adrenals? Your sleep?

Psychological ruts aren’t much different. If you’re deprived of social connection, mood-boosting nutrients, fun, purpose, and so on, well, that’s a recipe for a rut.

Ask yourself the following questions to sniff out common culprits:

How’s your social connection? Do you work a job where you feel connected to your colleagues? Are most evenings spent solo? Does a weekend go by where your most significant interactions are with the Seamless delivery guy?

When’s the last time you had fun? Like, legit fun, where you forgot about the world and just enjoyed yourself?

When’s the last time you got your endorphins pumping?

How’s your diet? Are you subsisting mostly on junk?

Do you feel a sense of purpose in your day-to-day life?

How’s your internal dialogue? Are you encouraging and supportive, or critical and punishing?

Build momentum
Remember cleaning up after throwing a rager in college? If you were one of those people who left the dirty work to others while you tried to piece together what happened between 3am and 6am, I can fill you in. You walk into your kitchen, which reeks of… ferment. Where do you start? By pouring out all the empty beer cans and putting them into a garbage bag? Hand-washing everything, as in everything, including all pots and bowls that were called into action the night before? Cleaning the carpet, which is covered in a rancid paste of chips and beer?

The answer is clear. You start with the cans. There’s no way you have it in you to attempt cleaning the kitchen top down, or scrubbing the carpet. Once those cans are out of the way, you’ll have some momentum, and the next task will feel less overwhelming.

Same goes for when you’re in a rut and need to get some inertia. You may have been told to “eat that frog,” but ruts and hangovers are exceptions to this rule. Eat the tadpole first. Lower your expectations and start with an easy task to get your morale up. As inertia grows, you’ll feel more capable of the more daunting stuff.

Talk it out
Clearly I’m biased and think everyone should have therapy, but recruiting support and accountability from a counselor or coach may be just what you need to see a clear path out of whatever rut you’re in. People tend to get all Blair Witch Project on themselves and feel like there’s no way out; enter counselor, who can just say, “Dude, there’s a road right here.” Even a friend can offer a new perspective, if there are no other options.

Focus on what you’re doing right now
This may not be appealing if the present feels, well, kind of shitty, but focusing only on what you’re doing right now can weirdly go a long way toward making you feel better about the future. There’s no trick to it, really, other than to accept what comes up without judging it. It’s nothing more than paying attention to what’s around you without thinking about what you’ll have for your next meal or how to respond to the email you just received.

Not big on the idea of paying attention to grayish cubicle walls, if that’s your situation? You can create these moments elsewhere by doing something that requires your full attention, like sports, art, cooking a meal, learning or listening to music, or exercising.

Find a sense of purpose (or be cool with not having one)
Boredom with life can come from a place of existential anxiety, which has been around as long as, well, existence, and was mythologized by the Greeks a long time ago. It’s nothing new, and it makes the future seem pretty grim.

Of course, when you feel like you have a purpose, the future’s not as bleak. How do you find a purpose? The easiest way is to feel like you play a role in society. Volunteer, ask a friend how she’s doing, organize a clothing drive. Other ways of gaining meaning are creating (art, writing, music), learning, and connecting to spirituality if you’re into that. Or you could have a kid to bring you meaning, if everything else has failed. That always goes well (please don’t do this).

Since we’re getting all existential, it might be worth asking yourself, “How would things change if I decided there’s no ‘point’ to life? If I’m no more significant than that tadpole I ate earlier?” If you can rest with the anxiety this idea creates, you’ll be less likely to totally freak during those times when you question your existence. Of course, people generally feel happier if they have a sense of purpose, so do aim to create some using one of the angles mentioned if that seems possible.

And if all else fails, remember that ruts, like everything else, come and go. Sometimes (I repeat, sometimes), you don’t have to do anything at all. You just have to exist, and you end up spontaneously coming out of it. If that’s the case, consider exploring what might have made you feel alive again, so you can have it in your arsenal for next time.

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Good advice here, eh? I often feel like my complaints sound like #firstworldproblems – thankfully I don’t share these complaints out loud terribly often (if at all), but…the refrain in my head clearly states that I sound like an ungrateful bitch. I have much to be grateful for – and, believe me, I absolutely am. However, there are things that I want to change, that I wish were different – and these are the things that have me feeling the rut feelings. Grr.

What do you do to shake things up for yourself? Is this an issue for you, or are you perfectly content with life as you know it? If you are, that is so awesome – I’m happy for you. Share the magic with me – better yet, if you’re finished with your wand, send it my way….pay your magic forward. 😉

Happy New Year, my friends – I hope that 2016 is the very best year for all of us! Cheers! :-)

xxx
PS: Resolution #1 – remember this at all times (and STOP DOING IT):

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Brave

I’m not in possession of many talents in this life, but one thing I’m good at is making an ass of myself. I believe wholeheartedly in putting myself ‘out there’ (wherever there is), whether I look stupid or not – if I believe in something, I will give ‘er a go. This is something that has only gotten stronger as I’ve aged (so I can’t even blame it on the stupidity of youth), and is why I do things like bust some sweet dance moves when I hear a song I like, regardless of where I am (sorry to my fellow shoppers at the grocery store), and why I’ve taken part in karaoke, even though I really have no business singing in public. When I have something to say to someone, I will say it – I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I’ve suffered a lifetime full of slings and arrows because of that. Yet I still muddle on. It’s interesting.

Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.

~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

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Are you familiar with the work of Brené Brown? She’s a researcher who has focused a lot of time and energy researching vulnerability and shame (cool gig or what?), and has written a couple of AMAZING books – “Daring Greatly” and “Rising Strong”. I find her work to be fascinating and life-changing…the trick is being brave enough to put it in to practice. She writes about living your life in a whole-hearted way (kind of like me when I’m always ranting against half-ass-ing things), and she preaches the importance of being true to yourself while working against the negative affects of feeling shame. We have very little to feel ashamed of, yet so many of us wallow in guilt and shame every day. What a friggin’ waste. :-(

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The idea of daring greatly, of living a whole-hearted life is showing up and being seen, asking for what you need, talking about how you are feeling (which I rarely do) and also having tough conversations. Her advice is to allow yourself to feel what you feel; you are worth it and should be able to be loyal to your values. Don’t you absolutely LOVE that? I know…me, too.

Here are her ‘Top Ten Tips for Living a Whole-Hearted Life’:

1. Let go of what people think
2. Let go of perfectionism
3. Let go of numbness and powerlessness
4. Let go of scarcity and fear of the dark
5. Let go of the need for certainty
6. Let go of comparison
7. Let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
8. Let go of anxiety as a lifestyle
9. Let go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
10. Let go of being cool and “always in control”

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This list is gold, folks – there are some things on there that I have mastered (I don’t give a rat’s arse about what others think, and perfection is so far beyond my reach – and always has been – that I don’t even bother)….but man alive if I don’t get tripped up on #5, #6, #8, and #10. It’s no wonder I don’t sleep more than five hours a night – I spend too much time fretting about the shit minutiae of the day to get any real rest!!! Ridiculous!!!!!

Dr. Brown wrote extensively about how this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt changed her life – and I feel pretty much the same way:

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person who is in the arena. Whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …”

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This is pretty much a more eloquent way of describing what it is that I try to do with myself – I make an ass of myself (I could medal in it were it an Olympic sport), I try really hard with the things that I care about, yet I am absolutely, undeniably me – always. Here’s a great story that illustrates just how me I try always to be: my boss gave me a play-doh set that makes poop play-doh…it’s called Poo-Doh. You put the brown putty into the turd mold, and the yellow putty into the corn kernel mold, and you can make toy fake poop with kernels of corn in it – and use these poops to delight and amaze your loved ones. How funny is that? My potty sense of humor and delight in all things foul is so clear to every one around me that even MY BOSS buys me shit play-doh for Christmas. Best. Gift. Ever. 😉

I know that I should probably try to live a more restrained life, to be more grown up, serene and zen about things, but honestly….I’m 41 – what’s the point now? That ship has sailed. I like living life out loud, I like telling inappropriate stories whenever I can – and I like going to bed knowing that I was the me-est me that I could be that day.

What more could a girl hope for? :-)

xxx

 

Everything

I just took part in one of my favorite holiday rituals: I sat on the couch in the dark, only the Christmas tree lights on, drank some prosecco – and watched “Love Actually”, my very favorite holiday movie. It was as brilliant and beautiful as it was the other 87 times I’ve seen it (87 may be an exaggeration, but only a very slight one)….I just love it. It makes me feel all the feels, I laugh and I cry, and it’s just the best. If only the couch beside me wasn’t empty! 😉

Anyway – I just wanted to give you a clip of this scene….because who amongst us hasn’t felt this at one point or other in our lives?

It would not be a lie to tell you that the idea of hearing “to me, you are perfect” is one of the things that gets me up in the mornings. Such a beautiful sentiment.

I love this movie. :-)

xxx

Silent Night

My Wee One has done a bit of Christmas caroling with her school this year (around all of her rehearsals and performances for “The Nutcracker” ballet – she was an angel, I was so proud) – we made it to two of the events: one at a local rehabilitative center, and one at a grocery store. I don’t know if it’s the happy memories of Christmas concerts in my hometown, or just hearing little voices sing festive tunes that did the trick, but these caroling outings have done a lot to put me in the holiday spirit. My hoho is right on after hearing the little ones sing – I absolutely LOVED it!! :-) If you haven’t had your share of holiday tunes this year, here’s a few to get you started! :-)

I have forgotten just how good Miley’s voice is – she’s awesome here. :-)

The sweet kids at the PS22 Chorus can always be counted on to bring the awesome! :-)

Adele Nazeem (AKA Idina Menzel) and Michael Buble – this is a GREAT one! :-)

“Love Actually” is one of my very favorite movies – this scene is AMAZING!!! :-)

Josh Groban’s voice is otherworldly (plus, he gets to shag Kat Dennings, who I think is the absolute hottest chick EVER) – lucky guy!!! :-)

 

HoHoHo, friends! :-)

xxx

 

Master of None

I’ve just finished watching the first season of “Master of None” on Netflix…and I loved it! I thought Aziz Ansari has done an amazing job at crafting a show that mixes tales of single hood, career frustrations, dating, family/parents, and racial equality (or lack thereof these days) in a way that’s funny, smart, touching, and sweet. He’s really, really good-and so is the show. If you’ve not checked it out yet, do yourself a favor and give it a look – you won’t be disappointed, I promise. :-)

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One of the most striking things that I noticed about this program was the incredible optimism of Dev, the main character played so beautifully by Aziz. If you think about it, it’s become increasingly rare to see optimistic characters on television at all – everyone seems to have things to complain endlessly about, there’s always a problem that is dragging them down….things are always going wrong. Perhaps that makes for good TV storytelling – but, when you think about it, I truly believe that it is having a royally shit influence on society as a whole. No, I am not blaming sitcoms for the troubles that face our society, but think about it: don’t you think we might be in a collective better place if we surrounded ourselves with happy a little more often? :-)

What makes you happy? My list includes all the usual suspects: my Wee One, puppies, kittens, babies, a pretty day, being with those that I love, helping others, the smell of cinnamon, reading a good book, blah blah blah…but it’s more and more difficult to find that happiness when I’m constantly surrounded by the negative shit that seems to be everywhere these days. Do you find this to be an issue as well? Where is our happiness going, and why is it so hard to find?

I read this blog post over the weekend, and I thought it had some cute reminders on how to be happy – let’s take a look, shall we?

Like so many other blog posts and YouTube videos I’ve seen on the topic I could tell you that the key to happiness is in the smell of a new mac lipstick, a Diptique candle and a Lush bath bomb. Although, if I did that, all you’d get is a list of things that make me “happy”, not things that are actually conducive to happiness in general. Today I’ll be letting you in on some trade secrets and showing you how you can achieve actual happiness (without buying a thing!)


The theory (and evidence) goes that there are 5 things you can apply to your everyday life which will improve your overall wellbeing and make you happier, at work I call this “the 5 ways to wellbeing” here, I’ll call it “how to be happy” because I like to mix things up like that. So, let’s get right into it.


Connect
The people in our lives make up so much of how we feel about life. When we don’t feel good it’s so tempting to lock yourself away and isolate yourself. Connecting with others is crucial to a strong overall wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be too intense, just reach out, make that phone call, arrange that night out and spend time with people you love.
It only takes a minute: Send a text to a friend you haven’t seen in a while without overthinking it. You want to know how they are, maybe you even miss them – just say that.
Take notice/be mindful
Have you ever walked a familiar route and seen something that’s been there forever, but, you’ve just never noticed? Me too! We’re all so busy that sometimes it can feel like time is just running away with us. It’s really surprising how much difference it can make to your mood just to take notice of what’s going on around you. So go about your usual routine, just look around, see things you’ve never seen before and pay attention to how you’re feeling.
It only takes a minute: Download “Calm” the free meditation app and take notice of the simplest things.
Give
Giving feels good. You don’t have to give money either (although you could!). You can give someone your time, advice, knowledge or simply attention. It’s easy, you get goodness from it and so does somebody else what’s not to be happy about?
It only takes a minute: Thank someone for something they’ve done that you appreciate, even if it’s just the guy in the corner shop who’s always so smiley.
Be active
As an inherently lazy person when it comes to exercising, I wish this one wasn’t true, but, it so is. The benefits that exercise can have to your wellbeing go way beyond being able to justify that extra biscuit because you’ve spent an hour in the gym. Since I’m not a huge exercise fan I recently brought a pretty bike that tricks me into exercising when really I just need to get to work. There’s also the classic “get off the bus a stop early” you’ll be surprised how much difference it makes!
It only takes a minute: challenge yourself to see how many sit-ups you can do in a minute. Tomorrow, do it again. Or you know, just get off the bus a stop early!
Keep learning
Learning something new is the ultimate confidence boost and a great way to challenge yourself and your comfort zone! If you end up attending that workshop or going on that course, guess what? You’ll probably meet some like-minded people to connect with, bringing this whole thing full circle.
It only takes a minute: find a YouTube tutorial for that thing you’ve always wanted to learn – even if it is just how to achieve Adele’s perfect winged liner.

 

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One of my very favorite TV shows is “The Mindy Project” – I think the character of Mindy Lahiri, while flawed, is one of the very VERY best things that have come across our TV screens in forever. As a mama of a wee girl, I would far rather that my daughter look up to Dr Mindy Lahiri than most other TV characters. Mindy is generally a very optimistic, positive yet delightfully eccentric character who conducts herself on the show with a tremendous amount of hope, something which is woefully missing on too many television programs these days. While Mindy’s extreme confidence comes across as a wee bit bonkers from time to time, I think it’s fantastic – she thinks she is hot shit, and she is totally right. She eats on camera, dresses how she pleases and not how society dictates, and discusses her curves as a positive, not something to be ashamed of. Read what Mindy Kaling herself has said about body image:

I get so worried about girls with body image stuff… And I feel like I have been able to have a fun career and be an on-camera talent and be someone who has boyfriends and love interests and wears nice clothes and those kinds of things without having to be an emaciated stick. And it is possible to do it. In life, you don’t have to be that way and you can have a great life, a fun life, and a fulfilling love life.”

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Awesome, right? We don’t have to be stick figures with no souls in order to have fulfilling lives and be considered desirable. I’ve often struggled with fretting that I’m not thin enough for someone to want me – but here’s what I’ve come up with: there are probably a lot of men who think that they might want me if I was thinner; to them, I say, “Not to worry, ass-hat….even if you were interested, I wouldn’t have your pathetic arse anyway, if that is how you judge someone. Plus, I bet your wiener is tiny.” It makes me feel better every single time – and I am confident that the wiener part is true. :-)

 

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Read these final words from Mindy (my spirit animal):

“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”

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Isn’t she the best? I know! If you aren’t watching her show, check it out immediately – this year on Hulu has been the best yet, I think. The show has been braver than ever before, allowing Mindy to show us that balancing motherhood with a career is no bloody joke (amIright???!), and there have been a whole lot of moments that have really touched me and made my face leak moisture – it’s been outstanding. Through all of the ups and downs, though, Mindy has remained steadfast and upbeat, always with hope in her heart. I love that. I fear that I’ve lost some of my hope lately, and I am in a frantic search for it. It’s not under the bed – I looked when I cleaned that out on Sunday morning. I don’t know where it is, but I think it’s somewhere around here….perhaps I will find it over the holidays. I hope. 😉

Xxx

PS: Look at this one – amen, sistah!

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