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It’s been interesting going back to a regular blogging schedule (now Monday – Friday) after having about 2 months to post whenever I’ve wanted. It’s such a great exercise to make yourself really dig deep to find that content buried within. It is easier and harder in it’s own way… sometimes you’re left staring at a blank screen for longer periods of time trying to think of things to say, then the words just magically appear. When I was blogging more sporadically, I almost had too much to say and it was harder to sort out what things were more important. When you are on a routine, it forces you to find the words to say… because you just have to.
A friend of mine, Lindsay Garrett, threw out a simple thought on Facebook this morning: So if this were your last year on earth… (fill in the blank). I love questions like that. If I had exactly one year to live, there are soooo many things that I’d want to do! Here is a short list:
1. Eat delicious and creative food
2. Make delicious and creative food
3. Love, love, love
4. Be around others that I care about
5. Take as many vacations as I can… top priorities would be: New Orleans, New York, Italy, Europe in general, Northwest US, tropical islands, and California.
6. Complete an Ironman
7. Hold a printed copy of my book in my hands
8. Make another movie
9. Attend Sundance
10. Attend a big music festival
11. Get lots of massages
12. Pamper myself
13. Pamper my cats
14. Sky Dive (maybe…)
15. Laugh a lot
16. Live a lot
17. Be present
18. Take a lot of walks
19. Read important books
20. Have fun, fun fun!
Do you ever practice visualization? I think it’s a powerful tool, and one that people don’t use often enough. Since I am visually inclined to begin with, I think it is something that comes naturally to me. But I could use it more than I do sometimes. I love to daydream about what it would feel & look like if certain things happened to me, especially big goals and hopes. It’s almost as if you get a sampling of the powerful endorphins to come just from imagining it. Same is true for bad thoughts. If I am not careful, I can imagine bad things while trying to go to sleep at night, and some of my OCD tendencies slip back in… like counting. I think that just goes to show the power of the mind and how much we believe our own thoughts. I am going to make a conscious effort from now on to only tell myself positive things, and then act on them. That’s probably why things like vision boards work so well, as you are constantly reminded of the things you really want and therefore you end up putting more effort into making them happen. I used to have a vision board a few years ago that I really enjoyed, so maybe it would be a good idea to make another one just for the heck of it. A good January project! If it’s not too personal, I may share it on my blog when I’m done.
The more I think about it, the “Future Game” that I play with people is another form of visualization, but for another person. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a game I like to play with friends and family where you predict 3 positive things in their future. It’s not that I think I’m psychic or anything, but I believe that we all have strong instincts about the possibilities to come. And sometimes it’s much easier to do that for another person than it is for yourself since there is a detachment there. Some people I’ve played it with like to be funny, some try to be as realistic as possible, and others just go crazy with wild storylines. There is no right or wrong way to play it… the only objective is to make the other person think outside of the box about their own life. It’s a fun game, you should try it.
To read my fifth post from this time last year, click here. I resolved in my very last Quest to learn a new language, and alas, that did not happen. I did attempt though by attending a few American Sign Language classes, but didn’t stick it out. This is still something I’d like to do one day, but maybe that’s a dream that’s better left with no timetable. I think it is very likely that I will learn another language in the next few years, whether it be ASL, Italian, or Spanish.
Before I move on to my current and last Quest & Flashback, I think 2011 deserves a shout-out to my well deserving brother, Dave. Not only did he partly produce one of my favorite nieces and human beings on the planet, he stepped up to the plate and became one of the best fathers I’ve ever witnessed. And beyond being a good parent, he is a selfless and giving human being. We are probably the most alike out of the four of us, so I think we have a special bond because of that. I love you, David. And I am super proud to call you my brother.
2012 Quest #5: I resolve to take better care of the biggest organ in my body.
My skin. I know that is probably really boring, but dang if I haven’t had to battle with this stupid rosacea. It comes and goes, but when it’s back it’s worse than ever. There is nothing more terrible than having to deal with something unpleasant on your face of all places. There are many things I have yet to try – like certain anti-inflammatory foods like almonds and avocados, and avoiding others like red wine and dairy. Also, heat and dry air can irritate a condition like rosacea… and we all know that I love a hot bath or a heater vent. There are so many irritants out there that I will just have to go through each to figure out what is causing my specific flare-ups. Of course stress could be another cause, but I think my case is just caused by extra sensitive skin.
2011 Flashback #5: My divorce.
I struggled with whether or not to even bring this up, but it is in fact one of the biggest things that happened to me in 2011. I will not say much other than that Mike and I faced this with complete courage and honesty, and I am so proud of both of us for being so kind and loving during some pretty painful times. It hurt way more than I ever expected it to, but big life changing decisions are never easy. Mike, thank you for being who you are.
So, that’s it for my Quest and Flashback posts. See you in the new year!
For last year’s fourth 2011 Quest, I resolved to stop caring so much about what other people think of me. I’ve come a long way with that… while I still ask for validation sometimes through questions in unsure situations, I can confidently rely on myself in almost any circumstance. I think a lot of that has come with living alone again and relearning independence in that way. While there is no comparison to having a wonderful and supportive partner, we need to always be prepared to provide that emotional security for ourselves.
2012 Quest #4: To become financially secure.
Since becoming single again, my bills have gone up… but I’ve been able to manage pretty well. For 2012, I think it would be a wonderful goal to raise my standards for what I consider to be “financially secure.” I’d like to have a good system for saving money and I’d like to invest more for my future. Living paycheck to paycheck is no way to go through life, and there is no reason why I need to have that mentality or pressure. The more I stay ahead of the game, the less I have to think about it during the times when I don’t want to. Also I’d like more freedom to take random trips or make important purchases, and the only way to do that is to have a plan.
2011 Flashback #4: Injuring my knee.
This was a devastating time for me. I was so close to not only finishing my first marathon, but I was prepared to run it in a really good time. About two weeks before the race in mid February, I felt a pain in my knee that I had never experienced before. Since I’ve never had a serious injury, I tried to push through it. When race day came, I made it to about mile 5 before breaking down in extreme pain. I was a sobbing baby watching all of the other racers pass me by until Mike came to pick me up. I had no idea what was wrong and I thought I was being a wimp for quitting. I was even tempted to go back and finish by walking, but that even caused me pain. Pain in my heart, and pain in my body. Why was it so important for me to finish that marathon? I have no idea, but I really really wanted to. Mike make me a “Most Awesomest” medal anyway and my mom gave me flowers. They did make it better as best as they could. After seeing a doctor, turns out I had torn my inner meniscus on my left knee and had pretty bad inflammation all up in that sucker. I had to go to physical therapy for about 10 weeks which got me in good enough shape to give my Half Ironman a shot in late April. That was a big day for me and brought everything around full circle. While I had to walk most of the 13 mile run portion b/c of a little pain, I was able to complete the 52 mile bike with no problems and I crossed that finish line like a champ. Definitely one of the best highlights of 2011!
Merry Christmas Eve! Happy Festivus! Happy Hanukkah!
Things I love about the holidays:
1. Vacation mentality.
2. An abundance of things to do.
3. Despite the abundance of things to do, staying home is also really great.
4. I love *not listening to holiday music.
5. Family time.
6. The excitement of a new year with new beginnings.
8. Making my great grandmother’s tea cake recipe with my mom, grandmother and sisters.
9. Receiving. (ha!)
10. Colder weather, finallllly.
Last night I was invited to a small intimate dinner with friends over at David & Vero’s house. They made a wonderful pine nut and arugula salad along with a 13 bean homemade chili and cornbread. The company was great and the food was even better. Red wine was poured and good conversation was had. This has definitely been the year of “the friend” for me. There’s a lot to be thankful for.
Today I’m basically doing every bit of my shopping, so I need to wrap this up pretty quick before things start to close. :) Nothing like waiting to the literal last-minute. Tonight my mom is making pumpkin and goat cheese lasagna for our family dinner… doesn’t that sound delicious? I’m pretty excited about it. There is always something a little magical about Christmas Eve that I really love. Maybe it’s just the fact that some of my favorite people in the whole world are under one roof. As non traditional as I am about some things, don’t mess with my holidays.
Over the past few weeks I’ve heard from many people that they miss my daily entries. So, I am considering going back to that format for 2012… at least Monday through Friday. That way I still get a few days off to recharge, but there is some sort of pattern again. I am thinking it over and will announce my decision next week during my 2012 goal posts. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!
I am doing something this year that I’ve never done before… I am making no plans for New Years Eve. Why is that so scary? Well, there is nothing worse in my mind than being alone on that specific holiday. It’s not that I haven’t been invited to do things, because there are options, but this year I want to be flexible. I also don’t want to put any expectations on it like I usually do. I think I get so excited about the New Year because it’s like getting to press a reset button… and you get to dream of all the things you’d like to accomplish or experience in the upcoming year. I remember in high school my best friend and I would write down our top 10 wishes on New Years Eve and burn them at midnight so they would come true. I’m not really sure why burning them made it any more lucky, maybe we just like the mystery of it all. As I did last year, I plan to do 2011 reflections and 2012 hopes everyday next week. It will be an emotional journey, but an exciting one as well.
Blogging is great, if you have any interest in doing it I couldn’t recommend it more. It is a good way to share common experiences, passions, and ideas while documenting your life. But I can’t for the life of me go back and read past entries… it makes me cringe. It’s just like your childhood diary, everything seems so cheesy after you’ve written it. But I find that others see value in it, and it is so rewarding to know that a little piece of your life exists indefinitely. It has also helped me to become more authentic in general and really own who I am.
Sometimes a rainy day is just what you need. Last night while going to sleep, I could hear the wind blowing hard against my mini house. It was so peaceful. When I was in high school, I used to always think that wind like that brought big changes along with it. It’s as if it blew away the bad so good could fill its place. I still like to think that might be true.
Do you know what I love most about Christmas week? The cheesy holiday romantic comedies on TV. So far I’ve watched The Holiday and Love Actually. The film The Holiday always reminds me of Italy, as I first watched it on a return flight on the way back from Rome. My soul was full of Italian memories and food, and I couldn’t have been in a happier place. Speaking of Italy… I really miss it. It is one of the few places that I feel a strong connection to and dream about when I’m not there.
Life is so strange, and there are so many different kinds of people and paths along the way. There are people who step out on their own with confidence, then there are others who are afraid to go against the grain. There are people who want simple things, then there are others who like to have great variety. Some thrive on experiences, while others prefer the comfort of routine. If I’ve learned nothing else this year, it’s that I’m highly adaptable. Change and experience are very important to me, and I’m good at the unexpected… even if it is bad. I also love to dream, and hope. Even if some of the things I dream about never come true, I need to apply my imagination in that way. I think that’s why writers write, and painters paint. It takes you to another place or mental plane just for a little while. It’s a way to escape what may not be so perfect in real life, and it is rarely perfect.
When I was a little girl I always thought that there was a magical realm beyond what we were capable of understanding as human beings. I always drew these weird space alien families. I would change their makeup and clothes, make them fall in love, and gave them little planets to live on. I even drew little space babies. I wish I still had some of these drawings… but unfortunately I do not. But I remember them clear as day in my head. Maybe I should recreate them sometime, that would be really fun. I wonder why I felt the need to draw these strange creatures? I wonder if I felt strange or different myself somehow, and it was a way of identifying with that. Or… maybe I just liked aliens. We will never know.
I think 2011 has positioned me for some significant positive opportunities in 2012. The farther into December we get, the clearer the future becomes. Yesterday I had brunch with my friend Graham, whom I’ve known for a long time but just recently became close to. He is probably one of the smartest people that I know – a true intellectual functioning on a higher mental level than most others. He is also very humble and down to earth while being very giving of himself. What was supposed to be an hour long meal turned into a four-hour conversation about almost everything under the sun. I left there feeling understood, inspired and validated. He is the curator of American Art at The Birmingham Museum of Art, so stop in there sometime to say hi. He is the real deal.
Speaking of people who understand your soul, I feel like I am surrounded by kindred spirits these days. I’ve always viewed myself as being a little different (or, eccentric) from most people in this area of the country. People use the phrase “free spirit” often when trying to describe me, but I’ve never really known exactly what they meant. I find that since I’ve changed jobs to be surrounded by more creative “free-spirited” people, I’ve also discovered a little bit more about myself. These people who I’m around everyday really own their individuality and aren’t afraid to be unique and different. Some are covered in tattoos, some wear beautiful bold makeup, while others express themselves through clothes and personality. They also have big dreams and are passionate about their work, which makes it easy for me to market them during my day job. Ambition is contagious though, and while I’ve always been fairly ambitious myself, I feel even more so in this environment. It really makes me think about my own personal passions and goals, like writing and filmmaking. They have taught me that in order to achieve something significant, you have to live and be it every single day.
Which makes me think, I wonder what would happen if I existed in a totally creative environment… not just at work. If I was constantly inspired and felt like I belonged on every level. I still think a move is in my future, but I don’t know where or when just yet. I’m going to let that unfold naturally.
I’ve been asked to share a unique quest with you guys that demonstrates the true spirit of giving this holiday season. It’s about two very special people, Loy and Margaret Clark, who took the time to drive 42 lucky dogs over 1,350 miles to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston, ME in early November. This was made possible by Shelter Partners, a program that transports dogs from our overpopulated shelter to various shelters in New England, where affordable spay/neuter services, enforcement of pet registration, and other animal welfare legislation have kept the dog population at bay. Since its inception in November 2006, Shelter Partners has saved the lives of nearly 5,000 dogs. 5,000!! As the most recent dogs arrived in Lewiston a few weeks ago, people were waiting in lines to adopt them to their forever homes.
Loy and Margaret Clark are just a few of the people who make this journey happen for so many pups. I got the privilege to ask them a few questions about their 1,350 mile quest, which wasn’t their first trip of this kind. Click here to read my interview with the Clarks, and break out the happy tissue.
The purpose of sharing their story with you at this time is to bring awareness to the Shelby Humane Society Ornament Drive. With the purchase of each $50 ornament, you can sponsor a pup to be sent to their forever homes in New England. To choose the pup you’d like to sponsor, click here to see photos of the ones remaining to be saved. The whole process can be done online. What a difference you will make for one lucky dog and its new family this holiday season!
“The measure of a society can be how well its people treat its animals.”
It’s a cold and wet Tuesday morning, and even though I have my heat blasting I still have chill bumps on my arms. If I squint a little bit I can see little snow flakes falling outside. Nothing is sticking of course, but it is still pretty fun nonetheless… especially since it’s still November. It makes me think of the real “snow days” to come, some of my favorite days of the year. There is something magical about seeing your whole environment drastically change overnight to another form of beautiful. Of course, some people hate the snow, but I am not one of them. On the other hand it does make me think about the people and animals without shelter and heat. Last night all I could think about before going to bed were the poor kittens in the alley. Hopefully they found a nice warm place before it got too cold.
December is two days away, and 2012 is officially one month away. December is always an interesting time of the year with all of the holiday parties and such. And if you are anything like me, you are already evaluating the year past for personal growth. I have to say though, I am getting better and better at not measuring myself against an unrealistic ruler. I am beginning to exist in a world where timetables don’t exist, and whatever is just is. All I can do at any moment in time is make the best of my present situation… and just relax a little. Simple joys are always around if I look for them. Right now, the heat is a simple joy. The hot shower I’m about to take is one as well. Little snowflakes in November make my heart smile. There are just so many things to be grateful for.
Do you ever think about what a blueprint of your daily decisions and choices would look like? Any given day can take so many different directions based on the smallest ways we decide to turn. Endless possibilities. That is very exciting to me.