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I got an unexpected compliment yesterday during what seemed to be an average day for me. While chasing my niece Lily around my parent’s house, my mom said, “You look really pretty, Jen. Whatever it is that you’re doing, keep doing it.” That about made my heart explode. My hair was less than perfect and I barely had any make-up on. But at that moment, I did feel really good. I think happiness is attractive, and I was having a happy afternoon. I felt like there was a positive energy radiating inside of me…one that’s been sneaking back as of late.
My mom used to jump horses competitively when she was growing up. For some reason I’ve always had this visual of her in my grandparent’s old yard practicing over different types of obstacles. So when I think of the phrase “overcoming obstacles” that is usually what I think about. When I think about this past year, I feel like I’ve climbed a big wall. So tall that I’ve had to climb it alone instead of with the aid of a horse or other tools. Sometimes when I’ve looked up while climbing the weather has been stormy, and other times it’s been sunny and bright. I feel like I’ve reached the top of that wall… and I can finally see the other side. I can see where I am going. I’m not “on top of the world”, but I have a clear view. It was worth the effort, and now all I have to do is climb back down the other side. I think I will stay in this new mental place for a while.
I wonder if most people search out and experience inspiration on a regular basis? And I wonder what inspiration feels like from person to person… does it feel different from the way it affects me? I was thinking last night while going to sleep about all the ways I feel and become inspired to take action. In that sense, inspiration becomes a whole lot like motivation.
I feel inspiration from seeing results. Nothing energizes me more than starting something that could impact my life and seeing the resulting directions it takes me in.
I feel inspiration by giving inspiration. When I help another person see their own potential that they may not have recognized before, it makes me realize that there are things about my own self that are just as amazing that maybe I can’t see sometimes. Life is an ongoing journey of self-discovery.
I feel inspiration from visualization. There are few things more powerful for me than visualizing a goal or dream. And I’m damn good at it. I can see things clearly that I want in the future. I think that is one of my best talents.
I feel inspiration from success. It just makes me want more.
I feel inspiration from unique people. When I am around someone who is authentic and 100% themselves, whatever that looks like, it inspires me to strive to be the same. I think it is much harder to own who you really are than most people realize.
I feel inspiration from making beautiful things. Just as simple as taking pretty pictures on Instagram…beauty is everywhere around us every day. When you stop for a moment to capture an emotion or an experience, it makes you value it even more.
I feel inspiration from remembering that there is a big world outside of my front door, no matter where I am. I am small with so much room to grow.
I had an enlightening dream last night, with no known source as to where it could have been generated from. I was sitting in a classroom…not sure what kind of class…and the instructor asked us to visualize this question: Imagine a path in the woods at the end of your driveway that represents your future. What does it look like? The answers from other students were all over the place – from nighttime scenes, to never-ending uneventful flat roads. Some where hilly, others were covered with flowers. Mine was a path that went straight up into the woods during the daytime. I felt at the time like that represented a strong, direct path destined for good things since it was going up. It was also kind of a four-wheeler path, with two narrow dirt pathways directly in line with each other. During the dream I kept thinking how special my path was, and how different. But then I started to think about my visualization more. While it did go up and it was in the bright sunshine, I could only see about 6-7 feet of it before the forest covered my ability to see where the trail went. For all I knew, it could have plummeted off of a cliff or it could have gone to the tallest mountain. I think my trail did ultimately represent adventure and my sunny outlook in general. And it also stood for my full-steam-ahead confidence, even it if it is naive sometimes. Isn’t that a cool dream to have? I am just glad I remembered it, because usually it is a distance memory by the time I wake up.
I had a really good weekend with friends. I also got a few amazing runs in what can only be described as absolutely perfect weather. Friday night we had several bad storms pass through the area, but none really came through downtown Birmingham. Instead we got a spectacular lightning show that was just gorgeous. At one point the moon was surrounded by storm clouds, without a drop of rain falling. It was pretty magical. I was even able to grab a photo (below). Happy Monday friends!
Soooo last night while literally running out of the office, I hit my eye on a metal robe hanger and sliced my skin open. It didn’t bleed too much, but it was a pretty deep cut. I actually had to pause for a minute after I hit it because I thought I was going to pass out. Today I am sporting an attractive bandage over my left eye socket. Fortunately we had a pre-med student on hand at work who patched me up pretty nicely. I may even get some skin glue today if I am lucky.
Our work photo shoot went really great yesterday, even though it rained for most of it. The extra water on the ground ended up working in our favor though since we were shooting to promote an event called “Every Drop” benefiting the Cahaba River Society. We shot two months worth of editorial images with eleven different looks. The photos are going to be just gorgeous, so it was well worth the effort.
Do you know what I love? People who ask you to push your limits. I am being pushed in all sorts of ways these days… both at and outside of work. I am currently working on a pretty significant personal goal (separate of my book), and last night I submitted some of the things I had put together to make it happened. This morning I got an email back from someone saying that I could do better, and that I was basically selling myself short. My first thought was frustration, but I quickly realized that it was a blessing to be challenged in such a way by someone who actually cares. This person believes in me, and knows what I am capable of. That was the sole purpose of their message, and I absorbed it to the core. Honesty is everything… honesty from others, as well as honesty with yourself. That is the only way you can ever have the information you need to move forward.
There is a phrase that has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks – you get what you put into it. It takes a lot of work to see big results. It’s like riding a bike up a steep hill…it hurts like hell and you feel like you will never get to the top. Sometimes there are curves in the road that prohibit you from even seeing the peak, which can make your effort seem hopeless at times. But if you try, you will always reach the top. And do you know what happens after you reach the summit? You get to fly.
It was a great weekend. I got caught up on my rest, knocked out some personal tasks, hammered away at some 2012 resolutions and managed to have a little bit of fun in the process. Friday night was very peaceful. After work, I went over to my parent’s house to see the Lily Bean then we all went to dinner at Sweet Tea for some southern cuisine. I love eating dinner with my folks…there is nothing better than sharing a meal with people who you feel 100% comfortable around. We talked about our weeks, laughed a little, and just generally chilled out. I saw them again several times over the weekend as well.
I managed to watch three chick flicks this weekend – Water for Elephants, One Day, and Eat, Pray Love. Just a fair warning for those of you who weren’t in the know like me, One Day is suuuuuuper sad. It was a great film, but I just wanted to curl up in a ball and give up on life after I watched it. I almost had to stop watching Water for Elephants as well, but luckily that ended on a much happier note. I’d already seen Eat, Pray, Love, which is exactly why I rented it again. I needed a guaranteed feel-good movie after those two downers.
Saturday night was my designated “friend” night, and I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Birmingham in honor of my friend David for his birthday. There are so many great folks in this little big city. You are always 2 degrees from everyone you meet, which can be a good and bad thing. Good for friendships, not always so good for dating. But just when I think that I know everyone in this town, someone new pops up in my life.
As I said earlier, I spent a big part of the weekend working on my own personal goals. I have officially become a regular at my local coffee shop. There is something about having private time in a public place that makes it more energizing than just being at home. I think it is also too easy to fall into procrastination habits when you are in your own space. I find that when I am around others who are either working solo or reading on their own, I feed off of that sense of community that I’m not the only one “by myself.” A strange concept, but true. Almost like being at a library except with decaf hot tea.
Happy Friday, friends! I love it when this day rolls around. I did wake up feeling a little tired though…not sure why. I guess it’s just been a big week, and I’m also mentally preparing for a bigger weekend in New Orleans. I am a little sad to leave Baby Kitty all by herself for 4 days after everything that’s happened, but I’ve arranged for special visits that should brighten her day while I’m gone.
My first book deadline is rapidly approaching on February 1st, and I believe that I’m gonna make it. My goal was to have a solid fleshed-out outline and a first chapter written. Not only will I have those two things done, but I may even have a partial second chapter down. I’m also making headway in other areas that will help me to write later chapters in the coming months. For me, I have to experience or become familiar with whatever it is that I’m writing…basically the “write what you know” theory. So not only will doing the things that I want to write about help with the execution of my book, but it will also knock off some of my 2012 resolutions.
Last night while looking for a CD that I burned with some old work files, I took a little unexpected trip down memory lane. When I moved into my mini house, I had to pack up a lot of my little odds and ends in a storage closet that I have downstairs. One of the coolest things that I found was an old postcard written by someone who I met at a work conference about 4 years ago in Indianapolis. We did a group exercise where you had 60 seconds to tell someone your life, and they in turn had to write a story based on what they remembered on the back of a postcard. At the end of the exercise, we got to keep what the other person wrote. I really loved mine…it had phrases like “creative spirit” and “bright future”, which made me feel inspired and glad to be me.
Next time you hear from me on Monday morning, hopefully I will have eaten a beignet or two and have some powdered sugar on my nose. NOLA, here I come.
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!
I woke up this morning feeling like life is good. I was warm in my bed with a cute cat next to me, I had a good job to get up for, dreams to concur, and my body felt alive and healthy. You know what’s the best? Waking up a few hours before your alarm is set to go off and realizing you still have plenty of time to go back to sleep. What’s even better is waking up during an especially awesome dream and getting to continue it. I am very happy with this Wednesday morning.
Some days you get a gift of better clarity, perspective and foresight. This is one of those days. I worked on my book last night and was very happy with the progress I made. I am getting conflicting reports on what to do next however… some say that a solid outline and first chapter is enough coupled with my blog statistics, while others say that I will need a polished manuscript in order to get a publisher since this is my first book. Either way I am going to start putting the project out there at the end of January in the hopes that I can at least get an agent, if not a book contract as well. Having a good agent would be huge and a big confidence booster for me. We will see what happens…I feel like I am ready to make this a reality and I have been following through with action.
This week I have been eating a lot of whole foods while eliminating processed crap, dairy and meats. Basically, I have temporarily gone vegan just to see what it would feel like. I do not plan to permanently stop eating dairy and meat, b/c I love both of them very much. But it’s been fun to try something new and I feel like it’s been beneficial to my body in only a matter of days. I thought eliminating dairy would be especially difficult, but it’s been no big deal. The easiest thing I did was swap my regular 1% milk for almond milk. It’s really tasty and even has more calcium. I was afraid to try it honestly, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been tracking my food on Livestrong’s MyPlate app, and my protein intake has been above normal even without the meat and dairy. That always blows my mind a little bit. Anyway, this is just an experiment to broaden my horizons. It’s been 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.
Happy New Year! 2012, I have high hopes for you.
There is something I would like to start this year that I didn’t list in my resolutions – to eat more whole foods. I recently became interested in eating more clean, local and even uncooked meals and snacks. I also want to eat significantly less dairy and meat overall. I gave almond milk a shot for the first time this week and it was really delicious while being low in calories and high in calcium. I’ve recently developed an obsession with all things vegetable too, and there is a recipe for crispy roasted cauliflower that I am dying to try this week. I’ve definitely been bitten by the health food bug…. without priority or agenda other than a pure desire to enjoy what I put into my body.
While the holidays were pretty good overall, I am really glad that they are over. New Year’s Eve was a fun laid back night with friends. I enjoyed that I didn’t have a tight schedule or something that I absolutely had to be at. January 1st is always a strange day, isn’t it? You are exhausted and relieved that the big December events are finally behind you, but now you are staring at the clean slate that is 365 days of a whole new year. A lot of people hit January a little too hard to undo some of the damage from holiday food, while others dive straight into other resolutions. Of all the months in the year, I think that it is most important to practice moderation during this one. Sometimes when you go at a goal too hard and too fast, you lose momentum quickly or risk burnout. A year is the ultimate marathon, and endurance is the name of the game.
Last night I genuinely felt a little scared… scared of life, scared of 2012, scared of everything. While I always know that everything will be more than OK, and that I am solely responsible for making my own dreams come true, sometimes it is just a little overwhelming. It can all be boiled down to expectations, an evil yet glorious thing. I am guilty of having really high expectations of myself, of others, and of life. I expect to be happy. I expect to be successful at whatever it is I want to do. I expect what I feel is my due. But it’s the unexpected that can really change your life, for the better or for the worse. And you know what? If I wasn’t scared of the future, then that means that something is terribly wrong… it means that I’m not taking any risks. The greatest rewards come when you put it all on the table.