The Unexamined Life..Of Your Coffee Table

I love to explore, I like to plan a whole day in a new place, it gives me a new perspective to return home with. Traveling has been an influence on everything in my home. Experiences bring my imagination to life and I love to daydream about all the possibilities.

I try to make the best of what I have to work with, in part out of care for our environment but also because every object has potential!

So in cultivating my blog over the years I’ve been exploring avenues that I enjoy. Some of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life I’ve been completely terrified of. Example: every single place we traveled in California had to be on the side of a mountain, and I am not a fan of heights. Am I glad I did them, yes. Was it terrifying, also yes! College, scary, did that too. Living with other people I didn’t know, scary, did that. Running for a town political role, suuuper scary but also exciting! Buying a home, scary, but extremely rewarding!

So what I’ve been doing lately has been designing a business. Im terrified. I really don’t like change. I have a pretty cushy job, and a pretty easy life. What business do I have trying to mix that up? Well the goal has been to step out of my comfort zone, to give the world a chance to understand what it is I want to give back to it and to try to live my best life!

So here it goes…

Background: I grew up an only child. Which requires me to answer the question, how did you like being an only child? I’ll be honest, it was fine. I pretty much had my imagination to entertain me, instead of another human. I think it also made me look closer at myself (critically) and also the relationship I had with other people. My fatal flaw is people -pleasing. While my parents were older from start, I had to grow up relatively quickly, with a few challenges. Mom had mental health issues, Dad had some workaholic issues. Everyone has issues, but it made my story, and shaped a lot of my strengths.

Neither parent really cared about our living space outside of whether it was clean(it was very dysfunctional). So I found myself making my bed, fluffing my stuffed animals and putting my own decorative towels in the bathroom for when guests came over. Right… I know, people pleaser. They didn’t see the value of a well designed home space. They did have some taste (sort of) Dad was kind of hippy, which now in the era of mid century modern times has found its way back in vogue (go Dad). Mom was more artist, mixed with Greek iconography. So my house was a shmorgusboard if hippy, Jesus and artwork. Not the most cute assembly of furniture pairing. Lots of random paint splatters, brushes and equipment… but it was home.

What I found myself doing in my younger years was constantly reorganizing my own space. My room was like my safe place. The family didn’t always get along, and life wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I tried to stay positive, keep my own space in order and looking as good as I could have it with the resources I had. I remember the feeling of seeing the redesigned space. It was like a breath of fresh air. The odd thing was remembering where everything was placed in the new arrangement. It was necessary to use what I had to work with because asking for something deemed “unnecessary” was more aggravating than making the best of it. In a lot of ways this allowed me to utilize the things I had creatively. I credit the rents with giving me a hard time enough that I had no choice but to make my own designs.

So here I am adulting and trying to find my purpose, and recycle, and drink enough water, and meet my personal goals, you know, be responsible (eye rolling emoji). What I’ve found is that I really want to help people live in the space they feel the most at home. Some people see the value in simplicity while others want their Pinterest dreams to come true. I’ve just found a happy balance of function and artsy, with unique hand made peices. What I’ve always wanted is my space to feel comfortable to anyone who enters. After years of trial and error I think I’ve achieved my design goals.

What is so counter intuitive to so many of my friends and family is making their space work for their family while still meeting their asthetic goals. I’ve always loved Martha Stewart, and I’m a huge fan of HGTV. The difference between my inspirations is that I try to incorporate personal experiences into spaces.

So many designers make your kitchen look like a home and garden magazine but fail to reflect the people who live there. One thing I love is holding the mirror up and saying you are, where you live. Your space is part of your health. Your wellness is directly related to your environment, and for me, I find clarity in order, and reorganization.

Part of the journey I am on in life is bringing my life experiences into my living space, as a reflection of who I am, where I’ve been and what I love.

I have so many photographs of my better half, Joe and I. I have pictures of our cat. I have my mothers artwork, our grandparents wedding photographs, friends, family, trips we’ve been on etc. Our kitchen has been completely redone (by us), and is now pig themed, subtly. before

(Two different times of year so bare with the decor in these pictures)

Our chandelier is restored from basically a dumpster to full beauty (Joe deemed it to be trash).

We built our own bar, we built our headboard, our kitchen island, our entry bench, our master bedroom bench. We redesigned our bathroom fixture. We built custom shelving, we built our ottoman, we’ve upcycled more stuff than we’ve bought. I’m proud of that.

Everything in our home has a story, and it’s about who we are and what we love.

We have made a beautiful space using mostly what we had, and adding our own spin. Our molding may not have perfect lines, although he did a very nice job for a beginner! Our life might not be exactly what you see in a magazine but it has cracks that came with weathering. My favorite part about our home is our life in it. After so many life experiences it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve been. I find a memory around every corner in the lake house that we love.

So I am officially beginning the exciting (and scary as hell) adventure of starting a consulting company for interior decorating, with a focus on life experience, and functional needs. I love to be reminded of all the fun I’ve had. I love my family, and my friends and I make it a point to focus on the positivity both in my life and in my home space. I have helped so many people see positivity and opportunities in their space so they can grow into it or shift into a better arrangement.

As for the coffee table, we turned it into an ottoman.

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Life’s Interruption

I have interrupted this (normally super positive)blog to bring you life’s interruption… a little dark cloud that creeps in when you are least expecting it. I promise to return to light hearted travel and journey blogs right after this…

I think I’ve been trying to avoid this topic but in the midst of quite a few close friends (and family)experiencing a loss, I thought it would be appropriate timing.

There really isn’t a good time to talk about it… and if you are someone who has never lost a close relative, or friend, someday this may make sense..

Suddenly in the middle of a perfectly great day, we get interrupted.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not as simple as a customer service call… No, sometimes it’s an important call that sends our whole world into a frenzy. Sometimes it’s just the flashback…of the call, the day or the feeling we had…

I’ll warn you now that if you wanted a light hearted blog this isn’t the one, it gets kind of emotional but very real. So carry on at your own risk.

The call is, never the one you want. It’s never the right time, or the right day or the right weather.

It’s never the right response.

You never get to forget it either.

Every moment during which this call takes place you are actually living in slow motion, but yet you wish it would’ve been over faster. It’s, not the IRS.. (sorry I joke when I’m nervous)no it’s the “something has happened” call…

I’ll tell you, I’ve had a lot of experience with death, and yet it still comes back like acid reflux every time I hear of anyone’s loved one passing… I have been in the trenches of mourning and I have known the loss that few (my age) have known. It’s not a club you want to be in..

My phone call came at approximately 6:25am on a tuesday morning. July 11th 2014. A flash bulb memory…

It’s like how you remember exactly where you were the day you found out about 9/11. What’s weird is at the time of 9/11 I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was, or what was happening. When I got the phone call my dad had suddenly passed away in his sleep, after seeing him less than a week prior, I knew what it meant.

So what happened after the call? I couldn’t breath, or eat or speak. I didn’t cry right away…

In slow motion, I managed to go through the entire week feeling like I got sucker punched… Then for months I relived my sorrow over and over, and while that was happening, so was life… like normal every day things, which was so inconvenient!!

How exactly did I not see this coming? No one did, and for most people death doesn’t work into our plans…

We don’t think about death unless it’s effecting us at that moment. We protect ourselves from this fear and this sadness by avoiding it.

I was fortunate to have my band aid torn off in some ways.

My dad was definitely not the “bed ridden kind”, nor would he be a good candidate for any kind of “treatment” except “special treatment”. He really got out in the best way he could have, really.

My dad lived. He sure did fear death though, as I think we all do. The uncertainty of it makes the concept very scary. That is why many people have faith in god, others in reincarnation but whatever you believe, know that you will some day get a “call”. Maybe not a sudden and severe one, but one that will stay with you. It changes you, and the way you think of things…

It’s not that I want to dwell on death, in fact I try not to be morbid most of the time. I can’t help but know, with such certainty, that life is short. If we have good years in our life than we have lived.

Loss isn’t always the same. However, I’ve found that personally, there have been two distinct experiences that are universal:

1. Sudden and unexpected. Which consists of losing someone as a result of a car accident, an overdose, a health related incident that couldn’t be rectified, a miscarriage, SIDs, military related, gang related… and a million other sudden traumatic losses…

2. Slow, steady decline. Slow is a relative term. The usual example is someone suffering from an illness who is going through treatment, or a grandparent experiencing age related failure.

Each type of loss is equally as traumatic and devastating, I’ve experienced both. Each type comes with their own distinct feelings, as did the relationship with that person. When I lost my dad, I thought of friends I had who had also lost theirs. I instantly felt like now I could relate. Now I knew what they meant when they said things. I never knew the feelings could be so different.

We all feel loss one day, and we can never truly know the feeling until it happens… but we should know how to be there for someone during this horrible time. Whatever you say, don’t say “let me know if there is anything I can do”. Make it a point to schedule a coffee date or just say “sorry for your loss”, it’s worse to make empty promises.

When we lose someone we evaluate ourselves.

Just like we evaluate all the company around us, and yet we don’t do this in our day to day. We struggle to make it to the end of the week or just to make enough to get our needs met and yet we forget how important people are. The kindest words, the greatest stories are told to our loved ones at the wake of death. That must change!

Could we be better at telling the stories we love of each other today, instead?

In life we get schedules and routines. We make things important and other things “not so important”. We go so fast, yet so slow, but do we see each other? Do we look past the “good morning” or the “how was your weekend?” Do we care enough? It’s hard to take care of yourself during times of loss, and it’s easy to hide in plain sight.

The months that follow…

After the loss, we drift away from the person who has experienced it, knowing we said something, or sent some flowers. We forget that they don’t continue their lives the same way they were before. We assume they say everything is fine and move on, selfishly or consciously but with little consideration of if that is actually true…

The person who has lost their loved one, does not snap back into reality (at least I didn’t). No, they wake up everyday to remember they can’t call their dad or their mom, or their friend and tell them about their day. They won’t see them at their regular holidays. They remember good times, they remember bad times but they know they are lonely. Some people (like myself) don’t like a lot of attention with sad connotations. I’d much rather be happy, don’t we all feel that way!

There is a feeling that no one understands the feelings, or has experienced this specific scenario. The reality is, grief is universally individual. You feel your feelings alone, no hallmark card, or edible arrangement can fix or soften the experience. It’s about being seen. If we can see each other’s needs, care enough to make their day a little easier, it helps. Every little thing helps in a small way, to dig you out of your dark sad space.

Empathy.

See the persons feelings and know that you might not understand, but it’s not your time to. You might know their lossed loved one or you might not. What a grieving friend, coworker, loved one needs, is just to be seen, heard, and held. There is nothing to be said. The less you say the better. You just need to be there.

Something changes after you experience a great loss…

They aren’t the same whole person they started with. In fact, some feel the loss of their loved one forever, and while some say it eases with time, that isn’t true for everyone. That’s okay! The reality is, the way they see the world is now forever changed. It’s not that they will never be “themselves” again, but they might not want what they thought they wanted before.

I’ll give you a personal example. I used to work both a 9-5 and a side job which ranged from 10-20 extra hours sometimes even another 40 additional hours. After my dad passed, I had 2 jobs, a mother who had just been through a psychotic break and was being re-medicated, a serious boyfriend (thank god for him) and we had just made an offer on a house (luckily they turned us down). That was my level of normalcy. Going on full time overdrive, running from one job to the next, not spending time on myself or what I wanted out of life.

When we are young, we think we have forever to live. After my dad’s death and several young classmates sudden deaths, I woke up.

I had never considered what exactly my dad did for my life, since I was (an adult) out of the house. He kepted a careful balance of handling shit, without anyone knowing. We didn’t know what he did behind the scenes (what bills, responsibilities etc.). He had a small business, a commercial building and he loved working, he handled everything. He was the one that instilled a deep sense of pride and work ethic in me. Now it was up to me to fill in the gaps, my mom couldn’t do it, the baton has been passed.

My dad missed dance recitals, piano recitals, Greek school graduation and a bunch of other things I don’t remember. He never packed my lunch or helped me with my homework. I never minded, or felt bad about it, because I knew he was there (supportive, but not present). Maybe that was how I made my peace in the end, but I am digressing .

The point is the man worked a lot.

He obviously was successful in doing so, but yet he missed out (or maybe he didn’t think he did), on life’s precious moments. He was there for milestones, the guy wasn’t a total workaholic, but he did miss some things.

After he passed. I quit my second job, (I still went in from time to time) I stopped doing overtime and I realized all the money I was trying to make, didn’t make me happy!

This moment was so important. I was working because I thought I was supposed to work hard, save money, buy a house and that would make me a successful adult. I clearly learned after dismantling his life in the court of probate that life is more important than work.

Yes money was important, and I didn’t quit my day job. It was an extreme change for me. For my whole college experience, I worked every Saturday, and Sunday. I missed Mother’s Days, I missed Father’s Days I missed these little moments and didn’t think anything of it because I had to work.

In the end we wish we had more time, not money.

We wish we could have spent more time with those people we have lost. We regain a feeling that life is short, and so precious, and can be so easily interrupted.

Death changes life, but it doesn’t stop life from happening, it changes our views of it for a time. We are sad, we are lonely, we feel more easily aggravated, we may be angry, but we wake up in the morning, and we choose to get up and move forward.

Sometimes we are affected but it takes an extreme loss to fundamentally shift the way we think. This is what happened for me. I started to look at life as finite. That isn’t negative, it’s true!

It’s hard. Every single day you miss the person you lost. Every day you think of something that reminds you of them. What we don’t remember to do daily is to check in with someone who has just faced, what we have faced. We assure ourselves that because they have a spouse or someone else that we don’t need to say anything or do anything else…

We forget that they are in the midst of the battle that is grief. Once we have gone through a true loss, we are either afraid forever to face it again, stuck in a state of grief where we seek out others who are also experiencing grief or we simply avoid it all together. We protect our delicate selves in which ever way we know how.

I must remind you though that the person who feels the loss may just need a shoulder. I am writing this blog to remind you that life has interruptions. It’s not always happy, and it’s not always sad. It’s not about how much you work. It’s not about the money or the stuff or the status you have. It’s not about the kids all the time. It’s not about your bosses needs. It’s about love. Life is about how much you love. Let your neighbor, your friend, your partner, your relatives know that you love them. Tell them a story, don’t wait to make the phone call.

Don’t avoid love. Wrap yourself in it. Surround yourself with it and give it. Make love your only priority. Love is forever.

Maya Angelou once said, “people may forget what you did but they will never forget what you made them feel”. I always felt that during my grief, there were certain people that stood out, that listened, and that made me feel seen. There were others that didn’t. It’s okay, not everyone understands, but if you know the feeling, don’t let someone feel lonely. They might need you. You might need them. Even if it’s not convenient.

Life is hard for everyone, but particularly hard when you lose someone who is intricately woven into who you are. You lose yourself for a while, and when you find yourself again. You are changed, you see the world differently, maybe better, maybe worse but you are never the person you were before.

Share this with someone who needs to know you love them. Share it because you want them to know they aren’t alone. Share your thoughts and feelings and don’t be afraid to ask how someone is doing. They might need it. You might need to stop in the middle of life and interrupt yourself to see someone else’s point of view. Interruptions happen, sometimes they are life changing and sometimes they aren’t but know that when you least expect life can throw you a curve ball.

Be kind. Extend a caring heart and don’t forget that life is short! Do yourself a favor and don’t hold a grudge, don’t be mean and listen a little more.

We are only human, and we do the best we can. Thanks for listening and please share with someone who might need it.

(Pictured is the wise, chicken scratch of my late grandmother. She may have been the smartest, most loving woman I have known.)

Let me know what you think, if you can relate (I’m sorry for your loss) and if not that’s okay (just be kind)! I hope someone took something away from my story. I’ll be honest it was a hard one to tell. I look back now, still sad and longing for more time with my dad but so grateful for the time we had. So many people touch our lives and make an impression, as we do theirs and so let’s be better humans and love a little more! Until next time…

(I promise for a happy blog next)

How to Break Your Stress Cycle… (and other adulting hazards).

When did you decide this was it? Did you wake up today and decide this is exactly what you meant to do? Well from 7:00am-5:30pm, Monday through Friday I do not. Then, after my day is over, I return to what I meant to do with my time. I know what you’re thinking: You’re Batman?! Sadly, no. I’ve managed to micromanage myself into a clear cycle… one which must be broken!

Here we go!

I go home, and proceed with the rituals established when I started a 9-5… (exercise, make dinner…you see where this is going). If you have kids you already know the struggle. Butthis is not a parental story, this is self imposed insanity! Arguably worse because there is no small child to blame for why I am so burnt out. (Sound familiar, friends?) I digress.

On the weekends I have the luxury of relaxing right?

Absolutely not.

I’m cleaning. I’m prepping. Yes, I’m having a little (carefully scheduled) fun. But all the while thinking: “I need to do something productive so I’m not ‘stressed out’ this week.”

Yes some might say this is anxiety in full form; stressing about feeling stressed. I happen to think it’s a condition that being in the modern workforce instills in us. It’s the fear…

What is the fear?

You’re afraid to be late.

You’re afraid you’ll get fired.

You’re afraid you aren’t meeting the goals.

You are afraid that you might derail your diet or whatever limits you’ve placed on yourself.

You’re afraid of drama in the office, or just nervously watching your back because fake-friend-Terry (not a real person) is going to snap at any moment.

Afraid of your boss.

Afraid of offending someone.

Afraid of growing old.

Afraid of being a disappointment or failing your team.

Just plain old strung out and scared for Monday…. All throughout your weekend… as you fly from errand to errand, carefully making sure to stay within your budget, while you grocery shop with the rest of the working class crowd.

Then FOMO (“fear of missing out”: for the real adults) kicks in, and you realize you spent so much time being afraid you only really have 1 day or maybe mearly hours of your weekend left. Those precious hours of recharging or just being “yourself” are quickly evaporating. Now that you’re really triggered, you’re scrambling to make the most of what is now the end of your Sunday. You realize that you still have to return to your daily “grind”…and the fun sizzles right out…

So why are we hard wired with the fear?

In a book I recently read called Tribes it addresses the fear as a manifestation of a “sheepwalking life”. Basically, if you deviate from your self imposed or office imposed “norms” then you get the fear. The fear is not defined in the book but I thought it was valuable to mention.Throughout this book I find it outlandish and yet romanticized to consider changing up the “status quo”, and forge a not-so-cookie-cutter path. However I don’t know when I’ll have time… (But if you are ready to change or or perhaps already have, the book is compelling and worth a look! Back to my point…)

Insert sadness…

Then sadness and reality is the next stage: It’s Sunday. That Friday-feeling has completely turned into your meal prepping Sunday blues…

How do you make a mark on the world with 2 days off (if your job is insignificant) and when 79% of the total 2 days is spent stressing out about the week ahead?

Regret, here it comes people…

It is during this point that you decide to sulk. You have to return to real life and yet you feel that you hardly got started. Suddenly the high school math homework nightmares seem like they really could have been the answer. You should have gone to school for something “better”… and the Monday-dread wouldn’t be this bad. Bargaining with yourself is also a stage of grief… (just saying).

So the cycle continues…

How do you break the cycle of adulting stress? I have a couple of simple solutions to get your needs met and live a little!

1. Make a list of happy wants and needs.

Yes I want to clean out my closet. I do not need to do that to function on Monday. Make your list work for you!

Use categories:

  • Things you want to see this weekend: A movie? An art exhibit? A new park in town? Yes the world exists outside of Facebook, you need to get there!
  • Things you want to do for peace of mind: (see above cleaning of the closet.) There is a lot to be said for good living space vibes and fung shui.
  • Goals are always good. They make us feel like we must pay attention to them. If you need to set goals to see a movie, do it!

2. Make time for yourself ALONE, no social media allowed.

  • The latest Facebook rant can wait for 45 minutes. You need time for you.
  • Find a quiet space and just hang out with your fur baby, or read, or be still. Meditation is an idea but something tells me you aren’t there yet.
  • Gather your thoughts. Focus your attention on what your body is telling you. Maybe you need a pedicure, and it’s clear…
  • Give yourself the break you need, don’t harp on the things that aren’t getting done. You don’t NEED to do everything.

3. Try something new.

  • I promise: It’s hard but it’s rewarding. Try a new route to the grocery store. Try a new recipe. Try to step outside your comfort zone and feel uncomfortable. I assure you it’s a step in the right direction. You need this!
  • Change the routine in a way that allows you to get your needs met and gives you new perspective. Maybe you just needed to do your grocery shopping online for once, from the luxury of your couch. So what if it costs $10 for delivery! You deserve a break!

4. Do something you care about, if you don’t know what that is… take the first step.

  • Maybe you always wanted to learn a language. Try it!
  • Maybe you like to paint or draw or some art inspired thing. Do it!
  • Maybe you really want to give back to your local community.
  • Maybe you just want to spend time looking for ideas for a new project.

Burnout is born when we give up our time for things we don’t care about.

We must actively pay attention to what our thoughts and our body and our lives are telling us. I know personally, I’ve been known to overdo it. I have to check myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed and bring it back to home base.

Perspective is how you look at things, but self reflection is how you choose your path. You can conquer the things you think are looming and have a life! You can look at it as a positive or a negative but you still have to show up on Monday…

Remember! You decide how to spend the time you have. Once you find yourself in the cycle, I hope you dance (I mean stop it from spiraling)! If you need an intervention phone a friend, make a plan, but don’t sit idle and suffer through a weekend of the same stressors. You need to recharge and you don’t need to be everything to everyone!

Now get out there and be free to own your freedom!

Are you Batman?

What is it that creates a superhero? The obvious answer is saving a damsel in distress or helping save the world. I’d argue the hero is the person that shines through dispite the odds stacked against them.

I am biased by saying Batman is better than Superman, but that’s because my name is Robyn (cue corny laughter). Here’s my argument, Batman was a guy who had gadgets but he used them to defeat the bad guys. Not everyone is born with natural super hero powers, in fact most people have to try very hard to simply be regular. However, Iron man and Batman might not have super strength or the ability to fly, but they have something much more valuable. Hope, perseverance, and my favorite good morals.

When you have hope for a better situation, you have an idea of what that means. If you can create your destiny, then you have the same Batman power.

The secret of both Batman and Iron man are inadequate situations. For Iron man he was faced with standing up to his brilliant father feeling that he would never stack up, he pushed through the negativity, and BAM Iron man outfit with super power to boot. He had adversity, the man had a heart of some toxic chemical and lord knows his back probably took a beating from those long hours of encrypting code…

What’s the point? Heros are normal people who decided that this wasn’t good enough. Superman, had super powers, but not everyone wakes up as Clark Kent.

What perseverance did they have? You think Iron man or Batman ever had self doubts? Of course! They were normal people!!! They had a choice, suck it up and be better or be a bad guy. Obviously we saw what they chose.

Spider man was just kind of lucky, but he had to overcome a choice, it worked out for him. He could have easily let bullying get the best of him. You have to have power in yourself to rise up to the challenges that you face in this world. Persistence and being a good person makes a hero out of an ordinary human.

Batman is inside you, even if you weren’t born with billions of dollars, super strength or a cool car. You can be batman.

You decide what kind of hero you want to be.

Why You Need More Inspiration.

Day to day gets realllllly boring, and it moves quick. Suddenly you are in November when the last time you checked it was definetly April!

The good news is.. Thanksgiving… the bad news is, you moved too fast!

Stop now, and take a moment to appreciate the situation you are in, now, make a plan to get some inspiration in whatever form that is to you.

For me, I need a project. I constantly test myself to see how far I can take it, what else I can do, how many ideas I can bring to life! It’s hard when you have a running list going all the time. It bogs down your creative “flow” which HuffPost does a nice job of explaining. The point is, when you are in flow, your mind is at ease. I’d argue it’s a form of meditation and a requirement for creatives, so you don’t burn out.

The latest project I did was a dresser. It was an old project that I was sick of, and I needed a new look. So I busted out the decoupage and jazzed it up.

I’m not sure exactly how I came to decide this was my project but it bothered me, so I fixed it. Most things in our homes are “stuff” or “necessity” but as a kid I would get this nagging need to rearrange my space, like once or twice a year. It was like it got cold. So I would notice something, I would store that in the back of my mind and then I’d wake up one day and do something about it. Yes it’s random, but I guess it’s similar to having a meltdown, one day you just have enough… but this is a positive meltdown. The meltdown creates a feeling of ease as a storm is followed by a period of restoration. Anyway let me move on with a non-philosophic point that I was making…

The good thing about creative outlets is that when you finish, you bask in your own glory. As you should! You nailed it!

It’s so important to feel like you have control in a world where we often don’t. You create an idea and you take it from the drawing board to the finished product and that, is what goals are for.

So many times we set goals and forget about them, but inspiration is a goal, and one that you can bring to life. I don’t know if I’m the only one that gets excited about an idea, but I tend to think its contagious.

Here’s some inspirations for you…

Do you have a drawer that needs to be organized. Do it.

Do you have art you must create?

Do you really want to get out in nature and smell the fresh air?

Do you have an old item that you love but needs some vamping up?

Do you like baking and you really want to make something just for fun?

All these things are simple pleasures that are so important to keep you feeling refreshed and you owe yourself that! More ideas on the 10 Simple Pleasures blog so try something that gives you energy, and makes you happy!

When you get inspired, you make the life you want for yourself!

When you lose a shoe you find your way…

I tend to think that things happen in life with some sort of cause and effect… at least it helps to put things in order. It was May, and 91 degrees, in CT which isn’t completely unheard of but it was hotter than usual. I had left work to go to the dentist when the AC in my car broke. The good news is I had no cavities, the bad news was it was 91 degrees and the AC in my car died.

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I had planned to go to the lake after the appointment, mainly to cool off, but also because I’d been reading a great book and I had some soul searching to do.

The scene was literally me, the lake, and the cars going by. No one was there. It was perfect! Hot, but perfect!


I set up my chair, took off my flip flops and read for a while. I felt like my body was tense and so I got up and moved around a bit. I stretched, and lengthened thinking I needed a bit of yoga to get my body to feel like I was relaxing. It’s funny when you sit quietly, the things that pop up. I’d always felt a weird sensation of big brother watching after my dad died. It wasn’t all the time, but I definetly had moments when I just knew he was present. It’s a hard concept for some to understand. I believe in my gut. It usually keeps me out of trouble and I’d like to think it’s where my conscious lives.

So anyway, I am pondering life. Great thoughts, great people. How did the world get so complex? Did we really need to have so many restrictions? Alternatively how did people know when we needed to set the rules? The real question I was trying to figure out is, what do I want. How easy a question to ask… but so difficult to answer.

I decided it was time to ask specific questions. Do I start my own business, dive into a life of pure happy-stressed-chaos? Or- go back to school and become something responsible and ordinary. It’s hard to accept that I might just be normal. I don’t find myself to be that normal, but I’m no Galileo either… so I sit and thought and looked around. I noticed the water. I noticed the clouds. I saw a little girl and her mom come down to go swimming, which didn’t last long. I noticed myself, my feelings, and all the things they tell you to notice when you are in yoga or in a guided meditation. I felt hot. That’s all. Just hot.

So maybe I had a bit of heat exhaustion. Maybe the days had finally caught up to me, I was about to be done with a 3 year project and so obviously the closure was great! However maybe the closure was sad, maybe the end of the process meant I’d need to face the reality of what life was now. Or maybe it was the fact that the obligations poured in with no true satisfaction of a job well done….


Either way, I was finally relaxing. I was thinking how lucky I am to have health, to be young… and yet where should I go…
It was 2 hours of sitting on a beach next to the lake when I decided it was time to go back. So I packed up.

I didn’t bring much with me, a book, a towel, my phone, keys, water, and a chair. So it was then, I realized, one of my flip flops had gone missing.

I didn’t leave?

No one was there?

Did I need to learn something?

Was it just a coincidence?

Well… it was gone. I took this to mean, If I went into business, I’d be giving up a valuable peice of the puzzle. Also I had to walk back on the black top with one flip flop…. no I was in no way intoxicated…

I searched the lake shore, looked around the corner out into the distance and nothing. To be extremely clear it was a plastic / rubber / cheap but floatable material. I also wasn’t convinced that it floated away… it wasn’t in the water! So I realized it was gone. I left, defeated, thinking the leprechaun of the lake or my dad had pulled a fast one on me…

I told the story to several people, and no one knew what to make of it but said they would keep an eye out for it….

June 11th, one month from the 3 year anniversary from my dad’s death, after finishing the probate documents 100%, we went to the lake. Myself, my aunt, uncle and Joe, and there it was. Someone found it, and put it atop the wooden barrier. Either way,  I knew, I found the answer I was looking for…

Moral of the story, pay attention and keep your shit together!

This is pene(lope)$

Every major player must have a sidekick… so I decided (with joe of course) it was time for a sidekick.

Meet Penelope aka Lopes:

…From her kitten like fur to her double paws… She’s a feline like no other.


She’s always ready for adventure, even when she isn’t invited…


She actually likes road trips.

It’s not just her adventure-like tendencies that make her a great side-kick (cat). It’s her way of just being there when you need her to calm you down…


She’s always ready for a photo op


She makes holidays more childlike and nostalgic…


But with every cat step she takes with her double paws… she’s an all American gal!

She’s always been a big fan of sports..


And even when she’s being squished she’s still a good sport herself.


After all… is said and done usually after a long week, we can always count on lopes to kick back and relax.

Lopes, is the best sidekick anyone could have! There’s always a new story to tell her or a new game to play!

Happy Monday! Find yourself a cat like lopes at The cat hole in CT the breeders are awesome and you’re sure to find the best sidekick ever!

How to stay positive in a toxic place.


I’ve had a lot of experience in life dealing with situations that weren’t ideal, but working to make the best of it. In hind sight most people tolerate a lot for their own reasons. Whether it be a bad boss, a bully or just a family filled with nonsense, you have to stay positive.

Here’s a few methods I’ve personally employed to get through a bad day, a bad year or a bad hour.

Yes it’s a list. You’re welcome.

1. Make a goal list. 

So you have to sit through another meeting, and you have no interest in what is going on in the room. You’ve probably heard the same pep talk over and over, that by now you could run the meeting… ask yourself is this getting you where you want to be? Take a moment to reflect on the reasons why you are in this meeting, because where ever you are (work/ school) there is a goal to be met.

Lists are the best motivation I’ve found in doing anything from housework to a major project. Compartmentalizing time and efforts for a goal is a great way to stay motivated and check in with yourself. So what’s your goal? Maybe it’s short term, maybe you just want to buy a new bag or a loftier goal, a new car. How are you going to get there? A goal is not just achieved it’s meticulous, which makes it a challenge, but always rewarding. None of us like to wait, but some of life’s greatest achievements come from small steps. Make your list of short term and long term goals, and make a plan to get there. Compete with yourself, you’ll be glad you did, because comparing yourself to others is defeating and ultimately pointless.

So when you are finding yourself in a situation you aren’t really enthralled with, think of how YOU are going forward.

2. Do not be a sponge!

If it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s do not soak up the negativity of others. It’s so easy to do, especially if you are like me, and you just want to fix everyone’s life and make it perfect! Do not soak up negative energy, and if you find yourself going down this path, stop and reflect. You have to observe how you feel about situations, you have to figure out why you feel that way and then you need to change.

Once you start to find yourself surrounding yourself with negative people, with negative feelings, who have bad luck or have been through a lot of bad experiences, get away. Run. Run fast. Those same people will bring you into their web of drama, exhaustion, depression and suddenly you’ll find yourself having similar bad experiences. I’m not saying you should disregard a friend going through a hard time. I’m saying, don’t move into the hole they’ve dug for themselves and think that you’re helping, you are just making your life harder.

Being a sponge means you are suffering the feelings and experiences of those around you. You must be aware of how people around you effect you. Stay focused on having good feelings, and good thoughts and with that you will start to see things differently. If you are focused on the dark cloud, how can you appreciate the flowers that follow the rain?

Along these same lines …brings me to my next point.

3. Don’t take responsibility for the actions of other people. 

Despite your best efforts people have faults, all their own. Don’t make their attitude your fault, it’s not. You don’t have control over the responses of those around you. Ironically you do have the power to create the mood, if you are positive it’s easy for people to follow suite. If you are negative and you blame yourself for everything from disgruntled customer, to a kids tantrum, you will surely be filled with remorse.

4. Take a deep breath. 

How did that go? Did you feel worse… no. You should remind yourself regularly to breath deeply and focus your attention to your breath, especially in escalating situations. It gives you perspective and it allows you to take just a moment to regroup. You deserve a break. You have to give yourself room to breath and let go of that negativity as you exhale. Maybe you need to take a walk, but whatever you need to relax for a minute, do it. I don’t endorse smoking but I do endorse a 5 minute break away from whatever you are doing. Essential oils are great tools because when you smell the sweet scent of a spa or a lilac or lemon, whateverales you happy, your mood can change.

5. Don’t give in, and don’t say yes. 

Nice people take on extra work, both at work and at home, to make others happy. Ask for help, don’t be lazy but don’t do it all yourself, you can’t. It’s not possible. So when someone gives you one more thing to do and you’ve reached your limit, stop. Think about it like building your personal boundaries so that people don’t take advantage of you. You have to build boundaries, it takes time to learn this, but you will one day find that you feel so much better doing more of what you want. Don’t sacrifice your well being for someone else, because you can’t help them, they can only help themselves. You should never be rude or condescending but be honest with yourself about what you can handle.

6. Do something for you, that doesn’t cost anything. 

Simple things really refresh us. You’d be shocked by how much happier you find yourself when you give yourself a chance to do something you want to do. Go for a walk. Put on perfume/ cologne. Write. Sing. Play. Dance. Daydream. Draw. Color. Just be alone with your mind. You will find your outlet. It shouldn’t cost you a lot of money to do something that makes you happy.

7. Slow down and be grateful. 

It’s easy to go at light speed trying to get all the daily-life things done. It’s easy to put yourself last. It’s even easy to forget to take a moment to enjoy the things in life we really take for granted. Next time you wash your hands, think about how amazing indoor plumbing is. Some places in the world still do not have this luxury. Take a minute to appreciate the water you drink, the phone you have, those little moments of gratitude make a big difference.

It’s easy to forget how lucky we are for such simple reasons. Make a gratitude list, it makes whatever you are facing a little less taxing. You might find this idea a little rediculous, but you probably realize also that you have a lot of blessings. The ability to be in a “bad mood” is a luxury, maybe someone hit your car, maybe you broke a nail, maybe you got stuck in traffic… is it really that serious? Calm down. You have enough to be happy, you must slow down and decide to be.

That’s the end. Be happier, don’t let the situation you are in define who you are, because you decide who you are, and your actions. Be grateful for whatever you can think of. Life will never be perfect, but it’s how we choose to live and what we want out of life that is so important.

…And here are some pretty flowers to remind you that life is beautiful!

10 Simple Pleasures that also Happen to be Free! 

In life we try to fill our hearts and our homes with things, people, experiences all in search for meaning and happiness. For the majority of us we focus on life’s milestones and forget that it’s comprised of those tiny moments we often overlook. Here are a few things to consider…. that are remarkably simple.


1. Knowing you were right. 

This doesn’t hold true in every situation but for the most part getting the pleasure of knowing you were right is simply satisfying. There’s nothing cute about a know-it-all or a stubborn fool.  However, if you have an argument worthy of a google search and it’s a a matter of facts and not opinions, then knowing you were right on point is the best feeling. No ones feelings get hurt. No one really cares, but deep down you get the satisfaction of knowing.

2. A pat on the back.

When someone tells you how good you’re doing. It’s nice you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. When you do something for another person and they reinforce your efforts it pushes you to continue.

3. Getting exactly what you want, when you want it. 

Example: I have a hankering for some ice cream but not just any ice cream, cake batter froyo. I get in my car, go to froyo and get it.

I have just given you an example of getting exactly what you crave when you crave it. This can be true for other mediums such as going to a place you really want to go or seeing someone you really want to see. The goal is you get what you want when you want it and it’s awesome!

4. Finding something you lost or forgot about!

When you clean out your closet and locate $5 in your old jeans. It’s like the money gods came down and handed you a gift for  getting rid of stuff you don’t like anymore. The bonus is you get to experience the “brand new feeling” for that shirt in the back of your closet first when you buy it then again when you locate it while cleaning out the closet! So it’s the bonus of a new shirt without the cost! Brilliant!

5. When you get more than 8 hours of sleep and leisurely wake up. 

I don’t know if I’m the only  one who really enjoys sleep but it’s the greatest form of relaxation. If you work a 9-5, chances are at some point during the work week you are cutting your sleep short because of obligations. When the weekend rolls around you may or may not have a chance to sleep in… but when you do… it’s pure joy.  Sure when you sleep “too much” you feel worse… but, frankly if you get restful sleep it’s sure to set you up for success.

Sleep is the greatest form of meditation. There are few feelings better than waking up cozy on a rainy Saturday, and if you don’t think so, we can’t agree on anything.

6. Completing a list, finishing a project or simply getting some daughting task over with. 

Some people live by lists, I am one of them, and honestly when I can say I’ve checked everything off my list, the feeling is euphoric. Others have tasks they know they need to get done, procrastinate until the very end, but even those people can agree when it’s done it’s DONE! Booyah! Shablam! No more stuff to do! Nailed it!

As a former college student I know each college attendee can attest to this feeling of finishing another semester, or getting through finals week without dying.  It’s just the same as cleaning your house and making yourself a cup of tea, you success you! So hey, maybe we should bare those obstacles, if not for anything else but the sheer feeling of accomplishment!

7. Being on time. 

Say what you want about being late but it’s stressful. If you show up late to work, you run the risk of being fired. If you are late to meet a client, it makes an impression. If you are late meetings with friends you are showing them no respect. In most ways being late is rude. However, outside of the rudensss,  there’s the excessive speeding that comes along with it. When you don’t manage your time you can’t be at peace. It’s simple. When you know you have time to spare you inevidibly feel more at ease. Whether you are a morning person or not, when you give yourself time, you ultimately save yourself the anxiety and stress of making excuses for your recklessness.

When you are on time, even early, you feel good. It may be a simple pleasure, but that’s the point of this list. Also be on time, because you should be, it’s the right thing to do.

8. Free time. Nothing but whatever you want to do. 

It’s part of the adult struggle, time =money. Every thing is worth time. If you have time to spare on something you truly love to do, that’s spectacular. When you steal a moment to read a book, or a magazine, or browse Pinterest. It’s freedom. When you have time or make time to do something you are passionate about, you feel recharged. If you don’t know what it’s like to have spare time or to separate time for yourself, we need to have an intervention. No matter how crazy life gets, you need to be selfish at least 3 hours a week, for your sanity.

9. Being given a “no-reason- gift”!

Who doesn’t like presents!?  Better yet, who doesn’t like surprises (really). So what is better than getting a present on your birthday or Christmas, I’ll tell you, a present for NO REASON. It’s like the universe just said here ya go you little prince(ss) you earned it! The opposite is true for “sorry about that” gifts, no one wants these, ever. No, gifts for no reason are the epitome of sweet and satisfying!

10. Making a connection.

You know that moment you are talking to a stranger and all of a sudden it turns into “me too”, the common ground has been broken. It’s an interesting feeling when you meet a new person and you hit it off, not romantically just personally. I’m talking about those people who you see in passing at your yoga class and chit chat with, those people in the grocery store you see but never talk to. It’s the moment when you decide that today’s the day you’re going to ask what their name is that your brain has a tiny eruption of excitement. It’s weird how humans make these connections but some say it’s because we all have vibes and some of our vibes match others vibes. I tend to think that you feel comfortable and then you find out that those people you have seen and not spoken to are actually just like you. It’s satisfying to know we aren’t all alone in this world and others share our views.
So there you have it, these simple pleasures in life are not only free but super satisfying. Focusing on the details tends to make you value to big picture. Life isn’t always beautiful, but finding moments that reinforce our happiness is.

How to Deal with a Bit** in a Few Easy Steps…

We have all seen or heard people that really press our buttons. People who without fail, push us to the limits of our patience,  and are just straight up bitches.

Most of the bitches we encounter are close to us, which makes them hard to deal with. Those we encounter every day are the worst because, you have to keep your composure. Bitches come in the form of fake friends, coworkers, siblings and general public. If I haven’t named just about anyone than let me be clear, anyone can be a bitch, but the goal isn’t to identify them, its how to deal with the bitches that you have to deal with….

Step one… Listen… Objectively 

The chance of the bitch at hand making logical sense is rare. Listen, take note and if you know this person, maybe you know why they are getting aggressive but maybe you don’t, just let them talk. A real bitch wants to be heard and commiserated. If you can’t stand the sound of their voice on the phone. You can put it down, chances are when you pick it up all you need to say is… “Uh huh”, “ok” or “right”. This bantering can go on for hours… The key is to wait for the right timing.

ALL bitches want to hear themselves talk.

You must listen to whatever it is this bitch wants to see happen, whether it’s a customer service issue or one that directly relates to you, listen until you get the point.

Once you understand the needs of the bitch. Wait to make your move.

Step two… Repeat back to them, the point.


The most important part of repeating the point is to do so in a neutral way so they don’t think you are being smart.  Note that they will be dramatic. They will effectively have a bitch tantrum because their goal is simply to get their way. They have no logic in their process but you do!

Once you have effectively told them you heard them, they will carry on. You must let them do this without getting even the slightest bit upset. You must show them zero consideration this is in another step.

Step three…Do not give into the Bologna. There will be a lot.


You must listen intently as though you actually care and if you do, then stop reading because you can only be sucked in now… If you are still using the “uh huh” “ok” “right” approach then you are on the right track.

Repeat the point again and then get to yours… Making sure to explain that you understand their frustration. If you can help them out, do it. If you can’t, then bluntly say “(bitches name) I understand (whatever the point is) but it can not be solved by me personally, you can either (give them choice a) or you can (give them choice b which is an exit from the conversation). ”

The bitch in question will have been check mated by you now.

Step Four… Drop the mic and walk away.


You will have to tell them that you can’t do anything about their problem at least a second time. However by the third strike, you have to be on your way out of the situation.

You either have to say firmly what the situation requires or, say “sorry about that there’s nothing more I can do”. Bye Felicia.

However!

If you don’t exit and quickly this issue will escalate and you do not want to deal with that so disengage after making your final point, and see your way out of there if they won’t budge.

I have worked with the public long enough to know when you start the carousel of “woah is me”, you must stop. If you don’t take care to disengage when  you are first establishing the person you are dealing with is a bitch… Well….You may have already gone too far.

I assure you this method works. You just need to be careful about how you present yourself.

Make sure you practice your poker face and your concerned face and when you can no longer tolerate the bologna, just pause. You must keep your cool that is the only way you can outsmart a bitch. The bitch will always fill the akward silence so you can think clearly to outsmart them! And you will!