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)

Mind Over Your Matters

Have you been paying attention to yourself lately? It’s a funny thing that we constantly put people in our lives ahead of ourselves and wonder why we get headaches, sickness etc. Women are especially guilty of this kind of selfless behavior because of our (maybe natural) inclination toward care-taking. We need to cut ourselves off! If we can’t take care of ourselves, do we expect others to? (We shouldn’t.)

In our world today we face trauma daily; in the news, in our community, maybe at work, definetly on social media, and yet do we know how that affects us? If we have become desensitized to some of the usual broadcasts than what does that mean for our well being? It is a learned condition to be at a heightened awareness during times of danger. Our fight or flight response is both adrenaline with cortisol and ladies it not only makes us fat, but it makes us tired and generally unwell. We need less trauma, and less drama!

So what do you do to lower your stress if you have so much stress!? How can you enjoy the life you have now and not in the rear view…You have to get your mind over your matters.

First things first: look at your day and ask yourself how much time do you spend checking in with yourself? I do it at least 3-4 times a day. I need to. For the time being, I work with a population of people who have emergency after emergency. Maybe they are getting evicted, maybe they lost their job, but whatever the case, by the time they come to see me they are in a desperate situation. It’s not easy to manage other people when you haven’t checked in with yourself. You have to, like they say on a plane, secure your oxygen mask before assisting others.

Which brings me to my second extremely important concept. Breathing. When is the last time you took a full deep breath? It seems silly but when we are stressed we take shorter, lighter breaths and this doesn’t allow your body to flourish. Here are reasons to inhale properly… and trust me when I tell you that you will feel better. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to take a deep breath. If I find myself getting aggressive or irritated I try to check my breathing because it really can realign you. Also the more oxygen the less wrinkles… it’s science.

If someone asks you what brings you joy? Could you answer them?

Take a few minutes and jot down things you like to do… now, make time for them! I say it over and over to everyone I talk to, that you need to have you time! You need to be happy, for your sanity, and for the sake of your loved ones. I’ll give you an example. I went through about 2 and a half years of very dark, very unhappy times. My father died, he left a mess of an estate, my mother was dependant on me, I was balancing my feelings like an iceberg.

It was clear that things needed to change and I knew they would. Sometimes we face trials, and sometimes we create them because we are too wound up. We get ourselves involved and react quickly because we haven’t checked in about why this triggers us? Or maybe we know and yet we are falling into the same negative pattern. Stop this habit.

I know for me, I needed to separate myself from the problems I was facing. I knew when I removed myself, mentally, and didn’t own those issues, I could tackle them more effectively. It’s a neat trick about taking your mind over your matters and realizing that you are not your problems. You are a beautiful human doing what errands life has given you. Some have more to shovel than others.

Build meaningful relationships. If a relationship you have isn’t serving you, why keep nurturing it? I’m not suggesting you tell your friend that, since she’s been busy, we no longer have a friendship. The reality is people are doing the best they can. If you are finding that someone is too needy, or the relationship is strained because they always have to be right, or just generally exhausting, just stop. I see so many wonderful women in my life giving into feeling bad because they can’t do everything in their romantic relationship. Yet, they never question the other party!? I think ladies, if you need a break from feeling exhausted in your friendships, or in your romantic relationship…You don’t need to say it outloud.

You simply need to stop, think about your needs and say, okay I’m going to change something.

Ladies we are all (or at least most of us) guilty of staying in a relationship with someone too long, or letting one surface that we aren’t really sure about. This is selfish, and in a way it’s destructive. We shouldn’t be staying in romantic relationships simply because we are that age, or we want it to work, or it’s gotten better. No! These situations lead down a road of greater unhappiness later.

My example is being in a relationship with someone who checked off all the boxes in my superficial needs list (minus the good looking box)… he bought me presents, he was thoughtful (when he screwed up) and he strung me along. This isn’t love, people. He was not only the wrong partner but he wasn’t even a very good friend. He was jealous, mean, and why did I tolerate that? I was used to it. I didn’t know my worth and I let it go on for too long because it had already gone on for too long. In hindsight I lost a lot of opportunities to grow during that time…. but it was a valuable lesson!

When it finally ended it was like a breath of fresh air, and a relief. Sure I was sad, only because I was used to this person being on call, or checking in or whatever. It was super unhealthy and I know now where I went wrong. I didn’t listen to people who cared about me.

So what’s the point of this story? Don’t date jerks (easier said than done)? More like if you know in the back of your mind it’s not right, you’re right. If your actual friends agree with what you probably already know, then get out! Your life matters, you should be happy, you shouldn’t feel weighed down by the relationships you have, romantic or otherwise. They should be easy.

Not only should you be making meaningful connections in love but also in general. Find people who have good souls, and keep them. I learned this lesson, many times. Sometimes we try to categorize our circle as if we need a reason to be with the people we surround ourselves with. No! We aren’t “the plastics” (‘Mean Girls’ reference) we don’t need to be friends with people because we perceive them as better than we are! We need to be friends with them because they add value to our lives. If they don’t add something… ask yourself why you like them, if they are simply an acquaintance that’s okay! Not everyone needs to be your friend. You can just be friendly!

I find this overarching theme in my life being that I really, genuinely, like a lot of people, and therefore I want to be around them and yet I know I have 3-5 people I could call in the event of an emergency. Being a friend and having friends involves some give and take.

You find out during great times and during terrible times how the people in your life fit. I know now what qualities in people I value and what qualities I’d rather not get involved with. I suppose you learn this as you get older in general. I feel for my poor stupid 12 year old self… (man was she a push over). To a degree you live and you learn. Never compromise on supportive shoes, or friends… because both will be a pain after a while..

I was recommended a podcast by my cousin who is not only one of the healthiest people, but also extremely intelligent and trendy (highest praise)! I’m sharing it because I gave it a try and I was pleasantly surprised. I found out that some of the concepts I’ve been mentioning in the blog are mainstream and relevant (or maybe it just reinforces my general outlook). His show touches upon things such as finding your tribe, getting clear on your purpose, your needs and healthy habits. Life amplified with Dan Mason is the podcast. I found it to be honest, and in line with alot of what I talk about here. Check it out!

Bottom Line(my mom’s favorite line) :

Self care is key. Get yourself to the nearest mirror and ask yourself how you are doing then get your mind over your matters! You have the power to change your mind and your life!

If you liked this blog, please share it with a friend you think might need a boost!

Check @everynowandthenct out on Instagram and find some of my favorite designs, foods, places and just about everything!

Find inspiration and then make your own!

Thanks for checking out the latest blog and stay tuned for what’s coming up!!

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!

Trading Flowers for Adventure

Seeing how it’s Valentine’s Day and the social networks will be flooded with a million women’s flowers from significant others or chocolates or date nights… etc, I would like to admit, I too am guilty. I’m guilty of posting the obligatory picture of flowers, cards etc. adding to the multitudes of flower pics hashtags and all.

This year for Valentine’s Day I’m not getting flowers, and it’s not because he doesn’t love me, but it’s because I took the wheel and decided that this year was going to be different!

This year instead of flowers, wine and unnecessary (but still cute gifts) I planned a 10 day adventure in Southern California…

February in Connecticut was just cold enough to give you cabin fever and we did get a few good warm beach-y days here, but it’s better than a beach! Now, obviously not everyone wants to see the world, and not everyone wants to spend Valentine’s Day in the hottest, lowest altitude point of the world…(bad jokes are coming) I definetly don’t feel like the lowest person in the world.. haha… (get it?)

Anyway it’s beautiful and exciting and dangerous! It’s a lot better than a box of chocolates and flowers. It’s memories.

I believe that gifts are nice, but when you give someone adventure, they remember those moments for a lifetime. I will not remember the flowers (although they are always beautiful), I won’t remember th chocolates (sad) or the wine (double sad), but I will always remember my Valentine’s Day in Death Valley.

Not only is this place a natural phenomenon but movies like Star Wars were shot here. Some of the great western classics were shot here. The most incredible story was of a woman, who happened to have a flat tire, here in the Death Valley junction. She found an old opera house (which is next to a haunted but cool looking town) and decided to stay and buy the place. She was a successful ballerina in New York City and in the 40s (or around there since the details were loose), she came into the bar at the restsraunt we ate at last night. She would come in regularly and an artist decided to honor her with this painting.

As it happened she then became world renowned for her opera house in the desert which would draw people and critics from all around the world. And to think… a person with a flat tire would do all that…

So let’s just hold off on the flowers and start believing in our hearts that we don’t NEED flowers and instead we need to be ourselves, let free into the world to see and do everything we want! I still want flowers to decorate my home, I still like chocolate and I still will probably hashtag something Valentine’s Day-y but, the point is, don’t settle for anything less than adventure!

He/ she needs to give you wings to fly and I’m sure the flowers will serve as a reminder that you can totally start your own world renowned opera house in the desert. Support the ones you love and be true to yourself. This year I’m doing all the things with the people I love, and maybe we’ll see some dessert flowers on our journey.

The Law of “Fake it til you Make it”

I started this blog about 2 years ago, with the intentions of doing some kind of event planning, which I quickly decided wasn’t the right fit, how did I come to this conclusion? Well, a couple of reasons, but mainly because I realized the reward was not as exhilarating as the hype. I guess I expected work to be something like this, “Robyn, even from childhood would do (insert thing I was really passionate about), and it was clear then that she would also be an (insert passion again).”

After hiring a terrific career coach, I truly expected someone to tell me “What I was MEANT to do” and I learned, there is no perfect answer. In some ways I was disappointed to discover that, but as it turns out, one skill does not define you! Mark Langford my career coach, also a former CEO, hiring manager, near death experience-er, (and bonus points for Harvard business school,) has a book, that really is a terrific read, called Thank God It’s Wednesday!

So I set off on a journey to find my passion, and here’s what happend….

The truth is, doing pretty flower arrangements, setting tables, planning a meal or making a town wide event really felt good because, I am, by nature, a people pleaser. So as such, I should have already known that I would be disappointed in the responses of those who I had aimed to please.

I realized that despite my greatest intentions I couldn’t make a living on my “party planning passion” and it wouldn’t be the right fit for me (my passion is clearly not singular). I guess the reason I decided this was both, negative self talk but also MAYBE this wasn’t my passion after all? So how do you know?

Strike 1.

I still plan on killing it at thanksgiving,  and yes I still enjoy all that goes along with the process of planning an event…

Now, “Taco Tuesday “, is still over the top. Yes that is a mahi mahi taco, with fresh chopped salsa and creme fraiche . So what? Those things may seem frivolous but they make me happy. I like to feel like what I do, and work for is exactly as good as it looks. It feels good to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Sometimes, other times it tastes better when someone else makes it, it really depends on the mood.

That’s why having your taco and eating it too is so important. Who else can appreciate the taco like you can? The world is your taco! Make it with all the toppings…

(Enough life lessons and Taco joys)

Getting back to the long winded explanation of the creative process… I moved on to interior designer, that’s my ‘passion’ I know it! I have a good eye, I know what other people want (people pleaser), and I can do it! Then I found out, Pinterest and HGTV really give false expectations on a few things.

Reasons not to believe anything Pinterest or HGTV tells you:(a short list)

  1. Popcorn ceiling isn’t just spray,scrape repaint. It’s messy disgusting and it never comes off clean!! Who invented popcorn ceiling? The devil, that’s who!
  2. Ripping out carpet does not always turn up beautiful (just needs some wax) flooring, sometimes it’s subfloor shit and you need to buy new flooring… lesson learned.
  3. Not everything can be solved with coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and other life hacks, sometimes you need an electrician,so you don’t blow the power out of your whole 2nd floor while cooking the thanksgiving meal..(some other time I’ll explain)
  4. No one ever looks human during demolition and the final “touches” of fairy dust and pillow fluff is actually sleeping, because you’re dead.

NO ONE is casually invested in flipping a house, and been able to get through it without complications, and nor have they had the luxury of tying up $600,000 in capital, in the process. Just saying… I still love designing spaces but I know one thing, it’s not my “thing”.

Another strike.

I can’t help but feel like the process has made things very interesting. I know my strengths, and my weaknesses. Many lessons are learned through the process of finding ones passion, I’d advise someone to enjoy that process. I know I have. Though I don’t know that I’m the person to explain HOW to find ones, passion, I will tell you it’s not always singular. I would argue that because we are such complex individuals, there is no way to assign only one passion out ourselves, nor should we.

So now what? Focus on what’s next, nor what is forever…

Am I living my passion? Mostly

Am I getting everything I want out of life? YES.

In order to find your happiness, or your “passion” or whatever it is you are looking for, you have to start by putting yourself out there, trying new things, and faking it until you make it! 

Also, know that the process, is just as important as the outcome!

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Opened Heart + Opened Mind= Creativity & New Perspective

As we have begun our new year in 2018, so begins a new way of looking at ourselves. I am looking for new ideas and new opportunities every day. If I want something I’m passionate about, I roll up my sleeves and give it my all. What I’ve been noticing lately is that when we stay focused on our goals, we get results (duh right?). For me though, it seems like I’m always doing 100 things and hoping one is “the” thing… but not everyone fits into a box.

So what I’ve decided is that I’m going to do all 100 things I like to do, and who knows maybe they are all “the” thing I’ve been putting on a pedestal… or maybe I’ll just have fun doing a bunch of random projects and finding satisfaction in knowing I did them.

So what I’m trying now, is focusing on decluttering and recharging. For me personally I go through phases. Sometimes I’m in a funk and I just want to browse Pinterest, and chill. Other times I’m plotting my next project or gearing up for a big plan. For some people, running marathons is the same idea. They think about what they want, they visualize their shoes hitting the pavement (they also train) and slowly (actually rather quickly), the day comes where they show up to the race. They obviously kill it because that’s how life works. You just have to get yourself ready, and let yourself win! The worst thing you can do is be complacent and go through the motions of life… you must focus on what you want but also what comes knocking at your door.

I recently read a book called E-squared by Pam Grout which was a compelling set of experiments geared to focusing your energy. I don’t know if I’m 100% into the universe energy work, but I’m opened to the concepts. One of the experiments is about noticing what is around you. Example: I’m going to focus on white cars… for 2 days. Suddenly for the next two days I’m amazed by the fact that white cars are by far the most prevelent on the roads, yes it’s science. Or is it perception? The world will never know for sure, but it’s good for your spirit, knowing you have a say in what is going on around you. Some say it’s magnetism or the power of positivity. I say, whatever, it’s a good way to stay focused and open yourself up to what you want.

How is it that what we focus on, comes to fruition? Well because we get after it! So the focus of this week is decluttering and creating! I find that when you remove unwanted (insert person, place or thing) you have room to get back to a blank canvas. When we allow ourselves the freedom to do what we want, we are opened and when we are opened we can grow!

So lace up your pajamas and recharge or run in your running gear or just go out with a friend and change the normal routine a little. Open your mind. Get your creative juices flowing and make this new year the one you want. You owe yourself that! If you’ve resolved to do something and haven’t, start fresh on Monday and keep starting over!

Bob Ross says, “there are no mistakes only happy accidents” because like art, you have opportunities to change, move, and shift. The perspective is up to you!

Happy recharging! Post and let me know what y’all are doing or any ideas you want to share!

Til next time!

New Years Resolutions for Beginners…

A new year brings with it a whole new plan, a new car smell if you will…

But-

Whenever I think of new car smell I get slightly nauseous… It’s something I remember from childhood, not from my parents because they never drove new cars, but from a trip to the beach in the back seat of a friends car. I think the feeling still sits right… a little nauseous but most new things feel that way I guess.

Many people consider themselves to be a “type” or a “category of person”. Not me. I’m more of a little of this and a little of that but maybe I glance at the recipe to make sure it all turns out decent. More of the type A mixed with the wanderers spirit. So what does that equal in car?

Does adventure+ control freak= Jeep person? No, I think I’m more of a purist and the wrangle seems too sporty for me… Well here it is, a complete re-evaluation of everything I thought I knew about myself because of a major life decision, that really isn’t that big a deal. Did that seem as anxious as I intended? It’s like every choice we make, big or small seems to close in on the person we are or are trying to be, but what if it’s just a car?

Here was my sentiment on the process. I’m not making the kind of money that requires status, nor do I have any based on letters following my last name. I don’t need a spaceship of technological features, but I don’t want a tin can. Why don’t they make Honda’s like they used to? I love Honda, or at least I did until mine started having trouble.

I’m not surprised that the car manufacturers are mimicking the American income brackets and social classes by making economy cars look like total shit, and expensive cars unattainable.

I digress.

It’s a big pain in the ass to decide what you want for the next 5 + Years, because that new car smell (if you like it), eventually goes away.

A car is not a home or an asset, but more of a liability, and a leaky piggy bank. I wish they made cars like the old days, like they made everything. Fixable and wholesome. Or at the very least, made well enough to WANT to fix and brag about. Cars have had a tough history, I mean it’s still relatively new and now we have 100% electronic cars!

Ultimately, this is a new purchase, a big change, and much like a new year, brings with it a set of rules.

I will not eat in the car.

I will get a car wash once a week.

Etc.

until you don’t do any of that…

So what’s the point in stressing about a new year or a big change if you end up doing what you’ve always done?

This year make the choice to stick to whatever it is you resolve to do. Be reasonable! You aren’t going to lose 100 lbs in a week! You are NOT going to make a major change, right away. The good news is, small incremental changes lead to big ones!

So if you are buying a new car or if you are just trying to stick to a budget. Be fair but be firm!

Make a choice to change something small, and start making it part of your daily routine, that way when you re-evaluate yourself in 50 weeks trying to decide if you are more of a “free spirit” or a “tight ass”, you will have a better understanding that you don’t NEED definition. You NEED to know what YOU NEED/ WANT, and that starts every day, not just the first 3 weeks of January!!

Good luck, and remember you can do anything, as long as you commit to doing it!

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.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams…” -David Thoreau, and I bet he had haters too!

So there’s this thing that happens to me when I decide to go after something. I do it, I go after it, and then I think, what if this person sees and thinks (insert negative thought). It’s this little voice in my head that says, these people know you are a faker, but ultimately it’s self doubt.

It’s sad but it’s true. I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way…but if I am here’s the long and short of it.

I’ve decided to face my fears. So far the progress is slow. I’m still moving forward in the direction of my dreams because lord knows you can’t please them all, but life is too short to worry about it!

So what if people see? Good! I hope they take it to mean that yes, I can! Some people are so quick to say “wow look at (person) doing that thing, can you believe that!?” Um, yes they are, and good for them, don’t be a hater! Honestly it’s easy to say we are avoiding the negativity, until it shows up uninvited and forces us to react!

So here’s how I came to this conclusion, over the last year I’ve been actively trying to find my “path”, and by actively I mean really, getting myself out there! I’m proud of everything I’ve done over the last 12 months and if it leads right to where I am now, I know that’s where I am supposed to be.

So many of my coworkers, relatives and friends are just unsettled in their lives. I have to admit, I am as well, in certain areas, but very fulfilled in others. This years experiences have been some purposeful and some as a result of other experiences. Overall I’ve grown. I am not the same as I was when I started my journey to my fullfillment. It might just be that I’m looking at things wrong…

What I have learned over the last 5ish years is that love is the most important part of life. No matter what is happening as long as you have love in your heart, you are doing pretty good. If you have a few good friends, or you have found the love of your life, or have kids, or loving parents, or your pet, love conquers all. Sounds like a croc but no one lays on their death bed thinking of all the money, acquisitions or stuff they could have had…

The universe works in mysterious ways, no matter your views on the world, spirituality or anything else you have to admit that experiences lend themselves to learning. The people who support us, the people we bring and keep in our lives and the people we remove are part of the journey. I’m looking forward to the remaining few weeks of 2017. It sure has been interesting.

What is so important as we move into the new year is to focus on what we want out of this life. Each choice we make and each goal we set, should help us to get closer to the legacy we want to leave. Maybe it’s not a legacy, maybe it’s just the satisfaction of knowing we made a difference in the world, or maybe it’s raising our kids to be better people than their predecessors. Whatever it means to you, make the decision to go forward in whatever direction is important to you.

Everyone has to overcome negativity. I say, you can do anything you put your mind to, and I hope for those of you reading, that you will find some reassurance in knowing that you aren’t the only one, who feels held back by imaginary boundaries.

Go forward into the new year, with confidence, or finish out this year strong.