What do I want for my Birthday?

37th Birthday.JPG

Us in front of the foggy river. I’m intentionally making my head the smaller one which could not be farther from the truth. It’s why we’re LOL-ing in the picture.

This year, I turned 37. It was kind of a weird transition for me. I’m not bothered by age but for some reason, this one sort of did. I guess it felt very, definitely, adult. I don’t often feel “very, definitely adult” so that was odd. Normally, Kristyn and I go on a road trip for either of our birthdays. This year, all I wanted to do was go Upstate and relax so that’s what we did. It was perfect. It rained all weekend and all we did was lounge around and read. I finished two books and read two others. I painted and crocheted. We watched Maude and drank tea. We napped while the rain tapped on the roof of the trailer. Oh! We went to the drive-in movie theater and saw a double feature (something about a pet dragon and Life of Pets). We also took an extra day off of work to make it a long weekend. It was everything I wanted. Also, Kristyn gave me great gifts: Clue on DVD (which we watched), a little Holtzman doll from Ghostbusters, the first Babysitter’s Club graphic novel (which I read), and a Fitbit Blaze (which I’m currently wearing). It was awesome. She also gave me an ice cream cake and balloons which was really sweet.

I have had sort of a difficult year. I say “sort of” not to downplay it but to give it it’s proper due. Objectively, it’s been a good year with some bumpy patches. I’m having difficulty with some relationships with people who are close to me. Something about the way they left things with me made me see them in a very different light. I’ve realized that I’ve been entirely too accommodating to these two people; to my own detriment. I am suddenly feeling very clear-headed about the situation and that makes me feel better but it also makes me sad. I feel better because I have realized that theirs isn’t a burden that I need to carry. I think now that I’ve realized that, I ought to be able to make better decisions for what I need. It makes me sad because it’s going to take a lot of work to defend my boundaries in a calm way. I think it’ll be worth it though. I definitely can’t keep going the way that we were.

In my 36th year, I allowed myself a lot of self-reflection. I am still working on that too. Mostly, I freaked out a lot because I finally finished school and didn’t have a clue what to fill that time up with. I let myself enjoy reading again. I (sort of) got back into being creative. I started exercising for the pleasure of it. I started treating my body a lot better (though there’s work to do there yet). We got a doggy. We spent a lot of time Upstate relaxing. I put a lot of energy into my job. We started socializing more. I think it was a productive year.

In my 37th year, I want to take action on my interests; no more time for reflection, just action. Amanda Palmer said that some years are “inhale years” and other years are “exhale years”. My 36th year was an “inhale year” after several “exhale years”. I owed myself at least one. I suspect that part of 37 will also be “inhale” but that when I’m ready to exhale, I’ll know it and the winds will blow everyone’s hats off.

I guess that “what I wanted for my birthday” was peace. I want to clear my mind, body, and soul of negativity and toxicity. This year, I had a lot of space for thinking. It’s the first time that I’ve had that in a long time. It was maddening sometimes. Life is a lot easier with multiple distractions so you never have to think, feel, or make decisions. I’m grateful for it though. I hope that 37 is an exciting year.

 

Big Magic

Quotes-From-Elizabeth-Gilbert-Big-Magic.jpg

Image from here.

Recently, I listened to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is the author of Eat, Pray, Love (which I have not read). I’ve been in a creative slump for a while now and it was partially self-imposed. I mean, I’m still in it but I feel like I’m starting to peer out from the fog. I spent this past summer in such a state of high anxiety that I was freaking myself and everyone else out. I think it was two things: 1) A pill that a doctor prescribed me “in case my thyroid was under-active and 2) Because I was trying to force myself to be perfect. Now, I’ve brought up a lot of ideas, let me unpack them below. I’ll start with the under-active thyroid, move onto perfection-seeking, and glide right into Big Magic; how does that grab ya? Good? Alright let’s get started.

Earlier this year, we had decided to take the plunge towards researching fertility. We’d like to have a baby and I’d like to carry it. I’m interested in delivering via midwife and they provide gynecological exams so I figured I’d go for my annual at the midwife’s office. When I started talking to them about wanting to get pregnant, they referred me to go to a fertility doctor. Because of my weight and age, I’d be a “high risk pregnancy” and she figured that it would be best for me to work directly with an expert to make the changes of success higher. Okey doke. We started going to the fertility doctor she referred (which is the type of place that Kim Kardash might even find hoity toity) and they started doing all kinds of rounds of physicals and what have you. I mentioned that I feel like my thyroid might be underactive and when the bloodwork came back, it was inconclusive but she still put me on the smallest dose of synthetic hormone possible “just in case”. I dumbly took it because when you’re trying to get pregnant you’re just kind of like “sure, sure” to whatever they want. I researched it online and found all sorts of side effects (such as anxiety) that were possible but I put it out of my mind.

Fast forward a few months and I’m a goddamn mess. I’m an anxious mess at work. I’m an anxious mess at home. I’m basically in a 24/7 panic attack. I couldn’t think, was easily overwhelmed, and plain old frantic. I think that part of the anxiety was warranted. I am going through some personal things with my family right now that aren’t affecting me on the surface but are likely affecting me somewhere inside. Also, work happened to be very busy and frustrating at the time and I was bringing a lot of tension home with me. When I was home, I started putting pressure on myself to be twelve thousand things. I wanted to write a book, start drawing, learn the tarot, start doing yoga, build a successful blog, write a graphic novel, take up photography, learn photoshop, swim often, go to the gym ever morning, walk the dog; the list never ended. Because I had too much stuff on my list, I couldn’t focus on any one thing. Because I couldn’t focus on anything, I couldn’t get anything done. I wanted to be perfect but there weren’t enough hours in the day for it.

In August, I scheduled a one week vacation upstate with Kristyn. The week before I left for vacation, I got into a fight with my coworker, my back hurt from tension, and I was fast forwarding the time it would take to get out of there. I had started to remember that the synthetic hormone could mess with my anxiety so I researched it and found A LOT of horror stories from people on synthetic hormones who found it to be hell. Apparently, you have to mess with taking different levels of medication before you can get it correct and if you over or under-dose, you could end up feeling like a lunatic. It was then that I realized that I’ve never seen a GD endocrinologist and that my bloodwork came back inconclusive. I was taking a medication that I didn’t even know if I needed. Since I was in a crazed loop, I was probably taking too much or too little. I decided to stop cold turkey. I know, I know, I know. You’re not supposed to stop taking medication like that. I’m a rebel, Dottie; a loner. I stopped taking it and THEN went on vacation.

While on vacation, I was in a low grade panic attack the entire time we were there. It was interesting because I kept seeing the face of my boss and the coworker I fought with. I truly love these two humans. They are great people in general and awesome people to work with. However, they were two emblems of stress because we work a lot together and that’s the nature of that. As the week wore on, I grew less stressed. Our days were filled with reading, swinging on the hammock, sleeping in gravity chairs, drinking rum and seltzer or tea, campfires, and generally just chilling. Still, I was convinced that I was going to get fired when I came back. I was sure that they hated me. I was resigning myself to being let go. I was even starting to welcome the possibility of it as something that might be really good for me; a fresh start, a new opportunity.

WELL. I came back to the office and everyone was thrilled to see me, especially the coworker I fought with. I was anxiety-riddled to come back into the office but when I came back, there was no work that was on fire. Everything was fine. My boss was on vacation so I had time to re-acclimate to being back and catching up. When he came back the next week, he gave me my mid-year review. Apart from a few minor pieces of constructive criticism, the review was great. He told me that I’m doing a great job, he wants me to keep going in the direction that I am, that any criticism he has with my work, he’s just sure it’s growing pains as I mature into the position and beyond. He asked about my vacation and told me about his. He told me that if I ever need anything, have any questions, or need any help to feel free to come to him; no matter what.

Basically, you guys, Momma is crazy. Literally all this stuff was in my head. All this anxiety, all this paranoia, all this negativity, it was all imaginary. And the thing is, as time wore on, I noticed my mood lifting. I noticed myself calming down. I noticed myself being able to focus. I started exercising which lifted my spirits. Exercising also made me start eating better. Lately, I’ve been silly again and have been getting compliments from all sorts of people. I don’t know, you guys, I kind of think that a lot of that had to be the medication. Look, if I go to an endocrinologist and she says that my thyroid is under-active, I have to go on synthetic hormones (probably). If you’re thyroid is out of whack and you’re all “LOL whatever”, you can do permanent damage to your entire body. However, if my thyroid is fine and all I need to do is exercise more and eat right, that’s what I’ll have to do. THAT by the way, will also make me feel better emotionally and physically.

Back to Big Magic, however, because that’s where we started. This book came out last year at this time and the cover art drew me in. However, I wasn’t interested in reading it. While on vacation, we went into a hippie book shop in Woodstock and we found it on a table next to other books about creativity and self-actualization. I decided not to buy the physical book but to buy the audiobook and to listen to it since it was self-narrated. GUYS, this book is one that I think I’ll come back and listen to once a year for a kick in the seat of the pants. It was very disarming. It was narrated by the author (and I love it when an author can really successfully self-narrate their own nonfiction book). It didn’t read like a self-help book. It wasn’t woo woo either. I’m not against self-help or woo woo as genres but that’s what I expected and didn’t get. Instead, it was like sitting and listening to your most enlightened friend give you really great advice about your life; the type of advice you weren’t aware you needed but when you got it, you knew you needed to hear it.

The quote above is something that resonated with me on two levels: 1) She uses a dog with separation anxiety as an analogy for creativity. She says something like “Just like a labrador ripping up your carpet when you’re not home, if I’m not being creative, I’m being destructive.” I’ve come to this conclusion myself in the past. For me, I like to say “People need drama in their life; you just have to decide whether it’s positive or negative drama.” I honestly believe that if you don’t fill your life up with positive drama (school, creative projects, etc), you’ll find ways to create it in your life by fighting with people or just self-destructing in some weird flailing way. 2) She made me realize that I need to take Shirley for more walks in order to make her more relaxed at night, to stop eating the carpet, and to stop using the cat’s litter box as a snack station (gross).

The problem with how I approached creative solutions was OVERKILL. I was like “Me unhappy, me overload brain.” Guys, I fried the controls. Another weird thing that I invented and then found that someone else had two is something I called “The Four Building Blocks”. When I was freaking out about work, a reason why was that I felt like I was being pulled in too many directions. I reached out to a distant colleague in a similar job position as me to ask for advice and ideas. She asked me this question “Whose voice do you speak in?” I asked her what she meant and she clarified, “In your role, who do you serve? Who do you advocate for?” Because we are both in sort of an outward-facing role, she meant, do I advocate for my clients, the business, or some other thing. I didn’t have an answer to that because, in my role, I was speaking in too many voices. I needed to pare it down. I decided to rewrite my job description and pare it down to four foundational blocks. I decided that if my work didn’t touch one of those blocks, I wasn’t doing it.

Later, I read an article that used the same principal but applied it to your personal life. They said that you should pare your priorities into four building blocks that do this: 1) Make you feel forward-moving, and 2) Make you feel like yourself. For my personal life, I translated this to mean that for now, in this season of my life, I want to focus on four things: 1) Personal Life (Kristyn, social life, and home), 2) Work, 3) Health, 4) Learning. “Learning” is a little ambiguous, I realize. Mainly, right now I’m choosing to have that mean “reading”. However, I’ve decided to let “Learning” take the form it wants, depending on my impulses. For instance, right now, I decided to sit down and write a 2000 word essay on my struggles this summer. This is way more personal than I decided to write on this blog but it’s closed so whatever. I’ve been saying “guys” but I do believe that Kristyn is the only one able to read this (unless the subscribers are still able to, I have no idea). If that’s the case, that’s okay too. When I started this blog, I used to write free-form like this and would just jaw on about whatever I pleased without fear of recrimination. I let paranoia take root and it ruined something that I loved; writing for an immediate audience on this here blog.

The thing is, writing on a word doc does NOT get my creative juices flowing. Something about writing on a blog and knowing that it will be shared with at least one other person makes it easier for me to let my thoughts flow onto the page. I guess there’s a feeling of impermanence as is the case with blogs. I know that “the internet is forever” but I am who I am. Anyway, I’m running out of steam and I’d like to read for a little while before bed. I have two more days left in this week to slog through before we can go back upstate this weekend for my 37th birthday. Actually, a weird thought that I just had was that I believe that I started writing this blog in 2007 or 2008. That means that this blog is almost a decade old. Can that be right? Oh who cares. Time is a thief!

 

Hullo there!

Lately, I haven’t felt much like blogging. First, it was because I got so anxious that I didn’t want to commit anything to writing. Then, it was because I went on vacation and had no access to the internet. Following the vacation, I felt too calm and relaxed to blog about anything at all. I just felt like chilling. Currently, I’m feeling pretty relaxed but inspired to write something. I mean, right now in this current moment, I don’t have much of note to say but I felt like saying it anyway. I’m highly distracted at work today and needed to get my brain working. I figured that if I spilled a few giggles onto the page here, that I might be able to make my brain THINK. The thing is, I’m too giddy today. I haven’t felt GIDDY in a while so I’m loathe to de-giddify myself. My coworker is going to London for a trip next month and she’s planning it so we ended up talking about all the fun things there are to do there. The long and short of it is that we worked each other into a fun-loving frenzy and derailed both of our brains with funtime thoughts. Much appreciate but now I’m ruined for very serious work.

Before I go, I want to say a few things in a bulleted list:

  • I sent the below pictures to the foster network that we adopted Shirley from as an update to how she’s doing. Immediately they got in touch so I told them to please feel free to forward her pictures and my email to the family that adopted Shirley’s sister and they DID. I heard back from them immediately and they sent me a bunch of pictures of Georgia as well as the results of a DNA profile that shows that Georgia (and therefore Shirley) are 75% Boston Terrier and the other 25% is a mix but largely Pug. Weird!
  • I had a dream the other night that I was working on the Hillary Clinton campaign and it was SO BORING. However, I ended up going into John McCain’s office, meeting him and all his employees and going to a really fun pool party with them. I woke up just as they were offering me a job. Kristyn said that means that my political beliefs can be bought with a really good pool party. I think it means that I miss McCain because at least he was a normal person compared to Trump the turdburger. #ImDefinitelyWithHer
  • Speaking of pool parties, I went to the gym last week and swam while reading an Agatha Christie novel (Pocket of Rye) for an hour and a half. I’m going to do it again tonight.
  • Speaking of physical fitness, I want to start taking yoga classes at a local studio; either the new one in Harrison or the new one in North Arlington. I must talk to Don about the North Arlington one.
  • Speaking of Don, we need to set up a meeting for Mayor: Unopposed.
  • Speaking of reading, I set a goal to read 52 books this year. As of today, I’ve read 44. Sure, at least 20 of them were graphic novels BUT STILL. The other half is memoirs, nonfiction, and fiction.
  • Speaking of goals, we FINALLY painted our living room on Monday (which was Labor Day). We also ripped up the carpet, re-arranged the furniture, and hung new curtains. Our bodies are physically paying for this because we are oldish and brokenish (from doing marathon shit like this too much).
  • Speaking of marathons, we signed up for two 5Ks: a Halloween one on October 30th and a Rocky-themed one on November 12th. We might do another one on November 5th too because we are crazy.
  • Speaking of crazy, I just got ordained to be a minister. Everyone please hit me up with your officiant needs.
  • This one doesn’t have a lead-in: I want to take continuing education illustration classes at SVA and build up an art portfolio to try to apply to a BFA program next fall. I don’t want to go somewhere MAJOR like SVA, more like Montclair State University. Something inexpensive and close.
  • Speaking of goals (that was a weak lead-in), I read this article about “The Rule of Four” when it comes to work/life balance. You’re supposed to determine four building blocks for your focus at any time. From the article: “For example, you might choose work, exercise, family, and a hobby you’re passionate about as your areas of focus.”  They say that these blocks should be “four concrete, tangible things in my life that make me feel happy, that make me feel like myself, that I devote time and energy to, and that I am actively constructing.” Interesting! I have actually been thinking about this a lot and I think (kneejerk) that mine for the rest of 2016 are: Personal Life, Work, Reading, and Exercise.

Here are some pictures of Swirlie for what ails ye:

Upstate Fun

Swirlies

Swirlies waiting for me at the trailer to come back from “the area”.

We went Upstate this weekend, FINALLY. We went a few times in May and then not at all in June or July which is crazy. We were just too busy for those two months that we didn’t even have one weekend to spare and the weekends we did have free, we were so dead tired that we couldn’t be bothered.

DSC_0070

Swirls looking like a g-d angel.

We came up on Friday night and it was so hot that we had to turn on the air conditioner (something that we’ve never done before). We drank beer and played Uno until we were both dying to go to bed. I slept until almost 11am the next morning which is something that I never do (or if I do, it’s sosososososososo rare).

DSC_0079

The River and Swirls

On Saturday, we read a lot. I also started a paint by numbers which is sooooo massive and intricate. I should really take a picture of it. It’s mesmerizing to do and really, when I sat down to do it, I didn’t intend on starting. I just wanted to see what it looked like out of the box. Instead, I started painting it and would not stop for what felt like hours. We also had to put on the AC on Saturday because it was 90+. Eventually, I tore myself away and we went to the pool which felt so good. After the pool, we had a chipwich ice cream and then showered. Oh AND as we were in the shower area, two women just barged in! Ugh, rude. When we came back to the site, Kristyn built a fire and it was huge because my Dad added all manor of kindling to it. See below. When we went inside, Kristyn read and I painted while watching the Facts of Life which was so soothing.

Mega Fire.JPG

OMG fire.

On Sunday, I woke up at 10am. We made breakfast and then just hung around reading and painting all day. Then Kristyn wanted to go into the river so we did that. We were in the river for such a long time. It felt so good though. It was much warmer than it normally is. It was still cold but not like bone chilling cold. I actually ended up submerging myself for a long time. Kristyn actually submerged herself to her shoulders which is huge for her. I was really proud of her for doing that. Shirley had a good time in the water too. She doesn’t love how cold it is but I think she has fun playing it in anyway.

DSC_0090

Wink and Swirls hangin by the water.

After we got out of the river, we made ourselves burgers and then I took most of these pictures with Shirley in the grass and of the river, etc. We saw a huge deer across the bank. We’ve seen a lot this weekend, actually. A momma and a baby deer walked across the river on Saturday night and looked at Kristyn, haha.

DSC_0096

Just a pretty picture of the water. We REALLY went in for a long time.

After we ate, we went up to the pool and swam for a while. Kristyn let me read and swim in the pool. I’m reading Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson. Then we bought some Neversink t-shirts, ate an ice cream, showered (sans visitors) and drove back to to the campsite.

Me Swimmies

Then we went to the pool before going over to shower.

We did a quick cleanup of the trailer while waiting for our coffee to boil. Once we had our coffee, we sat in chairs on the deck drinking it and reading until we were done. Then we got up, finished cleaning up and hit the road around 8:30pm. The seat ripped out of my pants when we were throwing away the trash. It’s truly a fitting end that these pants should rip doing the final thing we do before leaving the campground. These sturdy pants that have lasted me for like five years. I’m gonna miss you, boo.

Field with Sky

The Sahara as we were leaving.

We didn’t get home until 10:30 at night. We ate cereal and then put our damn selves to bed. Morning came too soon but I feel so relaxed. Time to start ma’ day!

Hullo there!

IMG_1663.JPG

Us guys

I haven’t written here in a while because I’ve been distracted by SO MANY THINGS. I was going to post a bunch of pictures here of the things we’ve done recently but there are so many that I want to handle with care and not just blorp them onto the page. So what I’ll give you is a picture of me and Kristyn accidentally both wearing Golden Girls t-shirts out and about one day recently. It caused quite a stir in Dunkin Donuts with the cashier and a table of senior citizens sitting next to us. We got very good feedback but a bit of profound confusion. I get it gals.

My life has been, as they say, “mad chaotic” as of late. Today will be my first day back in the office since two weeks ago. I’ve been working all this time; just not there. I’m actually glad to go back to a normal schedule. I had wanted that to start with me today but I overestimated my ability to get up early and GTFO. I slept a little late which means that I can’t do all the things before work that I normally do but I think I want to get some dancing in because that will make me feel better. I was on a good schedule with dancing before work. I let it get sidelined and that was that for that. I just have to get back to that in the marnin and I’ll feel great. Okay, will go do that now. BYE!

Independence Day

July 4th Weekend 1

Kristyn and Baby Shirley hugging in the yard on Saturday.

This weekend was the weirdest Fourth of July weekend I’ve had in a while. We had intended on going upstate but at the end of last week, we really didn’t feel like packing up and driving all the way up there. Instead, it seemed really enticing to use that nervous energy to “do us” by staying home, reading, relaxing, fixing up the apartment, and playing with the animals. We had intended to paint the living room but we kept pushing that off until it was crystal clear to us that neither of us had any intention of actually painting that damn room. What we did do, however, was re-organize the “dining room” so now it is an “art studio and gym”. Basically, we moved all our art supplies, “how-to” books, and graphic novels (for inspiration) to the dining room hutch. The stuff that was on the hutch got put into a box OR re-distributed to the study. Basically, we just re-allocated that space for something useful. I’ve been using that room as a dumping ground for all my stupid clothes. I think we’ve eaten at that table a grand total of one time since we’ve had it. I’m excited to be able to use it for art.

July 4th weekend 2

Kristyn holding Monster and Shirley against their will with love but everyone’s also sort of into it.

This was such a relaxing weekend though. Part of me is regretful that we didn’t go upstate. I’m absolutely aching to do up there and relax. However, I know that had we gone, it would have been awesome and I would have been so glad that we went BUT we would’ve had so much work to do ahead of it and after it that it would have partially ruined my week. I have a long, weird week ahead of me. The next one is even tougher. I am starting to realize that when I know I’m going to have a tough week (let alone two), it’s necessary for me to be a little gentle with myself around that week. This should be common sense but I have a tendency to be like “GO GO GO” and then I tire myself the hell out. And if I’m not like that, Kristyn is. In short, we’re crazy.

I read from a bunch of books this weekend. I finished one; Lucy Knisley’s Make Yourself Happy. I started a new blog and social media presence to go with it. It’s focused on a subject that I want to learn more about. I won’t share it for now because I don’t want to have these blogs linked up although they kind of are because I’m writing them with the same alias like an idiot. I also slept in all weekend and took a day nap on Saturday and Sunday. I ate ice cream, pizza, and Chinese food. I watched the entirety of Girls, season 5. I watched almost all of Veep, season 4 (even though I realized later that I’d already watched this season). We watched some Bob’s Burgers and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I crocheted part of a blanket that’s been a work in progress for like two summers now. Kristyn drew a picture of Shirley and I drew one of Monster. Both of these will be turned into paintings. I researched schools and maybe came up with a new, exciting plan for myself. I exercised, cleaned, re-organized, and chilled. We also watched our town’s fireworks display from our kitchen window while marching in place to get our FitBit steps. Oh AND, we drank a lot of Captain Morgan Coconut Rum with Black Cherry Schwepp’s seltzer. I even took some pictures with the DSLR, which I haven’t done on a long time. They are “before” pictures of the living room. Once we repaint and redo that room, I’ll share them. Other than that, I’m a weirdo who didn’t even take one selfie during the entire weekend. The pictures I attached above are really the only ones that show our weekend. It was literally that chill.

Okay, gotta GTFO.

Art School Flunkie

Art School Archetypes

Image from here.

Guys, back when I was a wee lassie just out of high school, I decided to go to art school. Well, really, I made a confused stab at art school by attending a local junior college with a subpar reputation and an awesome art department. I decided I hated getting feedback on art (duh?) so I quit the program and basically stopped doing art forever which is…the complete opposite of what I ought to have done. I mean, it was the Clinton era. When we graduated from high school in 97 the actual advice we got was to “do what you love and the money will follow”. Can you imagine the collective brain fart cloud that we were all standing in for adult professionals to give that advice to children? But, that’s how the times were, “do what you love and the money will follow”. We had no reason to think that the only way you could make a thin nickel was to get a PhD in Biochemistry so you can be some Managing Editor’s assistant. But? Now we know.

This is all to say that I am considering going back to art school. It’s just devil-may-care and irresponsible enough to be funsies. I keep thinking that I need to have my company’s permission to go after a degree; the logic being that I only want to do a degree that they’ll pay for. This is solid logic, right? However, what if I’m not looking for a JOB? What if I’m just looking for something that’s pleasing to my soul? What if I’m looking to see what doors may open that I don’t even realized are closed to me right now? What if this degree just scratches an itch in my soul so that my soul doesn’t get sucked out by corporate America? (I work in a great company that I love but working for the man is always going to be a little soul sucking just because it is.)

I’d have to do it part time and I’d need to be a mix of “The Feminist”, “The Older Lady”, “The Mother” (although I’m not one), or “The Outsider”. Whatever. The fun thing about going to art school as “The Olde One” is that I don’t have to be pulled into whatever type of art school drama nonsense that exists. I’d be an invisible “area” that the other students wouldn’t bother much with. I could do what I came to do and GTFO without feeling the pressure to socialize. That kind of sounds sad and anti-social but I know me preeeeetty preeeetty well.

This may not even happen because it really looks unlikely that I’d be able to attend any local art school part-time or out of pocket. Because I live near NYC, I have an embarrassment of awesome art schools near me but (assuming I could get in), they are so expensive and require a full-time level of participation and that counts me out. I sent a note to my alma mater to see what they’d think about it and who knows? *Fingers crossed*

Meditate, Exercise, and Read

Radiant2Swords.jpg

II of Swords. Image from here.

Yesterday, I pulled some tarot cards and the message I got was basically, “If you open your heart, a mentor will appear.” Last night, I ended up unexpectedly going to a local “metaphysical” shop that we like to visit sometimes. I ended up talking to the owner for a while and while I am not trying to make her into my mentor, she and I had a great conversation that guided me towards some things I’ve been looking for. I bought the Radiant Rider-Waite tarot deck while I was there and pulled some cards this morning. The end card told me to “meditate, exercise, and read” which is coincidentally what I’ve decided to focus on lately.

I have been searching for balance and contentment a lot lately. To this end, I’ve been trying to meditate and searching for things that will give me peace and calm. My relationship with religion is pretty much like everyone else’s. I grew up with a religion that was passed down to me by my family but for many reasons, it wasn’t for me (Catholicism). I am really interested in religion but moreso from a historical and objective viewpoint. I respect everyone’s beliefs because the truth is that none of us know for sure what the truth is. I envy people who have that kind of structure in their life. My mother always tells me that I’ll “be back” but I don’t think I will; unless it’s to join a church run by LGBTQ priests who are women, I can’t see it. (Even then, I’d definitely attend a mass for fun and interest but I don’t think it would draw me to it but who knows.)

I’ve always been interested in Paganism and Wicca. Paganism, especially, interests me. I know that Wicca is under the umbrella of Paganism. Still, there seems to be a fussiness to Wicca that I don’t know if I could get into in my daily life. Honestly, I don’t know enough about it yet to truly comment so don’t hold me to that statement. I’m still learning about both subjects and have barely scraped the surface.

Anyway, religion was a subject that I kept pursuing in college whenever possible. I’ve always been interested in spirituality and I felt compelled to try to understand more about various religions as a way to understand more about humanity. Basically, the thread the pulled through all those classes was that it’s all one religion with various interpretations. That realization was very comforting to me and it made me realize that you can boil all religion down to the golden rule AND that all religious figureheads are basically archetypes of complicated thoughts, emotions, personality types, and situations. So fascinating.

WHICH brings me to the tarot. The tarot has always interested me. First, it interested me because I literally thought it could divine the future. Then it bored me because I felt like any psychic worth her salt shouldn’t need cards to tell her what I’m thinking. Then I realized that both of these ideas were silly. I started learning how to read them years ago for fun but I never took it seriously and I certainly didn’t bother to try to learn anything about it. Last year, a friend told me he used them for writing prompts and I thought that was a great idea. Since I’ve been doing it though, I’ve found it to be a very satisfying almost meditative tool. Basically, at this point, I feel like they’re just sort of a structure to think about the issues going on in your life from different viewpoints. When you shuffle, you think of a question. When you pull the cards and lay them into position, you are attaching meaning to where they’re laid. When you flip the card over, you’re interpreting the card and its position in relation to the question you asked. This gives you clarity because you’re forced to look at the question you asked in relation to the cards you pulled. I’ve found that this practice has helped me consider my roles, my work, my relationships, and my issues in new ways. It’s been pretty interesting. The other thing that interest me in the tarot is what an old and secret tradition it is. Apparently, no one for sure knows where it originated although there are some theories. The bottom line is that it has been inspiring me and I’m just going to let it.

 

 

The Architect

June 28 - Monster

Picture of Monster by Kristyn.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “responsibility” and “boundaries” lately. Specifically, I’ve been trying to think of where my responsibilities begin and end and also how to set up and stick to boundaries so that I can live the kind of life I want to. When I say this, I’m talking about in all areas of my life. I’m talking about “responsibility” and “boundaries” as they apply to my own personality as in “Do I take on too much or too little responsibility?” “Do I set appropriate and clear boundaries?” “Is there something about me that undermines my own authority?” It’s a hard thing to manage because every person you interact with has an established idea of who you are and what you are responsible for. At what point do you stop letting other people assign identities to you and take a measure of control over who you want to be?

I have been feeling really dragged along by life lately which is basically an unfair characterization because I’m literally the architect of everything that’s happening in my life. Basically, this is a really lovely time in my life on almost all fronts. I know that I’ll look back on this time fondly. However, I guess what I’ve truly been seeking is “balance” and “contentment”. “Balance” I was aware that I was seeking. Kristyn nudged me into realizing that what I’m actually seeking is “contentment”. Like look at Monster (above) and Shirley (below). THAT’S contentment.

June 28 - Shirley

Picture of Shirley by Kristyn

I read an article the other day (and I wish I could find it) that basically said that achievers are always plagued by stress, anxiety, and depression. If you are the sort of person that doesn’t need much or strive for much apart from exactly what you currently have, you’re in good straits. If you’re the sort of person who strives for ANYTHING, you’re doomed to stress and anxiety.

The weird thing is I know how to make myself happy and calm. The weird thing is that I won’t let myself. Basically, I need to sit down and CREATE something. Art has always been meditative to me. I love sitting and meticulously creating something that didn’t exist before, then standing back to see the effect. It doesn’t have to be any particular medium; I’ve experimented with a lot of art forms (just not recently). I think that art is the only thing that truly clears my mind. I become so focused on the project that my mind can’t race with all the “supposed to’s” that are always cluttering it. I can’t flit from one thing to the next because I’ve surrounded myself with the accoutrement of whatever endeavor I’m working on. I think I’ll pick something and work on it tonight. Actually, blogging kind of makes me feel the same way: sense of accomplishment, creating something that wasn’t there before, living in the moment. I’ve missed this. It’s something that definitely makes me feel better and for that I’m grateful.

P.S. Kristyn took Shirley to the doctor yesterday for a checkup appointment and she weighs 18 pounds now! We only adopted her in April (three months ago) and she was six pounds then. She is literally three times the size of the dog we brought home three months ago. I think she’s busting out of the collar and lead we have on her. I don’t think she’s done growing yet either because girl is only five months old haha.

I miss the UK

Nescafe-Gold-Instant-Coffee-100g-7613033745867.jpg

Picture from here.

Last summer at this time, we were getting ready to go on a two week trip to the UK; specifically Scotland and England. We had no idea what to expect on this trip, having never been there before. We didn’t know what things would cost, we didn’t know how or if we’d connect with my family members there, and we really weren’t sure what we’d do once we got there. We had plane tickets and were only just starting to book AirBNBs. I wish we were going back! With Brexit happening, who knows if it’ll be easier or harder to go the UK now. I think, weirdly enough, that things will stay just the same for people with US passports but will just be harder for those in Europe. Ridiculous. Politics aside, we really loved it there and wish we could go back. Just a day or two before Brexit happened, we were fantasizing about moving there. Maaaaaaaaybe not.

UK - Celtic

Here we are at a Celtic game in Glasgow, Scotland. Man alive did I get in trouble with my family for this. “Don’t you know you’re a Ranger fan?!” No, I did not.

One of the things about the UK (from what we’ve seen renting AirBNB flats and visiting family) is that basically no one keeps an automatic drip coffee maker in their house. It’s the weirdest thing. In every flat or house we visited though, there was a jar of Nescafe Gold instant coffee. In the US, we’re shamed out of drinking instant coffee. If you drink instant coffee, “You should be ashamed of yourself.” I only have positive memories of instant coffee though. It’s what my Mom kept in the house because my father didn’t like the smell of a pot of coffee. Instead, she made instant and that’s the first cup of coffee that I ever had. At the time, I preferred the taste of instant to drip but then switched over and never looked back UNTIL we were in the UK.

A lot of the flats provided Nescafe Gold for us but when they didn’t, we just bought it ourselves for 2-3 pounds and then travelled with it if possible OR rebought it at the next place. I really got to love the flavor of it and once we got home, I found that I was able to buy it on Amazon. Since last September when we got home, the only coffee we keep in the house is Nescafe Gold. It kind of tastes like diner coffee and reminds me of our awesome trip. We ran out the other day and I happened to have bought Instant Coffee from Trader Joe’s on an internet recommendation that it was good. When I was in Chicago recently, I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries and I bought little instant coffee packets that came with the milk and sugar in them already. They weren’t bad but I stopped taking sugar in my coffee a few months ago so it was kind of a lot. I wanted to try the instant coffee on its own. It’s not bad but it’s not Nescafe Gold.

UK - Breakfast

One of our breakfasts in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Also, one thing that I loved about our trip was our breakfast in the morning. I should re-create it here. Basically, what we had every day was a croissant, some cheese (usually white cheddar), and fresh fruit like grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. At home, we have fruit like that every morning with Greek yogurt and rye toast. Still, I’d like to recreate our UK breakfast sometime. It was so satisfying.

We’ll plan again to go. I don’t know whether I want to go back again so soon or travel somewhere else. I think anywhere we go, we’re going to love it so we might as well decide to see somewhere new. However, I don’t think that Edinburgh (in particular) will ever stop pulling us towards it.