Monday, July 29, 2013

How Do You Handle Conflict?

My first gut reaction when something goes terribly wrong is to hide out...

Or even worse... strike out. 

I often times wish I could just stow away in a bag, uproot myself from this crazy life, and just start anew else where. But that's not entirely practical. (Though if I ever announce I joined the Peace Corps.... )

In the past I would even go as so far as to rip your head off (figuratively speaking of course.) I had a nasty reputation as having a tongue of a viper, and I am sure that's why many of my closest friends still tread lightly around me when they KNOW I am about to flip my lid. Rest assure, my dearest friends, those days are over.

What I do now.. and what I have learned to do over the past two years is simple- Let go. Become vulnerable. Just experience the uncomfortableness of whatever horrible thing I am going through, attempt to see it as it really is and the motivation behind it, and finally.. at some point.. just forgive. (That last part is a doozy.)

What is so frustrating for me now is that since I took on this whole new approach, I am subjected to other people's outbursts and loss of control. I watched it time and time again with my ex. I watch my family members go through it to this day. I've seen co-workers do it. I've seen random people in the public do it... and folks, it is not attractive. 

I recently watched as this woman berated a cashier at a Payless Shoe Source about whether or not she should receive full price for her returned item. Now, at first glance you would think yes, but as I was standing in line listening, I got all of the facts. For one, the woman did not have a receipt and they were not in the original box, instead, she brought them in a Wal-Mart plastic bag. Second - Payless's policy is that without a receipt, you give the current sale price on the shoes, and yes, you guessed it - Her shoes were currently on sale. 

Sounds fairly straight forward? Nope. She went on and on and on, then she wanted to speak to a manager. The manager comes out and tries to handle the complaint. She confirms the policy and offers another option - an exchange/store credit for the full price. The lady did not want it, therefore the woman asked for the corporate office's number.

At this point I would have rolled my eyes, because we all know that calling a corporate office is not going to do a whole lot of anything, but I understand that some people believe that their little complaint will force some "suit" to arrive and fire the entire staff. *ha* 

But I chose not to roll my eyes. Why? Her daughter, probably 8 or 9 years old, was standing there watching the entire thing. Here was this child, watching the closest thing to an all-knowing being in her life, and processing everything her poorly behaved mother was doing. At one point, the irate customer even looked back at me, as if I would give her support; I just calmly and stoically looked back at her - no smile, no glare, just a look. Finally the lady leaves and I have no recollection of how it ended, because I began trying to distract none other than my 7 year old niece, who was also a witness to this behavior. 

In my humble opinion we all need to practice a little more compassion, a little more patience, and a little more healthy conversation. When you run and hide (being non confrontational,) you are sending a strong passive aggressive signal. When you berate and attack (being confrontational) you send an overly aggressive signal. How can we strike a balance between the two?

In my experience, I would suggest these 5 tips:

1. Try to take a breath. Just pause before you say or do a thing.
2. Attempt to understand the position the other person is in. See if you can see the motivation behind the issues.
3. Talk about. Express your feelings calmly and say things like, "When you do this, I feel like this." Never say YOU make me feel or YOU always. Take responsibility for your reaction.
4. Apologize for the wrong you may have contributed.
5. Forget and Forgive.

If nothing else, I am handling issues a little bit better these days. 

Though warning - I can go from sweet/nice Nicole to cold hearted bitch in less than 5 minutes.

But what's the point?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Splinters & Rainbows

Life is not always fair. Sometimes you get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. ~Terri Guillemets

 Growth is incredibly difficult. Change can be bittersweet. Acceptance is a hard pill to swallow. And love can come in a variety of different options.

Back to square one, folks. Looks like my new friend is deciding to "move on," and that sucks. 

So be it.

Work is a little challenging this month- the economy is tough, which means we all have to work super-extra-hard. 

So be it.

It's time to grasp control of the steering wheel and scope out some new paths. New love interests. New potential projects at work to help us succeed. New zest - one that fulfills my soul.

Even when "bad stuff" is erased from my life, there will always be little challenges to pop up from time to time. The key is to make the stumble a part of my dance. 

One of the key things I have decided to do is to at the end of each blog post, to include the top five things I am most grateful for each day. It could be as simple as a tasty ice cream cone, or a kind word someone shared with me. I need this. I need to remember that my life is truly fantastic, not some gloomy experience.

I was chatting with two of my closest friends the other day (different phone conversations) and we were commiserating about our lives. I was complaining that I was not a priority for anyone and that certainly I was destined to live alone, stuck making a certain amount of money, and not achieving some of those "wanderlust" dreams I hold so closely to my heart. One of them went on to talk about the challenges of a new family, and adjusting her dreams to accommodate her new life. The other was sharing how she had accomplished all of her goals, and she was stuck asking herself, "Now what?"

We all stopped and sort of chuckled. We all have homes. We all have great jobs (One if a successful gifted teacher, one is a news director, and I am the head of marketing for one of the largest african american museums in the nation.) We have all traveled. We  are all well-educated. We are (honestly,) interesting people and lead fairly interesting lives. We realized we were complaining about things the average person sees as fantastic. 

Lord knows, I have been down down down.. which humbled me beyond words. I did what I set out to do, and I rebuilt my life, one I could be proud of. But that did not mean it was easy. If you have been following for a while, you know how hard times have been since about 2007. I went from one divorce, to meeting and falling crazy/madly/in love with the egyptian, to dealing with immigration for 2 years, to readjusting with and taking care of my immigrant husband, to being on top of my game to suddenly come crashing down and losing my home, my job, my husband, and almost all of my money. I fell into a 9 month pit of despair to climbing out slowly, and trying to find some sort of normalcy and put down some roots.

Yet, I'm never satisfied. It's never enough. Which is why I need to identify the good in my life, in simple terms.

As it stands, I am sitting on my couch, drinking my morning coffee, watching the OWN Network, and realizing I am back to square one - a few splinters, but lots of rainbows in the distance.

Gratitude on Saturday:
1. For the ability to eat healthy all day, and not get tempted by the yummy things.
2.  Having access to technology: being able to afford a nice laptop, invest in a few good games, and lose myself in them on a Saturday afternoon.
3. Being able to get into my "skinnier" jeans last night.
4. Spend time with a family member I have not truly hung out with in years (since childhood.)
5. For the recent journey with a really wonderful guy. That season has passed. I must accept it and move on.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Things I Learned This Week

1. That I need to be around positive people. When people in my personal life or professional life have a negative attitude, it really affects me (as it does most people.) I am so much more productive and happy when everyone else is in the same mood.

2. Dieting is very tricky. Trying Weight Watchers again. I lost 4 pounds this week - but man, oh man... going to bed hungry was not easy.

3. Note to self - grocery shop for healthy food BEFORE starting a weight loss program. Then I won't be so hungry.

4. The humidty is just gross. Good for the skin, bad for the mood.

5. I may very well have just gotten "played." Sheesh...

6. Having something to look forward to is a life saver.

7. I really have nothing more to say. See #5 - It really should have been #1. Grr.

Blah Blah Blah

Friday, July 26, 2013

What's Trending in My World

I sort of came up with an idea - why not share with you what I am chiming in about?! I know there are reports all of the time about "What is trending" here and there, but each of us have different interests, so maybe what is trending "out there" is not exactly what is trending in your bubble.

Each Friday, I will add "What's Trending in My World." Maybe it bores you, maybe you roll your eyes.. but these are stories, things, ideas that sparked my interest and got me talking this week.

Let's just jump in and get it started.

For one, I discovered a new musical artist out of New Zealand. Her "name" is Lorde and her voice is simply incredible, and a wee bit haunting- and get this... she is only 16! I think we'll be hearing more from her in the coming months. 

Another tid bit that caught my attention was the issue with the Detroit Art Museum. I am completely disturbed that the city of Detroit sees the museum as a potential piggy bank to solve the city's financial problems. EEK. Click on the link above and learn about the top pieces of art that could potentially be sold off to the highest bidder. 

One of my personal favorites at the museum would be Henry Fuseli's "The Nightmare." 

This photo sort of paints the perfect picture of the superstition behind sleep apnea. Seriously. 


Another things that I am just chitter chattering all about is this fantastic wedding dance! You guys know I am crazy about dance, and I think a creative first dance is the way to go (unfortunately, I was never lucky enough to have a partner willing to try... wait .. wait.. the egyptian did dance with a sword on his head, never mind!) This wedding "first dance" is really cute. Make sure to stick with it... the first part is a little long.. but it's a great dance medley.

Speaking of Egypt... I know many of you probably do not keep up with what is going on over there, and of course, I still do - considering there are many people I love deep in the thick of the conflict. 

It's getting pretty heated, and it is definitely a country "divided." Here is a little sneak peek:

I am totally pumped about this new project a couple of insanely talented animators are working on, but they need OUR help. 

Watch this:

How much fun would a movie like THAT be? I LOVE it.

Finally, the latest little tid bit of inspiration I got this week was from a Ted Talk by one of my absolute favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert. 

Lord have mercy, can those of us in the creative industries completely relate to this or what?

Alright.. that's what I've been buzzing about this week. What has you talking? Which of these stories were the most interesting to you? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Make it a Priority

If I take a moment and dive into the heart of the matter, lately I have been figuring out how to make "me" a priority.

I'll admit, I don't have a problem telling people no. It's easy for me. But I don't know if that's making "me" a priority, or just me being selfish.

I am very open and honest with my feelings, and again - I'm not sure that is me being authentic, or just me projecting how I am feeling onto someone else, in hopes they might see where I am coming from.

Years ago, I went to see a very interesting therapist. I was post first divorce and heading into another life-changing relationship. I knew that as someone who suffers from Panic Disorder, I would need some guidance before the whole "anxiety-ridden" days took over. This therapist was a published author and a bit on the "alternative healing" side - fascinating man. Every time I went into his office, the song by the Indigo Girls, "Closer to Fine," would enter my head: he had a beard and a poster of Rasputin on his wall. Seriously, he did. Out of all of the craziness and very odd conversations we had, the one that really stuck out to me was, "Nicole, dear... this is all you need to remember: It's all about being self aware. Know your triggers, understand you have choices, and you will be okay."

I've repeated that to many friends in dire circumstances, and I always hope that it resonates with them the exact same way it affected me. Something clicked that day, and it made me realize that the people and  instances where I have the most trouble, are with people and situations where the other party is not aware of their behavior or even why they think or behave the way that they do. 

I believe with all of my heart that if we understand what we are doing, how we are doing it, and the motivation behind it all - then we can proceed more lovingly, more carefully. I think when we change our way of thinking, and see this for what it is, then we begin to prioritize what is important to ourselves and we begin to not only show compassion toward others, we show compassion to our self.

I think this whole concept is the root of what I have been contemplating for weeks. I am trying to come to terms with being alone, truly alone, and understanding my motivation toward the choices I am making in my life now, and in the past. How did I get here? Why did I choose the path that I did? What do I want from life now? 

Maybe it's that whole existentialcrisis that some people have in their 40s. Trying to figure it all out while we still have the energy, the time and the money. While many of my friends are getting ready to send their kids off to high school and college, I am trying to figure out what I can leave as my legacy. It's a really heavy thing- the realization that you are put on this world for a purpose, and if you are not procreating, you have to leave something - or what was the point?

That takes me back to priorities and how and what my needs are right here, right now. Being alone has afforded me the opportunity to focus soley on my needs. My mind is clearer, my heart is more open, and I am feeling incredibly vulnerable. I don't have a safety net to fall back on. I have only me, and that is a hard pill to swallow. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Well.. Hells Bells

Okay, I'm just going to say it - SHIT.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I went in for lab work last week, feeling good, feeling healthy - thinking, "Okay, this should be simple enough."

Got a call this morning that made my lunch almost come up... well.. not really.. but...

My LDL is high. 

You know, the bad cholesterol? The stuff that can cause heart attacks? It needs to be below 100 and it is at 178. 

Damn it.

My good cholesterol is not bad. My overall score is not terrible.. but man oh man... this one is a dozy.

The Blood Pressure, for the past 3 months, has been really good. (Hmm.. got a divorce - pressure returns to normal. Coincidence? I think not.) They even checked me for diabetes - my numbers were excellent. It's that damned bad stuff.

AND.. they want to start me on a statin. 

Seriously? I turn 40 and end up on a freaking statin?

I go back in 3 months for more blood work. My idea is to take the meds, get back in the gym, and I JUST rejoined Weight Watchers. I did it about this time last year and lost 22 pounds. I have kept that amount off - give or take 5 pounds from time to time. Now it's time to take it to the next level. I need to drop about 20 or so MORE.. and let's see if I can get off these freaking meds.

Look... it's all my fault. I've been eating anything and everything I want. I basically quit going to the gym... and then I go in for blood work. 

I have no one to blame but myself.

Game on. 

This time, I'm pissed. 

BP - I've dealt with for so long, it almost feels like a losing battle. But this - this was not invited. 

My challenge to all of you - don't just get your basic screenings, go get the lipid breakdown and see where you are. I challenge all of you. 

I will let you know the progress from time to time. For now.. the battle is on. Grrrr.... 

Slipping in a Post Late...

I'm processing so much these days. 

More than once this weekend, I found myself just sitting somewhere (maybe my bed, maybe the couch, maybe at my desk,) just staring... and processing.

I've been thinking about what the future holds and what my plans should be. I've been thinking about what my contribution to this community should look like. I've been thinking about the fact that I am, for better or for worse, in this whole thing alone.

Did you know that I had one single conversation all day today. Just one. It was less than 5 minutes and it was on the phone with my friend "T." 

One conversation.

That conversation was initiated by me.

Not that this is tragic, but I wanted to paint the picture for you of someone who truly has a lot of time on her hands. This is what happens when you choose not to have a family. You have quiet. This is what happens when you choose to keep people at arm's distance - you have quiet. This is what happens when you are not in a super committed relationship - you have quiet.

The day really was a good day, outside of being alone for all of it. I got up at 9:30 (yes, very late - I had a party at my house last night. See? I'm not a total loser. ;-) ) I made biscuits and sausage gravy, a nice cup of coffee and watched about 4 episodes of True Blood Season 5. I even washed a few dishes. I caught up with everyone on FB. Then I proceeded to watch a few more episodes of True Blood and nibble on salsa and chips. Finally, I took a break and read a little, watered my plants, called my friend, then more True Blood. Finally, I cooked dinner, and attempted to go to sleep. All to no avail. Here I am.. typing a post.

Maybe I have not expelled enough energy today. Maybe I expelled too much yesterday. Whatever the case may be - I'm wide awake and it is 11:45pm on Sunday night.

I've been fairly quiet on here lately, just writing silly things. I've had a lot on my mind and again.. I'm just processing. I'm incredibly grateful for my life right now, but at the same time, I'm trying to understand the season. I'm just not sure where I see myself heading. I'm not sure about where my new "friendship" with "T" is heading. We've been going out for over 2 months now. (Crazy? Right?) I have tons of professional projects gearing up - I'm not sure how those will turn out.  I'm just processing.

I'm trying to "go with the flow," but I must admit, it's not very easy - at all! I'm calmer, but I can also turn morose very quickly. If I stop long enough and think of the past couple of years, I get tears in my eyes, but I take a deep breath, I look up to the sky and I simple whisper, "Help me, God." Then I carry on.

It would be so easy to fall into a pit of despair, but I don't see the point. I just don't. It's hard not being a priority in anyone's life, and learning to get the love and respect from yourself. I am my own cheerleader, and if you know me, you know I am a cynical, twisted soul. I'm trying to be more supportive of my own thoughts and feelings. Trust me when I say, I even roll my eyes at myself. (In other words, don't get offended by the things I write, I assure you, I am just as hard on myself. lol.)

With that being said - I tried to celebrate this EXTREMELY difficult transition I have found myself in with a small get together at my apartment. Here are some photos from the "Divorce Party."

 Yes, I served a red velvet cake!!

 I put dark chocolate dusted almonds and some small candy into margarita glasses...
 Roasted Salsa Verde with Guacamole flavored chips..
 I used my favorite peacock dishes...
 I served hummus with a variety of delicious crackers
 I love these napkins!
 Provisions for the margaritas..
 I was set and ready to go...
 I saw these coasters and thought they were appropriate!

 I snapped a photo of myself before the party started.. since I am typically snapping pics of everyone else.. and running around.. this is the pre-sweaty stuff... lol
 I love these bucket margarita mixes - so easy - 8 hours in the freezer and one bottle of tequila!
 I got an early start before everyone got there!
 Two of my favorite guests - this is Stacey and Jonathon. (Stacey is a Methodist minister and like me, loves all things organic.. and Jonathon is a Communications Director for a local arts organization (as well as a writer and artist.)
 Here is a photo of my dear friend, Margaret (from my church.. she and I met years ago in a bible study.. she is from South Africa and trains horses and teaches children to ride.) And next to her is Franodo.. he is a resident manager of a home for people with mental illness.
 Everyone enjoying the food and chatting...

 Here we are listening to one of our friends perform spoken word..
 Mr. S. (a local poet and published author) recited some of his poetry.. it was intense!

 Regina and I. I've known Regina since high school. She and I used to perform theater together. She is very talented.
 You probably recognize one of my closest friends, Telisa, on the left.
 Dewayne (a well known local artist) is on the left with me and Margaret.

 This is the Curator of my museum - Jeff.
 This is Stephanie and I. She came to the party with her fiance. She is a Marketing person an

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Things I Learned This Week

1. I think I should just decline all invites to events. (Possibly out of spite.) Why would anyone expect me to attend their event/parties/fundraisers/cook-outs/etc. when I can hardly get them to do anything I want? Blech.

2. I can be bitter from time to time. See #1.

3. Cats are wonderful to cuddle and pet and look at. It just hit me as I was organizing my "holiday" closet that Christmas will be here soon and THAT'S when the war will begin. (Cats + Christmas Trees = Psycho Nicole.

4. I can nap now. I really can. PLUS - I've learned how to relax. It's amazing. Took me 40 years.

5. Margaritas can sometimes be the cure to the common day.

6. When I look at my more organized projects, it makes me smile. Even my DVDs look incredibly organized. I smile when I glance over there.

7. I feel completely blessed that when I get off of work, I can simply go home and do whatever I want. It's a great feeling. No kids to feed and put to bed. No dogs to walk. No demanding families. No overly needy friends. I am just responsible for me. I planned my life well. ;-)

8. Back to reading the Sookie Stackhouse Series. On the next to the last book. PLUS - today my package should be here - True Blood Season 5. YAY!

9. I'm throwing a Divorce Party tonight. The theme? Nothing. Simple. I'm providing some food, some drink, (mainly margaritas) and I invited 40 of my closest friends. Of course, that means 5 people will show up - but they will be 5 people who care and I always believe we make time and prioritize what matters most to us. :-)

10. I think I have a solid idea of how I would like to schedule my days - which I think I need to do to stay focused. I made a little list of the top 5 things that I would like to prioritize and I think it's going to work out wonderfully!

That's all I've got this week. SOOOOOO MUCH HAS HAPPENED and I just need to process.
I'll be back with lots of stories. I'm just exhausted right now and need a little break.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Questions I Often Ask Myself...

My friend, Telisa, who has known me a really long time and will oftentimes act as the person who will keep me in check, always gives me a little hell over some of the random things I say openly to her. I won't typically ask these questions or make these statement in public or to just anybody, however I honestly don't understand some things some times. 

The inspiration for this post comes from a meeting I attended yesterday. One of the participants came in wearing something that sort of baffled me. Now if my close friends were there, I would have raised an eyebrow and they would have instantly known what I was thinking... but since I was sitting alone, I just sort of kept my sarcastic comments to myself.

With that being said (and most of this is completely tongue-n-cheek,) here is a list of the top 20 questions/statements that honestly baffle me and are Nicole-isms.

1.  Sequins during the day are a no-no. I love to be sparkly and shiny, just like the next girl, but sequins before dinner sort of freak me out.

2. Wear a properly fitted bra. My goodness, ladies. Ladies.. Ladies.. Ladies... There is a lot of boobage just hanging around and it freaks me out. Look, I get it - mine are HUGE... and yes, my bras are specially ordered and yes, it's rare to find one that supports properly for less than $60.. but believe me... It makes a WORLD of difference.

3. There is this thing called concealer. You can buy it at the cosmetic counters. I personally use Clinique's line smoothing in light. Please consider using it. When I moved back to Macon, I noticed that there was a lack of coverage on a LOT of ladies. Dark circles and bags are not attractive. Come on, let's cover that up.

4. Flip Flops with dresses are really a no-no. I have even seen women wear them with suits. No.. No.. No. Flip flops with short, okay.. I'll give you a pass. Beach/pool - of course (even I wear them then.) With jeans? Hell no. I just hate that look. Sorry.

5. Sitting with a group of friends and everyone is on their phone. The. Whole. Time. I get checking in, and I get posting pics.. but once all that is said and done - STOP.

6. Why do people feel the need to offer relationship advice when they don't really know you?

7. I think doctors should keep their personal opinions about life to themselves. Had an interesting encounter yesterday. It really is okay to just listen to my heart, ask me to take about 4 deep breaths and send me on my way.

8. I will never understand why people insist on interrupting you when they see you are on the phone. I can be in my office (any office - any job) and someone will just burst right in and start talking to me or asking me for something - EVEN with the door shut.

9. Why do so many big women where clothing that looks like sausage casing? I will be walking through a mall, the theater, church, tons of places and these voluptuous women are wearing clothes that are about 2 sizes too small. You know ladies, they make plus size clothing for you. You don't have to shop in juniors any more. Sheesh. (I know.. because I am a "voluptuous" chica.)

10. Nail art. Just not sure how I feel about it. Definitely don't think it is appropriate for work.

11. Why oh why do uniform/work shirts have to be boxy polos, manly button downs, and square t-shirts? Yuck.

12. How can people say they support the arts, but only support certain venues?

13. Why do so many women claim they are on a diet, I watch as they drink their green/powdery things in the morning.. and when we all go out to lunch, they pile up on the chicken wings.

14. Relationships. OMG. I know.. I know... Yes, I write about mine here, sometimes. But a blog is an appropriate place for it. Sure, you want to announce you are married on FB. Yes, let folks know you are moving on... celebrate the milestones. We don't need a play by play of your anger after a break up OR how much you love each other every day. I assure you, we are all rolling our eyes.

15. It drives me insane when people suddenly want to get riled up about race. People, racism exists everyday. This recent issue is horrible, but come on.. NOW you notice?

16. Why is it terrible to insult white and black people (and we freak out,) but we have no problem hurting muslims, jews, asians, and everyone else that does not look like a white or black American/Christian?

17. How do people NOT love coffee? I'm scared of those people.

18. Oh.. this one always gets me... people who are scared to try new things or even travel (if given the chance.) What is up with that? Ethnic foods, independent and foreign films.. and a long laundry list of a million other things... so many people sort of turn up their noses. They won't even give it a try!

19. People who don't tip. You do realize that you are also supposed to tip the maids at the hotel, your hair dresser, the person who washes your hair at the hair dresser, and at least a dollar per bag at the hotel. These are just a few places I notice many people do not leave money and it sort of drives me insane.

20. Finally, people who make ridiculous lists like this one. ;-)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Found my motivation

I'm giving myself a break... starting today. I think I have been too hard on myself and trying desperately to keep a momentum that could easily cause another person to collapse. I have experienced a wide range of massive life changing events in the past 2 years, and it is time I cut myself some slack.

I felt completely beat up last week. I think I was the main one doing the beating- constantly second guessing myself, falling victim to negative chitter chatter, and probably contributing a little negative nelly-ism myself. 

This weekend was not much better. I sort of spent it alone... and it's what I needed to go through. I did have a date Friday night. We went out to eat and enjoyed a quick visit with friends. Then Saturday I took myself on a date - I went to see Spamalot at Theatre Macon and even attended my niece's art show that morning. Sunday, I ended up ordering pizza and watching a Bravo marathon. Some plans got cancelled... and it reminded me that I am in this thing alone.. for now, and I need to just embrace it.

I realize this whole process is a bit up and down right now. One week I am on top of the world, the next I am down in the dumps. It's all a part of the healing of losing the absolute love of my life. I have been on autopilot. I have accepted the changes, but it does not make it any easier.

When I stop long enough and look at how far I have come, and how some really painful things had to happen to get me to this place, I realize that it all happened for a reason. I had to lose my job to reevaluate my financial situation. I had to lose my home to downsize and move back to my hometown. I had to go without for so long to appreciate even the darkest days at work. I had to go through all of this and have it put such a strain on my marriage to see that HE was not it in during the worse times.. the poorer times. I found my own place. I caught up on my bills. I found an even BETTER job. I got involved in my community on a level I would not have done in Bham... and most importantly, I purged a very toxic relationship from my life.

Now I am on this new path. I'm 40. I'm single. I have a great job. I make decent money. I'm involved in a lot of great organizations. My family and oldest & dearest friends are nearby, and I am learning to open myself up to someone new.. again.

It really is time to cut myself some slack. What about you? Have you endured a dark period recently? Are you able to stop for a minute and see the beautiful things God/Universe has replaced in your life?

Take note of those things.. and hold onto them. But remember, it's okay to fall into a slump from time to time, just don't stay down there too long. ;-)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

You'll Thank Me Later

I have not done one of these posts in a long, long time. I spend quite a bit of time on Pinterest. Well, maybe not a lot... but I do stop by daily for a period of time. It's a great escape and gives me TONS of ideas. If you are not on Pinterest, please consider doing so. Want to follow me - look on the left hand side and click on the Pinterest button.

With that being said, I'm going to share some of the pins I think are brilliant! However, I do it with a little trepidation. Every time I do a post like this, the psycho stay-at-home-need-a-life pinners leave these ridiculous comments about how I don't give enough credit to whomever I chose to share. (Like leaving a link is not enough?) I will state up front - you want more info, click the photo.


On to the important stuff:

I saw this post and was like - THAT'S IT. I HAVE to do this. I have sooooo much jewelry. I've had jewelry boxes that just never worked out. But this... this just might do the trick. 

I thought this was brilliant. Decoupaging a ceiling! How fun?! Granted, I can't do that in an apartment, but I do believe if done right, it  could be really cool!

I think this is excellent. Basically it's tissue paper ironed between wax paper and you get fantastic wrapping for baked goods. I would love to try this around this holidays!

Doesn't this look complicated?  Here's the thing - it's looks simple enough... when you read the instructions. I sooooo need a ottoman, but I hate to drop another $800 on the ones I want. Sooo.. this is simply a pallet, fabric, foam, table legs, and a stapler. YES!

This is awesome...

Love it. Love it. Love it.

Okay.. there are a few ideas I wanted to share. There will be more.. later.

Question is... should I disable comments? lol

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Things I Learned This Week

1. Neutering DID NOT calm Zen Kitty down. (That is a myth... well.. worked with all of my other cats.. just not HIM.) lol

2. Coffee is the difference between me being in a good mood and me jumping off a roof.

3. I am beginning to value the relationships I have created more and more each day. I know that sounds a little twisted. But trying life alone, you realize how important the people that play a role in your life (even if it is part time,) is so important.

4. I'm starting to put a plan into place for future. Nothing radical, just ideas are popping up. (Like buying a condo, a new car, readjusting my volunteer activities.)

5. I am my own cheerleader. I have to accept that. I did not grow up with encouragement (not verbally.) I do not have anyone right now that will give me a little pat on the back. Sooo... I need to be my own best friend in that respect. It's okay. It's not a vent, just something I need to do more of.

6. I'm very excited about our Leadership Macon project. It totally goes along with my political philosophy that EVERYONE deserves health care. We are building and implementing a free surgical day center. More details later... trust me... it's exciting!

7. Planning a nice vacation with my friend T. Should be a lot of fun. Down to the Gulf or to the east coast? Decisions ... decisions...

8. New hair cut. It's subtle... but the length is still there. (I'm growing it back out.) I like it.. added a few layers...

9. Bacon.

10. Still studying my French. I would like to learn a new language by Rosetta Stone next year. What shall it be???

11. I am in heaven right now - coffee, a Moving Up marathon on TLC, and two beautiful cats in my eye line.

12. Working on that "pulling myself out of a funk" mode today.

13. I love wine.

14. Power tools. I would not mind having a drill.

15. I'm running out of quality books to read. Blah.

16. It has rained every single day for weeks now. It's humid as anything. BUT.. it's not as "hot" as it normally is this time of year. I'll take the heat over this rain any day.

17. However, the humidity is EXCELLENT for my plants. I have like a natural little green house going on.

18. Watching people pull tile... it looks sort of fun. I want to demo some one's kitchen... lol

19. I'm thinking of breaking out my sewing machine again. Hmmm.. we'll see. (Laura, where are you when I need you?)

20. I've dropped a few pounds... just cutting back on a few things, hardly even trying. Excellent.

Friday, July 12, 2013

How do you recharge?

I'm in need of a little rejuvenation this weekend. The week was a little blah, and I was a little blah.. and it's time to pull myself out of the blah.

My question to you is - How do you recharge?

I have a variety of ways I pull myself out of a funk. I think it's the secret to my "resilience" and I thought I might share a few of those techniques right here.

1. Write. I think that's a given. I write it all out here. I even have a private journal I keep at home. If you are not accustomed to writing out your feelings, I suggest you give it a try. It's incredibly therapeutic. Grab an old spiral notebook, set your alarm for 10 minutes, grab a pen and just write. Typically anything I write is just a stream of thought.. nothing more. I promise, you'll feel great afterwards.

2. Get a good night's sleep. For whatever reason, it's not easy to sleep well during the work week for me. By the time I get home from work, I'm either so zonked I end up dozing off on the couch. Of course that means I wake up about 8:30 or 9 and end up staying up to almost midnight. What I like to do is take a nice weekend night, go to bed at a decent hour (for me that's 10:30pm,) and sleep to about 8 or so. I usually wake up feeling refreshed.

3. A good hot bath. I like to pour the bubbles or bath oils, and just soak. I immediately feel my muscles relax, and my stress sort of is soothed away.

4. Read. Even if it's just a magazine, pick something up. If I can get engaged in a book, I sort of release and relax my brain from my worries and troubles.

5. Music. I always joke and say that music is the poor man's therapist. I will typically grab my ipod - iphone, throw my ear buds in and just dance around my apartment. I will sing, dance.. just sit and digest the lyrics. It puts me in a great mood.

6. Organize something. Usually when I feel yucky, my surroundings begin to look yucky. I find that if I vacuum, if I straighten my closet, if I wash my sheets - just something... I begin to feel like I have a sense of control over my life again.

7. Games. Play a game of mahjong, chess, uno - something like that. Do a word search. Just exercise your brain. It's amazing how it sort of wakes you up and you feel great.

8. Smell and eat citrus. There is something incredibly positive about the smell of oranges. Plus the additional Vitamin C from consuming them is great also.

9. Drink water. Hydration can help your stress headaches and you just feel good.

10. I'll admit - good conversation and maybe a cup of coffee can really make me feel like a million bucks.

So there you have it... my top 10 ways to recharge and get a good perspective. I realize I left something super important out - and that's prayer. Spend some time in nature, go to a church, or just meditate. Find a way to recharge that part of you, and you will feel a sense of peace.

With that.. it's time for me to go find myself again. Shake off the yuck and feel great!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Internal Castle?

This post may be a little "out there" for some of you. Just try to follow along.

Soooo... I had a bad day yesterday. Not a bad life. Just a single bad day.

I awoke grumpy and felt sort of miserable all day long. People at work were also grumpy. Two grumpys do not make a happy.

I finally made it home that night and after a few mind numbing hours in front of the TV, I decided to pray.

Oh you know the kind of prayer... the kind where you just lay your heart and worries right there at the foot of God. Then you cry.. cry cry cry. It felt good. It was much needed.

This morning, I decided to bring my own sunshine to work. Instead of my typical cup of coffee, I opted to read a chapter out of a book my friends Stacey and Jonathon gave me for my birthday. It was the first chapter in "Praying with Saint Teresa of Avila." Her first meditation deals with your interior/internal castle. In her book, she describes the soul as living within you, within it's own castle. She visualizes this castles as being clear as diamonds, and a glorious place to dwell. She adds that God resides in the center of this fortress... inside of you. (meaning the holy spirit)

Within this meditation, you are asked several questions that all require positive answers. Somehow I am supposed to be so delighted that God resides within me, and I should be able to share all of the good and glory and what not. 

People... I was stuck. Like, so stuck I was questioning whether God had just given up on me. 

WTH? (Could be interpreted what the hell or what the heaven?) lol

Needless to say, the closing prayer is one where you participate in a mantra of your own creating. 

I decided to ask God to remind me throughout the day that he does reside within me. I suppose when you go through as much stuff as I have in the past 3 or 4 years, it's hard to remember that I have a soul, or that I am a good person. I think once you lose a job, you feel a sense of abandonment. Like you are not good enough and not wanted. When you lose a spouse, you feel another sense of abandonment. Again - not good enough, not wanted. 

Then to feel unappreciated in your day to day life is a lot to bare. Including not understanding the whys and hows and whats. 

I've sort of left my spiritual side dormant for a while now. I tend to do that when I am on autopilot. 

It's time to reawaken the spirit in all facets of my life. To seek God.. in my own way. 

That's a new path to take. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Apathy In The House

"We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, "Why did this happen to me?" unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way."  ~Author Unknown

I woke up this morning feeling a bit down. Perhaps it is the nonstop dreary and somewhat steamy days. Maybe it's the fact that I have tried to keep my head high for so long now, and finally the force and weight of everything is just starting to feel heavy. Whatever it is, I need a break.

Or perhaps a break through.

I'm tired. Oh so very tired. I feel like I am in a rut: get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, watch a movie, read, then sleep. That's it. That's my life.

All of the external things that could hold me back are no longer an issue. I felt that sense of freedom and release for a few weeks there. Now I am beginning to settle into a routine and I feel that sense of reckless abandon creeping in. I rifled through an old box of mine and found my Peace Corps application. I saw my pass port. I saw some old travel journals. I found poetry I had written. I found photos of me in college. I found some awards from television days. I found old beer bottle labels. Just a different world. A different life. A box full of so much promise, hope and something I had forgotten how to have - fun.

I've met a darling man. He's sweet, attentive and super supportive. Of course, it's waay too early to put a label on it, but it is suffice to say we spend a great deal of time together. I like the ease of it... the balance - me (this energetic, passionate, neurotic) and he (easy going, patient, non judgemental.) A little yin to my yang. It's a good thing. 

You would think that would sedate my need to bounce out of town again. Perhaps the only cure is for me to hop a plane and immerse myself into a culture somewhere. It's been a while. Last time I did something like that, I came home with an Egyptian husband. ;-)

Whatever the solution is, I am simply allowing myself to go through these emotions - feel the highs, the lows.. and everything else in between. I'm sort of in a weird place where I don't really care about anything in particular right now. I'm tired of trying to make people happy that are not truly invested in my life or happiness. I find there are people who would love to push me aside and sit right where I am sitting. I see people who wonder why the hell I even came back, and I feel completely apathetic to their causes. I've grown tired of trying to get people to support this cause or that cause... only to discover that if it's not the right cause or place, it won't matter either way. I'm sick of living in a community that seems to be so stuck in the past that it can't seem to move forward and create something new NOW. I just need a little break from it all. 

I'm starting to feel the same way I felt over a decade ago, when I packed all of my bags and took off for bigger and better things.

Maybe it will pass. 

Maybe it won't.

The positive spin - there is NOTHING holding me back anymore. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Things I Learned This Week

1. Give and you will receive.

2. Do not, I repeat- Do Not - allow others to dictate your emotions. No one can steal your joy. Period.

3. I do care.. I really do. It hurt when I saw the papers, but I was able to let it go. I think this just proves I am waaay more emotionally stable than I thought I might be. lol

4. Kindness, respect, and laughter are super attractive traits.

5. My interests, my energy, and my needs are evolving.

6. I think I need to buy a condo. Seriously. Maybe a two year goal? (See where I am in two years...)

7. Gave myself an impeccable pedicure. Feet look sparkly. And I hate feet.

8. I am totally loving my summer dresses. I just don't want to even look at pants this time of year down here. Just too damned hot.

9. Speaking of hot - Not only is it hot, like steamy hot, it's also incredibly rainy. Imagine being sweaty and gross...then you get caught in a down pour... so you never really dry off. TERRIBLE weather this time of year.

10. I am still on my citrus kick. Loving it.

11. I have finally obtained a little color on my body (not my face.) Thank you Jergens. LOL

12. Those damned cats have ripped my leather dining room chairs to shreds. As my friend "T" says.. "Stupid cats."

13. Cinnamon Toast Crunch muffins ROCK.

14. Ribs are over rated. (sooo over ribs.) BUT.. that blueberry thing mom made was the bomb!

15. OMG - That Shark Week commercial is GENIUS. That looks like something my old TV friends and I would think up. Haven't seen it? Check it out here:

16. Sooo.. my trip to Warner Robins to have Zen Kitty neutered was uneventful.If you follow me on Vine, you will see video of my predicament.

17. I wish I was on a boat.

18. I need a good muscle relaxer.

19. I'm so over politics. I don't even care anymore. Seriously. I went from caring to thinking republics are completely nuts and the democrats are delusional. Just done.

20. I was really grasping to get to 20 this week.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Hells Bells. Looks like my vacay down the coast is not going to happen.

That's trip #2 canceled this year. (Boo - I am 1 for 3 now.)

There are several reasons I have to stay back:

1. Zen Kitty recovering from surgery, and per doc's orders, should not be left alone.

2. It's going to rain all weekend.

It only makes sense to reschedule, God willing, if Lisa will forgive me for having to cancel.


In place of spending the weekend on the beach with some fabulous friends, I will opt for a Stay cation. Granted, I typically have every weekend off. But this time, my friend, "T", will also be able to hang out. We decided to turn our trip to the beach into a little weekend cat-sitting and doing small errands. But with a fun twist!

Tonight's it's ribs, frozen drinks, and a movie at the house! Not a bad way to spend a Friday night, especially when both of us had to work today. Tomorrow, we might take an hour or so and pop over to some antique shops and a great furniture liquidation place. We both like searching for a good deal, so this might end up being a lot of fun. Of course, there is the pool (except it's supposed to rain rain rain.. this WHOLE summer has been hot, humid and rainy.)

Hopefully Zen will be on the mend and everything will get back to normal. He's just a little kitty, and between the surgery, the micro chipping and booster shots, he just needs a little TLC.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Suburbs Are Scary

I'm sitting at a Starbucks in town that has nothing but strip malls. Blah.

Mr. Zen Kitty is hanging out at a mobile Vet unit getting neutered, micro chipped and his Rabies shot. Did I mention it is in a town 40 minutes from my house? Yep.

You see, I searched long and hard for the perfect black kitten. Mr. Zen stole my heart online, and two weeks later, I made a point to adopt him. He was too young to have all of his shots and surgery, but with the adoption fee, I was scheduled for these things. Sooo... I am sitting in a neighboring town, just killing time. Oh how I wish there was more to do than just eat at chain restaurants and shop in chain stores. 1. I am about to go on vacation and do not feel like spending now 2. I don't need anything. 

Look what I am going through just to be a good kitty mommy?! With that being said, I hope his surgery goes well. He did not enjoy the ride over. He was anxious - doing the meow/pant thing. I opened his little cat carrier and rubbed his neck, but I had to remove my hand on several occasions to change gears (I drive a 5 speed,) and lo and behold.. he tried to escape. You should have seen me... driving down the highway, changing gears, trying to corral a cat back into his carrier. Dios mio!

I used my trusty app - WAZE (thanks Telisa for telling me about it) and found my way to the spot. Once he and I got there, all I saw were dog people. Again... we are all a different breed. The dog people, looking completely granola and smelly, were waiting patiently to fill out their paperwork. The organizer of the spay/neutering day was out greeting everyone, everyone except me and the cat. I wonder if either A - I am unapproachable or B - dog people do not gel with cat people. Speaking of which, I am beginning to think I am unapproachable. People typically do not greet me, or reach out to me. I have to make the first move, then they seem.. well... relieved. Is there something wrong with me? Sheesh.

After I dropped my little man off (omg.. he looked terrified... with all of this huge pitbull dogs near him waiting to be fixed.. omg.. he looked like a beautiful snack..) I took off for some sustenance. I saw a Hardees and debated going in. Instead I headed over to IHOP, thinking I could camp out for a while and just fill up and fuel up. The IHOP in Macon has free WIFI. In Warner Robins? Absolutely not. Sooo.. I ended up ordered a delightful breakfast: Country fried steak (which I ate maybe a 1/4,) scrambled eggs with cheese, hash browns and it also came with two pancakes. Blech. Too. Much. Food. The place started filling up quickly, and my latest issue of Psychology Today was not doing it for me.. so I headed across the street to Starbucks. (Where I am right now.) I ordered a tall iced vanilla latte and I hope to make this home for at least another hour or so. Blech. Strip mall hell. I wish I knew of a good park (though it's hot as hades and it looks like the sky will fall out soon.) Instead I suppose I will wander over to the Museum of Aviation. (Someplace I have visited 1/2 a dozen times.) THOUGH.. it is the largest of its kind outside of the Air & Space Museum in DC. Also, God bless our tax dollars- it's free! It's so large, I could get lost for at least a couple of hours. Another good idea is to hit the dollar theater (which does not open until after 1pm.) So I do have a few options.

(Can you tell I am babbling?)

Soooo.. what are your plans for the 4th? Tomorrow I am supposed to head to Olive Forge Herb Farm for a private lunch time cook out. Tomorrow night my family is coming over with ribs and other tasty treats. I am looking forward to a carnivorous day! LOL

Then back to grind on Friday. I am working on our website at work. Whole new format and concept. It's a bit of a beast, considering how robust it is now. My idea is to simplify it. 

Then Friday night, my new "friend" who I will give the nick name "T"- we plan to hop in my little bug, open the sun roof and take off for the coast. We could take his convertible mustang, but the gas mileage on that baby is like 12 miles to the gallon. The VW Bug will be more efficient. We are driving 4 hours to Kingsland, Georgia - right at the southern tip of the Golden Isles

Make sure to click on the words above - the Golden Isles.. More good news? It's 2 1/2 hours to Savannah - then hang a right and it's coastal all of the way down. You pass the beautiful cities mentioned on the website... and then you end up in Kingsland/St Mary's. That whole area is on the Georgia/Florida line, and a short 45 minute drive from Jacksonville, Florida.

"T" and I will be staying at my friend Lisa's home. Originally we were not sure if we were going down, but when Lisa told me that her daughter's room would be available and for us to please, please, please come - how could I say no? THEN.. there was a mishap in info from her other friend visiting, and now Lisa is offering to give up her bedroom to make sure T and I come down. I felt terrible about that and offered to cancel the trip, but she kept insisting I should come.  It looks like it will be her, her daughter, T & Me, and our other friend and her husband. The other friend is also bringing her entire family down, but they are apparently splitting up between a hotel and Lisa's house. It should be a good time. Lisa has planned a beach party for Saturday (complete with volleyball, etc.) I'm looking forward to it, I just hope it's relaxing.. and not go go go! :-) (Yes, Lisa.. that was a hint.) lol. I am packing some food to cook at her home (to save a little money.) (See... I promised this trip would be my treat, BUT it falls on the wrong weekend $$ wise.) Still trying to recover from the divorce financially. Though I have always handled everything, I had to pay for new deposits, etc. My rent just went up and I had to pay to get my car fixed. Expensive summer for me.

I think I have killed enough time on the blog. I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July.
Now... to find something else to do... to look busy on this computer... so I can sit a little while longer.  ;-)


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