Own Your Life

I have been thinking a lot recently about how people achieve large scale success. I am talking Oprah.  Richard Branson.  Elon Musk.  Deep down I know they are no better than any of us.  But yet they have innovated a life that has defied all expectations. They are leaving a legacy that will last generations.  And it all started with the belief that they could.

Maye we truly are what we believe.

Let me tell you a personal story. When my dad died when I was 19 and my mom fell into grief and would lock herself in the bedroom for days at a time leaving my sister and I to fend for ourselves I thought I was alone. That NO ONE had been through what I was going though. How could I graduate from college and live my life when I had been through so much loss? How could I deserve to pull away from my family struggles in order to better myself? Guys, it was hard. I had to BELIEVE my life could be better. That I deserved to live my life even though it meant leaving the life I knew.

I want to tell you today – don’t let your past OWN you. Step in and own the full progress and trajectory of your life! You have no idea what your legacy will be. There is nothing that anyone who’s living on earth has ever felt or known or experienced on a soul level that hasn’t been felt or known or experienced by someone else.

One of the most difficult things in life is feeling that you are the only one. That you are the only one who’s traveled this path, who’s felt this way. But it is those people who rise above those feelings and know how to course correct, how to keep going and never quit.  They have faith in the bad and aim for the future.  They are the ones that change the trajectory of their life.

You can own your life. Till the day you die you are growing. You are creating. Don’t sell yourself short because of self-limiting thoughts. When you keep inputting positivity, there is no room for negativity.

Own your life.

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The Joy of a Quiet Mind

I am naturally a quiet person. I remember as a kid the teacher going to my mom “she is bright but prefers to eat and play by herself.”  And I did.  It wasn’t till middle school and hormones that I realized there was a gender called boys, and that social norms dictated I hang with girls and talk.  It was a hard stage for me.  Thank god you only have to live through high school once.   College hit and I found my balance of socialization and internal solitude. I learned how to balance both.

But with today’s digital age we are so afraid of the quiet. We fill every waking moment with noise or light.  We stay more connected then ever with those around us through social media.  We like to tell everyone we are “too busy” because we put our kids in after school activities and sports that in turn invade our weekends.   We are plugged in more than ever to the news and pinterest has made our cooking endeavors into an Olympic sport.  And what is all this gaining us?  We are all more tired than ever!

Why are we so afraid of the quiet? When I drive I normally don’t turn on the radio.  No audiobooks or podcasts either.  I love the few minutes of stillness (other than your daily traffic) that my car provides me.  I use the time to think and process my day or just let my mind wander.   I find my creativity increases the more time I am able to spend in these quiet solitudes.

Back in 1999 which happened to be a year after my dad died, I had the opportunity to travel to South America and visit Machu Picchu in Peru. It was magical.   In the quiet of those majestic mountains my soul was able to truly rest and heal.  To just be.  A great vacation can do that.  Soothe your soul and body and rejuvenate your spirit.  How do we bring this ability home?

I say embrace your quiet! You can meditate yes, or start yoga.  But it doesn’t even have to be all that in the beginning.  Just be.  Sit and turn off the noise around you and try and live in the moment.  There is so much strength and wisdom to be gained in the quiet.  You see, stillness allows your brain to process all that “noise” that blankets us during the day.  Your body and mind in turn will clear and your joy will increase!

Try it. Practice just “being.”

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Maybe Reality Really Does Bite

I turned 37 years old yesterday. I didn’t think it was going to bug me. I mean, 40 is the new 30, right?

So I should be OK with turning another year older.  But I am a mess.  It isn’t the whole “I’m so damn old, woe is my aged self” thing that has me reeling, although I do confess feeling kind of old of late. It is the nagging “shouldn’t I feel like a dang grown up by now?” question. I am like, way far into this dog-and-pony show, right? At what point, exactly, will I feel like I am where I should be?  When will I feel like I have this life thing figured out?

I briefly considered diving into a good old-fashioned midlife crisis – but dipping my toe in those waters just doesn’t appeal to me. For one, I can’t drink a 21 year old under the table anymore, let us be honest here. And those clubbing clothes of my younger days? Let’s just say there is a reason there is not a junior clothing section for moms.

So the midlife crisis is off the table, which is for the best as I don’t have time to self-destruct just now. There’s really no spare time to blow everything up when you are just hoping to get your kid and yourself out the door with lunch packed and pants on both of you, seriously!

But what then? Or what now, I mean. Here I am being all old (but not), coming to terms with the idea that maybe, JUST maybe, this is all there is.

Maybe I am not destined to change the world, or even my little corner of it. There is no cosmic line to cross or switch I have to find to make things “the way they are supposed to be.” No fairy godmother is going to come donk me on the head and pronounce that I am now fully qualified for adulting and open a door to some wonderland land of perfection for me.

And then this thought hit me last night. Here in 2016 and MANY years away from my college degree, I have come to the realization that I’ve been on this planet for 37 years and still cope with stressful situations primarily through nacho consumption and wine drinking.

Maybe growing up is overrated. Pass me the nachos please.

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Ten Things I Love

I’ll be honest here: I’m having an off week.  I don’t know if it is due to working after a long holiday weekend or the fact that my kid has decided to turn dinner time into lets decorate the floor with food, but I am trying to plow through. Thus I have decided to fill out a Ten Things I Love list.  The whole purpose of this is to remind me of the good things in life even when life feels like it has an element of suck to it. Hope you enjoy as much as I did writing it!

1 ~ Fiber One Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I found these last year and still love them. The perfect amount of chocolate to cookie. It doesn’t taste like “diet food” yet has things like fiber that make them better to eat than say my other favorite, a snickers bar.

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2 ~ Valor Essential Oil

I have been putting this on my feet before bed and the following has happened: I am out like a lightbulb within 20 minutes and it makes me feel centered like I just spent 30 minutes meditating or practicing yoga instead of zoning out on the couch while browsing the Pottery Barn Kids Catalog. Try it. I asked my husband if I am snoring less and he says I am snoring more like a kitten instead of an elephant so I guess that is a plus as well.

Valor

3 ~ I love the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

I have a hidden reading secret. I love paranormal romance novels. My favorite author is Karen Marie Moning and specifically her Fever series. I have yet to find another series that comes even close to this one. I just found out that a new book is coming out in the series in January! So excited. She is the only author I have ever pre-ordered books for. If you are into that type of reading you won’t be disappointed by this series.

4 ~ I love this so very much

It’s my new mantra:

Buddha

5 ~ Tervis Tumblers

Living in Florida it is all about keeping things cool. My desk at work is never without one. They have a new entertaining collection that actually looks cool enough to serve to guests. And they offer it in purple. I love purple.

 

6 ~ I love travel auction sites

I haven’t done much international travel lately (years actually), but I still love to look at LuxuryLink.com. Most things are overpriced but there are gems. We went to Puerto Vallarta Mexico one year and only paid $1200 for 7 nights. For a THREE bedroom house on the ocean WITH a cook, maid and waiter. Hello margaritas and fresh salsa. I still dream of the meals we had that week. I also booked our wedding hotel from this site and got an awesome deal on a Niagara Falls package. Take the time to regularly look at this one and you will come across a deal you just can’t pass up.

7 ~ I love how satisfying it is to clean out a cabinet

Which since having a kid, I haven’t done much off. The other week I cleaned out the kitchen pantry. It is already getting cluttered again but for the 24 hours it lasted it was amazing. Lol. Next I want to conquer the hall closet. Maybe I will get lucky and find the car keys that have been lost for 3 months now.

8 ~ I love George Takei on Twitter

I was never a Trekkie, but since I started following him I’ve really grown to admire him.  And he’s just plain hilarious.

Example post: She means business. You won’t Leia hand on her if you know what’s good for you.

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9 ~ Snack Cups

My son is a messy eater. Actually messy everything (thinking it is a boy thing?). These have become a lifesaver in my house. I never leave home without one for him and always have one filled with cheerios or goldfish puffs for him. They actually do work at preventing spills. At least until he figures out how to remove the tops…..

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10 ~ Birkenstocks

Seriously. I live in them. My feet are spoiled and unless I absolutely HAVE to I wear these as much as I can. I can’t wait till I am old enough to wear them like this and not care what people think.

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Things I am Thinking About Lately

Here it is, my first what I am thinking about list. It is a way to keep myself honest and accountable every month on what I am doing and what I actually want to do. Why not create one of your own?

  • I think it’s time I actually start using the gym membership I signed up for months ago
  • I think it’s time that I sit down and actually call friends over the phone vs. facebook stalking them
  • I think Bryce is like the cutest kid ever
  • I miss my mom
  • I think that the dishes in the sink are piling up at an alarming rate and I wonder how the heck that happened. I swear I just did them
  • I think I need a vacation but have only 2 days left for the entire year
  • I just looked at Epcots Fall concert list and see Tiffany is on there. Oh yes I am so going to be there!
  • I think I need to get all of the things Bryce has grown out of and sell them at the local child second hand shop
  • I think I need to actually act on the above and not mention this again next month which is most likely what will happen
  • I think Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is the best thing ever
  • I think I need to start scheduling date nights with a babysitter again even though I am afraid of a repeat horror night from last time (long story)
  • I think Bryce has made amazing progress in his eating and I am just so relieved we didn’t have to go through the invasive testing the doctors wanted to do
  • I think Snickers should count as an energy bar and not a candy bar
  • I think I need to start reading books again
  • I think I need to stop watching so much Netflix
  • I think the essential oils are actually working on my family
  • I need to read more on how to use them
  • I think my husband is the smartest person I know but I never tell him that
  • I think I have a bigger purpose for my life but have no clue on how to figure what it is

My Crossroad Year

What were you doing in the year 2002?

I was 23 years old and had just graduated college with a degree in communications. I knew I had to find a job but I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life.

To make some money I decided to attend bartending school and got a bartending job at a Japanese Steakhouse where I was A. the only employee who did not speak Japanese and B. where I would meet my future husband. It was there that I learned all about Sushi and would come to love the simple meal of chicken yakatori with white rice.

Believe it or not the bar had regulars. One was a Vietnam vet who would come in everyday drinking copious amounts of Sake and complaining about his various ex-wives and his current one. He had a spectacular red handlebar mustache. When I asked him why he continued to marry he said “I love every one of them. They just drive me too crazy after a while.”

Another regular would literally come in everyday after work for 15 minutes. He would drink 2 vodka shots straight and then go home. He never talked, and to this day I wonder what he was bracing himself for.

The most entertaining was watching people interact who were obviously on a date. Their body language was ALWAYS a dead giveaway on if it was going well or not. And I loved talking to all the customers and hearing their stories.

I met my husband when he started coming after work with some co-workers. After a while he started writing letters or drawing pictures on napkins and would leave them with his tip. After we started dating he would leave flowers on my windshield. Ah – the romance of courtship.

After a few months of bartending I moved to Philadelphia and took a job at a Cancer Research Journal. And then I got married. But those are other stories. I will always remember my time as a bartender and the role it played when I was at such a crossroads in life.

What was your crossroads year?

A World Perspective

I have been fortunate that I have been able to travel. All over South America, Europe and as far east as Bali so far in my life. Still, there is so much more I want to see. To experience.

Every time I go somewhere I am always amazed how once you break down social, economic and religious barriers, humanity is all the same. We all want love, all want our place in the world. Forget jobs, money and toys, your family is what is important and your place within it just as much.

When Brian and I were in Bali we kept getting asked if we were married, how many kids did we have, did our parents live with us? At first we were taken aback but then I realized how family oriented their culture is. Even their houses are built for harmony, as compounds where there is an open air room in the middle and around it separate buildings that are bedrooms, or a living room, or a kitchen. 3 generations or more of a Bali family may live together. Family is how they define themselves and each other. So they were asking us these questions to determine our family, to define us as they knew how.

This village in Bali is known for their wood carving art. They pass down their skill through their families.
This village in Bali is known for their wood carving art. They pass down their skill through their families.

Another eye opening experience for me was seeing the level of poverty outside of the US. Of course we have poverty here, and considering we are a developed nation, way more and worse than we should. But still, most people here have access to clean water, to some food, some sort of housing. When I was in South America, I was floored to see how entire villages lived. Some people walked miles just to get water, and entire families slept on dirt floors. Food? If they were lucky, enough for that day. In Chile I remember all of us getting back on our comfy tour bus, and our tour guide from the last two days comes running over to us. He had a pair of running shoes in his hand. Muddy, torn and frayed, he asked if someone had forgotten them. When it became apparent no one was to claim them, he said he would bring to his village for someone who needed them. WOW. And he was so excited about it to. This has left a forever impact on me. At the time I was 21, going to college, never had the hardships this guy probably had. That someone would think dirty old shoes were treasure opened my eyes to how superficial I was most of the time.

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One man’s trash truly is another ones treasure

Of course not all my trips have been life altering. And I wish I could say I joined the Peace Corps and changed the world but I did not. Some of my trips are purely for that mythical “tropical escape” and I act like a normal tourist who enjoys the resorts and tries not to think about the poverty around me.

As a woman, I have become grateful for the freedom being an American gives me. I realize how different my life might have been if I was not born where I was but in a country that doesn’t allow a female the right to live life the way she wants. I have had to cover up in some of my travels and otherwise adopt local customs in order to honor their ways and fly under the radar. It feels weird. And I am always happy to come back to where I can just live how I want and not question myself on how I should act.

I will leave you with one more story. When I was in Bolivia we gave out school supplies we had bought with us to some children. They were so excited. And grateful. It just blew me away that kids were getting excited over pencils and paper. But to them, getting an education is a gift. A chance to better their life and their families. They are praying just for the opportunity to learn. To have hope.

Hospitals of Hope Bolivian children