DECISION-ING; IT’S NOT SO HARD.

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Courtesy; Fancy Pants

Don’t be afraid. It’s empowering to make definitive choices for yourself and everyone knows that power is sexy. Ergo, these are tips on brangin’ the sexy. Let’s DO THIS, hot stuff!

They say that the unknown scares us; I believe this is absolutely true and this is why I am an avid planner and strategist; because when we have decided what we’re doing next, we have direction and it’s not so scary. If you have something in the back of your mind that gives you anxiety, deciding to address it right out and make a plan will likewise, makes it less scary.

We have to be picky about what clutters up our minds if we want to be present. We can, out of pure practicality, only think about a few things at a time without getting overwhelmed, so make sure your thoughts are worth it.

For the bigger stuff: but also helpful…


1. CATEGORIZE: How monstrous is the decision? Is it life-altering or is it a flat tire? If it’s life-altering, know that some of the best experiences come as a result of a sudden change of plans and the sooner you can start seeing the positives, the sooner you can be on the other side and moving onward and upward.

Always onward and upward, baby.

If it’s a great thing; will you study abroad in Paris or Madrid? Will you take the job that you want or the one that pays? Don’t spend too much time on decisions of the heart. Just go. You’re head will only get in your way.

2. ACTION. Getting something accomplished automatically makes us feel better, so how long can you allow this to occupy you? How long do you have to mull it over? If I think that I am going to loose sleep over it, I will do whatever it takes to fix it quickly and get it gone. Write an email at midnight, call and leave an apology message, find the right paperwork, figure out what you need and get it handled, sucka!

Sometimes simply making the decision, right or wrong, is the best decision to get it out of your life when you have more pressing issues; will you go or won’t you, where? These are things that you can re-evaluate later, but simply committing to an event or declining will clear the low level anxiety around making a decision so you can move what? Onward and upward, that’s right.

Personally, I favor the path of least resistance. You do what you want, though.

3. BOTTOM LINE. What is the reality of the situation? What is the bottom line? What do you NEED to do? If it doesn’t need attention rightthisverysecond, forget it until you have the time to really dedicate to thinking about it.

For everything else:


5. PLANNING and research. Make decision-making time by setting it aside on your weekly/ daily to-do lists. Again, CHOOSE WISELY. Consider outside factors like the weather (are you visiting Boston in the Winter? Hope you don’t plan on leaving…) and write down your ideas as far ahead as possible; think about Halloween ON Halloween. Think about Christmas on Christmas. You’re already sitting there thinking “this is perfect. What can I do to make it perfect next year, too?” Or “how could I make this even more perfect next year?” Have trouble figuring out what to wear to events? Think about it and decide when you get the invitation.

6. DETERMINE your commitment level. How far you are willing to go for this? Is dinner worth it for you if you have to pick up your friend who doesn’t drive across town and then drop her off, too? It might be, just decide. Maybe you get take out and bring it over, maybe she takes the bus and meets you half way.

I would buy the windshield wipers for more, rather than drive to 17 different locations looking for a good deal on them and waste gas money. Worth it.

7. RE-ADJUST your priorities as needed. Daily. Hourly sometimes. Whenever circumstances dictate. Re-adjust. Adapt, adapt.

8. What RESOURCES are you going to need to get er done? Time off? Money? You may have to ask for help. It’s easier than you think and it will save your sanity and your life.

9. STOP thinking once you have made your decision. You are only dedicating so much time to it, let it go.

I think that the only downfall to getting your shit handled so effectively is that you realize that you are ready to level-up and make…more decisions. Bigger ones. Maybe it’s not a downfall, though. Maybe it just means that you’re owning the game of life.

You player, you.

NEED. WANT. CRAVE.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year. It must be my nesting instincts or some such thing, the Solstice-y need to put more light into these dark days? But I am all about cozifying (what? It’s a real thing. Only legit stuff here) and this list, well, just you try to not feel all warm and fuzzy.

1. Hot Chocolate. ALL OF IT. The switch has been flipped and it’s all I want in the world. Moonstruck is close and is the good shit.

courtesy; Moonstruck

courtesy; Moonstruck

2. The Curly Girl Book. This is a revelation for me. I asked my friend about her amazing curly hair, she demurred, and then she came clean and loaned me this book. Honestly, I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would sit down to read a book of this nature (I did not watch the DVD, though so I still have that), it seemed like a lot of steps, maintenance. It’s really not, though. It’s what my hair has always wanted…

curly girl

3. A Very She & Him Christmas. Yep, here I am, that person. I don’t care, this album is catchy and it’s our new, Contemporary favorite. Just try to get these song out of your head. Hubbs and I love M. Ward on his own and now he is with us all year long.

A_Very_She_and_Him_Christmas

4. The Wonder Years! This is firmly planted in the “WANT” category. So, you know all of that music that totally made this show? Acquiring all of those licenses is what has kept the series from being released for purchase for all of these years. Now that it is out there in the world, I can’t afford it. Story of my life. But it will be mine, OH YES. It will be mine.

WY_Complete_Series_Shot_290x390

5. Bed linens. I don’t do Black Friday. I value my face too much and also my sleep. But, coward that I am, I am all about Cyber Monday and if I am shopping for any of the myriad of things in my life that I should really be buying on sale, bed linens is it. Our bed is awesome however, it is very thick. I cannot just go to Ross or TJ Maxx and find some cheap sheets. This beast of a thing requires deep pocket sheets and those are neither easy to find, nor are they cheap. But on Cyber Monday, I can buy two sets. Also pillows at Macy’s because fo’ reals, ya’ll, we need to be cycling out our pillows way more often than we (the Royal “we”) originally thought. I got this little diddy for $30.

P.S. For the record, if you own the Tempur Pedic Cloud Luxe in the queen size, It’s 13″. This information is not easy to come by, so I thought I would put it out there if by chance it helps one of you.

P.P.S. If you don’t own one, maybe you should? Soft enough for Hubbs, firm enough for me, it’s perfect for both of us.

6. Fraiser Fur candles.But also, these soy Roland Pine candles. I have had mine for two years and they are impressively fragrant, even when not lit. They are a luxury expense, but when you want the pine smell inside and the tree is no longer putting out, these candles are the way to go. Though next time, I think I may try one with a wood wick, have you heard of these? The wood wick simulates a fire, how cool is that?frasier fur candle

TAKING CARE OF YOU

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Courtesy; Fancypants

This sounds like common sense, I know but we can all use the reminder. My Need. Want. Crave. posts are my own attempt to slow down and ask myself on a regular basis what I am really needing on a very regular basis and hopefully it inspires you to do the same, even if you aren’t needing or wanting ice cream in your coffee (who DOES that?) or crazy (awesome) house slippers.

Not that we judge those who do, thankyouverymuch.

So I noticed in the crazy busy flurry of last week; family, holiday and holiday-related events, that I was not pushing as hard as I normally do and that as a result, the things I chose to do were mindful, thought out and well enjoyed.

A while ago, we talked about How Many “Tabs” we are keeping open at any given time in our minds and how a little planning helps us focus on what we need to and keeps away all of those distracting, downer feelings of being overwhelmed.

Having a plan, even a loose one, for the big things in life and the small, does wonders for empowering yourself and combating stress.

I thought ahead about how much time I have, my level of commitment and level of fussiness (check out my Potluck Finest post for tips!) that I was willing to put into cooking and event planning and I came up with a plan. Friends, darlings, I am so happy to report that it helped me SO MUCH not to cry or lash out at those I love. In fact, for one family event, I won the cocktail contest AND I went in with 5 pounds of pulled pork and left with none. It was a “Tapas Party” (because it’s now a cocktail potluck.) At lunchtime. Every year. Tapas are fabulous, but I promise you; a cheese and charcuterie plate at lunchtime, mixed with vast amounts of wine, only makes my family hangry and after last year, Hubbs refused to come again unless there was “real food.” I cannot tell you how happy it made everyone for there to be real food there. There was dancing. You know the kind.

I planned effortless dishes and drinks that required next to no supervision. As a result, I was able to relax.

I did karaoke.

And that is all I have to say about that.

There is NO WAY on Earth that we can stop the barrage of life from coming at us all at once, but loves, comrades, brothers and sisters, we can plan. Let’s all try! We can have our ducks in a row, we can estimate what is coming at us and we can be that asshole brown-noser from school.

We can brown nose life.

It will not stop all stress or prevent us from being blind sided from time to time, but it will help us to enjoy the present. It will help us to free up time and since Winter is the time to be really gentle with ourselves, we will need that time to focus on ourselves.

Here are my usual “be gentle to myself” suspects:

Dog walks. Every day that I can, no matter the weather. The outdoors and the social interaction are the best ever for clearing the mind. Honestly, if you ever want to practice your networking skills, the dog park is THE place to start.

Acupuncture. Sure, I still tense up when she goes to poke that thin skinned place behind the knee, but I leave feeling great. Those 20 minutes when I am laying there like a pincushion are so refreshing. Not even kidding.

Writing. For you beautiful people and for myself.

Running. Currently trying to fit more of that in my life.

-Finding ways to spend time on my appearance. I would file this under “pride of ownership” and not selfishness. It makes a person feel a bit more confident when you are actively doing things for yourself. I thought it was ridiculous when a friend loaned me a book about maintaining my curls (whole books have been written about this! With chapters!) but you know something? It works. One less thing I have to worry about and it makes me feel pretty.

-A sleep ritual: About an hour before I go to bed, I make myself some tea. I wash my face and brush my teeth, I get comfortable. No electronics in bed, I call up the doggie and I may find something soothing on tv. If there’s nothing on, I may listen to the radio, reading is the magic bullet, though. I read until my eyes close on their own.

Most importantly, if you need this quality time for yourself, don’t make other plans. Tell everyone that you are busy, it’s not always easy but your life will improve as a result.

How do you get life under control?

NEED. WANT. CRAVE. THE HAPPY/ S.A.D. EDITION

When the excitement of Fall begins to give way to the business of prepping for the Holidays and the dark, dank months of Winter ahead, anyone that has lived in the Pacific Northwest for more than one of the notorious cold seasons knows to begin preparing for combat.

The enemy is silent. Perhaps the most devious enemy of all; Our own brains!!

You may know that it rains a bit here, but what you may not know is that because of all the clouds and greyness, Vitamin D deficiency is a real thing here which means that Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.) is real, too.

Most people I know feel it somewhere on the lower end of the sliding scale that goes from laziness all the way up to thoughts of suicide.

I know, right? You can blame your laziness on the rain! Everybody does it… I actually blame everything on the rain because it lasts until July 5th. You know, long enough to have us all wearing jackets on the 4th and then the next day, BAM! Sunny gorgeousness! We have a love/ hate relationship with weather. We’re kinda famous for it. We are willing to put up with so. Very. Much. In return for our legendary summers.

Sigh.

So anyhoo, I would like to first offer my combat strategy for the ninja attack that S.A.D. can be:

  • Exercise. Since I have lived in Oregon, I have had to get serious about exercise because it is numero uno in my line of defense.
  • Go Outside. Exercise is very helpful with this.
  • Take your vitamins. I do Vit. D and Iron (as prescribed by my Doc), but find Vit. B complex and fish oil helpful, too.
  • Happy light. You are hilariously naïve if you think that you are going to get all the light you need naturally in these months. In fact, I giggle at you…But really, try it for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • This is self-care season. If there is any better way to combat the forces of depression, it’s focusing on yourself. I love a mid-winter steam and massage. Literally feel your bones warm up. Take care of yourself.
  • Creature comforts. Eating well, tea, cozy winter slippers, warm and festive gatherings with friends and family, a fire, a steam (I can really not recommend that enough), a glorious, glorious pampering foot spa, whatever. Spoil yourself. Now is the time and like the Wu-Tang Clan, your mental health ain’t nothin’ to f*ck wit.

So now for those creature comforts. For happiness this week, I need:

1. THIS AMERICAN LIFE. I do data entry for a living and if I don’t have music or Ira Glass, I will loose it all over this cube.  This_american_life

2. SURFER SALVE. It’s amazing, it’s Hawaiian and you can put it on anything. I use it for everything from bug bites and burns to my dog’s dry skin. There are other salves out there, sure, but none are Surfer Salve.

Surfer-Salve-Tubes.4

*PROTIP; buy it in bulk and have it on hand like I do, or give it away as gifts like I do. Either way, buy enough to make the price of shipping from Hawaii worth it.

3. BRAISED SHORT RIB RAGU. Because DERR! That’s why. Holy Mole!

Braised Short Rib Ragu on Polenta with Gremolata 2 500

COURTESY; CLOSET COOKING

4. SUPERFEET INSOLES. Don’t you judge me. Old people are SO not lying to you when they tell you that you will ache as you get older. At 34, I have chronic back pain. 3 things help me to mitigate this; acupuncture, exercise and these insoles.

WHEN YOUR GIVE-A-DAMN’S BUSTED.

dolly, bitches.

As I enter the mid 30’s, I have learned stuff. I have been empowered by the ability to put names on feelings that up until now, have been cloudy half-thought-feelings in my head. I have been doing adult-ish things for some time now and while I may never fully feel like a card-carrying adult, one thing is for certain; the older I get, the more I feel like…Myself.

Even more to the point, I am growing into my communication style. It evolves, you know; as a kid, you have to ask for everything. You hear “No” a lot. You are made to tolerate situations and people that you don’t want to. Most people treat you like a kid and don’t take you seriously. That sticks with a person.

It takes a long time to really get over feeling like you need permission and to just plow forward without it. Asking is harder for some to learn than others. Telling them might as well be a quantum leap.

But something changed in my 30’s and perhaps the best explanation is this Jo De Messina quote:

my “Give A Damn’s Busted.”

I don’t really know anything about the woman or her music, or even where I heard the song, but she nailed it and that’s the real take away here.

My dearestest friend, who is 50 (and 32 according to Buzzfeed’s “How Old are You Actually?” quiz–I got 48…) confirmed this by telling me some years ago that I “tolerate too much. That will go away.”

She was right. If only I had known.

I got tired of ambiguity and indecision. I got tired of tolerating things that took up too much energy. We spend too much hard-earned mental energy speculating about possible outcomes. When you know where you are going, you have forward momentum, a little control. You are Captain of your sexy little ship. You can steer that bastard into port or float it on down the coast looking for dolphins and breaching whales. It’s up to you.

The problem is that people are assholes don’t always want to give you an answer. Often, you are given the wrong answer. Now, I am in no way advocating bad behavior. I am a staunch believer in diplomacy and the efficacy of good, direct communication. As an East Coaster living on the West Coast, I am a natural; Over the years, my wise-assery has been tempered with logic.

I may be seen as “direct” to some and “abrasive” to the electric company, but sometimes, that is what it takes.

In the immortal words of Dalton in the timeless classic movie Roadhouse,

Be nice until it’s time not to be nice.”

Even then, stay cool.

Here are some hard-learned, long-fought lessons on reigning in this new found freedom:


Be nice. Human interaction and dignity is lacking these days. Put yourself out there a little, be open and a little vulnerable. Charming and friendly. Keep your sense of humor intact. Chat up the cashier. My bus driver, Janet will tell you that they may even be able to give you a discount. But you never know unless you ask. Most people don’t even realize that you can or should ask. She’s right, too; Amanda Palmer has a whole spiel on it (ignore the eyebrows); The Art of Asking.

Unless it’s time to be mean. And by “mean,” I mean pointed. Go over heads, keep asking, send emails and letters. Be logical and don’t loose your cool. Your cool is the most effective tool in your kit. Think about it; would you listen to the raving lunatic or to the rational human being?

Don’t take any shit. Or at least, present that way when occasion calls for it. You may need to let someone know that you mean business. BUT know thyself; what you can you live with? If it means doing some dirty work, if it means having an awkward conversation or asking the tough questions to get the answers you need to sleep at night, it’s worth it. If it means backing down to avoid escalation, it’s worth it. Don’t be afraid to call a situation or person “DONE” so that you can edit them from your life. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” Eleanor Roosevelt. Just don’t embarrass yourself.

Know your priorities. Life will tempt you into straying from them. Give life the fanger (that’s Southern for “finger”) and stick to your guns. As you get older, time passes SO FAST. Knowing that time is the most valued commodity in the world and that your supply is limited will help you loose any remaining inhibitions around asking for things and getting right to the point.

Don’t expect anything from anyone, you are not entitled to anything. This teaches us to go forth and get things for ourselves. It’s called Tenacity and when used for good, it’s an excellent quality to have.

A little inspirational take-away:

Meryl

WHERE ON EARTH ARE YOU CONTENT?

pATTERNS

Courtesy; Fancypants

I had the most bizarre realization several years ago at 30,000 feet flying over upstate New York and heading toward Providence; “I am comfortable here. This is where I belong.” Adding to this thought was the fact that I had been doing some genealogical research and discovered that my brother and I are the first generation in many-like five-to not have been born in upstate New York. I felt like it was uniquely mine and that I was a part of it.  Something I was not used to feeling.

We had spent holidays with relatives who lived in remote areas in the hills, quaint little farm towns with “just a stop sign,” my dad would boast. Playing in the snow and being allowed to wander freely. Unbeknownst to me, it made an impression that I didn’t discover for years to come.

But that undeniable feeling at that moment and when I landed in Providence; relaxed, alive, content, had been there each time-I just never listened enough to recognize it.

Have you ever felt that way? It’s remarkable.

On the day-to-day, it doesn’t make a huge impact. It feels like low-lying anxiety and you know something? I didn’t even know it was there until that day on that plane ride when it dissolved.

I have gotten used to feeling “a bit off” and it’s not until that feeling went away that I discovered what a difference it makes for me to physically be somewhere that makes me feel this way. It’s not something I think about everyday (I’ve been in Oregon for 14 years), but you know that feeling when you feel connected to the world around you? That bad things may happen, but at least you have your town? You feel like it knows you and you know it? Unmistakable.

The thing is, I wasn’t born back East. I was born in SW Washington. I do not feel that way in Washington. I feel disoriented there. We were a military family growing up, so we were told that “home is where we are together.” No emphasis was put on where we were physically, so this feeling of peace is how I imagine what “home” feels like to people who were born and raised in their hometown.

My body, my heart, has apparently chosen Rhode Island as my home.

I feel this draw to certain places above others. For instance, I love the desert. LOVE it. I had never even been there until I was 18 and even then, I had no idea why it seemed to relax me. I wouldn’t want to live there, but I will be the first one to tell you how amazing the Eastern sides of Oregon and Washington are. Quiet and serene, dramatic.  A completely different universe than the Western side.

east oregon windmills

Eastern Oregon Hill country. Courtesy, Fancypants.

painted hills

Painted Hills Courtesy, Fancy pants.

I also felt something like this on Kauai, but who hasn’t? Kauai is amazing. It’s my home of a different kind; the kind where your body-your skin and your hair improve. It’s health home.

So what does this all mean? For me, it means I will be moving East one day. More importantly, it goes in my Instruction Manual as “a truth.” Life will change. Everything about life changes, every single thing, and the more truths I can learn about myself, the inalienable ones that are true on the most primitive level, need the most focus.

These are the very fabric of who we are. Knowing more about myself and my identity helps me to evolve and move forward, move closer to peace.

Where do you feel connected?