Archive | February, 2016

January Was The Month Of Meditation

29 Feb

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January was the month of meditation.

November was budget month. October I cleaned.

I’ve discovered setting goals for a month is the only way I can get anything done. Goal for a month, I suppose.  Only one.

At the beginning of each month I decide what’s most pressing and I put my energies into that. If I complete that goal then I have been successful for the day.  There is no other measure of my success.

This system feeds into my need for success, but also lets myself off the hook a bit.  I don’t have to change everything today.  I just need to meditate.

That’s what January was.  A month of quiet and breathing. Of listening to sounds and feelings and reeling my wandering mind back in again and again.  In 10 minutes of meditation my mind can escape me thousands of times.  The task of recognizing it has lost its way, lassoing it and bringing it back to the present—that’s hard work.

That’s the lifting weights of the mind.

It’s funny, not until this last year did I think of mental exercise in the same way as physical exercise.  I’ve always known that I can improve my physical health by exercising.  Walking, lifting weights, stretching and moving.  There are tangible effects from those exercises.

I understand why I do them.

With my mind, though, it’s always been Fleetwood Mac.

It’s always been

How can I ever change things that I feel?

 

Oh Fleetwood

Oh Mac

 

I think the answer, or part of the answer, is I can’t.  I feel something, I recognize it, and then I move forward.  I don’t take every feeling as fact or an indication of my future everything.  I don’t indulge them all.  I experience them but I don’t let them overtake me.

I train my mind like I train my body.

I sit on my marshmallow bed, palms up and breathe again and again.  I work at it for a month and get up to 15 minutes in a state of meditation.  Barely 15 minutes.  Working on 15 minutes.  I think that maybe in a year I can complete the hour-long meditations.  Maybe in a year I’ll be there.

But for January.  For this month.  For today.  I am stretching my mind.

I am a success.

Paper Clips And Fireworks And Weekends In Santa Barbara

28 Feb

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As far as weekends go, this one was a firework.

Every time I say “firework” I think of Katy Perry’s iconic opening line, “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” It’s almost up there with J Biebs’s poetry, “Sitting by the fire, eating fondu.”  I like to sing along to both songs, messing with the lyrics.

Do you ever feel like a paper clip–

Walked into the kitchen, made some pasta–

It’s more fun than I’m making it sound.

This weekend was a firework, baby, and I’m sitting here waiting for hometowns on The Bachelor and eating Thin Mints because I realized I DO need them in my life despite my bold statements and I’m thinking of the life I’ve built here.

I lead a small life, small but valuable, as Kathleen Kelly would say.  My life feels small here because it is small. In Utah I’m full—of people and friends and family and activities.  Here my life is small and it is hard won and I take the victories and fireworks as they come.

This weekend I drove to Riverside to see my cousin play volleyball.  He’s very good and very tall and I took approximately 400 pictures.

It’s hard to capture a 6’10” athlete smashing volleyballs into the ground and things.  It’s hard but someone’s got to try.

This weekend I drove to the outer edges of LA for Katie’s surprise birthday party.  I got her a Star Wars balloon and a book and we talked about all the exciting things going on in her life while we ate tatchos.

Tatchos=Tator tot nachos.

We discovered them on our girls weekend in Mammoth and they are what they sound like and you should try them.

This weekend I went to Rachelle’s birthday dinner.  I made it to Café Rio.  I tried on a pale purple lipstick that made me look like a body washed to shore and almost, almost bought it.

I did buy a bunch of new dresses.  You know when you get that shopping bug and nothing will satisfy it and suddenly you’re at the mall screaming CHURROS and REMEMBER HOT TOPIC?  This weekend was that sort of weekend.

This weekend I did a bunch of school related things.  I read Pope Francis’s book on mercy.  I got halfway through Salem’s Lot on audiobook and realized that Stephen King is my ultimate listening author.

I cleaned my room in 15 minute increments.

This weekend included today.

A sunny few hours spent in Santa Barbara.  A brunch of olive bread and artichoke spread and poached eggs.  A cream cheese pastry ripped from my beach bag by overly aggressive seagulls.

A new bikini and a (for-me) scandalous cover-up.

A day of 12,000 steps according to my iPhone.

There was more McConnell’s (CHURRO ice cream) and the best Mexican food of my life.  Stuff we licked off our plates, Rob powering through the last of the carnitas, me demanding he tell me this was the best chile relleno the world had ever seen. I was upset  when he responded “I have no complaints.”

“I didn’t hear you ask yourself if it was real when we were at Carmen’s” I accused, finding myself suddenly very protective over his favorite Mexican foods.

I feel at home in Santa Barbara.  Something about the Central Coast.  As soon as I cross that Los Angeles border I breathe a bit easier.

I’ve been wondering about where I’ll live, one day, when I settle down a bit.

It’s funny, I used to say that my future was constantly bright but my day-to-day life sucked.  Something like that.  And it always felt real.  I was sure that my future held something amazing that I couldn’t even comprehend, I just had to endure the pains of my current day to day.

Now it seems to have reversed.  My day-to-day life is really good.  I live in a beautiful place and surround myself with beautiful people and can have long weekends that include Santa Barbara semi-regularly.

It’s my future that seems dim now, my future that’s painful.  I don’t know what it will look like.  I don’t know if it’s as bright as I thought it would be.

I don’t even know where it will be.

I think the answer is somewhere there, beyond that border.  In the quiet towns and the carnitas.  In the turquoise sunsets and the vibrant tile and the palm trees swaying off the freeway.

I think the answer is in the day-to-day paper clips.

January Books And Who Should Read Them

16 Feb

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Here are some books that I read in January and who should read them!

(The ones that weren’t duds, because why would I do that to you?)

For your friend with very, very dark humor who likes to watch Black Mirror and somehow lives on a diet of cynicsm and bacon:

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

To your friend who never wears a bra and does wear beanies:

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

For when you have a free afternoon and the sun is shining and you want to burst through some beautiful prose is no time at all:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

For your friend who likes law/The Constitution/Tumblr/women’s rights/her/himself:

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik 

When you’re looking to throw out your scale and take up a church in Calabasas (two things I tried–and failed–to do after reading this book):

Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian

For the person in your circle who likes to think about life and why it all matters:

Stitches by Anne Lamott

When you want to read a quick thriller because BJ Novak recommended it and because the writer is from Cape Cod and made her main character from Nantucket:

You by Caroline Kepnes

For the commute, in between subway stops or buses, when you want to gather quick inspiration for the rest of the day:

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

For every human in America and not just because it won the National Book Award:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

When you want to talk to your friends about whether or not you can positive think your way to $100,000 by next month and why you’re now afraid your skepticism will mean you’ll never get it even though you don’t believe it. Or do you?:

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

For something to make you sob and sob and sob:

A Monster Calls

For the best book you’ll read this month:

Fates and Furies, duh.

 

Happy reading, chiclets!

I don’t know, I tried the nickname thing and it didn’t work so I won’t try it again.  I will look into ordering chiclets online, though.

Right Now

15 Feb

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The air smells like fish or crotch, depending on who you ask.  The popcorn trees sprung up overnight along with the higher temperatures.  We’re back here, to melted coconut oil and melted Girl Scout cookies.

I realized that the only Girl Scout cookie worth talking about is the Tagalong.  This was a turning point because for so long I dutifully bought my Samoas and my Thin Mints like society told me to.

This year I stuck it to the Girl Scouts and just bought Tagalongs.

It was the right decision.

I finally invested in a beach cooler, and even more importantly used it.  I’ve owned it for months now, but never felt energetic enough to take off the tag and purchase the ice packs and do all the stuff.

This week I took off the tags and did the stuff.  It made a difference.

When I moved here I had no beach supplies.  No bag, no chair, no blanket.  I had a few towels stolen from my parents’ laundry room and a swimsuit from Target circa 2005.

Today I have it all and then some.  My blanket is from a flea market on Cape Cod.  My cooler is shaped like a watermelon.  My swimsuit is a pale pink bikini that T Swift would wear but I would claim to have worn first.  I have my stuff and it fits me and I feel settled.

(PS: That post I linked to is from January 2013 and I mention my friend Rob and…ohmygoodness.)

I’m transferring my car to California.

This feels like a big deal.  I’m saying goodbye to my Utah plates and doing the work and paying the money required to make myself a California resident.

I do need to vote this election, you know.

I have strong election feelings.  Ask my friends during the debates.

-

My nails aren’t painted.

Well, they do have a coat of glitter over them but I barely count that.  Did I do the glitter nails because I joined Apple Music just to watch the Taylor Swift 1989 tour and she had these nails?

What?

That concert would not load for HOURS I tell you, and of course, once I decide I need something I cannot let it go and so for hours I refreshed and vented and went on forums to assure myself that others were going through the same torture as I was.

Speaking of forums.

Married at First Sight.

I’m still here.  I’m still watching every week.  Are you? If you are, will you please text me 300-600 thoughts per episode?  I have a few friends who semi-regularly watch it, but I need you.  I need someone who cares.

I knew it had gone too far when I found myself of MAFS forums.  I’ve never actually commented on a forum of any kind, but I found myself desperately searching for spoilers and landing in a weird corner of the internet with people I swear I don’t relate to, but maybe relate to more than anyone.  People who CARE.

Care enough to discuss in vivid detail possible sightings of so and so at the Atlanta Ikea.

I’m in love with Neil from MAFS.

Hilary says this is a good thing because Neil is Rob and I love Rob.

Hi Rob!  We’re been dating longer now than we were friends.  Isn’t that crazy?

This summer will be my FOURTH year going to Cape Cod with him.

This October will be my FIFTH birthday spent at Roscoe’s with him.

Where is time going?  Why do I sound like a cliché old woman?

Neil from MAFS is much like Rob.  He is exceptionally kind and patient. He’s quirky.  He even looks vaguely like my Robert.

Sometimes I’ll bring up something to Rob and he’ll say, “Is this about Neil again?”  and I say, “I can’t help it!”

I need share my 300-600 thoughts!

Save me from myself!

I read 16 books in January.

I went to yoga every Wednesday and Thursday.

I found a reading lamp that works for me.

My therapist is named Sasha.  (No she isn’t.)

My life is coming together.  I considered writing a post titled, “how to be a grownup” and starting with “find yourself a therapist” but then I stopped.  Because it was sounding so hoo ha and hee ho.

How to be a grownup:

  1. Learn who you are.
  2. Take care of yourself.

It’s as hard as that.

I recently read an article that said being an adult isn’t hard.  It actually said this, “There are lots of things that are challenging and heartbreaking and trying in life, but learning how to perform basic functions is not one of them.”

And while I really like this writer and really liked most of the article, I vehemently disagree with this statement.  It is very hard and uncomfortable to go about the process of learning who you are and what you want and how to get there.  It’s painful, at times.  It requires stretching and growing and failing and starting over and over and over again.  It requires friends who will go on late night trips to the suburbs when you’re feeling homesick and jobs that don’t suck your soul and lots and lots of hours walking.

It requires weekly trips to the store for produce and budgets and eating bags of frozen vegetables for lunch sometimes.

It requires standing up for yourself.  Valuing kindness.  Getting your moles checked.

It is hard and it is a process and I feel like I’m on the path finally.

Like somehow I wandered around in some bleak, dry, desert for years and years getting nowhere at all, delirious with exhaustion, and then, miracle of miracles, I stumbled onto the right path.  The one that will take me to adulthood eventually.

It’s about time.