Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

#30daysofdresses

This weekend, I went on a little shopping trip with Jess of Hell Or High Fashion. I learned so much during the first time we went out. What I learned made shopping for myself much easier. Everything I bought during that original trip felt like such a refresher, I haven’t been gunning for new clothes in a while.

I’ve been in love with my closet ever since.

But as the seasons have changed, I wanted to add a few things (romper, jean vest, mustard everything) to my closet and so I hired Jess for a quick trip this weekend. She did not disappoint.

We shopped at Forever 21 and H&M, and I left with enough pieces to reinvigorate my wardrobe for the next 6 months.

Back at home, I thought I would go through and pull out a few things to donate – new stuff in, old stuff out. But it seemed that adding in these new clothes created two problems:
1. I fell in love with all of my clothes again and
2. I suddenly felt like I had too much clothing

One of the benefits of doing the closet consultation with Jess in Feb ’13 was that I got rid of many things that clouded my wardrobe vision. In fact, I don’t think I even had a vision and I certainly didn’t know how to shop for my personal style. Example: before Jess’ help, I had 5 ill-fitting pairs of jeans I would guiltily avoid while wearing the same perfect-fitting pair of jeans every day forever. Getting styled gave me permission to ditch the old / ill-fitting pants and just live in the one to two pairs that I loved.

But, back to Sunday. I found that I had many a clothing item in my closet and dresser. In fact, I pulled out all of my dresses and counted.

40.

Somehow I went from someone who, pre-styled, wasn’t sure if she liked dresses, to acquiring a large stack of them in under 2 years.

On top of that, I was reading about Elise’s attempt at a capsule wardrobe and remembering the tiny house doc we watched, and I suddenly didn’t feel so good.

Had I over-shopped? Should I have purchased one amazing pair of jeans instead of the 3 dresses or 4 shirts I picked up? Did I need to donate stuff I still loved just to make room for the new?

It was too much at the time, so in that moment, I gave up, and instead of organizing my clothes, I cleaned the living room and set up our October decorations. Much better use of my energy.

But I still wanted to do something to feel better about the (what felt like) immense amount of clothing I now owned.

As I wore a new dress to work on Monday and then again yesterday, I thought about the number of dresses I had… and then the idea for a small personal challenge popped into my head.

#30daysofdresses

The rules are simple – I plan to wear one dress per day for the month of October without duplication. I’m pre-posting, so I’ll be a few days ahead of schedule (as of right now, 3 days to be exact). And I plan to share some little story or vibe about each day/dress.

And we’ll see how it goes.

 

Glimpse Of My Best

Yesterday, I wrote about doing what I want. Learning to ebb and flow with my energy, demands at work and home, and general enjoyment of my days.

While last week’s emotional ups and downs were tough, writing yesterday’s post was soothing and empowering. I could see the progress, I could feel the upward sweep of energy again.

I just took the dog out for his last walk – where we say he needs to “just pee on a post”. Normally, H does this walk, but he was busy with school work so I decided I could go out again, for the third time today.

Honestly, I wanted to feel annoyed that this chore was left to me, but as I walked in the crisp air, in the pitch dark, I felt grateful – to be outside, to be in a safe neighborhood, to be in quiet, and to be with my awesome dog.

Before I sat down to write this, I pulled a tarot card (I have the Wild Unknown deck) and pulled the Queen of Pentacles.

The Queen of Pentacles may represent a mother figure in your life who can provide you with loving support and nurturing to help you get through the influences of your past. She may be a teacher, a counsellor, a mentor, or someone who you are very close to. Alternatively, she may represent a part of yourself, particularly if you are investing a lot of yourself into nurturing and caring for others and creating an established and comfortable lifestyle.

After working at the office all day, cooking dinner, taking care of the dog – it seems a fitting card. Deeper still is the importance of “you are also able to find time to invest in yourself and ensure that you have enough ‘me’ time in between all of your other commitments.”

So much of my mood swing last week seems tied to giving too much of myself. Pulling this card feels like a North Star in that whole lesson being learned – here is a symbol of the woman I want to be. Warm, practical, nurturing, generous and yet, hard-working, focused and proud of her success.

It feels as if this card solidifies much of what I wrote about yesterday. I am at my best when I have a sense of warmth, trust and security. Doing what I want, taking care of my own needs, only serves to strengthen these feelings, making me a stronger and more fulfilled person, which in turn allows me to give even more back to the world. And why else am I here if not to give my full self to my life?

Doing What I Want To Do

Blissed out after rock climbing at the ocean

Last week, I felt like crap. I was feeling awesome for over a week (energy was way up) and then, major blahs.

Anxiety, crying, low energy.

After all of these years, I can’t seem to find exactly what causes these downshifts. For someone so type-A, driven and focused, feeling like crap for multiple days in a row is a huge blow to my confidence.

On the surface it feels like something simple – putting too much pressure on myself with work, not getting enough rest, H not helping around the house, people driving like morons, hormones – you name it, it feels like the general cause of my stress. I assume I can ride it out for a few days, but when it takes over more than a week, it starts to feel insurmountable.

I’m learning that it’s complicated. And I’m learning if it’s normal for me, than it’s normal.

It’s about my innate power – my own abilities and the energy they require. How I can be so tuned into other people and yet get lost in the static of overwhelm. It’s about being highly sensitive. It’s about the ebb and flow of energy.

While there doesn’t seem to be an exact cause, there are a few things that seem to help pull me back to the filled up, happy person I always want to be. Listing them here in case they help you, and as a marker for myself the next time I’m way down in the muck.

Sleep
Overwhelm, exhaustion, an empty tank – whatever you want to call it – getting more sleep seems to brighten my moods. More than a usual 7-8hrs. We’re talking 10hrs over night or a solid 3hr nap. I know this may not sound “reasonable”, but I’m learning I need to trust myself in what I need, and if that’s 8hrs of sleep and then a 2hr nap later that morning, so be it.

Diet
Eating healthy helps, obviously, but lately a few things really throw me off. I’ve lost any interest in alcohol, (which is better than the opposite) and when I do have a drink, I feel miserable. It wrecks my sleep and ruins my mood the next day. Coffee, even decaf lattes, seem to both up my anxiety and make me incredibly sleepy. So I’ve been sticking to tea and chai lattes for my hot drink fix.

Work
Clearly I’m one of those people that care just a bit too much about work, my bar for excellence far exceeding other people’s. So last week, I took a day off. An entire day where I left my phone at home and did something fun. Another afternoon, I spent sitting with a friend at her pool, relaxing in quiet before I hosted a work event (where I was “on” for 5hrs straight). Making sure my reserves were refueled or even topped-off before I needed to pull from them is definitely something to schedule in in the future.

Input
When I’m feeling anxious, I tend to check social media a lot, mindlessly taking in information via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and websites. It feeds the feeling that I’m doing something productive with my energy, but I’m not. At all. So, I stop. I ignore texts, drive without music, go for runs without podcasts, turn off the lights in my apartment, turn off the TV, stop checking email often and choose carefully who I spend my time with. It may seem extreme to people who don’t feel the way I feel, but it really does help me bounce back.

Change Of Pace
Getting out of my normal morning > work > homelife routine also helps. Clearly, the euphoria of travel is partially being away from my responsibilities – all of those shoulds (true and made up) I let run rampant in my head. Last week, H and I went climbing at Point Dume again. This gave me quality time with him, a challenge to rise to (I climbed really, really well) and an evening at the beach. All of these things shift my perspective away from work / pressure / unhappiness back to loving my life and feeling like a badass.

Creating
There seems to be this correlation between not creating and feeling like shit. I was able to get some creative time on Friday night and Saturday – writing a blog post, shooting some photos, and playing with paper. I also made time to write morning pages, which have fallen out of my routine. Another way to refuel and top-off the energy reserves.

Self-care
All of the above falls into self-care, but the mental shift that seemed to take place last week was one of going from feeling trapped / exhausted / anxious to feeling OK with how I was feeling – allowing myself to feel it, talk about it, accept it and do what I not only needed to do to help myself, but actually what I WANTED to do.

And isn’t that the crux of it all – doing what I want to do? Why is that so difficult? And yet, it is. It’s the one thing that makes me the happiest, and it’s the thing I struggle with the most.

I mean, I started this blog and called it Allowing Myself because that is the skill I need to keep learning over and over. To allow myself. Last week was just another version of it. And each time, I get a little better at it – I move through it with more confidence and grace – even if it seems like there won’t be a light at the end of the tunnel, there is. Every time.

So maybe this week we could all practice a little bit. Tune into that little voice that suggests something that would boost our energy or even make us downright blissed-out, and choose that thing. Allow yourself any of those things you think aren’t reasonable to want, the thing that feels like “oh, that must be nice” but isn’t in your reach – and do that thing.

Let yourself do what you want. And I’ll be doing my best to do the same.

xo

Piqued

Well gee, all the good energy I wrote about last week seemed to fizzle and evaporate this week. It was a rough one. Not sleeping well, anxiety, crying – and no real explanation for it. I could’ve written about it, but with two work events and the general feeling like crap, I just didn’t.

I can tell you what helped though, after the fact: seeing my therapist (objective, yet supportive, sounding board), spending an afternoon with Billye and her dog in the pool, having helping hands at my work event, having one gal tell me she was floored by my abilities in my work, taking a full day off, and getting 10 hrs of sleep.

Top that all off with climbing Point Dume again last night, the hardest I think I’ve ever climbed outdoors (!!!), and a belly full of pizza and Mexican Coke, and I’m finally feeling normal again.

Here are a few links that made me happy this week:

I’m a fan of the Japanese, and if there’s one thing they do well, it’s spotlighting adorable animals… like this Shiba Inu WHO WORKS AT A STORE. Carter knows how to close a cabinet door, so the next likely step is to have him open a slider and poke his head out like this kid. Canine help you? I die.

My friend Stephanie (you may remember when we said our goodbyes) is kicking ass and taking names at her accelerated program at John Hopkins University  (b/c she’s a smarrrrrrteeee) and she’s blogging for them. Read why she decided to leave LA and become a nurse, with all the humor that makes me love her to death.

Another adorable dog story (I can never get enough) that turns out is maybe a hoax, but I don’t care b/c LOOK AT THIS BEAGLE. Who cares if he doesn’t actually work for the airline / return lost items?? The last 10 seconds? My heart bursts.

But in real news, Leo has a FULL BEARD. While he makes a wonderful speech about climate change, I could not stop staring at his facial hair and man-bun. He is my absolute favorite since I was about 13, so I’m rolling with this new look. True love, I know. Other people think his beard must be stopped. I can’t believe he hasn’t made it on this Tumblr yet: Fuck Yeah, Men With Buns.

And for something more on the serious side – or at least not dog or man obsessed – I liked Paul Jarvis’ post Do What You Love which opens with this quote by Mika Tokumsitu: “If we believe that personal fulfillment is really the ultimate purpose of labour, then who do we expect to do all the other jobs that are not so existentially fulfilling?”

Jarvis goes on to write:

Find a job that you don’t have to worry about when you’re not doing it. Or a job that doesn’t make you miserable every single day. And you’ll be far better off than a lot of folks.  As I enjoy telling my wife, work is called “work” and not “super happy fun time” because often it’s just tasks that need to be done. It doesn’t mean your life is less meaningful just because your job lacks existential value.  You aren’t your job. It doesn’t have to define you unless you let it. Plus, you can always do what you love in your spare time. I do.

Last but not least, I found Retta via Instagram where she shared the story of a few monarch butterflies in her garden. It’s inspiring to see these small projects she’s documenting. I’m also enjoying her blog Will & Wanting.

Have a good weekend xo

See all Piqued posts.

Us at 12 Years

We met when we were freshman at Berklee College of Music. 3 weeks into the school year, H kissed me and that was it. Some of our friends here in LA assume we’re high school sweethearts b/c we met so young. It’s crazy to think that we met when we were 18 years old. But we did, and fell in love, and it worked, so we kept it going.

And here we are, 12 years later.

Twelve years though, seems so crazy long that it doesn’t seem right. Now I know why people said we’d switch over to celebrating our wedding anniversary. Because two years sounds manageable, normal for someone my age, but twelve just seems nuts.

As H is a math teacher, I asked him to give me some numbers. I’m not sure if the list below makes it more or less mind-boggling.

We’ve been together:
12 years
624 weeks
4,380 days
105,120 hours
6,307,200 minutes
… give or take. We did split up for ~5 months in college and so much of our early relationship was long-distance (almost 4 years).

It’s been 4 years since he proposed.

And 2 years since our wedding weekend.

We didn’t really celebrate this anniversary with anything special. We did go climbing at Stoney Point, which is appropriate, since it’s our new cool hobby we do together.

The pictures above are from when we were waiting in line for Cinespia, an outdoor movie screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (so fun).

And here’s what I see: the two of us at 30 years old, still young looking but adults, who feel like they have their shit together and are feeling pretty settled in life. But we still have dreams and plans and things we want to do, both as a couple and separately, trying to make the most of the life we’ve built. And even though we’re not pictured together, I can guarantee you, we’re still very much in love. I would venture to say even more so than ever before.

Which is the best part of it all, for us both. xo

Climbing Stoney Point

This weekend, we spent both Saturday and Sunday at Stoney Point Park. It is as awesome and as ghetto as the reviews online say.

It’s a rock-cropping right along a freeway, with tons of bouldering, rock walls, trails and caves. But it’s also covered in broken glass, dust and spray-paint. H said it was considered the original climbing gym of LA climbers back in the 70s, y’know, before there were actual fancy indoor gyms.

Lately, H is climbing Point Dume once a week and learning to secure his own top ropes. He was excited to climb outdoors this weekend on his own. We went to Stoney Point Saturday on a whim, on what we joked was a recon mission, just to check it out.

It was hot, dusty and busy. We saw a few teams of people climbing and a few single people bouldering. We took Carter with us so he’d have some exercise as we’d been out late the night before and had plans that evening. He was not too pleased with our plan, but it turns out, he’s so adorable, that people are willing to chat with us just to pet our dog. That worked out really well b/c we spoke to two different guides who told us the routes they were on and other info about the walls.

Sunday we got up early, packed up our stuff (new rope, cooler, water, shoes and harnesses) and drove up again. We picked up our friend T who wanted to join.

When we got there, we totally lucked out b/c the main wall we wanted to climb, Mozart’s Wall, had two groups on it, but only 6 people total, 4 of which were just learning to climb outdoors. It was the perfect opportunity for us to practice outside and for H to practice setting top rope anchors.

I was able to climb the Far-Left route, which is listed as a 5.8 in Urban Rock and H was able to get up Center Route, a 5.9 with guidance from one of the other climbers. We didn’t get a ton of climbing in, we each did about 1.5 routes, but it was a successful day.

It’s been 7 months of climbing for us. H really needs to climb outside now as he’s hit a plateau at the gym. For me, each day I climb anything, I get better.

I’m so addicted.

You really can not beat this life. xo

Piqued

Last week’s Piqued involved MUSIC. And sure enough, right after I put it up, more new songs came pouring in… so I’ve included them below. This felt like a long week, where we had a lot of free time, but didn’t do much with it. Eh, it happens. The weekend is pretty packed (our newly married friends had a booze-cruise-without-the-cruise party to help finish up leftover wine and beer from the wedding, and we have plans to rock climb at a new-to-us spot) so I’ll take a quieter work week.

First off, I heard All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor on Spotify and thought it was adorable, and hella catchy. So here is the original video: All About That Bass.

Then my sister sent me this video of Jimmy Fallon and The Roots performing the song with Meghan with only school music class instruments (Fallon’s background vocals absolutely make this version).

But my favorite version is Postmodern Jukebox’s where Kate Davis not the song is not only swinging with fantastic vocals by Kate Davis, but shes ACTUALLY PLAYING A BASS.

Then, H and I were driving to the climbing gym last Saturday and Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj came on and I sort of freaked out. I don’t normally care a whole lot about pop music, but this song was catchy, had killer vocals and I wanted to hit repeat as soon as it was over. Plus, I freakin’ looovveeeee Nicki Minaj – I have no idea why – but it could have something with Superbass ruling my bachelorette party.

In other news, I found this blog Reading My Tea Leaves and am enjoying reading through the archives, especially the Life In A Tiny Apartment series, especially especially b/c H and I just watched Tiny: A Story About Living Small and I may be a tad obsessed with staying living in ~900 square feet or less.

I like to stay far away from trending topics (see: NFL players beating their wives, Joan Rivers dying, and anything related to politics) so it’s hard for me to see the social media barrage on September 11th (I chose to write a poem for 9/12 this year). But I did see a tweet by a woman who claimed she was trying to return a photo she’d found at ground zero… for 13 years. So, I retweeted it. And then saw last week that the woman succeeded at finding the owner of the photographer and the people in it. And everyone is safe & sound. Yay social media!

Lastly, this article on Accidental Creative about staying inspired.

If you want to remain productive and have ideas when you need them most, the stimuli you allow into your mind are important. Because creativity is essentially the combining of existing bits of inspiration into something new, the quality and relevance of your inputs will often directly affect your creative output.

Todd Henry suggests asking (3) people you admire what’s inspired them lately and diving into that media a little bit each day. Not only is this a great idea to cultivate what you take in creatively, but it’s also a great question to ask in conversations in general. And there’s nothing I like more than good conversation.

See all Piqued posts.

 

Werkin’ It Out

Back!

Back in the saddle again…

I’m back to working out and it feels aaawwweesssooommmmeee.

For some reason, I always get on an exercise kick in August. And, like I’ve mentioned before, rock climbing has become the end to the means. I want to eat well, sleep well, drink enough water, strength and tone my muscles because I want to CLIMB.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I went to the rock climbing gym by myself. It was great. I warmed up on the stationary bike, climbed a few routes on the auto-belays and then did a HIIT workout. For the first time in years, I spent an hour at a gym.

But what is a “hiit workout” you ask?

Well, it’s high intensity interval training and it’s magical.

It’s everything I love about lifting weights and strengthening my body and most days it takes 12 minutes.

Yes – TWELVE MINUTES.

My lovely SIL who introduced me to this awesome concept explains the benefits of hiit. She got pretty ripped working her tail off (to really see results, you do have to do more than 12 min, but I’m not there and I don’t care. I feel awesome anyways). I figured if it worked for her, it could work for me.

On our Alaska trip, we worked out a few times together and she created this little hiit for us. This is also the routine I did yesterday at the gym.

And this morning, after rollerblading with the dog, I found a spare 15 min and did another one. I use the BodyRock YouTube videos.

It’s been about 3 weeks of running 2m (slow, slow, slow 2m with the dog) or rollerblading in the morning, followed by a HIIT. Or I just run. Or I run in the morning and climb later in the day. Or I skip a day and do yoga. (Free yoga at doyogawithme.com h/t my SIL again).

It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. I’m probably burning no more than an extra 300 calories per day and I’m not seeing a huge change physically because those calories come back in delicious adventures like my recent addiction to hot chai lattes despite the heat wave or our trip to Rita’s this week.

Where I am seeing a difference is in my energy levels. All of a sudden, I feel like I have tons of energy. Feeling healthier makes me want to eat better, so I am making good choices despite the sugary treats I’m enjoying. I’m less interested in alcohol (again, can’t climb well if you feel hungover and dehydrated). And I’m climbing better and better.

So that’s how I’m working out lately. If you’ve done HIIT before and have any advice, ideas or want to share your experience – feel free to write a comment. Cheers to good workouts!

I See Your Dunkin’ Donuts and I Raise You Rita’s

Holy heatwave, Los Angeles.

We’ve officially turned our a/c on and let it run all night while we slept, then all day for the dog while we worked. It hit a record high of 106* F in the Valley today. It is disgusting.

You would see my tears if they weren’t evaporating immediately into the incinerating air.

Recently, Los Angeles got its first Dunkin’ Donuts. Being originally from the east coast, this is a pretty big deal in our house. We’re looking forward to getting our iced coffees and breakfast sandwiches with a side of nostalgia, but the line has been wrapped around the block since it opened. Um, it’s good, but not that good.

And yes, working-class iced coffees the size of your head are a hot commodity during a heatwave, but there is no limit to my excitement for the fact that we now have Rita’s.

Which means I get to eat GELATI!

Let me explain

Take mango water ice, which is the consistency of a thick slurpee or a very melty italian ice and top it with a swirl of thick, delicious vanilla custard to create the gelati. My preferred method is to eat it with a spoon, taking a bit of custard and a bit of ice in each bite.

So if you’re trying to stay cool, LA, go do yourself a favor and get to Rita’s. But don’t worry about rushing there, we probably have another 4 weeks of this hell. #toohotforpumpkinanything

Valuing My Life

For over a week now, I’ve been walking around gunning to create a scrapbook page.

I know – who am I?

But seriously, I don’t write about it much here, but I do randomly create project life pages. At times it can feel overwhelming to print photos & document my life, but I love the finished pages. Going back through the pages I made for the weeks of 2013 and the (very) few weeks of 2014 make me happy.

And I’ve been listening to a lot of Paperclipping Roundtable. So I assume that also has something to do with it.

Saturday we slept in as much as one can with the usual LA September heatwave. We originally planned to go to the climbing gym when it opened, but the heat + void moon had other ideas.

We decided to take Carter down to the beach path and eat breakfast at our new favorite place, Amelia’s.

When I think about scrapbooking, I usually feel overwhelmed with the decisions – which pictures to print, what sizes, what papers, what stickers, what’s the story I’m trying to tell, etc – and then I give up that idea and write a blog post or worse, do nothing.

But I really do want more creative actions in my life – and these supplies aren’t going to use themselves up – so as we went about our morning, I took a few pictures.

We got stuck in traffic on Abbot Kinney due to hundreds of motorcycles lining the street. We sang along to Jimmy Eat World on H’s phone. We parked, got the dog out of the car and walked him over to Amelia’s. We waited for a table, ordered food at the counter, and watched the parade of motorcycles go by. We ate our food and sipped our foamy drinks. After eating, we walked the dog down to the beach and out on this wooden path they put on the sand. At the very end is a bench we like to sit on b/c it allows us to be near the water and still have Carter with us on the sand.

Carter was howling away in frustration at us, restless that he wanted more exercise. We looped back up to Main Street and back to the car.

The whole little adventure took less than 3 hrs but it is the epitome of a perfect morning for me. Music, going out for breakfast, delicious chai, walking the dog, the ocean, wearing a sundress, and quality time with H. Each one of these days feels like a dream, but it’s my actual life.

And I know the whole only thing constant is change, so it felt important to me to capture this morning on a page. To print some photos, write a little story and have it as a reminder, as a reflection, of the awesome life we’re experiencing.

“We live 3 miles from one of the best beaches in the country and we have the time and freedom to enjoy it. Our little family, and my life, is pretty rad”

Making this page was a creative act, and allowing myself creative acts feels like the ultimate way to value life. Just in the way that I go for a run or take a nap because I value my energy, or say no to dramatic people because I value my sanity, creative acts are a way to value my being. To hold it in high regard. To honor what I’ve built as a creative person – my marriage, my awesome dog, my talents. Documenting is something I’ve always done, but I’m finally beginning to understand that telling my story is a way of valuing ME.

{More Info}

I started memory keeping with Project Life.

Some of my very favorite memory-keepers:
Ali Edwards
Kelly Purkey
Amy Tangerine
Shimelle
Pink Ronnie
Elise Blaha Cripe

 

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