Keep Reading

Are you reading this blog ?  Megan has a great post this week and it inspired me to write today. If you choose to subscribe to Megan’s blog, her posts will be delivered to your inbox.  I enjoy Megan’s posts and follow her because she is building a career and will have more and more to share as her experiences expand and evolve.

Megan’s recent post is about moderation  – as in “I do this or that in moderation” or “Everything in moderation!”.  I found it to be really entertaining  (in my own way) and decided “in moderation” is pretty lame as an approach to many things (I tend to say what I think and do apologize for sounding judgmental)!   Megan was more eloquent about the topic. Why do things in moderation?  As I thought about it, I failed to come up with a good reason to do things in moderation.  It just feels like a way to sit on the fence or  avoid taking a plunge.  For example, I am an unbeliever (is that a word) in moderation as a way of eating.  If I eat cookies in moderation, it is likely a minimum of 6 per day; thus I never say I eat cookies in moderation.  I am more likely to admit cookies are part of every meal of the day, breakfast included, when I have them in the house.  If you tell me I can eat 1 cookie, I guarantee I will eat 6 because is anyone really satisfied with 1 cookie? I have no idea how to eat cookies in moderation so my house has been void of my favorite food for a couple months!

About 1o years ago, my doctor and physical therapist told me I had to stop running due to back pain/issues.  My doctor told me my back issues were unusual for my age and would only advise me to stop running and whatever I did was my decision.  I figured I could run…in moderation.  I was unable to wrap my head around a workout if I was unable run outside for 2 hours. Elliptical machines were barely a workout in my mind!  I tried to run several days a week for 1 hour instead of 2.  Then I tried to decrease the time to 30 minutes – yet I was still in pain and the pain repeatedly disrupted my sleep. I am not a quitter but moderation was not cutting it.  My choices were:  live with pain and possibly bigger issues or change my workout completely.  Begrudgingly, I hung up my running shoes and learned to appreciate low impact cardio options like the elliptical machine and walking outside with my dog and picked up weights and high intensity workouts.  Another bonus (though I have previously written I am largely anti-social at the gym), I have made several new friends by way of changing my workout.

Very recently I was again guilty of trying to workout in moderation. New back problems popped up and I kept working out in spite of discomfort – when will I ever learn?  I then decided I could just workout less (in moderation!) and I would feel better.  I cut back to 2 days a week and spent 5 days recovering with ice and Aleve.  I woke up one morning in such pain that I had to lie on the floor because I felt like I was going to get sick.  I went to see my orthopedist and he prescribed physical therapy and also had the nerve to suggest I add pilates or yoga to my workout routine.  Thereafter, though I do believe in the benefits of those forms of exercise, I actually had the nerve to drive home thinking my life is officially over.  Am I so decrepit that I will eventually only be able to workout on a mat??  My brother took my feedback and threw this at me, “It’s not like your doctor said you need your foot amputated.”   Oh yeah..perspective….there are people I know with horrible medical conditions and I am whining about having to do some sort of core focused workout?  My physical therapist told me to go back to the gym and also suggested pilates.  She even recanted and said I can learn the right exercises without having to take a pilates class since I like going to the gym and am active.  Pilates is derived from methods used by physical therapists.  Moderation = fail.  Take the bull by the horns = success.

Moderation is a comfort zone and a way of avoiding change and reality.   Moderation is easier than transformation and taking the bull by the horns.  I believe humans struggle to change for a variety of reasons.  Change can cause discomfort and moderation lets you dabble and never actually commit yourself to anything.  Sometimes it is really hard to look at yourself in the mirror.  We do things in moderation because we are afraid to fail.     Change can be scary and resistance is easy (I was actually going to describe resistance with the word comfortable, however, I find resistance is usually really uncomfortable).  Sometimes we are unsure how to change so do things in moderation till we can find a way or till we can find someone who knows the way.  What are you doing in moderation today because change would be uncomfortable and take effort?  We all have to discover change on our own whether through experience, self awareness or the lessons life bestows upon us…and then we have to  actually leave the comfort zone and plunge into new things.

Thank you for reading this blog and thank you Megan for all the food for thought (no pun intended)!


Truth Be Told

I came across a Gloria Steinem quote the other day and it started the wheels turning.  “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.”  How true is that statement?  Until the age of 30 (or thereabouts) the truth was usually something I tried to avoid in certain situations. Facing the truth was usually a SMACK – right in the center of my pride.  It was just impossible for me to face some things head on when I was called to the carpet. I ran away or avoided or denied.  In fact, I can think of many situations in which the truth would have gotten me out of pickle.  There have also been situations when too much truth may have hurt me by my own design.

Have you ever been in the wrong relationship for many reasons?  That was me in my 20s.  The people around me could see it was all wrong; yet I insisted I was happy and they had no idea what they were talking about.  It used to irritate me when someone would say, “You can’t stand it when he blinks, why are you dating him?”  The reaction inside my head was something like, “Crap I  have been found out.” Yet my outward response was to deny, deny, deny or to get defensive.  I am not entirely sure why I sat in denial of a relationship that annoyed me.  Why I spent so much time with someone who I really wanted to get away from is baffling.  However, life is about lessons and there have been quite a few on my path. To a point, I refused to accept the truth about about my nowhere fast (or in 6 years) relationship – even though everyone who said anything like, “He annoys you when he blinks” was totally spot on.  Of course, as things happen I was forced to toss denial aside because the subject of marriage eventually came up.  There was no way I would have been happy married to this man (his dream was to put me into a minivan with a bunch of soccer cleat wearing kids – if you know me, that would never suit me).  Thus I had to face the truth and be honest and tell him he would never see me walking down the aisle towards him…in any lifetime.  It took me long time to realize it is better to face the music and be honest with other person and exit gracefully.  Why lie to yourself about your happiness for the sake of a relationship? Faking anything has never been my strength thus the truth always ends up smacking me in the face.

The truth can be difficult to accept, receive, process.  Delivery is important.  How the words are linked together can make a big difference in how someone feels or how they respond to what is shared. I used have a client who treated me like I worked on his team.  We had a very good working relationship.  One day he stopped me during a conversation and said, “Alexis are we friends?” I thought about it and said, “Of course we are!”  My client said, “Then as your friend Alexis, I cannot let you walk around with that booger hanging out of your nose.”  I laugh when I think of story to this day because I appreciated the honesty and who wants to walk around greeting people with a booger?  More importantly, the delivery neither made me feel weird nor uncomfortable. The reassurance and kindness averted any awkwardness.  In the same vein if you have spinach stuck in your teeth or if your fly is down, aren’t you appreciative when you are made aware?  Even when it is a (non creepy) stranger in the line at Starbucks?  I have had people say “I feel weird telling that to someone.”  Tell the truth about the spinach leaf, help a person out. It is surely good karma!

When the light bulb switched on for me about the value of honesty and speaking the truth, it became apparent my ability to deliver the truth often resulted in what I call verbal shrapnel. The truth will set you free and I can really piss people off with it? Delivery was hardly my forte.  It took awhile to understand what I said could be poorly received or  valuable depending on the approach.  For a long time I put up a shield of words if someone hurt my feelings.  It is easy to figure out the person’s weakness and go for the achilles heel (verbally) to put the hurt back on a person.  More often than not, my shield of words would ricochet and leave a mark on the other person and on me. Upsetting a family member, offending a colleague are far from good results.  It took time to learn just expressing how I feel works much better than verbal retaliation (that whole life lesson thing again).   I remember a meeting at work during which a colleague informed me he had no idea how to do his job.  Though the words I used escape me, I probably told him he was an idiot and a waste of my time.  My choice words sent that person directly to my boss’ office at the conclusion of the meeting.  My boss later called me in to tell me my colleague was in fact inept and it was unnecessary to call him an idiot to his face. Oops.  Though my intent was to be honest, my words were quite unrefined and clearly needed a little softening of the edges.  Over time I did develop the ability to say things gently (work in progress) and discovered there are ways to tell the truth without insulting someone’s intelligence and leaving a person lying on the floor, missing a limb.

How the truth is delivered and what you do with it is an art for sure.  Shooting from the hip can be damaging and can go horribly wrong.  A thoughtful approach to words used will go far. It is a constant practice for me to think before speaking.  Though my brain works a mile a minute, stopping, then speaking has been an important lesson in many ways. This has helped me be more sensitive about what I say when providing honest insight or feedback or advice.  You catch more flies with honey as the saying goes. Throw a verbal cinder block at someone and a brick ,may come flying back or immediately or in time you will realize the damage done.  I believe in telling truth and it is something I value in my  relationships.  That said, I keep this in mind: words can be disarming and words can be weapons.  Words must be used wisely as rogue words can leave shrapnel in their wake.

Be honest and be gentle and give what you want to receive.  I agree with Gloria Steinem, the truth will set you free and sometimes it will piss you off.  However, with the right delivery, the recipient will be less likely to shoot the messenger.

Thank you for reading this blog!


Closet Anxiety

Have you ever felt like you should be doing something and hesitate because you are unsure of what to do or how to do it?  And until you actually take steps, it will nag you like a gnat zipping around your head?   This weekend I woke up and was unable to determine if I had been thinking half consciously or if my dreams are just turning into the thoughts rumbling around my head. I am going to a Las Vegas wedding soon and in my dream or my half conscious thoughts, what to wear for Las Vegas nightlife was giving me angst.  Do normal people have half conscious thoughts and anxiety dreams about what to wear in Las Vegas?  Anytime wardrobe feels complicated, I get angst because dressing like J.Lo or Beyonce is far from how I operate day to day. This has given me a new dream in life.  How fabulous would it be to get on a plane, fly to a destination (we will go with Las Vegas) and have an entire wardrobe waiting in the hotel room, with accessories, shoes and a stylist at your beckon call?  Add hair and make-up artist to the mix since I can barely apply mascara. Talk about no brainer approach to travel and wardrobe. It would be a far easier approach than shopping and I have to believe that is how J.Lo and Beyonce travel. It is actually horrible to think about shopping for a trip to Las Vegas. When I NEED something (other than jeans or LuLu Lemon pants), I have a hard time finding the right clothes.  When I am shopping for no reason, I usually hit the jackpot.  What is that?  Though I would never do it, I have even gone down the route of cancelling my trip due to wardrobe anxiety.  Oh yeah, my brain – it is constantly in problem solving mode.  Cancel trip over wardrobe – could that be more illogical?  Would J.Lo do that?

It is funny.  I have been going to the same gym for a very long time. I avoid 99% of the other gym members except for a handful of really interesting, kind friends I have met along the way. Those friends know I tend to keep to myself and know I am, in fact, outgoing outside the gym. Some people make comments about my anti social ways during my workouts.  The truth is, I have no interest in socializing at the gym.  I am there to workout and do my thing and am happy in my own world.  I will wave hello and keep walking because who needs to spend 3 hours in the gym talking to random people every day?  How does that relate to Las Vegas and my wardrobe problems? Well it just makes me wonder if anyone calling me anti social would ever believe I am on an elliptical machine wondering how in the world I will outfit myself in Las Vegas?   “So if you had no idea what to wear on a weekend trip, would you cancel the trip?”  I guess I can poll the gym members?  The truth is, I do know the answer.  I will have to start shopping online for ideas and either order a bunch of dresses or go through the insufferable process of trying on clothes under those horrible fluorescent lights in all dressing rooms.

I was sitting here trying to figure out why I felt compelled to write; and the truth is, writing helps me get things out of my head.  I have no better description than sometimes mental constipation strikes (sorry that is just so wrong yet just so apt) and I have to start writing. So many thoughts build up and so much going on in my brain, an outlet is just so necessary to free up space.  I selected my Las Vegas wardrobe angst as my topic because it seems so ridiculous and frivolous (though it is real!!) and it is my reality.  Clothes give me angst (except jeans and LuLu Lemon pants).  Do you think my brain will just quit on me someday due to improper use of a high quality mental capacity and processing ability?  

Thank you for reading this blog!

What’s On The Menu?

I talk about food often.  When I was in high school, during whatever team practice I was involved in, I would talk about what I wanted to eat after practice all through practice. I think I used to do it on bus rides home after games, too.  I always make the reservation when my friends want to get together for dinner.  There is usually a specific menu item at a restaurant that I have been waiting to try.  My family likes to talk about bacon and finding the best bacon ever.  We send food to each other as gifts.   Food is a constant topic of conversation with one of my friends from the gym, it is how we survive out workout, I think.  One of my favorite philanthropic things to do is donate to a food pantry.  When I shop for my bounty, I think about what would make a little kid happy or what would make a parent feel they are putting nutritious food on the table.  I might be a little like the beauty pageant contestant who wants to end world hunger except without glitzy hair, makeup and graceful walk.

I read a lot of blogs and follow a variety of people on Twitter and Instagram. There are so many food trends out there today (for my own lack of a better description). It is rather interesting to see what is popular and surprising how many people post regular pictures of their meals.  I am not one to jump on any type of fad diet or adopt a specific style of eating.  Veganism is the wrong thing for me.  Bacon is too good to never eat again unless the world is forced into a survivalist scenario. Gluten-free would be rough unless medically necessary because cookies, croissants, and bagels are some of my favorite foods. I am hard pressed to believe there is a gluten free croissant on this planet that tastes as good as the real thing. There is a high probability you will find a KIND bar in my purse and laptop bag as my go to snack versus a croissant, however.  I lean towards vegetarian eating though I throw (surprise) bacon in my brussel sprouts now and then so I can never say I am a vegetarian!

Learning about new foods and new ways of eating can be beneficial and informative.  I read recipes and adapt them to suit my preferences.  Nutritional value is becoming more important in this world of mass produced food and lack of visibility into sources of our food.  As the years go by, I am find I am more interested in what I put into my body and  realize there can be upsides and downsides to anything.  The thought of where shrimp come from is quite unappealing and milk skeeves me out sometimes (but I do like my morning latte). Different points of view on food and what to eat usually results in new knowledge or a recipe I can add to my repertoire.  I have always enjoyed guacamole. Until I really understood how GOOD an avocado is in all of its many ways, I never really ate them.  Now I keep them on my kitchen counter.

Here is a blog to which I subscribe for point of view Megan is someone I met at the gym and she is a genuinely lovely, ambitious person.  I ran into her recently and told her I look forward to seeing where she is in 5 years.  She has the ability to demystify health and medical topics which I find refreshing.  A demystified point of view with medical training to boot means to me ‘she gets it’ when it comes to the whys and hows and what is important to the reader.  

Thank you for reading this blog and Megan’s blog!

What Comes Naturally

What comes naturally is a funny thing.  Normally I think going outside one’s comfort zone is a good idea.  However, sometimes it is better to forget the comfort zone and just do things your way.  My recent bedroom makeover project has reminded me of what comes naturally and what is tedious for me.   I was talking to my Mom about my project and told her decorating is not my thing…and it likely never will be.  She said, “It is not where your passion lies.”  Bingo!  I like the final product yet the process is like trudging through quicksand. My Mom has pointed out that I never get past the paint and she is right.  I have been known to start projects like this and let them fall by the wayside.  I have never felt I have a strong eye for coordination and combinations of fabric, furniture, color, accessories.  I have a really hard time visualizing what furniture looks like in my space based on a picture in a catalog or online.  I never seem to find exactly what I want.  A lack of confidence in my ability to decorate and design, amps up my “it has to be perfect or I cannot move forward with it” mode.  My eye is better suited for spying the best pastry or figuring out the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Shopping for furniture and paint colors makes me wish one of those TV home shows would show up on my doorstep and get to work.

I realized a few years ago more success comes from focusing on what comes naturally.  Doing anything that highlights a weakness can prove to be frustrating and discouraging. It reminds me of high school sports – there is always one kid who joins the team because his/her parents forced the issue.  In reality that kid really would rather be studying chemistry or dancing or playing video games.  I think most people know the feeling of having to do something that is of little interest while feeling some obligation to keep plugging along.  When I work on something that falls outside of my strengths, I have a sense of discomfort and stress that drives me to overcompensate by trying to perfect every element.  I find my perfectionism paralyzes me in my effort to make progress because everything has to be, well, perfect!

A few years ago, I was laboring over a spreadsheet for a contract negotiation with a client.  I was trying to understand every last rounding scenario to calculate things down the decimal place.  One of my colleagues was waiting for me to deliver the spreadsheet and stopped by my cubicle.  He said, “You are STILL working on that thing?  Your perfectionism is driving me crazy!”   I sat back and looked at what I was doing and understood his point.  I was belaboring minute details that were really of little importance and realized it was pointless to try be so meticulous and perfect in the exercise.  I decided I am better off accepting negligible rounding differences and keeping things simple.  It turned out to make my life easier!

I had the same epiphany with my bedroom project.  I had to stop trying to find the perfect everything to get my project rolling.  To make progress, I had no choice but to just make decisions even if I was not 100% certain about my selections.  I picked a paint color after a year of talking about it, yes a year. I forced myself to sit at the paint store till I found options I liked – I think I spent 2 hours looking at paint chips. I never previously considered that I can pick a color and paint over it if necessary (newsflash, paint is not permanent). I was also over-thinking night stands.  My old nightstands were in great need of replacement yet I could not visualize what new ones would look like in my room. To that end, I was unable to find the PERFECT nightstands.  I decided to simplify and bought interim night stands to help me better visualize.  I had to break my own patterns to keep my project moving forward.  Visualizing the final “style” of my bedroom has been too difficult for me so I opted to work on it piece by piece.  I have been asking for help and advice when I needed it. I focus on one thing per week.  I did wall art last week, this week I have been shopping for bedding.  I am not sure what I will focus on next week but piecemeal has helped formulate my vision. I am doing it my way because any other way just gives me angst and self induced pressure to do things perfectly.

In my round about long winded way, what I have been learning is, we all have to find our way of doing things.  Rather than getting caught up in the way something “should” be done, it is likely more beneficial to figure out an approach that comes naturally and with ease.  Why force a square peg into a round hole? Why follow someone else’s rules and why obligate yourself to anything?  Work within your means, ask for help when in need of assistance or advice, and use a process that gets you to your desired result.  

Thank you for reading this blog!

Who is Al?

Food brings people together.  Well, I like to have food when people get together.  I like to get together and eat food. Food is good for get-togethers.  There is a whole set of opinions on breaking bread and socializing and at the end of the day, I find myself talking about food more often than not.  One my friends from the gym sent me a text message to inform me a new food store in town sells Taylor Ham by the slice.  Her husband thought it was weird that she would feel compelled to share that with me.  Little did he know that I was totally enthused that said store sells bacon by the slice (because I only ever need a slice or two) and it is an even bigger bonus to buy Taylor Ham by the slice rather in mass quantity.  Food brings my friends together and brings my family together.  My parents raised a bunch of foodies.  The kind of foodies that will try most things (I won’t eat nervous tissue or weird meats) and like to perfect the things they make.  The kind of foodies that share pictures of what they eat and send food as gifts because ‘you have to try the bacon of the month club.’  For what purpose does one share pictures of food?  I have no idea.  My brother emailed me about Al Pastor tonight and Al Gringo.  Neither are a man named AL but types of tacos.  Who doesn’t like a good taco?  Tacos must bring people together.  I love tacos.  My favorite place to buy a taco is in Irvine, CA – Baja Fish Tacos.  I used to travel there often for work and would stop at the taco stand and get tacos to take to the airport.  Chicken so as to not stink up a public space and once in awhile TSA would abscond with my guacamole (because it might be explosive?). There were often envious passengers sitting around me as I dined on my tacos and they ate blue potato chips. Plan your food, I say.   I am sure most people like tacos and if not, well, I am sorry.   Read here for some Al Pastor or Al Gringo or just Gringo. 

Thank you for reading this blog (both blogs, actually).

Never Saw That Coming

With change comes new beginnings.  This is hardly a newsflash to the average person, it just happens to be what has been on my mind. I spent most of January thinking about change and February made me think of new beginnings.  Change always makes me feel weird and I have been that way for as long as I can remember.  A friend recently compared me to a tree.  Trees are stable, strong and grow where they have roots.  Transplant a tree and it may fail to flourish.  I guess I have always felt change was a source of uneasiness and instability which certainly highlights my discomfort with the unknown.  When I think of major changes in my life and it took time to adapt to any particular event. I never used to view changes in my life as new beginnings, instead would dwell on what I was leaving behind and the what ifs and the unknowns.  I never liked the feeling of doing something before I was ready; though sometimes it is probably better to be pushed into the proverbial ocean even if you are unsure what you are swimming towards.

My family moved when I was 10 years old and I felt uprooted (anyone moving to New Jersey for the first time may agree!).  I knew nothing about my new school and knew no one in my class.  It was a sea of the unknown for me.  I had a difficult time adjusting and spent my 5th grade year as the awkward, taller than everyone, new girl with braces.  Thank goodness I did not get glasses till 5 years later!  It never crossed my mind that I had a new beginning in front of me as I just really wanted to return to my old school and all the friends I left there.  I wonder what it would have been like if  I had felt a new school and a new town were an opportunity instead of something foreign, uncomfortable, and awkward?  It was hard to see change as a positive thing at a young age while I was walking around with a neon sign over my head that said “NEW KID. POKE FUN HERE.”  Going all psychotherapy on myself, that experience could be one of the reasons I am very introverted in new situations.  I used to think people just didn’t like me when they met me and eventually learned that was not really the case. As an adult, I went into sales to force myself to be an extrovert in my day job which helped me learn new ways to address new situations.  When you work in sales, you have no choice but to be outgoing. It can be a struggle some days and other days I still surprise myself.  I am definitely still the socially awkward 10 year old underneath it all regardless of my age and experience.

I recently got reorg’d (questionable spelling) at work.  I was feeling weird about the change because it was unexpected and rather abrupt.  I was used to my soon-to-be old boss’ style and had adapted accordingly and now I had to start all over with a new boss.  I really felt odd for a couple days after because it was a CHANGE and there were many unknowns at play.  A new year at work always means new budget, new expectations, new business and now a new, green boss? I gave it thought and decided to take this change as a learning opportunity in spite of all the unknowns.  My new boss is in a big learning phase and I realized there are ways I can help him. I know my book of business like the back of my hand and have perspective that I can bring to the table for him.  I decided I would stop feeling weird and work to help my boss speed up his learning curve. I can be proactive and embrace the change rather than just watching it unfold.  Why not work collaboratively to make our new team look good in front of senior management?  I have no idea what any of it will mean necessarily but decided it would work better for me versus getting my nose out of joint about a curve ball.  It’s a new beginning for me, new exposure and using the change to my advantage will probably serve me well down the road.  Go with the flow and figure out it on the way and worry about the rest later.

As I think about it, to get to a new beginning, there are changes that may first require patience and trust in the unknown before an outcome or new opportunity presents itself. There are times when it is just necessary to trust in what seems unclear. Why is this happening? Why is nothing happening?  What is going to happen?  What am I missing?  The unknowns have been hard for me historically as I like to fix things and also understand everything all the time.  I used to open the Christmas gifts under my parents bed when I was a kid (use knife to slit the scotch tape, re-tape gift).  I just liked to know what was coming my way.  

I have had many experiences in my life when patience was required (unbeknownst to me until I saw an outcome good or bad) and I ended up worried, anxious, or over thinking all while trying to figure out things that probably hung in the realm of unknown for a reason.  I had to learn I cannot know everything all the time and sometimes it is better to know nothing until the right time.  I can look at situations in my life where putting my faith in an outcome would have served me better.  There are times when it is just better to observe and gather information and do nothing.  Telling myself to worry later is much more helpful than trying to find missing pieces of a puzzle.  Worry later means (to me), the answer will come at a different time so just be patient. Just the other day, while talking to a friend, I heard myself saying, “I am just going to put my faith in the fact that this will work itself out.” Did I really say that? Surprised myself. It is far easier to believe what needs to happen will happen and worry about details later. Timing is a variable, people and their life lessons are a variable, location is a variable, etc. When things change, all of the variables probably need to be aligned (whether good or bad) and sometimes it is just better to let things fall into place rather than trying to pull the curtain off the unknown before the time is right. When you bake a cake, you cannot rush the baking process.  If you turn up the heat to try to make your cake bake faster, it may burn.  Put it in the microwave and it will blow up. If you take it out of the oven before it is done, you will likely end up with a flop.  Put your cake in the oven according to baking instructions and you will end up with what you hoped for at the start.

When I begin writing, the conclusion of my post is usually an unknown  (irony).  As with 2014, I have no idea how the year will end up.  I really felt like January was a swirling vortex of change for me and though things are still changing, I have seen many new things start to rise to the surface with the onset of February.  Whatever is going to change will and it all may be outside that which I can control.  I would even say how I respond to things is an unknown because who can predict what will happen tomorrow or next week. And that works for me.  It is actually really fascinating to think about what new things may happen and what new opportunities will pop up.  It is always pretty cool to look back on something and say, “Well I never saw that coming” instead of “I was afraid that was going to happen.”

Thank you for reading this blog (apologies for any typos)!

Make It YOUR Birthday

The little things in life go a long way.  It really is true.  I usually try to take the day off on my birthday and this year I had to work.  Client meetings from 8:30am-4:30pm.  I was grumbling to myself about it all day yesterday as I really prefer to do what I want to do on my birthday.  However, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  I woke up this morning less grumbly and decided I better find a way to take birthday on the road.  I did not plan ahead so did not have a special lunch to make or a cupcake to take to work so needed a plan B. I never open birthday cards or gifts before my birthday, so I gathered up the cards I received in the mail and put them in my laptop bag.  I figured I would bring my birthday to work even if I had to attend client meetings all day.

It was actually quite an enjoyable treat to read birthday cards between meetings throughout the day!  My friend from California sent me a card with a letter enclosed which was a nice surprise (handwriting – how novel!).  My uncle sent me a very funny card.  My Mom sent me cards full of various commentary and doodles of things (as she usually does).  My friend from Chicago sent me her usual classy card with her kind words…and so on.  It is just really nice to be remembered and acknowledged on my birthday. I cannot lie!  It was a nice change to carry my birthday wishes in my bag. I came out of meeting and opened a card.  I was on a pretty uneventful conference call and opened another card. Rationed birthday cards go a long way.

I  heard from so many of my friends all throughout the day.  I think the birthday wish from Mumbai traveled the furthest (via text) and the message from my next door neighbor the shortest distance.  Wherever you are and whomever you hear from, birthdays are fun.  I find it funny when someone says, “Oh I do not care about my birthday.”  Or something along those lines.  I find that really hard to believe under normal circumstances.  Even the crabbiest person has to smile on their birthday!  It is totally awesome (yeah I said it like that) when someone you have not heard from in awhile or someone you hear from every day remembers your birthday.  A few of my friends sent me email messages instead of text or social media wishes so I just finished replying to those emails.  My brother tried to get my 19 month old nephew to say Happy Birthday Alexis.  I think he was confused as to how to make his face and mouth form those words!  Nephew videos are pretty awesome nonetheless.

I guess I really look at my birthday as a “I wonder what surprises will pop up today” kind of day. Whatever happens on my birthday or around my birthday makes me happy (except for back to back meetings all day long = less exciting). I am actually surprised on my birthday more often than not. Friends, flowers, cards, balloons, messages.  I went out for Greek food for dinner with one my friends who is half Greek.  We have been talking about going to an authentic Greek restaurant for awhile (usually while eating sushi). It was such a great meal, no idea why has it taken me so long to try authentic Greek food! Baffling and fabulous. I guess taking it all in is the important part of a birthday celebration.  If you can enjoy the moment and enjoy whatever comes your way, it will always be a great day.  A great birthday is a great start to a new year – it is just too bad it only happens once a year!

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Clap Along

Now and then I come across a song that I have to listen to about 4,503 times  (or more) on repeat.  I have always been this way which may be why I can sing along to nearly all songs on my iPod/iPhone.  This week I discovered Happy by Pharrell Williams and have spent all weekend bopping around in my car (other drivers likely thought I was out of my mind – oh well).  What better thing to wish upon someone than happiness?  What could be better than walking in and out of each day feeling happy from head to toe?  What is negative about happiness (zilch)? If someone makes a choice in life, my thought is always, “I wish all happiness in the world for (insert name)”  or “I hope that brings much happiness to (insert name).”  Conversely, in some situations, asking, “are you happy?” can be a very revealing question.  I will throw it out in conversation when a friend, colleague or family member is conflicted or wavering about a matter, decision, person, etc.  If you are unable to say, “yes, I am happy” it may be time figure out what to change to amp up the level of happy.  What can you live with?  What can you live without?  What would make you happy?  What can you change?  Do you want to change?  Have you ever made a change thinking it would make you happy only to find you are still struggling to find what makes you happy?  Or perhaps you know what makes you happy and are avoiding it?

Here is the YouTube link to Happy by Pharrell and the 24 Hours of Happy website – you may want to dance around your house or in your cubicle or wherever you are right now.   Just a warning 🙂

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Change Your Footwear

Change is afoot.  2014 feels like it is about change.  I am working on changing things around me that is for sure.  Simple things like finally painting my bedroom.  I have been procrastinating for 2 years and I finally picked a color and have my Dad as my co-painter to get the work done.  My Mom always says I get as far as the paint and no further.  I bought the paint and now I need to buy some furniture and other items.  If all goes well my room will have a makeover soon enough.  Things at work are changing as they always do this time of year; yet it feels different. I have an idea for a second blog that has yet to launch.  I have been displeased with the amount of effort I put into the design (with a designer) and less pleased with the overall results produced by the designer.  Lesson learned – every situation may require new perspective, different expertise.  A new designer is the avenue I am taking so have been researching other people out there.  I keep pushing myself to do things to create little changes.  Big changes are sometimes difficult to achieve in a short time.  Small changes are more readily tangible and can lead to the bigger changes.  I have been working on the way I think.  Letting go of some things, changing gears over here.  My brain is always churning and I find myself worrying for no other reason than my brain is working way overtime.  I am training my brain to do a 180. Stop, turn and go in the other direction.

After work I decided it would save time if I walked my dog in 7 degree weather in my suede booties rather than changing my shoes.  I figured I would be FINE since I was wearing Smartwool socks.  My socks may have been smart (love Smartwool) but that was the only smart thing.  I walked around the block – about 10 minutes outside – and I could feel numbness in my feet creeping up.  It started at the tip of my toes and by the time it reached the balls of my feet I dragged the dog inside and took off my boots.  I looked at my feet and my toes were freakishly white and without feeling.  I was sure my toes would fall off and I began to envision what it would be like without a big toe on my right foot.  My feet were freaky from the cold – if I were not grossed out by feet I MAY have taken a picture but I prefer feet covered up.  While half of my brain was coming up with toeless horror stories, the other half was trying to figure out how to fix my feet.  Instead of using Google, I got my hair dryer out (did you know in case of frostnip or superficial frostbite you should soak your feet in warm water? As later shared by someone who probably used Google when I shared my winter weather FAIL).  When the hair dryer failed to change the color of my toes, I just decided to put on heavy wool socks and my Uggs and hope for the best.  Meanwhile, the other half of my brain was preparing to go to the ER and figuring out if I could go to the ER without anyone in my family finding out I had tried to freeze my toes off my body.  Instead I went to my workout class, in Uggs, wool socks, sneakers in tow, and my closest thing to eskimo gear (no fur).  By then 45 minutes had passed and my toes were finally starting to look normal.  I decided perhaps horrific thoughts about my toes falling off were too extreme (pretty sure).  Though I tried to do a 180 degree change with my thoughts, though only half my brain was on board at that point. Hey change takes time!  However, the fact of the matter is, rather than going to worst case or most worrisome, it is most helpful to stop and switch directions and reign it all in.  Also when it is 7 degrees outside, it is far better to change one’s shoes.  I may be the only person who needed to learn that lesson today.  

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