Sunday, September 25, 2011

Goodbye 20s!

I don't mean the roaring 1920s that came to an abrupt halt when the Stock Market crashed in 1929.  Nor am I referring to the 2020s, because it hasn't happened yet obviously.  I mean *MY* 20s.

Today is my 30th birthday!

Turning 30 usually marks the time when your youth is gone and the ingress into adulthood truly begins.  One is generally becoming established in...well...something.  Some might accept the fact that some life dreams are just not going to manifest for them, while others take a drastic turn trying to knock as many things off their Bucket List as possible.

I am at a crossroads.  I have a few different paths I want to take myself in, and I know some of them will intersect, but not all.  It's more than a little frustrating.  Of course, it's not absolutely necessary to decide now, but I don't want to let some fabulous opportunities pass me by due to indecision.  It's that latter possibility that has me the most concerned.  But I digress.

I'm actually happy to see my 20s disappear into the abyss.  My 20s, overall, were terrible.  I spent more time trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be or wanted me to do than I did being true to myself and my dreams.  I mistook it all for sacrifice necessary for growth.  But I didn't grow, at least, not as in many positive ways as I would have expected.  I've done more of that in the last year than in the last 10.

No, I'm really looking forward to my 30s.  I no longer care if people take me seriously, I hardly do at times so why should I expect more from them?  But if I don't at least have someone's respect, then I move on.  I'm not going to waste my time proving or defending myself.  I have many accomplishments that reflect me well enough and I try to live my life with respect and compassion.  Eventually, people see that without much interaction.  Those who don't will entertain themselves for a time coming up with weird theories, I suppose.  Whatever makes you giddy.

I have lots of ideas for the future, and I'm so looking forward to seeing how some of them pan out...if at all.  I'm trying to remain open to the possibilities the universe presents and allow myself to take unexpected paths.

I really don't mind getting older.  As long as I take care of myself, surround myself with people I love and whom love me in return, work hard, play harder, and be absolutely present in today, I think I'm pretty solid until the day I pass from this world to the next.

But...I think I'll start off my initiation into real "adulthood" by reverting into childhood for a few days.

Because it's my fucking birthday and I'm a princess, and I can do whatever the hell I want!


<3 Mica

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Equinox

The autumn equinox is usually when my fellow Fresno residents behind to anxiously look forward to the cooler weather that fall is supposed to bring.  In about a week, we will have a taste of the dipping temperatures before it shoots up again to early summer standards in October.  It's annoying, but it happens every year.  By the end of October, I'll hear many friends complain about how it's "too cold" while others scramble to cover mouths of naysayers for fear of cursing the area with summer temperatures prematurely.

I'm pretty anxious for the chillier temps, myself.  I absolutely love the fall, followed closely in favoritism by winter.  Autumn inspires me.  When everyone is making their New Year's resolutions, I'm usually three months into mine and halfway through the uphill battle.  Most of the opportunities I manifest through the year are due to the seeds I plant in the fall, sometimes consciously, sometimes not.

This is that time of year when I really need to create.  I love to start new projects (which I am much better about finishing...eventually), learn new skills, and get myself in over my head so that I have to spend the first part of the following year paring a few things down to just the things I really love.  When most people are getting ready to hibernate, I'm out in the world trying to connect with others.

I'm not crazy, by the way.  The Autumn Equinox--which means equal (equi) night (nox)--is also known as Harvest Home and is the second Celtic harvest festival of the year (modern Pagans began referring to it as Mabon in the 1970s to disassociate it from present day Christianized festivals).  It's akin to America's Thanksgiving celebration.  In fact, the Europeans are responsible for bringing their celebrations of Thanksgiving to America, despite the fantastical pilgrim tales American school children are still told.

Autumn Equinox also marks the time when the sun moves into the constellation of Libra, the zodiac sign known for socialability, the pursuit of happiness, and purveyor of all things beautiful and aesthetically pleasing (to her, at least).  I'm an astrology nut, so blending this fact with the act of the harvest makes the idea of the Autumn Equinox the more suitable time for Thanksgiving in my opinion.  I'm sure if you look up your local community events during the month of September, you will find many equivalents of harvest festivals.

For many years, I would get together with close friends around the time of the Autumn Equinox.  We would cook a traditional American Thanksgiving meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, pies, and so on.  Before consuming our meal, we would all take turns saying something (or several somethings) about which we were thankful.  

Sadly, we haven't been able to get together in a couple years due to many scheduling conflicts.  All the same, I always have a list ready of the things for which I have immense thanks.

Every year, I look outside of myself and express my thanks for people, places, and things in my universe.  My family, friends, and cats are always at the top of my list, but this year, I'm going to turn on selfish mode and give thanks to me.

I'm thankful for the inner strength that I have cultivated that allows me to excel rather than just survive.

I am thankful for the wisdom I am gradually developing that helps me speak and act in compassion...most days.

I am thankful for my ability to be discerning about what truly serves my purpose and my life and what simply does not.  To take that a step further, my ability to then take appropriate (and hopefully compassionate) action in the necessary direction.

If you want to know a bit more about us crazy Libra's, Molly's Astrology has an excellent write up on the subject.  Or you can peruse Austin Coppock's more sardonic descriptions (I adore his weekly columns).

More information on what the equinox is celestially, modern Pagan holidays including "Mabon", and various cultural Harvest festivals in the English-speaking world at Wikipedia.

What are you thankful this year?  What traditions (mundane, religious, or otherwise) does your family employ this time of year?

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Doozy of a Week

Wow!  Where the heck did I go?  Well, I've been here, thinking about all of you.  I've been pretty focused on work the last couple weeks, a few big projects coming into production all at about the same time.  I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

Last week marked my fourth week on a Primal/Paleo diet.  This was the hardest week.  I wanted toast, garlic bread, tortillas, and noodles.  The first half of my week was full of falters in a time that I was hoping to knuckle down on such things.  I tried not to beat myself up too much.  At the end of the week, I lost another pound.

Aside from the weight loss, I feel better overall.  I don't have the afternoon crashes and I haven't had any episodes caused by having low blood sugar.  If I'm hungry, I acknowledge it and then I ignore it.  When I'm ready to eat my next meal, I'm hungry but I'm much less likely binge or overeat.  I feel satiated sooner.  Overall, I'm really satisfied with how I feel.  I'm going to continue attempting to lower my number of lapses.

Tuesday I went to the Central California Women's Conference with my mom.  Geena Davis was the keynote speaker at lunch and seeing her was pretty cool.  Unfortunately, she was so far away I had to watch her on a screen, so it wasn't like she was really there.  Nevertheless, she was very entertaining and I had fun hanging out with my mom.  But my mom and I both agreed that the conference lacked much in the way of substance.  I felt more like I was part of a live studio audience for an infomercial than a participant in a movement to give women better tools to succeed in today's world.  Pretty words won't do it, folks.  Over-used cliches and catchy phases (which weren't even original to the authors hawking them) began to put me to sleep about 15 minutes into the conference.  My mom's best idea of the day: play hooky and get margaritas!  I think we both had a good time hanging out together, and that's all that matters at the end of the day.

The following day my back was torn up.  I slept like the dead (from 7:30 pm Tuesday until 4:30 am Wednesday) and had been in the same position all night.  I went to work anyway and the pain would get better in the late morning and then get substantially worse in the afternoon.  I ended up just staying home Friday to give my muscles proper rest.  That helped, but I ended up pulling things again going into flight or fight mode several times through the course of Saturday night and Sunday morning due to a family emergency (everything is fine now, or will be soon enough).

Saturday I had the opportunity to volunteer for Central Valley's Pagan Pride Day.  I sadly didn't get to see any of the presenters due to schedule conflicts, but I did get to meet some amazing people, enjoy some great company, and see old friends.  The day was flawless and simply wonderful.  I'd especially like to thank a little boy named Edison for helping me so much at the Information Booth.  We both made each other's day a bit brighter.  There's a lot of potential in the community right now for more events and bigger festivals.  I'm excited to see how it blooms.

During the course of the day a couple people expressed interest in my yoga classes and a couple others suggested I teach bellydancing.  I'm absolutely elated and feel honored that they think I'm good enough of a dancer for such, but I don't know that I'm quite there yet.  Maybe, like with my yoga practice, adding bellydancing would help motivate and challenge me.  I don't know yet, but I'm seriously considering my options.

This coming week is going to be an interesting one.  My mom's birthday on Tuesday, and then mine on Sunday, and then my dad's a couple days later.  I'm going to look over the list of goals I made up sometime last year and see how I did and what needs to be adjusted.

No.  Scratch that.  I'm going to start fresh.  I'm going to make a list of goals, add steps I think will bring me closer to that goal, and throw in a list of projects (household or otherwise) I want to take on in the coming year.

Or maybe I will just supplement last year's list, afterall.  I think it will make a nice reminder of what I have accomplished over the last year.  I'm sorry, is my indecisive Libraness hurting your head, too?

Anyway, it should be interesting.  Even with the work and family crazies, I plan to make plenty of time to be introspective and think about where I want to take myself.

I hope your week is a happy one.  And don't forget, fall officially starts on Friday!  YAY!

P.S. Lookie!  I added photos!  Aren't you proud??  And they are MY photos!  That I took with my very own camera!  Enjoy it, because you know it won't last!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What I'm Doing with What I Learned

Earlier this week I recapped my experience being on my own for a couple weeks.  I had some expectations going into it, and I sort of surprised myself.  Looking back, I'm mostly disappointed I didn't make more out of my quiet time (see my note about TV watching), but since I was still doing something I enjoyed and feel passionate about I'm trying to appreciate what I did do with my time.

This week, I've tried to carry some things over in order to try to maintain the momentum that I had last week.  I developed some micro-actions and so far I'm pretty satisfied with my progress.

1. I take 15 minutes to myself when I get home.

When I get home from work, I am sometimes overwhelmed with a list of things I want to accomplish with my evening.  Sometimes just the act of walking in the door reveals a list I hadn't even imagined (the smell of soiled litter boxes, the garbage bins overflowing, the living room in disarray, a stream of dirty laundry littering the bedroom floor/bed/bathroom).  My only thought is on relaxing.  I make myself lie down and set the timer for 15 minutes so I can just relax.  Sometimes I may nap.  Sometimes I listen to Jeff talk about his day.  Sometimes I read.  Sometimes I stare at the ceiling and think about my day and what I want to do next.  Whatever I'm doing, I'm reclined and taking time to transition from my work life to my home life.  Last night, Jeff wanted to have dinner ready when I got home, but I stuck to my 15 minute plan (and I felt a million times better for it).  I felt a little guilty about it, but the boys have plenty of snacks available to tide them over until I'm ready for dinner, too.

Making a conscious decision to take time to slow down and be present after a busy or stressful day has been the biggest benefit to me overall.  I feel much more focused and balanced in the evening.

2. I do my house chores immediately after dinner.

Right after dinner before all the food has dried onto plates and kitchen surfaces is the best time to clean up.  It only takes a few minutes and I can usually get one or both the boys to help me with the process (making it even quicker).  Usually right after dinner everyone breaks to do their own thing, so it's the perfect time for me to be on task and without too many distractions to pick up the house, take out the garbage, and clean the cat boxes.  Since Jeff is still getting used to his new job and schedule, he isn't able to help out as much around the house, but it hasn't been too much of a burden on me with my after dinner clean up plan.  I actually work a little more efficiently when he is out of my way!

It only takes me 15, 20 minutes at most, and soon I can relax in an orderly home rather than fuming about the long list of to-dos that I'm overwhelmed with.

3. When I'm done with everything, I do what I want to do with my time, rather than what I think I should do.  And enjoy every moment of it.

Aside from work and chores, I always have a ready supply of projects I have committed to either to myself or to others.  Because I am not feeling overwhelmed by what *needs* to be done, I appreciate my commitments a lot more.  I'm finding more enjoyment in my projects, even though they may be considered "work."  I work on what I feel motivated to work on rather than what I think I *should* do.  Otherwise, I have noticed I will develop resentment for a project and find that I'm not able to give it the attention it needs or deserves.  Sometimes this means I'm not making the progress I would like to on some things, but if I'm not enjoying the time I'm spending doing it then it's not worth my time.

Maintaining passion for how I spend my time is a priority in and of itself rather than the specific project it drives.  Even if that means "wasting time" on the couch watching a talent competition on television with my love.  Plus it gives my cats good lap time opportunities, and there's nothing bad about that.

I realize there are going to be days where I can't spend 15 minutes relaxing.  I may not be able to get to the chores right away after dinner.  Some nights I'll have to do something out of obligation rather than desire.  My hope is that I keep the real priorities in mind and maintain a balanced life overall.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy September!

I sincerely apologize for my absence lately!  I've been a bit overwhelmed for reasons I will go over in posts over the next couple of weeks.  Be assured, they are mostly of my own making.

I cannot believe how quickly August came and went.  August is probably my most loathed months of the year (if I must choose).  It's the hottest month and marks the end of "lazy" summer days.  It's also been historically the hardest for me emotionally.  "Bad" things always happen this month that shake up my universe.  This year was no different, but notably not as dramatic as some years past.

I've been mostly keeping busy with work and some personal projects.  Since Jeff was away for training for the last two weeks of the month, I spent a lot of time alone.  I had invites from friends so I wouldn't feel lonely, but I politely turned most of them down in order to experience that alone time.  The results were kind of interesting.

1. I work really well by myself.
My first night home I went nuts on the kitchen.  I went shopping, cleaned out the fridge, prepped meals, took out a bunch of garbage, put away a bunch of things, and brought general order back to the realm.  Yes, I maintained the orderliness for the whole week.  I washed dishes at night and put them away in the morning while the water for my coffee boiled.  I cooked most of my meals (and always cleaned up afterwards).  I was rather proud of this momentum.

But most of my cleaning was done by Sunday or Monday night.  I just didn't have that much to do through the rest of the week.  I did bits and pieces here and there, but when I am by myself I just hustle and get things done so I can enjoy the rest of my time.

2. I watch more TV than I would have liked to admit.
I had lots of things I wanted to do like organize the garage, minor gardening, organizing things for a yard sale. But all I really wanted to do was play with yarn.  I made a lot of progress on a blanket I've been working on, and that's best paired with watching TV or listening to audio books (I've been listening to Good Omens at work while working on a scarf commissioned almost a year ago).  I only feel a little bad about this because I was technically productive on a long-term project and I was doing something that made me happy.

I guess I pictured myself deep in some meditations or intensive yoga practice or something all week.  I did well on incorporating yoga in the first week but had some difficulties during the second week.

3. I'm less swayed by temptation when I'm on my own, but I won't exercise more.
I lost about three pounds across both weeks.  I wasn't pure Paleo but I did make a lot of changes.  When Jeff was in town for the weekends we ate out at restaurants a lot, and I made a lot of excuses to myself why "splurging" on grains and sugars was okay across two or three days when I only planned on allowing three "off" meals for the week.

I only formally worked out (I don't really count yoga for this) twice.  I planned to go back to Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred just doing one eight-minute circuit per day to keep things quick and simple.  I did one circuit in the first week and one circuit in the second week.  I need someone to motivate me, challenge me, or something.

The two weeks proved to be an interesting experiment.  I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to be on my own and get to know myself better.  I have a lot still to think about as a result of the time to myself, but all things will work themselves out...eventually.  For now, I'm glad to have my Jeff back and thrilled to finally see the boy this week.

Now, onto September, the infamous birthday month for me and my family ('s ridiculous).  It's going to be a crazy month, to be sure, but I'm looking forward to that craziness.