Saturday, January 29, 2011

29 years, 29 reasons I am awesome

Last year I turned 28 on January 28th, which was considered my “golden birthday.” And it was. I spent the day at the fanciest hotel spa in town getting some kind of Ayurvedic balancing treatment and a facial and sipping a lemon drop in the lounge feeling so good… just peaceful and almost worry-free.

What I wouldn’t give to feel that way now, as I turn 29. Last year at this time I was so certain I was in the right place, on the right path, and everything was working itself out. This year, everything is a complete disaster and the only thing I know for sure is that I will never be so certain that I have everything figured out again, because I don’t. You never really do.

Time passes, you change, other people change, and you form different opinions, goals and desires. Things you wanted five years ago seem foreign to you now. At this time next year I’ll have a completely different life. I’m excited for the changes, but I’m also glad to know that if I end up hating the new life I’m creating for myself,  I’ll have the strength and the drive to pack up and create a new one. I can’t see that happening, but I also once said I could never see myself leaving North Idaho, either. Now I can’t imagine having one more birthday here.

Don’t get me wrong, yesterday was incredible. Two of my friends took me to breakfast where I had the self-indulgent and utterly delicious french toast stuffed with Nutella and bananas. My massage therapist friend brought his table to my house and gave me a free 90 minute massage which was the nicest thing he possibly could’ve done since I can’t afford to buy one right now.

Afterward, I promptly drew a bubble bath, poured myself a glass of wine, put a tiara on my head and a mud mask on my face. Later it was off to wine tasting with Mr. W and two of our friends followed by the most incredible dinner at our favorite Italian place. There were so many laughs and so many smiles as I checked my Facebook wall and saw the sweet messages. I may be in a weird spot right now but I’m wealthy in all the ways that matter.

Last year I shared the top 28 moments of my life. This year, I was going to write 29 wishes because that’s about how many huge things I want to achieve or have happen to me this year. But I can’t. I’m not ready to share them with the world. They’re personal and if they don’t happen I’d like to deal with them privately.

Instead, I’m going to make a list of 29 things I’ve learned to love about myself. And I encourage anyone who reads this to do the same, except don’t stop at 29… list as many as you can think of. If I’ve learned anything in 29 years it’s that learning to love yourself is the best gift you can give yourself and others. If everyone loved themselves, we wouldn’t feel the need to attack and judge others so harshly and worry about what they do in their private lives because we’d be so busy loving ours. It's taken me a long time, but today, I love me.

The very first thing I did yesterday morning was thank God for allowing me to be around to see another birthday. And when I checked Twitter a few minutes later and noticed this, I was glad I did:

 GenaMaree Got an email from a friend last night saying our dear friend passed away. He was our age -- 30's. Please pray about 3 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®Retweeted by LAidiot

We get so caught up in our daily problems and the small stuff that we forget there’s not much we’re guaranteed in this life. We never know what it will bring or how long we have, and we shouldn’t take anything for granted. I’ve got so much I want to accomplish and so much I want to change that it all seems overwhelming right now. At the same time, I’m grateful to have had 29 wonderful birthdays and for all the incredible moments (and even some of the not so incredible) moments in between. I’m not proud of every choice I’ve made or some of the qualities I have, but every mistake has been a lesson. And I love these 29 things about myself:

1) I am an excellent hostess. If you stay with me or attend a party thrown by me, you will have a good time and your comfort will be my highest priority.

2) I am not a flake. If I say I’ll be there, barring a catastrophic event, I’ll be there even if I don’t feel like it. If I can’t be there, I’ll let you know as soon as possible and my excuse will be real.

3) I take the best care of my husband when he’s sick.

4) I am blessed with the ability to think with my head, not my heart, on certain hot button social issues and the knowledge that just because something isn’t right for me doesn’t mean it’s not right for others.

5) I’m not afraid of public speaking. I went through my teenage years a fat, white, frizzy, pimply, miserable mess. No embarrassing thing that would happen with 500 pairs of eyes on me could be any worse than that. Bring it.

6) I  can write… damn it.

7) I have great curves I have learned to appreciate.

8) I genuinely love a lot of healthy food  just as much as junk. I allow myself plenty of both with little guilt.

9) I am forever a loyal Days of our Lives fan and I don’t give a damn what a single other person in the world thinks about it. 

10) I’ve got Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Elton John, Mozart, Beethoven, Bob Marley, Matchbox Twenty and European trance all smooshed together on my iPod like they all belong together… because in my mind, they do.

11) On that note, I’m not douchey about others’ musical tastes. No, I don’t care for some of the loud screaming rock bands or Avril Lavigne, but if you do, that’s awesome and you rock that stuff.

12) I have a wonderfully twisted sense of humor.

13) I can laugh at myself… and do, often.

14) I am an excellent kisser.

15) I can plan a wicked date night, party and the best vacation you’ll ever have.

16) I am passionate.

17) I am grateful for every little good thing that happens to me. It makes dealing with the bad stuff so much easier.

18) I am a good friend. This is not always true, but it’s true in general, so I’m counting it.

19) My social skills kick ass.

20) I will change my opinion if I’m presented with enough evidence/facts suggesting I’m wrong rather than just stubbornly insisting, “Nuh uh!” until I look like an idiot.

21) When I'm alone I sing in the shower and sometimes I let myself think it sounds really good.

22) I enjoy my own company enough to go to restaurants, movies, art galleries and wine tastings by myself. 

23) I am the best at thinking up the perfect come back to your snide comment or insult… hours after you insult me, but still.

24) I am not easily offended or overly sensitive. I used to be, so I worked to change it and it's something I'm very proud of.

25) I attract the best friends and the most incredible, fabulous people.

26) I don’t give a rat’s ass about football but I’ll pay just enough attention to engage in stupid banter because people I love do.

27) I treat my dog like a member of the family because he is.

28) I genuinely love to make other people feel special and appreciated.

29) I’m getting better at apologizing and forgiving.

Now, I'd better publish this post before I realize that I'm now 364 days from my 30th birthday and have an epic meltdown, forgetting everything I've learned.

What do you love about yourself?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ten Lessons of 2010

Just when you thought all of the touchy-feely pondery reflecty 2010 review blog posts were over, here I am with another one. But some things take reflection and reflection takes longer than one day… especially when that day involves a hangover. But I digress. Here, in no particular order, are ten big lessons I learned in 2010:

No matter how much you think you’ve got something figured out… you don’t. Ever. I started 2010 thinking I was going to stay in North Idaho for the rest of my life and that my marriage was pretty much perfect and had overcome every possible obstacle. Months later, I’d put my house up for sale and worked through more issues than Dr. Phil could imagine. Don’t become too set in your ways because you never know when you’ll change. Trust me. How you feel today may not be how you feel in a year.

I can do things I never thought I could, even things I thought were impossible. I’m still trying to get myself to believe this one, but I did several things in 2010 I never thought I could. We really are stronger and more powerful than we know. Don't sell yourself short. 

Things are rarely what they seem. I can’t get into detail here, but I got straight up bitch-slapped with this truth in 2010. No matter how perfect of a life someone lives and how together they seem to be, don’t be jealous… because you never know. Everyone is going through something, everyone has baggage, and the faces people present to the world often don’t reflect what’s going on inside. Chances are, the people you envy are envious of aspects of your life, too. 

You will never be a good friend, parent, partner or member of society if you don’t take care of yourself and put your well being first. However, you’ll never be complete if you only take care of yourself and don’t help others take care of themselves, too.

Wine is my friend. Hard alcohol is my enemy. But drinks like lemon drops and mojitos make it too good to give up entirely. So basically much more research must be done on this one.

A large group of people will believe anything if it’s shouted at them often enough and “backed up” with “evidence.” Take that however you want to interpret it.

Nothing is permanent, so don’t get too attached. There were a lot of changes in my life in 2010, and I don’t just mean the decision to sell my house and move. Couples broke up, people left, people lost and gained jobs, babies were born, people changed their lives. It’s human nature to fear change, but it’s so much easier if you embrace it and realize that it’s part of life and not necessarily a bad thing.

It is possible to still feel genuine lust for someone you’ve known for a decade and seen sick, tired, pale, and first thing in the morning. It's also possible to fall in love with the same person more than once.

Very few people are genuinely worth the energy it takes to maintain a true friendship. But when you find the few that are worth it, hold onto them and put forth that energy. A good support system, whether it consists of two people or ten, is vital to survival.

You can go on living after tragedy strikes… even the worst of the worst. I didn’t learn this by experiencing it myself last year, but by watching people I care about lose jobs and relationships and have loved ones die and pick themselves back up and carry on with grace and class. While I’d give anything to take their pain away, watching them handle life’s heartbreaks gave me confidence to know I will survive when the inevitable happens to me.

What did you learn in 2010?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Gym Etiquette... how to NOT be a rude freak of nature at a fitness center

Dear 2011 Resolutionists,

Congratulations on resolving to lose weight and workout this year. Seriously, that’s awesome and I wish you success. And while I admit I have complained in the past about the way you clog up my machines with your listless attempts and by January 31 you’re back in the couch eating your Fritos- and I’m annoyed I haven’t been able to secure a treadmill the last two days and like Forrest Gump I’ve just felt like running- overall, you won’t catch me giving you dirty looks and bitching about you. After all, you have as much right to be there as I do… and when you commit to a year at the gym, you help keep my membership costs down. So thank you.

That being said, we need to get a few things straight. It’s nothing personal, promise. There are some gym sins I’ve seen that are just not acceptable in our society. Newbies, you’re not the only ones who do this stuff, but I’m picking on you today so you don’t become the people who have worked out for 20 years and still do these things. Perhaps if I educate you now, you’ll change your ways early and eventually good gym manners will be standard practice. And then I’ll have created an entire generation of polite people. You can thank me later.

1) If you’re sick, please, please don’t come to the gym. I know a lot of colds and death flues are going around during the holiday season. I fell victim to a terrible cold on Christmas Day myself. It was a bummer. Guess what I did? Stayed home and sat on my butt for five days. Yes, I gained weight. Now I’ll lose it. That’s what a gym membership is for! I know a good sweat session helps rid your body of what’s plaguing it. I’m not entirely heartless. If you must workout when you’re not 100% healthy yet, at least refrain from blowing your nose while you’re on an elliptical machine. And ALWAYS refrain from blowing it into the effing sweat towel you are provided with! Yeah, I’m looking at you, shorts-and-a-hoodie douche from the gym today. That was not OK.

2) If you’re a “Here I am in all my glory, walking around naked and changing flamboyantly” type of gal, power to you. I’m the one changing in the corner with my back to you and a beach towel wrapped firmly around me as a shield because I am aware no one looks flattering in that lighting. If you choose not to do the same, I respect that and I’ll never judge you. But please don’t glare at me when I turn the corner and get a brief surprised look on my face. I don’t see 88-year-old breasts or 300 pound women every day. I’m sorry, OK? Feel free to do the same to me when I emerge from the steam room looking like Courtney Love after a particularly heinous bender.

3) And while we’re on the subject:  ladies, for heaven’s sake. It is NOT, under ANY circumstances, appropriate or acceptable to use the steam room or sauna nude without a towel! Are you kidding me? Did you parents never teach you about cooties? I could elaborate, but I won’t. Just don’t do it. Cover your bits for the sake of humanity. Please.

4) I hate to nitpick, but let’s not slam the weights, OK? I know sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, we lose our grip, we’re stronger than we realize and things get away from us. But if you’re doing a set of 20 reps, you should have it figured out by the third rep. If at rep 20 you still slam the weights, you need to exercise your mind as well as your biceps. Shorts-and-a-hoodie guy, I’m talking to you…again.

5) If you sweat on it, wipe it off.

6) The fracking Food Network on TV all the time! Seriously? If you’re not going to take this seriously, don’t bother.

7) Please note the sign outside the locker room that says “No children of the opposite sex allowed.” Now, I’m not heartless. If your little boy is two, it’s not a big deal and he needs help getting out of his pool arm floaties. If he’s old enough to peer at me curiously and grin while I’m changing, he’s old enough to know better and also scarred for life. Way to go. If he’s in grade school, he probably shouldn’t be in the women’s locker room for everyone’s sake.

8) Last but not least, don’t worry about me and the other grumpy insufferable A-holes that just want to do our cardio and get out of there. We likely haven’t had donuts in years and are just used to things being a certain way. We are not glaring at you because you’re fat. In fact, those of us with souls are thrilled you’re there and want to make changes. Just clean up the remaining sweat after you make the changes and you’ll be fine.


A gym rat

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Year of the Life Makeover

A wise young child (my nephew at age six) once told me that eleven was his favorite number. He said he liked the way it looked on paper, he liked the write it and he liked the simplicity of two ones together. His statement made more sense to me than anything I’d heard that day. Since then, I’ve liked the number eleven too. I’m not much of a numbers person. I hate Math and I don’t have “lucky” numbers. At least, I didn’t. I’m kind of hoping eleven is it. I really need this to be a good year.

I can’t say I wasn’t blessed in 2010 or that it was the worst year of my life (though it had its moments where I thought that). Any year that includes my husband and I realizing a decade-old dream and taking a cross country road trip together can’t be all bad. There was also the birth of my best friend’s baby, a couple of absolutely incredible trips to Vegas, getting a chance to perform the wedding ceremony of two good friends, an excellent writers’ conference, and plenty of good times with those I love with lots of laughter and cherished moments.

But there was a lot of bullshit, too. A lot of people I love got hurt deeply, whether it was a divorce or break up or losing a family member or friend. People I care about lost their jobs and suffered financial setbacks. I found myself questioning almost every decision I’d ever made and feeling lost. I once considered myself a positive person but 2010 really tested that for me. Actually, this rant is brilliant and pretty much sums up 2010 perfectly. Yes, it had its good moments, and I swear I am so thankful for those. But overall? Well… 2010 can go to hell.

2010 delivered its final punches to the gut on Friday. I got several pieces of bad news in a row… some that affects me directly, some just hurting those I love, but they all sucked equally. Halfway between Coeur d’Alene and Seattle, Mr. W and I realized we’d forgotten our tickets to today’s Seahawks game….the main reason we were heading to Seattle in the first place! Neither of us had ever done anything like that before. We couldn’t believe it. We turned around briefly, but we realized if we went all the way back, it would be after 10 PM before we even made it to Seattle. We had dinner reservations, plans to go to a party, and nonrefundable hotel reservations due to the holiday. We decided to just go and watch the game from a bar. Within minutes, he was laughing, but I burst into tears and was inconsolable until a text from my best friend Yennifer put it into perspective: “My new motto is, if nobody died, it’s probably OK!”

Though we left on time, somehow the trip ended up taking forever and we arrived at our hotel with very little time to get ready for dinner and the party. It was then that I realized I’d forgotten my sparkly dress at home. New Year’s Eve is like Halloween to me… I love to sparkle. Some kind of basketball team from Australia was there and all 5,000 of them happened to be checking in at the same time. The one elevator at this Quality Inn (“Quality” appears to mean something else to this owner)  is so slow, it was faster to haul our heavy bags up to the third floor. By the time we got to the room, I was almost in tears again and I was prepared to call the entire trip a disaster and ring in 2011 in my pajamas in the dive of a hotel room eating Ben & Jerry’s and crying.

But I remembered the words of my best friend and I called the restaurant, moved our reservation, got ready in record time, put together a decent outfit working with what I had, and before I knew it, we were sitting at the gorgeous CafĂ© Amore eating amazing Italian food and splitting a bottle of wine listening to the couple next to us have their third date and shooting each other amused smiles because a decade ago, we were that new couple trying to impress each other. Hours later, I welcomed the new year next to the man that I love at the apartment of some awesome friends with a perfect view of the impressive Space Needle fireworks. If that’s a disaster, I’ll take it.

I know today is just a date on a calendar and people tend to make a big deal out of this “new year” stuff. But given all the changes I’m making in my life this year, changes that start now, I’m all wrapped up in the hype. 2011 is the year of the Life Makeover for me, the year I take back the control I feel like I’ve lost and get my happy back. 2010 taught me that life really is too short to stick with something that’s not working and hoping it will just magically get better. Taking action is necessary, even when it feels overwhelming. It might just be a new day on the calendar, but it’s the day I started taking my life back. And so far, all 35 hours of my new life have been entirely free from disaster. So far, so good.   
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