Archive for April, 2012

April 12, 2012

Racing Thoughts Late At Night

Last night, I came home from class beyond exhausted. It was 11:40 when I walked into the door. I was so happy to see my dogs, who clearly are barely living a full life unless they are following me around the apartment. I was even more excited to see William, who was barely awake.

Only a few more weeks of the double agent lifestyle…unhappy government contract support by day, stressed design student by night. School ends the 9th. 9 days after that, the job I begrudgingly came to for the past three years will end as well. I’ve quit my job to travel, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve sworn off new clothes, taken up afternoons at the gym, and gave up drinking anything but wine once a week in a Lent related attempt to save money and my health. I still haven’t had a beer yet. I excitedly shared my plans with everyone in my world. I can’t believe that I, a self-professed home body, will spend 2 months (I miscounted I’m actually away for a week longer than I thought) away from my home, my love, my family, friends, and 2 dogs, in the name of…my own dreams.

I laid awake in my bed until 12:30. Why do I feel guilty for following my heart? I lay in my bed, thinking about how I am not the only person sacrificing things for my dream. Darkness, laying beside me, is supporting my decision in more ways than one. He loves me so much that he is telling me to do whatever I feel called to do, because he would never want me to regret a thing, especially while we plan our future lives together. I am really grateful to have him, because I know he is the best.

I think about the people who accuse me of being crazy. How they think I am unstable. Who would give up the financial security? Squander their savings? Delay dreams of buying a home in this already tough economy?

I think about how I have spent countless moments crying, stressing, clenching my teeth, wishing for more time, hating my work day, crowing about how there is ever time for the things that make me happy. I think about the people who will never get to experience anything but hardships far worse than my own. I think about  my my best friend, Jessica,  gone to soon, and how she would never waste her life in a place she wasn’t meant to be.

Then I think about how I am a girl with nothing to lose. I think about how I’m not sure of everything I want out of life, but after spending nearly all of my 20’s listening to other people, and adapting their version of happiness, I think I owe it to myself to take the time to figure out what my version is.

I can assure you, this picture was taken while I was experiencing a moment of sheer joy.

I can assure you, this picture was taken while I was experiencing a moment of sheer joy.

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April 11, 2012

Inspired Cooking

The past few years, Easter dinner has been far less fancy of an affair as it once was. My mom used to go all out- ham, sides, snacks, deserts- but not anymore. I can respect her reasons.

Quite simply put, she is just tired and doesn’t feel like cooking.

We have ended up at the Macaroni grill the past two or three years. My parents don’t know other places ( not for my lack of suggesting) that they can get a decently priced Italian (faux ) dinner, without driving all over God’s green earth. On a normal night, I wouldn’t be like “OOOO let’s go there!” but there could be worse places. My grandmother is a big Red Lobster fan (REALLY!?!?! Are we related?!?!) and my parents are pretty much over that, I think. They put the kibosh on Red Lobster requests.

After I tried ordering some sorta pasta that tasted like what I imagine sock broth and chicken with wet rubber would taste like, I glanced across the table at my sisters simple pasta dish. Capellini Pomodoro. Deliciously simple- thin angel hair, fresh tomato sauce with basil and a touch of mozzarella. I did something I almost never do. I told the waiter that I just didn’t like it, and I asked him to please hook me up with whatever my sister is eating. He happily obliged, saying he’d rather I be happy. Bless that man, cause I really was. It tasted way better than the hot ass mess I was eating only moments before, and it was very well made. I promise to stop badmouthing Macaroni Grill and putting it in the same category as The Olive Garden (not happening).

Anyways, I left my leftovers out on the kitchen counter, and I got all pissed off, and decided to make my own damn capellini pomodoro. I loved it. It was delicioso. And then I also made a chocolate cake (of which I have had the teeniest tiny-est slice).

Check it out.

 

Um yeah I do have a double chin here...so what?

April 8, 2012

The Easter Edition

Happy Easter! No better day that to make a new promise to yourself, renew old ones, or seek forgiveness.

I was raised in a very Catholic household and went to Catholic school until I graduated High School. Somewhere after, things changed. I still have faith in God, but I can’t  say my faith in the church I grew up in is the same. Whatever that may mean, I know for sure that the main values I hold are still the same. Also, I still feel compelled to follow the biggest of traditions I grew up with, and Easter is no exception. I  still wanted to give up something for Lent this year. I still believe in God, and I love Him. I’m blessed, I’m appreciative, and I have to say, my relationship with Him is on the mend. Anyways…

Many of you know how much I love a good beer. Particularly the nice, thick, fatty ones. Hops. Chocolate Stouts. Dark brown ales. I love them. They are a staple in my life like bread, milk, and eggs. That isn’t particularly healthy, in more ways than one. It might not have seemed like a big deal for some, but giving up beer was hard. It is a recreational thing that I love, and had often when socializing and spending time with family and friends. When you have something readily available all the time, you take it for granted. I wanted to spend some time with my friends and family and not use beer as a social tool. I’m not in college- I don’t need to act like it.  I gave up liquor because it wasn’t that big of a deal to me but I allowed myself wine once a week. I rarely had wine unless It was something I really wanted, or if I was sharing it with my best friend. I also found new ways to relax after coming home from a stressful day. I went to the gym or walked longer with the dogs. I read more. I spent a lot less money, and even lost more weight spending the past few weeks away from my hoppy frothy friend. I did cheat on St. Patricks day, but 2 beers is a drastic cut from my normal celebrations.

I also made a promise to love my body more and treat it like my biggest investment. That meant all of it.  If my body is my temple, I had been treating it like a run down church in a strip mall, in dire need of repair. I got back on weight watchers, got back in the gym, and stopped disparaging myself at every turn. I also came to make some huge decisions about my personal happiness and what life path was best for me. I definitely wasn’t on it! All in all, I feel like I had an amazing Lenten season. I feel better on the inside, and out, although I still require a lot of repair 🙂

BTW, No. I have not had a beer yet. lol. Now a margarita? That’s another story….

April 5, 2012

Who’s business is it?

This week seems to be a really angry week. People are just mad as hell. I don’t know if it is in the air, or perhaps its a culmination of everyone’s stresses, but the air is thick with tension in so many of the places where I have to be this week.

It is so difficult for people to be productive in an environment where people are angry. It creates this hostility that makes people unfocused and aggressive.  That kind of emotion can be infectious! I always feel like when people are angry as hell, it makes everyone else around them angry. How can you remain calm or happy when someone right next to you is in a state of distress?

This may be a problem that is unique to me, but I suspect it isn’t. I admit, I am very sensitive to other people’s moods. Its one of the reasons why I use the wall off technique to protect myself. When I feel like I am at risk of being affected by someone’s stank ass attitude, I have a tendency to keep to myself. Sometimes, however, I can’t help but let the stress of my own business mingle with other people’s stresses, and I crack. I’m not a fortress.

I think of Byron Katie.

I’m not a self help person at all- I think self help is often a way of rephrasing shit you already know. Most people are very well aware of their baggage, but like to hear it addressed in different ways. To me, that’s self help. I can honestly say that Katie’s self help movement, called “The Work,” has been different. While I don’t take everything she is so personally, I have to say that her theory on staying in your OWN business  is difficult, but necessary.

I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s. (For me, the word God means “reality.” Reality is God, because it rules. Anything that’s out of my control, your control and everyone else’s control — I call that God’s business.)

 

She breaks it down to say that YOUR business is the only business you should be in.

Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself, I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation.

If you are not minding your OWN BUSINESS, your life can fall by the wayside. You aren’t taking care of yourself. You are putting too much feeling into someone else’s well being. It’s like robbing yourself.

 

If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We’re both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn’t work. To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for myself? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you.

 

Boom. Katie drops that knowledge and it makes perfect sense.  She isn’t saying to not care about other people, but if you are stressed out about other people’s shit to the point where you can’t help yourself, then its time to re-evaluate.  Don’t self yourself short and side track yourself.

I feel like I need to read this at least once a day so that I never forget that my business is what’s important.

April 1, 2012

I’m going to do WHAT?! (Part One)

Earlier this week I publicly announced something I’ve been so excited to share. I’m quitting my job in May, and going to Costa Rica. I find myself to be an open minded person- someone who is able to think outside of the box, question things rather than accept them at face value, and go through the trouble of seeking my own answers. It’s my inquisitive nature that has lead me to make this major, major change in my life.

How did I arrive at this decision?

I have spent much of my adult life in conflict with myself. I feel like I have an explorer’s spirit who is being stifled by an extremely practical logic (Is that partially my parents influence? Very likely). I have long wanted to pack up a bag or two, and take off to another country with the goal of experiencing the language, the people, and the journey of being on my own in an unfamiliar place. I have a very tight knit family While I’m grateful for their guidance, I think I owe it to myself to get in touch with my adventurous side before marriage and kids come into the picture. Those major milestones are on the horizon, and I wanted to experience more travel and adventure before I settled into the domestic life I have always dreamed of with William. I want no regrets.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching other people do what they felt called to do. I sat around thinking, “I can’t do that. I have a job and bills I have to pay.” But when everyone else is having the experience of the life time, and you are standing by green with envy, something in you snaps and says, “Why NOT me?!”

Work life became something I hadn’t experienced before. It was to the point where I didn’t want to get out of my bed in the morning, and I would be angry and aggressive on Sundays, knowing I had to spend the next 5 days at a place where I wasn’t learning anything or playing well with others. I felt depressed. Here I am, trying to be the best adult I can be, and I just can’t cut it. This couldn’t be all there is to adulthood, right? Graduate school provided some relief, but I also felt that my job left me so stressed at the end of the day, I couldn’t even concentrate on my schoolwork. 16 hours a day in front of a computer left me aching for change. Everything, including my health, began to suffer- anxiety, a HUGE weight gain, and constant tension headaches were some of the the things building up, adding to my unhappiness. I know there are always personality challenges and bad days at work, but this was beyond my realm of experience.

All the while I kept looking at other jobs, study abroad programs, travel programs and other escape routes. I’d plan them to the tee, then never hit the purchase button, of course. I could hear my parents echoing the same thing they had always said, “you can’t quit your job Crystal. You need to work. Sorry.” The assumption that I didn’t want to work was frustrating. Of course I want to work! I just want my work to be fulfilling and challenging. My parents would say, “if you get a federal position, you need to just take it.” Sorry, no. I don’t think so. I didn’t pursue a Master’s degree in Design to have no job growth for the next 40 years.

I reached my breaking point a few months ago when a coworker who I have always had tense interactions with stood over me, in my face, yelling. I called William frustrated and crying and said something I’ve blurted many times before. “I’m Done.” This time, however, I really meant it. A coworker violating my personal space was something I am NOT putting up with. No one should. What I also realized is that while she may have someone “talk to her” about her behavior, she would never really be apprehended.

That day, I made the decision that I was ready to move on. There are certainly people I love dearly where I work. Many of them are like family members I fight with and then we have a great, while other experiences are completely unacceptable in any work place. I just felt that after having worked there on and off since I was 19 years old, it was certainly time for me to move on. It was changing who I am. I’m a happy person, who has a lot to be grateful for in life, and I was no longer reflecting that part of myself. I was becoming too sensitive, too on edge, and too unhappy. When I walked out of there knowing I was ready to leave and put my notice in soon, I felt lighter and happier than I had in years. I was finally free of it. Why had I waited so long?

I realized that every time I have ever been unhappy in my life, it it has been because I have pursued SOMEONE ELSE’S version of what my life should be like. I have to stop feeling like I need other people’s approval to be happy and pursue what I want to do. I’m excited to be doing something I’ve dreamed about for so long! What makes this adventure even better is that when I told my family about my plans, they were actually being supportive, and William couldn’t have been a better cheerleader (add that to the reasons why I love him).

While I am heading into some scary and unfamiliar territory, I couldn’t be more excited!!! There are so many amazing things coming up. I can’t wait to share it here on my blog with everyone, and I hope you all stay tuned 🙂