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Monday, August 24, 2009

Celebration!


Yesterday was my 31st birthday. As you all know, hubby and I have been saving money so I expected breakfast in bed or dinner out at a nice but reasonably priced restaurant. I got up (after lingering in bed for a while), took a shower and planned to hop online to find good restaurants close to home. When I got out of the shower, I saw a birthday card propped up against my cat (who was surprisingly cooperative in not shredding it to pieces). I smiled, gave hubby a kiss and picked up the card. I took it downstairs with me and sat it on the couch while I booted up my computer. After clicking the button to log onto the internet, I opened the card. It was filled with the sweet sentiments and cute line drawings I have come to expect from him. Something new was written in the corners of each page of the tri-folded card though: "But wait...there's more!" It beckoned me like an infomercial to keep reading and then, under the corner of the decorative paper inside of the card, I found 2 tickets for In The Heights! I screamed. Literally. I saw a special on this show before it opened and knew I had to see it. I have been talking about it for over a year but it was hard to get tickets after it won the Tony. The closest I got was when my old firm took our summer associates (law students working (and getting wined and dined) for the firm as interns) to the show last year. I was on my honeymoon so I missed it (not that I would trade that situation). Anyway, I was finally holding the tickets in my hands and we were going to see the show.
We got dressed, headed to church, came home, changed and headed to midtown Manhattan. We had dinner at a place we used to go to when we first started dating. After dinner with a whopping side of nostalgia and a couple of potent cocktails, we headed to the show. As we sat there waiting for the lights to dim, an usher approached hubby who must have looked uncomfortable in the close together seating and asked if he wanted to move to another seat. "Sure," he said and we followed the usher to BOX SEATS RIGHT BY THE STAGE. Seriously, we were practically on the stage!!!! I loved every moment of the performance. For a synopsis check this site: It touched me, it inspired me, it made me dance in my seat. If you can see it, go! Ok...I think you get the picture. After the show, we met friends for a drink and then headed home. Hubby was in the driver's seat and I was somewhere on a cloud...ok, that's cheesy...somewhere in a heightened state of happiness? No? Well, you get my point. I started the day being truly thankful for all that I have. I was sitting in church in full acceptance of where I am and finally appreciative of all of it...I was in the same place last week and just like that, my life started to change. I don't have a job yet but I know the right one is coming. I may have a solution to my townhouse issue because of the love and generosity of my mom. I have a new computer and can do much more writing. I saw a dream fulfilled on my birthday. I am in a zone of appreciation for all that I have been given in this life. As I go through my 31st year (and every year that I am granted after that), I will try to be in this place as much as possible. It is only when you are thankful for what you have that you will be trusted with more!! It's not profound but it IS true!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Think Happy Stuff



So...I'm turning 31 tomorrow. How was 30? Well, I could say it was a year of a torn achilles, multiple computer crashes, a health relapse and a lost job BUT, it was also the year I got married, was the healthiest I've been in 3 years, and found out that there are more important things in life than a big paycheck. I lived through a lot in my 30th year and some of it will carry over into my 31st but I will say that I am better for all of it. Life is all about how you look at things. All considered, 30 was pretty great and I am looking forward to finding out what this next year has in store now that I know myself a lot better. At the end of the day, its all about how you think about things. I got a great gift in the mail today that sums it up wonderfully. Its a coffee mug from Think Happy Stuff, Inc. and it says "Change your thinking, change your world." First, THANKS RR!!! Second, who knew there was a company out there focused on happy thoughts! I never would have known if I hadn't gone through all of this. Sadly, I would be trudging forward on my old path and falling deeper into misery. At the end of last year, if someone had told me to think happy thoughts when I was in the midst of work-induced hell, I would have told them to bite me. In starting my new journey, I have learned a lot about how happy thoughts can change your outlook and your situation. I have nothing to do with Think Happy Stuff, Inc. but I feel like people should spread the word about them. Visit their site and buy some products(they donate a percentage of their proceeds to non-profits "who are committed to lots of really good stuff"). Good thoughts really do change your world and makes you appreciate all that you have even more. Life brings storms but when the dust settles, you realize that things aren't as bad as they could be and there really is a lot of happy stuff to focus on.

-This post was made possible through the generosity of my Mom (thanks for the new laptop!!!) and her loving friend (thanks for introducing me to Happy Stuff RR!!).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Overdue Explanation


I have been asked to explain the name of my blog quite a few times since starting it. Before butterflies are fully matured, they are caterpillars. They mature and grow a tremendous amount. Despite this growth, they are still not fully formed. To achieve their full potential, they have to go through a resting stage in a cocoon. When they are ready, they emerge in their full glory. So, this blog is a journal of my resting stage. I grew to a point and then circumstance changed the direction of my journey. Now, as I try to figure out my next steps and my place in this world, I am in life's cocoon. I am bound by my circumstances but I am changing inside and out. All of the drama is working together to turn me into a new, brighter individual.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. ~Richard Bach

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Divine Plans

Accepting the reality that our plan and God's plan are not always the same is a jagged little pill. We pray to whatever God we worship or ask the Universe (if you are a believer in The Secret) for the things that we think will make our lives great and wait for divine favor to work for us. A published book, a new job, a comfortable place to live, financial security...all of them have been part of my prayers throughout my life and given my current circumstances, this stuff of life is all I can focus on as of late. Then, on Sunday, I went to church and the message was about being able to accept that our idea of a good life is not always the same as God's idea. I often think it should be that easy. Pray for the desires of your heart and you shall see them come to pass. Then I remember that many great spiritual teachers were poor, homeless and often engaged in an extended fast. Reality sets in. God doesn't care about my townhouse the way I do.

I pout and I wonder why it can't always be easy. Sometimes, I feel like a trust fund or a lottery win would make things all better...or at least a lot less stressful. You can substitute your desire for the money in the previous sentence based on your circumstances. The point is that we have all thought that things would be better if I had...If it was as easy as praying with faith, we would all have what we wanted. But would we be better? Though I cringe to say it, I think not. If our desires were only a genie bottle like request away, we would never grow. We would be content in our existence until we hit a road block. Rather than putting forth the effort to get around the road block, we would just rub our metaphorical genie bottles and change our circumstances. Block in the road? Here's a new road. Your wish is my command. I mean no offense to The Secret and its "Your Wish Is My Command" philosophy but I don't see how life can be all straight roads and happily ever afters. Proponents of positive thinking would call me an unbeliever and tell me that my doubts are why I am still struggling. I say to heck with that. I do believe that good things will come to me if I remain positive and put out good energy. I also believe, however, that everything I want out of life might not be what I am meant to have. Maybe real growth or true spirituality stems from accepting that and being greatful anyway. Sure, I don't have a job despite hundreds of resume submissions, numerous recruiter meetings and countless hours of prayer. I don't have the money to buy and renovate my townhouse. I have an incurable illness. I haven't heard back from any of the publishers or agents that I contacted...BUT, I made it through 30 years of life. I had a job that I hated but taught me a lot about standing up for myself and taking control of my career. I wanted to be a lawyer from the time I was 8 years old and I became one. I met and married a wonderful man despite years of throwing fish back into the ocean. I have what I am convinced is the best family around. I love my friends and they support me even when I might not deserve it. I was in remission and though I am not anymore, I am on medication and it seems to be working. I have a cat that still likes to cuddle up next to me after 11 years. I have the chance to re-start my life at 30. I will be 31 next week and I am greatful that I have had this time out to work on being me.

Yes, I am still struggling to figure out what life had in store for me. But, I would imagine that achievement without struggle or effort can feel hollow. I say I imagine because I have never gotten to the next rung on life's ladder without some serious effort and often, some serious waiting (save for gifts given on special occasiions).
Things are not perfect. In fact, parts of my life have totally crumbled but sometimes, things crumble around us so we can pick up the good and salvegable pieces and re-build. Someone pass me a hammer and nails.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Behind Door # 1

As you know, I started volunteering a little over a week ago. In that time, I have noticed that the doors of many of the offices at the agency I'm working for are decorated with small sachet-like door hangers that say things like "Peace," "Love" and "Joy." It got me to thinking. What if it was that easy to find one of those emotions. Feeling stressed? Choose the door that says "Peace" and go inside. Sad? Don't worry. Joy is just behind the door at the end of the hall. Unfortunately, life isn't quite that easy BUT perhaps, we can accomplish the same results within ourselves. Arm yourself with positive thoughts that you can go to in any situation. Find solace in a friend. Pray. Count to 10. Take a deep breath. Scream. Check you aggravation at the front door of your house and find joy in the loved ones (or silence) just over the threshold. Do whatever you need to do to get past the emotion that's troubling you. At the end of your life, the time you spent seeking peace will be worth much more to you than the time spent mired in negative energy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rainy Season

Last week, I finally fulfilled a promise to myself and started volunteering during my unemployment. I applied at a couple of places but, like most jobs I applied for, I never heard back from anyone. Last week, I finally heard from an agency that assists abused women and children. I went in for an interview on Thursday and I started on Friday. I'm just doing office work at the moment but I feel good about helping others and getting outside of my thoughts. Its also nice to see people working in jobs that they are passionate about. Don't get me wrong. There are still office politics and people still disagree on administrative things but everyone seems passionate about the common goal. Its a nice contrast to my last workplace where the only thing most of my colleagues were working towards was their own success.

My new position also comes complete with new kid novelty. I'm something different so people like to talk to me. Two have offered to give my resume to people they know and one likes to talk about why I became a lawyer in the first place. It is working to give me some perspective on the law and working in a firm. It comes at a perfect time because last week also led me into a meeting with a recruiter that is confident that he can place me at a firm. He, of course, said I should have found him months ago and he would have placed me right away. Now, his obstacle is that I've been out of work for a few months. He's still pumped and ready to get me a job and get himself a hefty commission. His confidence is refreshing after months of hearing, "Oh, you went to Pace. That's...well...I'll see what I can do." At the same time, I'm afraid. If I get an offer from a large firm, I'll jump at it. Let's be honest, I need the money. I also feel like everything happens for a reason. I talked to my best friend and she noted that my declaration that I would take another large firm job despite my fear of jumping back into the 7th circle of Hell (ok...maybe I'm exagerating a tad) is me putting a price on my happiness.

In a way, I agree but why is there such a negative connotation to that? I mean, of course, in an ideal world, money wouldn't be an issue and we could all say that we choose happiness over long hours worked in pursuit of someone else's bottom line. But, does happiness have to be the enemy of the paycheck? I am not exactly passionate about corporate law BUT I am miserable about not working and consequently, not earning. Also, I don't know that a new firm will be totally miserable because it will be a whole new set of people.

All that's not uncertain at the moment is my desire to buy my current townhouse, having and raising kids in a financially stable environment, starting a scholarship fund for underprivileged high schoolers, and traveling. I want to write books and focus on philanthropy. Clearly, I have big dreams. They are not impossible...indeed, they are common, but New York State unemployment is not going to fund any of it. So folks, assuming that Mr. Aggressive Recruiter drops a job in my lap, I'll be jumping back into firm life. Everything has a season and a purpose. I've been struggling over the past few months but I've been keeping track of the lessons I've learned. I am not as wasteful. I am mindful of the difference between what I need and what I want and I am a lot more comfortable with putting my foot down when it comes to protecting my own needs. If this is my season to focus on earning money so I can get closer to my dreams, then I'll call it a rainy season and try to distract myself from the gray skies by maintaining a sunny disposition. From this moment, no matter where I land, I'm not saving for a rainy day, I'm saving for a sun-filled life.

All that said, I still don't know what's coming. I don't have any offers yet. The difference between now and last week is that if I'm led to a firm job, I'm convinced it's where I'm supposed to be for now. I'm not selling my happiness to the highest bidder. I'm buying my peace of mind with the work that I'll do. Having suffered through these jobless months, I can confidently say, its worth every minute. Of course, that lottery win everyone dreams about would be really nice too.