Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Playlist

There are certain songs that just scream Summer to me. The songs on today's playlist are a tribute to the sunny, beach days and the laid back barbecue dinner and cocktails outside and fun times with friends. To sand between my toes, hammocks, palm VACATION! Happy Friday!! Cheers!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Finding Your Ideal Job

This post could also be called Finding Your Purpose. Don't worry, it won't be a long, preachy dissertation on finding your way.  It's actually advice that I thought was really practical and had to share. I was listening to the Elvis Duran show on my way to work a couple of weeks ago. They were interviewing "Tito" Beveridge II--the creator of Tito's Handmade Vodka (the Vodka of choice in my house). First, can I just say that he couldn't have a more perfect name for the beverage industry. Now, on to his advice.

When asked how he found his way to working what most would see as a dream job (and he sees it that way too), he said he got out a sheet of paper and made 2 columns. One was for listing things he liked to do and the other was for what he was good at. In doing that, he came to the realization that he wanted his own beverage company. He ultimately did just that and by his account, he lives everyday loving what he does. 

See! Practical not preachy, right? This exercise was great for me because it gave a really concrete way to  shine a spotlight on what I want to do with my life. When you have time, you should try it for yourself.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Playlist

On Monday (May 20, 2013), tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. Last week, there was tornado destruction in Texas. Today's playlist is dedicated to all of the victims with a special emphasis on Oklahoma. To all of those that are grieving or making plans for rebuilding in the wake of natural disaster: you are in my prayers. God bless.

If you can't get to Oklahoma but want to help, you can look for local organizations or donate to larger agencies. Here are a couple of links:

Red Cross volunteers go to the scene of a disaster to help victims with immediate needs, such as food, shelter, health/emotional health assistance. They also handle blood donations/distributions and feed emergency workers and volunteers. You can donate $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999 or you can visit their website to donate larger amounts.

The Salvation Army will be providing thousands of free meals a day to Tornado affected areas as well as assisting with other needs of storm victims. You can donate $10 by texting STORM to 80888 or you can visit their website to donate larger amounts.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Monday Quotable

This quote is motivation to stop worrying and dwelling. Live life in the present. Be in the moment and try to be as free as you can in that moment. Choose what you love over what pays the bills (well, unless paying the bills is what you love). The truth is all of our journeys come to an end at some point. I want to leave a glowing golden streak on the world. Blazing that trail of light isn't going to be done from behind a desk doing something I am not passionate about. What I do from behind that desk too often feels dim and small. I want bigger things for myself.

Of course, there is always a need for balance. I can't just run off into the sunset and pretend I don't have responsibilities and goals that require some of what I'm learning now. It's a process, but I have to keep grabbing the building blocks and stacking them in my favor. I can't be stagnant and just wait for life to happen. I have to go after the next building block rather than waiting for it to come to me.

What does all this esoteric babbling mean? In part, it means it is late and I've had a long day that was mentally and physically tough (I got through an emergency work issue that lasted from 6:30 am until 8:45 pm and I did it from the infusion unit at HSS on about 4 hours of sleep--fail in terms of self care). On the other hand, it means I'm refocused on following the steps:

Goals. Plan. Execution. Next level. Start again. Always growing towards making a life out of my passion projects. And with that, it is 1:31 am and I am putting this day to bed. Nite.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Playlist

I keep a running list of songs in my notes app...this week's list is a collection of those songs and a few that I put in because I had them on repeat this week (specifically Emeli Sande and Nikki Williams). It's an eclectic mix...that's cute speak for "It is all over the place!" Here's the Mixed Messages playlist. Enjoy it (tablet and smartphone readers who can't see the player, just click the Grooveshark playlist link). Happy Friday!!!

Don't forget to check out everything else going on around here this week:

See that navigator bar up at the top? Click the links!! If you're an tablet or smartphone reader, never fear, here are some links:

Check out the latest Spring Cuisine, Kitchen Nightmares, and Friday Happy Hour posts at Scalded Pot and then hop on over to Red Jeans for the latest Accessory Spotlight posts. Finally, if you want to know more about lupus and how it has affected my life (and the lives of millions), visit Lupus Survivor. It's Lupus Awareness Month. Rock some purple to show your support. See ya next week!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Quotable

Since Mother's Day just passed, I thought it was fitting to use a quote about mothers today. I love my mom and as I've grown older, I've seen today's quote become very relevant to my life. My mom has supported me at every turn and that has given me the courage to believe in myself. That belief forms the foundation of who I am today. But this blog post isn't exactly about that.

Mother's Day has been a little difficult for me for the past couple of years because of my health issues and their impact on my ability to carry a baby. Surrogacy and adoption are options although both are incredibly(INCREDIBLY) expensive. Despite that, I really want to be a mom. Don't get me wrong, I love my fur babies (Storm and Lola) but I want to have a child. I actually smile at the thought of waking up in the middle of the night to change a diaper or to rock a little cuddlebug back to sleep. I might pause at the sight of a child having a public tantrum or love that Ash and I can skate through our weekends with little planning but I'd give it up in a heartbeat for motherhood.

So, now you have the background, which (finally) leads me to the point of this post.

Just as I was feeling a little sad yesterday, I got some perspective and realized you don't have to birth a baby to be a mother. I mentor a teen group and many the kids from my first group have graduated and moved on. Some keep in touch and I see some in passing but for the most part, communication is minimal. Then yesterday, I got a text message from one of the girls that was in the group. I won't quote it here but I will say that she wished me a happy Mother's Day, said I was like a mother to her and that she loved be for being so kind and welcoming to her.

It reminded me that mothers come in many forms. They are the great women in your life, whether biologically related or not, who love you and help you believe you can do anything. I have a lot of them and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to be that for someone else. At the end of the day, it's about being grateful for the blessings you have and being faithful that everything will work out as it should.

Be blessed. Happy Monday. 

** Today's photo is through the sunroof yesterday as we drove to Brooklyn for Smorgasburg and to visit my mother in law. It looks ominous but it was such a gorgeous day. I thought the picture was a good metaphor for today's post...the sun is always there just beyond the clouds.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Living Life to the Fullest

About a week ago, a friend of mine told me about CareerBliss’ Happiest and Unhappiest Jobs of 2013. She noted that we’d both worked for years in the UNHAPPIEST JOB IN THE COUNTRY (insert ominous music here). I’m not in that job anymore but I can acknowledge that there were times when I felt like the unhappiest girl in the world while I was there. Yet, I kept plugging away hopeful that it would all be worth it someday. It never became “worth it” in that place but I learned a valuable life lesson about not letting my job dominate my life.

Good for me, right? Even with that decision, there are times when the job takes over and I find myself wondering if it were my last day, would I be doing what I’m doing now. Illness has a way of making you think about those things. Of course, really awesome days always have that effect. I find myself wishing life could always “be this way” on my best days.

Could it be? Well, if you take some time to define what truly living life means to you, and you take time to do even some of those things, maybe so. A group of researchers in the UK recently did a poll on what makes for a fulfilled life to mark the release of Life of Pi on DVD. The poll resulted in a list of “The 50 Ways to Live Life to the Full.”
What did they find? People want to relax into their lives in order to enjoy it - by stopping all the worries about what other people are thinking, how much money they have and by concentrating on what you have been blessed with rather than what you don’t have.

For me, it all goes back to living in the present and not worrying about what didn’t work out yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Life is right there for the living. So, friends, happy living and Happy Friday!!

In case you’re interested, here is the list from CareerBliss, you can find it here.

Friday Playlist


If I seem a bit enthusiastic, it is because I haven't been this excited for a Friday in a while. I mean, I'm always excited for the weekend but this week has been a beast and I am ready to unwind. The sun is shining, the weather is warm enough to lose the jacket and I resolved two major issues at work.

On deck this weekend is date night, a lazy afternoon in the park at Smorgasburg, and a visit to an AMC Dine-In Theatre to see Gatsby. We are also visiting my MIL and having dinner (I'll have to FaceTime with my mom, which makes me sad BUT I'll see her at the end of the month--yay!!).

Enough about my plans! This Friday's Playlist is dedicated to Pink (P!nk)--hence the big picture of her at the top of this post. I was driving to work today and I heard 3 of her songs. As I sat in traffic singing at the top of my lungs (and probably making the people in the cars next to me wonder what the heck I was belting out) I realized just how much I have loved her music over the years. She pours herself into every song and the result is pure, honest music--even when it's a party anthem. Here are some of my favorites.

Cheers to the weekend!! Have some fun!! And to the mothers, Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life Lately

I've been slacking with Instagram posts lately. That makes is a good time for a Life Lately post...and then I need to get my butt in gear and get back to Instagram. Happy Tuesday!

1. Flatbread with tomatos, cilantro, avocado. YUM!
2. Fresh asparagus being prepped for roasting. So quick I did it for a week night dinner.
3. Ash and Lola on the deck.
4. A section of the new outdoor rug on the deck (a post about re-doing the deck is coming soon). 

5. Lola sunning herself outside.
6. Apples being halved for juicing.
7. Lemons for fresh lemonade.
8. Avocados. Just because I love them.

Looks like life lately has revolved a lot around food. Oh well. At least it is healthy!! Anyone else enjoying the season and the seasonal food?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Quotable

I saw this quote while I was out this weekend and I knew it had to be today's quote. (It's also going to be the subject of an upcoming home DIY so stay tuned.) This is so closely aligned with how I feel about life these days. I'm trying to separate job and life and focus on really living...being present for experiences, laughing and loving, being grateful. The quote also helps me get some perspective when I feel bummed out about work and trying to find the true purpose of my life. I hope it provides you with some perspective as well. Here's to making a life! Happy Monday!

*The photo is of the tree right outside my front door. The first buds finally popped out and the bloom is just around the bend. It was one of the last ones on the street to get to this point so I had to snap a pic.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Playlist

Happy Friday!! It has been a long but productive week and I am feeling great. Today's playlist is a soundtrack for achieving/pursuing dreams. There's nothing like a productive week to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here's to a wonderful weekend! Cheers!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What I'm Reading: Room by Emma Donoghue

First, let me say I am so excited to have stuck to my 1 book a month goal (though I overlapped in April. Carving out time to read has added to my relaxation, inspired me to continue writing and has helped me pull away from the TV a bit. Now that the weather is warming up, I’m looking forward to curling up on the couch outside to enjoy my summer picks—starting with Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson…but I am jumping ahead. This post is about Emma Donoghue’s Room.

Room was released back in 2010 and has been on my reading list since I saw it on a friend’s desk. The word ROOM is written in all caps on the cover in primary colors and in crayon. The rest of the cover is a stark white. It is simple but it sparked thoughts of something juvenile but dark. Don’t ask why that appealed to me but I looked up the book online and read a quick synopsis. It went right on the list. Needless to say, I never got to it. I feel like a lot of my reading in 2010 and 2012 was non-fiction though I did listen to a few fictional audio books during my long commute (among my favorites were Little Bee, The Memory Keepers Daughter, Friday Night Knitting Club, The Help, The Lovely Bones, Prep and some that escape me despite being stellar…funny how you can remember specific details about a character you related to but you can’t remember the name of the book…oh how the memory fades.

Back to Room. I’ve read four great books this year and Room is my favorite of the four. If you don't want the details of the story, stop here. Just know I love it this book.


Now that you've been adequately warned about the spoiler...Room is told from the point of view of 5 year old Jack who you quickly realize is living in a small room with his mother. His world is defined by the room and the things in it are friends to him. He has an extensive vocabulary but there is something almost primal about his language. It is clear that he is not a boy growing up in normal circumstances but he seems happy. His mom seems happy initially until Jack works his way into the story a little more. The details quickly begin to reveal the true horror surrounding the circumstances of his life. Jack’s mother (Ma) was kidnapped and has been held hostage in a shed for 7 years. Jack is the product of her captor (Old Nick) forcing himself on her. Despite that, the two have an intense connection and she lives her days making sure to protect Jack from Old Nick.

The story takes an adrenaline pumping turn when Old Nick gets angry and cuts power to the shed for three days in the dead of winter. Ma’s fear for her boy and her anger at being a prisoner develop into a plan for Ma and Jack to escape. Donoghue stays true to Jack’s voice throughout the process. He experiences the fear a child would have in such a case but is also hell bent on being a superhero for his Ma. The escape plan falls apart but there is enough calamity to push a passerby to call the police on Old Nick after he sees Jack trying to get away from him in public. With Jack’s help, the police are able to rescue Ma before Old Nick gets to her.

Just when you are comfortable that everything will be alright (Jack and Ma are in a highly regarded medical facility receiving treatment and Ma has been reunited with her family), the real drama unfolds. Jack wants to go back to Room because it is all he’s ever known. Ma is quick to disregard that part of her life because she knew the real story behind the horror. There is tension between Ma and her family as she defends certain of her choices for Jack (like continuing to breast feed him at 5) and struggles to deal with her need for privacy while needing to earn money (by doing an interview).

In a surprising twist, Ma tries to commit suicide and Jack has to move in with his Grandmother. Ma ultimately survives and receives treatment for depression. Her recovery allows her to move into an apartment with Jack, albeit in a facility with medical personnel on call 24/7. The end of the book brings closure with Jack finally convincing Ma to go back to Room so he can see it one last time. We see the space through his eyes despite Ma’s disgust. Jack still loves Room but it seems so much smaller and dark now that he’s seen so much more of “Outside.” He makes his peace, takes his things and heads back out into life with Ma.

The book is a beautiful love story between Mother and Son despite its horrifying undercurrent. It has all of the sensationalism that comes with the story of finding a kidnapped person after almost a decade and all of the intimacy of a developing love between family members reuniting or meeting for the first time. People have said the book is an interpretation of the story of Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and fathered 6 of her children. Donoghue disputes that assertion and I’d agree. Room is so much more than this tale (that we’ve tragically heard several times in the past few decades). Having the story told from Jack’s point of view and taking Ma and Jack out of captivity to show the struggle of adjustment to life in “the real world” gives the story a fresh perspective. I loved every moment of the story.

Have you read Room? What did you think? If you haven’t read it, consider adding it to your reading list. It is a page-turner to say the least.