Saturday, August 31, 2013

Reflection and New Moves

It’s the end of the #31WRITENOW challenge and I am so happy I participated. It was my first time doing an entire monthly challenge since I started this whole blogging thing. As a result, I got a little more traffic on the site and I got to know some new readers. I also found out that some people close to home (friends and family) were reading all along.  

I also learned I have time to post every day if I plan properly and occasionally pre-write and schedule entries. You make time for what you love, right? You do if you’re serious about growth…and I’m serious about my ish. Where there is dedication, there is growth. Growth leads to new opportunities.
You know where this is going, right? Yep! Time for new features on the blog.

I did a lot in August, including starting a couch to 5K training program. The original goal was just to get in shape. Then my friend Robyn suggested running an actual 5K in October. Who knows where it will go but it’s all in the name of health…and for me, proof of miracles.

Let me digress for a moment. You know I was diagnosed with PAH last year. Ten minutes on WebMD and I just knew my life was over. I was on oxygen and couldn’t walk very far without feeling winded. This week, I ran, I did a boxing workout, and lifted weights. What???!?!?! Yep. Miracles do happen and God is amazing.

Ok—back to the new features. Since Robyn and I are on this 5K/weight loss/get healthy bandwagon together, she suggested that we document our journey in a weekly feature on the blog. Easiest thing I agreed to all week—especially since I was already documenting myself in video and photos. So…we’re running and struggling and we’re going to share our story (for better or worse—humor and all) starting next week. We’re also going to cross post to the cooking page to share the healthy recipes that work for both our taste buds and our waistlines. Stay tuned.

The second new feature came from a friend who asked for a demo on how to make sticky toffee pudding. So I’m going to start taking recipe requests and doing a couple of posts a month showcasing what you want to see made…starting with sticky toffee pudding. Should be interesting!

Have an awesome Labor Day weekend! Chill with loved ones, party like you love life and work in some time to relax. That's what I'll be doing. Cheers!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Feel Good Friday


Can You Take A Compliment? Confession: I'm not the best compliment taker. If someone compliments my outfit, I often respond with "Thanks! It was on clearance for $10!!" I've honestly just gotten to a place in the last couple of years where I can just say "Thank you" when someone says I look pretty and I am guilty of disagreeing sometimes. Especially when I don't feel my best.

Ash had a good conversation with me about this on the way to date night a few weeks ago. The conversation started like this:

Ash: whistle, Wooo! Owww!
Me: Oh, please! (Eyebrow raise)
Ash: Why do you do that?
Me: Well, I don't feel..."woo! owww!"
Ash: Well, you look it to me. It's my compliment to you about my opinion. Take it, woman!
Me: I love you. Let's go have a drink.

Hug. Mush. Smack on the ass. (sorry, TMI)

The week after that happened, I saw this video and while it cracked me up, it made me think about my issues...and the issues of a lot of women I know. Why can't we take a compliment. Men don't seem to have an issue with it. Is there something in society that has taught us to downplay our beauty? Will heads explode if we just say "thank you?" Chances are they won't. Strap on your your inner Beyonce. Do whatever you have to do to feel so good about that girl in the mirror that you won't have to say "oh, please," "ugh" or some other version of "I don't feel pretty" when someone tells you that you are. Cause you know what? You are the ish!!   

Friday Playlist

This Friday's Playlist is a bunch of singles that are in heavy rotation in my car this week. The list is varied but I'm willing to bet you're also blasting at least one of these in your speakers/headphones. If you're not, maybe you'll find something you like.

I am trying a new format this week and using Souncloud rather than Grooveshark. The mobile platform for Grooveshark hasn't been working so well for me. I find that songs from previous playlists are popping up where they shouldn't be and after much failed troubleshooting, I got frustrated and tried something different. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

This month's Money Matters post isn't long or complicated. I heard a really easy saving suggestion a couple of weeks ago and decided to try it. Now, I'm well on my way to an extra $1400 in savings in a year. I'm also thinking about doubling the weekly contribution. Why not? God knows I've got PLENTY to save for.

In any event, I decided to pass it along. Let me know if you've tried it (or will try it). Let's bank those coins for 2014 (damn, I can't believe it is almost 2014...where did the year go)! I won't sing Sistas Are Doing It For Themselves but you get me. I'm giving you the crazy eyes double eye point...and if you don't get the reference, crawl out from under your comfy, cozy rock, get a Netflix subscription and start watching Orange is the New Black immediately!! Pardon my digression.

The 52 Week Savings plan requires you to deposit $1 for each week you've been on the savings plan. So, for week one, you'd deposit $1; in week two, $2 and so on up through week 52. At the end of 52 weeks, you will have saved $1,378. You could double or triple your contribution each week. You could also decrease the amount each week. The real point is to set a small, manageable amount aside each week. It's about whatever works for you. And at the end, bank it and start over, splurge, donate, use it for holiday shopping...whatever makes you happy. Happy saving and happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's time for the weekly Love List and this week I"m all over the place as usual.

1. H&M is finally letting us shop online. I'm excited...and I'm in trouble.

2. Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream Speech. I thought this article reflecting on the sentiment of the speech at the time it was given was interesting.

3. I use a vaporizer at home in the winter. I'm always congested. That said, I certainly don't travel with one because it's too much of a hassle...until now. The Satechi portable vaporizer turns a water bottle into relief.

4. I'm just getting into being active...and it's tough BUT Ash would love this. The nPower Peg stores your kinetic energy and transfers it to a charger for all you USB devices.

5. I did a post on substituting veggies for pasta a couple of weeks ago (here). The GEFU Spirelli Spiral Cutter tool makes it easy.

6. Edy's Outshine Coconut Waters and Pineapple popsicles. Yummy. That is all.

7. If you have limited outdoor space but want to work (or eat, serve drinks, etc.) on your balcony/deck/patio, the Balkonzept is the perfect solution...and it's a flower box to boot.

8. I love all of AproChic's prints (especially the bold wallpapers) but these pillows are on the top of my list in all their Brooklyn glory.  See others here, here and here

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Feel Your Pain

If I started a post with "neurobiological investigations of empathy often support an embodied simulation account," you would probably check to make sure you were on the right blog, think I'd confused my post for a research paper of some sort and click away from the page to give me time to get right. I can literally hear you saying, "Girl, bye."

If I started a post with,

Q: Can you believe I trusted this guy?!?!
A: Girl, I feel you...let's cry it out over a bottle of wine and a bowl of popcorn while we lose ourselves in a Scandal marathon. 

you'd totally get it. You might not be like, "Look at the brain on you!" but you will relate. You know you've said those words (or some variation of them) in your life. 

So, what's the point of all this? Yesterday, I heard about a study proving we feel our friends’ pain. To get to that conclusion, the people running the study (a University of Virginia psychology professor and his colleagues) did brain scans on 22 people. When they told the 22 test subjects that they would get electroshocked or a friend would be electroshocked, the neurobiological response was the same. When it was a stranger at risk of shock, the response was markedly different (barely a care). 

The study shows that over time, we begin to see our friends as an extension of ourselves. If they are harmed, it's a depletion of our resources. Resources....ummm, sounds clinical right? I agree! It sounds super cold but it is kind of true.  

Our friends are the family we can choose. We choose people we love and get along with hoping we will form a lifelong bond and support each other through ups and downs. It doesn't always work--some people are only in our lives for a limited purpose but for the ones that do stick, it's nice to know that even if they haven't been through the same things you have, they get it. Heck, they feel it. That support is probably one of life's most precious resources. SO, here's to all my ride or die sister friends--the friends who've been with me through thick and thin (both in life and in size). You're awesome and I love you. 

Be grateful for your friends! Call/text/email them a "you're awesome" gram. They deserve it. I mean, they're feeling your pain for goodness sake! 

Happy Tuesday! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Quotable

I spent a lot of time laughing this past weekend. We saw Jim Gaffigan and Chris Tucker but we also just laughed a lot with each other. It was a great way to bring in my birthday. I try to laugh at least once a day but I don't always get there. In this new year of my life, I plan to let go and laugh more. It really is the best medicine. Happy Monday! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Snippet

I'm an awards show girl. I like all the fanfare. From the red carpet to the performances, if a big awards show is on, I'm there for all of it. The VMAs were no exception but I have to say, I must be getting a little old because my reaction to Miley Cyrus' performance was best captured by the looks on Will Smith and his kids' faces.

Listen, I get it. As a celebrity, you want people talking about you, whether good or bad. Artists have a right to express themselves in whatever way they see fit but I'm kinda over the twerk olympics. What about you?In other news, I've never been so excited about going to see Justin Timberlake in concert. His VMA performance was amazing.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Taking Time to Laugh

We decided to celebrate my birthday with a weekend full of laughs. We're starting with one of my favorite comedians: Jim Gaffigan. Here's a little of one of his most well known bits. Enjoy!! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Playlist

Today's playlist can only be about celebrating life. That's what I'm doing. Join me! Happy Friday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Lighter Side of the Girl Behind The Blog

I always see these "If you really knew me, you would know..." blog posts but have never done one. I saw this set of questions passed around so I thought I'd answer them. Want something deeper? Sorry folks, today I'm keeping it light. BUT, if you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Happy Thursday! 

If you were a song, what song would you be?
Run The World (Girls) by Beyonce or something equally tough and uplifting to women.
If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
Hmmm…I’d need something with at least a few veggies so I wouldn’t die in a month. Does Veggie lasagna count? Yeah, I’ll go with that despite the lack of protein. Warning: I might steal some french fries from Ash…or any passing stranger after about two weeks of lasagna.
Do you smile at strangers?
99% of the time. I save my bitchy resting face for rude people’s whose negative energy I can feel from a mile away.
What are the top three shows you’re watching right now?
Ray Donovan, Orange Is The New Black, and Breaking Bad. Scandal will be at the top of the list when it comes back this Fall…and so will Real Housewives of Atlanta and any other (well, almost) hot mess of a reality show Bravo or VH1 put in front of me.
If you could star in the remake of any movie, which would you choose?
It would have to be some huge action flick. I’ve always wanted to be in some kick-ass fight/chase scene. Blame it on my sitting behind a desk for a living. I’ll go with Wonder Woman with modern day CGI.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
There are so many. I used to want to be able to understand all of the languages of the world…but I guess (at least in theory) I could do that on my own. Then there’s the whole invisible thing. That could be cool. If I have to choose today, I’d say to teleport. No more traffic for me and travel would be awesome.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happy Wednesday (or Hump Daaaay! if you're having a Geico camel moment)! Hope your week is going well. Here's what I'm loving this week.

1. I think the idea of boxed water is a cool concept. I drink a lot of bottled water (I know, I know...I should just put a filter on the tap). I tried to cut back on the number of bottles by getting a water cooler and filling up travel cups when I need it on the go but the boxed water has a little less eco-guilt attached to it. You can buy boxed water for about a dollar a carton. Learn more about the company here.

2.  The Konjac Sponge is a sponge meant to clean your (or your baby's) skin. It's made out of the konjac potato and is said to remove makeup, exfoliate and deeply cleanse your skin without soap. The sponges are toxin free, biodegradable and come in several varieties depending on your needs. You can use them with soap but they suggest using a smaller amount. I am so intrigued by these little sponges, I had to try them so I ordered the 100% pure one to try on my face. I'll update you after a week long test run. The Konjac Sponge Co. is in the UK but you can find them in the states at Sephora and Beautyhabit. Also, all of these stores ship anywhere. If you want it, you can get it.

3. I love Rebecca Minkoff handbags so I am always window shopping/site surfing (it's not a splurge I can often justify with everything going on in my life). When I saw this cute green clutch, I was in love. Then, I found out it was also a portable speaker that operates with bluetooth technology. LOVE THIS! Check out the StellĂ© Audio Clutch here

4. When summer hits, so does the frizz. My hair refuses to stay straight so I usually embrace my waves or curls (depending on the hair gets confused) or opt for either a ponytail or topknot. Over the years, I've tried every product on the shelf and they either weigh my hair down or make it look greasy (and I'm talking Soul Glow*). I've always heard of home remedies (mayonnaise, avocado) but it all seemed like too much work. And then came Free People's Bldg 25 blog post with anti-frizz treatments. The avocado and raw egg stuff is still there but so are two really simple options that totally work: apple cider vinegar (which seems to cure everything) and carbonated water (two different options--not used together). Check here for more anti-frizz recipes. 

5. I drink warm lemon water every morning for the health benefits (read more here) but I also like infused water throughout the day. I have a pitcher with a cell in the middle where I can add berries, cucumber or lemon so the water takes on a mild flavor. It works fine but when I saw the Aquazinger, I wanted it for it portability. Love it. The flavor is also a bit more intense because you have a smaller amount of water to infuse that you do with a pitcher. You can learn more and purchase the Aquazinger here

6. I don't wear a lot of gold but there is something special about this delicate little necklace. It's also on sale for $52 at OpenSky today. 

7. My commute to work is long (50 minutes with no traffic). I rarely get 8 hours of sleep so there are days when it is all I can do to stay awake. To help me, I keep snacks in the car. Most of the time, I reach for gum or almonds but lately, I've been reaching for Starburst minis. They come unwrapped which makes them an easier grab in the car. You just have to watch how many you scarf down. You can find them anywhere. I got mine from my go to store for...well, almost everything: Target. 

8. I found How to Know if You're Really a Writer while clicking around and came across several helpful exercises and articles on the topic. 

9. I love these double walled glass tumblers from One Kings Lane. They come in a variety of colors but I was drawn to the cobalt and mint. They're the perfect addition to a bar. You can find them here until they sell out, which tends to happen fairly quickly at One Kings Lane. 

* If you don't get the Soul Glow reference, look here and then go watch Coming to America immediately.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

35 Lessons for 35 Years...And a Little to Grown On

Regina Brett is an author of several books including God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours and Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible.  That said, most people probably know her for her 45 Lessons. She created the list right before she turned 45 and the list has gotten immensely popular since being published. When she turned 50 in 2006, she added to the list, which seems to continue growing in popularity. I read it for the first time this year and it now hangs on my cork board. In any event, with my 35th birthday looming around the corner, I thought I’d share Regina’s list and create a list of my own.  What are your lessons to live by?
  1. You really are stronger than you think you are.
  2. Don’t waste your time stressing over something that won’t matter in two weeks.
  3. Give and get hugs as much as possible.
  4. Get a pet. It is hard to be mad or sad at the end of the day when they’re so excited to see you.
  5. Pay off debt before splurging.
  6. Treat yourself (within your means) at least once a month whether it be with a pedicure or a big bag of chips.
  7. Put down your smartphone/tablet/laptop and interact with people. 
  8. Always have enough savings to get through at least 3 months of bills—6 if you can.
  9. Wear sunscreen.
  10. Fad diets don’t do anyone any good.
  11. Talk to God every day—as much as you want…and don’t be so formal.
  12. Forgive.
  13. Tell your loved ones how you feel about them.
  14. Confront issues when they arise—not 2 months later in the heat of an argument on another subject.
  15. Wear whatever makes you happy.
  16. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  17. Believe people when they show you who they are.
  18. Believe in yourself.
  19. Teach people how to treat you by not taking any bulls*it.
  20. Volunteer.
  21. Don’t feel like a failure if you can’t carry a baby. If you’re meant to be a mother, you will be.
  22. Stop procrastinating and do things you love.
  23. Meditate.
  24. Say "thank you" everyday.
  25. Don’t be afraid to act like a child sometimes. Swing on a (strong) swing, have a snowball/water balloon/pillow fight.
  26. Don’t be afraid to say no. You can’t please everyone.
  27. Laugh with abandon.
  28. Sing like no one is listening and dance like no one is watching…and when they are don’t be embarrassed. They’ll catch on. Joy is contagious.
  29. Don’t be jealous of what’s growing on the other side of the fence. They have issues too.
  30. Be proud of your issues. Acknowledge the lessons they’ve taught you…then fix them and move on.
  31. Pick your battles.
  32. Nurture your friendships and relationships.
  33. Know that if a door closes, a window is opening soon.
  34. Always get your hopes up. Never dial back your excitement out of hopes that disappointment won’t hurt so much. It always hurts. You’re just wallowing in the muck. Have faith.
  35. Reflect on how far you’ve come as often as possible and thank God for every bit of it.
  1. Don't put yourself on someone else's track. Just because you are not where you thought you'd be or where your friends are or where your parents wanted you to be, etc., etc., you're exactly where you are supposed to be. If you feel like you're not moving, you are meant to learn something from the position you're in. 
  2. Believe the diagnosis but not the prognosis. Miracles happen everyday. 
* The photo is come Google images. It's a house number but I like the slightly tarnished look of it. We're all beautiful creatures and made more so by the battles we've survived. A little tarnish looks like wisdom. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Quotable

When health issues became a big part of my life, perspective moved in to my guest room. It's always there reminding me that life is meant to be lived and the time I spend worrying about what I can't control is wasted. As my birthday approaches, I am reflecting on what I've done in the last year to "live well." Sometimes it meant working out. Sometimes, it meant going for an indulgent dinner with friends. Sometimes it meant helping others and sometimes, it meant helping myself. The point was to get what I needed out of every day. I want to continue that in the coming year and be quicker to catch myself when I get down in the dumps. It's not worth lingering in a bad place. Life is a gift. Unwrap it and live it up. Happy Monday! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Snippet

This Sunday's snippet is a personal story rather than a collection of little things that filled my day. This one filled my heart (cheesy? Yeah, sorry.)  Ash finally started working on a short film yesterday that he's been putting off for a while. Unfortunately, real (paid) work trumps passion projects. Anyway, I went to set to co-direct and I got a little giddy and teary. You know how something you want to do sits in your head for a long time and you hope you'll get to do it one day? When you live it/see it come true, it is an amazing feeling.I was so happy for him and so thrilled to see something we'd worked on together come to life. It makes me want to keep striving to live a passion-driven life. It's a good thought as I get ready to start a new work week. Hope you had a great weekend.

*First photo courtesy of Google images (taken from Tumblr). Second photo was taken by me on the set. I used the Camera360 app to adjust the coloring. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Life Lately

We're spending the last days of summer outside (as much as possible). Here are some pics from the last two weekends. 

1. I couldn't resist taking a picture of this car. It made me smile. I smiled even bigger when we passed it and the driver was a guy with full tat sleeves and gauges in his ears. I love the juxtaposition between the two.

2. Ash chilling after we went hiking.

3. Lola wondering when the hike would be over.

4. A flower in the weeds along the hike.

5. A pan full of kale, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Delicious.

6. Fresh, light tomato and mozzarella salad at dinner with one of my closest girlfriends.

7. Started couch to 5K. The sky opened up on day one so I was particularly proud of having finished.

8. Look ma! Healthy, whole/clean foods.

9. Birthday celebration part one. Had so much fun!

10. The latest addition to my Alex and Ani collection courtesy of one of my closest friends. From the Alex and Ani card: "A symbol of fertility, grapes are associated with good luck, hospitality, and pleasure. A historical icon, grapes represent the wine of life and immortality. Wear grapes to relax and enjoy life's fruitful moments." She couldn't have picked a better gift. Love it.  

11. Can you guess what this is? When I was flipping through my pictures, I thought it was the sun bursting through the clouds until I saw my smoke detector. It's an accidental shot of the ceiling fan. Loved the light bursting through so I decided to keep it and share.

12. Taken while walking through a park by the seaport in Boston.

What's going on in your life lately? Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Feel Good Friday Part 2

I LOVE the Humans of New York (HONY) blog. It's one that I go to everyday. The posts never fail to inspire or spark emotion (whether happy or sad). The stories that accompany each shot show that everyone has a story and a bit of wisdom (or whimsy) to share and because of that every human is valuable. In today's world, it is easy to forget that. 

Brandon Stanton, the creator and photographer behind HONY, started the blog in 2010 and since then has used his platform to help others. His most recent fundraising project was sending a kid (Rumi) on a Wild West Adventure after seeing him selling cowboy supplies in hopes of raising money to buy a horse. Brandon set out to raise $7,000 to fund Rumi's adventure and ended up raising $32,167. With the excess funds he sent a group of kids from Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood to sleep away camp. He posted pictures of some of the kids enjoying the camp experience and this was one of the photos. Check out the story. I'll wait. 

I know right? How can you not love him! Kids like Malik will change the world. Thanks to Brandon for sharing his story. 

Wanted to tell one more story from YMCA camp. As part of their camp experience, each camper chooses a goal that he/she wishes to accomplish before the end of the session. Each camper is then assigned a counselor to mentor them in pursuit of their goal.

This is Malik from Brooklyn. Last summer, Malik’s goal was to stop bullying at camp.
"How do you do that?" I asked.
"Well, you can’t stop it completely," he said. "But if you see someone getting bullied, you can ask the bully to think about how he would feel if the same thing happened to him."

The coolest part of the story happened after camp ended, when Malik returned home to Brooklyn. He ran for president of his 4th grade class on an anti-bullying platform, and won the election because “there were 15 other kids who got bullied who all voted for him.” After he was elected, he convened a meeting of all the class presidents, and passed a school-wide rule than anyone seen bullying would have to serve detention during both lunch and recess.

Feel Good Friday

I recently saw this phone case and it cracked me up. It says everything you need to say about what leads up to a drunk dial. I went online in search of the company that makes the case and found David Olenick. That phone case was just the tip of the iceberg. I love the humor in his work! Now, the challenge is in deciding which art I want. You can find Dave Olenick's work on prints, canvases, iPhone cases, iPad cases, stationery cards and throw pillows at Society 6. Here are a few of my favorites. Hope they get a smile out of you! Happy Friday!

Add caption


Friday Playlist

Today's playlist is made up of songs that made me happy (or struck a chord with me) this week. They are the songs that pulled me through to Friday. Happy Friday!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paying it Forward

Would you give up everything to help your fellow man? James Beck did just that. After being inspired by a friend's generous spirit, in 2011, Beck decided to give away all of his belongings and travel the country for a year with one purpose: to help others. He traveled to all 50 states and helped strangers in any way he could. His only request was that each person/family he helped pay it forward. He documented the entire journey and was working to get funding to turn his 300+ hours of footage into a documentary. Here's a little footage from his travels:

Inspiring right? The problem is Beck's Kickstarter campaign only yielded $9,500 of the $30,000 he needs to complete and edit the film. I'm not sure what's next for Serfbliss, but I think it will be a tragedy if this film isn't made. Keep a look out for additional fundraising attempts.

In the meantime, I'm inspired to get back into my monthly gratitude projects. There's something soul stirring about doing something nice for others. People may look at you strangely as they try to figure out your motive (or is that just in NY?) but in the end, good intentions and good deeds make for life changing moments. Now, let's all join hands and sing Kumbaya. Seriously though, do something nice for someone today. Then do something nice for for yourself. Imagine how great the world would be if we all helped ourselves AND helped others.  


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I'm Reading: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is in the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood." –Tony Kushner, The Illusion

When this is the quote at the beginning of a novel about a couple, you can imagine that it’s going to be pretty dark. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl doesn’t disappoint. From the very beginning of the book, you can tell Nick and Amy Elliot Dunne (Amazing Amy) are not in a good place…and then Amy is seemingly happy and singing in the kitchen while making crepes for her and Nick’s fifth wedding anniversary. Then, just like that, Amy is gone.

First, Nick seems distraught. Then he starts telling little lies and before you know it, he is flashing his winning smile for the cameras at a press conference where he should be pleading for his wife’s safe return.  

Nick and Amy each tell the story of their love from their perspective—Nick in present day and Amy through years of diary entries. Just when you get wrapped up in a blossoming New York City love story, the edges start to fray.  What was beautiful quickly turns ugly as the couple relocates to North Carthage, Missouri (Nick’s home town) to deal with family issues.  Soon, the space between them is wide enough  to make room for all sorts of indiscretions and Nick goes from sympathetic husband searching for his wife to clearly capable of murder. Not just capable, he clearly did it. You’re ready to sentence him and then, Flynn takes you on the REAL adventure.

This book is a real page turner. From the moment I started reading, I couldn’t put it down and when I had to, the characters stuck with me. I loved Flynn’s Dark Places (reviewed earlier this year) and Sharp Objects but Gone Girl trumps them both. You know the bumper stickers you see on cars proclaiming that someone’s child is an honor student at such and such academy? Gone Girl is the kid that gets the bumper sticker. Her sisters are pretty awesome but she is at the top of her class.  Now, go get the book before I dive into another slightly off point metaphor.

p/s I started What I’m Reading with the intent to force myself into reading at least one book a month this year. I’ve actually done it. Can’t believe it. It’s amazing what happens when you re-prioritize your time.  Ok…getting off the soapbox. Anyway, I picked enough books to get through August so after I finish Fame by Daniel Kehlmann, I’ll need a new list. Any suggestions? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“No. F*cks. Given.” and Other Invaluable Career Advice

I read a great article today that I bookmarked months ago and never got to. Funny how things come back around at the right time. The article was a study in the business savvy of Martha Stewart.  You would think, because of her field, that she would need to be likable. And not just pleasant but really likable—like Next Food Network Star meets Oprah kind of liable—like friend in my head likable and well, she just isn’t. Even when her guard appears to be down (and I don’t believe it ever is), she still comes across as steady (and as cold—sorry Martha) as a machine.

Yet, she is a mogul. A “department stores fight over me” type of mogul.  Ever wonder why? The article said it best. It is in her confidence in her abilities. The path to mogul-dom seems to be “work hard, know your value, and have enough confidence in your work and value to keep pressing forward whether or not people seem to like you.”

It seems to be the path most men follow. I am not sure why as women we are so consumed with being liked as well as respected in the workplace. Actually, let me rephrase because, maybe you are just like Martha and you don’t care what people think about you. This doesn’t apply to you…and can I come over for coffee cocktails and pick your brain on how you freed yourself from the burden of wanting to be liked?

Where was I?

Ah, being liked in the workplace.

For years, I have suffered from bitchy resting face. You know the face I am talking about. It is your natural, “I’m chilling/reading/breathing” expression. It is not meant to convey emotion but yet, it convinces everyone who sees it that someone just pissed in your cornflakes. Yeah, that face. I had so many colleagues over the years think I was a bitch or constantly mad because of that face. In a girl moment, I obsessed about it and even started consciously smiling at people to be…say it with me…LIKEABLE. FYI, it didn’t work. I just became that weird smiley girl in the elevator/hall.  

I also went beyond the smiling and constantly bit my tongue so I wouldn’t ruffle feathers. It got me absolutely nowhere. Well, actually, it got me laid off. At the end of the day, I was the nice (when you get to know her) chick that was getting kicked to the curb. Sucks, right?

After dusting myself off, I got more serious about who I wanted to be in the world. I decided I don’t just want to be liked. I want to be respected. I want to defend myself when I feel wronged rather than venting to friends and letting people walk all over me. I want my work to be valued. If I leave people all warm and fuzzy along the way, that’s awesome but it is not a requirement.  I wanted to be my best advocate and if people can’t get on board, they’re just going to miss the train. Like the article says: Zero. F*cks. Given. A better lesson for your work life has never been given. I'm still working on internalizing all of that but my formula is: 

Confidence + Vision + Drive - Being Consumed With Being Liked = A Happy Productive Me.  

Of course, I am not endorsing this philosophy for your personal life. Stand your ground on important issues but you might want to give a f*ck if your partner, family and friends hate your guts. You can’t just tell them you’re channeling Martha, walk off with a snap and a twirl and expect them to understand. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Quotable

I loved this quote the minute I saw it. It is a good reminder that we all have everything we need to "fly." We just have to believe in ourselves and have faith that everything will work out just as it should. There is a plan for each of us and even though we may be a little scared of the floor falling out from underneath us, we are equipped to live through it. This blog started because the floor fell out from under me. I felt like I was free falling towards a dismal future at the time but I picked myself up and now, I am happier than I was when life seemed stable. Two things I am certain of are that everything happens for a reason and what is meant for you will not pass you. So, fly upward and onward. Your dreams are waiting. Happy Monday! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Snippets

I generally don't post on Sundays the weekend. A girl needs a little time to breathe...and to think of content for the coming week. That said, I promised myself I would do the #31WRITENOW challenge and I'm committed to keeping a promise I made to myself for once.

I try not to spend Sundays lamenting the end of the weekend. I'm not always successful--letting go of the carefree spirit of the weekend is tough. What helps me is to do whatever pleases me. Sometimes, I just rest and sometimes, I just treat the day like a Saturday and hang out until I'm exhausted. Then I come home and prep for the week. Today, I went hiking with Ash and Lola, saw 2 Guns and went out to dinner. Bored yet? Sorry. I didn't intend to detail my Sunday routine.

Let's get to the point. Here's some stuff that filled my Sunday (besides the hiking, watching and eating). Hope you ended your weekend doing whatever gives you joy.

Sunday is TV day for me. Right now, it is all about Ray Donovan and Breaking Bad. I can watch (and do watch) Orange is the New Black any day of the week but Sunday is usually when I have time to watch. I LOVE all of these shows and am adding Orange is the New Black to my reading list for the second half of the year. Speaking of books, I'm on the last one for What I'm Reading. I have books for September and October. Any suggestions for November and December?

I refer to this Maya Angelou-ism ALL of the time. This weekend I saw the true character of two people in my life. One cemented my belief in someone I love. The other kind of knocked me off balance. For each, I'm going to believe I've seen who they are and hold on to that going forward.

This is the perfect way to rock a boyfriend jean. I will be pulling this out for a casual date night or girls night sometime in the near future.

This just made me chuckle (like most someecards) so I had to share. I am starting Couch to 5K tomorrow. I have to say, I've never had a desire to run a 5K. When I got sick, I never thought I would be able to. Actually, I am still not sure I'll be able to but for the first time in a while, I feel strong enough to try. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

This big bubble on the Hudson River is an art installation made entirely out of old umbrella frames. The dome itself did its second trip down the Hudson over a year ago but I came across pictures of it and was inspired to do a DIY light fixture. I'm going to experiment a little and if it turns into anything, it will be the home decor page (which hasn't seen any action in quite a while).  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pretty Little Lies

Have you ever seen Daily Dishonesty? Graphic designer and illustrator Lauren Hom created the blog to showcase her typography skills using the little lies we all tell. Here are a few of my favorites. Visit Lauren's blog and site when you have a chance. You can also buy her prints and tees here.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Playlist

Today's playlist is all about Beyonce, because, well....BEYONCE!! Enjoy it and Happy Friday!! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Soooo...Can we have a truth moment

Most bloggers have a moment where they want to share but there is a nagging voice in their head asking, “Is this a little too much?” You might ask what qualifies as “too much” for a person who essentially keeps a journal online. Too much =  Too heavy. Too embarrassing. Too real.

For me, today is one of those moments but, I am going to share anyway. I already opened the door in a previous post, so why not? 

I am bloated this week. I’m female. It happens every month like clockwork and I develop a little belly pooch that I can usually camouflage with a cardigan or a looser shirt. Last night, I had a volunteer meeting after work. At the end of the meeting, as I leaned over to grab my bag, my flowy, period-friendly cardigan opened a bit to expose the fitted tank I was wearing underneath. One of the women smiled at me and then began walking out with me. As we walked towards the door, she congratulated me. Let me be precise. She said, "Congratulations!! I didn't know!" in that super excited for you, happy tone that women get when a fellow female is about to join the mommy club.

I looked at her strangely because initially, what she was saying didn’t click. Then, I wondered if someone mentioned my recent promotion to her but I hadn’t told anyone so that didn’t make sense. Then, the light bulb came on…and exploded…and rained shards of glass all over me. She thought I was pregnant. SHE WAS CONGRATULATING ME ON A PREGNANCY THAT DOESN’T EXIST.

Sidebar: I’m not going to touch on her breaking one of the cardinal rules of womanhood: Thou shalt not ask your fellow woman if she is pregnant or how many months she has until her due date UNLESS it is absolutely, unequivocally clear that she is pregnant. In other words, unless your sister friend has a round, firm belly that she is resting her hand on while looking down and singing lullabies or is wearing a t-shirt that says “baby on board” or some other equally expectant maternal phrase, don’t mention the P word.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming--

There I was, a little dumbfounded.

Me: (looking at my tummy and then back at her) Oh, I'm not pregnant. I'm just bloated.
Her: What?
Me: I’m not pregnant.
Her: Oh sorry. I get bloated too.
Me: (awkward half smile) Have a good night.

I got in my car and drove home...and proceeded to cry the whole way. It kind of shocked me. Generally, I am a fixer, not a crier. But there was nothing in this situation that I could fix. What really struck me was that the cry had little to do with my desire to lose a few pounds and almost everything to do with the pain of not actually being (or working on being) pregnant. It hurt.

I got home to my husband’s arms and I was ok and having dinner about 20 minutes later, but the sting of the encounter with my would be well-wisher just reminded me that this uphill battle to motherhood is going to be a doozy. I know everything will work out exactly as it should. Damn.  

p/s I didn’t soothe my wounds with the bag of fun size peanut butter snickers Ash picked up at the store this week but TRUST ME, I really wanted to. 

Picture Credit: Mother and Child III by Diana Ong