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The Quest to Tidy: Shoes and a Confession

I may not be a “girly girl” in a lot of ways. I’m not big on makeup. I don’t spend much money on my hair, either at the stylist or on products at the store. I love looking at jewelry, but usually only wear a few select pieces. I really don’t care if anyone knows the brand name of my purse or my clothes. Honestly I don’t care if I know it. I try to keep my nails nicely shaped, but don’t paint them too often. In fact… I’ve only ever had my nails done at a salon twice: once for my wedding and once to meet two of my favorite Japanese musicians before seeing them perform live. Sense a trend?

But on the things where I do get “girly”, I go all out. I own ball gowns. Not just dresses (some of those too of course), but full on wear-one-or-two-petticoats-beneath-them BALL GOWNS. When I do style my hair I usually go for curls. I love a good, bright red lipstick. I have good daily hygiene, I just also value things like sleep and hobbies, so the expensive or time-consuming “girly” sorts of things are out the window when it comes to day-to-day life.

Except shoes. High heels in particular. I love them. Send me to the store for a pair of tennis shoes and I may walk out with three pairs of clearanced heels instead. I can wear them with my ball gowns. I can wear them with my more casual skirts and dresses. I can wear them with jeans. I can wear them with shorts, even! (Yes, Sam I Am, I’ll wear them in a box, with a fox…)

high heels, wedding shoes

My incredibly awesome shoes from my wedding. I wore them the entire day they were so comfortable.

I put off KonMari tidying my shoes. I had more than I needed, but despite my love for heels I really didn’t have an absurd number of them. A couple pair of 5-6″ heels. Maybe half a dozen pair of your more standard 2″ heel, in a variety of colors. A few other oddities… probably no more than 12 or 13 in total. And then I did the hardest tidying I’ve done yet: I tossed almost all of them.

Rewind time. Continue reading

2016: The Good, the Bad, and the “What? Why? UGH.”

For a brief review of the utter insanity that has been 2016…

The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society

Here we are. We made it. December 31st. That shiny midnight that heralds the dawn of a new year is so close I’m pretty sure I can reach out and touch it, but don’t tell 2016 I said that… it will find a way to postpone it even more.

I think we can all agree that this year has been rough at best. In the realm of celebrities I’m pretty sure we’ve all lost at least one person we really admired. We don’t discuss politics on this blog, but if you’re in the United States you know that no matter your views this election was a mess of bamboozlery, misinformation, and high-strung feelings.

If you’re a Ferret, SOMETHING unfortunate happened to your car at least once this year. We’ve all come out of it with working vehicles, but at times it’s been dicey. We’ve had a car go swimming (okay, that…

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I’ve Turned My Life Into Homework

I have recently had a huge revelation into why I always feel pressure to get things done and why the list never ends.

Homework & Study - from MorguefileI went through school treating it like a video game with tasks to complete. Memorize 20 vocabulary words? Check. Read two chapters in your science book? Check. Write a three page paper in English class? Check. Do 50 math problems at the end of the chapter? Check. I was always racing to the next task. Check, check, check.

When school ended, I transferred that bizarre need for tasks from schoolwork into life. Vacuum the living room? Check. Do the dishes? Check. I am the to-do list queen. I have lists of my to-do lists. But there’s a big difference in my to-do lists now vs. the lists when I was a teenager.

In school, you only have as much work as the teacher gives. You will only see the teacher at certain times. This means there are specific, predictable opportunities for your work load to change or grow. At all other times there is the peace of knowing that once done, you are truly done.

Life is never truly done.  Continue reading

On Some Days…

Have you ever had one of those days?

When the librarian, being helpful, directs you to another self-check out, but because she called out to you the only thing you feel is stupid for not seeing it, and as though the stupid has been painted on you like a target everyone else can see.

When after going to McDonald’s (because the only other option for dinner that sounds good is nothing and didn’t Happy Meals fix things as kids?), you realize the cashier in the drive thru didn’t even thank you for your business, and now you feel tiny and loathed for being a consumer that made him do his job. His blank stare when he handed you your receipt was probably because he’s imagining not working at a McDonald’s drive thru and didn’t even see you, really see you, but all the same you feel judged and sentenced in that single breath.

When you calm yourself down from the panic, rising anew, at the prospect of crossing just five miles across town to get home, cars pressing in around you like anxious sharks around a bleeding fish, by telling yourself it’s okay, you can listen to the quiet burble of the aquarium filter as you watch the fish you love at home… only to remind yourself that you got rid of the fish a few years ago and finally sold the tank last year, because every place in your home that could fit the tank is a haven for algae and nothing will live.

When you convince yourself that it’s okay if the librarian thinks you’re stupid and the McDonald’s cashier hated you as a lesser creature than he and the fish are long gone… because after you eat your hamburger you can go sit on the swing set in the park, sweating in the rolling waves of the leftover heat of an August sun, and talk to your friend who always insisted that the world made sense on a swing set, pour your heart out to him as the chains on the swings groan and screech, beg him to make sense of everything driving needles into your heart because on swing sets we have the answers… …and remember that he, too, turned his back on you years ago.

I can’t go sit on the swing set alone.

On those days, it becomes very hard to create.

Defining Stress

I’m back from a 2 1/2 week vacation abroad and nearly 3 1/2 weeks off work, and the last thing I’m ready to come back to is stress. Coming home means coming back to responsibilities with house, family, and the day job, not to mention trying to make time for all of the creative tasks I’d like to tackle in my life. Taken individually, those responsibilities are typically fairly easy and often quite enjoyable. Taken as a whole… well, let’s just say that little stressors love to group up like mean kids at a party and together they can ruin all the fun.

I had a great quote sitting in my inbox when I returned home from traveling. “Stress is the difference between who you think you need to be and who you actually are.” (Please click here to be linked to the original article quoted.)

Wow. Wake up call.

think I need to manage everything by myself. I’m responsible for keeping my house magazine-perfect both in cleanliness and style. I am responsible for creating and maintaining a perfect system of organization for everything in my house, both physical and digital. I’m responsible for always having an idea of what to cook for dinner, for always keeping bills in perfect order, and for somehow still spoiling everyone in my life on top of it.

I’m also responsible for finding plenty of time around all of that to read, write, blog, submit my work, and do other creative things like photography, scrapbooking, studying language, and more. I should have time to play the piano and harp (both of which I own and neither of which I’m amazing at largely due to lack of practice). I should also have time to keep up on all of my favorite television shows; it seems everyone else manages to do so. I should have time for networking online, both for fun and for writing (hopefully one day professionally). And I should have time for all of that and more around my 40 hours a week sitting in an insurance office keeping customers happy and maintaining a long list of ‘all the little things’ that run in the background as is expected of an office manager. And I don’t even have kids!

I wonder why stress likes to chase me down…

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Now let’s look at who I am. Continue reading

Dealing with Blogging Insecurity

I’m going to admit that I’ve been having a difficult time with blogging lately. I’ve hit the point where I feel like I’m floundering. I want to keep blogging. I absolutely will keep blogging. Most of the time I’m very happy with blogging. But sometimes it is difficult to talk into the void.

It’s so very easy to question myself. Am I saying anything that matters? Am I saying anything that people care about? Am I just spending my time only for people to ignore me entirely? Will I ever get anything out of this blog? (Anything meaning money, publication, connections, friendship, heck a good discussion counts too.)

Then I remember that yes, I have already gotten some things out of this blog. I poured my heart out with my I Remember, I Remember post and love poured back, not just here, but on Facebook as well. All of this was worth it to me in that moment.

Blogging can really dredge up your insecurity, let me tell you. Daniela Uslan sent out an email earlier this month touching on the dark side of blogging. Of getting caught up in stats and formulas and forgetting why you are blogging at all. It made me think about this. It made me think about my little spot of the internet that I have here.

I blog because I have something to say. I know that every time I speak through a post I run the risk that no one will care. I also know I run the chance that someone will. Or a lot of someones. All I can blog about is what is on my mind and hope for the best while (somehow) not doubting my voice or my topics or the way my blog looks or what other people say – or don’t say – or anything else. It can be so very, very overwhelming and stressful. Especially when huddling at the feet of other, very successful bloggers whom you admire.

To anyone who has ever read a post here, thank you.

To anyone who has ever interacted with me here, thank you.

To anyone who will ever drop by in the future, thank you.

You’re my little reminders not to give up on the hard days. Things might be a little quiet around here throughout April and May, but I’m working hard to bring you lots of exciting content of many varieties for the rest of the year. 

Stick around! I’ve spent a year getting my feet under me around here (as well as several years at other blogs previous), and I’m ready to charge forward with new content. If you have particular suggestions of things you’d like to see me blog about, please drop a comment over here to tell me about it and I’ll see what I can do!

 

Sometimes the Words Aren’t There

I’ve been having trouble writing. No difficulties with ideas as it seems there are dozens of things that grab me and hold me in the moment, making me think, “Ah, yes, I want to paint this in words.” But the moment I sit down to do something with an idea it either remains frustratingly close at hand, bowling me over with emotion, yet granting me not even the plainest of words to preserve it, or it flutters away entirely.

This may be even more frustrating than lacking ideas. I’m toppling over with things to say, and the outlet I use to say them is broken.

Erin Coughlin Hollowell wrote a post on this a few weeks ago, or at least about her own version of this feeling. She mentioned something that rings very true for me as well when she said “I need to be able to drop into that deep quiet where my poems come from. That deep quiet has been very elusive.”

That quiet has found its own island away from me and forgot to leave behind a plane ticket so I could follow. There’s been so much going on the last couple of months that even though I have wanted to write, sometimes even desperately, I just haven’t been able to put anything worthwhile to page. My head has been wrapped up in car troubles and financial troubles and job troubles and health troubles and very not in tune with pretty words. Unfortunately.

What is fortunate is the fact that many of those things seem to have either straightened themselves out or are well on their way toward doing so. I’ll keep trying to write and maybe I’ll find my words again soon.

Erin also linked to another post within her blog, a recent one by poet Ada Limón, and I think it is a fantastic read for any writer, but especially poets. It is worth a few minutes of your day to look it over. For now though, there is one particular quote I want to share from that post, and these are the words I will leave you with for today:

“I suddenly feel like there should be a permission slip for writers. Something you can sign for someone that says, “You don’t always have to write. You have permission to just be in the world and grieve and laugh and live and do your damn laundry.”

Creative Balance & the Message in a Bottle

Happy New Year! I assume by now everyone’s parties are over and day-to-day life is meandering along again as per usual (now that we’re nearly to the end of January). I’ve finally managed to stop writing 2015 on everything, but now I find myself writing 2017 or 2019 instead. No, I haven’t the slightest clue why I’ve skipped to those years.

Did you make any resolutions? I stopped making resolutions a few years ago when I realized I was turning them into a source of stress, worry, and yet another reason to feel not good enough when I fail. Now I write a pie-in-the-sky list of everything I’d like to accomplish. Each individual item is something that can be completed by year’s end, but the entire list as a unit, realistically, cannot.

Surprisingly this does not set me up for failure. Instead it ensures that I don’t forget about any of my projects unless I willfully choose to give up on them. It’s a focus list to keep me moving in the direction I want. If I reach the end of the year with a shorter list than I began it has been a productive year. I focus on ending each year productive in general rather than qualifying how productive it may have been.

There are several things I am focusing on this year, but perhaps the most important to me is what I am calling “creative balance”. Continue reading

I Remember, I Remember Everything

(This post may get a bit long as its topic is something dearly embedded in my heart.)

Two days ago the band Kill Hannah announced their final show on December 19th in Chicago. I will not be there, but my heart will.

I wanted to comfort you, so I said, “Shhh….”
– Black Poison Blood

I discovered Kill Hannah around the time their one big radio hit “Lips Like Morphine”  was on the air. A friend sent me to their Myspace page, telling me I simply had to hear this ‘new’ band that she was convinced I would love. The band was not new, but my love was instant.

I got my hands on the newly released album Until There’s Nothing Left of Us as well as the previous album For Never & Ever, then immersed myself in the music. At the time I was fresh out of high school and slowly, privately, falling apart. Music was the only real solace I had, and something about Mat’s voice shot straight to my heart. For the first time in awhile I had comfort and strength and belief.

Turn up the radio. I need it more than ever now.
– The Songs That Saved My Life

It was no time at all before I discovered they were about to be touring as an opener for Lostprophets. I knew I had to go. I had never been to a concert in my life, it would be a 7 hour drive, and my list of friends was lacking, but I had to be there. For me. For them. Continue reading

The Allowance for Hobbies and Dreams

Last week I was in a continuing education class for my day job in insurance. The class held perhaps 25 individuals from the area. Before the class began, the instructor asked that we introduce ourselves, state how long we’d been in the industry, the company we currently worked for, and what our hobbies were.

More than one person had no hobby. They either worked too much or lost themselves in the wants and needs of their family enough that they didn’t know what they liked as an individual.

One woman even said, “Hobby? I’ve forgotten what that is.” Continue reading