Monday, January 23, 2012

You Can't Rush Now

Its Monday night, so in typical Monday night fashion I left my apartment around 5:30PM and drove to Woodstock, GA for my Monday night yoga class. Its a Bikram class - or "hot yoga" - and I love that this is my Monday night ritual. "Hot" means you sweat (a ton!) so its my detox from the weekend (although since I havent been drinking I might need a new word), and I always leave class feeling more cleansed than when I came in.

The studio is in a new part of town in Woodstock. Its hip and fun, and very city-centric. The yoga space itself is very white, earthy and zen. Being in this space makes me happy, so NO MATTER WHAT has happened on Monday, being in this space is sure to put a smile on my face. I am going to leave happier than when I entered. Which is not a bad way to spend Monday evening, is it?

The practice of "hot yoga" always puts in my thoughts in orbit. I am not one of those people who has learned to meditate (although perhaps I should), so for me trying to hold a pose for 90 seconds is about as meditative as I get. I often find that in focusing on the movements of my body, my mind is freed up to go elsewhere -- and it usually does. As sweat pours from my body, my thoughts are on their own mission. Tonight was no different.

Jeff, tonight's instructor, always focuses on being present, or being in the "now". Focus on what is happening 'now' he always tells us. In each class Jeff teaches there are 26-postures. And after having done about 100 classes, I know each one of them by heart, and where my body more or less maxes out in each. Somedays I surprise myself by going a bit further, somedays I do less than I hope. There is still one pose that after 2+ years of Bikram, I still can't do. But I get closer to doing it all the time, and it makes me feel so good as I inch closer to completion, and I know one day I will get there. (tonight was a really good night for that one!) But as Jeff say, 'right now' this is where you are, so this is where you should be.

As my thoughts continued to wander -- right off the yoga mat and into the world where I interact with more than just 26-postures -- it dawned on me that yoga emulates life. Learning to be okay with the fact that I have one posture that still gives me issue, is the same as learning to be okay with the fact that in life there are some places I am not ready to be. Now. So as Jeff says, I shouldn't be there. I am not ready yet.

Wanting to be there (now) won't make it happen any faster. As most likely, in trying to rush the process I will end up missing a few things that I will have to go back and learn (which means I haven't really allowed the process to happen), or I will injure something that will need to heal and that will be a further set-back.

I am where I am. I must learn to be okay with that.

In having this thought, I ventured backwards in my life (yes, I realize that is the antithesis of 'now') to a point I was trying to rush things... or actually, to change previous decisions because I was disgruntled with where I am now. "Had I decided differently, I would be in a totally different place!" I would blast myself. Which may be true, but at the time I made my decision on what 'I know now'. And the only thing wrong with that, is allowing myself to feel guilty for what I didn't know... which doesn't make any sense! How can I hold myself hostage for something I didn't know at the time? That's not fair.

As humans, we simply are where we are. Some a bit ahead in some categories, some a bit behind in others. But its not a race, as we are not competing with anyone other than ourselves. Its just us, being here. Now. Maybe a bit ahead of yesterday, maybe a bit behind, but we are still here.

As a result, the goal is to focus on our own practice, where we are, and celebrate the victories that come with being in that space. There are people that will come along and want us to speed up, but maybe we are not there yet. (if they are to be someone significant, they will wait, if not, then they are not what we need). There are people that will want us to hold us down (and the vice versa from above can be said). There will be people on our same level that won't share our own personal 'now', and that is okay too.

What we need, always comes. If allow it. If we believe in it. If we forgive ourselves for not being where we might have preferred to be. If we love ourselves to know that 'here' is good for now. We will always get to where we want to go if we allow ourselves to get there.

That comes from a bunch of 'nows' that were allowed. That comes from constantly being 'here', wherever that might be. Allowing our own process to pursue. As it does, now.

If we are all on this Earth to lead our best life, then we have to start by being present. For life is happening 'now', today, right this minute. Its up to each of us to be everything we can right 'now', regardless where those are around us, regardless of where other's want us to be. If we focus on 'now', focus on where we are, then just like Monday night yoga as we move from one pose to the next, at some point we change, and without much anticipation, frustration, or worry, suddenly we are right where we want want to be. In the 'now' that fits us best.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Feasting during the Famine

Everyone knows life comes down to two phases. The old adage proves true time and time again. You are either living it up with everything you could want, or you are waiting for your time to come. Feast or famine. All or nothing. Yes or no.

The first two weeks of January I have been in the latter scenario. Squirreling away pennies. Limited social engagements. More exercise (which only fuels the famine). Being indoors. Etc. Etc. Its been a very low key year so far.

But in choosing a more low key start to 2012, I am already seeing the rewards. Any Christmas expenditures and bill hangover from 2011 is gone (and I didn't expect that to happen until mid-February!). I am ready for my race in Miami, and might possibly squeak out a decent time. I've written in some form everyday. And I am working on additional goals I have set for this year.

There is progress! There is reason to celebrate. Even in the middle of a famine. And that feels good.

There is a quote I kept seeing during my time in northern Florida at the end of last year, and it read "What you see depends on what you are looking for."

And in this scenario it does feel that way. By most social standards it might look like a famine. But to me, its starting to feel like a feast. For there is very little that compares to setting a goal and making it happen...and that is just where I am at!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Whenever I write something down --connect pen to paper, fingers to a keyboard, or my mind to the imaginary computer screen in my head -- my goal is single-fold, and that is to share my story. In doing so, it is never meant to hurt anyone's feelings or come across as attacking. What I share, is simply what I wonder about. And I often continue wondering about whatever topic is top-of-mind long after I have put my 2 cents out there on my blog.

What I am trying to say, is I am an inquisitive person, not malicious. I question alot of things, and need a format in order to do so. This is that.

So what is written and/or read here is simply my ponderings on the world, as I discover my place in it. Its to share the story of my travels through the world, and what is discovered or proves curious on that journey. No more, no less.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


As January began, and I became more and more aware of my spending and where I could cut corners, I started to notice there are lots of 'extras' just hanging out at my house. Lots of little shampoo bottles and lotion samples from trips I have taken. Lots of wine and beer from events I have hosted. Lots of books that have not even been open. And lots of things to DO that I never had time for in 2011 (ie, jigsaw puzzles, movies, pictures to post, bins to clean out, yadda yadda yadda)... And I won't even get started on the miscellaneous food items that have been purchased and are now just collecting dust in the cupboard.

It sounds like much of my 2011 was spent hoarding up for the winter!

Now, 'that winter' is here and I am living off leftovers. Left over food items, left over lotion, left over projects, and in someway, leftover dreams. Things that haven't happened yet...but will in 2012. All the things that have been waiting their turn -- yes, even the jar of marinated red peppers that have been patiently waiting -- are going to see their light of day if they exist in Suite 213. I am using up the excess, and creating room for something more.

Even random gifts I have received but never used... an hour massage for my 33rd birthday? A facial from last Christmas? Gift cards to my favorite stores? All getting used.

As a child, I was great at saving for a rainy day and it seems in someways this trait has carried over to adult hood. But what I am saving for? What is any of this stuff doing but collecting dust? Its time to put the things I wanted at one point to good use, or get rid of them.

At some point, I will leave this apartment I now live in. The idea of boxes of past projects, books never read or travel toiletries exiting this space without being used seems silly. So its not going to happen.

Its time to use up what needs using up, and start clearing the space for something new. I know change is around the corner, and I intend to be ready for it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Campaign 2012

Obviously, I am on the New Year's kick. Obviously, I need to get over it fast -- as its driving myself crazy, as well!

Its my belief that each year have its own tagline, or campaign if you will. If I run down my campaigns for the past three years, it looks a little something like this:

2009: This is me, hear me roar.
2010: Time for something new.
2011: The Year of the Broken Compass (or We will figure it out somehow.)

This year's tagline is a bit different.

One thing that has been missing in my life the past two years is something I am most passionate about, and that is writing. So the idea of writing needed to be incorporated.

Something else that has been missing recently, is the sense of being present. As more often than not, I am either 6 months into the future or digging around in the past. Neither of which is extremely positive or productive.

So, this year's campaign?

"I 'write' here." (Period, no exclamation point)

This is my year to do what I love to do, wherever I happen to be, wherever I happen to go. Because truly, I am right here. And all I want to do is write, share my story, and hopefully somebody out there will want to listen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Clash

I try not to get too involved when people in the South talk about religion, especially their own... or mine... especially in public! When asked to pray in public, I politely decline as I think a person's beliefs is a private affair and unless an entire group is of the same faith its wrong to make praying a public happening. Its just my take on it.

But I always find it interesting when these devout people speak out of both sides of their mouths. Like today for instance.

A man in our community is one of the most publickly religious people I know. He won't eat with out praying, raises hand at any public function to say a prayer or rejoice that 'we are children of God', and always speaks of Jesus as if he is his neighbor, or an college pal whom he continues to communicate with every day.

Today he shared a touching story with us about Christmas. It was extremely sweet and very heart wrenching. However, it struck me as odd that this man who talks hourly with God, referred to a child 'not having Christmas' as the child would not receive any monetary gifts.

Isn't the whole belief behind Christmas being there was a baby given to the world, and that was the gift anyone would ever need if they were a follower of Christianity? It wasn't something bought in a store, shipped from Amazon, or coming down your chimney. It was the gift of ever lasting love and life, which is supposedly better than all the contents of Phipps Plaza.

Maybe he was attempting to tell it from a child's perspective and thats the difference... I don't really know. But I do know, I had to pause for several minutes out of shock from what was quite a clash of opposites, and found myself really hoping he did not mean what he had just said.

Sometimes its hard to know when someone 'really didn't mean what they said', after all, they said it. And sometimes its hard to know what they truly meant after such confusing statements, and you can find yourself questioning what it is they really stand for. At the end of the day, its my belief, that MOST people have good intentions. So whether the subject is religious or political or somewhere else on the map, ultimately good people are trying to share well-intended thoughts or stories. And if for some reason it comes off sounding a little confusing from what you expected from them, then maybe its time to give them the gift of cutting one some slack. We are only human after all.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Today, as I was finishing my budget spreadsheet for this year, I once again added a column for "miscellaneous". The word synonomous for all the things in life that come up, the things not really planned for, all the extras in life.

Last night, while writing I also used the word 'miscellaneous' as a folder for the words typed on screen that were eventually cut, but might be useable later.

Whether its words left unwritten or sudden extras, the miscellaneous-ness of life gets us every time. Its the unknown, the extra, the 'almost but not quite', the hopeful, the maybe-ness of all that might be. And yet extremely necessary.

At the office I keep a folder entitled the same thing for the random letters that arrive on my desk, the business services who stop in and make a pitch but leave me wondering if we might be able to use their services later; and for all the programs that would be really cool to initiate if we ever got enough funding.

When I think about the way my mind works, it has its one state of miscellaneous. While focused on a situation or idea, there are always extra phrases, words, ideas, images trying to get in on the scene as well.

In life, there will be the extras, the 'I don't know what to do with', the random, the uncertain...but maybe its all the unknowns that makes us more thankful for what we do know. Because each year I always find, that if you have somewhere for 'miscellaneous' to are usually in a good place. Its when you let all that was unexpected run you over thats a game changer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Are Our Childrens' Teachers

Its funny how life works. One day you are the child, it seems the next you are the parent, and then sometime later you become child-like again.

As a new week has begun, not to mention a new year, this idea of the circle of life is in my head. We pass on who we are from one generation to the next, sometimes without meaning too.

On the Today show this morning, the state of Georgia was the unwelcomed feature of one of its segments discussing the obesity rate in America, and specifically the Peach State. Over 1 million children in this state are considered overweight or obese. Kids. Children. Young people. Beings who probably are not fully aware of what being 'overweight' is. People who simply did what they were taught at home and probably didn't realize there was a problem or how to fix it. Many probably don't understand there was a problem in the first place.

The South has constantly been at the core of the obesity epidemic in America. Our fried food, sweet as syrup tea, our mega portions, etc. etc. But our history as a region allowed us to be that way. We were farmers, people who worked the land. People who had more sweat equity in a bushel of peanuts than you or I could imagine. And as a result, required massive amounts of calories to pull off a days work. People walked more from place to place, and therefore needed to intake more fuel to keep their bodies going. That's the way life was.

As technology set in and people didn't move around as much, no one paid attention to portion size as that is what they were used to. But sadly, what worked for one generation doesn't always fit what follows; and the past can be an excellent teacher, but living in the past can be a cruel reality. As the state of Georgia, and the South as a whole, is having to learn.

On a more personal note, I spent Sunday afternoon taking a walk with my mom around her property --what a splendid way to start a new year! As we discussed life and recent happenings and choices, it dawned on me how very much my life has resembled my mother's.

My mother is one of the most creative and yet, most perfectionistic people I know. After spending 10 years in the creative field, I know too well 'the creative curse' -- the waiting to the last minute to get things together, not wanting to shut down the creative process because you are on the brink of something BIG etc. etc. My mom doesn't have that problem. She has beaten every deadline she has set (when left to her own devices). Any space she has been working in is thoroughly spotless afterwards. She is 'creatively efficient'.

Yet, given her love of color and graphics, carpentry and other household projects, she was a math teacher for almost 25 years. A career she did not like one bit. A career she did well, but had little interest in. A career she choose because it made sense for her life based on other people's agendas.

At many times, my own life and career path has been just that. Choices made because they made sense for someone else's circumstances; and ultimately circumstances I put myself in. If I had my choice or the chance to change things long ago, I probably would have. As truly what I learned most from my Ivy League education is that I don't want to be working for 'the man' all my life. Yet, there was rent to pay, not to mention my love for travel; and in NYC -- much like anywhere else -- these things were not be given out as handouts with the morning Subway newspapers. So I stayed in advertising; and every trip somewhere new I would come home with another creative career -- becoming a yoga instructor in Costa Rica, opening a restaurant in some beach town, or writing a novel in Spain. Yet, when I checked my mail when I returned, its contents usually let me know a big job in advertising was the way to go. Corporate America was where the money was. And you are not in love with your job? No one is. Neither was my mom. And I am pretty sure my grandmother wasn't either. Probably true for 95% of people out there, and probably the same number could tell you in heartbeat what they would rather be doing.

Yet, we are taught by example. We learn from what we see. We don't mean to teach our children that 'fried and fat' is the way to be, or that following your dreams is a silly option. But sometimes our society and our history allows us to believe otherwise. Its the unspoken lessons that teach. Its the examples we set that instruct. Daily.

In an advertising campaign I worked on in New York for Girl Scouts of America, the client came to us and wanted help teaching girls about Math and Science, as young girls in our nation had exceedingly low test scores compared to the male counterparts. Through focus group after focus group, we listened to mothers say over and over how they always helped their daughters with their math homework or science projects... yet, when it was asked who handles the electronics in your house -- the tv and cable wires, the sound-system, etc. -- 9 out of 10 women said, "I let her dad handle it."

Whether we like it or not, we are the teachers of tomorrow's generation. What we allow to be okay for us, is what becomes okay for them. While some will break the mold, few people realize the problem until its too late; when true change seems and feels most impossible. But even then, that's when we can instruct, guide and encourage the change the most.

The game of life is never over when there is a tomorrow in front of us. Its never too late to make necessary changes, and its never too late to encourage necessary changes in our youth. "To try and be better, is to be better."

If life truly is about paying it forward, then we owe "better" to what comes after us.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Who says N-O has to be negative?

In typical New Years fashion, I started the year off with a page in my journal dedicated to all the things I am going to do in 2012. My new year's resolutions were nothing fancy or probably any different than what the average person writes down -- get fit, be more organized, put more money in my savings account, work more efficiently, see more of the world, etc, etc. Its a page-long list focused on all the positive outcomes I hope for the year. (Yes, Paige, everyone knows what resolutions are...)

Yet, as I went through my first "non-weekend" day of 2012, with my resolutions at the forefront of thought, there were many things I was NOT going to do that would allow the things I want to come to fruition.

Travel and learn a new language? That means we are NOT spending money on more dresses (I think I have enough), NOT skipping Spanish class, NOT wasting money on the daily splurges that seem like a 'treat' (ie., Starbucks, as wouldn't it better to enjoy a Cafe con Leche at a cafe in Segovia than to dash in and out for an oversized coffee on Main Street?).

Follow my dreams and write more? That means we are NOT going to be scared that dreams can't or won't happen. That means we are not seeking out back-up plans. That means its NOT just something I talk about, but something I do. (If you build it, they will come)

Fit more comfortably into my skinny jeans? That means we are NOT eating late at night, NOT skipping the gym, or over-indulging in my favorite four food groups (cheese, wine, ice cream, and anything that sounds French).

The list went on and on, until I had so many things I was NOT going to do in 2012. (What a year this was going to be!)

As I paged through the NOTs, I realized very few of those things on the No-No list were things I was actually going to miss (minus the occasional trip to Starbucks or a great evening with wine and cheese). Somehow knowing what I was NOT going to do, allowed me to see and believe all the things I was capable of doing in the next 364 days. Saying 'no' wasn't being negative, but focusing on the positive for the things I (we) truly want. Saying 'N-O' is truly saying 'Y-E-S'.

And if 'N-O' can go to 'Y-E-S', a negative can become a positive, then why can't the worst year of my life be followed by one of the best? It may seem simple, it may seem elementary, but in truth, I think it comes down to M-E. Those two little letters are all that separate a N-O from a Y-E-S. It truly does come to me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Page

Happy New Years!

For the first time in what feels like forever, I am going to spend the first night of a new year in my own bed. And I am quite happy about that.

Given my ever-wandering spirit, I have spent the past New Years Day nights in random continents, far-flung cities: From Orlando, to Athens, to New Orleans, to DC, to New York, to Buenos Aires, to Rio, to Atlanta, to Belize, to San Juan to Jax Beach. Traveling is my greatest passion, seeing the world my MOST favorite thing to do, while writing about my journey along the way. And as a result, I have always taken the week between Christmas and New Years to recharge and see something new... which always put me starting the year somewhere else, but never in my space, never at home. But tonight, I will fall asleep in Cartersville, GA, the place I call for home now. This is a much needed first, and one I chose because I wanted to. This new year calls for that, and the sequence of events lets me know I made the right choice.

To commemorate the end of 2011 and the beginning of a new year, I followed last year's original plan and spent the last few days of a wonky year in Jax Beach visiting my dearest of friends, Sue, and one of my favorite people in the world, Sarah. What a truly wonderful time away.

Low-key, beachy, wine-ie, and sun-filled. That's how Ilike to live my life, and that's how this year began. If what they say is true about the first day of the year being how you spend the rest of the year then I am quite pleased with the outlook for 2012...

From being asleep early (by 1AM -- not bad for a NYE!) rising early, hitting the beach for a gorgeous sunrise followed by coffee with Sue before hitting the road (traveling), eating a traditional New Years meal of collard greens and black-eye-peas, and spend the evening with my family, organizing myself for a fresh week and ultimately writing, which is HIGH on the priority list for 2012.

If my year can mirror today, I will be a happy woman at the end of 2012.

There is something so extremely wonder-feeling about following what is written in your heart. Living out the journey we are called to feels like poetry in action. Timing becomes profound. The sequence of events could be coordinated by Alvin Ailey they make so much sense. And my first day of 2012 has been just that...even though it might seem silly or mundane to some.

In fact, to many ts probably downright moronic what I find beautiful in life. From watching the seagulls play on the beach this morning... the sudden surprise of chilly waves running through my toes...having an asthma attack at 6AM that caused me to be up and at 'em in the first place! It all led to one of the most beautiful days I have lived. Even driving 6 hours from Jax Beach to Atlanta became a musical adventure as I rocked out to 'RENT' from Broadway and really did almost 'Defy Gravity' with Galinda and Elzeba. (yep! I was the animated driver you love to see in your rearview mirror at stop lights.)

When I left Jax Beach this morning, after morning coffee with Sue at 'Shelbys' followed by big hugs, I had tears streaming down my face, simply because I was so damn happy. I've been in a weepy state all day just knowing how beautiful this year can be if I allow it, and then the year next, and the year next, and so on and so on.

Life - like anything - is all about choice. We choose to follow a dream or not; give into the 'shoulds' of life or not; to believe in ourselves or not. And ultimately listen to our hearts or not.

My favorite author, Paulo Coehlo, has a quote that is so fitting for today:

"Your heart is always there. So you might want to listen to what it has to say."

And with that, I raise my glass of club soda, and say "Here's to you 2012! May it be a heart-ful journey to the very end."