Something New.

It was time for something new. Find me here.

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10 things I loved in September

Inspired by the lovely Amy Estes – a newfound Sacramento blogger – thanks to Ashlee Gadd – who has now become a part of my everyday reads – this concept fit perfectly with my quest to always look at the positive.

I know I am like a broken record talking about how you have the choice to be happy  (partially it’s because I have to remind myself)…

But my best friend sent me this quote at work the other day:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
-Charles Swindoll

So very true.

And now onto September:

1)     Starting  Grad School!  Yes, it’s rendered me spending many weekends either reading/researching in pjs all day or huddled in a coffee shop doing more of the same. And it has all but nixed a large portion of my social life.  But, I love it.  I love being back in “Academia,” back working towards something. Making new friends. While I don’t know what my end goal for this master’s degree will be, I do know that I’ll be happy I have it and for the process. Mostly. : )

2)     Monterey Jazz Festival.  Always a highlight of September, it was wonderful to be back on the fairgrounds, nostalgic and fun seeing my family including my parents and across the country brother and seeing Trombone Shorty again was awesome.  I highly recommend him if he’s ever in your neck of the woods!

3)     Moving Cubicles.  Those who work with me know what a HUGE relief this is because of multiple people and factors.  I am much happier in my new space and I could see my attitude dramatically shift in no time simply due to that move.

4)     Pinterest Party #1.  My friends got together to do crafts and make and share food that we had all found on Pinterest.  I’d forgotten how relaxing it was to just sit for several hours doing crafts.  I have a new love for modge podge and we’re already planning our next fall themed one.  See our board of what we made here.

5)     Fall TV is BACK! I was slightly put off by Grey’s Anatomy’s premiere and I’m hoping episode 2 will make-up for it.  Highlights were New Girl, Modern Family, Castle and Dexter.  Thank goodness most of them come on after an already 15 hour day, so I feel less guilty watching them instead of studying.

6)     Chris and I are definitely going to Disneyland at Christmas.  We’re still finalizing plans and finishing saving. But he has the week off and it’s so happening. See: much, MUCH needed vacation.

7)     I’ve started taking meditation much more seriously.  I have been told by multiple people and doctors many times that I really just need to do it, really need to “FIND” the time.  Now thanks to encouragement from my friend Rachel at work, we are trying out the meditation that is offered as a part of our noontime wellness program, and it was awesome.  I also have an app on my phone that has guided 5-20min meditations that I plan to utilize frequently in the coming month.  Hopefully this meditation practice will lead into finding more time for yoga practice as well.  As much as I love my Zumba – I really need to balance it out.

8)     Our Fall Clothing Swap.  Every quarter some girlfriends and I get together to purge the clothes that we don’t wear anymore.  It’s hilarious watching everyone try to ‘explain’ the more questionable outfits and always a joy to see everyone leave happy with new treasures. Some of my favorite pieces have clothing have come from these.  I highly recommend having one.

9)     Realizing over and over again how much I love my Exercise/Zumba.  It may be more difficult to find the time for as much as I used to do, but when I have new people come into my classes and they leave smiling, laughing and sweaty, it reminds me all over again why I love teaching it.  Or when our team plays softball and the camaraderie is just palpable.  These are the reasons, no matter how busy or overwhelmed I am with life and all it’s responsibilities, those things must always be a part of it.

10)    And lastly what I love about September is that it’s OVER.  And with October comes the Holidays and a whole lot of other great stuff. Fall – REAL jackets, scarves and boots Fall, pumpkin carving, Fall and Christmas smelling candles, Halloween, fires, football games, Thanksgiving, two of my favorite friends’ wedding, the bridge school benefit, other friends’ birthdays, a friend’s dance show, seeing Memphis at Broadway Sacramento with my parents, eventually an apple hill trip, CHRISTMAS DECORATING, SHOPPING, CRAFTING, MUSIC and BAKING(!!!) and then of course Christmas itself, Disneyland, Chris’s 30th birthday, time off at the end of the year and SO MUCH more.

….Please remind me of all of those wonderful things when I’m pulling my hair out and threatening panic attacks about my end of semester workload…. : )  Please and Thank You.

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On losing my perfectionism

I’ve begun to suspect over the last several months that I’ve lost my need for perfectionism.   Chris laughed when we had a personality/working style test done at work and I scored not on the perfectionist track, but on one more intertwined with people.  “But you are such a perfectionist!” He chided me.  But I wonder, am I really anymore?  I think I used to be.  I thought having top grades and getting 100%s on everything was absolutely necessary to human existence.  Things like that drove me.  Sometimes even drove me to illness.

But I really do think that has fundamentally changed to the point that I am more concerned about getting it done than being perfect.  I realized this the other day as I was quickly glossing over the bathroom trying to just get it done before I could rush on to the next task on my to do list.  I wasn’t sitting there scrubbing over every inch of it – I was just doing and done and moving on.

I also think this is a side effect of being at max capacity all the time.  You get to the point where the only goal is to get things done.  Not to do them perfectly, or unfortunately even always well – but just DONE.  Because if I tried to do everything perfectly, I would explode.  It just literally isn’t possible. Perhaps a lack of patience contributes as well.  I couldn’t help but think how much better Chris cleans the kitchen when he does it or about one of my best friends at work and how methodically she completes tasks and does them with as surefire perfection as is possible.  (Yes, she did get perfectionist on the personality test.) Where I just do the best I can given the limited time and move on to the next task.  It’s been a shift in my personality purely by design and lack of any other choice.

Striving for perfection is exhausting and it bogs you down in so many countless ways.  I see it at work.  In friendships.  In expectations.


And do I miss it sometimes? Sure.  There are definitely days when I wish my house was spotless and perfect.  Days when I pin the most awesome organizational ideas on Pinterest, knowing that I just don’t have the time to utilize them right now.  Days when I wish I could be everywhere at once.  Do it all. Have it all.  But no one and nothing is perfect.  You just work with what you’ve got.  Do the job.  And move on.   With my life so closely precariously at the tipping point, I just don’t have the time or energy for perfection.  Not anymore.  Letting it go and doing the best I can is the only way to survive the part of life that I’m in right now.

Now if I could only remind myself of the same thing when it comes to my health…

Yes – it’s a two quote blog today.  And you know what IS perfect?  This song.   I love RENT. : )

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Fall: School, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Why I love Vitamin String Quartet

Well, here we are FINALLY on the heels of fall.  In the coming weeks the air will get cooler, the leaves colored, smells of apples and pumpkin filling the house, and I will get A LOT busier.

*Insert sardonic laugh*

Yes, I thought I was busy before this. But that was pre-grad school.  PGS, let’s say.  PGS – I had plenty of time to see friends, go crazy at the gym and read – whatever I wanted.  Now that grad school has started, I will be seeing less of my friends, less novels, sadly less of this blog, even less of my husband, and a very regimented day-to-day schedule. I will be seeing more of the Sac State campus – didn’t you know, 9-5 Work, School and teaching Zumba, plus studying – I pretty much live there now?  More of the local coffee shops – see: I can’t study at home because I am OCD about cleaning my house. (thanks mom) And more Friday nights with a glass of wine and a book than anything else.

I make light of it – but it’s going to be hard  – freaking HARD.   It already is, and we are barely through week one.  But the end goal is going to be worth the effort.  And somehow, I will find a balance.  So any words of advice for maintaining sanity and relationships with a full time demanding job and full time graduate school are greatly appreciated.

So far I’ve gotten:

“Make time for your friends and family at least one day of the week.” (easier said than done with Chris and I’s schedules)

“You can’t be studying all the time, so don’t let worrying ruin your ‘not studying’ time.”     <– This is a great one

“Learn to be a good skimmer.” <– Haha, so true

“Learn to say no.”  <– One of the hardest things for me, especially when it comes to friends and extra commitments.

And somehow during this midst of fighting through the everydays, I hope to sprinkle the busy-ness with some of the happiest parts of Fall.   See – the TWO boards I pinned (PGS) full of fall goodness here and here. Apple Hill, pumpkin carving, baking, fire-building and football.  (Not to mention Monterey Jazz Festival, Bridge School Benefit and two of my best friends’ wedding)  And I’m sure I’ll find the time here and there to squeeze in some Modern Family and Dexter.  (Is it the 4th week of Sept yet??)

Somehow I’ll find a way to make it all fit.

But for today on a side note, please check out the Vitamin String Quartet if you never have before. They are a string quartet who has recorded literally hundreds of albums of covers of every kind of music imaginable. I think my spotify playlist is upwards of 100 now. Their version of Wonderwall is one of my favorites.  They are AWESOME and officially my favorite music to study by.

And please join me in welcoming back the pumpkin spice latte to Starbucks today.  Now that REALLY means it’s fall.

If you don’t hear from me for another month…I promise to at least post photos every now and again.  See Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr.

Happy Fall.

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When all else fails…stick yourself with needles

Nearly another month since I’ve found the time to post…sheesh, and sadly as I go into my master’s program in a few weeks, it’s going to get even harder. With all of the forthcoming stress, it really has been time to get some health issues in order.

Those of you who know me well know that it’s been a roller coaster of doctors, specialists, labs and many, many months of no real explanations.  It short – it hasn’t been fun and I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the whole western medicine philosophy of “find a symptom, treat it with a drug.”  For me and my particular problems…that just hasn’t been cutting it. So on top of a lot of work on my own (with still more necessary) and some other lifestyle adjustments, I recently decided to try acupuncture.

Despite the fact that I am deathly afraid of needles – and anything unknown really – the major draw to acupuncture was that eastern medicine treats you like a whole person, treating multiple symptoms at once and taking into account multiple factors in your health.  I’d been to so many doctors who didn’t really seem to care about trying to find a root cause to the problem.  “Well, it’s just probably stress,” they’d say. “It could be related to stress.” “You need to calm yourself down.”  “Stress management.” Great, thanks. Super helpful.

Obviously, I was ready for something different.

According to eastern medicine:

The Eastern Explanation for how Acupunctures works is that the life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee) can be influenced and balanced by stimulating specific points on the body. These points are located along channels of energy known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.  

I also liked the whole concept of pulling your body into “balance.”  Though I may not always succeed…balance is a state of life I am constantly striving for.  I’ve always loved yoga – even if I don’t make enough time for it in my life.  Etc.

Thank god for good insurance, seeing the multitude of doctors I have in the last ten months, we’d probably be out on the street without it.  And even more fortunately, acupuncture is partially covered for us. Yay!

So 3 weeks ago, I went over to Steve Phillips at Acupuncture Healing Arts for my first treatment.   I was extremely nervous – of the needles, of pain, of it not working and who knows what else.  I’m sure it also didn’t help that the most significant way stress manifests itself for me is anxiety…

But Steve was incredibly warm and understanding of my needle phobia.  And I don’t mean to sound all mystical on you all, but it was amazing what just a few needles did on the very first try.  First off, he pushed down on my stomach – which has always caused me some degree of pain.  He inserted just one needle into my wrist and one into my foot.  Then he pushed again.  The pain was immediately somewhat better.   I was shocked by the rapid effects and also relieved.

Maybe I had found something that could actually work?!

Steve continued placing needles strategically in different places on my body – a total of about 15 or so.  And most of them I didn’t even feel at all.  Ones near cartilage were a little bit more sensitive, but nothing more than a pinch.  I was then left with some quiet music for about 20 minutes while the needles worked their magic.  The only way I could describe it was that my body felt like it was buzzing with energy. It was an odd feeling and I still struggled fighting the wave of rising panic of being forced to sit still for a long period of time with a dozen needles sticking into me.  Afterwards, my stomach felt even LESS pain when he pressed down and I was thoroughly relaxed for the rest of the evening.  I was still in awe at what acupuncture had the potential to do for me.

My second treatment was much more relaxing…probably because I knew what was going to happen.  The third (last week) was a little more nerve racking, because I was worked up from a long week at work and he was trying some new needle positioning to treat additional symptoms.

But I am confident in the long term effects that it can have on diseases and issues that have been plaguing me for more than half my life.  Like any good thing…it just takes time.

But my takeaway is– if you have ever considered acupuncture and were afraid, don’t be.  Coming from one needle-phobe to another, it might be the best decision you make for your body, your health and honestly your overall wellbeing.

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On Gratefulness

While I still have not finished reading “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor – partially due to lack of time and partially due to my attention deficit of starting multiple books and novels all at the same time – we did watch a webinar with him the other day at work.

Many of the tools he talks about are of tremendous value in adding happiness to your life – and job – but probably my favorite was his statistic on how much happier you can make yourself if you just write down three things you’re grateful for everyday for 21 days.  It seems like such a simple act, but one that can make such a huge difference.   It helps you focus on the positive things and remember all that you are grateful for…even in tough times.

Speaking of which, did a fantastic post on this very topic recently called “The top 10 habits of grateful people even in tough times” 

Three things that specifically rang true to me were:

1)   They do not have preconditions to their happiness. They do not think “If this happens” only then “I will be happy.” They understand happiness is not coming from the outside, but from within. They focus more on their adjustment to what happens rather than try to change what cannot be changed.

Changing your thinking is the only way to change your circumstances. Outside factors (books, therapists, advice, etc) can all help put life into perspective, but really you and ONLY you can change the way you think.  And only you can decide to be happy – despite the circumstances. You can’t change what happens to you, but you can change how you react to it.

2) People who are grateful know that a grateful attitude takes work. Gratefulness does not always come naturally, especially in the most challenging times.  In such times, grateful people work on keeping a good perspective.  They might read affirmations, seek support form others, get help for their sadness or anxiety. Some will seek counseling and do not shy away from the effort it takes.

I love this because I completely agree…during the tough times, and all the time, it takes a true effort to be grateful for what you have and where you are.  It’s easy to complain, to be unhappy.  Choosing to be happy is what takes work. People who are not naturally happy and positive people tend to believe it comes without effort to those who project happiness. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  When you are pushing through all of the grime and the hard times, it can feel insurmountable to remember the good or pull out of the anxiety.  But you have to do the work and make the effort to get yourself there.

3) People who love to learn tend to be grateful. Each setback or unforeseen life event offers us lessons, and grateful people focus more on the lessons they can get out of each situation rather than the disappointments. After all, life is a great teacher and teaches us things that no one ever could. Even mistakes and failures are seen as learning opportunities.

I love this one because it follows the “Everything happens for a reason” mantra that I’ve always been so fond of.  No matter how difficult/frustrating/depressing/sad a situation is, there is always something positive to be taken away. Something to be learned.  Unfortunately those lessons may not always be clear right away…but they eventually present themselves.   This also reminds me of a Michael Franti song – Have  a Little Faith.  There’s one part where he says “When the hard times come, you know the teacher’s in the room”

Being grateful isn’t only for sitting around a table covered in turkey with the Macy’s parade playing in the background….what are 3 things you’re grateful for today?

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Lowering Bucket Levels

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the “How Full Is Your Bucket” book with the idea that anything you do or say can affect the levels of someone’s bucket. You can either add to their buckets with positive emotions or ‘bucket dip’ and take away from their wellbeing.

But I started to see the bucket metaphor differently as I was talking with my husband about some of the stress management training that he is doing with Amtrak at the moment – basically teaching them how to handle the stress when inevitably someone stupidly allows themself to get killed by the train. Blunt, I know – but it happens more than you think.

Anyway, the trainers gave light to a new bucket metaphor. An opposite one, really.  They talked about how everyone’s buckets can only be so full.

Only so full of tasks, priorities, commitments, stresses, etc.

And unfortunately – it’s those type-A, hyper-productive people – exactly like me –  who always keep their buckets just teetering on the edge of overflow.  Just within a thimble’s reach of collapse.

And the funny thing about science…when you keep your bucket at capacity all the time – the curve balls WILL send you into overflow – into meltdown.

So what’s the solution?  Keep my bucket levels lower. Get rid of commitments and allow for time and space to take care of myself.  Easy, right?   Not so much for me… Productivity, achievement and goals have ruled my life for many, many years.  But at the expense of my health, wellbeing and with a huge dose of anxiety. 

Somehow – that’s going to have to stop.  And I can’t say how I’m going to get there…exactly.  I can say it will probably include a combination of: meditation, yoga, therapy, acupuncture, reading, reassessment, learning to enjoy time, gratitude journaling, and a whole lot more.  Some of which I hope to share here.

It may include – Off Limit Sundays – coined by my father, wherein I am banned from scheduling anything on Sundays.  Specifically: any big things/trips/etc.  Moreover, not necessarily always Sundays but just one day a week where I give myself the space and time to recharge.  Sure, the day to day of chores and errands may creep in.  But my need for this ‘me time’ or ‘down time’ has become increasingly apparent over the last few months.

I literally stop functioning without it.  And that isn’t something I should be ashamed of.  The productivity-driven side of me tries to tell me I should.  I should be able to fit it all in – make it all happen.

But in reality, the only “should” I should be doing is respecting myself. Taking care of myself.

Here’s to trying.

 Photo credit: Pranav Singh
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