365 Single Days

It’s been said you should live alone for at least a year so you figure out who you are, what you like, etc.  I’ve done that.  In fact, I’ve probably now spent more years living on my own than I spent living with Ex Hubs.  Living alone is not the same as 365 single days.  While living alone I was still dating, or entertaining a gentleman caller, or something like that, during that time.  I just had my own place.  You do learn a lot by having your own place and I would join those who recommend it.

365 Single Days.  No dating.  No flings.  No walks of shame.  No kicking someone out of bed. No relationship drama.  No sex.

I learned a whole different set of things about myself in this kind of alone year.

This isn’t about woe is me, I’m single.  What I learned about 2/3 of the way through the year is that I had decided to be single.  I had friends who assured me that if I wanted a date, or to bring some guy home, I could make that happen.  Once I believed that, my perspective on the 365 days started to shift.  I don’t think I needed to use this time to “get to know me,” but it was helpful to have this time to get to know it’s okay to be alone.

seuss

I don’t know about you, but this is the longest stretch of single-ness since I turned 18.  There’s always been a guy, and all the drama, reflection, attention, collaboration, compromise, etc.. that they come with.

So, I can do it.  I can be alone.  Turns out I still shave my legs regularly, cook elaborate meals for just me, can figure out how to use a tile saw, and be just fine.

That doesn’t mean I prefer it.

I have super friends and family and they’re around for sharing news, hanging out, trying a new experience, seeing a movie, etc.  I can call and text and FaceTime them with all the weird and random things that happen throughout the day.  But there’s no one to help carry in the groceries.  Or help me put a bracelet on in the morning.  Or celebrate with me when I finally nailed the best 3 point turn path to get into my garage.  seuss quote 2

When I have done the 30 day stints with no sugar, dairy, etc you learn just how much you depend or count on foods that have little value to you.  It’s habit, or emotionally motivated, or sabotage.  365 single days leads to similar outcomes.  I tracked when I had my phone in my hand to dial old numbers out of habit, emotional states, or sabotage.  I learned new coping mechanisms.

There might be something about valuing myself more.  After eating “clean” for a long time, people are less inclined to start putting junk food back in their body.  After 365 single days, I’m less inclined to put junk people in my life.  Someone once told me they were ready to settle down, but not at all ready to settle.  That’s how I feel.  I spent all this time man detoxing, the next thing I put in better be good (take that how you want it – I didn’t intend it to be dirty – but I haven’t had sex in a year, so….)

Just for funsies, a friend and I went to “Wine and Psychic” night at a local wine bar two nights ago.  It was my first experience with a palm reader.  It was all in good fun, and yes, I understand that most people (especially single girls at wine and psychic night) want to hear that they’ll have success, happiness and love.  All she has to do is validate those are on their way and she’d make 90% of the people happy.  I know.  Regardless, she said some things that worked for me.  The one related to me and all the single days is that she told me I am a completely competent single person.  I got this.  I don’t need anyone to take care of me.  I don’t need your help.  I don’t want your money.  She said the next guy is on his way (she was pretty sure in the next 6 months the BIG ONE is going to be on my doorstep) and when he gets here I’m going to have to back off those tendencies.  I can do it, I can be alone and thrive.  To have successful relationship, I’m going to have to take care of me a little.  I know that I’m not so good at that.  I go out of the way to make sure people know I’m not taking advantage of them, or using them, or want something from them that I don’t think I deserve.  Maybe it’s not always my decision about what people want to give to me.

Not that this little unintentional experiment is over, time to make room in my life for whatever is next.

Things I did and things I almost did…

I did…register for a crap ton of runs coming up.  June 6th starts running club and I have the Shawshank 4 miler, the OSU 4 miler, the Dublin Quarter marathon and I swear there’s another one… Oh, I’m considering the Queen Bee half marathon in Cincy in October.  The jury is still out on this one.

One reason we're still just *thinking* about it.  Hello elevation.

One reason we’re still just *thinking* about it. Hello elevation.

I almost… got tattoo #3 this past weekend.  I know!  Three!  That’s crazy!  Three cats is the limit where one becomes a crazy cat lady, so is three tattoos the point in which one becomes a crazy tattoo lady?  I decided I wanted one that I could see (the other two are on my back) and I have the perfect idea for the next one.  My rule is that I have to want them for about 6 months before I get them, and I’m only going on about a month of this great idea.  But, it’s also summer and the ideal time for it to heal since I want it on my foot.

I did… See the new Avenger’s movie last weekend!  So great.  Just good summer blockbuster fun, made even more fun because I love the Studio 35 theatre. Planning on Pitch Perfect 2 this weekend when some girlfriends are in town.  AND since I love a summer disaster flick (my most favorite movie category) I’m also counting down the days until San Andreas comes out.  It will be hard to beat The Day After Tomorrow (reigning disaster flick champ), but this one seems like it has a lot of the same elements (giant boat in the city, fake science) PLUS it has The Rock.

Yes.

Yes.

I almost… speaking of movies, I almost saw Far Away From the Maddening crowd this past weekend also, alas, I did not.  Wasn’t that a good story?  Summer movies!!  I’ll need to create a set night where I get to the movies or I’ll be behind in no time.

I did…Start booking Spain last night!  I found apartments in Barcelona and Madrid that will be excellent home bases for each leg of the trip.  My traveling buddy keeps thanking me for doing all the planning.  Umm, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  This is the fun part!  Chrystal (travel buddy) and I haven’t traveled together in a long time, and never anywhere nearly as significant as internationally, but I already know we’re going to be just fine.  Chrystal is a casino friend I met way back in 2004 and she was someone that once I got to know, always knew would be a life long friend, no matter how long we go without major catch up sessions.  I’m thrilled this is working out this way!

I almost… finished the scheduled yard work Sunday.  In my defense, it rained!  This was going to be flowers and tree trimming weekend.  Last weekend was vegetables, weed killing/pulling, digging up dead shrub weekend.  So.. still no flowers, but maybe tonight.  I’d like to have them in by this weekend since…

I did… set some plans up for this weekend when Meg and Angela come to town!  I think I have a nice mix of girl time/meeting my Cbus friends/seeing the city/etc.  And I left enough time in the weekend for whatever we might spur of the moment add.  I love having visitors, and am so happy to show these two where I live, my house, introduce my friends, etc.

I almost… made some kind of canoli dessert this weekend.  I started Pinterest-ing some cannoli dessert ideas to go with an upcoming spring Italian dinner themed dinner party (prosciutto shrimp risotto, antipasti, bellinis) and now all I want to do is make canoli cheesecakes and cakes.  I did not make this last weekend because dinner party is this weekend and I would eat entire cake in the meantime.  Not the goal.

The day the music lived

I would say I’m a person who likes music.  I know what I like (motown, girly pop music, American Standards).  I know what I don’t (Red Hot Chili Peppers).  I know what I want on repeat (right now, Pinks “How Come You’re Not Here”.  I know what makes me dance around the house and sing at the top of my lungs (Grace Potter’s “Stars”, Cowboy Mouth, showtunes).

I would also say I’m a person who is not very educated about music.  I rarely know an indie band.  I still listen to the radio.  True story, most of the recent bands I like came from the Grey’s Anatomy or How I Met Your Mother Spotify playlists.  Don’t knock it, the shows have some amazing music on them.

And while I listen to music, quite often, I don’t know that I hear the music.  I don’t always pay attention to the lyrics, which is ironic since I sing along all the time.

It was college when I started to develop any musical taste of my own, and it was the era of Napster and ethernet music sharing.  It was the beginning of downloading the one song you wanted.  I rarely bought and listened to an entire album, in fact, the only cds I listened to entirely through were either soundtracks or Cowboy Mouth albums.

Most of the music I was really moved by was theatre/movie related.  I was moved by Jason Robert Brown music from The Last Five Years and Songs from a New World.  Watching the movie Once was incredible.  I associate music to the scenes I saw them with.

In the past few years there would be a song that would strike me as relevant, one that the lyrics gave me pause, made me think (“Let your heart hold fast” by Fort Atlantic, “Just give me a reason” by Pink). But mostly they were just kind of break up or longing songs.

Then yesterday happened.  I have a new colleague at work.  We’ll call him Chris (because that’s his name).  Chris is proving to be fun and smart and the small group of peeps I hang out with decides we should loop Chris into our gang.  While we were all in Vegas a couple weeks ago Chris mentions how much music is a part of his life, loves concerts, music festivals, etc.  Ok.  Not knowing about any of that, I listen, and then dismiss it.  Until yesterday.  Chris instant messages me (from about 50 feet away) and asks if I’ve heard of a band called the Avett Brothers.  I tell him he should always assume the answer to that kind of question is no.  I’ve never heard of any band.  He very quickly sends me a playlist to listen to, some must be listened to in a specific order.  Since I’m trying to forge the new inner circle friendship with this kid, I cue up the playlist and start to listen.  And because I’m a good friend I want to be able to tell him what I think of these songs, so I also open up a Word doc to jot down some thoughts while I’m listening.  Notes like, “ooh – a cello in this song!”, and “this one has more twang.  I don’t love twang.”  (I promise I’m doing actual work in between the listening and the note taking.  For a while anyway.)  By taking notes I’m listening more intently than perhaps I would if I were listening to music I already know.  I want to honestly tell my new pal what I think of the songs he’s taken the time to recommend to me.  And I’m listening to lyrics. And they make me feel things.

The Avett Brothers music really tells a story.   I was told to listen to the song “If it’s the Beaches” and follow it with “I would be sad.”  I did as I was told.  And it’s sad.  And I feel sad.  I feel lots of stuff.  This music is kind of overwhelming me.

Today Chris follows up his Avett Bros recommendation with a song called “If I Loved You” by band Delta Rae.  I listen.  Then I immediately get a Delta Rae station on Spotify.  It’s amazing.  And I’m listening.

I tell Chris he seems like a happy dude, and this music is all fairly sad and melancholy.  He acknowledged the music is all a little sad and said that’s how he deals with stuff.  “Hey, this guy singing this song feels the same way I do.  I’m not alone. Moving on!”  I said he may have a system I need to employ.

What else am I hearing and not really listening to?  I want music to distract me from my thoughts, not bring them to the forefront.  I won’t be able to avoid it with the emotional sandbag that got dropped on me.

Music.  Who knew?  It’s not just for dancing around in your underwear any more.

Listen to some stuff:

Proof that I…

… can build a simple IKEA shelf after happy hour!

BEFORE: Wall hooks in my bathroom that held towels and a few bathrobes.  I like bathrobes.  The problem was the hooks were loose in the plaster wall. Also, there was an opportunity to gain some storage in the little bathroom.

BEFORE: Wall hooks in my bathroom that held towels and a few bathrobes. I like bathrobes. The problem was the hooks were loose in the plaster wall. Also, there was an opportunity to gain some storage in the little bathroom.

AFTER: Woo!  That went together fast and meets the need!  Thanks, IKEA!

AFTER: Woo! That went together fast and meets the need! Thanks, IKEA!  I don’t know if that’s what will stay on the shelf long term, but it was nice to get a few things off the vanity.  

… have so much to still explore in Columbus!

Tonight I went to happy hour at the Grass Skirt Tiki Room.  A friend recommended it as our meeting spot because it reminded her of the Cantina in Star Wars, and today is Star Wars Day (May the 4th be With You!).  When I pulled it up online I was surprised to find this was downtown.  How is it possible I had not been to a Tiki bar downtown yet?!  I walked in and it is everything you want from a Tiki bar.  It was dark, lots of lights strung up, fake flower leis at the door, lots of kitchy stuff to look at and all the Tiki themed drinks you can handle!  Pineapple Pete’s were the drink special – so I had 2.  Coconut rum, pineapple juice, splash of club soda.  Mmmm.

Inside of the Tiki Room!  It's sooo great!

Inside of the Tiki Room! It’s sooo great!

… can’t even sustain the fictional relationships.  [Spoiler alert.]

Have you heard about McDreamy? I feel pretty betrayed by the move to kill of Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy.  I feel the move broke the promise the show had made to me, which is that Meredith gets a happy ending.  Two weeks ago when I watched the episode where he kicks it was a hard night.  I thought this past week, just the Derek retrospective would be easier.  Not the case.  For the second Friday I found myself crying into a glass of red wine.  Booooooo.

Bye, McDreamy.  I'll miss you.

Bye, McDreamy. I’ll miss you.

…can become a morning person.

I couldn’t stop things being scheduled after work.  This is mostly a good problem to have.  I know.  Happy hour tonight and Thursday, dinner with a friends, hair appointments, Pecha Kucha Columbus, a screening of a new kind of workout – called Pound; these are all things that are coming up in the next couple weeks.  Which means I had to start going to the gym in the morning.  Before work.   This is a first.  Preparation is key.  It’s all about packing the gym bag with my work clothes and laying out my work out clothes the night before.  This is really the barrier point.  So, I get up, get to the new gym, and typically get to work earlier than I would have before I started this routine.

Technology is taking over

I kind of love “big brother.”  I’m perfectly happy with Google reading my emails, figuring out that I have a flight at 7pm, using my phone’s GPS to know where I am and sending me an alert that says I should leave by 5:25 if I want to get to the airport an hour early.  That technology is so okay with me.  it’s like having a me around to confirm and remind me.  And in lieu of an actual boyfriend/spouse to do that, I’ll take being in a relationship with Google.  I can count on it.

But the other aspects of technology that are bumming me out lately are the what Seth Godin talks about in his daily blog.  I subscribe to his quick email hits and every now and then one really strikes a nerve, like this bit from the 4/11 blast.

Seth’s tips for Digital Hygiene

  1. Turn off mail and social media alerts on your phone.
  2. Don’t read the comments. Not on your posts or on the posts of other people. Not the reviews and not the trolls.
  3. De-escalate the anger in every email exchange.
  4. Put your phone in the glove compartment while driving.
  5. Spend the most creative hour of your day creating, not responding.

Number 2 especially lately.  I get sucked into the comments a lot lately, and mostly they really upset me.  A great example from just yesterday.  There’s a pic on the local paper’s Facebook feed of the National College Football champs – the Buckeyes – with President Obama to celebrate their win earlier this year.  I clicked the comments, expecting to see people saying – Yay!  How Cool!  Way to go, Bucks!  Instead, I was shocked to see so many hateful comments about how the boys should “be ashamed of themselves” for posing with that “expletive expletive”.  So many comments like that!  Like this president or not, it’s an honor the football team to meet the president of the United States, whoever it is.  It’s an honor and a celebration and I could not believe how nasty some of it was.  I just got really bummed out.  I got obsessed with comments on all of the Indiana RFRA story comments.  I read them on cnn.com, on Facebook, on the Indy Star page.  Why am I doing this?!

Point #5 struck me too.  I’ve mentioned before how I’m working to break the habit of grabbing the phone or iPad first thing in the morning.  It’s a habit clearly still in the forming phase.  I could be creating more instead of getting all head twisted around nonsense.

Routine! Where are you?! I need you!

One week and one day on the road.  Two different trips back to back.

It’s lovely that I can attend conferences and travel back to see my family and friends, so I’m not really complaining.  It’s just also lovely to be back at home.  I’m exhausted, have gotten very little done today, just recovering from the Assoc of Change Mgmt Professionals Conference in Vegas and then a quick trip back to STL to see some fam and friends.

This was my second trip to Vegas this year and both were a lot more fun than I thought they would be.  I am very fortunate to work with some amazing people and I recognize how fortunate I am to have great co-workers.  Conferences are a mix of hit and miss.  Some sessions inspire and motivate and give you direction.  Some make me look around the room and wonder why I didn’t present this sooner.  The weather was mostly amazing (minus one major wind storm that moved our last night pool party indoors) and that made for some great pool side breaks and team bonding.

I’ll have to revisit all of the notes I took.  In addition to session notes, I would also jot down some action steps I can take or things to look into soon after the conference.  I need a minute to process all I heard and all I think I can do with it.

I also had the great opportunity to attend a very cool cocktail party hosted by one of the vendors in the High Roller ferris wheel.  It’s similar to the London Eye, each car holds about 30 ppl and it takes 30 minutes to make a full loop.

High Roller is behind the Flamingo/Harrah's area - with a great new shopping area on the walk to it.

High Roller is behind the Flamingo/Harrah’s area – with a great new shopping area on the walk to it.

There's what a car looks like.  A little party pod!

There’s what a car looks like. A little party pod!

I hung out with 25 other very interesting and very smart change leaders that night.  I am thrilled I got that invite!

The only picture I took of me in the pod, just to prove I was there.

The only picture I took of me in the pod, just to prove I was there.  

The one picture I took out the window.  I was enjoying all the company too much!

The one picture I took out the window. I was enjoying all the company too much!

Overall, the trip was very good.  Networking, learning, pooling, team building… a nice time had by all.

I got home about 1am Thursday morning and then boarded another flight that afternoon to go back to STL.  This trip had been planned for some time.  Angela and I decided to run The Color Run together again.  We had a lot of fun doing it a couple years ago and it was a good reason to get home (not knowing I was going to be home just a couple weeks ago to check in on a failing health grandpa).  I got to the Lou late Thursday night, had a drink at the cocktail bar and put myself to bed.  Friday morning was up to meet Ex Hubs at Forest Park for the 6 mile loop (which is basically just a walk in the park to him these days with his ultra high mileage… see what I did there – walk in the park?!)  I cleaned up, went to check in on Grandpa and Grandma.  Grandpa was transferred to a nursing facility just Thursday night after 31 days in the hospital.  Which means he showed enough improvement to be transferred, but it’s still not good.  And I still can’t really talk about that.  I left a few hours later to pick up race packets, pick up groceries and head to my favorite family, the Hamptons.  I always love hanging out with them, cooking with the kids, and just generally feeling happy and at home.  It was make your own pizza night that night – I picked up all kinds of interesting pizza toppings – from traditional pepperoni to pear and arugula.  We cooked some in the oven, we grilled some, and all were accompanied by some of Mr. H’s home brews.  Perfect.

The day wasn’t done yet!  I left just in time to get back downtown where I was meeting Angela at the hotel I was staying in and we had a little slumber party the night before the run.  We chatted and caught up and had a low key morning planned for the low key Color Run.

Before....

Before….

After...

After…

Before...

Before…

After...

After…

Always fun!

Always fun!

This year’s Color Run included GLITTER!  And if I learned anything from a certain history timeline project in 10th grade, it’s that glitter is forever.  It is absolutely still in my hair.  Part of the back of my arm is absolutely still blue.  I’m just about to hop in the shower and make some more progress in de-Smurfing myself.

Angela and I did our best to clean up (the first of a few showers) and grabbed an amazing brunch.  I met up with Claire for ice cream and then headed to my sister’s to hang out with this baby.

So cute.

So cute.

She has a Fisher Price doctor’s kit that comes with a fake scalpel.  We were playing with all the pieces in it the kit, Ave would hand me one and I would look in her ears, or put on the stethoscope, but every time she handed me the scalpel, I pretended it was a phone.  I was just a little weirded out by that.

I left early this morning, was back home by noon and crashed.  Had intentions to do stuff.  Did not do stuff.  I can hardly believe tomorrow is Monday.  Alas, it is and prepare for it I must.

The IRS is harshing my buzz

I went to a new restaurant for happy hour/dinner with Peter tonight.  While I have been fairly loyal to Bakersfield for all my taco and margarita needs, Condado has shown me that I might need to spread the love around a little.  Delicious blood orange margarita.  Delicious blackberry margarita.  Delicious tacos.  (Do you see a theme?)  I came home with a happy little buzz from happy hour which quickly fizzled when I got the mail.

The IRS has changed their mind and does not think I paid enough in taxes in 2013.  So I have to either accept their assessment or fill out an amended tax return.  I do not accept their assessment.  Amended tax return here I come.  It’s made me hunt for a couple of documents that I don’t have copies of any longer which has sent me on a bit of a personal goose chase.

In the same vein, I got a renewal notice for the website I created when I thought I’d make a legitimate go at independent consulting or workshop facilitation.  I suppose it’s time to let that site go.  I’m not doing any of that work, don’t intend to do any of that work.  Even though every time I hear some other speaker I think – I could do that!!!!  Sarah Speaks was a Plan B a couple years ago.  But it’s not anything I put attention to right now.  Time to let it go.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 9.24.06 PM

Over the tacos and margaritas there was a conversation about mindfulness and being present this year.  The theme that keeps presenting itself to me.  I think being in the moment would tell me to let go of an old Plan B.  Although the IRS might tell me to stay diversified.  Decisions, decisions…