Stress. It’s a thing.

Alternate title: My therapist gave me an A

It’s not unusual to be hard on oneself, right?

I’m fairly open about the fact that I check in with a therapist every now and then.  I kind of think everyone would benefit from some insight into themselves from an outside source.  Today, I was struggling that I’m wasting time – not a new theme for me.  Claire tells me I’m so impatient.  I do live with a sense of urgency that can lead to anxiety.  Awareness is the first step, right?  I told the good Doctor that here we are, near the end of summer, and what did I do?  I’m haven’t finished Infinite Jest, I haven’t run regularly, the basement could be more organized (I finally bought the shelves!)… I could go on.

Good Doctor tells me I’m being too hard on myself and I needed to list all the things that I did accomplish in the last 60 days.  Work/professional stuff is going so well lately – OD Conference, the case study for the chapter in the OD book with Mr. Head of the Largest Change Mgmt Research Company, I was selected for as a member of the New Chapter formation committee for ACMP (Assoc of Change Mgmt Professionals) and the potential re-org at work that may lead to something bigger and better.  I worked on the house, maintained Sarah’s Farm (home of the Farm Fresh vegetables), bought a new car, settled into some new social scenarios, stopped binge eating (yeah – that was becoming a problem) and have reintroduced some exercise into my life.

The thing she said that had the biggest impact on me was a simple validation that there are a lot of stressful situations I’m in right now.  Still being new to Columbus, lack of social/family structure, lack of the relationship I was counting on here, buying a house, buying a car, repaying student loans, getting a new job in a new field… these things are hard.  They take time to get through.  She mentioned the actual stressful life factors test is the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.  Out of curiosity, and because who doesn’t love an assessment, I searched for the scale and took it.  If you’re curious, the link has an easy graphic where you click what applies and it adds it up for you.  Or, here is the scale:

Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale

Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale

Go ahead – add ‘em up.

Would you like to know my score?  Of course you would!  Why else have you read this far… 508.  Five Hundred and Eight.  And these are just listing the things that have happened in the last year!!  Here’s what the scoring on that is…

Scoring The Life Change Index
The body is a finely timed instrument that does not like surprises. Any sudden change
stimuli which affects the body, or the reordering of important routines that the body
become used to, can cause needless stress, throwing your whole physical being into
turmoil.

The following chart will give you some idea of how to informally score yourself on Social
Readjustment Scale. Since being healthy is the optimum state you want to achieve, being
sick is the state of being you most want to avoid.

Life Change Units Likelihood Of Illness In Near Future
300+ about 80 percent
150-299 about 50 percent
less than 150 about 30 percent

Really?!?! An 80% increase in the likelihood of a stress related illness in the near future?!  This explains the insomnia and general moodiness perhaps.  

So.  Stress.  Validation.

In the spirit of immediately trying to combat the stress, I joined some co-workers at a concert tonight.  One of our bosses has a brother who is the bass player in the band Walk the Moon.  They are a fun, poppy, alternative band and all from Columbus and Cincinnati – so, Ohio grown.  They are most known for their song, Anna Sun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDVW81bXo0s

Tonight they played one of their new songs, Shut Up and Dance With Me.  Loved it!  Technically, it’s not released yet (on their album coming soon!!) but I did find it on You Tube.  (Audio Only)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhFvpS-I_6U

Sadly, knowing the sister of the bass player did not get us backstage or anything.

Sadly, knowing the sister of the bass player did not get us backstage or anything.

A great time with some catchy tunes and two beers – just enough to make me feel like dancing.

Sarah v. the weekend, vol 6

It’s Sarah vs. the weekend, volume 6, y’all!

  • I cooked dinner Friday night!  This is generally not remarkable except that I have completely lost my appetite the last couple of weeks.  I’m not cooking much, have no desire to get take out, just not hungry.  But, Friday night, inspired by Sarah’s Farm Fresh Zucchini, I made a zucchini “pasta” with pesto and salmon.  It was easy and really good.  It felt nice to eat real food.  Sarah vs. no appetite….winner: Vegetables!  Just a couple of months ago I was in a crazy unhealthy eating pattern, dealing with stress with a fair amount of binge eating.  I know not eating isn’t healthy either, so making a real meal with real food that was delicious wins.  

Use the mandolin to make the "zoodles"

Use the mandolin to make the “zoodles”

Saute zoodles with some Sarah's Farm Fresh cherry tomatoes

Saute zoodles with some Sarah’s Farm Fresh cherry tomatoes

Stir in some pesto at the end of the saute and add a piece of baked salmon on top.

Stir in some pesto at the end of the saute and add a piece of baked salmon on top.  Yum.

  • Saturday morning was the Color Run.  If you’ve read this blog for a minute you’ll know this is one of my favorite events.  This is the third year I’ve run the race.  My friend Kristy ran with me this year.  Something was just off from the very beginning though…I’m sure it’s me and my blah mood lately, but even the color run couldn’t work it’s magic on me this year.  Kristy is more of a walker than a runner, the color stations were really crowded, the music at the color party at the end wasn’t awesome.  I don’t know.  Sarah vs. The Color Run…winner: Doing what you say you’re going to do.  I’m glad I went.  I’m glad I kept the Color Run streak going.  I have hope that next year will be better and I’ll look back on this one and smile that I did it, even in my funky mood.  

 

Post Co;or Run 2014.  Even the post photo isn't as fun.

Post Color Run 2014. Even the post photo isn’t as fun and bright.  I’m just off this year. 

Color Run 2013 - super happy!

Color Run 2013 – super happy!

Post Color Run 2012... One of my favorite pics of me ever.

Post Color Run 2012… One of my favorite pics of me ever.

  • Once the Color Run was over I had to get cleaned up and book it to the local Mazda dealership.  I brought Molly Mazda (my 2005 Mazda 3) in Thursday morning and the service center called Friday evening to tell me the car needed a fair amount of work.  Lots of little things, and mostly standard maintenance, that all added up.  Struts and brake pads and rotors and alignment and brake fluid flush and a heat shield and something about air in the fuel line…I was thinking about buying a car next year, so putting the nearly 3K into the car now seemed silly.  I spent some time Friday night looking at their pre-owned selection knowing that I needed to go in with a plan.  I can be easily persuaded, so I needed to be firm in what I wanted.  I found a Mazda 3 (I just really like this car) 2011 hatchback model with about 34K miles.  Done.  That’s what I wanted.  When I got to the dealership Saturday around noon it was pretty busy.  The service guy (who may be the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life) introduced me to a sales guy and we started talking about what I wanted.  I told him I saw three pre-owned cars on their website last night that I’d like to look at – told him what my budget was – and where I wanted to be for a monthly payment.  The little blue hatchback I saw online sold the night before.  There was a pre-owned CX-7 I wanted to check out, just for fun.  I test drive it.  It’s way too big.  After that he tries to talk me into a lease on a new CX-5, my most favorite model.  He’s persuasive.  He has me test drive a new 2014 Mazda 3.  I tell him I’ll think about the lease while I’m out in that one.  This is when I call Ex Hubs who is on standby during my car buying experience.  Ex Hubs talks me down from the sales pitch and I remember the plan I came in with.  When I get back to the dealership (all these test drives are me alone – this is different from the last time I bought a car where the sales guy came with) I ask him to review the pre-owned stock for 2011 or newer Mazda 3, preferably hatchback, and with a moon roof.  We’re back on track.  He brings around two cars – a 2011 really pretty blue one with black cloth interior and a 2012 silver one with black leather interior.  The 2012 was the Grand Touring model.  Meaning, it was pretty tricked out, I mean, for me.  Leather seats with seat warmers, the locks that lock automatically when you put it in drive, Bluetooth, auto headlights, and Bose sound system.  I loved it.  I actually like the interior of the 2012 more than the 2014 – I think in trying to make it minimal they made it ugly.  So, while I like the blue color better, overall the silver car is clearly the winner.  Heated seats!  That’s the dream!   It drives so nicely.  I decide on this one and then probably wait another 2 hours to do paperwork with my sales guy and then the finance guy.  Overall I’m at the dealer for about 5.5 hours.  While I’m waiting I get the keys to Molly Mazda back and transfer the stuff I had in it to the new car.  That’s when it hits me I have to leave her there.  Oh Molly.  The first car I ever bought.  Nearly a decade of memories.  I had a moment to say goodbye.  Then I just left her there.  Sigh.  The universe is conspiring to make sure I don’t end 2014 with anything I started the year with.  Sarah vs. the unexpected new car…Winner: Molly Mazda for being a great companion for the last 9.5 years.  
Introducing... Ted Mosby.  Yes, I named my car Ted Mosby.  I wanted him in my life and I feel this is how the universe answered me.

Introducing… Ted Mosby. Yes, I named my car Ted Mosby. I wanted him in my life and I feel this is how the universe answered me.

wpid-20140720_105840.jpg

What can I say – I just really like the Mazda 3. Zoom Zoom.

 

Oooh - pretty interior.

Oooh – pretty interior.

  • Sunday morning was the first time I took Ted out for a spin.  We drove across town to an 8:15am Jazzercise class.  It was a nice way to start the day – gave me energy for all the stuff on my list of things to do today, since I wasn’t expecting to spend so long at the dealership yesterday.  I stopped at the grocery store after working out and then Lowe’s for a few things I needed for chores around the house.  It was nice to tool around town in a car that had that new car smell.  Sarah vs. Sunday morning…Winner: Sarah!  Get up, get going, and get stuff done!
  • The biggest undertaking of the day was wallpapering the accent wall.  The wallpaper arrived Friday and that meant I didn’t need to let another weekend go by without some progress on the kitchen.  Here’s what’s happening with the kitchen… I got the phone call from the counter top people last Friday who tell me they can’t install then until July 31.  Meaning I can’t tile the backsplash until the weekend of August 9th because the first weekend of August is my soon to be god daughter’s baptism.  I started this kitchen adventure July 3rd.  Until August 10th.  Sheesh.  Anyway – two very important things got done today – the accent wall and the drawer and cabinet pulls!  Wallpapering was an adventure.  I haven’t done that in a really long time – since my grandparents bathroom when I was in college, maybe?  I for sure had a mis-step or two, but after the second strip I had it down.  Sarah vs. DIY kitchen projects… Winner: Accent walls.  It’s so fun and it makes me smile and looks like me.  I can’t wait to get this whole thing done and share the final after pictures.  
There it is!  Orange with clip art-y utensils.  I pretty much love it

There it is! Orange with clip art-y utensils. I pretty much love it!

I have cabinet pulls!

I have cabinet pulls!

I have drawer pulls!

I have drawer pulls!

Since I had the drill out and was feeling so good about knocking stuff off the list, I thought I’d hang the new curtain in my half bathroom.  When I went to IKEA a couple weeks ago I bought the curtain panel and hanging system… so I thought.  Turns out I didn’t buy all the pieces required so I had to order a mounting system and sliding rail for this panel and wait for them to get shipped.  I spent more than an hour attempting to put this bastard up.  F$@* you, IKEA.  F@#& you and your ridiculous curtain panel system and stupid directions.  I got the wall brackets mounted – in a way that is not structurally sound at all – but then could not figure out how to attach the rail to the brackets.  I watched videos, I googled IKEA sites, I found pdfs for mounting.  Nothing answered my question.

The current state of this project.

The current state of this project.

Sarah vs. IKEA… Winner: Sweeden.  I don’t even know what my next step is here.  

Ending on a positive note… Months ago I saw a picture on Pinterest something like this…

Gross old end table into super cute cat bed/end table!

Gross old end table into super cute cat bed/end table!

D and I completed this project months ago – finding an old end table at some thrift store, D took off the doors and spray painted the hardware for me and we painted it.  I put a blanket in it and had it as my nightstand and the cats never got in it.  Bummer.  When I moved into the house I put that table in my tv room and put in a real cat bed instead of just a blanket.  And today, I’m thrilled to say Quinn is making herself at home in it pretty regularly.

IMG_9575

She loves it.

IMG_9571

Sarah vs. kooky DIY projects… Winner: Quinn.  It’s adorable and functional.  She and I are both very happy with this turn of events.  

 

Yowza.

I admit it.  I do the occasional facebook stalking on some old friends.  I don’t think it’s creepy, or at least, I don’t intend to be creepy.  People that were incredibly important to me for a long time – hard to drop them completely and I have always smiled when I’ve seen a random picture of them happy and having families and going on trips or whatever.  I am pretty sure these are ties that are severed forever, but I still like to pause and send happy thoughts into the universe about them.  Weird.  I suppose.

I believe it is a rule of life that when you go snooping you absolutely find things you wish you never knew.  I come to this rule conclusion from the times I’ve snooped and have always found things I wish I did not know.  Very scientific.  This evening, after a run, after a shower and while I sit on my bed in my bathrobe trying to decide what my next move is (pizza? no. cereal? no. wine?  probably.) I was trolling some old friends pages.  Only to come across a joke about this very blog – which does not seem to be highly regarded.  Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and since I was snooping anyway I don’t harbor any ill will, but…

It stung momentarily.  My first reaction was to be embarrassed.  How mildly traumatizing to realize people you haven’t spoke to in 4 years are judging you by the random musings on an infinitesimal sliver of the internet.  Then came sad – sad I wasn’t able to repair those relationships, sad I couldn’t learn my lessons faster, be less of a jerk back in the day, etc.  I’ll always be sad that those few tough years overshadowed the years before and the potential for becoming better again.

Blogging has been on my mind the last couple of days.  I like writing, journaling, processing “out loud” but thought a transition back to pen and paper may be the way to go.

Then I thought of the kind of fun stuff I’ve done because of this very lame space.  Helped dozens of other women craft a Cinderella running costume.  Have some of my food photography make a San Francisco wedding magazine.  Make some significant connections with amazing women in Kansas City, MO and Little Rock, Arkansas.  Keep friends from Washington DC to Napa up to date – when it’s so easy to lose touch – this space has been a way for friends who choose to keep up with what’s going on to do so between the times we see each other or catch up in person.  I learned  about the Princess Half Marathon from a blogger and research so many recaps so I would know what to expect at a runDisney event and feel that was a big part of my successful Tink weekend and (knock on wood) will be part of my Princess weekend success.

So.  The moment has passed and I again learn my lesson about snooping.  And perhaps one about really letting go.

This weekend is about teaching a friend to make quiche, spending time with Doug, packing for a great work trip next week, officially beginning the house hunt here in Columbus, making plans to visit a friend in Richmond, finalizing all the Princess Half plans with Claire…

Next time I’m looking to fill some idle time I’ll fold some laundry.  There is always laundry to be folded.

past

Cheers to a whole new year

happy new yearI do set resolutions (or goals or plans or whatever you would like to call them) every new year.  Some years they are a list of tasks (like making my bed every day) and some years they are broader, like last year’s plan to just believe it was going to be a the best year ever.  I read last year’s New Year’s post this morning.  I had almost forgotten how optimistic and blindly determined that it was going to be awesome.  And the thing is, it was.  I believed in school, took  a chance that a job offer in another state was the right one, believed Doug was just the man for me and waited for him to believe it too.  2013 was a really beautiful year for me and I go into 2014 wanting very little.  I am going to continue the idea of picking a word to prescribe the fate of the new year.  This year it is HEALTH.

health2This isn’t a resolution to be a lower number on a scale, which have dictated years of my resolutions.  This is about overall health, and in some unexpected places.  I have two overall Health goals and then some monthly task goals…

Overall Health

It’s about Financial Health.  It’s time for this gal to get her money stuff together.  I created a budget, set up a tracking system, and am working on the mindset that I don’t need to buy my loved ones off just so they know I love them.

It’s about Mental Health.  This one is embarrassing and personal – and something I’ve said before, which is really why it’s embarrassing.  My friend Claire once told me I’d struggle staying on the “crazy pill”, aka Zoloft, my whole life.  That I’d stop and restart taking it for years.  Eventually I would learn I just need to stay with it.  I thought I’ve been there before – but still spent some significant chunks of 2013 self diagnosing.  That’s done.  I’m a better person on the pills and on them I will stay.

In 2013 I also learned that you can’t throw everything at a wall and expect it to stick.  I read the book The Happiness Project last year and was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s year long plan broken out into monthly tasks.  I remember wanting to implement her plan, but needed to find a way to personalize it and not just take her initiatives.  I was struck with the idea to explore different aspects of healthy living through 2014 in different month long chunks.  Each month will have a fitness focus, a habit focus and a soul (creative & spiritual) focus.  I’ve started sketching out what the year holds…

wpid-1388105222906.jpgThe fitness column is a specific workout type activity that I want to try, want to get back to, etc.  For example, I’ve wanted to try spinning, so one month I’ll take a couple classes a week and try it out.  Jan and Feb are pre-destined to be running focused because of the 10K/Half Marathons at Disney.

The habit column picks up a healthy habit: flossing!  moisturizing!  1 hr of tv a night!

The Soul column is a strange catch all for creative and spiritual undertakings.  I want to go to Yoga, take another calligraphy class and take pretty pictures of food again.

Most of the rows aren’t in market yet.  I have post-its with ideas and want to keep the plans kind of fluid.  I would hate to commit to Spinning classes in March only to find out the group class schedule doesn’t match up with my work schedule or something.  So, I’ll have to firm some things up as the year goes on, but I also think that’s the right way to do it.  Setting a plan in stone on January 1 may not be the best way to keep this plan up all year.  Hard to plan for a whole year.  Something it’s taken years for me to be able to say.

healthSo, this is how we begin 2014 -

January
Fitness: Running – preparing for the Tink 10K and Half in just a couple weeks!

Habit: Moisturize.  That may sound funny, but I’m not getting any younger and I have so much lotion around the house.  I get super dry skin in the winter.  This was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of general 2014 resolutions in December.

Soul: Nourish self with real food.  I completed the Whole30 in November and never felt better.  Confident, energetic, rested…that’s why this went in the Soul column.  I’d like to start the year by making sure I can reach that inner Sarah stuff and I can’t if I’m mad about what I’m eating or feeling gross.  I can’t say that I’m starting the Whole30 strictly again right now because I haven’t come up with great pre-race or during race running substitutions for whole wheat tortillas, gatorade or Swedish fish candy.  So, 98% of the time I’ll be eating that way.  (Had an awesome thyme braised beef stew with mashed cauliflower tonight for dinner, courtesy of Well Fed 2!)

Be healthy, be happy, be you.

Happy 2014 blog-land.

health1

 

 

 

A story. In many, many parts.

I. Vacation

I was on vacation last week.  I took the opportunity to stay away from most social media while I was gone.  It was really nice.  All of it was nice.  It was a vacation in three distinct phases.  I took almost no pictures and I’m going to try and capture the highlights.  Which as I sit here seems incredibly daunting because last week was monumental.  It was a week that goes in the Sarah History book.  That sounds dramatic, but, you’ll see…

My time away started 40 minutes north of Asheville, NC at a big, beautiful cabin at the top of a mountain.  6 bedrooms, amazing kitchen, 5 classmates, 2 facilitators and an emotional experience to beat the band.  A few classmates and I chose to be part of a organizational behavior process called a T Group.  It’s an experience that focuses on feelings in the here and now.  There are only two rules – use “I” statements and you must remain in the present – if the experience, feeling, person, etc isn’t in the room then they are not in the conversation.  It’s intense and there’s a real learning curve for those rules.  I really didn’t know what to expect going in and I purposely kept myself in the dark about the expectations of the weekend so I wouldn’t create biases.

Warning: cheesy ahead.  I can’t describe the weekend.  It was every bit as intense as promised and I love these classmates and facilitators I went through it with in a very special way, as they were witness and participants to this work.  I felt overwhelmed, confused, sad, bad, mad, glad and afraid at certain parts.  I really experienced change and internalized awareness.

I also felt a yearning.  Marcus Buckingham, who presents on the Strength Finders assessment and co-authored a good deal about the topic, says one should pay attention to the yearnings – those intense callings to something.  For me, it was Graphic Facilitation.  One of our facilitators also worked as a graphic facilitator – a tool to visually record and organize a meeting, process, thoughts, etc.  You can go here for some examples.  A friend of mine had recently posted on FB that she was taking a graphic recording workshop and I was really intrigued then.  Once I saw this facilitator complete some of it – I was hooked.

I’m getting off track.  (I could use a graphic recording for this post.)  That was vacation part 1 and it was great. Vacation part 2 was EVEN GREATER!

Mystery Man (actually, it’s not much of a mystery any longer – let’s call him D from here on, shall we?  I shall.) D and I left the retreat and headed to a different cabin atop a different mountain.  It was a belated birthday present – a peaceful trip off the grid and a chance for us to spend time together – no school, no hotels, no classmates, no kids, no pets – just he and I spending actual time together.  The cabin we found was right out of Sleeping Beauty – when the King and Queen send Aurora to live in the woods so the evil lady can’t find her?  It was like that.  A sweet, little, comfortable cabin for two.  We had everything we needed, including lots of dry firewood to make lots of fires while we curled up, played Scrabble and I was introduced to Duck Dynasty.  (Which I surprisingly loved.)  We hiked, and read, and talked, and napped and sat in the hot tub under the stars (more on that later).

Vacation moved on to West Virginia for the next few days, but took on a different tone.  D organized an offsite retreat for the company he works for and I was along for the ride.  I went to a few dinners with them and spent some time at the spa and managed to have breakfast at the Greenbriar with my friend Meg.

II. Boys

So, let’s talk about boys.  One boy, in particularly.  And, man is probably the more appropriate term.  D is in the master’s program with me and we’ve been seeing each other when we can – mostly school weekends.  The more I see him, know him, listen to him, understand him, learn about him, make him laugh, ask him…the more I like him.  He was always my favorite classmate and transitioning to him being my favorite guy has been really wonderful.

This week was something new for us – spending 8 consecutive days together is a first.  And not just regular days – intense retreat days, fairy tale cabin days and then work conference days.  Each of those phases brought different aspects of me to the relationship.  Sometimes I’m good, sometimes I’m a lot to take.  And I’m constantly afraid people are getting tired of me.

There were two distinct and dichotomous moments on this trip.  That shouldn’t seem like blog-worthy news.  Couples have highs and lows.  The intensity of these two moments came in such a short time span that both left me speechless in their own way.  I’m hesitant to describe either of them here because I know we have mutual acquaintances who read me blather on here – and while I opened myself up to public viewing of my thoughts – he didn’t necessarily sign up for that.  So, those are stories going in the old fashioned hand written journal.

III. Lists

If you’ve ever wandered over to the page on this blog entitled List 2.0 you’ll see my list of things to do before I die.  An oddly specific item is this:

Spend time in a cabin in Asheville, NC to recharge, hike and sit in a hot tub under the stars

I know.  Oddly specific.  I attribute it to the blog Peanut Butter Runner.  I started reading a lot of fitness and running blogs when I started training for the half and ran across this one.  Jen lives in Charlotte and gets away to Asheville, NC pretty regularly.  I was reading her Asheville posts – about the great food, funky vibe and the cabin and the hiking and I was overcome with the yearning to do this.  (Pay attention to yearnings!)  Onto The List it went and crossed off it is.  I felt incredibly recharged after just a couple of days at the fairy tale log cabin with D.  Monday night, after Scrabble, after dinner, after some more Duck Dynasty – the clouds had all gone away and there were stars.  I sat outside and tilted my head back so it was resting on the edge of the hot tub behind me and just stared at the stars.  And made lots and lots of wishes.  It was a beautiful moment, and a really romantic one at that.

IV. Wishes coming true

So, then this thing happened where I got a job.  A stars-aligned into the perfect scenario kind of job.  April 2nd I was told my position is being eliminated.  April 15 I was told I wasn’t right for this job.  April 30 – I kind of bombed a technical interview they put me through on a 2nd chance.  May 7 – I have a 20 minute interview with the actual hiring manager and I have the offer 24 hours later.  And it’s not just a job.  It’s a job that will let me do what I’ve been doing and am good at for the last 8 years and combine that with the Organizational Development tools and concepts I’ve been working on with my master’s.  It’s this perfect bridge to the other side of Organizational Change Management – which is what I want to do.  It’s a job where my title is consultant.  It’s a job that will pay me enough to start paying back the school loans I took out to get the legitimate education behind what I want to do.  It’s a job that makes me feel valued.  Like all the steps back in the last few years were worth it – because this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.  I’ll be moving to Columbus, OH in just a couple of weeks.

I’ve never been to Columbus, OH before.  I really need to figure this out.

When I think about the roller coaster of the last 6 weeks, it’s nothing compared to the roller coaster of these 6 days!  Leaving the school retreat content to start thinking about what comes next and focus on what I’m good at and two days later have that job in hand.  I had no idea what the week would bring when it started – but I almost like that it all happened so close together.  We never know when the biggest days (or week) of our life is going to be – and this was absolutely one of the biggest weeks of my life.

I can say this next sentence without it being scary…

I don’t know what happens next!

I don’t know where in Columbus I’m moving, I don’t know what happens next with D, I don’t know who I’ll work with, I don’t know exactly what the work will turn out to be…and I can hardly wait to find out!

We do it to ourselves.

I try to not use this blog as a soap box.  It’s all really self involved, really.  I have a few friends that keep up with me through it, and I’ve made a few friends by blogging and it’s all fun and games.

Except today, when it’s going to get a little soap-box-y up in here.  This is the tale of two things that happened today that made me sad for women.  I don’t think anyone would classify me as a crazy feminist.  I want equal rights and all, but I’ve never been a particularly “power to the sisterhood” kind of gal.  I’m more like Ainsley Hayes, from West Wing.  And if you’re not one of my two readers who are Sorkin freaks like I am – here’s a clip to bring you in the loop:

Back to my soap box…

As someone who blogs, it should go without saying that I also read a fair amount of blogs.  I have stumbled across blogs that have inspired me to run, cook something healthy, try a new recipe, try a new lip gloss, look into foster kids, create great date nights, read a new book, travel to a new place and sometimes, most important, make me feel not so alone.  There are a host of blogs written by women about my age going through about the same stuff as me.  And sometimes I read one for a while, I decide I’m over that person, or find them annoying, or disagree with them – and you know what I do then – I stop reading that blog.  I do not call them vicious names.  I was appalled to find this behavior in the comments of one of my regular reads: Carrots ‘n Cake.  The author of that blog is Tina, she’s into Cross Fit big time, has an adorable pug named Murphy, eats a mostly Paleo diet, lives in Boston, has run several races of which I’ve found her recaps very helpful, redecorates rooms in her house occasionally and has a super cute husband named Mal – who also does Cross Fit. This week Tina and her super cute husband are in Ireland on vacation.  She has talked about packing for the trip, her favorite sweater from her last visit there and how excited she is to have a blog free vacation with her husband.  She stated that she had several pre-written posts that would go up all week in her absence, but she was mostly out of touch to enjoy her vacation.  She could not have known that on Monday two bombs would have gone off in her hometown at one of her favorite annual events.  So one of her pre-written, already schedule posts goes up and it’s about shoes or cookies or something.  It doesn’t even matter – the hate comments on her blog have been out of this world.  I’m shocked that people find the need to say such hurtful things.  If you had read Tina’s blog for a second you know that she is a huge supporter of Boston and running.   Why were these commenters so quick to spend their time spewing such awful-ness – ESPECIALLY in the light of what happened.

I’ve often wished I had more readers.  Thought about taking a more active approach to soliciting site views.  Putting myself out there in a bigger social media way.  Taking on food blogging legitimately.  Why would I choose to pursue that after seeing the responses from the “community” today?

It’s been said – and oftentimes to me – that if you can’t improve the silence, don’t say anything at all.  These women who commented just turned on this blogger who is out of the country, probably grieving in her own way, and certainly the news would have put a damper on her time away.  She didn’t cause it, and she can’t fix it, and she’s suffering in her own way not being there to support the city and sport that she loves.  Why do we do this to each other?

The answer is: because we do it to ourselves.

This video has been making the viral rounds and you may have already seen it.  I saw a few friends post the new Dove ad online but had not watched it until this afternoon.  This afternoon I had a quick session with a woman I went to grade school with who is now a professional photographer.  I need new head shots since LinkedIn and websites are the way the world works now in relation to job hunting and she offered me a great price on a quick half hour session.  Taking self photos of myself and the cats with my laptop or digital camera and being asked to look into a camera and smile by a professional are two very different things.  I was anxious and kept making excuses for my big hair (so much humidity today!) and my lack of ability to sit naturally, and so on and so on.  Finally she said -You look great.  You need to watch the video I just posted on Facebook.  So I did…

We do it to ourselves.  I would describe myself as chubby with tiny eyes and big hair.  That my forehead is always pinched because I’m trying to open my eyes as big as I can all the time.  That I like my shoulders but I have an ass that won’t quit – and not in a good way.  My teeth aren’t white enough and my feet are way too big.  Nothing about me is lady like or dainty.  I even walk loudly.  This kind of self talk is so harmful and so much worse as I’m in need of the dose of confidence to get me through this next phase – job hunting comes with plenty of rejection from outside sources.  I need to work on accepting myself.

Immediately following my mini photo shoot I went to get a hair cut, where no less than 4 people told me I have the most amazing hair and they would kill for it.  That they’re jealous of how tall I am.  That I can pull off red hair.

If only we saw us the way others do.  If only we treated ourselves and each other with an ounce of grace and kindness.

** clambers off box**

The End.

My week in five songs

This WordPress daily inspiration caught my eye over the weekend:

Tell us how your week went by putting together a playlist of  five songs that represent it.

It’s Monday – so here we go going back a week ago tonight.

Don’t let me get me by Pink

There’s a line in the song, “I’m a hazard to myself.”  Sometimes I am.  I like to self diagnose myself as “better” pretty regularly so then I decide I can stop taking the “crazy pill”.  Save your lectures.  I’ve actually heard them all before.  January and February were no exception and by late February/early March I was not doing well.  And it took a well timed phone call from a friend who recognized the symptoms to straighten me out.  I found myself sitting at my kitchen island pouring my guts out and recognizing feelings I usually try to stuff in a tiny box.  It was weird, man.  She made me promise her I would do two things the next day – take the Zoloft and go to Zumba.  I did both.  And I felt better.  And I did the same thing the next day, and the next.  And I feel better.

You can’t stop the beat by the cast of Hair Spray

Ex Hubs and I never really had a song, because while he loved music, we rarely listened to any together.  He didn’t listen to music in the car (except the Once soundtrack and that was a monumental occasion when I found out he BOUGHT a CD to PLAY in the CAR!).  But, we did see a lot of movies and musicals.  And I am bad at song lyrics.  And I kept singing the lyrics to this song wrong for the week following seeing the movie.  And it’s in my weekly roundup for these lyrics:

Cause you cant stop
The motion of the ocean
Or the sun in the sky
You can wonder if you wanna
But I never ask why
And if you try to hold me down 
I’m gonna spit in your eye and say 
That you cant stop the beat!

Oh oh oh
You can’t stop today
As it comes speeding down the track
Child, yesterday is hist’ry
And it’s never coming back

I went to this shindig with him for a couple hours Saturday night and it’s so easy and comfortable and the past is the past and it’s never coming back.  And because he and I are friends doesn’t stop any kind of forward motion in our lives.  Also, every now and then he still knows EXACTLY what I need and Saturday night it was, “Okay, I know you want to talk about the menu for this little dinner party you’re having this weekend – have at it.”  And guys, I DID want to talk about the menu for the dinner party!  (Do you think I could start one more sentence with “and”?)

Arms by Christina Perri

1.  It’s a beautiful song.

2. It’s about a chick with boundaries who thinks about letting someone in.  So… OOSMD is coming to STL for the first time this weekend.  I’ve become a little weird about my space.  Letting someone see your house for the first time is really personal, right?  Is this just me?  Which is good – because I know I’ll feel comfortable in my house and not mildly anxiety riddled like I get when I’m a houseguest at his place.  For the past week I’ve been looking at my place trying to see it like someone who has never been there will see it.

There is cat hair everywhere.

Mostly all I can think about is: I’m going to have to explain to someone why the washer and dryer are set up like they are.  I forget that it’s weird until I have to explain to someone.  I’ll post a picture sometime.  This is a weird concept to explain.  I’ve just created such a safe zone in my apartment and I don’t let just anyone in the safe zone.  There’s been this distance to this relationship that exists in places that aren’t my home so far – which has been frustrating and…safe.  Sigh.  Nevermind.  I’m so weird.

Feel this moment by Pitbull, featuring Christina Aguilera

This was a new song in my Zumba class that made me smile and feel good.  I’ve been using it whenever I needed a little dance break during studying and homework all weekend.

Feeling good by Michael Buble

Because I saw this video:

Enough said.  Watch the clip.  It’s so cool.  You will not regret it.

My Friday night. Warning: You will not be jealous.

Stream of consciousness at it’s best comes when I’ve had a few champagne cocktails, as I’ve had in the last hour.

Now, in my defense, I spent the two and a half hours prior to that cleaning my office. Like, I even brought in a friend to help me tackle the cleaning of the office. Mostly, I just like company when I have to clean. Also, I’m super undisciplined unless I’m trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. Even if those expectations are just a friend who is expecting me to clean up my office.

Today is my dad’s birthday. I wrote about it before.  (That post is pretty much when Claire solidified herself in friend for life position – but don’t tell her that – I don’t need her getting all comfortable in that spot on me.)  He would be 63 today.  Which means we’re going on almost 11 years dead.  Which means we’re half way to the point where I’ll have been alive longer without Dad than with Dad.  Time heals all wounds and all, but dang it if I don’t miss him all the time.  He was just so fun.

I’m putting Pinterest to work for me.  That’s right.  I’m taking control, Pinterest.  No longer will you suck me in with your pages and pages of recipes and fashion and dream homes with dream rooms.  Tonight, I take control.

Let me back up a step.  I’m having a few people over for dinner next weekend (including Out of State Mystery Date, aka OOSMD) and I’m trying to find the right recipe for feeding this collection of individuals.  I’ve pinned about 250 recipes on Pinterest.  Surely, one of them is the right one.  So, while I was flipping through the collection, I came across this:

And I decided to make it. It’s 10pm. I’m a little drunk. Let’s slice some apples. I had all of these ingredients on hand and the idea of waking up to the smell of delicious apple cinnamon oatmeal sounded awesome. (PS – I wake up to the smell of delicious things all the time. I live above a coffee shop that bakes all it’s own stuff. This should not have been that big of a deal.) I took zero before pictures because who has time for that when you’re four glasses of champagne into your evening and trying to make overnight oatmeal in a crock pot?! I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

In other news, I spent an hour and a half at the gym this morning! It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I went to an aerobic/toning class and then I got on a treadmill. I didn’t run much – about 2 miles – and it was intervals – but I got back on the horse! Finally. It’s supposed to be gorgeous in STL this weekend so I’m sure I’ll get another run or two in. Plus, I have a 9am Zumba class on the calendar for tomorrow. I’m back, baby doll. (HIMYM reference, FYI.) I decided not to run the STL 1/2 marathon in April. My next actual run is the April 27 Color Run. I may shoot for another fall 1/2 – perhaps the STL Rock and Roll again. I’m already thinking about the 2014 runs. I’m getting Disney medals – I’m running a race at Disneyland and Disney World and then getting the Coast to Coast medal once I complete both. This is happening.

My mom broke my glasses. She didn’t mean to. It’s a long story. I’ve been wearing my back up ones or my contacts. Then I got an email about a super duper sale at my eyeglass place. Last week I went to pick out a new pair. I pick them up tomorrow morning. They’re kind of hipster. I’m pretty excited about them but a little nervous about what people (ahem, my sisters) will say about them. I’ll be sure to post a picture. No worries.

Okay. That’s about all the news fit to print for the evening. I’m settling into this champagne buzz pretty well. The cat and I are in our places on the bed and it’s nice enough this evening to have a window cracked. Just a little. Then again, I like it cold when I sleep.

I have a great day planned for tomorrow. Pick up the hipster glasses, go to the Zumba, probably get to the Indie Craft Fair, finish writing a 10 page paper/test and then go to a fundraiser party for a local restaurant that is thanking donors as it raises money to expand.  I’m not an impressive donor, but a friend of mine is and I’m his tagalong date.

Oh, Friday night.  Pinterest and closet cleaning and open mic night downstairs and champagne and blogging.  I’m really quite okay with this evening.

Sarah vs. the Weekend

Way, way back my virtual pal Kelli wrote a post called Kelli vs. the weekend.  Since then I’ve done a few myself.  They’re alway fun.  She had even made a little button or badge for it.  I wonder where I saved that…

Sarah vs. Pinterest
Oh Pinterest. So many ideas. So little time. While I didn’t get to any of the minor construction projects I hoped to get to (entryway spruce up, magazine rack or anything involving turning an old dresser into a cool tv stand) I DID get an idea on how to rearrange my bedroom furniture!

Source: houzz.com via Sarah on Pinterest

I have had my bedroom furniture in no less than 5 different configurations. I never thought about this one. My bed is on a wall it’s never been on. My couch is at the foot of the bed. The tv is directly in front of both of those things which means it’s like 25 feet away from me when I’m in bed and since my bedroom tv is 11 inches it is pretty hard to see, but I’m mostly in it for the noise. This set up allows me space to work out between the couch and the tv or sit and meditate or think about doing yoga.
Winner: Pinterest wins this one. I’m still overwhelmed by projects, but chances are that if I didn’t get so time sucked into Pinterest I would have more time to do said projects.

Sarah vs. homework
I had a group paper to finish Saturday, an essay test to begin, and a first draft of an individual assignment outlining my company’s HR strategy due today. Also, I want to re read a few chapters of some books for the essay test and the HR assignment. Also, I want to read some chapters for the first time. Also, I want to read all of these supplemental articles that every professor posts.
Winner: Pinterest.
Kidding. A little.
Ok, for real, homework beat me. I thought we could finish that paper by noon and we didn’t submit it until almost 6pm. I think it’s right on, so that’s good news. One of the essay test questions is super open ended and I don’t even know how to begin it. It requires self reflection – which I hate.

Sarah vs. decision making
Friends, I am at a crossroads. I’m not the most patient person and the only strategy I have right now is to WAIT. Wait for school to be over, wait to find out about a job prospect, wait to see if I should move to something familiar or move to anywhere else, wait to settle down, wait to fill out an application to become a foster parent, wait to buy a house, wait to start studying for the SPHR or the PMP certifications…
A year ago I didn’t feel this way. A year ago I said the following sentence to Adam Science, “I love where I live so much and can’t imagine living anywhere else that if the house across the street from me went up for sale, I’d buy it.” Guess what went on the market 3 days ago – the house across the street. Guess who had an open house today? The house across the street. Guess who went? (This game isn’t that mysterious, is it?)
It is a great house. It’s perfect for me and my imaginary foster kid. It doesn’t have enough closet space, but no city house ever will. Other than that – it had everything. But, I can’t buy a house right now because what if I want to move? I can’t buy a house right now because I have a crap ton of student loans about to come due (although I would probably pay less on a mortgage than I do in rent)…
I’m not looking for advice, or an answer. I know that I have to wait. I don’t know what the right answer is yet. But I am confident that when the right answer is ready, it will present itself to me.
Winner: Lavender candles. They’re supposed to have a calming effect. I’ll be buying them in bulk.

If you’re interested – here’s the house I’m crushing on. http://www.circastl.com/listing/3977-hartford

Sarah vs. running
It’s like I’m afraid to do it. I liken it to falling off a horse and being afraid to get back on somehow. I told myself training begins again on March 1. I did no running on March 1. Or 2nd or 3rd for that matter. What’s my damage? What am I scared of?
Winner: My ass. My ass is doing all the gaining in this situation. As in weight.

I am kind of the least put together adult ever. How is it I think I can shape some kind of young mind as a foster parent again? Sheesh.

Okay. In Sarah vs. going to bed, the winner needs to be sleep.

Sarah meets Smitten Kitchen

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Guys.  I met this lady.

Yes.  This is Deb Perelman, aka, The Smitten Kitchen.

Inspiration of food photography and creator of my favorite strawberry cake.  I cannot stress how much she is exactly the kind of food photographer and writer I strive for.  Simple. Real. Charming. Funny. And very, very talented.

IMG_7696I won’t gush so much.  I’ll mostly let pictures do the talking in this post.  Sauce Magazine hosted an event where she spoke, did a little demo of the dessert that was made (which was really funny, because apparently none of the pre-measured ingredients the staff put out for her were correct and she kept picking something up and commenting on the fact that it wasn’t right – “Just do it like the book tells you – do not pay attention to what I’m doing now.”  You probably had to be there.) and we got a three course lunch, with recipes from the book.  Naturally.

This was part of our first course.  I ate mine before I thought to take a picture.

This was part of our first course. I ate mine before I thought to take a picture.

She said that when she was approached to write a cookbook she was actually pretty against the idea.  So she made all kinds of demands that surely no publisher would indulge.  She wanted to put as many photos in as she felt necessary for each recipe.  She wanted to tell the stories about the recipes similarly to how she did on her blog.  And she insisted on a book with lay flat binding.  The publisher let her have all those things.  And the story she tells about this first dish, a kale/cherry/radish/goat cheese/pecan salad starts with this line “I have spent a good part of the last few years believing that the world would be a better place if we could all stop pretending that kale tastes good.”  See?  She’s funny!

This was the main course.  Once again, no thought of cameras until it was gone.  It was just soooo good looking.

This was the main course. Once again, no thought of cameras until it was gone. It was just soooo good looking.

I know.  I’m the worst.  How could I forget to take a picture of food before eating it?  Oh well.  It was this:

IMG_7738 IMG_7740

And it was awesome.

I did remember to take a picture of dessert before inhaling it.  It was a grapefruit olive oil pound cake and it was great.  I’m not a person who eats grapefruit ever, but I love citrus and this was simple and delicious.  My new friend and tablemate (I went to this shindig alone because I don’t have friends who get my food nerd thing here and sure enough, there are other people like me out there.  I was very quickly approached by another lone fan and we were fast friends by the end) and I very seriously discussed licking the plate.

It may not look like much.  But it was so, so good.

It may not look like much. But it was so, so good.

After lunch Deb came around to each table to sign our books.  I loved that!  At other book signings I’ve been to a long line forms and you get about 5 seconds with this person you came to see.  Not with Deb.  She chatted, had a seat at tables, took pictures, etc.  I could tell this made the event organizers antsy because it took longer, but I like that Deb was still doing things her way – just like the cookbook.  If I were just some normal person who had gotten some fame for just being myself – you bet your booty I’d want to spend some real time with the people who thought I was cool and thank them and know them as well.  I am just a huge fan of this woman!

I was also glad for this style, because I wanted to take a minute and tell her that she had inspired me.  I brought one of the 42 pictures of hers that hangs on my wall for her to sign.  I wanted to tell her I had 42 of her pictures hanging on my wall.  I wanted to tell her she was cool.  And I got to do that.  She said she was really touched to learn about the photo collage I have (I had a picture of it and showed her the whole thing also).  Sigh.  Food nerd hero worship.  I’m just really happy I got to meet her.

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I now add her book to my little collection of signed cookbooks…

Rick Bayless, Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) and Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen)

Rick Bayless, Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) and Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen)

And now it’s time to get cooking!  There are so many delicious recipes in this book.  AND, they’re just slightly elevated versions of totally normal food.  Nothing is overly pretentious or crazy.  It’s just really good, tested recipes.  I think I may have a houseguest for a weekend in March and my sister and Claire are joining us for dinner one night…I see a Smitten Kitchen menu in our future.

 

I wonder if Deb wants to come over for dinner too.  Thanks for stopping in STL, Deb!  You made this food nerd very happy!

I wonder if Deb wants to come over for dinner too. Thanks for stopping in STL, Deb! You made this food nerd very happy!