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

Alone vs. Lonely

Alone is alone.  Not alive.

It’s the tagline from the Sondheim musical, Company.  (Which I saw in NYC with NPH as the lead, just saying.)  Ex Hubs has a local theatre company’s poster from their production framed and I looked at that tag line for years and thought it was heartbreaking and poignant each time.

I dig alone time.  I can be really content being alone – at the movies, at my apartment watching tv, going to the gym, on occasion at a bar having a glass of wine.  I don’t mind cooking for one or reading the newspaper for one.  Sometimes I even prefer it because I like my food and my paper a certain way and doing it alone causes me no anxiety.

(…except, the thing is, sometimes I don’t care.  I mean, I prefer to put the paper back together neatly, but 1. So do a lot of people.  That’s not that weird.  2. Sometimes I don’t care.  Is it all about the people I’m with?  Why does it matter sometimes, and not others?  An even odder revelation as I sit here and really think about this…it only matters the first time.  The first time I read a paper with you I need you to know I like it to go back neat and orderly.  But, if there’s a second time, it’s kind of fine. Whatever.  It’s not hurting anyone.  I might shuffle things back in order before picking them up, but I’m not mad at you if it’s out of whack.  Do I need validation of my preference?  What is this?  This might be a whole other thing – the thing where I absolutely have to do things my weird way, but have no expectation ever that others would do it my weird way.  Right?  That’s normal.  I digress…)

I enjoy people.  Twice last week I had dinner plans with friends.  One night it was a 1-1 dinner with a girlfriend who gabbed with me about boys and clothes and life and beer.  The 2nd night out was with a friend of mine and she was bringing a colleague of hers.  Technically, I was the crasher – the two of them had plans to try a Chinese restaurant with the best scotch selection in Columbus (no kidding) and my friend invited me along so I could make a new acquaintance.  The three of us had a great time, we never stopped talking about books on the brain (I’m trying to figure out how my own works, mostly), OD work in university setting, Disney obsessions, how we started drinking wine, etc.  We never stopped and it was not the “won’t they ever shut up” kind of never stopped talking, it was the “we couldn’t talk fast enough because it was so fun” kind of talking.

I think I’ve written before about balancing these aspects.

I love clever conversation and witty banter and interesting stories and learning about people.  In that setting, I could be around people and really get energy from that situation.

If the conversation is monotonous, or closed minded (in my opinion), or really forced, I have no problem bowing out (sometimes politely, sometimes not) and spending my time alone.

Lonely is a whole other thing.

Lonely is knowing that witty conversation is happening somewhere and I can’t get to it.  Lonely is the feeling that everyone else is with people they’d like to be with and it’s not you.

Maybe I don’t know how to define lonely, but a strange thing is happening.  I’ve noticed it happening, but it wasn’t until D pointed it out that I have to acknowledge it.  I start to cry, or tear up, (or, once it was brought to my attention – bravely just let my lip quiver a second before putting the smack down on the tears) when I say the word lonely.  I’m like Pavlov’s dog.  Lonely = Wah!  Even thinking it.  I’ve noticed this happening at work.  I see a beautiful day outside and wish there were someone to meet for happy hour, or that I lived closer to a great walking park just so I could get out and I can feel tears spring to my eyes.

What is happening?  What is wrong with me?

I have people.  I have people I talk to pretty regularly.  I text Claire, I call my sister, I tweet complete strangers.  All of that makes me happy.  I do all of that alone.  I feel fine.

So, what is this lonely?  Am I simply suffering from long-distance-relationships-suck-itis?  Is it my subconscious telling me that I’m lonely in this relationship?  Is it not relationship based at all, but just lingering transition anxiety?  I’ve pretty much kicked the “I just moved here” syndrome.  I have a long list of things I want to do in town, need to see, must eat at (of course), even trails I want to run.  So…go do them, right?

Maybe I’ve already told this story (chances are, I have).  I remember telling my grandparents I was moving in with Ex-Hubs.  I thought it would be Grandpa who gave me the lecture.  I was wrong – Grandma tells me I’m still young, I need my freedom, I don’t want to explain where I’m at all the time yet…. Grandpa simply says – it’s nice to have someone to do stuff with.   Am I just aching for someone to do stuff with?  And…how cheesy is that?  But, I’m not getting any younger friends and more and more I see how life isn’t about the stuff, but about the experiences.  And if no one is there to witness those experiences…are they like a tree falling in the woods?  We need a witness to our lives.  (I stole that line from a movie – can you guess it?!)

I’m really trying to put self-awareness to good use.  I’m really trying to figure out who I am and what I stand for.  I’d like to understand why I react the way I do and how do I know if I really feel what I’m saying I feel.  I’m trying to merge all these Sarah’s (school Sarah, work Sarah, relationship Sarah, etc…) into one just Actual Sarah.  Authentic is the buzz word right now and I’d like to get there.  So, I just need to figure out what this lonely (where are the Kleenex!) trigger is all about.  Sigh.  Stay tuned…

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!

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.

Which do you want first?

 

Bad news: I work for the most ridiculous company.

Good news: So does my best friend.

Bad news: Ridiculous company does not have very good prescription insurance resulting in this amount of money being spent on 30 pills!  I mean, I knew I was going to spend part of my tax refund on a little treat.  I did not think it would be this…

image

 

Good news: I immediately went to the wine section to, you know, get something to wash the really expensive medicine down with, only to find my favorite cheap wine even cheaper today!  (2 for $10!!)

image

Bad news:  It’s rainy and gross outside and took a while to get home.

Good news: Sam Cooke radio station on Pandora.

Bad news: Running out to my car in the rain to reach into my back seat to grab a box only to have a slipper fall off and land in a puddle.

Good news: It landed plastic bottom side down!  Minimal water seepage ensues!

Bad news: I pulled up the Domino’s pizza delivery site.

Good news: I immediately came to my senses and shut it down!  Veggie enchiladas are now in the oven.

Bad news: I have a crap ton of homework to do.

Good news: I’m probably not going to start it until after tonight’s all new HIMYM!

 

Harnessing the power of the secret

I’m working through the blah mood and reaching back for the strong mental will that I found with the running.  I remember running four miles for the first time.  I would tell anyone who would listen that I was going to run four miles that weekend.  I made the special playlist for four miles.  I rehearsed the route mentally.

The Secret says you have to ask the universe for what you’re looking for and then believe and act like it’s going to happen.  So, here I am.  I am putting it out there in the universe.

I have a job interview Tuesday that is going to be amazing and it will be clear I am the only candidate for the position.

I’m getting my taxes done tomorrow and the refund coming my way will be awesome.

And I’m combining the positive thoughts going out into the troposphere with a picture.  Because a picture is worth a thousand words.  On a recent stumble down memory lane I found some old pictures and I thought I would find one that made me feel happy and confident and strong and reminded me that I’m the coolest and can do anything I put my mind to (except, apparently  my taxes)- right, Barbie?!

I'm choosing this picture - with my original "girls".  Probably the highest performing work team I've ever been on.  We were smart and we knew what we were doing and we were tenacious and we also fought crime at night.

I’m choosing this picture (circa 2005) with my original “girls”. Probably the highest performing work team I’ve ever been on. We were smart and we got stuff done and worked through conflict and we were tenacious and we also fought crime at night.  My super power is always picking the right restaurant and instead of a cape, I have super hair.  Thinking of Ann and Amy will give me a boost.

Here we are with some other co-workers at the most awesome lounge in Las Vegas - the Peppermill.  It is tragically hip and stuck in 1978.  It is the best of old Las Vegas.

Here we are with some other co-workers at the most awesome lounge in Las Vegas – the Peppermill. It is tragically hip and stuck in 1978. It is the best of old Las Vegas.

There we go.  Stated intentions.  I’ve told the universe what’s up.  And, thinking of these ladies and that time in my life gives me energy and confidence.  Mindful meditation!  Ann, Amy – be with me now!

Being Sarah while being with someone else

I have this thing where I’m always distracted by something.  I have a tv on (sometimes two) while I’m puttering around the house doing chores.  I play my ipod in the shower (how else does one sing along?).  I listen to Pandora while I study.  I’m overly addicted to the beeping from my phone.

And if not that kind of stimulation, than it’s activity.  I like to stay busy.  I’ll cook while taking photos of it.  And then I’ll blog about it.  While drinking wine.

I’m resolving to be more mindful in this new year.  Today I had an unexpected day off.  I took down the Christmas tree with minimal pine needle devastation throughout the apartment.  I talked to a grad school friend via Google Hangout for an hour or so over coffee this morning. I rearranged the living room furniture (a must after the tree came down.)  I downloaded a book by an author that Running Buddy has been talking up for months (As You Wish by Jackson Pearce – if you’re interested.  It’s young adult fiction – which I love.  Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, one of my faves.  Phantom Tollbooth, wise beyond it’s years.)  I gave myself permission to lay in my darkened room (because one of the activities I did was hang room darkening shades in my bedroom and Oh My Goodness I’m so happy I did.  I wish I would have done that ages ago!  Things I’m learning about myself – I like to sleep in the dark.) and read.  I read about half of it.  And then I put it down and just lay on my bed.  Without the intent to nap.  Without the intent to turn on the television.  I just let myself think.  I didn’t grab my phone.  I didn’t have my laptop at my fingertips.

I got some more work done around here and then decided to knock a movie off my Netflix Instant Queue.  It wasn’t very good and I wasn’t giving it my full attention, but for some reason when it was over I shut my laptop and sat on my couch and once again – spent some time with my thoughts.

The movie did not have a happy relationship ending so my mind drifted to relationship thoughts, naturally.  I thought about the musical The Last Five Years, which I just recently downloaded the cast recording to (musicals don’t have soundtracks – they have cast recordings.  I have a dear friend who will correct anyone who says otherwise.  I learned the hard way.)

Then I started thinking about me.  I think the happiness project stuff is still weighing on me, which is good.  I don’t want that to be a passing fad.  I’m proud to say I’ve made my bed every day in January.  Progress.

Be Sarah.  I thought about relationships and being Sarah.  I ran through several of the big ones and thought about what was successful and not successful in them.  I thought about when I was comfortable and when I wasn’t.  I thought about sex and intimacy and how I’m so weird about differentiating those two things.  Anyone can have sex.  Whatever.  You want to get to know me – that’s going to take some time.  I have my reasons.  They’re deep seeded.  That’s a whole other story.

I digress.

The point is – it was nice to spend some time with my thoughts.  When I chill the heck out and just listen to myself it was easy enough to find and be Sarah.  I’ll need to do with less distraction more often.  There was a moment when I very clearly saw all the screens I had up with all the images of Sarah I try and project to the world.  And then I very clearly saw me behind all of them.  Is this what meditation does?  Man, 15 minutes a day of this and I’m going to have the answers to the world’s problems.  Because after this quiet time I felt like I was on solid ground for the first time in I don’t know how long.  2013 is already proving to be the beginning of a few big things – job searches and new cities and relationship potential…I’ll need to Be Sarah through those things.  I feel it slipping away when I’m around people.  I feel like I need to wear the right hat among different groups.  Actual Sarah kind of impressed me tonight with some of her thoughts.  After last semester I forgot for a second that I’m interesting and smart and creative and not nearly as flighty as I’ve felt (stupid sets in when you like a boy, doesn’t it?).  All I want to do right now is have a conversation with anyone about the books I’m reading, thoughts on monogamy in today’s society (the movie I watched had this as a theme), bad poetry and foods I tend to burn.  That passage from The Happiness Project really stuck with me – we do new and different things and we become new and different.  We become interesting at the dinner party.  When someone says “What’s New” we have stuff to say.  I’m going to walk to the bar up the street and strike up conversations with strangers.

Maybe I need to lay off the self help books.

But I’m sticking with this meditation thing.  Unlocking my brain would be okay.