Monday, March 29, 2010

To Yoga or Not to Yoga

Starting yoga last January was the first step I took towards making a change in my life. It had been something I’d wanted to try for years but always procrastinated about pursuing. Then my boyfriend’s membership at a local gym gave me the opportunity and motivation to join myself and start a weekly yoga class.

Fifteen months later, I feel amazing! I finally have decent upper body strength (yeah!) and I feel so much healthier. That feeling has driven me to become more active and to challenge myself physically (a la rock climbing). It has also proven to me that pursuing my interests will pay off.

So I felt a sense of loss tonight when my teacher announced that she’d only be teaching our class for one more month. But something she said at the end turned my initial sadness into admiration.

She ended her announcement by saying that when you make a decision; it is often at the sacrifice of something else. And while the choice was a difficult one for her, she knew that it was the right decision for herself.

My head started to spin as we started our meditation and downward dogs. All I could think of was how hard it would have been for me to make that same decision - knowing that I’d be letting down so many who counted on me. I envied her because I’ve always felt bound by others expectations.

It’s the reason why I’ve stayed at my current job for seven years…because the thought of leaving and disappointing my boss and co-workers has been too hard. And why I’ve stayed in the same city as my family because I know how devastated my mother would be if I moved away.

But now I’m starting to realize that your life is the only one you get and sometimes you have to be selfish in order to lead the life you want. I’m going to remember the lesson that my yoga teacher gave me tonight as I start to evaluate what I need in order to be happy, not what everybody else needs from me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Plan B: Hanging Tough

Remember that cute poster of the kitten hanging from the tree branch with the motivational header “Hang In There!” underneath? Well that came to mind today when I crossed off the third item on my goals list – learn to rock climb.

Initially the plan for today was to play hooky from work and go snow tubing. Unfortunately, the recent bout of unseasonably warm weather made that impossible (global warming strikes again!).

Luckily, we had a Plan B. Which is why this afternoon I found myself taking that kitten’s advice to heart and hanging on for dear life to the side of a faux rock wall.

Initially I had felt confidence while watching the guys in our group easily make it to the top of the wall on their first attempts. This quickly turned to panic when it became my turn. It wasn’t a fear of heights that was getting to me though; it was a fear of failure. I had waited so long to rock climb that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to live up to my own expectations.

But instead of letting the worry of failure paralyze me, I let my sense of pride take over. Since there was no way I was going to let a couple of guys show me up, I quickly hauled my scrawny butt up that wall and slapped the top in victory!

The lesson learned today was that even though I ‘failed’ to make it to the top of the wall on every line we attempted, I didn’t feel one ounce of failure in myself. Instead I was proud of myself for making the attempt and taking action to do something that I’d always wanted to try.

Three down – seven to go!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Change Takes Courage

The March for America took place downtown today. Thousands of people gathered in front of the capital to protest for immigration reform. And I was there as an observer.

This year has been all about changing my life and my destiny. But today made me think about those who don’t even have that opportunity. There are so many who come to this country looking for the freedom that is denied them in their homeland, only to have it denied here as well.

I’ve wasted so many years not going after my dreams, while so many immigrants sacrifice everything to go after theirs. I look to them for inspiration and the courage it takes to change.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I’m in Love…With a Book

Let me preface this by saying that I understand books are inanimate objects. But if I could love an inanimate object like a person, I could truthfully say that I have fallen in love with this book.

The book in question is “Etcetera” by stylist Sibella Court and I have Danny Seo to thank for the recommendation. I have become a recent fan of his “eco-friendly and crafty ideas” and am now addicted to his daily blog of inspiration.

His recent post on the book included a peek inside the cover of “Etcetera” and I was instantly hooked. Desperate to have it, I searched Amazon and Barnes & Noble without luck. Turns out that Anthropologie is exclusively carrying the book and I was fortunate enough to track down a copy at one of my local stores.

And the book did not disappoint! It is absolutely incredible and brimming with amazing insight of decorating with ordinary objects and filled with page after page of inspiration. Sibella layers her vignettes in the most extraordinary way; with always something new to discover each time you study one.

Genius! I mean who else would think to display old paintbrushes and loose pages from books?

I want a hobby drawer like this! But if I did, I wouldn’t want to ever close it. Even the most ordinary of objects is made beautiful with age and an eye for arranging.

Even the actual book is hiding something unexpected. The cover I discovered underneath the book jacket was so extraordinary that I’m never putting the jacket back on!

And it got my creative juices flowing like no other. I now have so many new ideas for decorating my home, which has caused me to become slightly less productive at work because I’ve been poring through eBay (don’t tell my boss!). With any luck, I’ll soon have a collection of my own “curiosities” and I can’t wait! Half the fun is in the hunt though…so watch out fellow eBay buyers - I am a woman on a mission!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Creating a Tool Chest for my Jewels

First problem of finding a cheaper alternative to a metal tool chest of drawers was solved at The Container Store. Three stackable smokey, gray plastic drawers with metal pulls for a reasonable $17.99 each.

I was so excited with my find, that I went straight home and started to put away all of my jewelry…which soon presented me with my second problem. Nothing stayed put!

After more problem solving AND shopping, I had my tools assembled: pencil, ruler, X-Acto knife, foam paper and a ton of plastic pill containers.

Remember my perfectionist tendency? Well all I can say is thank goodness I’m an artist who likes math because it took a lot of measuring to get everything straight!

Once I had my cutouts done, I was ready for my favorite part – organizing! I layered a second sheet of white foam paper underneath the cutouts, nestled the containers in their new homes and piled in the jewelry. And since a collection never stops growing…I left a few empty containers for good measure!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Snowball Effect

The ideas for my projects usually come about in one of two ways – either by inspiration or out of frustration. This first project came about because of the latter.

You see, like most of the people out there, I’m a decorator on a budget. And it sucks when you can’t afford the perfect piece of furniture or accessory for your home.

But lucky for me, I’m a creative problem solver. So if I can’t find the right piece for the right price, then I put my tool belt on and figure out how to make it myself. Fortunately for my apartment neighbors, this project did not require the use of a circular saw - though it’s always much more fun when they do!

You see, when I recently started shopping around for a jewelry box, I was less than pleased with the small, overly flowery containers that I was finding…because I wanted something that didn’t look like a jewelry box.

I wanted something utilitarian. I wanted something that could handle my ever-growing collection of rings and necklaces. I wanted a miniature metal tool chest of drawers – the kind you store nuts and bolts and small tools in. But shockingly, (insert eye roll here) they were all priced way above my budget.

So after a few days bemoaning my light wallet, I put my problem-solving hat on and started sourcing for a chest of drawers that I could afford. And I found my perfect solution at that organizing mecca known as The Container Store.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Off to a Gold Medal Start!

I know the end of a race determines who receives the gold medal, but for me the beginning is always the hardest. Once I get the ball rolling, my excitement and motivation start to snowball and I pick up speed.

But procrastination is all about putting off the beginning, so I always feel a small victory at the start of a project because it means I’ve gotten over the biggest obstacle…myself.

So as I mentioned over the weekend, I finally started my first project and tonight I finished it! By doing a little bit each day, I was able to accomplish something I’d had on my list for months.

I know it’s kind of hard to believe – I’m actually a little surprised myself – but sit tight because the proof is forthcoming!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Solitude = Productivity

In an ironic twist, I’ve always been my most productive when I’m home alone.

Maybe it’s because I’m easily distracted with people around. Or perhaps it’s because I take my free time very seriously and would prefer to spend my weekends with my boyfriend, playing with my cats or hanging out with my sister and friends.

But this weekend, a few of my (favorite) distractions were out of town. At first, I was a bit bummed that both my boyfriend and sister would be away on business trips, but then I realized that I had been presented with a golden opportunity.

So I psyched myself up throughout the week and created the mother of all To Do lists. And I kid you not; I got most of it done! While the majority of the list entailed me running errands, most of those trips were to find supplies for new projects.

And even though the weekend is almost officially over, I’m not going to waste a minute of time. Instead, I’m going to get started on one of those projects right now!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Collecting Experiences

Last night, I fought a bout of vertigo to see Jay-Z in concert. Sure the seats were three rows from the top of the arena, but it was the experience that counts - even the part where we were stuck for an hour inside the adjacent parking garage waiting to exit.

But when it was all said and done, I was achieving my goal of getting out of the house more AND collecting an experience.

See I recently read an interview where a woman said that one of her passions was collecting experiences. And BAM – I had had another epiphany! I’ve always loved to collect things, from art and purses to books and lamps. But what I didn’t realize was that I'd always been striving to collect experiences.

You see I despise being left out of things because it means that I’m missing out on having an experience. And that extended to starting a business, getting out of the house more and doing new things. And those feelings were actually the catalyst for starting this blog.

Whew! Who knew blogging could be so draining. I feel like my laptop should be billing me hourly for all this therapy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today’s (In)Significant Successes

Even small successes can make you feel good. And nothing makes me feel more successful than crossing things off my To Do list. Today, I crossed off three!

1. Schedule a Haircut – I know they say that you can go three months before getting your highlights redone, but my mirror doesn’t lie – yikes!

2. Vet Sample – It’d been one month exactly since our vet requested that we bring in a sample from one of our cats; I felt like such a bad mother! And even though this was actually handled by my boyfriend, I am taking partial credit because I know he wouldn’t have gone litter box diving if I hadn’t kept reminding him!

3. Potting Plants – I have a slight addiction to plants (as my apartment can attest to) so I was thrilled when my sister gifted me some that she found recently at the most amazing home and garden store in Philly. They’d been neglected for the past week, awaiting pots and dirt, but now they are quite happy and ready to grow, grow, grow!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Is Snow Tubing a Viable Job Occupation?

Two down – eight to go!

I started this blog to hold myself responsible for the things I said I was going to do in order to start living life, because I knew that I wouldn’t let myself fail on seeing them through.

But this is also the reason why I started to panic last week when I realized that there wasn’t much time left to get snow tubing crossed off the list. I know it’s barely March, but they don’t call it global warming for nothing!

Ironically, it turned out to take little effort at all to rally family and friends for an afternoon of snow tubing and by noon on Saturday we were all headed to Ski Liberty. By four o’clock, all of my worries and stress had disappeared; I had regressed to my inner eight year old and was having one of the funnest afternoons of my life.

I went to sleep that night with a big smile on my face and couldn’t wait to tell everybody about my weekend adventure. And I am already making plans (can you believe it?) to go back in a few weeks!