I have finally reached the age where cancelling plans feels so good. Scrap that. It feels incredible — like an instant wave of relief washing over you. When you have very limited time off, you find yourself grasping for little pockets of time that you can take back. Even just an hour here and there makes a huge difference for your well-being. Turns out that taking care of yourself is important. Whoops!
I was crazy enough leading up to the wedding with everything going on, but I found myself in an equally busy situation shortly after returning from the honeymoon. I was running on fumes for probably about 9 months, working full-time plus and gigging two days a week (sometimes more), plus other various things. If anyone attempted to mess with my one day off my claws would come out and a very ugly side of me would surface. I was a very grumpy human being, just ask Will.
The money was nice, but woof.....I was stressed, irritable, and not giving myself the kind of self-care I really needed. I also used the stress as an excuse not to exercise from time to time. Worst of all, I let this stress affect my one day off and any other off time I had. I couldn't seem to disconnect and just relax. To top it off, I couldn't seem to get any sleep, ever, no matter how early I went to bed. Rinse and repeat for 9 months. I couldn't take it anymore, and poor Will probably couldn't either. I had to start taking back control of things where I could in order to improve the situation.
Step one was to stop letting work spill into my lunch hour and commit to working out during that time. I now have a yoga mat in my office, I bring my gym bag every day, and if I don't feel like doing yoga, lifting at the local gym or running, I just go for a walk.
Step two was to figure out how to cancel some plans in order to have more time off. It was time to say goodbye to one of my outside gigs. Now that that's done and dusted I can actually cook a healthy meal that night and hang out with Will and the pugs. If you've never experienced the snuggle fest that is couch time with pugs, you need to remedy that ASAP. It's the best. Go get a pug, or several, right now. DO IT!
Side note: You know those plans you politely make with people even though those people are actually toxic to be around? Make yourself more of a priority and DON'T DO THAT! If they zap all your happy and/or have an overwhelmingly negative aura about them, don't be around them anymore than you have to. Especially don't volunteer for that crap, for the love of God...It took me forever to figure that out.
Step three was to de-clutter, which I'm still in the process of doing. Even though it's a work in progress, getting the house in order and getting rid of stuff we don't use or need has actually been quite a relief. Plus, then I get to donate the stuff to my good friends at Friends of Animal Rescue. It's also an excuse to visit with them and the animals, which makes me happy. :)
Step four was to actually do the opposite and make some plans. I know, I know...totally contradicting myself here, but hear me out. Because I was "so busy," I wasn't taking the time to stay connected with the important people in my life. It's so easy to get wrapped up in what you're doing that you lose sight of the important things. So whether staying connected is a text, a phone call, happy hour, a meal, an activity or whatever...I need more of that in my life with my favorite people. It's good for my soul.
Plus, I've found that I can catch up with someone on the phone while I walk on my lunch break. Multi-tasking + Decompressing = Winning
Also, as much as I love it down here at the bottom of the world, I miss my Ohio people. So there's that...
I guess in "canceling plans" I ended up making other plans (and continue to do so), but the right ones — not the ones that you somehow feel obligated to participate in for no good reason. Stuff will always come up, but I feel like I've got a better handle on what my needs are and how to balance that with everything else going on.
I consider this sort of a spring cleaning for my soul. I've never watched the show, but Marie Kondo's catch phrase is really resonating with me right now: "Does it bring you joy? If not, get rid of it!" Preach, girl. Preach.
My last blog post was a little angry, and I definitely flew off the handle a bit. I probably offended some people in the process, and honestly probably contributed to the madness that was happening at the time -- despite the whole point being to encourage people to stop it. Instead of focusing on such things and letting the negativity fester inside myself, today I am thankful -- not just because it's Thanksgiving, but because I truly have many great things in my life to be thankful for.
I am thankful for my job. I don't make a ton of money, but I have flexibility to live life the way I want. Most importantly, I work with great people and absolutely love what I do -- it's fulfilling.
I am thankful for simple pleasures like coffee, yogi teas, wine, bourbon, potatoes (I have a problem), pasta, and pizza.
I am thankful for my family. I have really lucked out in this area of my life -- they're all pretty great. They've been my biggest fans and supporters through everything in my life -- big and small. I miss them all like crazy, but they've been awesome about staying in touch and keeping me updated. I can't wait to see them for Christmas.
I am thankful for simple pleasures like air fresheners, sheets washed with downy, swiffer products, and a good sweeper. It's the Danny Tanner in me.....I can't help it.
I am thankful for my tiny little self-made family: Will and Mozzie. They fill my life with love, laughter, and joy everyday. I am incredibly lucky to have these two boys in my life. They're also both pretty cute........ridiculous, but cute.
I am thankful for things like Amazon Prime, bikram yoga, Netflix, my fitbit, NPR programs, starbucks rewards, good internet, memes that make me laugh, and my "stories" like Once Upon a Time that have become guilty pleasures. None of these things are necessary, but they're wonderful luxuries that I'm very thankful for.
I am thankful for my future in-laws. I could not ask for a better family to become a part of. These amazing individuals welcomed me with open arms and have treated me like a long-lost daughter ever since.
I am thankful for my education and training, and the amazing musicians I've had the pleasure of training and working with over the years. I'm thankful for the love of music that my family instilled in me when I was young. It's such a huge part of who I am -- I can't imagine life any other way.
I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface with that list, but it's enough to put things back into perspective again. I am thankful for many things. I'm a happy and lucky girl.
So it's been awhile.......
You know the whole moving over 1,500 miles, looking for a job, trying to get established as a gigging musician in a new area (where you have no connections), trying to get back on the exercise train, and all the while having a puppy under 6 months old thing? Yeah......about that.........I am going to make a real effort to write more often, but damn. Honestly, I did you a favor. If I would have forced myself to write it would been a pile of blah, meh, and buh -- you feel me?
Anyway.....I've rejoined the living, so here goes........
I've been seeing a lot of posts from that "Happiness is..." calendar -- which is a great concept -- and I love that every time I see one it makes me slow down for a second. It makes me pause to think about the simple things that make my life rich and contribute to my overall happiness. I seriously need to buy one of these calendars, because talk about a GREAT way to start your day -- a simple reminder to enjoy and appreciate what you have.
So I decided to make my own "Happiness is..." list. Here are a few examples:
Happiness is a pug
Happiness is finding something great on the sale rack
(Or in Mozzie's case, cheap new toys from Amazon.com)
He put all 3 of his new toys on the couch in a pile. It was adorable.
Happiness is a good beer after work
Yes it's a pumpkin beer. Yes I'm a white girl. It's Fall and it's delicious. Get over it.
Happiness is feeling like your work matters
Granted, we've only been in Texas for about 2 months, but I'm finally employed!!! And not only that, but I really like what I'm doing and it's incredibly satisfying. I'm contributing to a cause that helps place homeless animals with loving families. I get to climb into the kennels and play with the cats and dogs, (*cough*) I mean take pictures of them (but also play with them), and work with some really great people -- all for a great cause. It's pretty awesome.
It's part time, but it also enables me to play music, which is my first love. Guess who got herself a weekly winter spot already lined up at an island bar? This girl -- that's who.
I have this gorgeous commute to work -- that's happiness
Will has been crazy busy with school and marching band stuff, so time together is limited. BUT.......we've been really enjoying the beautiful simplicity of just being together lately. So things like cuddling on the couch (even if it's just for a little bit), taking a walk with Mozzie and talking about our day, or just being able to eat a meal together (which is a rare thing) have become more special. More time would be nice, of course, but I'm happy we're slowing down in the moments that we do have in order to appreciate them.
This is from the "Happiness is" calendar, but I really like it, so I'm using it. It really puts things into perspective. I know that there are many times where I need to be reminded that my "problems" are not that big of a deal in the scheme of things. Not taking myself too seriously is the best advice I've ever been given -- hands down. I'm not fantastic about following it, but I'm trying.
Let's be honest.....loving and being loved is one of the best things in life.
Whether it's this kind of love....
Or this kind of love....
There are so many other "happiness is" examples I could throw at you (maybe I'll do a part 2 at some point)......I'm a pretty lucky girl. So what is happiness? Well, I guess it depends on your definition.
To me, when you really get down to it, happiness is slowing down to appreciate and enjoy life. Period.
I'm an "adult," or so I've been told. I do "adult" things, I have an "adult" job, I pay bills, and I drink bourbon and wine. I have great friends and family, an amazing husband, and generally a pretty good life. I have achieved many things, yet so little at the same time. I'm in my 30s, yet I feel more clueless than when I graduated college. This is how I "adult."