Such a good reminder. It’s usually the things I don’t want to do, or am afraid to do, that are the most rewarding and challenging.
Today’s plans include the hair salon, the mall and Vietnamese food… not bad for a Saturday. Have a wonderful weekend!
I read The Interestings by Meg Woltizer over the past week and really enjoyed it. I don’t read as often as I should, at least not novels that make me think the way this one did… thus this rambling post with some not-totally-fleshed-out-thoughts on the book.
The book is character-driven, so I spent quite a bit of time wondering about the protagonist and how realistic her life trajectory truly was (totally brought on by the motivations of her 15 year old self…). The book’s theme is actually pretty familiar to me: the plight of the American child who is told he is special his whole life and who grows up to try to fill those unrealistic expectations — the culture that led to the Real World and our current self-obsessed twitter-instagram-facebook-blogging world, if you ask me. The message is, of course, that those who don’t worry about being interesting are able to live a much more fulfilled life, though it may be spattered with depression, job loss, autistic children and other curveballs; but regardless of those potentially derailing events, the characters who are comfortable being “ordinary,” or even those who are not as concerned with developing an extraordinary talent (perhaps because it was pretty pre-determined already, and maybe they knew that), are also those characters who seem the most clear-minded/level-headed throughout… one described himself at one point as a Jiminy Cricket figure – the voice of conscience among his friends.
As I finished the novel, which spans almost a lifetime of its characters (fifteen to fifty-some), I became frustrated that the last part of the book wasn’t as detailed… life after 30 seemed to cross fewer pages, and soon the characters were in their mid to late fifties, having life-size revelations that took place over a couple page turns. The stories of the character’s formative teenage years seemed to take over half the book, which is right to me… but also not right.
As a nostalgic, former high school teacher, I think teenagers are truly in the throes of Dickens’ famous first line – the best of times and the worst of times. It’s fascinating to me, and a part of me misses working with teenagers as they attempt to figure out their place in their world. But… as I approach thirty, it was both encouraging to see the characters still growing and changing and dealing with their demons… but then, disappointing to see that those older, settled versions were given such little real estate. I want to know how a fifty year old woman thinks; I want to know more about her relationships and projections on her grown daughter; I wanted to know more. Maybe because I’ve never lived beyond that period of living out the nostalgia of your teens… but as I cross that threshold, and as the characters crossed that, I wanted to dig into this new time of stability and exploration more than the author allowed.
I did warn you this would be rambling thoughts, right? At the end of the novel, the characters reached a conclusion — their journey was nicely developed, and I don’t want to take away from that at all. I really enjoyed the book – it was great to dive into such complex characters, and it was such a familiar theme that I’m sure most people in my generation will identify with it. A much more lucid and interesting review here.
I’m obsessed with Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi’s house. It’s such a beautiful mix of rustic elements with timeless pieces. I bought the latest Elle Decor in the airport this past week solely because I saw it had their home on the cover (which is odd, because I swear this ranch had been photographed/published elsewhere).
I’m also starting to become obsessed with camel-colored leather chairs (like those two in the back). I think I need a pair for our new family room, and obviously have landed on a West Elm chair (my whole house will be West Elm, just wait… it’s embarrassing, really) that I think will work perfectly.
Anyway – just a quick note to say hello and write a bit before getting ready for the day. Have a wonderful Saturday!
This week totally flew by. I came home from a work trip last Saturday and I feel like its been nonstop ever since (in a good way). Now I’m headed out again on Monday for a quick trip to Milwaukee and all I want to do is go shopping with my mom on this rainy, gloomy Saturday for a new outfit to wear (or three). Everything is 40% off at the loft today (granted, that happens every other weekend) … but there’s no way I can justify buying myself any clothes right now. Did I mention that when we moved from Cleveland to Charlotte 1.5 years ago we sold almost all of our furniture? We then bought smaller pieces that fit this little townhome we’ve been living in, but that means that when we get into a house three times the size of this place we will have no furniture in almost every single room, which is exciting because I’m committing to only buying things I truly love, but frightening because there’s no way we can afford to buy it all at once. And to top it off, I really
need want a reliable laptop (I have an amazing desktop computer now but I need something for when I travel), which I also can’t justify buying right now but have decided that I will purchase one before the end of the year, so hopefully by Christmas we’ll have a good handle on furnishing the house.
ANYWAY. My shopping woes, on a blog. If money were no object, today I’d be after an equal mix of spring/summer ensembles & statement pieces for the new house:
Big plans for today include a trip to ikea for picture frames (words can’t express how much I hate that place, especially on Saturdays and especially because it smells like churros, but some things just make sense to get at ikea, you know?), a few errands and continuing to pack in the hopes that we will be “prepared” for this move (never happens, am I right?). We also have new neighbors moving in today and they seem really normal and nice so I think we may help them move (they offered to pay in margaritas!) and perhaps make some new friends. Whatever we end up doing this weekend, it’ll be low key… I’ve come down with a horrible head cold this week, and while it’s getting better (For the most part I no longer feel like there’s a vice on my head squeezing my sinuses), I’m definitely not 100% and I’m getting worried about flying on Monday… I have terrible memories of a sinus infection and an airplane from when I was a kid and I’m not in a hurry to relive that as an adult with four connecting flights in two days.
Also, the big goal for today is to avoid hearing any more about the draft – it’s been a constant topic for days now and I’m beyond over it (Cleveland fans, I tell ya…)
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
- a weekend spent learning to play (and then practicing the next night!) euchre with good friends.
- discovering the desert pepper spicy bean dip that is amazing with blue corn tortilla chips (thus we bought and consumed 2 jars of it this weekend…)
- a puppy who was extra-cuddly all day on sunday, including literally sitting on my stomach as I laid down to do some ab exercises – puppies are better than a toned tummy, I think!
- long walks and a round of golf with my best friend (in which every hole I tried to figure out how far I could hit my driver – my favorite club to use and quite a powerful one when I hit the ball just perfectly)
- the sunshine and getting the first bit of a tan this season
- traveling for a very cool event this week at work; then participating in our bi-annual leadership meeting
- a sweaty yoga class that helped me set my intention for the day: choose happy.
I decided as I settled into my mat this morning at yoga that I would heed the advice of one of my favorite teachers at the studio: try easy. Every moment you have a choice: either make it easy or make it hard on yourself. And by easy, he didn’t mean without struggle or without challenge; he meant to find peace through the challenge. Similarly, the follow-up statement is to “choose happy.” You have a choice – so why not make it happy? When I first began hot vinyasa yoga classes, I thought they were impossible. I was frustrated and felt out of shape (I was, but that wasn’t really the point) and I wanted to be able to be the best at it – right away. Now as I’ve practiced more, I’ve learned that there truly isn’t a finish line; my classes will always be tough. I should always feel as though they are a challenge both mentally and physically. But sometimes it still is frustrating to me when my balance tips away or when we finish a sequence and I realize that I don’t have a chance to try that one pose again, but better.
Today I focused on finding peace through the struggle, on my breath and marveled from time to time at how “easy” a certain pose was. I was able to twist deeply, open up more and felt stronger and calmer than I had in awhile. It set the tone for the rest of my day – a quiet confidence, a serenity, and a happiness that just felt good.
Of course, all that changed when I saw the news this afternoon. I cried when I turned on CNN, and then felt angry and out of sorts throughout the rest of the night. I completed tasks for work in a rushed manner; I opened a bill in the mail and felt like crying again; I was irritable when Dave came home. I am beginning to feel disgusted with myself that I can watch a show about vampires (with careless deaths in each episode) and feel nothing – I hate that we (as a society) are so numb to violence, and most of all, I hate that the world is such a scary place.
I’m trying to remind myself tonight to choose peace – within my own mind at least. I’m trying to remember the breathing from this morning’s class, the eventual stillness that came over my busy mind as I focused on choosing easy, choosing happy. Focusing on being thankful – because there always is so much to be thankful for.
Story People speaks the simplest, purest truths.
This spoke to me when I saw it the other day – partly because at work we’ve been talking (and thinking) a lot about branding and core values and how those are communicated both internally and externally throughout the company. A lot of that happens organically – both personally and within a company – but it’s also important to pause, reflect and consider how you can be better.
It also makes me step back when I think about my own personal goals – what do I want to do? what do I want to have ? and realize that it’s not as much about either of those questions but rather what type of person I want to be (to myself, and to others) … because then, hopefully, the “doing” and the “having” will take care of itself.
I read a book called “Quiet” a while back – it’s about introverts and sensitive people. There are a million definitions within the book that try to describe an introverted person – who may actually be a very outspoken person, thus the conundrum of trying to define a personality trait – most of which I identified with. I’m pretty shy by nature, but I also don’t have a problem meeting new people if it’s in a business-type setting (which is partly why I used to be in sales, I suppose), or say, having dinner with my husband’s work colleagues. I actually love things like that, but when I come home I’m often exhausted from the exertion of it all. Looking around at my friends and those with whom I’m the closest, it’s pretty obvious that a lot of them are the same way.
Last night we went to see Wakey!Wakey! at this little bar/venue place called The Evening Muse in NoDa. It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen a show, and I was thinking about artists and what makes someone so expressive about their experiences and their feelings. I was reminded of the part in the book when she discusses “sensitive” people. There are babies who react highly to lights and sounds, who often grow up to be considered introverts. Those babies are considered sensitive because they feel their environment much more strongly than others, and it’s interesting to see how that carries into adulthood. The sensitive people may not necessarily be “shy” (that’s merely a characteristic often found in introverts) – so it makes sense that artists and performers could be sensitive people while still having the ability to sit in front of 50 people and play music and offer jokes throughout the night.
I began to wonder if the majority of artists – writers, musicians, etc. are sensitive people by nature – if they biologically and scientifically feel their environment in a much stronger way than others. It’s interesting to think about – what makes someone not only creative, but so incredibly expressive by nature?
The show last night was so amazing – I am always blown away by live music and the next day am left wondering why I don’t go to more shows throughout the year. Michael Grubbs is a talented pianist and his songs (especially the new ones) were great. If you can, I recommend seeing him out on tour – it was a one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
How cute are these pinwheel push pins?
I have these assorted notecards from Moglea (purchased at Anthro) and I love them. Letterpressed onto thick cardstock. Do you judge a card by its weight? I do and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I have been meaning to share a recipe with you – it’s my go-to lunch lately. So tasty and (relatively) quick to put together:
Bring the vegetable broth and quinoa to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes.
Saute the onions, garlic, peppers and corn until the onions become a little caramelized and there’s good brown bits on the pan (yum!). Then add in the black beans and stir around until they are heated through.
Top a serving of the quinoa with the veggie mixture, then top with the yogurt, salsa and avocado – and enjoy a delicious Mexican-style lunch!
Pretty simple and pretty great, if you ask me!
Are you excited for Spring? Things seem to be in a weird holding pattern over here — the weather isn’t exactly spring-like (aside from the flowering trees) and there’s a lot that I’m anticipating in the next few weeks, both at work and at home (like, finally breaking ground on our house). I have this feeling summer will hit and then all of a sudden it will be August. Speaking of August, I keep thinking that by August I will be spending weekends at our new pool down the street from our new house in our new city. Wild, right? I suppose I should savor the calm before the storm that is a new home and moving across town (our 4th move in 3 years…)
Life is good, though. It’s funny – I think back at how unhappy I was just a few months ago and can’t believe how different my life is now. Things totally turned around and I’m so grateful. I don’t think I realized how much negativity I was harboring, bringing home with me, trying to breathe out at yoga… I knew things were bad but I’m not sure I ever grasped just how miserable I was every day for the last year. I suppose when everyone else is miserable but just dealing with it you think that it must be normal to dread Monday mornings (note: it doesn’t have to be that way. I actually look forward to Mondays now, believe it or not) … Thankfully, two months after I tattooed on my arm (in white ink) “all good things” … my world shifted into a much better place. All good things, indeed.
Speaking of good things… I think this kitchen has everything on my wish-list. Farmhouse sink, wine cooler, cool gray tones and that amazing art on the wall. I firmly believe that I cannot have a great day unless I eat a good breakfast.
post-antiquing treat from nova’s bakery
We had plans this weekend to drive to the beach for the day – to take advantage of the last weekends before the season starts (and the last weekends in which dogs are allowed on the beach!)
Sadly, the weather had other plans. It’s been rainy and pretty chilly here lately, which led to a lot of indoor time – including banana pancakes on Sunday and a Saturday that began with best intentions – mimosas and a light brunch at Peculiar Rabbit but ended with chocolate-covered pretzel shots and orders of fries at a neighborhood townie bar (sigh. long naps were had afterwards while the guys went off to watch more basketball).
Otherwise, the weekend felt pretty healthy (Sunday pastries aside). I bookended it with yoga classes – a 5:30 on Friday and a 4:30 on Sunday to sweat it all out, and we tried a new restaurant – Viva Chicken, a peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant that is similar to Pio Pio. I had the quinoa-stuffed avocado and a side of fried plantains, which was amazing… yelp review coming soon (sidenote: anyone else notice Elizabeth is becoming a mini-Dilworth? Not that I’m mad about it…)
I don’t have much else to write – I just felt like I was beginning to neglect this place a little bit again! Hope you had a nice weekend! I’m gearing up for a busy week – I’m headed out of town for a few days for work and am already making my to-do lists in my head for what needs to happen before I leave.