Saturday, April 9, 2011

Great Things Are Happening

After nearly two weeks of intense day-to-day living in preparation to my trip to California with a fabulous non-profit charity, and subsequent writers block, I spent the vast majority of today working on and brainstorming where to go next in my life.

Since moving to Chicago I've felt sort of lost- both geographically and emotionally.  I started re-evaluating my life and realized there was one common denominator in what makes me truly happy, and it was philanthropy.
I get excited about good ideas that make a difference, like really excited.  I get excited when my work has meaning, when my celebratory shindigs generate gifts for those in need, when my self-indulgences (shoes!) benefit someone else.

Case in point: TOMS SHOES.  This weekend for my non-profit conference, I bought two pairs.  Pink glitters for sessions, and the black wedges for the reunion dinner I was planning.  They felt good on my feet and felt good in my heart.  I need more TOMS ideas in my makes me happy, it makes me work better.

So head over to FruBu to see what I've been up to.  Posts updated daily.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Think It's Good to be Tired.

I am not one to complain about being tired- I mean, yes it doesn't feel so great, but being tired means you're busy (or it could mean you're not feeling well, which is also a wee bit of a factor right now). In comparison to the days I spent listlessly in front of my laptop, with the beautiful city of Chicago before my doorstep because I was too broke and intimidated to go out there- being tired isn't so bad, at least I'm doing something to garner my fatigue. The month is flying by, there are not enough hours in the day. It's midterms this week (hello ass, thanks for the handing it back to me), and I'm planning a reunion dinner for the end of the month for 30+ people halfway across the country, and work, blog, school, life.... but I'm happy.

Currently Reading:  My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster
Currently Spinning:  Keane Under the Iron Sea
Currently Obsessed with:  Thinking of You, a Mary Kay Fragrance (it was generously gifted to me from Margaret- buy it from her!)
Currently Excited About:  Walking Ralphie to the pet store to get some treats and food!
Totally Hoping You'll Support:  Rescuing Ralph  along with the relief efforts in Japan
Totally Dreaming About:  Spring Romance?
Totally Just Realized:  I post like a 9 year old. hahah

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rescuing Ralph: The Power of Microgiving

Today I posted some information about my work with the Northern Illinois Pug Rescue and my experience fostering a wonderful pug named Ralph.

NIPRA is an amazing organization that needs help- the typical adoption fee for a rehabilitated pug is about $300. Ralph's vet bills are currently over $545. The organization doesn't expect the adopting families to make up the difference, but I know it would make a world of difference if this time, someone could.

Ralph was picked up from the same shelter as a black female pug I call Zoe. They both have medical issues that need attention- and their lives are making a difference.

Truly, rescuing dogs rescues people. We need to help. $1 or whatever you can give is appreciated.

Read more, donate and spread the word at:
Rescuing Ralph

Friday, March 11, 2011

So Much to Smile About

Peonies  I think as a culture, we spend too much time focusing on the "next big thing," whether it's something we want to purchase, a bigger income, a cushier lifestyle. I am guilty of fixating on the future instead of being content in the now- to the point it almost detracts from my enjoyment of life as it is because I compare my current situation to some unknown measure I haven't even achieved yet.  That is why, the Bliss List is so important for me to do.  My amazing friend Kassie and I used to play the "Happy Game" via AIM a few years back- we'd just go back and forth on things that made us happy for a good hour.  Those were happy, happy days- and whenever I miss her, I just make a Bliss List in her honor.  Here's to you Kassie!

-03.11.2011 Bliss List-

The fact that there isn't any more ice on the ground!
The bulbs peeking out of the ground to soon be flowers
Taxes being DONE
Applying for scholarships  (hopefully getting one!)
Amazing mentors
Thoughtful carepackages from friends
Sunshine (how I have missed you!)
Chocolate cupcakes
Post-it notes
Doctor Who
Skyping with friends
Mid day naps with Ralph
Chocolate soy milk (yum!)
Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture
That "zen" feeling after yoga
Fabulous Root Candles
Two Brothers Beer
Peanut butter on toast
The movie UP (which I could watch the opening sequence 100 times and still cry!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fighting the Overwhelm

One of my goals is to establish my blog and I'm trying not to feel both overwhelmed and discouraged simutaneously.  I've heard the sage advice, "You can't chase two rabbits and expect to catch either one," and I'm worried that I'm spreading myself too thin by not focusing on one goal and mastering it.  I have a job, graduate school courses (full load baby!) and the blog.  The blog brings me a tremendous amount of joy, but I worry I'm not going about it correctly.  I have very little knowledge on how to make it "successful."  Sure, I've read about what it takes to make a good blog- but executing that in reality is a whole different animal.

This morning, I was listening to MorningCoach's podcast.  And J.B. in his podcast, "Manifest Your Dreams," talks about the power of identifying a dream and the power of believing in it without getting caught up in the "how," and just working on the "do."  Everyday, he says, you must just focus on small changes, "1%" of making your dreams and goals a reality.  Looking in retrospect, I've made a lot of progress since moving to Chicago.  I've had several goals, which I've met- so perhaps I should just enjoy the process of my new goals and dreams instead of getting caught up in the "how?"

Credit Where Credit is Due:
-I wanted a dog.  I found Ralph and he's a perfect fit.  I love what he's brought into my life.
-I wanted to be sure that grad school was the right choice.  I went out and found my answer and have decided to finish the program.  I had to face down my own choices and confront my anxiety.  I know my graduate degree is no longer the center of my life- now I must find a new dream/goal.

-I wanted to finally take yoga classes.  I go at least once a week now, twice if I can make it.  I have never been able to make exercise consistent before, but now I'm making it happen!

-I wanted to get creative and to talk about my experiences.  To be honest, sometimes I think I'm weird.  I'm the only one I know doing what I'm doing, or at least having the problems that I'm having.  Blogging gives me an outlet to examine that.

Future Goals:
-Establish \More Income:  I'm doing some freelance work, but it's sporadic.  I want to write more and get paid for it.  I need to get off my but and register at some of the sites I know pay for freelance writing.  I am not a terrible writer.  I cannot delay my introduction into the work because I feel I'm "not ready."  I need to just *do.*

-Find a Big Dream:  A lot of my previous dreams don't really seem to fit anymore (i.e. marriage, at least for now), and I need to find something that excites me beyond belief.  I am working on my dream of living a financially free and secure life in broad strokes right now:  challenging myself to build my skill sets and strengthen my résumé, saving for my future in a Roth IRA and life insurance policy.  I am making a lot of sacrifices to live debt free and still put aside something for my future.  But to what end?  I feel the sacrifices would be much easier if I had a long term vision.  That is something I need to work on.

-Relax and Have Fun:   I am doing the best I can with what I have.   I need to learn to schedule work time 
with fun time and allow myself to invest in that time and be in the moment. 

I suppose some days I need to allow myself to know it's not all going to come together quickly.  Every day I work on having a life that is marked by financial and emotional freedom. I will learn to be patient and appreciate my life for what it is now, and know it will eventually measure up.  This is a process and I need to forgive myself for that.    

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wishing for Spring...

I used to live in the "land of no seasons," and since living in Chicago, I have to say- I have never looked forward to spring as much as I do now.  I can see some of the bulbs peeking out in the soil, and there seems to be signs that spring is finally on its way!

I wish I wasn't on this 30 day challenge, I really want to celebrate St. Patty's Day and wish I had a cute headband to wear, like this:  
Shamrock Headband
...but I can't even buy the materials to put the headband together on this 30 Day No-Shopping Challenge!
>>Sigh<< I can though buy BEER and make corned beef 'n cabbage though, since buying food is allowed!

How to ... Make Leaf Print Eggs  Bird's Nest Cookies  {recipe how to}
And don't these pictures just make you happy?  I am so ready for a visit from the Easter Bunny!  I <3 TipJunkie -the pictures are totally gorgeous and inspiring!  I am such a geek for Robin's Egg (TIFFANY) blue!

What was with me yesterday?  I am on spring break from grad school- and while I still work two days this week, and have some contract work, I don't have classes.  I should be totally gleeful- I have a week to read the books I want, get caught up on my laundry, organize my wardrobe and spend time with Ralph- so why was I not doing cartwheels?

I've come to the realization that lately I've forgotten how to have fun.  I think it's a problem with people who have high expectations of themselves or at least do more "freelance" work.   Everyone wants freedom, but when they get some, they almost don't know what to do with themselves.  There are feelings of guilt that you're not "working hard enough," when you're working for yourself.  I felt anxious because there were things I should have  been doing- my taxes, a class project, etc- that couldn't get under way until I heard back from people and got more information, but I still for some reason felt uneasy.  I couldn't have tackled the projects even if I'd wanted to.

I chose instead to take a deep breath, get some laundry done, drink a glass of wine and watch Sweet November and Futurama.  (Thank you friend's Netflix!)  I then got to go out to a dinner with a good friend and I'm pretty positive that final bit is what kicked my butt into a better mood.  I needed a full on distraction (and some Mango flavored Mochi) with a friend to really go into "spring break" mode.

I have also set up a savings goal I will detail later :) >>squee!<<

Oh, and Ralph says hello from atop his kingdom of pillows.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Following My Bliss

    Life is good, like, really good.  A few short months ago though, life was not so good. A little under a year ago in the spring time, I accepted my offer to graduate school, was wrapping up my undergraduate degree and attempting to remotely manage my  transition to Chicago without actually having been to the Windy City before.  In May of 2010, I walked and accepted my degree.  Two weeks later, one of my dear friends passed away in her sleep from a pulmonary embolism.  There were no signs, no symptoms- it just happened.   My heart and mind became utter chaos for the next 8 months.

    I touched ground in Chicago in August, never having met my roomies or seeing my apartment beforehand.  I had no idea my apartment was on the third floor with no elevator or air conditioning.  The city was unfamiliar, overwhelming and huge- I thought it would be exciting and fun to explore, but I spent most of those first few months watching The Office on Netflix, sweating without air conditioning drinking wine and not sure how to feel about myself or my situation.  I was hoping my new life would distract me from the old one- but my ghosts remained.  My old life still remained on my life- I attempted not to miss home and assured everyone I was fine.  I worried about my family and friends back home and I missed them terribly.  The knowledge that I would never get to see my friend again made the isolation even greater- life had been irreparably changed. I didn't even know where to start first.  Do I deal with the loss of the life I had, and the missing and longing for comfort and familiarity- some of which could never be recreated?   Do I tackle the feelings of sheer overwhelm due to limited income and a challenging new graduate program (which also stressed my finances).  Nothing was familiar or comfortable- I was going to a new university, in a new part of the country, I got a new job in a part of the city I had little familiarity with and I knew absolutely no one in the city at the time.  I had no idea where to start- so I got a boyfriend. (More on this later, if it's ever worth discussing again).  Needless to say, the inevitable breakup only made things worse.  It unearthed all of the insecurities, feelings of loss and loneliness I had tried to bury.  Eventually, I came to the realization I couldn't hide anymore.

   In late January I began taking steps towards my bliss.  I realized that nobody could do it for me, nor was my depression serving anyone.  My life felt out of control- and I needed to grab the reigns.  I knew what I needed to do but I had the normal slew of excuses; a tight budget, time constraints and plain old fear- but eventually you get sick and tired of being sick and tired and you make it work.  I have no carved time out in my schedule for yoga, fostering a fabulous pug named Ralph and get-togethers with my new friends.  I blog regularly to empty my mind, and then I read informational and inspirational books to fill myself up again.  

  My life has completely changed- it will never be the same as it was back home a year and a half ago, but the bliss? That remains the same and I am going to follow it down whatever path this new life leads me to.

Note to Self:  Get someone to take better pictures of me.