20 little things you may not know about me...

May 29, 2013

Granted if you are a close friend or family member you may have heard some of these before, but I'm going to share them all here for the newbies anyway.

When you decide to become a blogger, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to present yourself to the world - your ideas, your thoughts, your life, and more. And through that process, most of the things we want to ignore or hide about ourselves gets filtered out in favor of the pieces we love (or the way we want to be perceived) and we end up looking like "little miss perfect" instead of the real life messes that we are. Turns out...this is no way to find a proper audience. Unless of course you can manage to keep up that facade and make enough people jealous of your "perfection" that they desire to be just like you. (But who wants to be like one of those people anyway?)

The fact is...nobody is perfect. Nobody.

So today I would like to share with you some honesty, the good and the bad, and a few mysteries about me and the way I function in this world. Maybe somewhere in that mess you will find something you identify with and it will make you feel better because you are not alone. Or maybe you will find me just a little bit crazy, to which I will say...that is simply wonderful!

Here we go...

1. I'm 34 years old, with a blend of excitement and indifference at the thought of turning 35. (That's me above there. Hi, lovelies!)

2. When I was a toddler I tried to swallow a slug. I've yet to live this down within the inner family circle (that and the time I said I didn't want to eat a hamburger because it tasted like "cow") and I plead the innocent, 2-year-old curiosity card every time.

3. I have about 20 unfinished projects lying around my house right now, some I have had "waiting" for my attention for over a year. I start...I lose interest...I tuck it away...I find it years later....I tuck it away again. Suppose I should do something about that, huh?

4. I have OCD, or what I consider a mild case of obsessive compulsive disorder, when it comes to locking doors and some other "leaving the house" routines. It takes me forever to get out of my house and sometimes I even have to go back if I think I may have forgotten one of my "steps". We'll cover that in more detail another day.

5. I'm afraid of wax figures. I haven't always been this way, but somewhere in the second half of my life I developed a phobia of them. There's no explained reason for it either. Weird.

6. I wish I was funnier. Quick witted, I guess. I think the telltale sign that I am not regularly funny is my immediate desire to announce (usually through social media) the occurrence of any jokes I do manage to make. Homegirl is all "Look at me! I'm so funny!"

7. I am not photogenic. At least I don't believe I am. Even the photo above which people seem to like is driving me mad! (And this was a good hair day!) I seriously need to figure out how to silence my inner critic and properly pose for a photo.

8. I have a snappy temper. When I get overwhelmed or stressed I am quick to snap at others, and not in a smart ass way. Most of the time I don't even hear it in my voice - which sadly has not improved with awareness and time - but it has happened enough in my life that I know I have a problem with it and need to be better at apologizing.

9. I am secretly jealous of bloggers who have "made it". While I should be rooting for them, using them as proof that success can happen, or spending time joining their online community, I spend my time figuring out ways to be more like them or separate myself from them. That is going to end today...(moment of inner dialogue)...OK...and...done.

10. I eat toasted peanut butter sandwiches crust first and then around each side in order to keep it square shaped. (But only the toasted ones!) I've done this since I was a kid and it never gets old. I also eat my fruit loops and lucky charms marshmallows in rainbow order.

11. I have severe stage fright. I dropped several classes in college when on the first day I learned there would be a solo speech or other individual presentation required. There was no way I was getting up in front of a group...for anything.

12. I went to hypnotherapy for months to help me cope with that fear. Now, after a few beta blockers and some breathing techniques I can manage to get up in front of others and have a pretty good time. (I highly recommend hypnotherapy if you are looking to improve something or kick a habit. Did you know you can even be hypnotized to become ambidextrous?)

13. I have a problem with authority. I find this odd, because frankly I'm pretty reserved.  I follow rules...laws...and all that sort of stuff as best I can, but when faced with authority my inner rebellious teenager comes out to say a big snotty "hello!"

14. I once got a misdemeanor for an open container. It was an intensely illegal moment...my holding a beer bottle and standing on a dirt road for a total of 5 seconds. I'm not sure how I escaped without jail time. (Can you sense my sarcasm here?) That was my one true brush with the law. (Sorry Mom and Dad if you are just now learning of this! I was 23, so yes, you raised your daughter right.)

15. I have a little addiction to buying books. I have more "unread" books (easily 75 and counting) on my bookshelves than "read" books and yet I continue to buy more. In the past two weeks alone I have purchased 12 new books. It doesn't help that I am slow to finish reading a book. Probably because...

16. I'm addicted to TV. I would rather sit and watch reruns than read a book, go outside, write a blog post, finish a project, or a million other things. That may be a misstatement. I would rather be a person who did all of those other highly productive things, but I sit down in front of the TV and in a flash the day is gone. I know better, but yet, here I sit. (I must be making progress because I am blogging while watching TV. Yay, me!)

17. I rarely fold my clothes before putting them away...if I put them away at all. My closet has about 2 feet of clean, unfolded clothes sitting at the bottom of it right now. And I'll wear about 4-6 of those items to work this week.

18. I use a spray wrinkle releaser to iron my clothes. I have an iron, but I'm pretty sure I've avoided using it for the better part of two years. (That stuff is seriously magic for lazy people like me!)

19. I sing nonsensical songs to myself when I do the laundry. I can't say that about any other household chore. For some reason, laundry (that wonderful mindless activity) just puts the boogie in my brain. (Too bad folding doesn't bring me such joy!)

20. I have no idea why I decided to tell you all of that, except that I want to get to know my readers better and encourage comments here and there. I figured, maybe if you know me a little better...and that I am unapologetically as cuckoo as anyone else...that you may feel a little more comfortable here at joyful.life.

So, that's a block of random and somewhat uncomfortable facts about me! I'll be honest I'm a little bit hesitant to hit "publish" on this one, but in the interest of authenticity I will swallow my pride and carry on. That said, I hope you enjoyed learning a few new things about me, maybe even share in a little of my madness, and that you find my friendly photo is enough to convince you I'm not severely unstable.

Until next time, embrace what makes you different, celebrate your quirks, and remember that you are not alone. We're all a little bit beautifully crazy.


Coffee with a dear friend.

May 21, 2013

If we were sitting together having coffee, I would tell you all about my weekend. How we spent a few nights on the coast in Oregon, cuddling up by the fire as the rain gently tapped on the roof, devouring the pages of books, and getting lost in movies. I would tell you of the treasures I found...books for my collection at a local garage sale and vintage jewels at the roadside flea market. I know you would find as much delight and intrigue in them as I do.

If we were sitting together having coffee, I would tell you how we wandered along the sandy beach, warm coffee in hand, while a mix of ocean mist and springtime rain tickled the backs of our necks. How we dined on tempura sea beans ("It's a local product," she said and we smiled... knowingly), devoured fresh clam chowder, and sampled salt water taffy. I would describe the flavors, shapes and smells and we would contemplate how to replicate recipes at home.

If we were sitting together having coffee I would tell you how giddy I felt every time I saw my sparkly toes ("Baby, I love my toes today! Look! Aren't they cute!?"...he smiled at me warmly every time. Swoon!) painted a light turquoise with a touch of gold sparkle. I would tell you how inspiration hit as I woke up from a whimsical dream and how my thoughts were consumed by the possibilities of nurturing that small idea into something magical. You would bounce ideas off soft surfaces with me and we would pick up the golden ones and tuck them away for safe keeping.

If we were sitting together having coffee I would ask you how your weekend was, if you found any treasures of your own, and how the most recent brain glitter was coming along? I would smile at my friend, savor our shared treats, and listen intently all while trying to hold in my inspired excitement.

These passing moments over coffee are never long enough. For, if we were sitting together having coffee I would ask you what your dreams are made of...and those my dear friend, are grand and everlasting.

have a joy-full weekend!

May 17, 2013

I think it's time for me to breathe in some salty ocean air and get some sand between my toes, so my baby and I are off to Cannon Beach for a weekend getaway. I can hardly wait to sit on the beach, meditate on the waves, finish the book I'm reading, journal and daydream about what's to come on this little blog of mine. We're going to peruse the seaside town, savor fresh seafood, snack on saltwater taffy, and spend some much needed time exploring together. It's going to be a rejuvenating weekend. (A perfect way to jump start for rejuvenating june!) I hope your weekend is just as refreshing for your spirit. I'll be sending some salty relaxation vibes your way!

the joy of cooking

May 16, 2013

This is my favorite easy dinner lately. Strawberries and balsamic dressing on a bed of mixed greens. So simple, fresh, and flavorful! {The recipe...if you can call it that...to come later in this post.}

For those of you who know me well, know that I'm not much of a cook. I have a handful of dishes I know how to make, but I am willing to try almost any recipe. Overall I only have basic kitchen skills and kitchen-triggered ADD. (My head hurts thinking about the number of times I have burnt cookies...simply because I left the kitchen and forgot about them!) And because I live solo I really only grocery shop about once a month or less, which makes for slim pickings in the fridge and A LOT of peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.

That said I love to experiment with flavor combinations. I absolutely love to cook for others, but not really for myself. Does anyone else have this problem? I mean, why not spend a few extra minutes making something healthy for myself? Why is it that I don't take the same time and care when it comes to making my own daily meals?

I suppose it's a little bit about necessity. If I'm not hungry or I am perfectly satisfied with a peanut butter sandwich (don't get me wrong...toasted PBs are my favorite) it doesn't make sense for me to put on my apron, simmer a red wine reduction, or bake a lasagna. I'll settle for the wine.

You could also chalk it up to time trade-offs, stress, laziness, or even a lack of self-love. But I don't want to get into it that deep today. Besides, there have been periods in my life when I take the time to eat healthy, to pack my lunch, to shop only the outer walls of the market (that's where the whole foods are!), or make a smoothie every morning to start my day off right! I'm not always lazy. But more often than not I go for "simple". (What's more simple than eating ice cream for dessert right out of the container?! It's easy clean up, people!)

This spring, I've found myself thinking more about recipes and finding new flavors. This seems to be pretty standard for me. Something about fresh produce and the smell of neighborhood BBQs brings out a craving to cook. Funny, that I think this desire lasts all the way up to Thanksgiving, but somehow it surprises me every year. I start thinking, "You crazy lady. You don't cook!" or worse "Who are you trying to fool? You got that recipe off Pinterest." Every year I buy a few new cookbooks thinking this feeling will stick around and every year they sit there collecting dust.

So...in honor of trying new things, living in the moment, and fueling our desires I'm going to start posting simple (yes, SIMPLE) recipes here and there. Recipes that even the novice cook won't be afraid to try. They will be so short and sweet they won't require step-by-step photo instructions. Most will be geared toward a serving size of 1-2 people (I rarely cook for groups), but I will note that information at the start of each recipe. I'm also going to opt for using seasonal ingredients because they taste so amazing and because it's good for local farmers and the environment (Bonus!).

Now, ON to the recipe...

During the month of May strawberries and spring greens are both in season, and together they are so delicious. This simple salad can be eaten a la carte or as a side dish. And even with just a handful of ingredients it sure packs a lot of flavor.

Simple Strawberry & Balsamic Salad
Servings: 1 bowl (multiply by # of people for more)

- Strawberries (2-3 per person)
- Spring Greens or Spinach Mix (1-2 handfulls. I used organic baby kale, spinach & swish chard.)
- Balsamic Vinegar (2 tbsp. You may also opt to use a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette instead of making your own. If using store-bought dressing, skip the remaining ingredients.)
- EVOO (1 tbsp)
- Lemon Juice (1 tsp)
- Pepper (Just a pinch. Use fresh-ground pepper if you have it.)
- Salt (Just a pinch. I used kosher.)

Step 1: Rinse and pat dry strawberries and greens (if not pre-washed)
Step 2: Slice strawberries. I cut off the end with the leaves and slice them about a 1/4" thick.
Step 3: Place the greens in a bowl (or on a plate) and top it with strawberries.
Step 4: In a small bowl, mix balsamic vinegar, EVOO, lemon juice, and pepper and salt. Whisk ingredients together with a fork and taste. If it seems too heavy on EVOO adjust to your taste preference by adding a little more Balsamic. Skip this step if you are using store-bought dressing.
Step 5: Drizzle balsamic dressing over the salad and enjoy! 

If you would like to dress it up a little bit more, or try a few new flavors, consider adding a few fresh mint leaves, some thinly sliced rhubarb, or some shelled edamame (chilled) or sliced almonds for protein. It really is all up to you and what might balance well with other yummy goodness on your plate. Get out there and experiment! Strawberries and balsamic may not be a new combination in the world of complementary flavors but it is a new favorite for me. Not quite as high on the list as a PB sandwich, but I think it's a keeper.

Bon appetit!

tea and gratitude

May 15, 2013

A few weeks ago I ran across a post by Cornflower Blue about an Ayurvedic tea consultation she received from WholeBody Alchemy. The concept of Ayurvedic healing, a form of alternative medicine, is a new one to me, but the practice came up in either reading or conversation several times during the month and I took it as a clear and gentle sign that there was something there for me.

Image: WholeBody Alchemy

A few days later I contacted the lovely Lindsay Holt for a reading of my own. The process was easy, insightful, and something really special. Lindsay welcomed me with a personal email and an intake questionnaire the very next day. After filling out a few details about myself (habits, reactions, personality traits...) I received an explanation of my dosha (pitta = water + fire) and tips on how to bring my current state of imbalance back into alignment. The analysis was thorough, light, fun, and insightful. It included yoga pose and diet suggestions, simple lifestyle recommendations, and even a special "key word" to use as a gentle reminder.

A colorful and joyful tea for me to savor and a gentle reminder to "surrender.

The following week a package arrived in the mail. Enclosed was one of the most special gifts I have ever received. So many wonderful treasures precisely packed into one small box! The most important piece? My custom blended Ayurvedic tea containing Gotu Kola (increases intelligence, memory and longevity, & strengthens resistance to stress), peppermint (relieves mental and emotional tension), jasmine, Lavender (relieves tension and anxiety), Hibiscus, Lotus Leaf (nutritive and rejuvenating), rose petals, marshmallow root, and linden flower (relieves anxiety). Isn't it the most colorful and beautiful tea?!?

The package also included instructions for a solo tea ritual (The Gratitude Ritual), a fresh smudge stick, an herbal soap sample, and a hand-painted stone with my hand-picked word: Surrender

"Your key word should be Surrender. Since Pitta types often prefer to be in control, the practice of surrender will be a great benefit. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we feel about it by surrendering and allowing space for transitions and change to occur."
It took me a few days to be ready to sit down and enjoy a cup of my tea. I wanted to make sure I made adequate time for the ceremony. And with the pre-summer heat wave that blew through Seattle I decided to wait until I could fully welcome all of the coziness and warmth tea provides. For me, that moment finally came on Tuesday night. I returned home after my regular chiropractic and massage appointments, left the TV off (yay, me!), tidied up my space a bit, and settled in on the couch. Then, following the simple Gratitude Ritual instructions, I gave thanks before every sip for cherished aspects of my life: family, friends, health & wellness, creativity, community, and so on. It was nice to slow down, notice my surroundings, and take a moment to think about what I am grateful for in my life. I feel centered, connected, and so loved. 

This moment is just the latest in my journey toward finding balance. I am so sublimely happy that I stumbled upon the gifts that Lindsay offers through WholeBody Alchemy. The connections made through online creative spirits...just when we need those connections most...amaze me every day. I encourage anyone who is looking for more insight into their constitution, individuals seeking guidance on how to become your own healer and regain health and balance, or those, like me, who would like a simple and gentle way to introduce themselves to Ayurveda to try a WholeBody Alchemy tea consultation. I look forward to the many continued benefits from this short encounter and the sacred gift of self-awareness.

hey, monday...

May 13, 2013

Take time this week to clear out the clutter...mental and physical. Create space for everything you love and put (or give) everything else away. (Trust me. If you haven't used it yet, you never will.) Be gentle but brutal with yourself as you wipe off the dust and tie up...or cut off...loose ends. Sort through the muchness and seek spaces wide open enough to let your soul breathe. 

This week I start the journey of blogging from the heart. I will find ways to deepen roots and branch out, ways to create space for everything I am as well as everything I want to be, and ways to plan ahead all while living in the moment. In preparation, I am spending a little time reorganizing my space. I look forward to unravelling a little more, finding bundles of inspiration, and refining my voice over the weeks to come. 

mother's day gift ideas

May 7, 2013

There's just a few days left before Mother's Day and just enough time to order up a few special items for your mom, a new mom, or a mom-to-be. Are you ready to celebrate those who raised us to be our best, who show us how to love unconditionally, and who hold our hands and kiss our boo-boos even after we are all grown up? I hope so! Here are some of my favorite gift ideas (most of which qualify for fast shipping from Amazon Prime) if you are in the market.

Whatever you choose, just make sure it is as thoughtful, wonderful, joyful, and loving as she is.

Happy early Mother's Day to all the mom's out there!

hey, monday...

May 6, 2013

Find time to soak up the sun this week and direct that same warmth and light back into your daily life. Time spent reconnecting with loved ones and gaining the courage to be more outgoing is doing you well, so keep the momentum going. A positive spirit is as good for the world around you as it is for YOU, so let it shine!

This week I will follow some recent guidance and "surrender". I will relinquish control, go with the flow, and try not to let uncertainty or ambiguity dampen my spirit. I will put forth the pieces of me that people are drawn to and let go of the pieces that push others away. Those pieces are just for me...for private spaces...for moments when they are needed...and not for the every day. Go on and live the joyful.life!

monthly music

May 1, 2013

cover art sampled from hellotwiggs floral print available on etsy

Bring on the bountiful summer months and joyful celebrations of flora and fauna! It's time to shed layers and flaunt the parts of us that have been hibernating, including our self-confidence. I can't wait to get outdoors in the sunnier weather with this playlist and give my spirit a boost. Happy May Day!

Confident May 2013
1. To Be With You - The Honey Trees
2. Skin - Boy
3. Ends of the Earth - Lord Huron
4. Black Crow - Greylag
5. Patient Love - Passenger
6. Youth - Daughter
7. Hands - Alpine
8. Warrior - Foxes
9. Fangs - Sarah Jaffe
10. Polly Hill - Paper Lions