I say this to myself ALL THE TIME. In fact, I honestly didn’t realize that Maya Angelou said it first since I say so many versions of it to myself every day. And in the past 2 months alone, the things that I’ve wanted to change for so long have begun to change more rapidly than I ever imagined. I haven’t been posting because I’ve been running around getting things accomplished. (More on the rest of that later)

I’ve posted before about how I’d planned to make significant changes to my house, and as time went on, I kept thinking of more changes that would be nice to have. Of course, some of these things will need to wait until I set aside enough money to make them happen, but I got lucky and found a great (and HONEST) contractor who makes every effort to stay under budget. He has a hardworking team of subcontractors who are also decent people and that makes all the difference.

My attention was first called to an imperfection in the guest bathroom floor (which has over time gotten worse) by the worst nosy house guest ever. She was one of those people who overstays a welcome and goes through all of your things instead of asking where something is. She also managed to scar up the cord of my brand new vacuum cleaner pretty badly. I still have no idea how people manage to do that. But I digress… This coupled with a few foundation issues made me decide that it was probably time to call in an expert.

This Monday they came in and tore everything out of the guest bathroom so that the floor situation could be assessed. As it turns out, the problem wasn’t in that area at all. Perhaps I’d just had a string of ignorant house guests and roommates who didn’t know how to properly close a shower curtain. Who knows… but the main issue was that there was a slow leak around the toilet and the floor had been patched 3 times, so there were at least 3 different layers of floor. It looked like a patchwork quilt.

I’d taken that day off and it was interesting to see how everything came together. I picked out my floor tile, fixtures, vanity, but none of the wall tile appealed to me so the contractor told me that could wait until Wednesday.

On Tuesday they put down my floor and began assessing the situation under the house.

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Tuesday night (and with SIGNIFICANT help from Lee Ann & HalleAnn) I found my wall tile, paint color, floor grout color and wall grout color. As it turned out, the tile I wanted was extremely hard to come by. Although some of the Lowe’s stores showed a certain amount in their inventory, they ended up having much less on hand. And although I’d promised Lee Ann a fun night of dinner, watching The Bachelorette, and HGTV-palooza shenanigans at Lowe’s, we ended up staying until close trying to find a store that had this elusive tile style so that my contractor would have it ready and waiting for him in the morning. I was already irked that I’d be sending him to 2 different locations instead of just one, but I had no idea of the wild goose chase that would follow.

SIDE NOTE: The tile mason gave me a small piece of the floor tile so that I could match the wall tiles. Lee Ann’s daughter is 6 and to her, this was something cool to play with. It was an honor to get to carry “the floor tile” because it was so very important to our mission. Her Mom made her carry it with TWO HANDS so that she wouldn’t drop it. You should have seen it. She was absolutely adorable.

Wednesday morning my contractor arrived at Lowe’s to find NOTHING. They couldn’t find my order by my name, his name, my phone number, his phone number… He called me and I gave him the item number, after which the Lowe’s employee quickly regained their senses and found the order, yet not the merchandise. *insert audible groan here* He was able to find a box of 10, which we found out upon further inspection (after they made it to my house) were cracked. We ended up using the pieces for edging. As soon as I hung up with him, I called the next store he was to visit to make sure I spoke to someone with some sense. I did. His name was Bobby. He had 40 tiles waiting at Customer Service for us. When my contractor arrived at my house, I debriefed him & went to work. I came home to this.

My tile mason stayed until 8PM and bought us both dinner. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen often.

I also forgot to mention that I have 2 doggie cameras installed. I’d purchased them back when I first got Quincy and he had a habit of chewing up things he wasn’t supposed to chew. Now that he’s all settled in, he doesn’t chew up anything, so I hadn’t been putting the cameras to use… until now. *insert devious grin here* BUT THEY WORKED THE ENTIRE TIME! I hardly ever saw a single soul on camera unless they walked by to grab something from outside, which of course only elevated my confidence in everyone. They really are great, hardworking guys… And they love my dog, which is always a bonus.

I did happen to catch my contractor vacuuming my living room, which I thought was both really nice AND really odd. When I got home, he told me that one of his guys had accidentally shattered the globe on the ceiling fan they were installing for me (as a favor). Then the light bulb in my head went off.

 The replacement will be here on Monday… and I’ve made a friend at Build.com.

The remainder of the tile was put up on Thursday and today everything was scheduled to be grouted. This morning I ordered a very expensive vanity light fixture (because all of the others sucked) and it will go perfectly with everything else I’ve chosen.

Just about every day I’ve gone into my manager’s office to update him on everything going on. His most apt remark yet… “When all of this is finished, you may want to live in that bathroom for a while just to get your money’s worth.”

He may be onto something there.

Let’s Do This!

This is what I say to myself every day when I leave my house. I also say a few sweet parting missives to my dog upon my exit as he stares at me longingly from the front gate. These include, but are not limited to, “Take care of the house.” “Go inside. It’s raining.” “Please don’t bring another toy outside.” “I’ll snuggle with you later.” “You’re a pretty boy!” “I love you!” and “I’ll be home soon, I promise.” But all of this is beside the point.

I also seem to have summoned up a sort of theme music. My phone magically starts playing the Pandora app moments after I walk in. This is a relatively new development and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Since I’m also unsure of exactly what is causing it, I just yell at Siri to make it stop and it does… again magically.

For some reason I began this year with renewed energy. I’m not sure if it was the breakup or some sort of unspoken resolution I sent out into the Universe, but I feel as though with the dawning of 2017, I unloaded the behemoth of all things unwanted and began to see the world through newly-opened eyes. Each day is a gift. I have 2 best friends who are complete opposites. They are two of the most amazing women I have ever met and they continue to inspire and bring out the best in me on a daily basis. They are my co-conspirators, my biggest cheerleaders, and I never question that they always have my back.

Right alongside the things I love and am grateful for are the things I’ve started to see completely differently and want to change. For a long time I’ve been reluctant to do weddings. I just flat out don’t like them. People seem to think that on their wedding day, a makeup artist can simply wave a magic makeup brush and transform them into a completely different person than they were before. That’s always struck me as odd. Mark my words. Nothing will make you question your talent or faith in humanity as much as doing wedding makeup.

Granted, I’ve been lucky to have had some amazing brides, and those experiences alone have been more than enough to outweigh the occasional Bridezilla. However, yesterday I decided to take bridal service rates off my website completely… then exhaled deeply. Three hours later (I kid you not), a bride sent me an email wanting to hire me for a HUGE wedding in about 8 weeks. I sent her a polite response and referred her to a friend who just set out on her own and is building her makeup artist business. Pay it forward whenever possible. Absolutely 100%. This business is completely cutthroat and it’s difficult to know who your friends are. But it all comes back. That’s the one thing you can count on.

I’m actually ahead of the game this week. My taxes are done (these are regrettably a last-minute thing, but I’m working on pushing them earlier and earlier each year. #smallwins). I’ve also secured a loan from the bank that will take care of all of the foundation work (GOOD NEWS! My house will not fall into the abyss on my watch!) and the renovation of both bathrooms. This was all done by Wednesday. I feel as if I deserve an award for adulting super-hard!

Today, a newsletter from a professional organizer was sitting in my Inbox. It contains a plethora of fantastic advice. (Yes, I included the link for you… because I’m good like that.)

AND as if the Universe didn’t have my back enough today, I just got the call notifying me that tomorrow morning I’ll be making David McIntosh camera-ready for Fox.

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Both of these men are named David McIntosh. Which one do you think I’m meeting?
If you guessed the pasty, middle-aged guy… you’d be correct. *sigh*
Always the politicians, never the hot guys.

One day…
I’m waiting Universe…

 

Happiness & the Pursuit Thereof

It’s funny how little I’ve thought about happiness lately, yet I’m perfectly happy. I have great friends and I’m finally starting to make a dent in my super-huge “to do” list (which is giving me a much-needed feeling of satisfaction). As much as I’m loathe to admit, I’m a born list-maker, so I do a tiny internal “happy dance” each time I get to check something off.

In my Facebook memories today I ran across an article I’d shared from a blog which mentioned The Happiness Project. Basically, Gretchen Rubin, then a writer at Slate.com, began chronicling her year-long journey toward happiness. It became a best-selling book, which turned into a phenomenon. Now she’s published a few more on the subject (as well as a few on completely different subjects). Happiness is indeed a much sought-after commodity.

Much like happiness, freedom has been a focus lately. It feels AMAZING to be unapologetically me. I answer to myself and that’s it. I have wise friends and if I want their advice or help, I know I can seek it, but I enjoy the feeling of not being confined by the rules or expectations of another. As if by telepathy, this appeared in my Inbox this morning. It’s an article about freedom in love relationships. I can’t tell you how much this resonated with me.

if-you-love-something-set-it-free

Now I actually understand what that means.

In the years that followed the viral success of The Happiness Project, there were a number of people posting the results of their own Happiness Projects to social media. Every one is different. Each person has different things that create their own brand of happiness. No two results are the same. I challenge you all to go out and begin your own Happiness Projects. I know it’s March, so we’re a little late to the party for New Year resolutions, but here is a tiny excerpt from the book to start you in the right direction.

And a list, because I love lists.

Rock Star Sparkle

This past week or so has been a crazy happy blur. I had a magnificent time in Charlotte and got to meet K. Flay! If you haven’t heard her music or seen her live, she’s touring now (so this is your chance) and she’s the absolute sweetest. She’s a hugger! The first thing she did when I approached was hug me! And when I told her that I’d driven over 3 hours to see her, she grabbed me and hugged me again! She may have even hugged me more than twice. I was so drunk with post-concert giddiness I hardly noticed. It was like hanging out with one of my best girlfriends. (If said girlfriend was a badass rapper/vocalist who made music you love.) She signed 2 cds and posed for so many photos with Allison and I (the lighting was SO BAD it was almost a must.) I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world. In fact, I’m still all smiles just thinking about it.

It was nice staying with Allison for a day or 2. We look after each other. She cooked for me and made sure I had all the comforts of home. And I ended up coaching her on some online aspects of her business. I had brought her a book full of inspiration that I thought she’d enjoy, but I never saw myself fitting into a coaching role. I think the more we grow, the more we don’t think we have it “together.” We realize how little we actually know in the grand scheme of things. But growth isn’t supposed to be comfortable. That’s why so many people don’t do it. I’ve never been one of those people.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
– Anaïs Nin

After a few days of adjusting and jumping back into work, I got to hang out with a few of my favorite people this weekend. Unfortunately, we were reminded that sometimes when things come too easy, there’s a catch. Lee Ann got ROCKSTAR parking in front of the venue, but when we returned to her car, she’d been hit by a party bus full of drunken millennials. I use the term “Party Bus” loosely. It was actually a retro school bus spray-painted black. I won’t go into details, I’ll just say that I hate that this happened to one of the most amazing people I know. In other news, the food and the company were nothing short of amazing. And I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to our friend JD, who is always there for us. (#theoriginalJD)

Saturday morning I had one of the most interesting makeup jobs I’ve had in a while. A friend of mine who I’d met when I dated his college roommate (funny story… I totally got Delta Chi and Theta Chi confused. WHO DOES THAT? Luckily, he set me straight before I went on embarrassing myself for too long) hired me to do makeup for the Intro to his local cable access show. The makeup was to be a closeup shot of lips as they spoke the opening catch phrase. What I didn’t know was that he would arrive equipped with craft services of an edible arrangement, champagne, brie, crackers and a vegetable tray for the talent to enjoy after it was photographed. He was taking care of a few jobs he needed to photograph or film that day and we all got to reap the benefits.

As it turns out, Randal is a dental hygienist. It just so happens that the practice he works for has developed a kit for in-office tooth-whitening with a take home component and a nifty reminder app that whitens at least 3 shades without sensitivity in 30 minutes. Everyone on site got to try this out for themselves and it was GLORIOUS! It’s not every day that I show up on set, get spoiled with fancy treats AND get to leave with a shiny new smile!

Evidently, this tooth-whitening system will soon be featured on the TV show Shark Tank, so I’m not allowed to give too many details, but I may end up in some of the preliminary promotional materials.

And if you get a chance, listen to my new friend K. Flay. You’ll be glad you did.

New Year’s Resolution #5839 – Stop putting other people first.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been the mantra recited in my head daily. I think it’s because I’ve been a people-pleaser since birth. But when you take a step back and think about it, it’s stupid to sacrifice your own feelings only to spare those of someone else. Most people can see through you when you aren’t being authentic… at least that’s the basic assumption.

All of this finally sunk in at the end of last year. I put it into practice. I was miserable, so I got out of my miserable relationship. I said NO to IT and YES to ME. I was scared to death of hurting him, but I finally convinced myself that my happiness was simply more important… not more important than him or his happiness. That’s not it at all. It’s just that for the duration of the relationship, I had been so concerned about him that I never really thought about myself. And for a change, I needed to think about what would make me happy.

I took a day and thought and cried and kept to myself. Before I knew it, I had an answer. I needed to get out of the relationship. So I put on my big girl panties and did it.

“Deciding is freedom. Indecision is torture”
– Jen Sincero
You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

I felt awkward and weird for a little while. Some days I even wondered if I’d made a mistake. Then one day the happy set in. I realized that I could do whatever I wanted again. I didn’t have anyone making demands on my time or watching every move I made via social media. The tightness in my chest released. My smile came back. I started making plans with friends I hadn’t spent quality time with in what seemed like ages. The smile became bigger. I started setting goals, creating budgets, making to-do lists, researching things I’d only dreamed of doing.

“It’s all happening.”
Penny Lane
Almost Famous

Now every morning I get up and look forward to my days. Even though most of them have been packed with the sort of homeowner minutia that makes most people groan with disdain. I’ve been kicking ass at work. (I even got an email from a recruiter about a job I would have given my eyeteeth to do a few years ago and even today considered shooting him a resume just for fun) I have a great side hustle and get to meet famous people constantly. The workmen destroyed my mailbox post? Meh, I got another. And the company was super-sweet in their correspondence with me, which made the entire process feel less daunting. Even the bad stuff seems good now.

This weekend I’m going to visit my friend Allison. We’re celebrating our friend Renee’s birthday with our friend Tracy. These are 3 of the strongest, bravest, most awesome women I know and I’m grateful to have them in my circle. Renee’s celebration also happened to fall the day before the K. Flay concert at my favorite venue in the same city. When I saw the concert announced, I’d lamented first because it was on a Monday and second because it was at my favorite intimate venue. It seemed impossible for me to be able to make that happen.

Then one day Allison sent me a text asking if I would come celebrate Renee the night before the concert. I immediately told her about K. Flay and asked if we could figure the concert into our plans. Before I knew it, I was asking for time off and purchasing concert tickets.

You only get one life. Live it the way YOU want.

Don’t Be Like Dave

I think this audio-book habit is actually doing me quite a bit of good. I read funny stuff when I want to be entertained and I read motivational stuff when I need a little push toward getting my act together. I’d had “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero in my wish list for a little while now. I’d heard of it when it was advertised in my Target Cartwheel coupon app (which I thought was a strange way to advertise) but the title stuck in my head and since it was read by the author, I wanted to read it. I find that the books lack a certain something when they aren’t read by the person who poured years of their life into creating them.

The narrator sounds a lot like a friend of mine who I look up to. We went to high school together and I always thought she was a lot cooler than me. When we reconnected in later life she was dating, then married the lead-guitarist and my co-lead male vocalist in my band. Even though I know they aren’t the same person, as I listen to the narration, I picture Jennifer speaking to me and it’s kinda cool that way. Instant co-pilot!

I was deep into “The Urban Monk” by Pedram Shojai when Audible sent me the message that I was able to use my February credits, so I eagerly put that project on hold. Although that book has TONS of useful information, it was starting to make me feel bad about myself for eating gluten, not exercising enough, not connecting to the earth more, not finding time to meditate, watching too much TV, believing in Western Medicine… basically everything that just about everyone in the USA does. He brought up excellent points about how the way things were processed now and the overuse of chemicals & pesticides were the main contributors to the rise of Autism & gluten sensitivities. I get it. I get the whole living simpler thing… but BABY STEPS MAN! Going through that book was like reading the gourmet cookbook with all the ingredients you’ve never heard of utilizing pans you don’t even own, instead of the normal one with ingredients readily available at any store utilizing pans you already own.

So I switched up my cookbook.

It didn’t even strike me that the book I was reading to de-stress and simplify was actually stressing me out until I was lying on the massage table the other night. My masseur usually has no problem getting me to relax, but this time I could feel that I wasn’t exhaling normally. My muscles were tense. I really had to concentrate to breathe and relax my muscles. It wasn’t until the end of the session that I actually felt like I’d relaxed enough. And then I had to rush home to make a huge batch of chocolate-covered strawberries. I’d originally conspired with my boss to make them as a Valentine gift for his wife, but when Bryan asked if I had plans, I told him to bring a container for his girlfriend and come assist (knowing full-well that I would be doing all the work and he would simply be collecting strawberries at the end) He offered to bring me dinner in exchange, but forgot, so I made another batch of strawberries after he left, ate 2 and went to bed. Par for the course.

The next day I started “You are a Badass.” It’s pretty much the culmination of every useful mantra I’ve wanted to remember since day 1 all outlined into tidy bullet points. Each chapter begins with a quote. She discusses the pitfalls of comparison and how you should never compare yourself to others, which is total common sense. Everyone says it, even if they don’t practice it themselves. It made me think of Dave Mustaine. One of my favorite parts of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson was the chapter where he recounts the story of Dave getting kicked out of Metallica, then going on to form Megadeth, but he’s still so bitter from being kicked out of Metallica and watching their meteoric rise to fame that even though his own band is enjoying success in their own right, he can’t appreciate it because he’s so consumed with spending his entire existence trying to keep up with Metallica. That’s like not being able to appreciate peanut butter because it isn’t chocolate.

She talks about mastering your inner dialogue and how you take in, filter and use the information you’re given in any situation. She talks about how so many people let fear control their decisions. And how it’s scary to be uncomfortable, but that it’s a necessary part of growth and change.

I want to read this over and over and take notes. I want to make a vision board. (Of course, in the current state of my house, I have no idea where this board would actually fit, but I’ll figure it out.) I’m liking where this is going.

Marie Kondo is my Muse

I set out to make this a daily project, but lately I’ve been slacking. For that, I apologize. I’ve been out getting my ass in gear on my very extensive “to do” list. After a few years of doing double-duty in a band, then living a double-life in Esthetician school, things had more than adequate time to accumulate around my tiny pillbox of a starter home. I’ve come to realize that just as it took time to collect the mountain of clutter that I successfully hid, then subsequently shuffled between the 2 spare rooms, it’s going to take time to go through and get it to it’s final destination (sell, trash, recycle, give, donate…). Fortunately, there are a myriad of options for where you can re-purpose most anything nowadays. However, when you just want it DONE, considering all the options only makes the job more time-consuming. Can you believe I even found a place that takes my old bras? Yes, I said bras!

Basically, when you live in a small house with 2 rooms that have almost exclusively been unusable for the past decade or so, you start to feel like the walls are closing in. I’d chipped away at this for a little while, then I’d feel the need to have people over and in my rush to prepare, all the clutter or anything someone would poke fun of if it were left lying in plain sight was shoved in a box and thrown into one of the spare rooms. The cycle continued…

The last time I found time to clear out a room was when I was dating Dennis. He lived in Charleston, and was seeing a handful of other people who I didn’t know about, which gave me plenty of time to myself. When he would visit, the house would be neat as a pin, but it weighed on my mind that I should clear out at least one of the rooms just in case he peeked in and ran screaming. My methodology was to take everything out and only allow what was needed back in. This would have worked like a charm if my idea had come equipped with a small storage unit. Instead, I lived with clutter everywhere until I figured out what to do with it all. Unfortunately, I think most of it ended up in the other spare room.

One boyfriend and one birthday party later, the room I cleaned is hardly navigable. I’m not putting it off any more. I’ve begun fixing/replacing everything I don’t like and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Why? I’ll tell you. That feeling you get when everything is finally in order… when you are free of clutter and you can find all the things you are looking for… when you can walk freely through every space in your home… I don’t even remember what that’s like. I’m envious of Marie Kondo, the organizational muse of the masses who has her collective “shit” SO MUCH together that she’s developed the new IN methodology by which the world is now becoming more organized and happy. All I can say is that I’d love to see her house. Although, I downloaded her audio book and I’m afraid it might just bore me to tears. We shall see…