MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

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The (Supposedly) Neverending Tile Saga

If I ever had a doubt, the past few years have truly shown me who my real friends are. Have you ever had those friends so connected with you that they could read your mind? I do.

Throughout this whole renovation process, my friend Lee Ann has been a perfect Partner in Crime. Although I share her affinity for HGTV, she definitely has more knowledge, experience and vocabulary in her arsenal. (Yes, this actually IS my first rodeo.) If I attempted a DIY project of this magnitude, it would look more like a Pinterest Fail.

When I first chose the shower tile for the guest bathroom, we had no idea that it would be:
a. so delicate and
b. so difficult to find.

 

 

Previously, we’d ordered half of the tiles from one store and half from another, each time having the store check the boxes on hand for broken tiles and set aside the good ones. We thought everything was taken care of until 40 tiles simply disappeared. The contractor went to pick them up and no one could locate them. (I’m not sure how one minute 40 tiles have been counted out & set aside and the next, they’re nowhere to be found, but that’s neither here nor there… literally)

This week I decided that if we could find enough of the same tile, I’d like to re-do the remaining shower in the same pattern. At last check, the store in Goldsboro (which is about an hour away) had the most in their inventory, so Lee Ann decided that it would be a good idea to take a road trip and grab it so that my contractors would have it available right away if they needed it.

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Actual photo taken in Lee Ann’s driveway prior to leaving for Goldsboro

When we arrived, the staff member I spoke to hadn’t had a chance to go through the boxes on hand. Lee Ann and I made quick work of it. By the end, we had 39 intact tiles and 29 that were broken, but large enough to be salvaged. We ended up getting the broken tiles for 10 cents apiece! (Did I fail to mention that Lee Ann is a Genius?) And to top it all off, when she found out there were more intact tiles in Rocky Mount and her Dad would be going there the next day, she got him in on our little coup. Now I have 20 more tiles that were carefully delivered by Lee Ann’s awesome Dad!

I know, I know… This is way too much trouble, right? Why didn’t I just choose another?

The tile selection was absolutely pitiful at this particular Home Improvement store, but when I saw THAT style, something just clicked. It stood out from the others. I had to have it.

Had I known the EPIC STRUGGLE that would ensue just to obtain intact pieces, I probably would have given up right on the spot. But with my biggest cheerleader in my corner, anything seemed possible.

And it always will be. ❤

Not Today Satan

Today is the day I find out if my house is slowly sinking into the abyss. I have an appointment with someone who is going to crawl under my house to inspect my foundation and supporting beams. A few years ago someone noticed an indention near the guest tub where the floor had caved in. A few years before that, the tell-tale cracks above a few entrance-ways began to form. Since all of my home repair knowledge came from my father, I believed him when he told me, “It’s just the foundation settling. It happens. I just need to put a jack under the house and jack it up.” To this day, that hasn’t happened. And due to my recent DIY and organization streak, the moment of reckoning is upon me.

I bought my house a year after my graduation from college to avoid “throwing money away on rent.” Because I was young and cared more about socializing, buying cute clothes and learning the newest makeup techniques… that’s where the majority of my time, effort and disposable income were spent. To be honest, I had no business becoming a homeowner. Then again, I’m grateful that I purchased my little pillbox house when I did because it’s about a 15-minute drive to just about anything I need. I’m literally in the middle of everything. Nowadays, people pay a small fortune for a luxury like that.

Some people go through life with a checklist. Car, College, Marriage, Dog, House, Kid(s)… My mother told me that I’d meet my husband in college. That never happened. After I graduated, I looked back, thinking I must have done something wrong. I hadn’t.

My parents had a few very rigid ideas about how I was to go about the business of my life. When I was younger, they never allowed me to have any pets except for the occasional hermit crab, fish or gerbil. I was allergic to cats, but dogs were out of the question. Although I was doing musical theater since age 7, art, writing poetry and music… my parents insisted that I get a degree in “business” so that I would have “marketable skills.” They didn’t want me to be a “starving artist” living under a bridge in a cardboard box, which was how they saw anyone who sought a career in art of any kind.

I’m on my second dog now. The first was a gorgeous Pekingese puppy I picked up at a pet store with an old boyfriend. I told him, “When we tell my parents, you gave me this puppy as a gift, right?” My parents eventually warmed up to the little fur ball. They even shed a few tears when he passed away after 16 years of being their precious GrandDog. Now I have a big fuzzy Australian Shepherd rescue. I think rescue dogs appreciate you more because they’ve been through stuff. Adopting that little fur face was the best thing I’d done in a long time. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be loved unconditionally. This little guy taught me how to love and be loved all over again.

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And as far as that “starving artist” stuff goes… I’ve been doing my best to make Mom & Dad eat those words. I still have my “responsible steady day job” that pays the bills, but I’ve been enjoying growing my side hustle. I signed up for this monthly box designed for female entrepreneurs and found out today that the curator lives in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area… only a stone’s throw away! I’ve been messaging with her since I’d been stumbling upon motivational content of my own. She just started her box business in December and it’s already one of the most sought-after on Cratejoy.

Nowadays people are finding (and fueling) their passions in so many unconventional ways. It’s possible to make a living doing things that the generations before us would scoff at. You just have to get out there and find out what really sets your heart ablaze. And be you, no matter what anyone else tells you, even Mom & Dad.

And Love Yourself.

Love Yourself

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.

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…

Notes From the Universe

Eight years ago I went through something that changed me. I fell in love with someone completely wrong for me and kept having to convince myself that I was doing the right thing for myself. All evidence to the contrary, the Universe was screaming WRONG WRONG WRONG! But I’m stubborn and I persevered, ignoring all the signs. It ended badly. of course, but it was also the first time that someone had ever looked me in the eye and told me that I was “not allowed to exist in his world anymore.”

I’ve had good, communicative, healthy breakups and I’ve had a few awful ones, but this… This life event made me question everything. I’d never had anyone I trusted and loved so much just throw me away as if nothing ever happened. I was deeply devastated and most of all, I stopped believing in love. In fact the jury is still out on that one. Before this point in my life I gave freely of myself and I loved with everything I was. Now I became guarded, bitter and resentful. My world was turned upside-down and most of my choices were motivated by fear. I would never be the same.

One day when I was browsing the web, I stumbled upon some motivational sites, a few had emails that you could subscribe to… so I did. I knew I needed a great deal of positive motivation and I wanted desperately to put the traumatic event behind me so I could move forward with my life. You never realize how difficult it is to get out of a mindset and truly let go of something until you’ve experienced something like this. I needed all the help I could get. My first gurus were Ariel & Shya Kane. I ordered their audio book “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life” When I was finished, I went on to find Marc and Angel Chernoff. I immediately signed up for everything I could on their website and years later, went on to purchase their book on Kindle and attend their workshop when they came to NC.

I’ve been receiving almost daily emails from Marc and Angel and Ariel & Shya ever since. A lot of the basic principles are common sense, but we tend to forget them when we need them the most. Marc and Angel are big advocates of meditation, but meditating is always a big fail to me since my mind is always whirring with thoughts like 20 hyperactive hamsters in a wheel. It’s been a journey and it still is. But it’s only recently that I started REALLY thinking about the bigger picture and what sort of energy I’m sending out into the Universe.

Because struggling through another viewing of “The Secret” seemed pointless, I looked elsewhere. And there it was. Amid all the other health, wellness, DIY and other assorted junk mail reading in my Inbox was a link to a website called Notes from the Universe. Of course I clicked it.

“I’m a born lever-puller”
– Ringo, Yellow Submarine

So basically the idea is that you get daily emails of encouragement sent to your Inbox. You can even customize these notes to encourage you toward a few long-term goals. I’m always willing to let more positive motivation into my life, so I did it, and I’m glad I did. Even if your mailbox is full of clutter, these little notes are brief and stand out. I try to make them the first thing I read every day.

And the Audible service? I feel like I get a new benefit from it every day. Today I’m listening to Anna Kendrick’s book of biographical essays Scrappy Little Nobody. She narrates each story as if she’s talking to you, so for a few days I have Anna Kendrick as my co-pilot. I’m pretty sure the other drivers are wondering what I’m chuckling about.

I’m gonna let ’em wonder.