Happy New Year, Wake Up Ami is Back!

2014 is Going to be Better

Like many people, my 2013 was a roller coaster, and I’m not talking about the fun “that was fun, let’s do it again” thrill ride kind. I’m talking about something more akin to a runaway mine car plunging into dark tunnels full of jagged rocks and scary mine creatures.

Speaking of tracks, I know that some of you may have noticed that I most definitely fell off track on my resolution list for last year.

2013 was a year of big changes in my life, serious transformations occurred in almost all aspects: social, mental, physical, financial and more. What occurred in my life last year was far more than I could have ever put down in a list for myself, and thus, a few months in I decided to see where the year would take me instead of working off of a list. While goals are great, sometimes it’s just best to go with the flow and see where life takes you.

That being said, though, by the end of the year that seemingly endless roller coaster finally started to slow and delivered me to a far more stable (and happy!) place, and on the eve of the new year I decided…I think I’ll celebrate the feat of making it through 2013 alive with a 2014 full of fun and excitement.

I’m back, and more awake than ever. Here’s the resolution list for 2014. Happy New Year!

1. Paint a painting–without brushes
2. Find treasure in a geocache
3. Get some fancy pajamas
4. Invest
5. Go camping
6. Fund a Kickstarter campaign
7. Stay in a hostel
8. Grow and eat my own vegetables
7. Redecorate or paint a room
8. Write a short story
9. Host a holiday dinner at my place
10. Pay for the person behind me in line
11. Pull a prank
12. Start a YouTube channel
13. Sing karaoke
14. Finish P90X
15. Plant a tree
16. Watch an eclipse
17. Make my own costume for faire / a con
18. Learn how to do make-up…well
19. Get a hammock
20. Marathon an awesome movie series (Star Wars, LOTR, James Bond)
21. Fill up a Moleskine
22. Create a sculpture
23. Crash a party
24. Go a week without social media
25. Cook dinner over an open fire
26. Go sledding
27. Learn something from my mom
28. Make a short film
29. Participate in an open mic night
30. Go ghost hunting in a haunted place
31. Visit an abandoned place
32. Learn another language
33. Drive to another state
34. Go out and take photos of beautiful strangers
35. Tell 50 people how they’ve positively affected my life
36. Get a prison pen pal
37. Make art out of something old
38. Go through my high school journals and see how I’ve changed
39. Do something that feels like flying (sky dive, bungee jump, zip line)
40. Build a cat tree
41. Shop for a week’s groceries using only the farmer’s market
42. Try arco yoga
43. Go see a band I love in another city
44. Win something on the radio
45. Go to Burning Man/Flipside
46. Play in a MTG draft
47. Pay off at least one credit card
48. Travel somewhere by train
49. Create self-portrait every month
50. Create a meditation area
51. Take my nephew out for a day of fun
52. Take my family out to dinner and pay the bill
53. Visit an old teacher
54. Make my own infused alcohol
55. Drastically change my hair
56. Buy a wig
57. Do the 21-day meditation challenge
58. Throw a Gatsby party
59. Write a letter to my future self
60. Learn to play a song on guitar
61. Touch a wild animal
62. Have a tea party
63. Take a foreign cooking class
64. Face a fear
65. Find a good hangout spot
66. Celebrate a non-american holiday
67. Start a tradition
68. Do something to help organize my life
69. Fix my car…before it breaks
70. Do something I remember doing as a kid
71. Hand-make a gift for someone’s birthday or a holiday
72. Get new glasses
73. Find another way to get around short distances
74. Go to a city during an event it’s known for (i.e. Mardis Gras in New Orléans)
75. Learn to read tarot cards without a guide-book
76. Go on a night hike at Wild Basin
77. Learn to drive a motorcycle
78. Start going to local coffee shops instead of Starbucks
79. Take a class at a community college
80. Take a trip into the country
81. Find an interesting opportunity on Craigslist
82. Go a week without make-up
83. Explore a very old or big library
84. Go to a religious service for a religion I don’t know much about
85. Cook a delicious vegan meal
86. Play an indie game
87. Reach out to someone I admire
88. Write an article for a website or publication I like
89. Try a water sport
90. Play tennis
91. Go yard sale hopping on a Saturday morning
92. Go tour a really expensive apt/condo or home that I can not afford
93. Personalize my desk at work
94. Go somewhere I learned about on TV (travel channel, discovery, food network)
95. Make a scrapbook for the year by printing iPhone and FB pictures
96. Read a classic novel
97. Create a wish tree in a park
98. Get a Groupon for something I’ve never done, and do it
99. Go to a sporting event
100. Do charity work on a holiday
101. Do something recommended to me by someone else

How to Keep A New Year’s Resolution

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Confession time.

I’ve already broken some resolutions.  I know, I know. We’re not even a month into the new year and I’m already breaking my “good habits” resolutions.  It’s making me realize that changing a habit or routine, even starting one, is a lot more difficult than just putting it down on paper–or in my case, out in cyberspace (does anyone call it that anymore?).

Then, I got sick.  Seriously, someone told me that statistics are now showing that 80% of the people you hear coughing out in public have the flu.

map_flu_ltst_4namus_enus_600x405Look at that thing.  Nowhere is safe! Your Ami wisdom for the day: Stock up on the vitamin c and break out the hand sanitizer.

But, I’ve decided to look at my bed-ridden week of death as nature’s own little reset button. I will start next week like it’s the first of the year all over again. I’m going to get back to my resolutions, plan out some adventures, and just blatantly ignore the strike on my record.

That, my friends, is how you keep a New Year’s Resolution.  By pretending like you never broke it at all.

We’re human, see?  Without some sort of godly determination and willpower, the idea of not breaking ANY habit for an entire year is–well–it’s just unreasonable.  I guess technically speaking that means that I’m using my non-existent authority to give everyone permission to break their resolutions, but think of it this way:

Say you resolved to “Lose Weight” or “Workout More” or something similar. Now, in reality what you see is this GIGANTIC influx of people at the gym, the weight loss supplements fly off the shelves, there are social media weight loss challenges and fad diets become even more faddy.  Then, inevitably, about four or five weeks in, the gyms empty out and people stop weighing in. They toss around excuses like “I missed four days at the gym.”  or “I broke my diet already.”

“The resolution is broken.  Oh well, I’ll try again next year.”

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Guess what, guys?  There are still eleven more months for you to get back on that wagon.  Just because you can’t say that you made it through your year flawlessly doesn’t mean that you should go back to bad habits for another eleven months. I don’t know about you but I’d rather get to the gym even 50 times in a year and get through it imperfectly than to go 7 times and quit because I missed a week or two. It’s one of those rare situations where it’s quantity over quality.  Your body probably won’t care so much that you missed a week at the gym, but it’s sure as hell going to care if you sit on the couch for another eleven months waiting for next year to come around.

Find ways around your excuses. If you’re bored–try something new.  You’re not the only one who is bored to tears by the treadmill.  Try Zumba or go running outside for a change.  There are going to be days when all you want for breakfast is chocolate cake. Eat that piece of cake; who cares? Just pick back up on the healthy tomorrow. Again, one day of chocolate cake for breakfast is far better than 330, just because you got off track one day.  See what I mean?

Me, for example? I didn’t work out this week, or blog 3 times like I planned. And, I didn’t have a healthy eating resolution, but if it makes anyone feel better I also ate an entire chocolate bar and half a pint of ice cream yesterday just because I felt like crap and that’s all that made me feel better. I was just a big mess this week.  Things happen, things get in the way, but instead of quitting the blog all together and re-adopting my “fat pants”–I’m going write 3 times next week. And pick up where I left off on exercise once my head no longer feels like it’s going to explode.  It’s going to be like my off-week never existed and I will fill the rest of my year with accomplishment (hopefully?) because I’m okay with a victory even if it’s not quite flawless.

So for those of you who have broken your resolutions, get back on it.  For those who haven’t yet, but may have their own “off-day,” or even “off-week(s)” sometime this year, calm down.  You made those resolutions for you, keep going, no one’s judging you. Unless you entered an office pool or something…then they might be judging you, and taking your money, but still–don’t give up.

funny-new-years-resolutions-office-pool

The first bit, the actual making habits bit, is the tough part.  Cut yourself some slack, and then proceed to have a great 2013.

Question of the Day:  What’s your new year’s resolution?

Exactly What I Wanted, In None of the Ways I Planned

Today is December 20, 2012. There are currently 11 days left in the year, and I almost can’t believe that it’s so close to coming to an end. I started this blog on December 31, 2011 with all sorts of intentions. In all honesty, I was feeling bored more than anything. Bored with myself, with life. It was a good life, a GREAT life in fact. I had accomplished all I wanted to so far, had a lot of great things going on with relationships, friendships and family. I was happy–but something felt like it was missing. I saw this massive global awakening happening: people discovering things about themselves, taking action on things they were passionate about, really growing and living while I sat at home and kept going with my day-to-day routine like I had for years. I decided to go, do, see, and be anything and everything. After all, how easy is it to really grow and learn about the universe around you when you’re always looking at it through the same window?

It began simply. A list. 112 things that I would like to experience in a year’s time. I feel much more accomplished when I can check things off a list. But, and I can not even put into words the pure and raw emotion behind this statement: This year is ending exactly as I’d hoped, but in none of the ways that I planned.

I know many of you noticed that my posts started dwindling in frequency near the middle of the year. While I still held hope for completing my list, my world was changing dramatically all around me. I made one decision, one that does not appear anywhere on my list, that ended up–albeit indirectly–sparking that awakening that I was so longing for when 2012 started.

This may not be the most pleasant story, but stick with me here. This one, single decision catapulted me into a place that I did not know existed for me. While I have had my dark moments in life, I can say with confidence that I have always felt like my life has been relatively easy. I’ve been very very lucky. I had friends that loved me, no enemies to speak of, a solid support system, and very little uncertainty about my future and where I was going in my life.

Suddenly, this all changed.

Every cell inside of me that had felt restricted by the life I’d been living before burst forth from within me, pushing me to be wild, completely unpredictable, even to myself, and in many ways a little self-destructive. I no longer had any idea what I was doing, where I was going, and worse–I had no idea what I even wanted out of life anymore. I was, in every sense of the word, lost. The way I see it, though, is that while the path you are walking on may be comfortable and familiar, sometimes you have to divert and get a little bit lost in order to find another path that you may not have known existed, but could be better for you than you could have imagined.

Lucky enough for me, there were a few people who, despite recognizing that I was flailing uncontrollably, were willing to hold my hand, literally and figuratively while I went through all the stages of destruction and regrowth. (Is a phoenix rising from the ashes a cliché?  Because it’s appropriate here.) They stayed up with me at all hours because all I needed was someone to sit with me because I just needed to–cry. Or talk. Or just…simply sit in the company of someone else and do nothing at all. Some of these people had known me a long time, some people met me just as this all began, but regardless of how long they had known me, or how well, they had faith in me and recognized that though people sometimes have moments of darkness, that they do indeed rise out of it again.

Truly, I find myself thankful for this gift, these people, more than anything else, this holiday season.

Very slowly I started looking inside again, at what I needed as a person, at flaws, fears and insecurities I needed to resolve. I talked myself blue in the face, to myself or anyone else who would listen. I started to meditate again. I picked my pen back up and started to write again. And of course, pushed myself to complete as many more resolutions as I could.

I can’t say that it was prompted by any one particular event, but eventually it started to feel like the fog was lifting. I heard myself speaking with confidence again about what I wanted and needed on a soul level–not just a materialistic one. As this year begins to draw to a close, and on the eve of this milestone date 12/21/12, I can honestly say that I feel like I am on the right track again.

I am well aware that I still have many things to work through, to figure out.  I will probably spend the rest of my life feeling this way, because life IS evolution and growth, but it;s a relief to realize that when I sit down and allow myself to be very quiet, that I feel calm. I feel as though I have the people in my life that are meant to be in it, though some are playing roles that I didn’t expect. I feel as though I recognize what is important to me, not because someone told me it should be important, but because it actually means something to me. And most of all, I feel as though I can release my fear. I finally recognize that although things can get bad, although you can get lost in a way that you don’t think you’ll find your way back again, you do, and when that happens you may find yourself in a completely different but far more beautiful place.

I am working on a brand-new resolution list for 2013, with a new focus based on all I’ve discovered this year. I can’t wait to share it with all of you and keep this adventure going for another crazy year. It’s been so fantastic to hear from the friends and the strangers who have followed my journey so far, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for going along for the ride with me.

And of course, I don’t want to forget!  There were a few resolutions that I completed and sadly never had the chance to write about so I want to at least list and give recognition here that I didn’t quite complete the whole list, but I got a few more things done and want to say a public thanks to everyone who was involved because I didn’t do a single one of these alone:

Resolution #4: Spend a Night on the 3rd floor of the Driskill: This came SO close to happening but fell through at the last minute.  But, I did get to hang out at the Driskill on Halloween of all days and had a blast while it lasted.

Resolution #5: Learn to Play and Sing a Song on Guitar: I got pretty close but did not perfect Hurt by Johnny Cash. I also almost got “The Only Exception” by Paramore under my belt.  I really need to practice more.

Resolution #7: Learn to Deep Fry. I ate so much fried food this day I made myself sick. Including an entire fried snickers bar, Oreos and a plethora of meat and veggies. …That snickers one is going to have to happen again sometime.

Resolution #16: Start a Balcony Garden: I moved into a house so we no longer have a balcony, but my roommate and I started a mason jar window sill garden with herbs. My cilantro was the only one out of four plants that sprouted…and then I forgot to water it… 😦

Resolution #18: Run a 5k: I actually did this one better and ran the 5 MILE Turkey Trot race with my family on Thanksgiving Day.  I managed to finish the 5 miles in just over an hour, and I am so proud of my mom, she worked hard on her fitness all year and completed this as her big coupe de grace this year.

Resolution #25: Learn More About Buddhism: I wanted to do more with this, but did actually seek out more info on Buddhism.  I read a great book called Dharma Punx by Noah Levine that taught me quite a bit, and visited a Buddhist Zendo here in Austin called the Austin Meditation Center and learned about tradition Buddhist Zen Meditation. I want to look more into this next year.

Resolution #38: Have Matching Couples Halloween Costume: Dru and I hand-made, and pulled off quite nicely if I do say so myself, costumes for Amber Sweet and The Graverobber from Repo! The Genetic Opera. And bonus, I now own a custom tailored cage skirt (thanks Dru!) and a rhinestone bra.

Resolution #43: Learn a Magic Trick: Dane taught me a couple of pretty great card tricks and then gifted me the deck so that I could practice. 🙂 I’m going to have to bust them out at a party sometime.

Resolution #57: Go to an Austin Music Festival: This was going to be Part Two of my most recent post (recent being October) but I never wrote it out. I managed to get a wristband for a day of ACL and had a BLAST with my friend Nicole getting to see as many bands as humanly possible in one day’s time. Even got a see a few great late night shows as well.

Resolution #61: Go Stargazing in the Middle of Nowhere: One of the coolest things about meeting new people is getting to know their favorite secret spots. I got to spend a really great night, in great company, out in the middle of a green belt with two bottles of wine, a waterfall and a sky full of stars. What’s better?

Resolution #70: Go to a Bar by Myself: This happened a couple of times but i never checked it off because I never had the courage to actually sit at the actual bar alone. I always found a book to hide in or a table to occupy. Seems I still have issues being alone in public.

Resolution #97: Go to an Alamo Drafthouse Event: I took my cousin, who was visiting from overseas, to Terror Tuesday featuring the 80’s disgust-o-flick The Blob. We did it up right with the comfy balcony seats at the Ritz, local brews, and lots of snacks.  And its only $3 or something for regular admission?! I’m going again sometime!

Resolution #99: Support a Cause I Believe In: I donated a lot of money this year to different causes. Hurricane Sandy relief most recently, I supported entrepreneurship in Kenya, bought a mosquito net for an area that had problems with Malaria, but I still feel like I need to be more proactive before I can really check this off my list.

Resolution #109: Do Hot Yoga: Let me just say, this is TOUGH, but a great experience and a perfect winter-weather exercise bit. A cold front just came in tonight, maybe I should dust off the yoga mat again.

Thanks again for a wonderful year and I’ll see you in 2013!

[Resolution] #81 Do Something I’ve Always Been Afraid to Do (Roller Coaster Edition)

Ready for a profound metaphor?  Life is a roller coaster. Specifically this one.

I find it just a little poetic and a lot hilarious that the biggest roller coaster ride of my life would involve actual roller coasters. And, at the age of 23, thanks to a couple of amazing and unrelenting friends, I boarded, rode and survived my very first roller coaster ride. Ever.

On the metaphorical roller coaster: Life has absolutely done a 180 on me. I know I mentioned in my last post that there were big things going on…and then disappeared for a while.  It’s a long story and a short one all at the same time, but the short version is that Nick, my boyfriend of almost 3 years, and I have broken up.  I don’t necessarily want to go in to the nitty gritty, but it was such a life changer that I know is worth mentioning.

I’ve changed a lot in 3 years. I’ve woken up to aspects of myself that I didn’t know existed and remembered aspects that I’d forgotten or let go of and shouldn’t have. In short, it was all of these things that banded together to drive a wedge between Nick and I.  While we never stopped getting along and certainly never stopped loving each other, as more time passed the more questionable our compatibility became. This was mostly based on the way we both looked at life. More importantly, it was about the way that we both saw our lives going.  We had different visions. And, while there are ways to sacrifice and ways to compromise, the foundation of any successful relationship, there are some points where it is better on both sides…to let go, and give both of us the chance to find someone we are truly happy and compatible with.

People either say “Good for you for being true to yourself.” or “What were you thinking?” but all I can say at this point is that the decision felt right then, and still does now.  While it breaks my heart to hurt anyone, and hurts even more to lose someone I was so close to for so long, I have to trust my instincts and intuition, and trust that it’s for the best.  If I don’t, what business did I have doing it in the first place?

It’s a journey that I don’t think anyone is ever particularly excited to take. Though, as more and more people talked to me and gave me their best advice the more stories came up that showed that even though it ALWAYS hurts to have a relationship end…it does get better. And when you eventually do find that person that you are unquestionably meant to be with, you can’t be upset that it happened.

Now, the roller coaster metaphor kind of applies to all that, but it applies even more to the aftermath of the whole thing.  As soon as all was said and done, I realized that I had thought through every word of the actual break-up and not even given a sliver of thought to what would happen after. The emotional.  The logistical (especially difficult since we lived together). Even the physical.

It’s amazing the things that happen when any part of your foundation gives way. Walls that you didn’t know you had fall and expose parts of you that may have otherwise been lost, both good and bad, light and dark.  But after those walls fall you are forced to rebuild, reinvent and grow.

Of course, right as I realized that was when (not so coincidentally) a lot new things started happening, a lot of old interests were reignited, and new people started walking into my life. Some people were acquaintances that suddenly became much closer and some people I didn’t know at all but got close to pretty damn fast.

Dru is one of the latter. We met…in a cage fight where he had to prove himself worthy of friendship by besting me in a no-holds-barred battle of bare fists and…

Okay..Cage fighting isn’t one of those new things. That’s a picture from a zombie bar crawl, but I wanted an excuse to use the picture. Epic battle or not, he became a close friend pretty fast and immediately jumped in to help cheer me up when things got difficult.

A week or so into the whole thing I finally caved and had to take a personal day from work.  …And on that day, instead of dimming the lights and eating Double Stuf Oreos, Dru and his beautiful friend Ajay who had come into town for the week brought me along with them…to Six Flags.  What better way to cheer up than scaring the shit out of yourself with giant roller coasters. Am I right?

Like I said, I had never stepped foot on a roller coaster in my life. I was a very strange, very scared little child and absolutely refused to take part in anything that I perceived as something that could potentially end my life.  This included, among other things, roller coasters, rope swings, and eating chicken wings at Chili’s, but that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, no roller coasters.

I don’t know what I was afraid of.  I half expected to get to the front of the line for the roller coaster and burst into tears…or vomit.  I guess it kind of helped that there was almost no line at all, so I didn’t even have much time to psyche myself out about it.  We hopped on, strapped in, and before I could say “This is a terrible idea” I was diving, spinning and flipping upside down 100 feet off the ground.

Whoa.

Roller coasters.

How did I possibly live so long without you?

I de-boarded that thing with an adrenaline rush like nothing I’ve ever felt.  Just enough adrenaline to spend the next 8 hours riding every. single. ride. in that park.  All the roller coasters.  Log rides. All the spinny, g-force, free fall, crazy rides.  We even went back and waited in the longer lines to sit in the front car to get maximum terror.

Seriously, I love them so much I’m almost willing to go give rope swings and Chili’s Chicken Wings another shot. 🙂

…We also paused to hang out with Bugs and Daffy and play with all the toys in the souvenir shop.

The night ended with fireworks and late night pancake puppies at Denny’s (seriously, if you haven’t had them before, go now).

While things certainly aren’t easy right now, and of course the difficult stuff never completely leaves the back of your mind, it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.  Perhaps the concoction of facing fears, adrenaline overload, new friends, and mild heat exhaustion is the magic combination? I don’t know, but it gave me the optimism I needed to get through the difficult times and excited to see what lies on the other side of it all.

Here’s to that “year of change” everyone was talking about.  And here’s to finally realizing that no matter what your plan is, you’re never ACTUALLY going to know what’s coming next.

When It Doesn’t Go According to Plan

I feel like this kid.  I feel like this kid ALL the time. I even make that face when I see birds.  Anyway…

I had grand plans for this week. Boyfriend gone. House to myself.  Ample time to check off some resolutions. See some people I hadn’t seen in a while.  Maybe get a couple of workouts in. Oh yes.  This week was going to be great.

But I didn’t do any of those things.

And, originally I was going to complain about this.  “My week didn’t go according to plan, boo hoo, still behind on everything, feeling fat, blah blah.”  But when I started to list out the things that DID happen this week…

  • Had feelings expressed to me (love, like, whatever you’ll call it) from someone I didn’t know had them
  • Rode on a Harley
  • Watched the sunrise two mornings in a row
  • Ate some killer sushi over philosophical conversation
  • Helped out a friend in need
  • Got covered in chigger bites

Okay, maybe that last one is a bit of a bummer, but for the rest of them, I’d sound like a real bitch if I said anything other than “This week was actually EXACTLY what I was looking for.”  Adventurous. Full of love and good people. New perspectives and new experiences. The whole reason I started this darn blog, right?  And, I got all of the above, without doing anything that I planned to do.

I’m just so used to having a list and checking things off of it, that suddenly when I was having adventures off the list, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything at all.

Pity, right?

I’ve written in the past about living in the present, but it never ceases to amazing me how genuinely difficult it is to do sometimes. I can’t believe, in retrospect, that I was watching the sunrise thinking “I can’t believe how much I didn’t do today.”  …It’s a sunrise Ami, enjoy it. Or that after riding on that motorcycle my second thought after “I’m alive!” was “That could have been a really bad idea.” It wasn’t, (I even wore a helmet) and it was awesome, nothing bad-idea about it.

So what did we learn this week?

That to-do lists are all fine and good, but make sure you set aside time to deliberately disobey your responsibilities for a while.

In other news, I successfully accessorized an outfit today, and also…bought my first pair of leather pants!  In Texas, no less.

To go with the owl shirt and new leather pants: Fancy new shoes, necklace (right), bracelet (middle) and a feather hair clip (right).

We’ll see how much use I’ll get out of them, but for tonight I plan on sporting them in the darkness of a movie theatre to watch Prometheus.