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!

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Tribute Tuesday (one day late): Chocolate Covered Katie

So I know it’s not Tribute Wednesday, but to be totally honest, Tribute Tuesday was full of all sorts of things that kept me far far away from a keyboard.  It’s not all something I’m quite ready to share with the blog world yet, but let’s just say that change is never easy.  And the most difficult part is the uncertainty about whether the change is for the better or not. Certainly, in the moments of pain and discomfort it’s hard to believe that changing anything at anytime is ever a good idea.  I’d much rather things just be happy, sunshine and rainbows all the time, but I know that’s not realistic. I recently read a post about change by a blog-o-sphere friend Danasia.  It came through my feed just as some major changes were happening in my life, a perfect moment of blog serendipity, and came along with a quote from an unknown source that said “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”

Personally…I am much more interested in this quote at the moment:

“May your life be filled, as mine has been, with love and laughter; and remember, when things are rough all you need is … Chocolate.”
― Geraldine Solon, Chocolicious

So, at a time when the last thing I want to think about is adventures and talking about my own life, and the only thing that sounds good is curling into a ball and cradling a pint of ice cream, I decided it was high time for another Tribute.

I won’t lie, I’m somewhat of an emotional eater.  I try to keep it under control now in the interest of my health, but when things get rough…I give myself at least one day for just no-holds-barred comfort food. Ordinarily that means making and eating an entire tin of brownies, or treating myself to a bag of Dove chocolates, but recently I’ve been trying pretty hard to cut out processed and unnatural foods, even in my comfort food binges.

Luckily, my sister Bella, who has as much a passion for indulging her sweet tooth as much as I do, introduced me to today’s tribute: Chocolate Covered Katie.

She’s a food blogger, but instead of blogging about all of those decadent “sometimes foods” as Cookie Monster would put it, she writes recipes that make dessert an “at least once a day food.” This makes my comfort food binge not only guilt-free but also allows me to extend it for as long as I freaking need it, since now I can eat things like…

Triple Chocolate Nutella Fudge

A big fat Cake Batter Milkshake

A healthy stack of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Or if I’m really feeling like I just need it injected straight into my veins, I can skip the oven all together and just get to the good part…the frosting, just a big shot of it, no cake necessary.

And, it’s all healthy, and all natural, and (I believe) all vegan too.

So thank you, Chocolate Covered Katie.  For making the rough times easier…or at the very least chocolatey-er.

And, as a tribute amendment, I would like to publicly thank all of those who are lending their support, kind words, and just sending love in general. Like I said, change isn’t easy, but having amazing and caring friends and family certainly makes it easier.  I love you all.

The Mere Mortal Movement. Join me!

So, riding the high from this conference I’m at in Portland, I’m inspired to start something.  And I’m doing it now…because if I don’t I might just chicken out about putting myself on YouTube.

The conference I was attending was actually a web conference, but during talks about Twitter and HTML5 I heard a ton of inspiring stories about ordinary people doing amazing things with their lives. A home-bound mother who became a CEO, a young boy with a disabled father who became an MIT grad, successful writer and game designer, an art student with no scientific background who invented a new material and started her own business.

These are extreme examples, but what I realized was that all too often these stories never get heard…especially once they turn into a wild success story and those people are suddenly one step higher than us on the life achievement scale, and consequently less relatable. There were all these fantastic steps along the way that were just as inspiring as the final and ridiculous success that these people all found, and no one heard about them until now.

I want people’s extraordinary stories to be heard, even while they themselves are still seemingly ordinary. So, I’m starting the Mere Mortal Movement. Help me out and post, tweet (#iamameremortal #MereMortalMovement), comment here or on the YouTube video below, or send me your story and I’ll gladly pass it along here on my blog. Whether its you or someone else you know. It doesn’t have to be anything big, even the subtlest movements create a ripple effect.

What’s your story?

Here’s the original YouTube video (eee, I’m on YouTube!), please like and share, and double please send in YOUR stories.

The World We Live In (Holy Moley, it’s 2012)

The beginning of the idea for this blog was–literally (and I don’t use that term lightly)–divine intervention.  I’ll save the long story, but it begins and ends with my mom, who often receives messages from spirits and angels, receiving a desperate message from MY spirit guides about how I’m neglecting my very important life’s mission to write.  Somewhere along the line I’d missed the memo about needing to put my thoughts and feelings into written word.

I started this same blog in a different place many months ago but I was writing aimlessly, and guess where that gets you in the blogging world?  …Just about nowhere.

So I’ve started fresh, new place new time, new purpose. I’m getting ready to cross the threshold into 2012 and I couldn’t be more excited. Like–little kid on Christmas excited. You see, I’ve got adventures ahead of me, but more importantly I think the world has adventures ahead of it.

I was watching the “Year in Review” special on TV the other day. I watched world leaders resign at the feet of thousands of raging citizens. I watched Japan devastated by a horrific act of god. The entire world joined in a bright moment of hope and happiness as they watch William and Kate kiss for the first time.  Thousands of American’s affected by 9-11 felt a twinge of justice as the headlines of Osama Bin Laden’s death flooded the media. And the Occupy movement, seeded in just one city, quickly spread over the entire world.

It’s not just the media though, the world, better connected than ever, was talking about it the entire time:

The major themes here? Unity. Revolution. Awakening. In the face of adversity, disaster, change and uncertainty the world has united. We’ve created astronomical changes already and have set so many more in motion.  I hope that in my own 2012, I can do the same in my life and for the world.  I don’t want to watch the world change from my sofa, I want to create change.

I don’t yet aspire to be on the front lines on Wall Street, or wading among flood waters sifting through debris, but personal changes, local changes, even mental changes are the commonly overlooked steps to creating a more magnificent world.

So here I am, awakening in my own way, along with the rest of the world.