Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Have You Changed? I Have, and I Will.

It is my last night solo at my ATX studio apartment.  I did this.  I moved alone, to the coolest city.  I started a new job with new lingo, new acronyms, new co-workers.  I have made new friends, met new neighbors, visited new places, have had new experiences.
I have stepped into a new segment of my life.  I have changed.  I have developed a full understanding of the "unlearning" of all that you tried to be, that you never actually were - and were never supposed to be.

Unsure of the future, as we all really should be, at least I know I am able to handle unknown challenges.  I can do whatever needs to be done.  Apparently, I always could, I just didn't have to know my capabilities.

As I pack up the belongings I have enjoyed the past 10 weeks, I reflect on my mission of "Cook, Clear & Connect."  It's hard to gauge, but I believe it has been a success.

Chad seems impressed by my creative dishes and seems proud that I ate more than just hummus and queso in my time alone.

Still having a lot of self-doubt and negative thoughts about myself, I truly have become my own friend.  That. Is. Huge.  As with all relationships, I definitely need to keep nurturing and understanding, but I have come to realize that I am a pretty cool individual... most of which was visual to me due to my awesome friendships.  I have some epic people in my life who choose to spend time or chat with me - that means more than anything.  Helps me continue to believe in me.
Connect... again, a work in progress.  My spirituality has suffered so many struggles, and I know this will continue.  But looking to gratitude and opportunity makes such an incredible difference.  I no longer pray with my head bowed, but with my chin up, knowing that the Powers that Be are delivering lessons to me.  Whether I like them or not, each hurdle, each road block places me in the place where I am meant to be. I don't have to understand it.  Apparently, I don't need to like it (most the time I don't!)... but while I am only wrong two times per year, I get that I cannot plot out my own journey.  Life isn't meant to be that way.  I can only be an active participant and enjoy the ups and downs, knowing that I am capable of picking myself up and pushing myself forward during all the dark times.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Phase II of Moving to Austin -Adjustments Continue

This week, I leave my cool, little studio in South Austin.  We move my few items to the North for Hope to attend a high school that offers amazing pre-college courses in addition to her needed Literature, Orchestra and Drill Team (Dance Team) electives.
Most of me doesn't want to leave.  Besides enjoying a kick-ass commute and being able to walk to so many incredible places, I truly have enjoyed my time living here.
The neighbors have been terrific.  The laundry facilities literally right next door to me have been truly appreciated.  The security has been appreciated.  The palm tree... the word LOVE doesn't even describe.
Like my house in Peoria, I need to focus on what is yet to come rather than what I am leaving behind.
Pros and cons exist with every situation- and this is just another.  Even without a family, I know that this studio apartment wouldn't be my "dream home."  I don't ever want to own another 3-bedroom home, but I know this isn't my end-all, be-all address either.
The truth is - I don't know what I want. 
That used to frighten me.  Now, it empowers me.  I actually like not knowing what I want.  Yet - I love knowing what I do not want.
Confused yet??
I am in love with the possibilities.  And our world is full of them.  If we can just take a teensy step out of "comfort," we are introduced to such an incredible world.  And when fear hits us, which that bitch always will - that is our test.  Either we retract and "go home."  Or we find our courage and step up to the challenge.
I love living in Austin.  I miss my friends and my loves more than anything.  I have relationships in Central Illinois that will never be replaced.  Honestly, I don't want replacements.  I will carry that love and happiness with me for as long as I exist.  But I am enamored with the energy and the people of this city and state who I have been blessed to meet already.  -It's only been two months!
While the next move is a bit "uncomfortable," I am already prepared that nothing is permanent... especially with a 10-month lease! 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Phase I to Phase II of Moving to Austin

Oh, the timing of it all... It would be so much easier for me to leave Illinois during the cold, bleak, dead winter months. Holding the resentment of my husband's lost employment... the bitterness of an area that could not support his talents and our career ambitions.  A place so cold that caused tension and pain in my body that made me cranky.

And I had to leave first - for some reason.  Yes, I found an employer providing me a better position, higher pay and better benefits while moving Chad to a city with far more opportunities in his industry (art and graphic design).  Yet, if he had moved before Hope and I, it would have been more obvious to blame him for this relocation, for uprooting our family and separating us from all that we love and enjoy.  This major shift in all our lives.

We have to do this as a team.  We need to support each other.  We must support one another in the transition.  It has actually been crucial for me to make the move first so that I could begin the second phase as a better, stronger, healthier version of myself - my ultimate self.

Just over fifty days, and I do not feel I am "there" quite yet - but I am learning, realizing, that maybe I won't ever get "there."  Perhaps I will remain a work in progress for all of my existence.  But as long as I am on the right track and stick to it, I think that's what matters. 

When I think about others I admire, I rarely respect people who have had everything handed to them.  I look up to the fighters - the ones who not only rose to challenges but continue to pull themselves back up, time and time, after every fall.  Those who continue driven to get what they want and push themselves toward what they want.

Those who, through their hard work, show gratitude for their opportunities, battles and even what appear to be "failures," and keep working to be their best.
That is ultimately what I want.  While this move has been so difficult, emotionally, physically, financially, and while I also understand I am still far from finished, my only regret is that I didn't take that First Step years ago.  But then, there are so many amazing, important, fun people that I have been blessed and honored to meet.  And, maybe I would not have the amount of appreciation for all of this that I am currently overtaken with at times.  Life can be a struggle, but oh my, it can have so much enjoyment, too!

Friday, September 1, 2017

First Time: AUS to ORD

Though it has only been one month, I actually don't like leaving Austin.  My extremely dear and fabulous friend Kelly told me that I am falling in love with this city... and I am. 
While I want so very, very much to be with my friends and family, I feel a connection to Austin that I cannot shake.
On the plane, I am looking through my "100 things to do" and tearing up because I am not there. So weird!!  This place wasn't even truly on my radar last spring, and now, I have a bond with this town. 
I guess it's the same with people- we are all just roaming around the planet... when we actually bump into someone and react with a "Hey! You are cool - how can I get to know you better?!" reaction, why the heck wouldn't we follow it?
People seem so scared to try things - so set in their Comfort Zones.  This is your one life, people -- make it YOURS.
Maybe you don't have to uproot and move a few hours away, but for the sake of everything, DO what you fear.  Tell people you care.  Apply for that job.  Sing in your car when a song you love plays.
I am not talking about a strong effort to change the world - I am encouraging you to upgrade your own environment.... and ya know, if enough of us do that, it WILL change the world.
Change... without fear. What does that look like to you?  It looks pretty kick ass to me.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Say No to a Sweet - Just Once

"There will always be more cookies."  Not my most profound statement, but discussing health and eating habits a couple months ago with friends, this sentence just came out of my mouth... yet, it is SO true.

Whether you are battling weight, trying to maintain or facing health concerns, take a look at how you view food - especially snacks and treats.

I indulge.  I do.  Tempted by a warm chocolate chip cookie or a moist, dark chocolate brownie, damn, I can definitely enjoy myself.  But it doesn't happen every time.  Known as "the chocolate girl" when I was young, I have been able to change my relationship with desserts... and if I can do it, anyone can.  Call it willpower or self-discipline, but I think that it's just logic and reason.

For every occasion with a cake, there will be more celebrations with cake.  Say "no" just once.  See how it goes.  Remind yourself that there will be more cookies. More are made every day by companies and people.  Seriously - when was the last time you were in a grocery store or market and the aisles of baked goods were empty?  Even zombie apocalypse shows have baked goods still in them.  They are everywhere!

Now, if you find that you just cannot refrain - even once.  That this pastry in front of you is stronger than any care you have for yourself, take one bite and really focus on how it makes you feel.  If nothing else compares to the joy of the taste and the calories (and fat) are actually worth it, then own it.  Be happy.

Yet, if you find that you aren't even enjoying the flavor as much as the expectation, don't finish it.  Toss it.  We have been raised in a society that lectures us to not waste food, but if the satisfaction isn't legitimate, then we ARE wasting the food... and at our own personal value, as well.

I would rather feel a little guilty for throwing away part of a cookie than physically feel bad and finishing it.  There will be more cookies, and the appreciation will be so much more enjoyable when you don't partake every time.  Don't have the attitude of "I've said no three times, so I know deserve this."  Instead, take the power.  Look at the item and ask "Does this treat deserve ME?"

Please try, and let me know how it goes. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Facing your Demons

When I set out on this journey of living alone (pretty much for the first time ever), I knew there would be demons to face - wounds that appeared to be scarred over but were really just covered, not healed.

The big challenge with these demons is that they pop back up when you don't expect them.  They catch you unprepared.  Peacemaker and people-pleaser, I have been hurt by others, have breached forgiveness and tried my best to keep things smoothed over.  I have held back painful words as I didn't want to make things worse.  I now realize that isn't good for me, nor for the other person.

"Be a Lady until the end" is what my mom always said, and I excel at rising above and not stooping to anyone's level, but can't I still be feminine while stating the truth?  I want to know if I ever hurt anyone - it's the only way to work on improving.  So, isn't it also fair to me to enlighten others of their harmful behavior?  I didn't realize that perhaps they didn't know.  I just figured their actions and words were intentional and obvious.
Having the challenge of wanting everyone to like me, I have actually been disrespecting myself... and not liking myself.  Sometimes the truth hurts - it doesn't have to lead to an argument or destroy a relationship unless the other person is unwilling to accept their hurtful actions.  In which case, you obviously need to side with yourself - as that is who you are going to be with for the rest of your existence.

This is the "Clear" part of my Cook, Clear & Connect mission.  Your connection to self and spiritual guidance can't be as smooth if you have negativity clouding it.  Clearing can be painful and the main reason issues are covered is because they are difficult to confront and process.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Relationship Changes in Yourself

As my life has changed and my journey adjusted, I have constantly found frustration that I don't feel like I "know myself."  Recently, it occurred to me that maybe I don't have to know myself -maybe the point instead is being patient and learning about myself.

With friends, we don't know everything about them right away, it takes time for the relationship to develop and grow.  Sometimes years; other times, souls click quickly.  But as humans, we should want to continue to evolve... and at times, that can change your relationships in good ways or bad.

Thinking of myself as my own friend seems very odd.  I've read many (probably too many) inspirational, motivational and "self-help" books, but I don't feel like the messages sink in and take hold.  The big messages of loving yourself before you can love anyone else... I have just skirted through life ignoring all that.

But now, as I embark on a challenge of living alone after all these years, establishing myself in a town totally new to me and a career in a completely different realm, I am interested to learn about myself.  Find my soul and attempt a healing process.

I will be conducting my own personal take on "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Under the Tuscan Sun" during my solo time in Texas.  My mission will not mimic the paths of these amazing authors.  Instead, I am inspired by their discoveries. Once the page is ready, titled "Cook, Clear & Connect," I will share it so that you may Follow it, if you are interested.

In the meantime, please comment below or on Facebook what you have learned about yourself and any challenges that have led to your growth and change.