Back from my sabbatical!

Hey friends! It’s been too long! Too much has happened lately. Within the last month I moved to a new house, left my 9 to 5, and went on a 16 day road trip. Whew!

I got back into town one week ago, and it finally feels like the dust is settling. There were lots of hard moments and a few tears before we hit the road. After weeks of packing, stressing, and working non-stop, we let go of it all as we left town and had a seriously amazing time on our trip.

I still have a million things to do to get my freelance business going and finish getting this new house organized, but I’m feeling so good about the direction everything is going right now.

Here are some of my favorite snaps from the trip:

Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir, Colorado

Colorado
Driving through Colorado

Tent Rocks
Tent Rocks, New Mexico

Panda at San Diego Zoo
Panda at the San Diego Zoo

Nevada
Driving through Nevada

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Utah
Driving through Utah

More soon!

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How to become a morning person

road trip sunset

Damn I’ve been busy. In addition to working my butt off on some exciting projects that will hopefully help me be my own boss in the near future, I was out of town most of last week. I spent 4 days in Virginia for a work meeting, came home for less than 24 hours, and then skipped off for a road trip to the other side of Michigan to spend a long weekend full of sun and beer in Grand Rapids.

All this running around has got me thinking that I really need to scoop up a few extra hours in my day. Since time turners only exist in Harry Potter’s world for now, my next best option is to commit to goal #72: Wake up at 7am every day for a week. Waking up early is a particular kind of torture for me. If I’m not about to be late for something REALLY important, I’m totally unable to get out of bed without snoozing my alarm 1 million times. Day after day I do this, regardless of how committed I become to experiencing a morning during my waking hours.

So here’s the deal, internet people. I’m counting on y’all for some social pressure to actually do this thing. Next week is go time. I’m gonna knock this goal out and while I’m at it, build a new lasting habit that’ll extend beyond this trial week. There, I said it on the internet so now I have to deliver!

Here are my strategies for waking up early:

  1. Go to bed on time – You’re nothing without those 7-8 hours!
  2. Stop snoozing! – Real talk. I have been known to snooze my alarm (which goes off at 10 minute intervals) for up to 2 hours before actually getting out of bed. This is terrible and I know it. During those 2 hours all I’m doing is being annoyed, annoying my boyfriend (bless his heart he never complains), and getting the absolute worst sleep (can you even call that sleep?). Time to end the cycle! Wake up on the FIRST alarm!
  3. Wake up slow – My body is incapable of bounding out of bed at the first sound of an alarm. So instead I’ll focus on waking up slow, staying in bed for a little while (no snoozing allowed!), checking Instagram or reading a couple pages in a book to ease into wakefulness.
  4. Drink water – This is one of the easiest things you can do to wake up in the morning. You’re dehydrated when you wake up and being dehydrated makes you feel slothy and yucky. Drinking water first thing will help get that energy going. Bonus: nothing works better for getting me out of bed than a full bladder.
  5. Make mornings fun – Listen to music, get outside for some fresh air, treat myself to donuts. Burn into my memory that waking up early = good.

Got any other brilliant wake up early strategies? I’d love to hear them! (I’m gonna need all the help I can get)

March in Review

I know, I know, I’ve left you hanging again. I promise to be better going forward. These past few weeks have been full of learning new things, work (the fun kind and the doing-this-to-live kind), making plans, and a nervous breakdown, just for good measure. I’m forging ahead, trying to make some decisions, crossing things off my list, and feeling a little crazy, but in a good way (for the most part). Anyway, here’s a few things I checked off my list last month:

dream-journal-header

Looking back on what I recorded, I ended up dreaming about weddings a few times last month. According to the internet:

To see or attend a wedding in your dream symbolizes a new beginning or transition in your current life. A wedding reflects your issues about commitment and independence. Alternatively, your wedding dream refers to feelings of bitterness, sorrow, or death. Such dreams are often negative and highlight some anxiety or fear. If you dream that the wedding goes wrong or ends in disaster, then it suggests that you need to address some negativity immediately.

Yep, that sounds about right.

movie-header

I almost never go to the movies, even in the company of other people, because they’re just so darn expensive and most of the time I have no idea what’s out anyway. I think the last movie I saw in theaters was Lincoln…which came out in 2012…. So naturally I went to the $2 theater where they show movies that have already left the regular theaters and saw Mockingjay Part 1. I snuck in my own beverage but splurged on a bag of buttery, salty movie theater popcorn that I was delighted to have all to myself. The movie was good, the popcorn was good, and I didn’t even have to spend that much money. I’m putting in my official vote for solo movie theater adventures.

coffee-cake-header

My new recipe for March was a Vegan Super Fruit Coffee Cake which came from the cookbook Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (yes I own several of her cookbooks — she’s amazing). This coffee cake was pretty different from the kind of coffee cake I’m used to. It was a lot less sweet and definitely more cakey, but still really tasty and incredibly easy to make. Success!

Tycho-header

At my boyfriend’s request, we went to see Tycho last month. I’d never really listened to much of his music before, but the show was really great, and I’ve been listening to a lot of his stuff since then. We even ran into a couple of our friends there and ended up getting drinks with them afterward. Super fun night!

Goal #50: Have a Pen Pal

Letter from my pen pal

I officially have a pen pal! I got my first letter from my lovely pen pal Thistles and Whistles over the weekend. After realizing that we both have 101 things to do in 1001 days lists AND that both our lists contained the goal “have a pen pal,” a great idea was instantly born and we quickly exchanged contact info. Isn’t the internet an amazing thing? I don’t think we stop frequently enough to marvel at the potential connections and information always and instantly available. Never thought making a new pen pal friend from the UAE would be so easy!

It’s such a lovely experience to sit down in front of a blank piece of paper, scribble down some thoughts and opinions, telling someone halfway across the world about your life, then wrap it all up with an envelope and stamp and send it out on its long journey across the ocean. It’s almost like journaling, but you actually have a person reading and responding on the other end.

But what I really love about letter writing is the lack of instant response that we’ve all gotten so used to. Those different shades of pings, dings, and beeps regularly drawing us away from the present moment and uncontrollably pulling our gaze toward our phones and computers. With letter writing, you sit down with your cup of coffee, your most attractive stationary, your best inky black pen, and you use as much paper as feels necessary to tell another human what’s going on in your life. You don’t want or expect an instant reply. You want to wait. You want that other person to open your letter and leisurely read it over their cup of coffee. You want them to mull over what you told them for several minutes to several days before they pull out their best stationary and favorite inky black pen and give a thorough and well thought out response. You want to have forgotten about the letter you sent until several days or weeks later when you open your mailbox, surprised and delighted when you finally hold their response in your hands.

Speaking of which…time for me to compose my response! Hope you all get something good in the mail today.

Feel Better Thursday

I’ve been sick, y’all, and it’s bumming me out. Sure, being sick seems like the perfect excuse to curl up with my laptop and do some productive internet-ing, but that’s not quite how it goes for me. My brain goes fuzzy and the most it can handle is turning on Netflix and slouching over to the kitchen to make some tea. A perfect recipe for doing absolutely nothing productive for a week. Great.

Since my mental and physical energy are finally starting to come back, I thought I’d remind you all that I’m not dead and give you a peek at some things that have been keeping me feeling positive over the past week:

Passion-planner2

I ordered a Passion Planner a while back and it recently showed up in my mailbox. It’s a mega useful planner slash life coach all packed inside a pretty faux leather binding. I haven’t gotten too deep into planning with it yet as a result of the sickness, but I’m pretty stoked to get down to business with this baby very soon.

yes

I recently said yes to something I wouldn’t normally do (goal #83) and hired a career coach to help me figure out what I should be doing with my life and how to get there. Asking for help from other people is not my strong suit, especially when it costs me money. But this guy came highly recommended, and I’ve been struggling a lot with this career question lately, so I figured I’d just take the plunge. We’ve only met once so far, but I’m excited to keep working with him. He started me off by having me take the Myers Briggs personality test to see what types of work my personality is best suited for. Apparently I’m an INFJ. Has anyone else every taken this test? What did you think of it? I thought the description of my personality type fit me shockingly well.

And finally, cats on roombas to make us all feel better:

kittens-roomba

Cat-shark-roomba

cat-roomba

Cat-On-Roomba-Going-In-Circles

Be well, friends!

February in retrospect

Goodbye, February, you sly minx. You’re here and then you’re gone before we really get a chance to know you. I’m over you anyway — too much snow, ice, and blustery-ness. I’m ready for March and the promise of an imminent thaw.

Due to said blustery-ness, I spent a good deal of this month indoors. Cooking, reading (closing in on the end of Infinite Jest! Damn this book just keeps getting better), moving-watching, making plans for the spring, and spastically checking the weather forecast (will we break 40 degrees this week???).

Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to.

My new recipe to try in February (goal #28) was spicy tempeh nori rolls. This recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks — Veganomicon by the famed Isa Chandra Moskowitz — the genius behind Post Punk Kitchen. I’ve never made sushi before and we didn’t bother with acquiring a bamboo rolling mat, so these rolls have some character (read: are kind of ugly). Regardless, the whole process was a lot less intimidating than I had imagined and we ended up with a seriously delicious dinner. Definitely going to make these again.

Sushi

For such a short month, I managed to squeeze in a pretty hefty amount of movie watching (goal #49). I guess I was on a strong-female-lead kick this month (or always?) — here’s what I’ve been Netflixing:

The Duchess was beautiful and heartbreaking and made me so thankful that I live where I do, when I do. Kiera Knightly was lovely and Ralph Fiennes was very Voldemorty. Evita was okay, definitely an interesting story but it was hard to stay interested with over two hours straight of fairly cheesy songs and very little dialogue. Frances Ha was great — Frances is a painfully relatable character. I loved that it was set all in black and white, drawing your attention more fully into the story than the scenery and how to the narrative sort of flips the traditional roles that best friend and romantic interest generally play in movies. Frances is way more centrally focused on her best friend, at times obsessing over her like a jealous lover, while the potential romantic interest in the story sort of just comes and goes, providing cute supporting scenes but not being entirely central to the plot. In a World was an interesting view into the world of voice acting and the serious lack of female all-stars in the arena. It featured a cameo by Geena Davis and ended with a total girl power moment. What more could you ask for? Obvious Child was my favorite movie I watched in February. The story is so honest and Jenny Slate is hilarious. It was a really fresh take on the rom com, featuring relationships that actually seem real and relatable. Plus I totally love Gaby Hoffman and I wish she was my best friend.

I started working on goal #8 — fill a sketchbook with drawings. I used to be a lot more into drawing and painting waaaay back in high school, but I haven’t done much arty stuff since then. Very excited to change that. Here’s a sketch I did recently that I like. Also pictured: scotch on the rocks to help get those creative juices flowing.

hand-sketch

Happy March y’all!

Positive Monday

Humans worldwide agree: Mondays are hard.

Let’s make them a little easier by taking a moment to think about all the things that make our lives wonderful. The word gratitude has been bouncing around the internet quite a bit lately. And for good reason, says science — practicing gratitude actually improves your health and well-being.

So on this Monday, I’m giving thanks for some things that help me chug through my week and tackle my (sometimes daunting) list of goals like a boss.

BKR Water Bottle

1L-sigh

I’m the type of person who can’t leave the house without her water bottle. I have a fairly extensive graveyard of old water bottles that just didn’t work out for me. But this one, I adore. It’s made out of glass so you don’t have to worry about any sketchy chemicals, and it comes with a cute silicone sleeve to protect it from breakage — I dropped mine once on a cement step and it didn’t even chip! Plus you can throw the whole thing right into the dish washer so it’s stupid easy to clean.

Fount

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 1.41.01 PM

I just discovered this amazing tool and I want to shout about it to all of you. Fount is a simple bookmark you add to your browser which, when clicked, shows you the name and style of any font on any webpage. I’m obsessed.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

MFMM_HEADDER2

I may have stayed inside all of last week and binge watched the entire 2 seasons of this show on Netflix….it’s too cold to go outside, okay!? Set in 1920’s Australia, it follows the adventures of the wonderfully feministy Miss Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective. Season 3 is set to come out sometime this year — I can’t wait!

This is my new favorite music video:

Happy Monday, y’all!

Failed.

chess_hires

We need to talk about failure.

After just 3 weeks, I totally blew my goal to eat vegan once a week for a year. My first reaction when I realized my utter failure was to feel bad about myself for doing such a poor job at sticking with this seemingly easy goal.

I think you can all relate.

But then I started thinking — why did I fail?

Do I not want to move ahead with this goal because it’s hard? Or because it’s just not a goal that’s well-suited for me? Do I actually WANT to do this goal?

It’s not that a don’t like vegan food — I definitely do. And I ate some really great food during those first three weeks — that beet soup I told y’all about, this AMAZING vegan mac and cheese at a lovely little vegan friendly restaurant around the corner, I even made some delicious vegan marshmallows to satisfy my unrelenting sweet tooth.

I like vegan food and I think it’s good for me to eat vegan more often. Okay, so I do want to do this goal. Then what’s the problem?

I failed because I thought this goal would be easy and I didn’t plan ahead for how I would accomplish it.

This goal requires a lifestyle change and a lot more thought about what I’m putting into my body. This goal requires planning, a well thought out grocery list, the ability to say no to ordering pizza when cooking doesn’t sound like any fun. This goal requires vegan cookies, because, well, I know myself.

Yes it will require more work than my regular eating habits necessitate, but will it be worth it? I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

Sometimes we make goals for ourselves that don’t actually work for us. Sometimes we make goals for ourselves that we give up on because they’re too hard. But it’s hard to know the difference until we really give them an honest try.

So I’m keeping this goal on the list. I’m going to put in the work it requires, and then if I decide that it isn’t working for me. I’m going to trash it. And I’m not going to think of that as a failure. More like a learning experience. This is a big experiment to figure out who we are, what we’re capable of, what we want out of life. Exploring goals we might fail at takes us one step closer to figuring ourselves out. We just have to make sure we’re putting in the work before we decide what is and what isn’t for us.

The 5,000 Question Survey

Digging

I’m digging up the past here. Remember back when Livejournal was the pinnacle of the internet and everyone was doing those “about me” surveys? Well, I found one and I’m totally doing it. Can we make these popular again?

This is for goal #88 “Complete the 5,000 question survey.” I discovered this goal surfing around Day Zero Project (where my list first began to take shape), and it immediately gave me flashbacks to my angsty Livejournal days. Obviously I had to add this goal to my list.

I suppose at the time I didn’t quite realize how insane 5,000 questions for a survey would be — I’ve only slogged through 200 questions thus far. Some of the questions are decidedly stupid, but I pulled out a handful of gems for your reading pleasure:

  1. What is the truest thing that you know?  The purpose of life is to be happy.
  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?  Archaeologist. 
  1. Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why?  The 1920s, I’d totally be a flapper. So much going on politically and culturally.
  1. What is your favorite oldie/classic rock song?  More than a feeling – Boston
  1. Is there a movie that you love so much you could watch it everyday?  Stranger than Fiction
  1. What’s the best joke you ever heard?  What do you call a dinosaur with good taste?… A Dinosseur
  1. What is the first animal you would run to see if you went to the zoo?  Red panda
  1. What cartoon would you like to be a character in?  Adventure Time. 
  1. What insects are you afraid of?  Moths. 
  1. If you could print any phrase on a T-shirt, what would it say?  “I ate all the pizza and I drank all the beer.” -Charlie Day
  1. Of all animated movies, which is the best one you’ve ever seen?  James and the giant peach or Fantasia (the original)
  1. What is the happiest way you can start your day?  Sleep in. Wake up to coffee & donuts
  1. If someone wanted to understand you what book could they read that would help?  Pretty much anything written by Stefan Zweig

Oh yeah, and keeping up with the Livejournal theme…

Current mood: Hungry Mely

Current music: Here I Go Again – White Snake

Who else got their start with good old LJ? C’mon be honest.

1 year left

Birds

Today is a big day you guys. I officially have 1 year left to complete my list. Lots of my goals are one time projects or events, but I have a few year-long projects that I’ll need to start tackling posthaste. They are:

9. Take a photo of the same place every month for a year and then turn it into a calendar for the next year

I’m planning to photograph the downtown of the little city I live in. Though I dread Michigan’s fierce winters, I love living in this little city. There’s always a lot going on here — festivals, community events, not to mention all the great local shops and restaurants and the wonderful residents that call this place home. I’m also excited for a good excuse to use my film camera (a Canon AE-1 Program) which I don’t take out to play nearly as often as I should.

28. Try a new recipe every month for a year

I have SO many wonderful cookbooks that I severely underutilize. I like cooking and I think I’m pretty good at it if I do say so myself, but I rarely follow recipes. Instead, driven by the need to use that last bit of broccoli before it goes bad, I stare into the depths of my fridge until inspiration hits me and dinner comes out, made out of whatever I have on hand. Grocery store trips for the sake of one meal are completely out of the question. I’m hoping using recipes more often will spur some ideas about flavor combinations and different ingredients to sample during my regular cooking trials. January’s recipe is going to come from a new cookbook I just got for Christmas — The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier. I’ll be making roasted beet soup with baby spinach and squash seed pesto. Yes please!

29. Eat vegan once a week for a year

This one shouldn’t be too hard as long as I remember to do it. I’ve been happily vegetarian for about 14 years (more than half my life) and I regularly eat vegan purely by accident. Just gotta remember not to grate cheese onto everything for one day a week (okay this might be harder than I thought).

36. See live music at least once a month for a year

I think this one is going to fit nicely with goal #34 Listen to 26 bands I’ve never heard of, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. I don’t really know any bands playing shows this month, so I’ll have to discover a new one. To this end I checked out Zola Jesus (letter Z: check!) but I’m not super into them — sounds like boring moody electronic music to me. Then I tried Pity Sex (letter P: check!), they’re local hailing from Ann Arbor and sound like grungey 90s inspired rock. Pretty good, could be a fun show, but I think I’d get bored of the music pretty quickly. Next try is Lia Ices (letter L: check!). This is the winner. She’s sort of folksy almost new agey, kind of electronic Tori Amos with a tambourine. The show is January 16th. Looking forward!

59. Keep a diary for a year

My obsession with paper products — stationary, journals, sketchbooks, oh my! — began at an early age and I’ve been a sporadic diary-er ever since. Right now I’m working in a classic black, hardcover Moleskine, but my entries often fall months, if not years apart. My plan is to write at least once a week for the next year.

67. Volunteer regularly for a year

If I can handle myself and not take every single cat I see home with me, I want to start volunteering at an animal shelter. I used to volunteer a whole bunch with Planned Parenthood so might try getting back into that as well — it was nice hanging out with like-minded, feministy ladies on the regular. To be determined.