Monthly Archives: May 2014

D-I-Y attitude adjustment

Usually, it’s KitKat who has trouble getting her posts queued up in time. Our unofficial schedule is supposed to have us alternate posting, one each week, but sometimes (read: often) life intervenes. This time, however, Stormy is the slacker. KitKat has been patient. Meanwhile, my muse has been buried under an avalanche of work and isn’t bringing anything to the party, so I’m left to struggle it out.

I was trying to come up with some Significant Thought that encapsulates everything going on in my life right now. But I’ve found that sometimes the more that’s going on, the less I’m able to write about it—coherently. However, a loose theme has emerged over the last couple of weeks that seems to be worth sharing.

You’ve probably figured out by now that both KitKat and I are introspective people—always trying to look for the meaning in things, figure out a way to do things better. I already know I over-think things. I’m not very good at stopping myself from thinking discouraging thoughts, even when I know my time would be better spent focusing on the positives in my life. But even though I can be a bit slow to learn some of life’s lessons, it’s hard for even me to ignore them when they come in threes.

The first reminder was while reading a post from an email that KitKat mentioned in a previous postThe Daily Love. I don’t remember the exact wording but the topic was aimed at people like me who have this over-thinking problem—that we have a tendency to get stuck in the information-seeking stage (i.e., analysis paralysis). It said, “You likely know exactly what you need to do and just have to take action.” This is true. I keep looking for answers to some of my pervasive challenges—but I KNOW the answers. I just don’t want to take the actions I need to.

The second message was a friend’s Facebook post. She was posting a book. I know nothing about the book (and this shouldn’t be considered a recommendation) but the title electrified me, “We make the road by walking.” It was such as simple statement, but was a powerful reminder that it’s the really simple actions cumulatively can make a difference.

Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road 
Only wakes in the sea.” 
― Antonio MachadoBorder of a Dream: Selected Poems

The third message was at my daughter’s college graduation. I’m not a fan of commencement ceremonies, because—let’s face it—they are excruciatingly dull. As proud as I am of my daughter’s achievement, this one was particularly stressful as it required a long drive to her college while my husband was suffering (and I mean suffering) from a kidney stone. The planned speaker wasn’t able to make it to the ceremony and another student stepped up to the plate to deliver the commencement address on short notice. He did a remarkable job. The theme was based on a Zen proverb: “Before enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.”

As a marketer, I know that it sometimes takes multiple exposures to a message in order for something to sink in, and this was the third message that seemed to be telling me the same thing: Quit sulking and get on with your life.

You see, I already know that I’m the only one who is responsible for my life and that regardless of what happens around me, I’m the only one who can make myself happy. In fact, I know this so well that I based my New Year’s Resolutions around these very principles. But somewhere over the last few months, I seemed to have forgotten myself.

Last week, I decided enough was enough. I had been working extremely hard and had nothing to show for it but a bad attitude. It was time to try a new tactic. I started by following through on an idea I had been toying with—to take my daughters out to LA to visit a high-school friend who had moved there. It seemed a bit indulgent, but after reading about KitKat’s Vegas trip, I figured a trip with my girls might do me some good.

I took this new-found attitude right into the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. I didn’t have time to schedule any social activities for the holiday, but had vague plans to go to our cabin with my husband and youngest daughter. I decided to just enjoy each day as it came. I spent nearly every moment doing whatever I felt like doing and was fortunate to have Blossom hang out with me. It was an awesome weekend—and nobody else suffered because of it. If anything, I was better company to my family than I’ve been in quite some time. By Sunday night, I felt a bit too decadent, and we headed home from our weekend place. On Monday, I was a bit more productive, but continued the theme of “doing what I want.” Overall, my weekend went like this:

Friday night:

  • Dinner outside on a restaurant patio.
  • Early bedtime.

    Oreos, chocolate, bananas and whipped cream.

    Oreos, chocolate, bananas and whipped cream.

Saturday:

  • Coffee on the balcony.
  • Run/walk along the river.
  • Boating.
  • Dinner at the local malt shop—sundaes for dessert.
  • Boutique shopping in town.
  • Read fashion magazine with a glass of wine on balcony.
  • Movie.

 

Sunday:

  • Coffee on balcony.
  • Run/walk along the river.
  • Made smoothies and lay by the pool.
  • Lunch on another patio.
  • Came home.
  • Shopping.

View from my morning walk/run.

Monday:

  • Run/walk at the local nature center.
  • Visiting Mom & Dad*.
  • Stop at Dairy Queen. (Yes, that’s two sundaes if anyone’s counting.)
  • Buying plants at the local nursery.
  • Grilling dinner.
  • Writing blog.
  • (Bedtime.)

*Visiting my parents was the one activity that was more obligation than fun since my mother tends to stress me out most days—but I didn’t stay long enough to let her get to me.

All in all, it was a nice, restorative weekend—just what the doctor ordered. While there is no Significant Thought in this post, that’s the takeaway: Sometimes life doesn’t require a complete overhaul. Sometimes a simple tune-up can do wonders. What can you do to make your life a little better…right now?

 

Sleepless in Vegas

I returned from my Vegas girls trip almost a week ago, and I’m finally starting to feel like I am catching up on sleep and running on full capacity again. I have a bad tendency to maximize vacations. This means flying back home at midnight and still heading into work the next morning so as not to lose out on a minute of precious vacation time. (Pretty much how I live my life, rushing from one activity to the next.) Even with the vacation hangover, every exhausted moment I am paying for it is well worth it.

Stormy expected me to find blog inspiration in Vegas. At least she was hoping. I have been a little behind on my writing. My inspiration, and time, has run short—and it was even shorter with a vacation looming. For some reason, taking time off means working twice as hard before you leave and again once you get back. (In actuality, you don’t really get time off from work but just the same amount of work crowded into fewer days.)

Smiling for four days straight!

Smiling for four days straight!

So Stormy … I didn’t find any great Vegas inspiration (nor, admittedly, did I try) but I did full-heartedly enjoy it and lived in the moment for four straight days. Though, I have recovered enough to at least recap why I think Vegas is always a great vacation pick-me-up and well worth the week-long recovery (being 45 might play a part in my long recovery time, I used to bounce back quicker).

I know there are those who don’t love Vegas. For example, Stormy isn’t as sold on it as me. But I suggest you pack your bags, invite a couple of girlfriends and give it another try. If nothing else, you will be forced to live in the moment and be distracted from reality by the continual stimulation. Some of my favorite things about Sin City include:

The Sun – You don’t have to spend a full day traveling to find some much-needed sun. And once you are on your beach chair, being served your tropical drink of choice, Vegas feels as far away as a Caribbean resort. (And, if you preferPalazzo sand versus pool, you can always book Mandalay Bay.)  Lounging at the Palazzo pool being served pitchers of cucumber vodka lemonades is where is where we spent our days. No matter how late we got to bed, every morning we dragged ourselves out to soak up every minute of the sun. Another surprise benefit of Vegas was that by the fourth day we were too tired from sleepless nights to walk around with our stomachs held in or analyze our body flaws highlighted in swim suits. We just lazed in the sun without a care.

Gambling – I am not a High Roller and usually allot “entertainment” money that I am willing to lose, factoring in drinks are free when you gamble. None of us had illusions of hitting it big or plans to spend too much time at the tables. But, we did all enjoy the craps table. With some lucky rolling from all of us, our “entertainment” money (including tips we earned from the actual High Rollers at the table who were benefiting from our luck) kept us rolling all night.  In the casino is also where we discovered the strange passage of time in Vegas. One of us would look at our phone and realize hours had passed, that it was almost morning, and herd us all upstairs. Each day, exhausted, we would tell each other it wouldn’t happen again. Each night it did.

Adult Disneyland – Everyone is happy in Vegas. Sure, it seems a little corrupt and not the most wholesome of attractions. But how often do you gather with so many people who just let go and have fun? One night was dancing. One night was a show (if you’re not offended easily, “Absinthe” is incredible – I have never

A naughty puppet show ...

A naughty puppet show …

... amazing acts

… amazing acts

laughed so hard and out loud along with an entire crowd). One night was spent being tourists as we visited the dancing fountains, erupting volcanoes, and Chandelier bar. There truly is something for everyone and always something going on. You are surrounded by the best in shopping and food. I think there is even golf, if you like that sort of thing. No matter what your activity of choice is, everyone around you is also in a good mood and enjoying themselves a bit too much also.

Looking at the list above doesn’t do my trip justice. It is tough to explain just why you should go to Vegas:

So, to my lovely traveling companions: my sisters and “adopted” sister (the adoption happened on the dance floor and involved a Wild Turkey shot), I look forward to our new yearly excursion. I know a trip with the right people is incredible anywhere. But being in just the right atmosphere, Vegas, was the topping on the cake. Plus in Vegas, there seems to be more hours in the day to enjoy!

But next time, I may be willing to give up the 4:00 am nights at the crap table in lieu of just a little more sleep. I came home and had a childlike meltdown my first evening back, when I couldn’t get my daughter to prance nicely off to bed upon my request. I was dying to go to sleep myself. And as I melted down, I caught the wide-eyed stares of my children, frozen so as not to fuel the rage any more. So though I may not have found a Vegas inspiration, I did find insight into the irrational mind of a tired tantruming child. Maybe I will be more understanding the next time I keep them up late for fun and am punished for it later.

Stormy, I think you should give Las Vegas another shot!