Monday, May 2, 2016

Five months in, and I have resolved not to give up!

After my "rough month" of a no-alcohol January, February's no coffee was a breeze. I chose this partially to ensure I was not so used to coffee that I was going to get any caffeine headaches and partially to save a little cash. While I did go to coffee shops a couple times, I generally stuck to chai (though I ordered a hazelnut latte once, but quickly remembered my resolution and changed it in time). It was a little odd not to just go have coffee with a coworker as a break from work, but it didn't seem to matter all that much in the grand scheme.

And going into March, while I have gotten a few coffees, I don't actually pass any coffee shops on the way to work. I've fallen into a routine to get to work, and walk to the main building for drip coffee. It's a nice start to my mornings. It's also much cheaper. 

Actually my life has fallen into much more of a routine in Portland. I am feeling like more of a homebody. But my social life has blown up. (I know you're thinking that makes no sense) I always have a friend to see. Someone to meet for drinks. Have over to chat or watch a movie. It's wonderful. I never realized how isolated I had become in Seattle. How much I did alone. It's also more challenging keeping up and going deeper with my friends. Before we barely had time. Now we have all the time in the world. My support network, while always there, has turned into a thick net. Woven with strong cords. It's been wonderful. It also made March's resolution to not play mindlessly with my tablet easier. Though I did use it while I cooked a couple times! And it's also been the reason I've been writing less. I think there is something to creativity coming from pain or a low place, kind of like an outlet. And while I don't feel low now, I think the past 2 months have been a bit of a reprieve from the mental battle. I've been distracted from my singleness and replaced a man with a plethora of friends and settling into a new life. 

It's not time to start stressing. It's time to get back to work on me. To get back to my resolutions to improve me. To break bad habits and comfort routines (uhh can you say falling asleep to tv every night a bit of a crutch?!). To take better care of myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I did nothing for my April resolution.  And just looked at what it was and it wasn't what I thought. Dork! I thought it was no extra driving. It was no meat. Oops!! Well, let's pretend April and May are flip flopped. The no driving was based on a life that no longer exists. While I don't like to drive more than I have to, my options to drive less are different and I haven't figured them all out yet. There is no vanpool to ride. My commute is at least 10 miles less a day. So I'll move on to May. 

No meat, eh? Well I guess today was an inadvertent cheat, I had chicken and biscuits for breakfast and like the best duck confit poutine for lunch. As I'm writing this. I think I may have to shift. Not sure how easy Seoul will be with no Korean BBQ. And now that you've wandered down Natalie's crazy path with me. I'm switching to what June is. No tv. Gah! My crutch. F it. Can't push it off forever! Goodbye Netflix. Goodbye BBT. Goodbye Family Guy!  I hope my electric bill goes down at least...😐 

Sorry for the lapse in writing. Also, sorry for never saying goodbye Seattle. You were a great time and I wouldn't trade being with you for the world. I am now who I am because of my time there. I would never trade the close friends I made. The great work experiences I had (both good and bad) or all the growing up I did. I left a young silly girl and came back hopefully a more reasonable silly woman. ;-) I told you long ago, I was on #TeamEdward. Jacob was a fun time. It was time to go home. (If you have no clue what I'm talking about, and you may think that most of the time you don't. I wrote a post long ago comparing PDX and SEA to Edward and Jacob (yes I am a big nerd). I decided to stay and play then. I've come back to me now. ). I have so many thoughts and feelings about the move, though the predominate one at this point is happiness! After SEVEN and a HALF YEARS, I am home. I survived having Oregon license plates for that time, and only a Washington ID for the past year or so. While it hasn't all been Roses in the Emerald City, it was been a good ride and I have no regrets. I know I am, I'm sure I am... a fan of my friends 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

How Dry Am I?

How dry I am, how dry I am
It's plain to see just why I am
No alcohol in my highball
And that is why so dry I am

It has been 2 weeks into the new year, and I am having dreams about telling people I am not drinking and feeling pretty lame in my dreams. I am so dry, I wish I was a dry martini.

When I told a friend about my current year resolutions, he suggested I blog about how they went. It is t-minus 17 days until this month is over and I can drink again. Now you may be thinking, "Come on alchy, how hard is it not drink for 31 days!? AND you cheated 2 days, so really, you should be fine!"

I mean, the first few days were fine, but I was coming off of New Years Eve celebrations, went to movies which aren't necessarily drinking arenas. Generally last week was easy to say the least, I hunkered down and stayed home more. I am focusing on losing weight before my best friend's wedding, so I was at least doing a bit of a workout.

I'm in week 2 (and used up a cheat day last Saturday to taste wine - wait...if I only tasted it, did I drink??). I weighed myself last Saturday morning, no weight loss. I have felt no overall change in my energy, no decrease in any beer gut (I am not a huge beer drinker lately), nor have I saved money, I have seen no noticeable anything compared with all those other blogs claiming lots of health and mental benefits. Instead, I think my liver is bored. It has basically NOTHING to do now! I am worried it is withering away from lack of activity.

Though even if my liver isn't bored, I am. I feel very hermit-y, and while that is good for my pocketbook, I still have had other expenses (car, condo, health) that seem to be negating any savings I may be getting from alcohol, and I can't even drink my existing stash to comfort myself. It feels sinful to eat pasta without wine, to watch sports without a coldy, or to be out with friends and not imbibe. Plus, I'm having to push off or turn down invites until next month, I'm not seeing friends. And I keep having inklings to go try some new place for happy hour or sit with a mimosa on a relaxing morning.

I believe I will survive though, and maybe I'll finally feel some 'benefits'. I think I can, I think I can...

Update: Mid-way through the month, I did use my second cheat day... and after that bottle of wine and the resulting pain the day after, I was all gung-ho to make it through to the end. I can't say that I didn't think about cheating more through the end, particularly when my cousin was up. But I stuck to the mocktails and the seltzer water...and again, no weight was lost, but I DID IT :)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A New Year, A New Leash on Life

If you have followed my blog at all, you know that I love resolutions. I love the chance to look at the next 12 months as a clean slate and think how I could improve myself in a new and exciting way. But I can never look forward without looking back.

I am always amazed at what can happen in a 12-month period, and more specifically the last January-December 2015. I knew in 2015 that I would meet someone, I had a feeling deep in me, that something important would happen. And as I went through a few dates early in the year, I thought, YES, this could be the year I would find my man. Those early dates dwindled to texts of "I'm not interested" and so I moved on, albeit with less tears than 2014.

In late March, a friend posted a pic of a dog who was looking for a home. Somehow I just clicked with the picture, and after a few conversations with said friend and a couple friends here in Seattle, I decided to meet the pup. I can't say it was love at first sight, but there was a definite connection, and my heart had already decided he was mine - despite all my head's warnings and misgivings.
Unrelated, but important in the journey of Natalie, in late April, I had one of the most fateful nights of my life. In said night, I got called stupid countless times, lost a friend, and pretty much lost another friend because of the aforementioned friend. Not helpful for this dog adopting shit. On the other hand, I did get to talk to Dave Attell, and he did call me the next day, but beyond that he did not seem interested. C'est la vie. I am old. I then went on my last "single" vacation, and came home to adopt my pup, Gordo - or as I lovingly call him, Jasper (Shithead, Scaredy-Cat, Shadow, Nervous-Nellie, Spaz, Little, Pumpkin, and on and on).


On May 9, 2015, I did find my man. He is 9lb, dark black, with brown eyes. He melts my heart and he was meant for me. He has been the easiest transition (expect for that first day where I sat crying in the hall listening to HIM cry) in my life, and I would not trade him for anything. He is my snuggle-bug, my companion, my "pocket-boyfriend". My life has changed, but is no less full. And I have been blessed by Jackie and Michael loving to watch him for me when I'm gone for work, it has made the transition that much better/easier to know Jasper is extra loved when I leave.

Work is a whole other piece of the pie, it was a rough year, managing five people is not all it's cracked up to be, it feels constantly like you are trying to please them and get them to do what needs to be done without getting frustrated. It feels impossible some times. What was I thinking? I've had a lot of crisis of career and location. Where my next move should be is up in the air, and I hate not feeling like I know where to go. I think I have been in the same spot for too long, but at the same time, I don't want to run from something that I could learn from.

And so, here we are at 2016. And this is a year of giving up. Giving up control. Giving up things and habits. Just seriously giving up to God all my hopes and plans, because up until this point I have been unsuccessful at making any specific thing happen in my life. All that has come to me, I believe, is through divine guidance.

My choices for my monthly resolutions should reflect the giving up (and by the way, I was not very good at last year's resolutions, but I DID finish Anna Karenina, and I would say that in itself is a huge accomplishment). Some resolutions are to ensure I have no real addictions, some are to save money, and some still are to lose weight, my bestie is getting married! And I am hoping to look svelte for when I see Seth MacFarlane sing with the Seattle Symphony in April. #marrymeSeth!

January - No alcohol (w/ 2 cheat days, because let's be realistic....)
February - No coffee
March - No tablet
April - No meat
May - No extra driving (only driving to the vanpool)
June - No TV
July - No gluten
August - No re-watching tv shows
September - No social media
October - No sleeping in/snoozing
November - No complaining
December - ???

We all forge in to the new year in our own way, some in crowded gyms, some with "resolutions to not make resolutions". With all the goals and stars in our eyes, may we all feel hopeful and excited of what can happen in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Chris Clark Photography

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pain: Absorb or Reject?

My fear of pain started young, and for anyone who knew me as a child/teenager, I was (and still am!) woefully bad at sports. I hate being in pain. I do not like being pushed harder. I do not want to be told that "anyone can stand on their head in a corner and spit nickles for a certain period of time". I would rather quit and move on.

From early on, I gave up at pain. After getting hit in the face with a basketball in 2nd grade (hey, it hurts a lot with glasses) at a two-week camp, I never tried again. In high school, I "played" volleyball and the coach wanted me to dig for the ball. And I thought "seriously, you want me to dive, face first into the carpeted concrete and hit a ball that will turn my arms bright red? No, thank you, I'll sit on the bench please." My dad never understood why I didn't go out and practice to get better (uhh... it hurts!). Even cross country, I only lasted a year, and my goal was only to not be last. So yeah, generally when things are painful I stop (and if you're wondering why hand-eye uncoordinated Natalie could be on a high school volleyball team? It was only because the high school only had 30 people in it, and I did it because we got to travel with the boys basketball team...).

When I recently decided to finally write more and had (what I thought) was a good idea for a book, I went for it. Luckily the first person I told, was supportive and encouraging. So spurred by that, off I went, it felt natural. Sweet! Maybe I'll be able to do something creative, be at least part of the person I wanted to be when I was growing up (a writer and an artist - hey, I'm left handed, it makes sense!).

But I made a fatal mistake, I did not follow the instructions of one blog that said to Keep it to yourself.


Whelp, I didn't take that seriously, and shared again... it only took 1 more person before I hit the negative comments that made me feel as if what I was doing was unoriginal and not worth pursuing. Embarrassed I thought, what's the point? I barely started and already hearing it's a dumb idea, I should just quit. It's just going to get worse, and as I know myself, I go out of my way to avoid pain and conflict. Negative feedback in any form takes years for me to move past, some of it I still hold on to until this day (yes, I still remember indirectly finding out a woman I idolized thought I was annoying, talk about knife in the tender psyche of a pre-teen!). What was I even thinking attempting such a project?

But there was that small small voice in the back of my head that said - keep on and keep it to yourself.

It got me to thinking about how being creative is such a vulnerable thing. I mean, you want what comes out of you to be appreciated and validated. You want to hear "that's a great idea" or "wow I really like what you did", or at least "good luck". Whatever you've created was or is something important to you/how you felt/a pivot point in your life. There are a few options when faced with this, don't share your art, quit, or I guess for those with larger balls than I, push through and create anyway. I realized how hard it is to create art and maintain your self-esteem to keep going. No wonder so many artists descend into madness or alcohol.

So if all of this is just about the process, then maybe I'll learn how to be better at not listening to negative feedback on something I am pursuing. Or at least nurture the creative side to find another idea that seems better.

Anyway, I think I'm going to keep writing, but planning on keeping the whole thing to myself. So if you ask me what I'm up to, I'll say I'm writing. And for all you know, it may as well be tweets I'm writing to the Twitterverse. I'm going to attempt to push past my instinct to quit. And if I get 5,000 more words down the road, and I feel like it's not working, I'm going to re-read the "How to Write a Novel" post, put on some Sigur Ros, and attempt to just keep writing.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Getting Lost in Myself

Whenever I want to do something more, I seem to end up doing it less. I want to wake up a half hour earlier, and instead sleep an hour longer. I want to workout more, and I haven't been to the gym in months. I want to write more, and I have no words to write. What is it about human nature that when we consciously want to do something, the lazy side of us kicks in and blocks us with tv, tiredness, stupid tablet games, anything but what the deep inner self wants.

I know I have been negligent in managing my blog, I mean, I haven't even so much as given it more than a passing thought. Maybe I should write about Budapest, about my summer, or maybe I'd have something to say about the fact that I adopted a dog (and my whole life revolving around him). But no, few words or inspirations have crossed my path. I have been reading a bunch, and they have largely been in the self-improvement arena (Total Money Makeover, 4-Hour Workweek).
So when what I'm calling my new church started a series on "Is this SERIOUSLY my life", it struck a cord deep inside. I started thinking about my personal life and feelings of dissatisfaction, confusion on where to go next, unhappiness in my current work, and just general feelings of unrest. Every fiber in my being screams at me to run away, to go live in a little cottage in a small village and be that odd American girl with her dog who lives at the end of the lane (complete with a meet cute with Jude Law). I think of movies like Under the Tuscan Sun, The Holiday, and Elizabethtown (though the last is less about international, but still in the vein of running away). What is it that appeals to me so strongly? It's that abandoning who we think we are, stripping away of all the preconceived notions and ideas of self, and forging a new path, one that is truer to our being.

That is where this morning's sermon (if you want to call it that) fit in. Instead of a monologue, it was a dialog between two men. They talked about finding that brokenness and working through it to come to the true self. Going through the death to experience the rebirth, and acknowledging that the body is a whole, and when the subconscious is in pain and conflicted it manifests itself in physical ways (pains in the stomach, aches in the back and neck). While the "good Christian child" inside me screams how new age this sounds, in my heart of hearts, it rings painfully true. How often do I just want to get around the pain and find what I am supposed to be or where I am supposed to go. The answer to these questions really is inside of us, and asking God to tell us what to do, is kind of the easy way out, it's saying I don't want to deal with the crap, I want the easy answer. When if we dug through and dealt with all the hurt inside, we would easily find that the answer is inside of us. It would be a gut reaction deep in our souls.

Anyway, that's a lot of deep for a sunny October Sunday. But if you're interested in the dialog, you can find it here 10/4/15 Is this seriously my life? - and I would say don't skip the songs if you have the time, they all connect into the theme of what the message is trying to teach. Not to mention the last one, which is a Damien Rice song. Seriously, a church that can see worship in the secular is my kind of church.