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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You Shouldn't Do That

Let me tell you, dating is tiring.  After the 10th first date, it tends to lose it's magic (10 is not statistically accurate, but sharing about yourself and forcing yourself to be interested in someone else gets old fast).  Some people like to tell me I'm too picky, but I'm sure if they perused through my options on OKCupid, they would tell me I would be settling with any of them.  Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

When this week is over, I'll have had some 4 first dates (I think for the month, it'll end up being somewhere around 10?).  You can't say I'm not trying.  And when you add to that "it's better to give someone a chance and not decide too quickly", second dates pile on top and you find you have no time for the gym, friends, or cleaning your apartment.  So yes, I am tired.  Tired of feeling like this takes so much work, tired of the advice, tired of feeling alone, tired of going out there and doing things so I am not accused of "not living my life waiting to meet someone".

Let me tell you, after the millionth time you've sat alone at a cafe, restaurant, bar, concert, park, museum, etc, you do get tired of your own company and feel rather lonely.  And I don't think I could really ever be accused of not trying living my life on my own (I mean most people assume I would be miserable having a relationship because then I couldn't do all the things I do.  Umm, I am choosing to live my life this way, because I don't want to sit around waiting, not because this was the end goal!).

I feel like I'm a parent trying to keep their kid occupied during summer break.  And you say "why don't you just relax at home more" - oh great, yeah, I'm sure Mr. Anybody is hiding out under my bed and I never noticed him before (CREEPER!)!  And yes, I know it's good to try dating and then to pull back, but you have to give it some time to start up before you give up and pull back to not dating (does that make any sense?).

And of course, when you confess this to friends, they tell you "You shouldn't feel that way", "You shouldn't do so much", "You shouldn't try so hard", "You should do more of what you want", "You should you should you should".  It makes me want to scream!  Can we all decide that use of the word should is completely inappropriate?  Who are we to tell someone what they should or should not feel/do/think/act? "There is only feel and do, there is no should." (D.R.)  Telling someone what they should do to get a date or be happy is rude.  It implies they haven't thought of or aren't logical enough to "understand the real situation".  It devalues their feelings and thoughts.  It is just rude.  If I tell you, "I feel rejected because so and so never called", how is telling me "I shouldn't feel that way" helpful?  It's okay to let your friends feel a certain way, and just acknowledging that yes, not hearing from someone sucks.  End of story.

We feel and think and act how we feel, and yes, sometimes I am so frustrated by this whole process I am illogical.  But trust me, I am completely aware of the logic side of the puzzle (umm, have you met me, I'm a pretty damn logical person), but logic doesn't always matter when it comes to feelings.  And my feelings lately are that this whole thing sucks.  So like my rant a few months ago about not assuming things about people, can we also decide that to acknowledge the way someone feels is a much nicer and caring response then trying to "fix" or "solve" them?

(This soapbox moment is another installment of "You Know What Really Grinds My Gears")