Getting Started

It all seems so easy, setting out. First, you set a goal. Then you define some small, easily-attainable steps to achieving that goal. After that, you make a plan on how you’re going to tackle said steps, and all you have left is to take flight and make those dreams a reality!

But.

Anxiety sets back in. You notice yourself overreacting, feeling slightly stabby when you see those happy photos your friends are sharing on Facebook. You notice your dreams getting darker, and your sleeping patterns start to shift. You are groggy and dizzy, inclined toward snark. You no longer lose weight – you gain it by the bushel. Your hair is a mess, you’ve got a huge zit, you hate every piece of clothing in your closet, your cats refuse to eat the super expensive cat food you’ve bought them, and bill collectors JUSTKEEPCALLING.

So.

You stop. You breathe. You think carefully about the goal you’ve set. Is it attainable? Is it rational? Why this particular goal? Why now? What is your subconscious trying to tell you about it? What could you be doing, instead? Should you be doing anything?

Then you get started, all over again.

Scrambled

Life’s kind of crazy at the moment. I keep thinking I’ll get on here and write a proper update, share some photos, talk about important things, but then I have a million and one things to get done IRL and never seem to make it back to the blog. I’d apologize, but I’m trying hard not to say “sorry” for being myself and living my life. I trust I’m not hurting you by being away; hope you’ve been having your own adventures, too!

I started a new job a few weeks ago, and am now working 40 hours a week as a front desk agent at two local boutique hotels. It’s not something I ever planned on doing, though I had mulled over being a concierge at one point. But funds were getting low, and one night as I looked through the New Orleans job listings yet again, one posting jumped out at me. The poster said that he was looking for “misfits” to join his team. My heart said “pick me!” I applied immediately, went in for an interview two days later, and got the job on the spot. Best of all, I LOVE it. It’s all the good parts of waiting tables, with very little of the bad. My job is all about making people happy while they’re on vacation, and since I love to travel and know what makes ME happy when I’m staying somewhere new, it’s all pretty intuitive. So far, people seem to be digging me, too. I’m really looking forward to getting better at the job and moving into a more confident role as a concierge/front desk agent/all around travel enhancer.

Besides that, I’m still working as a freelance marketer, though at the moment I’m mostly just doing proofreading and copyediting, which suits me just fine. I’m also back in school again, this time for a Copyediting Certificate at UCSD. I got an A- in my first class, Grammar, and am currently taking Copyediting I. My goal is to eventually transition into having my own copyediting agency. I love that it’s something I can easily do on the side while I’m at my hotel job. Nothing like making money at two places at once! Especially when you love both jobs:-)

Let’s see, what else should I fill you in on? Oh yeah, I started selling Jamberry nail wraps. Actually haven’t kicked off my sales career just yet, but I signed up as a consultant. I love wearing them, and figured it couldn’t hurt to get a 30% discount on my own wraps while making a small commission on other orders. They’re so cute and easy to use, and I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with crazy patterns.

The only other bit of news is that I’m going pescatarian again, and maybe eventually back to vegetarian. I just can’t be trusted to eat meat without going overboard and eating an entire pizza or multiple Big Macs at a time. I’ll be turning 35 in November, and my biggest birthday wish is to get back to a healthy weight, seconded by wanting to have a healthy, young-looking complexion. People can never believe that I’m as old as I am, but I really want to keep that up for as long as possible. More water, more veggies, and paying plenty of attention to getting the right nutrients will take me very far. After I’ve got my food under control, I’ll add in daily yoga and running. But for now I’m just focusing on not calling Domino’s.

Haven’t gotten my hair dyed yet, but will update you once I get my next paycheck. Gonna get my hair fixed and buy a couple of cute work outfits – yay!

 

 

 

 

New Hair Ideas

I’m pretty lucky that my new job is very accepting of my current look, which is a little more “me” and a little less the preppy look that I was trying to pull off for a few years, there. In February, I got an undercut and dyed my hair a metallic silvery-blue color, which looked really nice for about a month. Eventually though, the blue started to wash out and my roots started to grow in, and now my hair is a weird light blue/yellow/gray mix. It actually doesn’t look terrible, but it’s not really where I’d like it to be. Since I need to go in and get it trimmed a bit, anyway, it’s time for me to pick a new color! I’m thinking a pastel, and have been mulling over a few options:

Bubblegum Pink, like Kelly’s amazing ‘do from Pinterest:

Pink Hair

Icy Purple, which doesn’t look that different from my hair right now, except that it would have purple tones instead of yellowish gray ones.

Purple Hair

Of course, my very favorite is Unicorn Hair, which has a bunch of different interpretations online. This is probably the closest to how I’d like it to look, though:

Unicorn Hair

What do you guys think? I’m probably going to wait until the day of the appointment to make my final decision, so if you’ve got any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them! No green, though, and I’m not really feeling dark colors right now.

Photographic Memories

I took a lot of photos on the Camino Frances last October and November. Many were crappy, but there were a few really nice ones each day. I wasn’t using a special camera, just my iPhone, but I felt pretty proud about some of those shots.

When I got home, I moved all of the photos off of my phone, and into a folder on my desktop. When I got a new computer, I moved that folder into the cloud. I kept telling myself that I’d get to organizing those photos “tomorrow or the next day,” but it’s been months now, and I haven’t even opened the folder to take a look over all of those memories captured on the trail. I’ve been thinking that it’s probably just another one of those things that I’m going to procrastinate over until I finally snap one day and take care of it all in one massive push. But tonight I realized that’s not the problem, at all.

I’m afraid to open that folder. I’m afraid my heart will break in two. I miss the trail. I miss the walk. I miss my connections – with the Universe, with nature, with my friends, with myself. That’s not to say that these things don’t exist here in my day-to-day, but they’re much harder to tap into in front of a computer screen. There, I belonged. Here, I’m fighting to remember that sense of belonging.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a nun. I wasn’t from a particularly religious family, so I’m not exactly sure where the idea came from, but it seemed like a pretty good option for a very long time. After I got a bit older, I gave up the idea and went about living life without a wimple. But the idea of living a solitary, contemplative life has never been far from my mind. And to tell the truth, I’m not too far from living that life right now. I spend a great deal of my time locked in my own head, thinking about what it means to be “good,” and how to be of service to those around me. I care a bit too much for the material life to make it in the monastic world, but that’s OK. I spend 50% of my time cloistered away in my little studio apartment, anyway.

The thing is, as solitary as my life may be, and as rewarding as I may find it most days, there are still times when I miss the togetherness I felt out there on the trail. I miss the simplicity of walking, and of not having to think about tomorrow’s schedule outside of the need to put one foot in front of the other.

Maybe I’m afraid that when I look at those photographs, I will lose my ability to be happy here.

But maybe that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll just be reminded of how all the things are just things, and all the places are just places, and how no matter what, I’m going to be just me, no matter my GPS coordinates.

Tilt Shift

Look at your world. Turn. Look again. Close one eye. Look. The other eye. Tilt your head a bit. Close both eyes, spin in a circle. Look one more time. What is it? Has it changed from what it was, whatever that may have been? Where are you now? Is your world different, or are you? Is it all the same? Maybe you should give the whole process one more go.

When I was a little girl, I used to love to lie upside down in my dad’s overstuffed arm chair and stare at the ceiling. I’d pretend I was walking over the light fixtures. I’d plan my route to the kitchen, walking across the wide wooden beams, skipping over door frames. The ceiling world was uncharted territory, somewhere that only I knew was available to explore. Not quite Narnia, mind you, but you’d never see my parents pretending they could walk on the ceiling. It was all mine, a gift I gave myself through taking the time to see the world from a new angle.

Since coming back from the Camino, I’ve begun to realize that my physical walk across Spain was a hell of a lot more like my pretend walks across the ceiling than I’d have ever imagined. Giving myself permission to look at life from a new angle has opened the door for so many changes. Along the way, I’ve found a piece of myself that must have been misplaced for quite some time.

Don’t get me wrong; life’s not all rainbows and lollipops at the moment. I’m still dealing with anxiety, and I’m not doing that well financially. However, I feel so much better than I did just a few months ago. I quit the client who made me most anxious, and I’ve found a new job that makes me happy and gets me out of the house. It was a tough decision, since the client paid me very well, and the new job isn’t exactly a goldmine, but I realized that I’d rather be sane. I was spending all of that extra cash self medicating with pizza, anyway.

I’ve started being able to pinpoint symptoms of anxiety, and I’ve worked out a system of self-care to help me stay calm and restful: tulsi or chamomile tea, no sugar or caffeine, soothing epsom baths, yoga, hypnotherapy recordings, and plenty of exercise. I’m still working on the “plenty of exercise” part, though, lol.

Mostly, I feel like my new job as a hotel front desk agent has given me a chance to get out of my own head, where I seemed to be living for the last couple of years. I miss my cats when I’m gone, but it’s nice to be useful to people again.

I don’t know where I’m going. It feels like I’m still turning, tilting, shifting, reassessing. I have a feeling that it will be that way for a while to come before I find the groove I’m supposed to be in. But I’m liking this new perspective. I’m liking this old me.

 

The End of the Road

I met my friend Mark on our way over the Pyrenees, on the Camino Frances. I could hear him before I saw him; his big attitude and Kentish accent were hard to miss. He and his walking buddies were having a conversation about Shakespeare (he wasn’t that big of a fan, and was saying that “Shakespeare” and “comedy” were an oxymoron). They came into view around the next bend, and I didn’t even stop, just remarked as I passed, “What about Romeo & Juliet – that shit’s hilarious!”. I could hear him laughing for a full minute as I walked on. The next time I stopped for a breather, he and his friends walked by and he stopped to chat with me. I adored him, sight unseen, and I adored him after that, too.

Later, Mark’s path coincided with mine, Natalie’s and Claire’s again and again, and we ended up getting dinner, having drinks, and sharing bunks on more than one occasion. After our darling Claire had to move on, one night Natalie and I met up with Mark for pints and had a pretty touching conversation about why people walk the Camino. He was one of those people who puts on a big show about being a gruff jerk, but as a fellow Scorpio it was easy to get a glimpse of his soft side, hiding just far enough away to not be too easily damaged by the folks outside of his safety zone. One night I made a quip about how tasty sharks were, and I remember how quickly he reacted, telling me that he was a diver and had great respect for the majesty of sharks.

I was bummed to learn that Mark’s blisters kept him from continuing the Camino. I was a few days ahead of him, but kept thinking that we could just meet up in Burgos, or maybe at the end in Santiago de Compostela. I sent him photos of a funny Rolling Stones shirt I saw in Burgos that made me think of him. He replied to say that he was heading on to somewhere where he could find some good kush and take a load off, lol.

Tonight I found out that my friend Mark passed away. He won’t be making it to Santiago de Compostela. He won’t be figuring out a better way to treat those poor abused feet. He won’t be sampling tapas with glee, or demanding a “large” when the Spanish bartender tries to hand him a regular pint. He won’t be diving, or telling people about the magic that is the ocean. I’m heartbroken, but I must believe that his goodness and laughter live on in me, and everyone else who knew him. He was a good man, a kind man, a hilariously funny man, and he could sure hold his lager.

Mark, I love you. And to the rest of my dear, dear friends from the Camino, please stay in touch and take care of yourselves. You’ve made my world a better place.❤

Ch-Ch-Changes

Man. I’m so glad I threw caution to the wind and took my chance to go to Spain last year, because life is certainly not throwing me a bone at the moment. The Camino brought me back to myself, but that knowledge came at a price, and it appears that price is steady employment. It’s probably going to be awhile before I’m able to drop everything and go off to explore the world again.

It appears that my full time job is about to become an hourly position unless something magical happens. Once it goes hourly, I won’t be able to afford rent on one job. Not that I can currently afford rent, since I haven’t been paid in a month, but I’m not going to let myself get too worried yet. I’ve lived through worse. For instance, Hurricane Katrina was MUCH worse. I lost most of my possessions, had to move to a new city with $30 to my name, was disowned by my family (it was short-lived, but really defined an era for me), never did get that damn FEMA check (but my grandparents sent money, which was a real help), and you know what? Despite the pain, loss, and uncertainty, I actually had a pretty good time. I got to explore a new city (Chicago), meet a ton of new friends who are still my friends today, and not being able to afford to eat meant that I lost about 20 lbs and looked fabulous! It also had the side benefit of teaching me that material goods, no matter how expensive, are actually worthless, which helps in times like this when I’m forced by necessity to sell off all of my belongings to pay rent. So there’s that.

All this is actually pretty funny, because the last time I remember feeling empowered and in touch with the Universe this much was roughly Winter 2005. So. Here we are again. This time I’ve got blue hair, two Masters degrees (and the corresponding amount of student loan debt), and luckily, some ideas on how to move forward towards a life I’ll enjoy for some time to come.

This is also the last blog post that I’ll be posting from this computer, since I need to sell it. No worries, I actually put a new Macbook Air on credit for work before I found out that work was drying up. But it’s better to have the new one now instead of getting stuck with an old one that could conk out at any moment. I’ve had too much bad luck with computers to put my faith in a 5-year old Mac, and there’s no way I’m getting stuck with no computer and no backup plan in the middle of an underemployment spell – that’s never a good idea for freelancers.

OK, wish me luck, luvs. I could use all the good energy you’ve got to spare right now.