Category Archives: Inspire

I Feel Pretty?

There’s a movie out now with this title. It stars Amy Schumer and I fully intend to see it. I’ve read about it and understand it to be a story of a woman, played by Schumer, who has a clutzy accident in spin class which causes her to hit her head, which leads to a TBI that makes her  believe that she is the prettiest woman on earth. This turn of events leads her to operate on the day to day with a newfound sense of confidence, and hilarity no doubt ensues.

While I am certain, as a fan of Amy Schumer and her sharp wit, I will thoroughly enjoy this movie, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to relate to it on a personal level.

I think it’s because I am not caught up with the notion of being “pretty”. At least not now anyway, being a somewhat fledged grown woman of 51. I’ve made peace with how I look. I don’t have illusions that I am some great beauty (which is perfectly fine by me), but I have confidence in my ability to make the most of my features with make up. And I know how to dress myself in a flattering way. It’s pretty simple, really.

I prefer the notion of feeling funny (though “I Feel Funny” is not the best title for a film-but perhaps a new pharmaceutical commercial for vertigo), because I fancy myself as a humorist. However, what I would really prefer, instead of feeling “pretty” or “funny” is to feel smart.

True confession: I’ve struggled all my life with the feeling that I am not smart. I’m the one who doesn’t get the punch line while everyone else is laughing their asses off. I’m the one that needs to try, try, try when learning something new before it clicks. I’m the one who was an average student, grade-wise, throughout my education (with the exception of my senior year in college when I earned almost exclusively A’s and B’s). Up until I hit about 48, 9 times out of 10 in social situations, I believed that I was the least smart person in the room, reminiscent of those times in middle school where I was always the second or third to last to be picked for whatever team sport was being played.

But I digress.

One of the gifts of aging, for me, is that I feel smarter than I did, say 10 years ago. Experience does that to a person. Trial and error. Figuring out what works for you and what just simply doesn’t, and what your learning style is comes with age. Not taking yourself so seriously. All of these things are the silver linings to getting older.

In my take on this movie genre, entitled “I Feel Smart”, obviously written in collaboration with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, I would successfully put together IKEA furniture by myself, present TED talks on how to harness female intuition for the betterment of society, and use my Kohl’s cash and coupons to save 150% on my shopping sprees. I would breeze through my days offering useful advice to those I come in contact with and I would be asked to become a partner in a think tank (I’ve always been curious about those-I assume it’s a bunch of high tech smarty pants people hanging out in a state of the art, pristine facility collaborating all day to solve society’s problems. So if I’m feeling so smart, I ought to fit in just fine there).

That would give me a much larger helping of confidence than believing I am the prettiest (or funniest) woman on earth.

So, Amy and Tina….you in?

Partake

The following message is brought to you by the word prompt for today: Partake.

I used to be an English major. I chose that as my major because at the time, it was the only major that held any interest for me. It was borne out of a love of words, of stories, of creative expression. I’d been engaged in personal creative writing all my life, in one form or another. From writing skits I thought one day I could submit to the writing staff at SNL, to writing song lyrics about my romantic teenage yearnings, to rushing home after school  to hole up in my room to write a personal essay for my AP English class or my next Forensics competition.

Now obviously I didn’t stick with being an English major. If I had, I think most likely I’d be an underpaid, overworked high school English teacher right now. To be perfectly honest, I’d probably have tremendously enjoyed partaking in this career path. Maybe in my next life.

Instead, I chose to partake in the social work field. It felt right, like possibly my calling. In a nutshell, I was a problem solver. Clients presented to me their sticky, painful, complicated, unique circumstances and I did what I could (following many guidelines provided by my employer) to provide solutions to make their lives work better for them. It was emotionally and mentally challenging. It was stressful much of the time. And it was also very rewarding, not most of the time mind you, but enough of the time to lead me to stick with it for as long as I did. 

At my current stage in life, which I would loosely describe as pre-pre-retirement, I find myself partaking in different experiences.  Such as regular volunteering at a food bank, working as a program assistant at a non profit senior citizen resource and referral center which also includes a food bank. Hubs and I partake in a variety of tasks with our church community, like the yearly spring lawnmower clinic fundraiser that occurred the past three Saturday mornings. We together also enjoy partaking in sampling craft beers in local brew pubs. We especially enjoy the sense of community we experience while partaking in each of these activities. That is surely the reason for all this partaking we do: for the love of community.

The Joy of Thrifting

I am an avid thrift store shopper. And I think you should be one too. Here’s why:

If you are striving to be socially conscious as I am, shopping for second hand items is a good practice. You are not purchasing brand spanking new items that were made by poor people for pennies an hour in a poorly ventilated, possibly unsafe factory in an underdeveloped country.  You are part of the solution here, instead of contributing to the problem.

Thrift store shopping makes you feel smart. Who doesn’t appreciate feeling smart sometimes? Often I find high end brands of clothing or purses which appear to have been purchased by the original owner and worn approximately once. What would have cost you over $100 brand new at a fancy schmancy store, you got for a measly $12.99! Like this lovely purse I recently acquired.

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A Brighton bag, no less!

You are saving money! That to me, is always a good thing. The money saved can be used for more important, meaningful things and/or activities. Like giving to a charity that you believe in. Like vacations, dinners out, or if you really insist on being super practical, to save for the future.

Thrift store shopping is fun! By taking the time beforehand to write down a list of specific items you wish to snag, which as a planner especially trips my trigger, you can channel your inner child and take yourself on a scavenger hunt! Another bonus: while you are using your “little eye to spy” for the items on your list, you sometimes come across that one thing that you didn’t even know you needed. A fun, little surprise just for you! My Brighton bag pictured above is a great example of that.

If you’re environmentally conscious, as I feel we all should be in this day and age, shopping at thrift stores lessens the amount of stuff in our landfills. We need to be doing all we can to respect our dear Mother Nature.

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Do we really need to add to this?

Thrift store shopping can positively impact the lives of others in your community. Many thrift stores, like the one I frequent (ARC), employs people with intellectual disabilities, so spending your money there benefits this worthy cause.

And you can kill two birds with one stone at a thrift store! As in, donating bags of gently used, in season items at the same place you are shopping, at the same time. You can get rid of your unwanted stuff and get yourself some wanted stuff instead. Which saves gas money and your precious time to boot!

So go forth and get your thrift store groove on, smart readers! Always remember that another’s person’s junk could be your personal treasure.

YOLO in Colorado

This is how I feel, especially when I’m out exploring this state!

 

Our oldest and dearest couple friends and their two teenage daughters came to visit Hubs and I recently. This visit was so very good for our souls. The four of them are virtually world travelers, especially compared to us. They are curious, adventurous folks with seemingly boundless energy.  And this was the first time they’d visited Colorado together. We visited places here that Hubs and I had yet to see. Like an indoor hot springs spa in Idaho Springs and that famous and crazy Casa Bonita restaurant restaurant in Denver. Fans of South Park may recall an episode highlighting this unique place. We even partook on a tour of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining”, as well as a general reputation for being haunted.

Let’s just say this visit with our friends energized us in a major way. 

This visit coupled with my suspicion that our days living in this great state are likely numbered (I’d guess somewhere between 444 and 888, but hey, I’m no psychic), inspires me to embrace that beautiful concept and not to mention fun acronym, “YOLO”.

That said, it’s clearly time for Hubs and I  to start thinking about planning the places we want to go and experiences we want to enjoy while we still live in Colorado. There are so  many of them!

Such as….

A concert at Red Rocks

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With a little luck, we will be closer to the stage than this photographer was!

I actually think it may be somewhat beside the point which musical artist we come here to see. The scenery and acoustics are going to be the main draw for me.

A trip to an outdoor hot springs  spa. Where Hubs and I will partake in a couples massage and I will succeed at convincing him to get  pedicures together. I suspect he will enjoy this as much as I do.

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Once I get in this, I may never want to get out!

Grand Junction

This is considered Colorado’s wine country and yes, I do enjoy my wine. Beyond the adult beverage scene, there are numerous sites to behold there, like the Colorado National Monument and hiking trails I’ve been checking out online.

Moab, Utah: while it’s not actually in Colorado, it is merely a day’s drive away and features so much natural beauty. Hubs will need to bring his Nikon.

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A place to meditate in Moab, perhaps after a hike

 

Next winter, I’d like to take a ride on the Winter Park train and spend the weekend dog sledding and sampling craft beers in a cozy mountain cabin. I realize this area is known for wicked good skiing, but I value my limbs too much so I think we’ll skip that part.

 

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A cozy little cabin for us to enjoy.

 

We might just need to continue living in Colorado beyond 888 days to cross everything off the list!

 

About my jar

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As I talked about here, in 2017 I kept a Happiness Jar. It helped me stay positive each day as it forced me to notice all the little and sometimes big things that brought me happiness.  I’m glad I did it. Reading all of my scribbled notes from my Happiness Jar on 12/31 brought back to mind moments that I had forgotten about. Doing this gave me a healthy dose of the warm fuzzies and made me realize what a great year overall it had been for me.

In this post, I grandly proclaimed that 2018 was going to be the year of the “Goodness Jar”.  I thought it would be fun to keep this jar thing going, just in a new way.  My plan was, at the end of each day, I would jot down something I did or said that exemplified “goodness” to me. I started this practice in earnest on 1/1. After a few days, I came to the conclusion that the “Goodness Jar” was not meant to be. It felt like everything I came up with was, for lack of a better descriptor, lame. I found myself obsessing about what “goodness” looks like in my day to day life. The word “goodness” quickly became meaningless. I mean, who am I to determine what “goodness” is? It was all just too much for my 50 year old brain. While I certainly had good intentions, I simply didn’t take enough time to think it through before leaping into it.

So I’m scrapping this idea. Perhaps my jar would be better put to use by using my creative culinary skills to make homemade “hootch” to store in this jar. Perhaps I could bedazzle my jar, stick a candle in it and set it out somewhere as home decor. Perhaps I could fill it with skittles and send it to one of my most favorite bloggers. I think it would help her to get through whatever time is left on the Trump presidency.

As worthy as those ideas may be, I have instead decided to re-christen my former Happiness/Goodness Jar the “Kindness Jar”.  The thing is, the Happiness/Goodness Jar was really all about me. What made me happy. I think it’s time to focus more on others. Like doing something to bring a smile to someone’s face. Or clearly conveying to someone that I see them and hear them and believe they have value in this world.   As long as I resist the urge to overthink it, this might work.

To make this more doable interesting, I’m going to include not just what acts of kindness I believe I bestowed upon others, but the kindnesses that were gifted to me by others. I like the idea of documenting kindnesses both given and received. And while I’m at it, I think I’ll jot down acts of kindness that I simply witness in my every day life, whether it be between co-workers and clients, strangers on the bus, or folks out shopping at the grocery store. The setting matters not, while the actions will.  With this three pronged approach, I figure that I have no option other than to be hyper focused on kindness each and every day.

I recently saw this clip below, and it really resonates with me. I believe my blogging community is chock full of kind-hearted people who just might agree with me.

 

Cheers to kindness, people!

 

 

Why Oprah shouldn’t run in 2020

I along with I suppose gazillions of people on earth watched the Golden Globes last Sunday night. Oprah’s speech was a major highlight, as she inspired us all with hope for the future. People cried, cheered, and many took immediately to Twitter, declaring “Oprah for 2020”.

I get it. If the election was held today, I would vote for her. She has earned the trust of the American people by her inclusiveness, her honesty, and her integrity over the span of many years. And I suspect she’d probably win by a wide margin, especially if she was running against Trump. 

While I could just as easily pen a post declaring the reasons why Oprah should run,  I maintain she shouldn’t run for POTUS.

Why, you ask? In a nutshell, I think she’s got more important things to do. I also suspect that in her heart of hearts, she doesn’t want to be POTUS. I’ve heard her say multiple times in interviews that she has no interest in serving our country in this capacity.

Oprah is an expert, in my opinion, of lifting others up. I loved that unlike some people, she used her podium in this speech not to talk about herself and her own accomplishments, but to lift up the #metoo movement, making sure to note that this movement includes women from all fields, all walks of life, who have been sexually abused or harassed by men in power. She lifted up Recy Taylor  (who I had never heard of before this-thank you Oprah) and Rosa Parks. She emphasized the need for all of us to speak truth to power in these tumultuous times. She said what I think we all needed to hear.

You see, Oprah has exquisite judgement of who it is that deserves our attention. Our support. Our loyalty. I think we need to pay close attention to who she champions as our next political leaders. The female leaders that have political experience. The female leaders that have the right combination of heart and intellect. The female leaders who have the vision to move our country forward, in a positive direction.

Oprah has the financial means and the social influence to shine a bright light on whoever our next candidate for POTUS should be.

That should be her role. At least for now. I would suggest that whoever is our next POTUS, that she appoints Oprah to her cabinet, perhaps as Chief Advisor. That’s something I could really get behind.

Highlights of 2017/Positive Pursuits for 2018

2017 was quite the banner year for me personally. Looking back on the year, I feel like I’ve come a long way. Emotional maturity-wise. Self-esteem wise. My outlook has changed. My priorities have become more clear.

Suffice it to say, for me, 2017 has been a very memorable and transformative year.

Let’s see…in 2017:

I started this blog. This was a bit scary, as putting myself out there made (and makes) me emotionally vulnerable. A target for criticism, both self imposed and from others.  It’s been a very worthwhile pursuit for me despite that however. Through blogging, I have learned that the sky won’t fall in when I put myself out there in the blogosphere.

I started my weekly volunteer gig at the food bank. I have gained new friendships along with a deeper understanding of the plight of folks in Colorado grappling with food insecurity day in and day out. This has increased my sense of compassion and reinforced my belief that it is my duty as a capable human being to help others in all the ways I can.

I started a new job. I feel so blessed every day since I started. My new job is such a good fit for me on numerous levels. And very possibly the best part is that it is a part time job. Which gives me a good work/life balance as it affords me the time to pursue other passions. Like writing, for example.

I figured out my way around a new metropolis. By both car and public transportation, aka the RTD bus. I am now able to get to and fro, whether it be work, Target, the hairdresser, or the grocery store, without using GPS. It’s just one of those little things that gives me that sense of comfort one feels among familiar surroundings.

Hubs and I  hosted a crap ton of company, most of whom had never traveled to Colorado before. We had some great fun doing this and discovered lots of new places to go and things to do along the way. Introducing people I love to this beautiful, one-of-a-kind place is a truly awesome privilege.

I “co-facilitated” my dad’s move to the nursing home (ouch, that hurt). This 9 day foray spent with my family in northern Minnesota was by far, without a doubt, the most emotionally charged period of my entire life. I am beyond thankful that now my Dad is receiving such loving care in a safe and comfortable place. I learned an important lesson from this experience: that sometimes the right thing to do is also the hardest thing to do.

I was able to partake in lots of amazing travel. In fact, more in this one year than in any of the 49 previous years. Hubs and I went to D.C. twice. We went to Seattle. We traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin a few times as well, spending time with our beloved family and friends. The fear of flying I once had is now absent because of this. It’s been replaced by an even stronger desire to travel.

I’ve got big personal goals for 2018. I’m not going to call them resolutions, because that’s such a loaded, not to mention overused, term.  I don’t think it’s healthy for me to have my goals set in stone, even if just in my head,  because I recognize that curveballs happen. Unexpected shit, like …..okay, I actually don’t want to put that out there because it freaks me out and I want to remain positive.

Ahem….

For 2018, my overarching goal is to build upon what was started in 2017. By growing my blog through higher quality writing.  By continuing to volunteer as I’m able. By finding and implementing ways to improve my workplace and the lives of the clients we serve. By branching out, driving-wise. Like hopping  on that scary I-25 and driving to Denver, getting over my still present fear of traversing freeways. By hosting more company, and exploring with them Colorado places we have yet to see. By doing more traveling with Hubs, both to visit family and friends, but also to new destinations (yet to be determined).

And finally….

In 2018, the Happiness Jar will become the Goodness Jar. As in, what good did I do today? Each and every day I will endeavor to jot down a short note about what good I put out there in the universe. Not to show what a great human being I am, because God knows I am such a work in progress. But to brighten someone else’s day, show them that they are cared about and valued. This will motivate me to be a better version of myself each day and hopefully  inspire others to consciously walk through life focusing on doing good. This might be overly ambitious, lofty even, but I think it’s worth a try. What’s the worst that could happen?

As this jam packed year comes to a close, I thank  all of you awesome readers for sticking with me on my blogging journey and wish each of you a happy, healthy, magically wonderful New Year!