Fear

I’m a really good “chicken outer”. The first solid memory I have of allowing fear to control my actions was in about 5th grade. It happened in gym class. This was back in the day when all the kids had to wear, for lack of a better descriptor, a swimming “uniform” along with the dreaded skull cap to keep our hair out of our faces. Despite feeling horribly self conscious with my developing body and naked face, I absolutely loved this section of gym class because I was pretty good at swimming. I really enjoyed it, and still do. But diving into the pool….not so much.

I vividly recall the feeling of utter panic when our gym teacher, a short freckled woman somewhere in her 40’s (at the time she was probably only 30 something, but as a kid every adult seemed as if they were much older than they actually were), sharply ordered me to dive off the diving board into the pool. Standing there, freezing cold and dripping wet at the end of the diving board with my classmates looking on, I felt paralyzed. All I could envision was going in headfirst into the chilly water to my death. I was convinced that my head would hit the bottom of the pool and that would be that. Dead at age 11. So I chickened out. I instead went in feet first, plunging in, falling deeper into the water and frantically kicking my legs to propel my pubescent body to the surface. The sense of relief I felt was all encompassing. But shortly after, as I swam to the other end of the pool and hoisted myself up and out, I felt horribly ashamed and embarrassed about myself. Unfortunately, though I had multiple opportunities to attempt diving again throughout the rest of the swimming section of our gym class, I stuck with the chickening out method of jumping in feet first every single time. I’ve periodically wondered over the years how different my life would have been if I had had the guts to dive into that pool headfirst, for real.

Now, for those who know anything about my upbringing, it would be easy to conclude that as the youngest child (my next oldest sibling is 8 1/2 years older than me), whose father was always overly cautious in all things (true stories: growing up, I was not allowed to mow the lawn or ride my bike beyond the busiest main street of our town as dad deemed these activities to be too dangerous for me),  I was predisposed to chickening out when something scared me. While that may be true, I am now a grown woman of 50 with a husband, two kids and a grandson, so there is no point whatsoever in playing any sort of “blame game” here.  For all I know, my dad preventing me from participating in some activities could have saved me from serious injury or even death. His overly cautious nature was directly linked to the abundance of love he had for me. I totally get it.  However, in a lot of aspects of my life I remain a “chicken outer” (my refusal to drive in big city traffic is one prime example).

As a slightly neurotic, people pleasing overthinker, blogging brings up a boatload of fears for me, such as:

That I will inadvertently share something about someone in my life whom I care about that will cause them emotional harm and negatively impact the way they feel about me.

That I will express an opinion in a post that could be conceived as too controversial by some, causing others to shun me or harshly criticize me.

That I will come across as self-absorbed and share too much of my personal life, thereby embarrassing my family.

That I will simply run out of topics to blog about and fail miserably as a blogger.

I am quite certain I could sit here all day, tapping away on my keyboard as I come up with a million and eight reasons to be afraid of blogging with my authentic voice. But really, what a horrible waste of time that would be.

I’ve heard it said that people on their death beds often do not speak of regrets for those things they had done, but rather for those things in life they hadn’t done. This makes great sense to me. That is why I’m making the decision, right here and right now, to dive head first into blogging. At least I’m guaranteed to not hit my head on the bottom of the pool, right?

 

The best things about living in Colorado

After living in Colorado for almost 9 months now, I am in the throes of falling in love with this state. Life is different here than anywhere else we have lived (which includes, in order: northern Minnesota,  central Minnesota, Lubbock, TX, way northern Minnesota -I could essentially see Canada from our rented cabin,  Wichita, KS, the Twin Cities, Holmen then La Crosse, WI, and now Colorado). I am blessed to have the rare opportunity, at least for the moment, to be unencumbered by the stress of paid, full time employment. This “unencumberedness” has gifted me with the ability to slow down and appreciate my new surroundings. And let me tell you, there is a lot to love about this new state that the hubs and I now call home. Below is my list of favorite things in this oh so colorful state:

  1. The scenery! I can literally walk to the edge of our townhome community and see the Rocky Mountains. To say they are spectacular is actually an understatement. As a bonus, the majority of the daytime the skies are blue and the sun is shining. And the skies at night are often stunning, particularly around sundown. The hubs has a Nikon and has taken some tremendous photos of said skies. Like this one: 20161205_070430

 

2) There are dogs everywhere! This is especially awesome for the canine lover in me. From Kevin and Bandit, our big, furry friends who live with our neighbors across the way, to the two sweet mutts who are the children of a nice young English guy we interacted with at our local watering hole, (Twenty Brew in Westminster), to the little fur ball named “Rhoda” who has the pleasure of living with a most wonderful older couple from our church, everyone seems to have a dog (or two). And dogs are also welcome in the most unlikely of places here. Example: I recently witnessed a large golden retriever taking a nap next to his human while he was at the customer service desk at Lowe’s (and no, he did not appear to be a service dog).

3) Easy access to great live entertainment. Since living here, we’ve gone to the Buell Theater in Denver to see “MoTown the Musical” which was amazing. We’ve gone to Boulder to see the band “Cake” at the Boulder Theater which was a crazy-good, rockin’ show. We went to Left Hand Brewery’s “Leftapalooza” event which featured cover bands of The Pretenders, The Who, and other classic rock bands. We have tickets to see Train with O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater in Englewood on the Fourth of July, which we are super stoked about. And we have Red Rocks, which is around an hour away from where we live. While we have been there to check the place out twice now, we have yet to see a concert there. But it is certainly on our list of things to do while we are living here!

4) Okay, here’s the elephant in the room: weed is legal here (both medical and recreational), which I deem to be a very good thing. I have seen documentaries in which regular people suffering from medical conditions who have told their stories about how medical cannabis has dramatically decreased their pain levels and increased their appetite so they could gain much needed weight. From what I understand, the legalization of weed has been quite a boon to the economy here as well, as a host of new jobs have been created as a result.

5) The Next with Kyle Clark on 9 news. This is my favorite news program. The stories are often of the human interest variety, but always specific to Colorado. I learn something new about this state every time I watch it. And that Kyle Clark is a good looking, smart, and witty guy a person might just like to have a beer and shoot the sh*&t with.

Snippet of Kyle Clark doing his thing

6)  That of course brings me to the beer. Specifically craft beer. After living here for 9 months, I very likely would be considered a “beer snob” by my old pals still living in Wisconsin. I’m good with that though. Our favorite local joint, Twenty Brew, serves up a rotating menu of Colorado craft beer. You can purchase 4 oz. tasters up to 16 oz. glasses of anything from Kolsch styles, a wide variety of IPA’s, Stouts, Lagers, and more. An added bonus here is that the bartenders, and sometimes other patrons, are always up for lively conversations. There are also numerous breweries within a short drive from our house, such as Westminster Brewing Company, Left Hand Brewing, 4 Noses, and Wild Woods (just to name a very few we have visited). The best ones have outdoor seating, where you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery and sometimes catch some cool live music. Here’s hubs and I at Twisted Pines Brewery in Boulder (highly recommend-not only do they have great beer but the food is amazing). 20170409_122706 (1).jpg

7) The people! I love the friendships I have started to make here. There’s my new hairdresser, who is a spunky, hilarious, big hearted tattooed  and pierced mother of two who operates her business in the basement of her home. There’s my dynamic, artistically talented, kind and smart friend Tina, who I met through the “Meet Up” website. There’s the folks I volunteer with at FISH, a food pantry in Broomfield, through whom I am learning a lot about Colorado.

My ultimate goal for this summer, amidst a trip to see our beloved family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a work related trip with the Hubs to D.C., is to experience more of what makes Colorado, well Colorado. And for those of you pronouncing it “Col-oh-rado”, I heard from a legit source (The Next’s Kyle Clark) that the natives pronounce it “Col-ah-rad-o”. A concert at Red Rocks just might be on the agenda. I will certainly keep you all abreast of our shenanigans in this uniquely wonderful state we now call home.

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

While I do believe that Wisconsin and Minnesota are truly where my heart lives, and the hubs and I envision moving back to one of those states at some point in the future, I am good with life in Colorado. We moved here last summer, from what we referred to as our “Grandma House”, a simple ranch with beautiful hardwood floors, a great backyard and sweet 3 season porch, to a more modern 3 bedroom townhome smack dab between Denver and Boulder. Upon returning to our Colorado home last Friday after the most emotionally challenging  9 days of my life thus far (spent with aging parents in Minnesota), I have newfound interest and energy for sprucing up our townhome. The fact that the hubs had professional painters come in and paint our downstairs walls (which houses a small living room, dining room, kitchen and half bath) is a major inspiration for me as well.

That said, I’d like to do something a little fun here with this blog post. Hubs and I have lots of ideas for how to adorn our walls downstairs and soon we should be able to start making some purchases. I’ve taken pictures of the wall spaces that I believe need to be customized to reflect our lives here, right now. If I had to categorize our home decor style, I’d say it is “arts and crafts meets modern rustic”. I’m highly open to comments or suggestions people!

So without further ado….let’s begin!

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This is our dining area. The small framed mirrors were a find from a few years back, which I still love,  from Ikea. I really want to keep them right where they are. However, I think they need some color! I would like to tie in the hints of burgundy (or maroon, depending on how your eyes see it) somehow. I’m thinking possibly a thin dark wood shelf above the mirrors with some small basic tealight candles in just the right shade of burgundy/maroon.

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So here is our main wall in our little kitchen. Pretty boring right? It is such an improvement from the previous color, however, which was a wine/burgundy that made the space seem even smaller than it is. I like the idea of a beer theme here (Hubs and I are fans of Colorado craft beer) though I don’t want to go overboard. I have been saving bottle caps from beers we’ve enjoyed with the notion that some day I’m going to actually try one of the many Pinterest crafts I have saved. One idea I have is to superglue the bottle caps onto this clock that we both really love. We want this clock to stay where it is for sure. Then possibly put a couple of framed (black and white possibly) pictures of beer. Or else some small wood shelves on either side of the clock with tea light candles (beer scented-but that might be overkill).

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So this is a pic of the wall next to our entryway. I am in love with the placement of the peace sign, which I picked up on Pearl St. in Boulder shortly after moving here. And the peace lily is so beautiful and special, as it was a gift from my in  law’s for my 50th birthday. I just feel that the wall space needs a tad bit more color. Perhaps adding it by putting colorful ribbon on the peace sign? Not certain if I should mess with this or not.

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This is of course the fireplace wall. One thing Hubs and I have agreed on from Day #1 in this townhome is that the peach colored tile framing the fireplace is quite hideous and needs to go! Especially now with buttery yellow combined with chocolate brown on the wall above it. We do plan on having a beautiful picture of the Colorado sky,  which the Hubs recently took, blown up and framed with rustic looking wood for above the fireplace. The real dilemma for us here is how to re-face (is this the correct term? Not sure) the lovely (not) peach tile. We are thinking slate or stone, but have no knowledge of how to do it. I do have faith that once we figure that out, it will be something special.

I have more pics of my house I may share in the near future, but these are the areas I am most interested in updating at this moment in time. As I said earlier in this post, comments and/or suggestions are much appreciated! It’s time for this joint to become a real home for the two of us 🙂

Meditation and me

I have a curious relationship with meditation. Over the past several years, I’ve had several people recommend it to me as a way to cope with anxiety and calm my fears. Like lots of things throughout my life (exercise and writing are prime examples), it’s been an on again/off again affair.

I became more serious about meditation a little over a year ago, while reading a self help book entitled “Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days” by Sir John Hargrave. The premise of this book is that we have the ability to “hack” our minds to change our thinking and overcome obstacles that prevent us from realizing our full potential. This book was actually a great read which empowered me to change my thinking, which improved my attitude towards life. I recommend to it anyone who feels they could benefit from an attitude re-adjustment.  Here it is: images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/…/51HW57bSE2L.UY250.jpg

A significant portion of this book is dedicated to “mind hacking” exercises, which included something called the “Concentration Game”. This exercise, from my perspective, is essentially meditation with an interesting twist: Once you are comfortably seated and begin focusing on breathing in and out, you are to keep track of the number of times you find yourself following your mind (being “lost in the movie”), by either counting on your fingers or in your head. When I first tried this, it seemed like a smart way to be mindful, which greatly appealed to me. I had recently embraced the notion of practicing mindfulness, so I was “all in”. However, this exercise proved to be quite challenging for me. Here’s how it went:

I sat my tush down on the floor of the room we used in our sweet “Grandma” house as an office. I closed my eyes, taking in a big breath, then slowly exhaling.

Then I thought to myself: “Okay, I got this. Oh, I feel so relaxed”. Then “Sh*t! I had a thought! Alright, there’s #1”

Then I thought “Okay, don’t forget to write down the total down when you’re done” Ok, so this was thought #2.  Then I thought “Alright, quiet your brain…D’oh! Now you’re at #3”!

Okay….blank mind, blank mind, breathe…..

Approximately 22 seconds later, I hear a noise I can’t quite recognize and think “Oh, that’s just hubs getting dressed in our bedroom”. Uh-oh! Thought #4….

Okay, breathe in, breathe out, in, out…then thought #5 pops into my noggin “I’m strong, I can do this”. “Shut up!” I tell myself. Okay, there’s thought #6.

Ok, so this was not necessarily going well.

Back to it. I’m breathing in, breathing out. In my head are the words “Breathe in love, breathe out kindness…oh, I like that. Very positive”. Crap! Now that’s thought #7. Focus, woman!

Ok, breathe in, breathe out…..

A maximum of 30 seconds passes, and it occurs to me that the alarm I set on my cell phone for this completely frustrating activity is likely to go off at any second now…whoops! Thought #8.

Okay, breathe in love, breathe out kindness, breathe in love, breathe out kindness. I am becoming more chilled out now. I start to physically feel  the level of relaxation I experienced when hubs and I were on vacation in the Florida Keys (Islamorada) the previous spring. I could hear the waves flapping from the ocean w/seagulls squawking in the background. Then, I thought to myself “I wonder if we’ll be able to go back there someday”. Thought #9!

Ok, breathe in love, breathe out kindness. Then the random thought pops up about how many more thoughts I might have by the time I have finished this god-forsaken exercise. Thought #10!

So, essentially this wound up being less of a mindful, refreshing meditation and more of a game of “how many thoughts can I have while meditating?”.

Surprisingly, I continue to meditate each morning.  It has a calming, grounding effect on me and sets the tone for the day. However, I refuse to count my thoughts while doing so. Instead, I set my timer to 10 (not 20 like the “Concentration Game” for Pete’s Sake) minutes. And then I breathe in with a customized acronym and breathe out to another acronym I came up with. I would bet (at least $1.08) that the number of thoughts I have in these precious 10 minutes are fewer than 10. Works for me!

Tales from a 50 year old optimist recently transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff

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