19
Jul 17

Letter Board Quotes: Motivation for the Delightfully Unobliged

After moving into my new place, I knew I wanted to decorate my new home in the nerdiest way possible. But I also wanted it to look like the home of someone with a hella famous Instagram account — even if I don’t have the budget to decorate that way. The solution was clear. I got a letter board. And I’ve been obsessing over my letter board quotes ever since.

Letter Board Quotes: Motivation for the Delightfully Unobliged

I’m a words person. That’s the most important part of songs and movies. It’s what I focus on in stories — the words the author chose. I scrutinize why someone would phrase something one way and not another, and try to derive  meaning from it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Letter Board Quotes: Motivation for the Delightfully Unobliged Click To Tweet

Naturally, when I saw the first letter board in my Instagram feed, I thought to myself, “Damn. I need one of those.” But the problem with letter boards is that they are generally too small for all the letter board quotes I need to see on a daily basis. That, and they’re only sold at hipster kitsch/craft stores that are stupid expensive.

BUT THEN!

But then one day, whilst hanging out with Katie, writer/photographer/artist/mermaid extraordinaire, I spotted this gigantic letter board at a thrift store. Finally, one that could hold all the letter board quotes I had in my brain!

Naturally, I didn’t buy it first thing. My brain said I didn’t need it, and for a thrift store find, it was kind of expensive. (It was $24.99. I know this isn’t that expensive. But in my head, it was at a thrift store, so nothing should be over $5.)

I thought about it for a week before I went back to pick it up. And I’m so glad I did.

Included in that $24.99 price tag was a whole hoard of letters. Not enough for my needs, but enough to say, write the daily lunch special or list out whose office is in what room. (I imagine that’s how the board was used in its past life. And I’m glad I could give it a real purpose in its second life.)

Letter Board Quotes

To supplement the letters I did have, I ordered some more from Amazon. Only, as my father says, I have no attention to detail, and thus ordered some letters that are about a quarter of an inch bigger than the letters that came with the board. Which, could ruin the aesthetic, or add a real ransom note sort of feel.

If you ever want to see your precious Lucille Clifton quote again, leave $500 in unmarked bills on the bookcase beneath the letter board.

Ruined aesthetic, or ransom note chic? You decide. Click To Tweet

My letter board quotes are a mishmash of things. Firstly, they are things I need to remember. Secondly, they are reflections of where I am currently. And thirdly, they are things that Mari and Stephanie wanted to impart to me the other day when they came over to talk blogging, the universe, and life in general.

Letter Board Quotes - The Hold Steady

This is a quote from Sapphire by The Hold Steady. (I think we know how I feel about The Hold Steady.) The full line that always gets me is “‘Cause dreams they seem to cost money // But money costs some dreams.” It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I think anyone who has an artistic pursuit they’re chasing can identify with it.

I know I have friends who are more monetarily successful than I am. And I’ve been toying with the idea of taking a position that pays more. But the thing is, I don’t have to. I’m happy where I am, and I’m quite comfortable. I’m delightfully unobliged — no kids, no partner, just a chill dog who likes naps and walks in equal measure. At the end of the day, I have the job I have because it gives me time to write. I need the flexible schedule and the months off that teaching offers so I can work on the Next Great American Novel. (Or short stories that no one will ever read.)

Letter Board Quotes - Lucille Clifton

This Lucille Clifton quote is from an untitled poem from the book Mercy. The beginning of the poem goes, “your mother sends you this // you have a teapot // others have teapots // if you abuse them // they will break.”

Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure what Ms. Lucille (may she rest in peace) was talking about, but to me, the poem has always been about opportunities and talents. You have this time to do what you can do. Others have that time too. If you waste it, it’s gone.

And just a side note: If you have some sort of spiritual concern, but ain’t the churchin’ type, may I recommend the poetry of Lucille Clifton?

Letter Board Quotes - Frank Turner

I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Turner lately, and incidentally, I’ll be seeing him open for Jason Isbell in Oklahoma City in September. (Are you going?! You totally should. You can buy me a beer at the show.)

This song has kind of been my mantra since back in April. I feel like I’ve completely started over, and things are going well. But emotionally, I feel like a scrappy stray dog that lives in an alley, and I’m trying not to be that way. So, knowing I still have time to get better is a good thing to hear.

Letter Board Quotes - Elf

Stephanie put this on the board, and I think it’s the perfect addition. I have probably watched Elf too many times to count, and even though I’m not a big fan of the whole Christmas season, Elf is a Christmas movie I can watch. And thinking about that movie always makes me smile, which is something I have to remember to do more often.

Letter Board Quotes - Fuckery

Perhaps the most motivating of my letter board quotes comes from Mari. Not only is it fun to say, but it’s just good advice. Mari pulled up this meme on her phone:

Onward Buttercup! There's fuckery to spread!

Mari had this saved to her phone. Because of course she did. Unfortunately, even though I ordered extra letters, there weren’t enough for the real quote, hence why it’s shortened and there are some numbers and symbols in there. But I think it really enhances the overall message of fuckery.

Onward, Buttercup! There's fuckery to spread! Click To Tweet

And, since we met on Sunday before the big Game of Thrones premiere, Hodor made an appearance. And then we all almost cried thinking about how he died.

Letter Board Quotes - Hodor

I can only assume that “Hodor” made it into the letter board quotes because it’s generally good life advice not to let Bran Stark warg into your brain from the future when he’s seeing into the past.

Also, it’s just polite to hold the damn door for others, even if you’re being torn apart by the undead.

So, what about you? What letter board quotes should I add? Do you have some letter board quotes that keep you going through weird times? Did you even notice my hookah with the Crown Prince of Iran on it? 


14
Jul 17

The Transformational Practice of Singing Out Loud

Singing out loud is my favorite. I’ve always been a singer. Regardless of how others feel about my singing, singing out loud is what I do.

Singing Out Loud

Hell, when I was in elementary school, I wanted nothing more than to be a Broadway singer. My parents didn’t encourage that dream, maybe envisioning the crazy success I’d have someday as an underpaid academic with heartburn and a terrible caffeine addiction.

Thanks, Mom and Dad. It’s not like I’m hella multiethnic and would’ve made a fantastic addition to the cast of Hamilton or anything.

The Transformational Practice of Singing Out Loud Click To Tweet

But even so, I never stopped singing out loud.

I would like to state before I get any further that I’m not particularly great at singing. In fact, one could probably make the argument that I’m on the not-so-great end of the spectrum. And truth be told, I don’t think I’m that fantastic either. But that’s not a big deal to me.

BECAUSE I LIKE SINGING OUT LOUD.

See, I have this terrible problem where my self-confidence is always round about 200% higher than it should be. Generally, this enables me to do things that should be out of my comfort zone, but are not because I’m so incredibly full of myself.

(It’s worth noting here that it also leads to some pretty earth-shattering lows as well. For example, I think I’m the most brilliant person in the world. Then, when I say something incredibly stupid and I’m called out on it, it’s a very big blow to my ego. Similarly, I have a very particular type of body dysmorphia that makes me think I’m super hot. Then, I find myself trying on bikinis under the florescent lights of a fitting room only to realize that I’m not, in fact, photoshopped.)

But even so, I still love singing out loud.

And since I now officially live alone, my love for singing out loud has tripled at the very least. In the morning, when I’m putting on my makeup, I sing along to singer songwritery-types. When I walk Rosie, I sing what I can only imagine Freddie Mercury intended to write — “Some puppy to love.” When I do laundry, I really enjoy yodeling into the back of the dryer. (If you haven’t tried this, please do so  immediately.) And, of course, when I’m grading papers, I sing every last song from West Side Story. (That’s my grading soundtrack. I don’t know why.)

Have you ever yodeled into the back of your dryer? Click To Tweet

But I’ve been thinking about singing a lot lately, about how I spent a lot of years in choir trying to make my voice blend in, and about how I spent the majority of my life not singing out loud because so many people have criticized my general inability to hit, like, 80% of the notes in any given song. (Freakin’ haters.)

But then, I think about how happy singing makes me — like 2.67 times happier than I would be without it — and then I just don’t care how others feel about it.

(I realize there are a lot of numbers and percentages in this post. Please take these with at least 4 grains of salt. I haven’t done any actual calculations. But I’m sure you could easily do a Google search and find that someone has done the scientific study that proves singing is just good for you.)

So here’s my challenge to you this weekend:

Sing.

Just anything. Anywhere. At any given time.

(Don’t be like me and accidentally find yourself belting out a supercut of all The Hold Steady songs in the cereal aisle of the grocery store while a confused old lady watches. That is level two of the transformational practice of singing out loud. You aren’t there yet. Start small.)

I promise you’ll enjoy it.


07
Jul 17

Building Healthy Routines When You Want to Eat Potato Chips and Drink Wine at 11 AM

Building Healthy Routines

Disclosure: The FTC requires me to disclose that I received free product and compensation from Naked Granola in exchange for social media and blog posts. All opinions regarding Naked Granola are my own, because you straight up can’t buy me.

Oh hey, did you guys know that I recently went through a breakup? Well, I did. And because of that, I find myself in a new place starting all over again. And because I’m one of those assholes who is absolutely obsessed with fresh starts and new beginnings, I’m building healthy routines that I can use to anchor my day.

Some people may scoff, but I love a good routine. Yes, I’d love to be spontaneous and and do fun and fantastic things at the drop of a hat. But there is so much of life that has to get done, and well, if you’re hella spontaneous, then you neglect doing dishes and working out and washing your hair.

That’s why I’m focusing on building healthy routines for the things in my life that I want to autopilot. That way, I can be a flaky space cadet when it comes to the sort of things that matter.

(I’m aware that sentence makes absolutely no sense. But you’re following me, yeah?)

I'm building healthy routines so I can autopilot the mundane stuff. Click To Tweet

Anyway, today I’m sharing how I’m building healthy routines so I can autopilot the mundane stuff and make space for more excitement elsewhere. And with that, I give you five ways I’m building healthy routines.

Building Healthy Routines: Walk your dog

001: Make Exercise Easy.
Admittedly, I didn’t do this. Rosie did it. She’s become a bit of an anxious dog since the move, and at first, I was taking her for a lot of walks to soothe her. But now, she’s not so anxious. She just expects the same number of walks. And while I have cut it down to 4 walks a day (yes, that’s the reduced number), we’re both still getting our exercise.

And while I do plan to spend July getting back in the habit of running, I definitely won’t be beating myself up not getting a run in. And that is because I’ve already got my workout built in for the day because Rosie absolutely has to sniff every single smell in our new neighborhood. And I’m along for the ride.

002: Do Not Become a Recluse.
While I would like to go full-on Salinger (as a shut in, not someone who objectifies and sexually abuses young women) when it comes to my #writerlifestyle, I know that isn’t good for me. While being single definitely has it’s perks where artistic output is concerned, I know that I can’t shut myself in my office all day typing like a fiend.

One of the reasons I chose the house I did was because I knew it would keep me social. It’s close to all the bars and restaurants I like, it’s incredibly walkable (something that you don’t get very often in Oklahoma), and if ever there is something happening in my city, it’s going to be within half a mile of new place.

And I have to give a little shout out to my friends who have been keeping me very social. It’s like they remember that time I stopped talking with everyone when I started grad school the first time around. In those two years, I lost 40 pounds, became an alcoholic, worked 40 hours a week while going to school full time, gained 50 pounds, and then just re-emerged with an advanced degree in writing that the recession economy didn’t want. So, thanks to them for not abandoning me, even though I’m not that much fun to hang out with.

003: Make An Effort to Eat Real Food.
If I’m being completely honest, I’d gladly live in a bleak future scenario wherein we are all given our monthly freeze-dried rations. Sure, they wouldn’t be great, but it’s food and you just eat it. That’s kind of where I’m at with eating right now. If I’m not going out with friends, then I’m at home eating Lean Cuisines on my couch while I watch stuff on my iPad. I know that there are many of you who shudder at the thought of a person not eating real kale from Whole Foods, but trust. We’re out there.

Anyway, because I know that this isn’t ideal, I’ve been working on incorporating more real foods into my diet. Fruits are an easy option, and so is Naked Granola. I really love the different mix options they offer. And if you’re the least bit skeptical of the healthiness of granola, Naked Granola is the company for you. It’s low fat, pretty low calorie, high fiber, and you can easily pronounce all the ingredients. What more could you want?

004: Make Bedtime Sacred.
There is nothing I love more than going to bed early. So I’ve been finding ways to wind down my brain a couple hours before bed time. That means no screen time after 8 PM — this includes TVs and phones. (Admittedly, I need to be better about adhering to this.) I brew me a nice cup of chamomile tea (shout out again to Nicole for supplying me with the Taylor’s of Harrogate assorted tea sampler because it’s delightful), pop a Xyzal to keep my seasonal allergies in check, and then I read.

Rosie also likes this time because we’re both on the couch and in full-on cuddle mode. I scratch her ears and massage her arthritic legs while I slowly make my way through whatever I happen to be reading. Then, I’m generally in bed by 9:30, and asleep before 10. That may seem early, but know that I have to get up before 6 AM to get in a pre-work dog walk.

005: Create Dedicated Spaces.
I think an important part of building healthy routines is having dedicated spaces for everything that you do. That way, you don’t watch TV in the same place that you sleep, or read books in the same place where you get work done. It keeps your brain focused and on the task at hand, and also helps when you’re trying to build routines.

I’m super lucky in that I live in a college town, and places to live are relatively cheap. So, I’ve got me a two bedroom, one bathroom house. And that means I have a bedroom specifically for sleeping only. And another room I’m able to use just as my office. The living room is where I do entertaining/am entertained, which means it’s where I watch TV or read or have friends come over to hang.

And while I know this isn’t super important to everyone, it is to me. I know that I sleep a lot better when my brain knows that the only option in that room is to sleep. And I read a lot more when I know that there is a dedicated space to do it.

What's your best healthy routine/lifehack to keep you in tip top shape? Click To Tweet

So, what about you? How do you go about building healthy routines? What’s your best healthy routine/lifehack to keep you in tip top shape?


25
Apr 17

Meditating with Insight Timer: 5 Things I’ve Realized About Myself

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed my updates from the free Insight Timer app. I’ve recently gotten into meditating, and I’ve been meditating with Insight Timer to help me get into the practice. Meditating with Insight Timer has been a crucial part of creating space to breathe.

Meditating with Insight Timer

I have to say that when I started, I kind of assumed that I’d be super good at it. Like, my brain would shut off and I’d concentrate on breathing and the affirmations for the day. And then, when I was finished, I’d be one hella balanced person.

So, yeah. That ain’t the case.

I've been meditating with @InsightTimer to help me get into the practice. Click To Tweet

But even so, I’m enjoying the process of meditating with Insight Timer. And in that process, I’ve learned a few things about myself and how I meditate. That’s what I’m going to share with you today.

001: My brain is noisy.

Generally, I try to shut my head up. But it’s hard. See, I’ve got 60 things on a to do list that’s constantly on my mind. And oh, I just realized I haven’t looked at my phone in 6 hours, gee I hope no one is dead. I really need to buy some lunch meat to make sandwiches. When was the last time Rosie had a bath? Do you think my plantar fasciitis will go away on its own? Did I remember to track my water for the day? Do you think my friends with kids know how bad iPads are for really young kids? I hope I don’t get audited this year. I wonder what happened to my space pen. Mad Pierrot is such a sad character. Are the eggs in the fridge still good? How does international postage work? How much have I spent on pedicures in my life? How many members of the ENHS class of 2004 are now in jail?

And on and on it goes.

When I’m awake, that’s the inside of my head. It’s like flipping through channels on a staticky cathode ray tube TV. (For younger readers, TVs used to be big squares with a tube inside.) Meditating with Insight Timer only magnifies this. The goal of meditation, or at least, the goal for my meditations is to become aware of these thoughts and let them go. I don’t think I have the brain chemistry that would ever let me completely push all thoughts away. So, I’m just trying to hit the down arrow on the volume for now. Because for real, my head is noisy, and quieting it just a bit by meditating helps a lot.

002: There is no such thing as a quiet place.

I usually meditate first thing in the morning. That means that the only people awake in the house are me and Rosie, the dog. (I guess she’s not a person. But she sure does sit on the couch like one.)  I pick a meditation I want to do from the Insight Timer app, and then I sit down and start. I usually have the coffee maker brewing while I meditate, just because I think the sound and smell really enhance my experience. Also, it’s nice to know that right after I’m done meditating, I can have a hot cup of coffee.

While I generally try to get rid of distractions, there is no such thing as a quiet place. Right now is mosquito season, and I find that in the middle of a session, there is invariably a mosquito buzzing around my head. And Rosie, though generally the best dog in the universe, has managed to align her genital licking schedule with my meditation schedule. So, while I’m trying to breathe deeply, she’s making the grossest sound you can imagine.

But whatever. I let it go.

Mostly.

Sometimes I stop mid-session to tell Rosie to knock it off.

003: Apps can make it so much easier.

I first heard about the Insight Timer app from Jackie Wolven, and I’m so glad I did. For me, it’s hard to meditate because I’m new to it, and I want some guidance. It’s kind of like how I prefer yoga class to just practicing on my own. With guided meditations for whatever you’re feeling, meditating with Insight Timer is a beginner’s best friend.

I highly recommend any of the guided morning meditations, as well as some of the sleep meditations. For me, I like to meditate at the beginning and the end of the day, so these are perfect. I’m also thinking of adding a small mid-day meditation, so if there’s a guided meditation on Insight Timer you’d recommend for that, let me know in the comments!

004: I need so much more practice.

Sometimes I get mad that my head won’t clear. I know that isn’t productive, but I’m human. And I also know I just need more practice with meditating. For a while, I was getting really good at being present and focused on breathing in shavasana at the end of yoga. But if you don’t use it, you lose it.

So I’m working on getting better at taking a more yoga approach to my meditation practice. But I don’t think I’ll ever see a day when I feel like I don’t need more practice.

005: Breathing can feel amazing.

At the end of a stressful day when I’m so anxious that I’ve bitten all my nails off, meditating with Insight Timer has been a game changer. On those nights, I used to regularly have night terrors. Now, I meditate quietly in bed before I go to sleep. And I have to say that it’s made a huge amount of difference.

(The night terrors aren’t completely gone, but mostly so. And let’s be honest. Night terrors are probably caused by supernatural beings messing with me in my sleep and not so much my anxiety, right? I mean, probably.)

The best part of meditating is focusing on breathing, and noticing how good that breathing can make you feel. Seriously. Try it right now.

Have you ever tried meditating with Insight Timer? Click To Tweet

Do you have a favorite way to meditate? Have you ever tried meditating with Insight Timer? Any meditations you’d recommend?


19
Apr 17

If It Ain’t Yours, Don’t Carry It

If it ain’t yours, don’t carry it.

Simple enough.

If it ain't yours, don't carry it.

Don’t pick it up. Don’t offer to help. Don’t open up your bag and let someone else drop it right in there.

Because if it ain’t yours to carry, you don’t need to carry it.

But what about the stuff that others can’t carry? You know — the things they’ve picked up along the way. The extras and the afflictions and the little nonconformities that make it hard for them. If you know their story, it makes it hella hard not to carry something for someone else.

Whatever it may be.

But you can’t.

You’re supposed to be here, but you’re not here to carry what’s not yours.

Pretend I’m coming at you like an angry mama who found her toddler crawling on the floor of a public restroom, and that toddler also happened to pick up several things and shove them in her mouth.

NO NO NO, I say to you.

Not yours.

Don’t pick that up. Don’t put it in your mouth. Leave it there, it’s yucky.

Because if it ain’t yours, don’t carry it.

Because if it ain't yours, don't carry it. Click To Tweet

(This is as much a reminder for me as it is for you, you know.)

(I’m sure you know.)

(If you’re here, you know.)

But what about when, you ask, brow furrowed in consternation, what about when someone leaves what’s theirs with you? Then, are you not obligated to carry it?

Hell no.

If some well meaning asshole approaches you with with what belongs to them, and drops it at your feet, that is exactly where it stays. You don’t pick that up, and you sure as hell don’t carry it. And if they look at you expectantly and wonder why you ain’t carrying it, you don’t have to explain shit, because it’s not yours.

If they come back later and ask if you’ve got it, remind them that you don’t carry it if it ain’t yours, and they can go pick it up just where they left it.

You have to take care of yourself, because sometimes the Universe is conspiring against you.

The secret is that you’ll gladly carry for some. Some truly deserve it. Those people who are inextricably linked to you by a force that pulls and magnetic coincidence — you’ll carry what belongs to them because you know they’ll carry what belongs to you.

But here’s the rub: You can’t carry theirs if you’re carrying someone else’s. And just imagine how foolish you’ll feel when you realize you’ve been schlepping what’s not yours to carry when you could’ve carried something better all along.

But that’s the thing. If it ain’t yours, don’t carry it. And if you’re going to carry it, best outline the carrier-carryee relationship upfront. And honestly, let them know your policy on carrying what’s not yours.

Oh, and make sure you uphold that policy.