Being the kind of person who rather believes in the energy of the physical and metaphysical world, and is intrigued by chakras, crystals, phases of the moon, Tarot cards, the Oracle, and the power of the intuition, I tend to pay attention to “signs”. The Guy I Am Currently Dating laughs sometimes, and says “Everything can’t be a sign”–but, really, maybe a lot of things that typically go unnoticed by most people are signs. For instance, my personal symbol is the butterfly, and there are many occasions when I’ve found myself in either an extremely negative or extremely disorienting situation and asked “How in the world did I end up here?”. During those times, I would spot a picture of a butterfly, sometimes at the weirdest of places. I always see it as a sign that my life path has dictated I was supposed to end up there, even if the experience was an unpleasant one. It is part of the journey, marked with a butterfly.

Today is the day of the Harvest Moon, which means that Autumn is on its way. This morning, when I walked my dog, I saw a black cat with amber eyes scurry past my feet. I immediately thought, “I don’t know what that means, but it’s a sign.” I hope it is some sort of good omen, rather than a sign of trouble or chaos. I don’t really need more of the latter!

This summer has gone by in kind of a whirlwind, and it has been one of those rollercoasters that leaves you feeling a bit emotionally drained when all is said and done. I haven’t been the best about remembering to take time out to share all the stories and feelings that have passed through my world with you. Honestly, I haven’t been the best about writing or being creative. Perhaps we all go through those phases, where we feel irrelevant, and as if there’s nothing to say or do or create that hasn’t already been done before–and by someone with a much greater level of talent. While those phases are common among creative souls, I know, they’re also paralyzing. You remain kind of stuck in an unproductive slump, convinced that no matter what you do, it matters very little because you suck.

I am looking forward to the arrival of Autumn, honestly. It’s here early in Atlanta, and I am looking forward to being able to turn off the AC and open the screen door. I’m looking forward to burning apple, cinnamon, and pumpkin candles. I’m looking forward to multi-coloured leaves and changing up my wardrobe (I’m tired of seeing my same summer staples), and having time to myself. This summer flew by because there was always so much going on, and then it always happens that from the beginning of September through mid-October, the number of projects and special occasions and social events is through the roof.

During the summer, I get bored and restless easily. My travel schedule exhausted people, just reading about it. The sheer number of experiences, and emotional highs and lows, which I’m able to pack into a three-month period is nothing short of impressive. However, fall is calming. Perhaps it’s because I moved to Atlanta in September, and I have so many wonderful memories of those first few months I was here. Perhaps it’s because I don’t really like cold weather, but I don’t like being constantly overheated either, and Atlanta has a very small window each Spring and Fall. Each year, from mid-October to December, I don’t feel bored with not going out all the time, and I don’t feel badly about taking time out for myself. I just like the very temporary sense of peace and appreciating life’s smaller moments. I like having the time to write on my blog, read books, watch my favourite shows, wear fuzzy slippers, and not have this overwhelming feeling that life is this mad dash you need to rush to keep up with.

Of course, it’s also a time to focus on earning money for the holidays, so it’s not all stress-free. :( But, all in all, Autumn is quite welcome by the time it comes around. It doesn’t hurt that Halloween is my favourite holiday. :)

It’s not coincidental, I think, that November is National Novel Writing Month. While I’ve never participated, I think I’m not the only one for whom Autumn is a welcome respite, a time to slow down, a time to access all that pent-up, overlooked creativity, a time to reflect on everything that happened during your crazy summer. It always feels like the right time for self-expression and doing what you love, before the holidays come around and everything gets a little hectic again. :)

I haven’t, honestly, worked on many new projects this summer. However, I know you guys have been wondering what I’ve been up to, since I haven’t promoted any projects in a while! I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be contributing to Nerdy Minds, a magazine for the geek-oriented! Even if that doesn’t include you, I’ll be writing about things like dating, relationships, social interaction, and societal issues, so you’ll still want to follow me. My article isn’t up yet, but you can check out my introductory interview at NerdyMinds. Also, please show your love by “Liking” the project on FB, “Liking” the article, leaving a comment for me, and sharing the site with others. Start-up endeavours are always tough to get off the ground, as many of you know all too well! :)

I will be bringing back “Literary Libations”, interviewing up-and-coming indie authors each Sunday, in mid-October. I also have a book in the works, a compilation of short stories on the theme of connection in an increasingly disconnected world.

I’ve missed you all, and hope to spend more time with you as the leaves change….

As you may have noticed, the blog has been a little quiet, and I slacked off and skipped last Sunday’s “Literary Libations”. In addition to the health issues, June has turned out to be quite the busy month for me, and I wish I had the same level of energy I once had, before I got sick. And old. OK, mostly old. The oldness is certainly to blame.

I’ll start off with talking about my favourite subject: me…and where other people are talking about me! :P Long ago, I did an author interview I figured the interviewer simply wasn’t interested in. As it so happens, she simply published many of them at the same time. While it was one of my first interviews and therefore not one of my best, and the interviewer spelled my name incorrectly, I enjoyed reading it because the questions were a bit different from the usual. If you’re interested, you can catch me talking about me here. You know you want to.

Every so often, you have an interesting weekend. This one was definitely an interesting one for me, one that started on Friday when I planned an event at an upscale restaurant that literally just opened a few weeks ago. I’d sent a friend of mine to scout it out, and she’d told me the menu was limited, but the decor was really nice. I later found out the dinner menu was more extensive, they had excellent martinis, and the place really is beautiful. I fully expect to see it on “Real Housewives Of Atlanta” sometime in the near future.

The staff was extremely friendly, and we had occasion to meet both the manager and the owner. I found out that the owner was my kind of guy, an exuberant Italian man from New Jersey, and he seems to treat his customers and his employees like family. The food was good, but overpriced. For instance, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I ordered a bruschetta appetizer and decided to split an entree, so we could have dessert. I ended up going for the teriyaki chicken breast with pineapple salsa, because it seemed at least somewhat healthy.

To my surprise, the chicken arrived….and, well, that was it. No veggies, no potatoes, not even garnish on the plate. I absolutely realise why America is fat and unhealthy. 20 dollars either gets you one chicken breast without accompaniment, or enough food to feed 6 people at KFC.

The oddest thing was the drinks. We saw they had a special offering $5 martinis, which turned out to be only available upstairs in the lounge area. Downstairs, the same drink with Absolut vodka was $10-$12. Upstairs, the $5 martinis were made with Grey Goose, and significantly better. Of course, they were only for the ladies and only served until 11, facts not widely advertised until you received your bill.

Nevertheless, the club area was a fun bar, although a bit loud and with some flashing lights. There were couches, tables, a large dance floor, and once the crowd around the bar dissipated, it was a nice place to hang out. A friend of mine decided to leave early, and because she lived nearby, The Guy I Am Currently Dating drove her home. I went to pull up a chair and sit next to another friend of mine, one with whom I wished to exchange gossip and, you know, typical girl chat.

We talked for a bit, and that’s when things got weird. I somehow found myself rejected by an 80 year-old guy.

OK, maybe he wasn’t 80, but he was old. And boring. And, although I’m a modest person (sometimes), I definitely have to say I’m quite out of his league unless he happens to have invented the first dot matrix printer or something, and is one of Atlanta’s eligible millionaires.

When the seat on the other side of my friend opened up, he got up and moved to sit next to her, informing me “It was time to upgrade”. Really? I mean, WTF, dude? Is that not the rudest thing someone you don’t know could say?

The funniest part is that he seemed oblivious to the fact that we knew one another. He immediately “upgraded”, bought her a drink, and completely interrupted our conversation. From time to time, she would attempt to resume it. We took pictures together. The bartender brought us champagne, compliments of the owner (at my suggestion. :P ), and still, at one point he suggested we should get to know one another because we both played musical instruments. I don’t know how oblivious someone who has been on this planet for so long could be.

He then basically stalked her for the rest of the night, made her feel uncomfortable, and when she left, he grabbed his coat and made a quick exit as if hoping to catch her. The Guy I Am Currently Dating, whose job it is to oversee all damsels who may find themselves in distress (seriously, he often has a car full of women.), ran after her to make sure the guy didn’t have an opportunity to catch up with her. I later told the bouncer, who was cute and talkative in that Southern country way, that the feminist side of me was angry that girls should be made to feel so uncomfortable they choose to leave rather than cause a scene. On the other hand, I’d have had no problem making that guy feeling uncomfortable enough that he’d have left the building first, but my friend is far nicer than I happen to be.

Regardless of the fact that it was a creepy old stalker delivering it, I am still irritated by the comment. By the time you’re 80, you should know how to treat classy women. In my mind, that includes me. My friend is also a beautiful, intelligent, and classy woman…but it isn’t that often that people walk away from me, informing me they’re planning to upgrade. :P

I also had an unexpected and short visit from a good friend who was passing through my part of town, and took some time to catch up with me. This friend does not like to be mentioned on the blog, so I’m violating one of my rules here. However, we don’t get to see one another as often as I’d like, so it’s worth noting in a vague and positive way. :P

I think everyone has a larger group of friends and acquaintances in the world, but a very small and select number that can be described as “favourite people”. This friend most definitely falls into the latter category. There are some people in the world who, once you break down a certain number of barriers, reveal themselves to be among the most caring and uplifting people you know. I count this friend in that category, and we somehow have formed a very natural and authentic connection over the years. It is a unique dynamic and not always uncomplicated. There are few people with whom you can honestly share a full range of often-uncensored emotion and experience, and still like one other, and laugh at the absurdity of it all even when life is this complex and uncertain thing. Of course, this friend and I will likely never live in the same city, which makes actually getting to see one another a more valuable thing. (Sadly, this is true of many of my closest friends. I do have a few “favourite people” in Atlanta, and they play a huge role in keeping me in Atlanta. Atlanta is not one of my “favourite people”.)

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe it just means people like me more when they don’t live anywhere near me. :O (insert abject disillusionment here.)

Finally, I’m not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I felt like I needed a new and challenging project for the summer, especially since my physical being is still less than cooperative and I always seem to be too broke or too busy to travel. So, when I saw an introductory course being offered at Writers’ Village University for fiction writers, at a mere $10 fee, I decided to sign up.

I really had no idea what to expect, but the community seems very diverse and very supportive. There are some extremely skilled writers, and there are people like me, who have never taken an online workshop before. The “getting to know you” phase of things seemed to be successful, as people had a very positive response to “meeting” me (which is always a self-esteem boost, if you’re me.).

However, I feel like I might be a little out of my depth in this writing community. At the very least, it’s a humbling experience that points out, “Hey, my writing isn’t quite as appealing as I though. Maybe there’s a reason my collection was rejected.” Hopefully, I can learn from being surrounded by better and more imaginative writers.

The class hasn’t officially started yet, but they kicked things off with an optional writing prompt. The prompt for my room was to write a story about nature using words like “stapler”, “billboard”, “car”,”phone”, and “hard drive”. I sent what I concocted to The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and he said he liked it, but I suppose he’ll probably always say that. My reply to him was:


The comments left by the mentors leave me with the vague impression that they didn’t quite get it. Maybe they just didn’t like it that much, but I think more of the first. I notice that I don’t tell stories in a way that is as straightforward as some of the other people in my group, and I rely more on description and you needing to insert yourself into the situation.

Uh-oh. I think I might be creating the literary equivalent of Darren Aronofsky films when I write short stories. Oscar committee gives a thumbs up. People are like “WTF just happened?”.

Remember all those people who got mad when they thought the cable went out during the final episode of “The Sopranos”, but it was really the ending? Yeah. I’d have been responsible for something like that. *laughs*

I did get some positive feedback from other members of the class, but I’m looking forward to the challenges that come from writing with a very diverse and gifted group of people.

One of the cool things is that The Guy I Am Currently Dating, who is not a writer, but a very imaginative and talented person, decided to take the class with me. We’re in separate classrooms, but it’s fun to have someone with whom to share the journey. I don’t often share my work with people, so frankly, I’m never sure if anything I come up with is good or not. I always rather assume it’s not, but have not yet stumbled on to that secret of success that says, “Hey, your writing is now good! Isn’t that awesome?”

Regardless, I now have something interesting to do over the summer when I’m not out socializing or home watching Big Brother. Let’s face it, those things occupy 70% of my waking hours during the summer, because I still have not mentally accepted that I am an adult and need to work even if it’s July. In my mind, I’m on summer break! As it turns out, that’s not a thing in life when you’re old. :(

Now, if only I could get my body stabilized from the medication-change fiasco, I might be a pretty happy camper. Or, at least, a pretty content one. :)

Usually, I get in the bad habit of not posting here because there’s simply little of interest going on in my life. Lately, however, it’s been the opposite. Life has resembled a rollercoaster ride I’d love to get off of, but somehow, seems to start over again before I can run for my life.

I’ve been mysteriously ill for 6 weeks now, ever since my fateful trip to the beach, and the frustrating part is that absolutely nobody has been able to say “Aha! Here’s what’s wrong with you!”. I’ve made 4 emergency room visits, a trip to the cardiologist, the neurologist, and the ear, nose, and throat specialist. I’ve been on no fewer than 8 prescriptions, largely for drugs I didn’t need. And, while the symptoms have improved a bit over the past week or so, I’m certainly not back to my former self. I’ve been diagnosed with everything from anxiety and depression to heart issues to ear infections to vertigo to migraines, but little seems to make a difference.


The scariest moment, by far, happened at 6 AM once morning, when I was forced to call 911. I woke up with half of my face feeling numb, a numbness in the top of my head, and peripheral vision in my right eye gone and replaced with a black shadow. Since they’d diagnosed me earlier in the month with anxiety, due to recurring panic attacks about my health, I quickly took my Wellbutrin for the day and waited to calm down.

Within minutes, I felt a feeling as if something exploded in my head, and my heart was physically beating so fast that the rest of the world disappeared. I couldn’t walk, or get to my phone, and when I did retrieve it, couldn’t remember my name or how to call 911. I started to have a feeling like convulsions were grabbing hold of the back of my spine, and if the ambulance didn’t get there, I was going to die. When they did arrive, my pulse was 188, putting me in the “danger” category for having a stroke.

If I’d gone to a skilled psychiatrist or family doctor and not the ER, this might have been avoided. Reading about Wellbutrin mentioned that patients with a history of being on benzodiazapenes (such as Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Zoloft) should not be on the drug, as well anyone with a history of seizure disorders. Not only is there epilepsy in my family, although I don’t suffer from it, I had a seizure on a sinus medication over a decade ago, and have been treated with both Xanax and Valium in the past for anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD. The ER doctor, to whom I gave this information, put me on Wellbutrin in addition to a beta blocker for my rapid pulse rate and slightly elevated blood pressure.


I was on the drug for two weeks. The first day, I felt wonderful. By the second day, I was sitting in the dark for three hours a day, crying because nobody would help me, and threatening to kill myself. By the end of the 5th day, I’d begun getting intolerable migraines. Around day 10, my vision was blurred, and I hadn’t slept for nearly two weeks without waking up once per hour.

I’m no stranger to anxiety and panic attacks, which is the problem I originally needed help managing, amongst other things. However, I’ve never been on a long-term anti-depressant (although many have suggested perhaps I should have), and never in my life have I experienced some of the strange things that went on with my body and mind while taking Wellbutrin. I literally felt as if I were losing my mind, and seriously considered checking myself in to a psychiatric hospital for my own safety..

After the stroke-like symptoms, doctors went into overdrive trying to find out what had caused my initial symptoms 6 weeks ago, and why things were getting so much worse. I had many EKGs, an MRI, a CT scan, and what seems like every possible test they can do on your blood to rule out diseases, metabolic disorders, and tumors that might be hiding. I was screened closely for MS, for thyroid dysfunction, for hereditary heart problems. Everything was negative, and other than my uncontrollable anxiety level and unexplained high blood pressure/heart rate, nothing could explain what was going on with me.

The doctor immediately removed me from Wellbutrin, and put me on Valium for anxiety. The first few days were rough. I’ve never had to “detox” from drugs or alcohol before, but I can only imagine it’s a bit of the same hell addicts go through. I couldn’t stand light, to be touched, and constantly felt lightheaded and as if my head would explode. At night, I’d sleep for 10 minutes before being jolted awake by a feeling of electricity zapping my brain, leaving the room spinning and my vision blurred. It was simply awful, and on top of it, being scared you’re going crazy or going to die because nobody knows what’s wrong with you, just turns your life upside down.

However, each day, I seemed to improve. By day 4 or 5 without the Wellbutrin, I was sleeping like someone who’d not been allowed to sleep for weeks. I stopped being afraid I’d die everytime I closed my eyes. I stopped crying for no reason and writing goodbye notes to my loved ones.


As for the original symptoms, a visit to the ENT was the most helpful. I’ve always had chronic sinus problems, which I’d manage with the use of pills like Benadryl and over-the-counter nasal spray (Afrin.) The doctor explained these things were basically like being on speed for the long-term, and could cause elevated blood pressure and heart rate. I’d been on two courses of antibiotics for an ear infection, but the ENT seemed to think I’d never even had one to begin with. He did something magical where he pressed above my ears and told me to yawn at the same time. There was an uncomfortable “pop”, and since then, I’ve gone from being dizzy 24 hours a day to having two dizzy spells in a week. I’ve been able to work without my sunglasses, and go out with my friends.

What I learned from this is the truth behind all of those who go on and on about how drugs for depression, anxiety, ADD, and other mood disorders are over-prescribed. Whatever your problems are, it’s far cheaper to hand out Prozac or Ritalin than to perform tests to find a physical cause. For those with both physical ailments and emotional issues—no matter how many times you tell them you’re only anxious because of the scary stuff that goes on with your body, doctors don’t care to listen once they believe you’re in the “Depression And Anxiety” category—it’s almost like playing Russian Roulette with drugs until something seems to work.

I have my good days and my bad, like most people. I’m highly-strung, emotional, and more sensitive than most. I probably could use a Valium or Xanax to deal with stress and anxiety now and then. But, what I’ve learned from all this is that I’ll live with myself, just as I am. I’ll cope in a way that doesn’t involve messing with my seratonin, dopamine, or adrenaline…and the next time anyone suggests I should be on long-term medication for depression or anxiety, I’ll certainly not forget this experience…and run the other way.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been around much lately, and the “Life Less Ordinary” project has found itself on hiatus. Initially, this was a good thing—I spent two and a half weeks traveling to see family and friends in the Northeast, hanging out in NYC, Philly, and spending a week in the sun at the Jersey Shore.

Not unexpectedly, the latter is where things began to go terribly, terribly wrong.

If you know me, you know I love the beach. In fact, most of my “what I want to do one day when I’ve made enough money and am ready to disappear into anonymity” scenarios involve living on a beach somewhere. And, since I’ve been under a rather large amount of stress lately in my everyday life, I figured there was nothing better than spending hours each day on the sand, soaking up the rays.

This provided a fun and relaxing holiday, until the very last day, when I decided to rent a beach chair and sit near/in the ocean, while reading my book and drinking my contraband vodka and clementine Izze soda. It was a great day, and when I got back to the hotel and took a shower, I noticed I’d acquired a killer tan.

Two hours later, I noticed that the tan was actually sunburn, and it was kind of painful. By the end of the evening, I could barely walk without crying, and of course, the next day was the day we were set to travel to Philly.

I made it—barely—but spent the next week largely in bed, with blisters and painful 2nd degree burns over my legs and belly. In addition, I started to have dizzy spells for no reason, often accompanied by a feeling that fainting would soon occur, heart palpitations, and a feeling that my body was out of control. The first time, I thought I was having a heart attack, and was going to die. :(

I can’t tell if these experiences are provoked by heat exhaustion, anxiety, or a totally unrelated medical issue—but let me tell you, nothing is more frightening than the feeling your body is working against you. For nearly two weeks, I’ve been unable to tolerate bright lights, heat, and staring at the computer screen. Even small things have tired me out immensely, which is unlike me, and my typically energetic, vivacious approach to life.

Slowly, things are improving, and over the past few days, I’ve had the physical and mental stamina to return to work, largely through the help of sunglasses. (wearing sunglasses indoors so you can work on your computer looks silly, but if you are intolerant to light, it actually works quite well.) Yesterday, the sun and the 100 degree temperatures decided to disappear, and it was the first day I actually felt like my old self…so I have some level of confidence that I am recovering, although perhaps not as fast as I’d like.

As always, I enjoyed my time in NYC, although I’m always there far too briefly for my tastes. I had the opportunity to catch up with three old friends I’ve known for years, and always miss dearly. It seems like years ago, distance wasn’t such an impediment to friendships, since there was always time for phone calls, IM chats, e-mails, and the like. Nowadays, there’s rarely the time, and when there is, there’s not always the energy. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it’s something that kind of sucks about getting older.

Philly, on the other hand, was a bit of a disaster—with the exception of July 4th. If you’re going to be anywhere on the 4th of July, you want to be in Boston, Philly, or D.C., which is one of the reasons I always plan my trip up there over that timeframe. Unfortunately, being ill really limited my ability to see anyone or do anything, and also reminded me of how difficult it’s always been for me to get along with my family. They’re largely like strangers to me, strangers I find negative and less than supportive, and who don’t really relate to me or anything I have going on in my life. It’s always been that way, of course, but the older I get and the more well-defined my own life becomes, the less they seem like people I know or understand. There are always arguments, always difficulties co-existing, and within two or three days, I begin to miss living in my world instead of theirs.

I think that, all these years, I’ve tried to create a relationship and an understanding with my family that just doesn’t exist. I’ve tried to create a feeling of “home” in this place that should be home to me, and I’m always devastated to remind me that it’s not. I’ve created an ideal in my head that I’ve always wanted, a place that feels like I belong and am loved and understood, and it’s natural to assume that safe place should be with one’s family. For me, it isn’t, and I’ve come to realise that the stability and support and comfort I want from “home” is going to have to be one of my own creation. It’s reminded me why I’d like to focus on finding a place I’d like to live on a permanent basis, and being able to buy property there, so that “home” doesn’t have to be someone else’s, and it doesn’t have to be a transient idea.

I’m glad to be back in Atlanta, though, and to spend time with the people I care about here. Even if I have to spend a chunk of my summer in bed, watching TV and working with sunglasses on, there are still some good times to be had before the summer is over.

And, of course, Big Brother is back, one of my favourite summertime guilty pleasures!:)

Remember when you were a kid, and the best days in the world were the ones where you were unexpectedly allowed to do whatever you wanted, even if that was usually mostly nothing at all?

It’s harder to get that excited, lazy “snow day” feeling as an adult, unless you live in an area that’s prone to significant snowfall—but not often enough, so that it’s a novelty, and where everything shuts down for a day or two. Days off as an adult are a little different—even on weekends, there’s household chores and errands to be taken care of, and children or pets that don’t exactly understand why you want to sleep in. Even if you’re relatively obligation-free, like me, you may often find yourself working on the weekends, or attending social events that start to feel more like work and less like play after awhile. Sometimes, the weekends are actually more hectic than the work week.

Day #3:

 

Play Hooky

Most of us don’t have the freedom to do it very often, but playing hooky from life can be extremely liberating, and just downright fun—particularly if you’re not sick, don’t have an emergency to deal with, and there’s not a foot of snow outside your front door just waiting to be shoveled.



That’s what I’m doing today…a full day of nothing. I’ve had a pretty stressful week, working my butt off (if only there were a way to *literally* do that!) to make sure I can afford to do everything I want to do over vacation, and still pay my bills, both before I leave and after. People often think that working from home—or working in a way where you manage all the details of your own career, rather than showing up to an office every day— is a license to do less work. In reality, it’s the opposite. Working for yourself gives you certain freedoms (for instance, I can avoid getting up at 9 AM and do my work at 2 AM instead, if I choose.), but it also doesn’t give you the option of a traditional schedule that ends at 5 or 6 PM every day. Even on vacation, I still have to carve out a few hours each day to work, because clients tend not to wait. If you’re not going to be around for a few weeks, you’re replaceable, no matter how much they love your work.

My life involves far less time off than you might imagine, even if I am technically able to work in my PJs (incidentally, something I never do, unless I’m actually sick that day.) I sometimes miss keeping a less hectic, more traditional schedule, although not enough to inspire a massive lifestyle change and join the ranks of corporate America…which, as far as I can tell, is filled with uninspired, underpaid, and overworked Americans.

But, today, I am playing hooky. I might break down and work on a few projects here and there, but mostly, I’m planning to give my overworked mind the opportunity to do as little as possible. Afterwards, I’ll head out to play some trivia with The Guy I Am Currently dating, and will probably end up looking as low-key as I feel.

Too much playing hooky is bad for the soul, the body, and the wallet. But, every now and then, it’s the best possible way to re-charge. :)

I’m the kind of person that naturally gets bored and feels uninspired if I stay put for too long. I’m not sure why; it isn’t that I don’t have the capacity to be happy or content. Sometimes, I even value the feeling of safety and security that “home” offers me, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than hide out there for awhile. Those phases are often short-lived, however, and then I find myself plagued by restlessness and ready to chase adventure again.

Day #2:




Escape To Your Happy Place

At least for me, half the fun of going somewhere different is looking forward to getting there. Everyone has their own “happy place”, the place they’d much rather be, if there were no boring meetings, dull assignments, crying children, or endless obligations to attend to in life. For most people, it’s the first place you’d be likely to run off and hide out if you won the lottery tomorrow, quit your job, and had the personal freedom to go anywhere you wished.

My happy place is the beach, which is why I try to go at least once a year. Atlanta, being hopelessly landlocked and short on bodies of water, has the misfortune of having beach-worthy weather for at least 7 months out of every year, without any actual beaches nearby. The closest beach getaways are 5 hours away by car, too far for a day trip, and too inconvenient for non-drivers like myself.

It isn’t so bad, if you live in a nice complex with a pool—which, incidentally, I do not. My complex finally re-opened the pool, and it is now filled with screaming kids and angry, angsty teenagers all day long. It’s a far cry from some of the previous places I’ve lived in Atlanta, where I managed to spend an hour each day lying in the sun and shedding my vampire-like complexion for a few months. So, the result is that once March hits, I start looking forward to a trip to the beach.

I didn’t get to Savannah yet, although I’m determined to spend a weekend there at some point this summer. However, I’ll be visiting the Jersey Shore at the end of June, spending a lot of time lying on the beach and tuning out the entire world. In order to accomplish this, I needed a new bathing suit, and this one seemed to say “me”…at least today.


Sometimes, part of appreciating life is reminding yourself that you have freedoms, choices, options. While you might not always have the time, money, or energy to step away from your life and escape to your happy place, remembering that someday you will is motivating and invigorating. And, sometimes, your happy place might turn out to be exactly right where you are.

As discussed yesterday, I’ve made a commitment to myself to make this summer an interesting one—or at least one that I won’t fondly look back upon as a time I spent working and doing the same old stuff. While work, life obligations, and the daily routine are all an important part of life, too often, they become the thing that defines your life, leaving little room to experiment, grow, and celebrate life.

So, every day, I’m making it a point to do one thing that’s just for me. Every day, I’m going to remember to do something that’s new, different, self-indulgent, or just plain designed to make me happy and appreciate the wonderful things in my life a little bit more. Who knows? Maybe someone out there will read this, and decide to join me.

Day #1:

Listen To An Album By A Band Or Artist You’ve Never Heard Of Before

Too often, most of us stop discovering new things because we’re comfortable with the the things we do like, and don’t want to miss out on experiencing those. You know how it goes: you’ll order the same dish at a restaurant every time you eat there because it’s your favourite, watch the same movie every time it comes on TV, hang out with friends you don’t really like but you’ve known for ages, and keep the same set of sheets on your bed you used in college. It’s important to keep a sentimental attachment to your favourite things, but at the same time, to be able to identify the difference between personal attachment, and simple habit.

I have a habit of listening to the same songs on my iPod, over and over again. I’ve had the same favourite bands for well over a decade, and although once in a great while I’ll discover something new to add to my list of most-loved music, I still have sentimental attachments to music I love, and to the things that remind me of all the good memories in my past. Unfortunately, this can be a little inhibiting when it comes to branching out, discovering new things, and making new memories.

That’s why I decided to start my project by listening to some new music, from artists and bands I’m either not familiar with, or don’t think I’ll like. I started off by listening to Lights by Ellie Goulding. This was a little bit of a cheat, since I had heard of her; in fact, I saw her perform on SNL a few weeks back. But, everyone needs to start somewhere, and listening to Ellie Goulding’s well-acclaimed album led me to discover British breakout artist Clare Maguire, whose Light After Dark is all the rage across the pond, but hasn’t made it to the U.S. as of yet.

 

Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

 In fairness, neither album rocked my world, but both were more than worth giving a listen. Each album had two or three songs on I liked enough to give permanent space in my collection, and I discovered two new unique and talented voices that haven’t yet hit the mainstream. Ellie Goulding’s cover of Elton John’s Your Song is a gem that’s going to stay with me for days, and I’ll probably end up mentioning to friends (well, the ones that don’t read this blog) somewhere along the line.

Since exploring new things quickly becomes a habit, I also picked up some albums from artists I do like, including James Blunt’s Some Kind Of Trouble and Lungs by Florence And The Machine, both of which I’ll listen to if I ever manage to get caught up on my out-of-control workload. (Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person that can listen to music or put TV on in the background, and still concentrate on a thought. I think it’s a mild adult ADD symptom, one I’ve always had.)

What new bands/artists/songs have you discovered lately?

One thing I’ve come to notice about life is that it’s very easy for it to become routine. In fact, most of what a majority of us spend our days doing are the things with which we’re the most comfortable, often to the point that if we’re not paying careful attention, our lives end up on some version of auto-pilot.

When I was younger, the world seemed like this huge place full of adventures and possibilities and things I just couldn’t wait to get out and explore. When I look back, the most memorable of my experiences, the happiest times in my life have always been the ones that were the most unexpected—the ones that, if I’d just been content to sit back and let life happen to me, rather than flinging myself at it in a most undignified manner, I’d have missed out on.

As time has passed, I’ve seen more places, done more things, met more people, and life has started to feel like less of an adventure. After awhile, you start to feel as if one city is really much the same as another, and even though the world is full of people, 95% of those you’re meeting simply aren’t all that interesting. So much more of life begins to be filled with sameness, until you realise you’re not really inspired by your life anymore, not really growing, not really learning or experiencing.

For the past few years, I’ve felt that way. Don’t get me wrong, I have some pretty awesome things in my life. I make a living in a way that allows me freedom and independence, to a certain extent, that not everyone out there has. I have a circle of friends that care about me, and a wider circle of acquaintances I can call upon when I want to go out and have fun. I’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone who loves me, even though it isn’t easy, and even though I’m not sure our futures are in sync. I’ve abandoned a number of self-destructive habits and aspects of my personality that have always stood in the way of me being happy. If I just look at it from the surface perspective, I have most of the things I need in my life. It isn’t a fancy life—I’m not rich, or famous, or accomplished, or glamourous—but it’s one that’s filled with reasons to be happy.

Yet, I often miss that feeling I’d have when I was younger, and about to embark upon a new adventure. I miss that reminder that the world is big, and full of possibility, and there’s always something to be excited about. I miss that random connection with a kindred spirit that’s unexpected and absolutely enthralling, and the sense of empowerment and freedom that comes with going somewhere completely new and different, completely on your own. I miss wondering what’s next, and what’s going to be hiding behind the next door. I don’t necessarily want to give up the security and stability I have in my life now, things that weren’t there then—it’s just that I want to rekindle that sense of wonder, and adventure, and the feeling that the next day might hold something wonderful in store for me.

In order to try to make new things a part of my daily life, and to constantly remind myself that “comfortable” should not be the end-all, be-all of existence, I’m going to spend my summer inviting something new into my life every day. Most will likely be small things, but just the act of reminding myself to always broaden my horizons and let the world in much more frequently is a good way to keep life from becoming routine, while still enjoying many of the “comfortable” pieces of my life that I love, and look forward to each week.

After all, it’s a big world out there, and you’re never too old to stop exploring, taking chances, and choosing to do something different. It’s just that most of us become so busy and distracted and consumed by the obligations of every day life, we save that spirit of exploration, adventure, romance, relaxation, and discovery for weekends, vacations, and holidays…if we’re not too tired.

Life is too short to forget that spirit of freedom, and that belief in ourselves and in possibility we all have in our younger years. Perhaps adults just have to work a little harder to maintain that free-spiritedness that used to come more easily, when there were less obligations, and fewer experiences with heartbreak.

This summer, I think I’m going to go out of my way to try and reconnect with that part of myself. It may fail, but it also may become a new, lifelong way of looking at the world. :)