:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.




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Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Then Thursday (Patresa)

I am writing this Sunday night.

It will post Monday morning.

Then it will be Tuesday.

And then Wednesday.

Then it will be Thursday, and I will play music in front of live human beings at an open mic.

THURSDAY. This Thursday!



I played my 4-song set for Chris. It was just fine. I wasn't nervous or self-conscious. Tonight my parents and aunt came over for dinner, and I played them 2 songs. It was…okay. I wasn't nervous, but I felt shy and stupid--like I was 8 and practicing my recital pieces after Sunday pot roast. So I didn't play or sing very well.

But it was a good step. My dad brought up my teenage niece who got a guitar for Christmas and has been learning. She's very talented, but is too shy to play in front of others. When it comes to my nieces (and my nephew, but in a different way), I've always felt a responsibility to be a good model for "strong in self." (They already have wonderful models. It's just: I'm the aunt, and I don't have any kids, and I'm kind of weird, so they see me a little differently.). I want them to be bold and unafraid, to speak up. I want them to sing when they feel like singing, dance when they feel like dancing, strum when they feel like strumming, be exactly who they are at all times, and do it with a free spirit. I want the same for Chris's and my kids, if we are to have any. I can't say one thing and then do another (although I've certainly made a lifetime of trying). So to a certain extent, this project for me has been about fixing the thing that keeps me from being what I keep telling other people I want them to be.

[How's that for a sentence?]

Last note: I will be endeavoring while sober. I overindulged several weeks over the holidays and into January, so i've been purifying my system. I'm on a "cleanse" trend. Initially, I thought, "Well, I'll make an exception for open mic night." But then I decided it would add extra triumph if I just did it stone cold sober (The bartender will be thrilled.). Why use liquid courage if you can just scrounge up the real stuff?

Of course, when you are 36, married, and not drinking, people tend to think you're pregnant. I will make a special t-shirt for the occasion. VACANCY over my abdomen.

So, that's what I got. My next post will be a full report, with possible video, of how it went. It will hopefully not include any barfing.

Peace out.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I weeble and I wobble but I won't fall down (Becky)

Balance has been a common thread among the coffee posts, so I decided to take a little inventory and boy is my balance way out of whack. A quick online search yields many interactive "balance wheels of life." Here’s my lowdown on the most common categories.

Physical health: Check. Between good luck, good genes, hard work and exercise, I’m very fortunate to be healthy.


Physical environment: Check. I own a cute little bungalow and it’s full of fluffy white Charlie hair. Despite the lack of an ocean, Des Moines is a pretty nice place and has grown on me over the years.


Career: Check. Despite my best efforts to not know what I want to be when I grow up, my experiences over the last 20 years have combined nicely and led me to a field and a job that is a pretty good fit for me. And I was recently accepted to the DNP program at Iowa so my next goal of becoming a nurse practitioner is in the works.


Financial: Check. I feel pretty secure in this area. Would like to spend more money on travel and less on student loans, but that’s OK, I can deal.


Community/Social/Recreation: I have many acquaintances and any number of people I can call to go on a bike ride or grab a beer or a glass of wine. But I seem to be getting less out of those activities than I used to. Which leads me to another common theme, distraction. I'd like to find a little more meaning in my social outlets. Speaking of, I'm proud to be part of the COFFEE community.

Friends/Family: I need to do a little work here. I have a lot of wonderful people in my life, but I may have been pushing them away… not sure why… It's always been important to me to be a strong independent woman and rely on myself. I don’t like to need people. I don’t like to seem weak, so I don’t reach out to people when I feel weak. I also have this belief that if people are interested in what I think or feel or need they will ask. If they don't ask, they don't want to know. So I won't bother or burden them with my opinions, my thoughts, my stuff. So I wait for people to approach me, engage me. And if they don't, I think no one loves me and I'm all alone in the world. That makes me kind of grouchy and then people really don't want to be around me so I isolate and really do become all alone in the world. Vicious cycle.


Romance/Significant Other: Ugh. Why is this so hard? My past relationships have typically been distractions, fun little diversions from work and school and life, etc. But I haven’t really put the work into figuring out what I want and expressing it to a partner, or finding out what my partner wants either. Relationships are hard work, I know that. I’m finally ready to put that work in, but where are the hot, single, straight guys?!? I'm taking a much needed break from the online dating scene so am back to square 1.


Spirituality: Hmmm. My purpose, my calling, the meaning of life? I got nothing. It seems that many people live their lives for their children or their God. I have neither. As a 38-year-old agnostic women without a ticking biological clock, what is my purpose? I’ve never felt the need for either children or God and I’m trying to figure out what that means for me, if anything.



So, I’m about 50/50. There's a lot of positive in my life and I have to remember that. Lately I've been focusing on the empty half of the glass. That approach seems to throw into question/chaos all the good that is in my life. I've been second guessing my career and my decision to go back to school again and my decision to move back to Des Moines and everything else. So, I've got a lot of work to do. I have 4 very important categories that are sorely lacking. But I also have to keep it all in perspective. It's not necessary to scratch everything I have and start over. I'm half way there. And I love a challenge. And I love the COFFEE chicks.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Focus Pocus (Wendy)


If I were a dog, I would be hanging my head in shame with my tail between my legs right now. I feel so unworthy to be here. Really, what a schmuck I am for not even having posted/commented on COFFEE lately. I truly love reading ya’lls writing. You guys all intimidate and amaze me with your mad mad writing skillz.

Truth is, I have started countless COFFEE blogs and, as soon as I got to the part where I dig down in the dirt for a bit of honesty, my mind goes on strike and that Janice-like, nagging voice chimes in with “who wants to hear you whine, anyway?” But I skirted my last post and I know that it’s time to face the music.

The last few weeks, my brain feels like big bowl of alphabet soup. Fragments of thoughts... incomplete insinuations of ideas... mists of insight dissipating before my eyes... all disconnected and swirling in a broth of indecision and anxiousness. Why? I’m not really sure. I just lost my footing somewhere along the way and am having the hardest time finding it again.

Maybe it was the pressure of 2011 and the idea that I should have some inkling of a plan for it... Or maybe it’s the fact that a few dozen wrenches have been thrown into my original plans over the past couple years/months. (Yes, big changes are coming… more on this at a later date).

All I know is that my biggest obstacle right now is trying to picture my future. Trying to...what’s the word...visualize? Those of you that know me know that I’ve worked at this music thing for a long time. I’ve literally arranged my life around it. I used to know exactly where I wanted to be. But lately, I just feel lost.
I’m officially disillusioned with the music industry. I’m officially disillusioned with myself.

The accumulation of disappointments has caught up with me and is holding me down like bullies in a schoolyard. Lately, I feel like my fear is this hardened wall of plaque that’s built itself around me over time, protecting me/enslaving me. I feel literally immobilized by it at times. I know, intellectually that it’s ridiculous to let fear hold me hostage. If I was giving myself advice, I’d slip into my best Cher impression and say “Snap out of it!”, but even Cher can’t penetrate the plaque.


Have I lost anyone yet?

The last thing I want is for this post to require a violin soundtrack. I don’t mean to sound pitiful or like I’m fishing... I’m actually hoping this is the beginning of some great epiphany... I’m just awaiting the materialization of said epiphany -- something to sink my teeth into - because frankly, I’m well versed in all the philosophical and spiritual renditions of this tune.

Yes, I could set some tangible, detail-oriented goals like “write 3 new songs a week” or “schedule 4 more gigs” or “walk for 1 hour each day”, but that feels gratuitous and empty at this point. Until that proverbial apple clunks me on my head and knocks the funk right out of me, I will live up to my name and wander...

So, for the purpose of COFFEE, (that is, setting goals and doing them) still...I got nothin’. Waa waa waaaaaa.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

COFFEE Project Post Seven: A Small Victory (Tawni)

I was just in the middle of my mid-afternoon workout, and it occurred to me that I have a post due for this wonderful COFFEE Project today. Wait... the 27th was the day, right? What day is today? Oh shit!

After this realization smacked me upside the head, I stopped doing abdominal crunches with the hot lady on the television, and ran for one of my three organizers to confirm the date. Yes, there are three calendars in my house with "COFFEE post due today!" scribbled in them, and I still managed to forget. Be impressed.

I now find myself with ten minutes to write before I have to be on the road, en route to my son's school to pick him up, whence we will be going directly to the Urgent Care to see if his hurting ear is infected and needs antibiotics. It's a glamorous life I lead.

Luckily, I have a little bit of inner chicken-sloth butt-kicking to share with you, my friends.

I have been accepted to write for one of my favorite websites, The Nervous Breakdown. Cheer with me now! Woo-hoo! Yippee! Yay! I have been reading this website for years, and am a fan of most of the writers therein, so this is really huge for me.

This new development definitely qualifies as a success in my battle to stop being such an insecure baby about my written creative output, because writing for this awesome website is very much "putting it out there" in the way I had hoped to do.

It is so out there, in fact, that it took me a week after I finished writing the piece to actually get up the nerve to post it on the website. But I set yesterday as my target date, paced around the house, giving myself my "Life is short... stop being such a wuss" pep talk, and did it.

If you want to go read it, that would be great. If you want to leave a comment on the website, under my piece, it's really easy to do, and I would think that was great too. I'll pop the link on the end of this, down below.

I hope you're having a beautiful week, COFFEE warriors and friends!


The linky: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/tfreeland/2011/01/happy-naked-new-year/

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Designing a retreat for a complete chicken shit (Holly)

After the triple axis of evil that was HY2010, I wanted to go to Guatemala again like I did in January 2009 for a yoga and meditation retreat.  It was wonderful.  Scrumptious, fresh, whole vegetarian food at every meal.  Natural beauty (it was at Lake Atitlan-a rather large lake surrounded by 3 volcanoes).  Meditation and self inquiry. Skilled instruction on therapeutic yoga. Every day. For seven days. One of the only vacations I’ve ever been on where I came home more rested than when I went.  So, why wouldn’t I want to do it again? Did I mention that the cost is actually very very reasonable? It is. Unfortunately, the airfare right now-not so much.  So, I’m using my air miles to go to Durango, Colorado instead. By myself.  My original thought was that I would just recreate Guatemala in the beautiful Four Corners region.  Then panic set in.  WTF was I thinking????? There will be no group, no instructors, and all sorts of temptations to indulge in distractions. Not to mention, I could get really really lonely. It’s SOOOO NOT THE SAME!!
Alright, Holly. Get a grip.  Let me tell you about DISTRACTIONS. One of the first exercises we did when we were in Guatemala during a self-inquiry session was to talk about our “distractions”. What did our teachers mean by this? They wanted us to think about things that we did to avoid. Avoid feeling. Avoid doing. Avoid whatever. Avoid growing.  These could be things like excessive use of internet, facebook?!, television, drinking, drugs, sex. Even seemingly healthy behaviors can be distractions…over exercising and reading! Hmmmmm….I had not ever thought about these things in quite this way.  We got into pairs and were to share with each other what our major (and minor) distractions were.  The lady I was with avoided being close to her husband by moving out. Ha! She stayed married, just got her own apartment.
So, guess what….this spiritual growth and creativity blossoming thing is going pretty well, for the most part. But like what seems to be the theme for us COFFEE chicks the last couple weeks, I’m in a bit of a slump. My slumps are different than before. Until last March, I was not familiar with anxiety. I didn’t get it. Depression and disassociation I could understand. Not anxiety. Anxiety seems to make pain and loneliness worse.  Maybe more intense. Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a different side of the same coin.  Pema Chodoron says,
“…disappointment, embarrassment, and all these places where we just cannot feel good are a sort of death.  We’ve just lost our ground completely; we are unable to hold it together and feel that we’re on top of things. Rather than realizing it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against death.
Reaching our limit is not some kind of punishment. It’s actually a sign of health that, when we meet the place where we are about to die, we feel fear and trembling. A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. Things like disappointment and anxiety are messengers telling us that we’re about to go into unknown territory.”

So, it seems it’s pretty much human nature to run away from fear and discomfort.  And, that’s the advice we usually get. “Sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, or distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away” (Chodron).  I’m trying very hard to learn from my wonky feelings….try not to “distract” myself from them….go toward them and learn what they’re REALLY trying to tell me. Just like everyone else, I’ve only got one life, so why waste a bunch of time fooling around with mind numbing activities that only lead to living in a haze. Numbed out haze. Nah….that’s why I’m doing artist’s way, right? To wake up! To live a more awake, spiritual, and meaningful life. Laugh more, love more, be authentic.  At least I should try to do this on my “retreat”, right???? Ok, please humor me with reading one more apropos Pema Chodron quote…

“To stay with that shakiness-to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge-that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic-this is the spiritual path.”
 

So…that’s the plan. That’s the goal.  Now, my “retreat” in Durango. I think I’m going to give my friend my crackberry at the airport. I will not bring my computer, and I’m really going to have to think about even my iPod.  No TV and no borrowing someone else’s computer. No novels. I will bring the Artist’s Way and a couple of my writing books.  I will go on daily hikes and do yoga at the studio in town every day.  Oh, and maybe a massage or two.  I will schedule it in advance so that I’m not worrying about what to do everyday. I already looked up the yoga schedule.  The little studio apartment I’m renting is walking distance to hiking trails and downtown. It's decorating style was described as Cowboy Zen. Smile. And, it has a Japanese bath tub. Cool!

I am also reevaluating my Artist’s Way schedule as I’m falling way behind.  I’m still doing my morning pages about 75% of the time, and I’ve read a chapter.  I remember it being good, but I didn’t write about it so I can’t even tell you what it was about.  I have not done any of the optional exercises and NO ARTIST’S DATES. Artist’s dates are the one other thing that is supposed to be non-negotiable in the course. So here’s the plan:
I think I will start doing one chapter every two weeks. With our new posting schedule, I think that’s reasonable and works out fab!

1) Do 75% of morning pages;
2) One Artist Date
3) Read the Chapter, do all exercises IN the chapter
4) Do at least 50% of the tasks at the END of the chapter. 

Please give me advice on how to make this mini retreat the best it can be. I’m going from April 22-26. It’s Easter weekend. Didn’t realize that until way after I booked it.

So, my dear COFFEE friends, thanks for sticking with me through the creative juicy times as well as the anxiety ridden dessert of doom and gloom. It’s in Iowa and I’m going to get this puppy posted and catch up on some COFFEE reading instead of doing my morning pages. I’ve written enough in the last 24 hours right?

Boom.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

how to productively (and otherwise) waste your time. (Amy)


In my last entry, I was going to kick butt first and take names later. Or something. I can't actually remember now--I just know I was shaking my fist at 2011, threatening it. So far, I think 2011 is not impressed or worried.

Since then, the big news is: we had snow here in Georgia. SNOW! And not just any snow: the perfect storm of snow. Things were shut down, cars were spun out, grocery stores were emptied of milk, bread, eggs, and (oddly) bananas and seafood, cabin fever caused major life wreckage. Not a shovel or grain of salt was left in the metro Atlanta area when all was said and done. After 12 years here, I've learned Georgians simply don't know how to handle stuff that falls out of the sky in mass quantities.

Which means I've done pretty much nada since my last update. Because the entire state owns, like, 10 snow plows. Which means when a perfect (snow)storm comes in they just wait for the sun to melt it until road conditions are passable again. Meanwhile, we all huddle in our homes like blind mole rats hiding from a snake, waiting for the perfect moment to make our escape.

It takes about 7-10 days for frozen precipitation to melt with zero human intervention, fyi.

Here is how I've put this time to good use:

-thought a lot about sending in my application for the the RunforWater 5k race.

-thought really hard about what it would feel like to go outside and walk around some.

-updated my facebook status, a lot.

-read other people's facebook status updates, a lot.

-loitered in unproductive areas of news blogs.

-posted a bunch of pictures to facebook.

-watched massive quantities of Dora the Explorer, Curious George, Go Diego Go!, and Yo Gabba Gabba.

-made Paula Deen's magical peanut butter cookies.

-ate all of Paula Deen's magical peanut butter cookies.

The end, part 1.

I did read one whole, pretty satisfying book (The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton). I so rarely have time to just sit and READ. And I had time to surf the internet a lot, which led me to some pretty awesome places to hang out at. These are generally uplifting and full of informative information about good eats. Like Food 52, and Rachael Ray's website. And Paula Deen's. Did you know Paula Deen will actually let you save your favorite recipes to your pauladeen.com profile AND she will help you do your grocery shopping by creating whole grocery lists, based on recipes you think you might make that week? I would like Paula Deen to adopt me (coughand include me in her willcough).

Also, I signed up at My Fitness Pal, which is a facebook-like fitness place where you record your food/calories/work outs AND make new fitness friends. You get your very own facebook-ish page, and can leave your very own facebook-ish fitness status updates. And if you don't log in for 3 or more days, or well over a week? My Fitness Pal will status update for you, and your status update will say something like: "atlamy has not logged in for over a week. She may need some encouragement."

I've already made 2 new fitness friends over there--one lady who agreed with an assertion I made in my profile bio that everyone should have a free laundry doer/folder/putter awayer in their house, and one lady who didn't say why, but my guess is she saw I needed some encouragement and that was her way. Blessings to you, mysterious fitness pal lady.

Oh, and I started (yet another) blog. It's over HERE. It has nothing to do with anything, but I needed something to do with my mind and hands last week. I really should learn how to knit.

Up for the next couple of weeks:

1-Get out of the house and do something (for the love of all that's holy, ANYTHING) physical.

2-Write Paula Deen. Ask to be adopted.

3-Update my fitness pal account. Send fitness pal love and encouragement to my 2 new fitness pals.

4-Avoid the vending machine at work. It's of the devil.

The End, part 2.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BRace Yourself, T. Don't be Stupid. (Tanya)

I’ve taken a bit of a nosedive lately. Nothing crazy awful has happened, but I’ve been dealing with a knee injury, which leaves me unable to receive my much counted on and adored daily therapy the past several weeks, and this feels crazy awful. Oprah has been famously quoted as saying, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” Running for me is truly the ONE PLACE, ONE WAY I am able to work through my thoughts and emotions in a fairly reasonable and productive way, and I believe, not be a completely erratic and ill-behaved person. Running is the ONE THING that, athletically, I’ve also actually performed quasi-well throughout my life. I love sports, but if we’re being honest here, I really have never been anything more than average, and I played a ton of Junior Varsity Basketball in high school. It has only been after high school that I found a super cool friend and therapist in Running (insert glorious music here). I once even ran into my former high school gym teacher at a 10K in college, and she was SHOCKED to see me there. I know this because she rambled on and on, and on and on about how I was the last person she’d ever expect to see participating in any race. Come to think of it, I believe I just smiled back at the comment, but inside, I was like “Okay lady, I got it. I was a lazy cheesy butt in high school. No-ted.”

So anyway, without my running friend and therapist, I have been a little off my roller chair and have merged hallways illegally over to the cranky-dark-gloomy-feel-sorry-for-myself side of the building….a tad anyway. What am I supposed to do, Oprah?!! I’ve been trying to keep my chin up, smile nicely, obsess as minimally as possible and not freak out that my running muscles are withering away as fast as I type this (which with all due respect to myself, I should mention I am a killer fast typist), and after weeks of sharp pain, and even a few weeks of absolutely no running and only walking, I bought a (stupid) knee brace. I first walked with this (stupid) knee brace, and I thought, “Hey, ok, I think the knee brace engineer people know a little bit what they’re doing,” and the next day, I began running. I ran 4 slow miles, and I WAS FLIPPING ELATED (insert more music and jumping cheerleaders doing multiple aerials)!! I cannot express just how my mood sprung high, the birds began chirping, the weather actually warmed up (briefly), and I felt on top of the World of Nice again, and I’ve ran 4 slow miles each day since that glorious moment a few days ago…. with my (stupid) knee brace. However, as I type this, my knee is throbbing, and I have visions of punching this computer screen to oblivion, as well as thoughts of maybe even yelling at a stranger if they dare look at me with any pity in response to my notable limp and pseudo working knee (insert Dracula or The Shining music here). Of course, I won’t do any of that, and I won’t even cry despite really wanting to throw a tantrum right-this-very-second.

I know this knee injury will heal. I know what to do. I’ve been down this slow road before, and I know it’s going to take a few months, not weeks. I actually did buy a Jillian Michaels yoga DVD this weekend, and I think I may even do it. I have several yoga DVDs that I actually quite love despite not spending any face to face time with them in the past year(s), but I thought I needed a serious kick booty new DVD to get me motivated and distracted from my good friend and therapist, Running. I know we need a break, some relationships just do sometimes. In the process, I’m also hopeful that my legs and butt won’t turn to mush, which of course in my brain they’ve already done to some degree (and maybe I already had mush, but so not the point). I also swear the whole thing makes me shorter, for reals shorter, not to mention my weak arms. I seriously soooo had Welcome to the Gunshow for arms before this injury (wink wink), totally. So basically, I just need to complain and grieve my injury right now, and I am using this forum to do this very silly shallow job. (Am I supposed to be focusing on some goals or something??) It is also providing me with some nice self indulgent therapy, thank you COFFEEs. BUT, I proclaim, I will wear my BRace during anything resembling a work out, try not to run, and stop being so stupid.

Identified goals are good one way or another….. and relationships are very hard.

Yours Truly,

Tangy T-Bop Walker
Pseudo Athlete Extraordinaire Who WILL Race Again, BRace or No Brace

Monday, January 17, 2011

COFFEE Post 8: I got nada. Maybe tomorrow…(Stephany)

I so want to write something clever or profound this evening, and it just ain’t happenin’. It’s Dad’s night with the kids, so it’s just me, the keyboard, some random show on TV to provide some noise, and Maya, the sweet boxer that I’m foster-parenting for awhile. (See Goal #5)

In light of the fact that I really just feel like getting rip-roaring drunk and going to sleep until, say, Wednesday night when the kids get home, I think I’ll just update you on my COFFEE project goals and call it a day. (I’ll have accomplished another goal in doing that – NOT getting rip-roaring drunk and crashing out until Wed., thank you very much.)

1. U 2.0 – No real updates here, but I would still appreciate your prayers and good mojo vibes… (Thanks!)

2. Training for the Half – Thirteen-ish weeks to go, and I’m starting to get really nervous about this. I have a respiratory “thing” right now, and running HURTS right now. That, and I cough & hack like a 70-year-old man who smokes about 20 packs a day (and has for 5 decades) and wipe snot for hours on end after I run. Plus, I’m really nervous, and my gut gets queasy just thinking about running in a race. So I run with a queasy stomach, a hacking cough, a full-on booger fiesta, and I just want it to be easy, dang it. Ugh. I’m hoping once I’m healthy, I’ll get out of this stupid running rut and get my head out of my butt about this. It will get easier, and I’m going to enjoy this process. I will.

3. Book project – After taking most of the holidays off, I’ve had a hard time getting back into the writing groove. I hate that I voluntarily put the kibosh on things and let the momentum screech to a violent (and stupid) halt. I did have a great conversation with someone who is going to be very important to my project this week, so that has re-lit the fire under my butt.

4. Pondering studenthood – Research continues… I’m getting excited about this. And scared.

5. Co-parenting – I’m in survival mode here, folks. We did okay through the holidays. We did. Now that it’s back to the everyday stuff of life, it’s a little tougher. I miss those kids so much when they’re not with me that it hurts. I wonder what they’re doing, what they’re feeling, how they are. I know they’re fine. I cared for them 99.9999% of the time for their whole lives, and now I have to share. That hurts. The house is quiet, and the quiet hurts. Maybe if I moan about it some more, it won’t hurt anymore. Ya think? Yeah, I know. Not so much…

I know, I said I’d list ‘em and call it a day… and I should. It’s just that I’m trying to be positive about this whole ordeal. I know it’s for the best, and I know the kids need their dad. They’ve needed him for ages and ages. And now they finally have him. On one hand, I’m so happy for them I can hardly take it. On the other, I am so angry that it’s taken THIS for them to get him….. Breathe, Steph. Down, girl… in through the nose, out through the mouth… rinse and repeat…

I just looked at the book I’m reading (a juicy historical romance a student let me borrow) right now. The bookmark I made myself a yellow sticky note) is sticking up out of the top, so I opened it up and read again for about the bazillionth time what’s scratched on it in Sharpie.

“It’s not what you get in life, it’s what you do with it that counts.”

I have no idea where that came from, who said it, or anything; it’s the truth, though. It’s my new mantra, and it’s something I’ve strategically placed through the house, the car, my desk at work, and in my planner. It’s my reminder that I get to choose. And when I’m like I am right now, I really have to help myself remember that I can choose to throw the self-serving (yet destructive) pity party OR I can choose to remember the kids and what they’re getting out of all of this. It’s what I do with all of this that counts.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… maybe tomorrow…

the yodeling goat sets a date. (patresa)

I'm going to be brief. I think. (I'm kind of crabby and want to go to bed with my book.)


Goal Progress:


1. Practice 10 hours.

Probably. 

2. Practice The Gambler and No One is to Blame until they are fluid and memorized.

Practice, Yes. Fluid, No.

3. Pick a 3rd cover song.

Oh, I don't know. I can't decide. There's a reason I make up my own stuff: I'm not good at playing other people's stuff. The Gambler is cool, but that's for a select audience in a specific mood. I can't just walk in and play that anywhere anytime. This goal makes me want to make a lot of guttural noises and stomp around.

4. Attend an open mic.

Yes, thanks to Super Becky, who managed to prod my butt off the couch at 9:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. start time! On a school night! Don't they know my sleep schedule? And the first act didn't even go on until 9:30. So I sat there next to Becky--who knew 500 people at the bar--nodding into my beer.

That's a lie. I wasn't nodding into my beer. And Becky didn't know 500 people. Just 3. I was rubbing my sweaty palms on my pants. Just being there and thinking about it made me want to hide. We stayed long enough for 2 people. 2 man people. They were both good. And they both had confidence and didn't seem to actually care any of us were there. I found it intimidating. I feel okay about my voice (although it gets pretty flimsy when I'm all yodeling goat nervous), but I am a really really clumsy guitar player. Really clumsy. Not clean at all. And I have absolutely no clear perspective on whether or not my songs are stupid. Sometimes I play them, and I think, "Hey, look at you! These aren't bad!" And other times I feel riddled with embarrassment that so much corn casserole is in my soul.

I play them for Chris and try to read his reaction. Which isn't really fair. I have never cared whether or not he likes my hair or the clothes I'm wearing. Don't care if he likes something I painted or a poem I wrote. And I have never ever asked him if my butt looks big. But music? That's where I get weak and snively. He knows how uber-sensitive I am about it, how insecure. What's he going to say? Wow, you suck ass, sucker sucka! Of course not. He will point out the things about it that he liked, and then I will infer all the things about it he didn't like (and that the compliments were LIES! all LIES!).

On that note, when it comes to something I feel genuinely insecure about, I have a painfully hard time with compliments. (I cannot think of one single thing that I feel more insecure about than making music in front of Other People. Not one single thing.) If I feel insecure, no matter what you say, I will think you are lying. If I win an award, I will think 99% of the audience watching me win the award is thinking, "I can't believe trash like that won an award." If you compliment me on something very specific ("Oh, I like what you did with that one note there."), I will think you had to work really really hard to find something good to say. It's a no-win situation, really, so most of the time, I wish no one would say anything at all. (And then when you say nothing at all, I will think, "See? They're not saying anything at all! It was so horrible, they probably feel awkward and embarrassed for me!" and I will wish that you would say something.)

Summary: You, as the one tasked with being supportive, are screwed.

5. Scratch out vocals and lyrics to a 4th and naked guitar line I made up a long time ago.

Check! And I like it. It's kind of fun and means nothing. It's about 3 friends at a bar on a Saturday night.

Or is it stupid and worthless? Maybe it's horrible. Ask me tomorrow. Ask me 10 minutes from now. I've already changed my mind.

6. Set a due date. I can't drag this thing out forever. Maybe February?

Thursday, February 3. Lunar New Year. Seems fitting.

I've decided to rip this thing off like a bandaid. I will rip the lid off my soul, strip my psyche naked, fly my freak flag, and several other metaphorical acts that represent vulnerability and possible humiliation. Also, I may barf (not a metaphor).

My goal for the next 14 days is to breathe and not barf and to practice until I suck less.

10-4.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

COFFEE Project Post Six: Just Breathe (Tawni)

Hooray! I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night, panic-stricken about my COFFEE blog deadline to write this one. It is nice to not be blearily guzzling caffeine and frantically typing out this post at the crack of sparrow fart before my kid wakes up. And I’m hoping the fact that I gave myself a whole day in advance to write this time will make my writing less rambling and more cohesive. (I can dream, can’t I?)

My son has been healthy, and he’s back in school 9:00-2:30 every weekday, so I have resumed writing quite often. I’ve been rotating the fun, no pressure, minimal editing blog I started (Literary Lampshade) with working on my novel idea in the less intimidating chapter-at-a-time format.

I have also been doing what I somewhat self-deprecatingly call "Dear Diary blogging" for my personal site (My Shiny Hell). That’s when I take an hour to sit down and write about my latest happenings or thoughts. Whatever’s been floating around in the old spine-flower. I have noticed that I will re-write my thoughts in a constant loop in my head until I get them out of there, so having the unprofessional personal blog is really helpful. I’m sure it serves the same function as journaling, except that it’s online and everyone can see it and judge me, which is a teensy weensy bit horrifying. But that writer insecurity is exactly what I’m trying to stop worrying about, so too bad for me. Suck it up, Freebird. Get over it. Stop being such a wimp.

Deep breaths.


As a former psychology/English major, I would love to explore the psychology of my neuroses here, but I don’t even know where to start. After college, I spent twelve years of my young adulthood singing and playing guitar onstage in bands, yet I am terrible at public speaking, and pit-sweat thinking about people reading my written creative output. Why don’t I care at all what people think about my songs, but care too much what they think about my writing? I don’t get it. Perplexing, yes?

It’s really frustrating, but I am a determined, ridiculously stubborn, steel-willed redhead, and this self-aggression will not stand, man. The point to this COFFEE Project exercise is to face fears, and I will continue to face this one until I no longer care what anyone thinks of my writing, or at least until I believe in it, which is what I think it really comes down to. And I know I just ended that sentence with “to,” but “is all to which I think it really comes down” sounds odd, like I’m having a stroke mid-sentence or something.

Deep breaths.


Anyhow.

I also created a storyboard for the book I’m writing.

(An aside: Can I just say how very much I loathe saying out loud that I’m writing a book? Everyone and their grandma claims to be writing a book. I feel like such a dirty cliché. Maybe it’s just the insecurity talking? I don’t know. I always promised myself I wouldn’t say it out loud until the book was finished and ready to be shopped, and yet here I am. Talking about writing a book mid-book. Ugh.)

My husband, the former Hollywood boy, recommended the storyboard because his screenwriter pals would do this. It’s a cork board onto which note cards can be tacked with notes about the book, such as what will occur, or character descriptions. I can move them around to help myself remember the direction the story is headed. I have the storyboard color-coded so that the bright pink cards are storyline ideas and the yellow cards are character notes, because organization is a huge turn-on for me. I’ve broken the cards up into chapters, which I’m trying to approach as little blogs or short stories about the same person’s life, so I don’t spook the nervous wild mustang of my confidence that shies away from the pretentiously spooky word book.

My goal is to slowly write the chapters, and pretend that I’m just writing blogs, as I have always done. Once I have 80-90,000 words worth of writings, I will lasso them all together and throw a saddle on the back of what I hope will be a somewhat linear novel. Yes, I’m tricking myself, so, shhh… don’t tell me what’s really going on here. Just feed me cubes of sugar, and talk to me in quiet, soothing tones.

Deep breaths.


I realized that I completely wussed out in my last blog, because I mentioned starting the minimal-editing blog, but didn’t give a link to it. That was me letting the inner chicken-sloth win, so I’m going to give it a big kick in the ass today and post the link to that one here now.

Please enjoy the first things that come into my mind and are crapped out via keyboard when I see certain pictures:

Literary Lampshade: http://literarylampshade.blogspot.com/


So far, I'm mildly disturbed to notice that almost all of my off-the-top-of-my-head posts involve conflict and unhappiness within relationships, be they fictional or drawn from my actual experiences. I'm shit-house psychoanalyzing this as, "Guess what, Tawni? You have trust issues! Duh." But I'm hoping it will stop soon, so I can finally pursue my lifelong dream of writing about fluffy kittens, unicorns and rainbows.


I will also repent for the sin of letting my insecurities win by additionally posting my personal blog address.

Please enjoy the enthralling and glamorous minutiae of my daily existence:

My Shiny Hell: http://myshinyhell.blogspot.com/


It scares me a lot to do this. I usually have a link to my personal blog sitting unobtrusively on my Facebook page, but never advertise my latest-written things out of fear. Fear of being an attention-starved “Look at me!” person. Which is really dumb, considering my 8000 Facebook photos. Obviously, somebody needs attention. ("Do you love me NOW, Daddy? NOW? How about NOW?!”)

I blame the people in the world of music that I called the “Come see my band!” people. These were folks that constantly hounded me to come see their shows, guilt tripping and whining when I missed one, and just generally being shameless and obnoxious about promoting themselves. I never did this because I always felt like people would come see my band if they wanted to come see my band. If you have to beg for a compliment, is it really a compliment?

So I am terrified to be a “Come see my band!” person in regards to my writing. But the silly thing about this is that when I see the blogs of my friends advertised to me in an email, blog comment forum, or Facebook Feed, I am nothing but excited to read their thoughts. I never think they are being pushy, and only admire them for having the balls to put it out there. So I don’t know why I’m overly concerned with humility. I don’t want to bother people with my creativity, but I don’t feel bothered when other people share theirs with me. Not at all. Quite the opposite. I eat it up. Delicious, delicious creativity.

I think my goal in the next few weeks will be to try to remember that people aren’t judging me as harshly as I imagine. And I need to learn to turn the same gentle eyes through which I see others on myself. I am so hard on this girl. Seriously. I’m very mean to myself. I deserve better. I wish I knew how to quit me.

In college, I spent a few semesters thinking I wanted to teach English to high school kids, and was required to do a student teaching block. I asked to be placed with my favorite English teacher from high school, who kindly accepted me.

One of the most shocking things she shared with me was the realization that I had never given myself enough credit for being good at writing. She showed me papers written by the kids we were teaching, and while there were a few that stood out, many were atrocious. She said that before she taught English, when she was a student, she thought she was average. It wasn’t until she became a teacher that she realized she was above average. I told her I thought I was average as well. She said, “You never realized how good you were because you couldn’t see the others. You assumed you were average, but you were one of the best students I’ve ever had.”

That always stayed with me. I think the lesson there is not to arrogantly decide that everyone else is not as good as you; the lesson is to remember that you can be good at things. You don’t always have to humbly assume that you are average in every way; instead assume you are above average in many ways. Give yourself credit. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s okay to acknowledge the things you do well.

I'm allowed to feel good about myself. I'm allowed. I'm enough.

Deep breaths.

Self hugs.

Recognition that the universe is not smiting me for trying to be more confident.

Yet.

More deep breaths.



I hope you have a wonderful week full of faced-down fears, my friends.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Instant Coffee (Becky)

2010 was a strange year for me. It was a year of transition, confusion, second guessing. I was happy to say goodbye to 2010. Welcome 2011!

So I'm entering 2011 feeling physically strong. I swam the 100 100s New Year's Eve Day and I've been going to Kosama at 6:00 AM each morning since Jan 3. The early rising thing is no small feat, by the way. And I'm happy to report that it hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. The abdominal work, on the other hand, is just as hard as I thought it would be.

So physically strong, yes. Emotionally, spiritually, creatively strong? Not so much. As a matter of fact, I feel downright weak, like a wet noodle who can't stand herself up, like I don't belong anywhere near the rest of you coffee chicks. I'm instant coffee in a tattered-edge, faded packet that's been in the back of the junk drawer for who knows many how years. And then there's the rest of you... rich, dark, brown, freshly roasted, and aromatic whole coffee beans. I feel utterly intimidated by all your skills and insight and positive energy. Lately I've spewed way more than my share of negativity into the universe. So I've been avoiding you. I blew off my last two posts and I seriously thought about bailing on this whole project.

But here I am posting, albeit over 12 hours late. And instead of listing all the things I'm going to do and then feeling like a failure when I don't do them, I am going into this again with no expectations. My scary project is just doing this, just showing up. Here I am. I think it'll go better for me without the self-imposed pressure I've been self-imposing.

As the unorganized person that I am, following is how I make lists. And this is how I will now approach my COFFEE goals:
  • I write down a bunch of things I've already completed
  • I add a few things I still need to do.
  • I cross off the stuff I've already done, look at my list, think "that's pretty productive" and never look at that particular list again.
  • Some days, weeks, months, later, I'll make a new list.
  • I've probably accomplished a few of the things that were not crossed off on previous list so I'll write them down on the new list.
  • Then I'll cross them off.
  • I add the rest of the un-crossed-off things from the previous list.
  • I continue to procrastinate the above.
  • Rinse and repeat.
So, I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to do until after I've done it. Two weeks from now, I hope I have something to report regarding my journey to work out my mind the way I work out my body. I think I probably will, but I'm not sure what it will be. Whatever it is, I'll do it because it feels like the right thing to do at the right time and not because I feel like I have to produce something worthy of freshly roasted aromatic coffee beans and public display. This may seem like an odd strategy, but I'm hopeful.

Stick with me coffee chicks. Don't give up on me just yet. I hope to eventually make it worth your while.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wabi Sabi and the Astrological Cat Lady (Holly)

Setting the tone-yo!

Quotes and clichés from the last couple of weeks:

Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Children need slow to grow (hey, guess what? So do adults!)
Relapse is part of recovery………
Or is it Recovery is part of Relapse? Think about it……now play it over in your head again…
Sometimes you have to be out of balance to achieve balance.

First writing since the winter solstice for me. And, yes. The days are getting brighter, both figuratively and literally.  I’m still doing the Artist’s Way, but not nearly as diligently as I was in the beginning.  I have been doing my morning pages about 75% of the time and still suck rocks at the Artist’s dates and the extra tasks.  I feel a bit guilty about these things, but not too bad as I have evidence that I actually am becoming more creative. In addition, I feel like I am living a more authentic life.  Consequently, I am happier and have a renewed energy. One might even say zest.

Holidays- I took the advice I doled out on the winter solstice. I slowed down and enjoyed my friends and family.  It was my first year divorced and the holidays could have been crap. But no.  My family and friends, both old and new, came through. I had fun. I laughed a lot and cried a little.  I loved and I felt loved. It was genuine, good stuff. It’s what life is all about. Full stop.

Alive- I’m alive and I’m going to stay alive. And, I feel more alive than I remember feeling.  Besides the friends and family mentioned above, a lot of this has to do with music.  My life changed last year when I received my first ever iPod and the corresponding iTunes.  Since then I’ve been introduced to a lot of new music, seen a lot of live shows, and dabbled a bit in writing songs! (much to my complete surprise, amazement, and chagrin).  It all started with Truck Driver’s Daughter last March, then The Flood in July. In December I wrote two! I ain’t gonna beg and Owl and Hedgehog. January I wrote Back Road Boy.  They’re all kinda different from each other, but I kinda like them all.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with them.  I don’t play an instrument and I can’t sing.  No, I mean, I REALLY can NOT sing.  But, I’m trying to remember the line from the Artist’s Way book….I’m to take care of the quantity and god will take care of the quality.  I feel like if I feel like writing songs, which on the surface seems nonsensical to me, I should do it.  The answer of what to do with them will come later. Yup.

Bucket List- Somebody asked me in August if I had updated or created a “bucket list” as a result of having cancer.  I stupidly stammered and said, uhhhh….no. I guess not.  Well, in retrospect, I was too much in the thick of it then….intense chemotherapy, newly divorced, etc….I was not thinking clearly enough for a bucket list. I was in survival mode.  Now, however, I’m ready to create a bucket list of sorts.  It’s going to tie in nicely with Artist’s Way and cleansing.  What I’m going to do is set short, long, and lifetime goals. With SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound). In several different areas of my life. I’ve never done this before.  Areas will be things like career, financial, education, family, artistic, attitude, physical, pleasure, public service, and spiritual. There will be backpacking in Utah and learning Spanish involved.

Owls, Hedgehogs, Wabi Sabi, and the astrological Cat Lady-  I can’t tell you how tempted I was to name this blog something to do with Owls and synchronicity.  Again. I’m telling you! This shit won’t stop! Just when I forget about it, something happens again! It’s freaky, creepy, and well, a little bit amazingly beautiful.  Just one example…..when driving home from work on New Years Eve day, the streets were quiet as nobody else was foolish enough to be working on this particular holiday day.  The air was cold, it was overcast, and the earth was brown. I had my grant on my mind and a little bit how much last New Years sucked.   Suddenly, a very large bird flew from one side of the street I live on to the other-low and right in front of my car.  You guessed it. An Owl.  I had actually never seen a real life Owl. And there she was. It was stunning.  Is it god or the universe guiding me? Nudging me? Slapping me? Or is it that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.  I have to say, I always took that saying a little bit more literally. Like a human teacher would appear, like in robes or a snazzy suit.
For Christmas I received a lot of things to help with writing.  I didn’t necessarily ask for any of these things. Through doing the artist’s way, I’ve mused about what my creative outlet will be. Well, based on synchronicity, I’m going to start with working through some of my writing gifts. 

Implosion of Gratitude

I can’t stop thinking and feeling so grateful. I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed with gratitude.  On the surface, this sounds lovely, right? Well, it’s actually a problem.  My gratitude is so powerful that I am moved to inaction.  There are so many things and people that I want to honor for how they’ve touched my life and for what they’ve given me that I am moved to complete inaction. It’s embarrassing and it’s bullshit. And, really unacceptable.  I simply must come up with a plan on how to remedy the situation. Ok, well, I have a plan. I need to effing make it happen. And, learn how to show my genuine gratitude more often and as it happens.
So, ladies, my friends……it’s 5 am and I’m drinking COFFEE and writing this.  The COFFEE is warm and delicious and I’m savoring it.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for YOU ALL. I’m grateful for the time anyone spends reading my musings and even more grateful for the feedback received. It always moves me and means so much.  I wish I could do more to show my appreciation. Like pay everyone’s travel to Des Moines for a vision board party…but alas, my words will have to do for today.

Rock on and make today your bitch!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011: REVOLUTION! (Amy)


In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay invincible summer. --Albert Camus

-List-making is an issue for me.

-I apologize profusely for littering this blog entry with them so wildly.

-If I were a resolution maker, I would vow to rectify this in 2011.

-But I am not, so...

-The End.

(of this blog's first list)

--Amy, COFFEE blogger

I usually don’t do New Year’s resolutions—I like anti-resolutions. For example:

*I do NOT resolve to wake up early any Saturday in 2011.

*I do NOT resolve to not eat at least a little chocolate if it is ever presented to me at any point throughout Anno Domini 2011.

*I do NOT resolve to repress my need to silently cuss out other drivers who are clearly crazy and should never have been granted permission to operate a 5 ton machine of metal death in the first place, what the heck was the DMV thinking?!.

You know. Things like that, stuff I know I can manage with little to no effort on my part.

But I’m going to revolt this year, and attack 2011 a tad different—I’m making New Year’s reVolutions. Because things did not get off to a good start for us for 2011 at my house, friends. I can’t go into more explanation than that at the moment, but just know: 2011 did not get off to a good start. For one thing, 1.1.11 was a dreary, dark, and rainy day in the metro Atlanta area, and I generally disagree with dreary and dark rainy days anyway, even if they do have a cool date that, when added up, comes out to the numerical value of 4, a very mystical number. This 1.1.11 (mystical number 4) rain was followed by some Discouraging News. Discouraging News and dreary, dark, rainy days never, ever go well together, in my experience. But also (and mostly), I just really like the idea of being a revolutionary. The very idea makes me feel plucky and outrageous, two areas I wish I were stronger in.

1.2.11 was better, and this may be due to the fact 1+2+1+1=5, and 5 is my number (I have no idea why; I just think good stuff happens to me in 5's). But also: the sun came out, and sun always clears out my brain fuzz. And because, while driving around the happier/sunnier metro Atlanta area, I silently and firmly made the decision to consciously make different decisions whenever confronted with more brain blasting news, at any point throughout 2011. I will say things to myself like:

...“Well, I’m just going to make the decision NOT to freak out about this.”

...And “I’ll just make the decision to put one foot in front of the other one and keep going, no matter what.”

...And “The amount we're being charged on this ridiculously priced bill isn’t real. I’m going to decide this bill is fake. Because the only thing that is real is love. When I write out the check for this stupid bill, I'm going to write that in the memo line instead of the account number, because people who send outrageous bills like this should know that: they are fake, and Love is real.”

...And “I’m making the decision to not let anything defeat me—I will kick Life right in its frickin’ gonads if it even tries to LOOK at me weird this year. Do you hear me, Life 2011 A.D.? Right in your frickin’ gonads!”

I am revolting against you, 2011! Revolution!

I try not to be very overly dramatic and intense with myself too often, but some days are simply more successful than others.

So! A brief update on my COFFEE goals since my last update and over our break:

i. I ate crap.

ii. I did not exercise.

iii. I was intensely slothful. Like, if actual sloths had witnessed my slothiness, they would have had developed severe self-esteem complexes, wondering how someone who is not an actual sloth could be so much better at being a sloth than actual sloths who have documented biological drives toward extreme slothiness.

iv. I’m okay with all of the above.

Because it’s January, everybody! It’s 2011! And—if the Mayans were correct—we only have about one more year of Life giving us weird looks and fun opportunities to kick Its gonads! So be free and throw off your yokes of fear and restraint! Is what I say. Revolt, and do not pause to consider what judgments others may be flinging your way in the process; all they need to worry about is ducking fast enough so your flung off yokes don't smack them on their stupid, judge-y heads.

So my big January reVolution this year is to simplify. I will throw off my fear/self-restraint yokes by simplifying. Most everything. I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet or not, but conciseness is not my forte. However, I know I can simplify everything that does not involve writing down words/thoughts/ideas. Essentially what I need around here is some equanimity—less drama, more acceptance; less complicity, more revolution. So over the next several weeks, I will be:

1-focusing on not panicking when things appear to be off track.

2-not relaxing when things appear to be going smoothly.

3-cultivating awareness and presence.

4-not focusing so hard on the outcome.

5-paying more attention to the process.

6a-developing more sympathy for myself and others

6b-unless, of course, these “others” are clearly psychotic people in cars sharing the roads with me who obviously cheated their way into possession of a driver’s license, and then I will be happily perfecting my inner, repressed road rage angry person impression.

(Except for reVolution 6b, I actually did not come up with these myself—I completely ripped them off from this guy):

Also, I’ve picked a 5K to run/train for. If I have a specific, must-do-this-by-this-date-and-in-this-time-frame goal, I’m much more likely to complete it. And I know if I spend money to enter this race (money: something we’re keeping a hot, close eye on these days at my house and not spending flippantly), I’m much more likely to complete it. When researching a 5/10K run to complete/train for, I wanted to do something that is good for the world (I’ve settled on helping to provide clean, safe drinking water to those without access) and I needed a Spring/early Summer date (April 30) because I’m a wimp who doesn’t do Arctic cold or Sub-tropic heat, and I'm also host to a whiny inner slacker who's already wimpering that she needs lots of extra time padding in her training schedule in case she may want to slack off a week here and there.

So. Goals for my COFFEE project over the next several weeks:

I.Equinamity

II.Revolution

III.Simplicity

IV. Register for WaterfortheWorld Run

V. Get my butt in gear

VI. Not necessarily in that order.

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2011 bring glad tidings of great joy (and successful revolutions)!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Papa C Retires.... and I Admire (Tanya)

I realize that I do a whole lot of apologizing when I write a post, and I will not do that here (maybe, ok, likely I will).

I don't have a humongo progress report but limited is better than nada, right? Okay, so here goes.

1. I have been more okay with inadequate feelings and move through them cool as ice (no, not really, but progress has still been made).
2. Smiling: Oh yes, check check check. You betcha! After looking at Amy's recent pictures, it also dawned on me I need to do another crest whitestrips if I'm showing off my pearlies so much.
3. I've still been focused on being more charitable, and I have contributed and given the shout out to some important causes, but I have pulled the purse strings a tad at Mass (man, that sounds bad as I type it). I've amended this to giving the biggest bill in my purse but not the whole wad. I had to (feel like I had to).... I am a social worker (or this goal is too hard, but I am putting it all out there for full disclosure whatever it is).
4. Speaking up more: Check check CHECK. I will also admit there may have been some "did I just say that?" moments, and there has been regret.
5. Time-outs...... Um yeah, I need more work on this one. Talk about drinking the poop, Stephany. I can definitely still BE the poop.
6. Saying something nice to everyone I encounter: I am going to be honest. I forgot about this one.
7. Text less, call more, gossip less: YES! (And not always.)
8. Listening better: I am going to high five myself on this one. I have actually learned truckloads about myself as a listener, and I will keep on truckin' on. :)
9. Intentionally nicer to my mother: YES! I feel good about this, and I love my mother. (Complicated.)
10. The Rosary. Okay, this is one of those things that is so daunting, and I am failing miserably. I keep getting all this material on how to pray The Rosary, and I've given it a few half hearted tries, but I am failing. I am pretty certain God is wanting to have a very candid talk with me about this one. He also wants to talk to me about missing church a few times..... Holly, I think I need a prayer board stat......
11. Finish reading The Kindness of Strangers book. I want to lie and say I did, but I only almost did. I'm very sorry Tawni.

Well, damn, I cannot NOT apologize because I have significant focusitis.......

Okay, BUT here is what I really want to write about (so goals can suck it.... not really, I just have been saying that a LOT lately, and I'm writing this post with no edits). So my dad, also known by many who love and adore him as "Papa Cecil," has retired. He retired December 30, 2010 after THIRTY SIX (36!!!!!) years of dedicated service. When I say "dedicated," this doesn't really do any justice to what I am shouting out from my heart and gut. No words accurately capture the kind of work ethic my father has, and no words come remotely close to describing how much I admire him. Again, Webster's Dictionary doesn't have .00001% of rock star adjectives for me to accurately describe my dad. He is the kind of person who Wendy, Patresa, or Tawni could write and sing songs about that would be full of upbeat tempos and interesting notes with groovy harmony (I'm not sure that makes sense, but it does in my head). He is kind, loving, honest, true, respectful, respecting, generous, forgiving, funny, intelligent, patient, inspiring, strong, and........................forever awesomeness awesome things. Maybe it would be clearer if I had Katie or Becky take pictures of inspiring things that represent my father better than I can write it out. Any ideas Ladies? :)

Coming to terms with the fact that he decided to retire was not easy for Papa Cecil, especially leading up to R-Day. Since I first met my dad the day I was born, the man has worked ridiculously long hours intuitively. He has defined much of his life by hard work. I actually once worked for Papa Cecil (I cleaned up logos on the computer, and it was super duper awesomely fun), and he was the single best supervisor of my life. He would also let me off work on a moment's notice.... to be fair, I think I should also disclose this. I'm also pretty certain he paid me more than I was worthy.

So, my emotions are radically traveling all over the map on how I feel about my dad retiring. Of course I am elated and super super fantastically excited for his new ventures in life, but I am strangely sad for him. Now, I am his daughter and very very likely being 200% more dramatic about his retirement than he is, but I cannot help but worry. He, on the other hand, is proclaiming excitement to "just figure it out for awhile" and probably start up his own lawn or car detailing "business." It's not about the money, and he doesn't need a lot of customers, but he loves doing this. He thrives on being busy and LOVES being outside (you should see his mammoth of a yard.... really, it is like a national park). This is what I keep reminding myself of, that my dad, dear Papa Cecil, is going to be Papa Cool.

I have also had a great deal going on in my world on the job front. My dad, my counsel, helped me through a great deal of transitional anxiety leading up to the changes and new endeavors I'm taking on the last several months. For those of you who don't know, I am a therapist at a community mental health center, and I manage Crisis Services out of one of our locations. I learned in December after several months of speculation that upon one of my all-time favorite people's retirement (my crisis supervising "partner"), I will be taking over supervising crisis services in another office as well. This is scary, hairy, exciting, ball-busting, challenging, brain draining, and cool, and I very well may pee my pants at some point. Not really. I may, however, feel like peeing my pants or taking a sooner vacation than planned. How's Germany, Katie?

I just cannot thank God enough for the dad He gave me and that I have my dad to help me through any pee-in-my-pants moments to come. I do hope for my dear, cool beans father, I can lend a quality ear every once in a while or blue moon if that's his jive, and I hope he enjoys his retirement and gets used to the idea of a little chill and relaxation. I don't even need any notice for that ear, Dad.

So, for the New Year 2011, I throw out many cheers and endless admiration to Papa C........ and continue to high five you awesome blossom COFFEE gal pals. Keep on rockin' on Becky, Amy, Steph, Patresa, Wendy, Holly, Tawni and Katie!