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Rise Up, Awesome-Sauce Glitter Ponies of Joy

There’s a lot of inspiration on the internet. If you use Pinterest, or follow any of the world’s many “social media experts” or “inspirational personalities” (Which, really? Why are these things?) you’ve seen it a lot. So many inspirational quotes, typed beautifully, covered in glitter, meant to remind you how amaaaaaayyyzing you are in your little human core. You may have even seen some of it from me.

Today is the day!
We are amazing!
Rise up, Awesome-Sauce glitter ponies of joy!

My own Pinterest is an embarrassment of inspirational riches. Mostly just quotes and words I’m using to convince myself that I’m not such a failure, or not so terrible at anything, or that maybe if I am so terrible, I can still pick myself up and be awesuuuum!

Except a lot of the time, I feel as far from amazing as a person can get. And sometimes think that if I didn’t have to be a glitter pony of awesome sauce, maybe I could get some work done.

In bird by bird, Anne Lamott says that perfectionism “will keep you cramped and insane your whole life” and she’s not wrong. Even on my best day I’m a forever recovering, slightly neurotic, perfectionist. Not in the cute disney channel way where the uptight heroine learns to take off her glasses and let loooooose in time for the spring fling, but in the way that keeps me so afraid of imperfection (and the judgement that must, inevitably follow) that I won’t even start.

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So as I’ve wrestled with myself, here’s the one small thing I’ve come to know.

Find the work you’ve been given to do. You will know what that this is because you will be very depressed when you are not doing it and probably very frustrated when you are but for different, better reasons. Do that thing everyday. Do it well and do it poorly. Do it when you feel amazing and when you are scared to death. Do it for thirty minutes, or five, or 7 hours, or whatever time you have that is not stolen by jobs or people. Just Do it, to quote the shoe-sellers. Let’s see what happens.

Side note-Do you know who Nike was before she started selling shoes? A Greek goddess of victory. (aka-awesome sauce glitter pony) The victory, though, is in doing the thing, whatever the outcome.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, amazing, awesome, or glitteriffic all the time. (Seriously there’s so much glitter on Pinterest and we all need to calm down) Right now, it just has to be done. So do it.

And I suspect, though I confess I’m not sure, that when we stop trying so hard to be amazing, we might just be good.

Real life thoughts…from yoga class

Susie McYoga, doin’ those poses like its your JOB. I see you. I see you in all your super advanced pose-doing glory. No need to flaunt your chataranga skills. This is 24 HOUR FITNESS. You rest in child’s pose like eeeeverybody else, mk?
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Sally McSheerPants. Of course you’re in front of me. OF. COURSE. Why are “yoga grade no one will see your buns” stretch pants not a thing? I feel like as a species we’ve spent a lot of time on space exploration and not enought time making pants that can’t be seen through. The fact that we can get ourselves to the moon but I still have to look at your underwear all through sun salutation just seems wrong.
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Grumpers McNoPose. To every pose, EVERY pose you say “welp, THAT’S not gonna happen today.” Seriously, does it happen any day? At all? You know you came to a yoga class, right? How about you try out corpse pose-silently-and stop interrupting my meditative thoughts about open lotuses and the glory that is sunrise.
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Old Man McWatchy in the back wearin a polo and NOT doing any poses we all know you’re just here to watch and it’s weird so oh my goodness can you please leave. Go watch TV from a stationary bike. That’s what they’re there for.
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I don’t think yoga is making me less judgey but my back sure feels great.
REAL LIFE OBSERVATIONS OUT

Dandelion

(psst! Hit play!)

I live just up the street from a charming little park. The last few months i’ve walked there nearly every day. There is generally sunshine at the park, unlike my small apartment and it’s as good a place as any to sit and write or even just sit and think for a while. Of course it’s also a great place to people watch.

There are the office workers in their suits, taking the midday, after lunch stroll back to the office, the high school couple making out doing algebra homework in the grass and always little kids running around, playing in the fountain or reading peacefully under a tree.

The kids are my favorite. Little girls in ruffled dresses, daisy petals scattered in their hair, dust and grass stains strewn across their white ruffles or the stretched knees of their brightly striped leggings. Always bows-large, pinkish things hanging to the side of what was probably a neat ponytail 5 minutes ago.

The wildness of childhood dressed up in lady’s clothing.

Mostly kids are fun because they’re free. You grow up and suddenly it’s not respectable to go traipsing around in the grass, running because you feel like running or chasing squirrels up every tree you can find. Most are unaware that they’ve dirtied their dresses or the scuffed their shoes. They’re not old enough to think that their hair is too curly or their forms too small. Their feet don’t seem too large as long as their toes find mud to squish about in and most have never placed their noses, eyes, ears, or mouths under scrutiny and found them wanting.

They are dandelions-sweet and simple blooms that will soon mistake themselves for weeds.

Ask a little girl what she wants to be when she grows up and she is not afraid to tell you:  an artist, doctor, veterinarian, princess, mother, cowboy. She announces her plans without apology or hesitation-as though she’s never thought they may not come true.

Sadly, little girls grow. They learn harsh truths and have their hearts broken. They stop believing things will turn out well, perhaps stop believing they can be happy. They learn that life is complicated and as bills and dues must be paid, dreams grow tired, worn out with waiting and fall asleep.

They’ve been told to grow up faster, to aim higher, to be smarter. The world expects them to earn more money, take more risks, be more beautiful, achieve more than their fathers or mothers, to be charming, but also strong. While goals are not wrong, expectation can be a heavy burden. A burden that, too often, crushes little hearts that deep down, were born seeking freedom, joy, and love.

Often it feels as though the world expects much and gives back very little. And what started as a little blooming dream, begins to see itself as nothing but a weed-good for very little, mostly taking up space and sun.

If you have a daughter, growing up and navigating her way through red tape, expectations, goals, plans and the eternal “what’s next?” I wrote this song for her.

If you are someone’ daughter, fighting your own battle with unfulfilled potential, dreams you’ve left sleeping for too long, or the everyday fight to get up and keep moving even when you’d rather not, I wrote this song for you.

If you simply find yourself stuck while trying desperately to grow, then this song is yours as well.

Though, if I’m being honest, I really wrote it for myself. I wrote it at a time when I was very stuck, in an effort to live more in the moments that leave me “happy and free” and listen less to the voices that tell me I am not enough. I wrote it in response to the high expectations, low self-esteem and rising levels of self-doubt that freeze and paralyze rather than kill, leaving one frozen under the snow with little hope for spring.

“Dandelion” is my hope for spring. I hope it brings you hope as well.

And now, I think I’ll walk to the park. Thanks for listening,
Faith

Dandelion

Summer Reads

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Summer seems like a good time for simple living. Easy dinners, lazy afternoons, books that delight.

If you’re looking for some sweet summer reads, here’s a few of my favorites. The list is mostly children’s books because that’s the sort of dreamy reading I look for in the summer. (and maybe most of the time.)

Believe in a little magic. Read slowly. Enjoy!

1. Tuck Everlasting Because don’t we all just want to live forever? Just a little bit?
2. Voyage of the Dawn Treader At least one summer was spent reading this series through (or watching the charmingly dated BBC films) and this one was always my favorite. Eustace as a dragon? I can’t even talk about it.

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3. The Tempest because, let’s be honest, you were supposed to read it for AP English and you never did. Do the right thing.

4. The best of Whitman Find some grass to lay in and read a little Whitman. You won’t be sorry. (unless there are ants in the grass and I really can’t help you there)

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5. Sense and Sensibility Are you a Marianne or an Eleanor. THIS STUFF MATTERS!  (Psst. I’m an Eleanor but don’t you tell)

6. Alice Through the Looking Glass Summer is as good a time as Christmas to believe in impossible things. I’d aim for 6 each day. Before breakfast. I think they’ve proven that nonsense is very good for your soul. (Science!)

7. Stuart Little This book is beyond charming. And the illustrations!

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8. A Book of Luminous Things This is a lovely book of poems given to me for Christmas one year. Hot days are good for reading short bits of things. Take this one to the park.

9. The Secret Garden This is my very favorite book. I’ve read it at least a dozen times and own at least 3 copies-my original is falling apart. If you find yourself this summer needing to believe that broken, frustrated hearts can be renewed then this is the book for you.

Happy reading!

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Skin and Soul. (or, Why I Smell Like Coconuts)

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Lotion and cookies are two of my very best friends.

No, not at the same time. Gross.

Let me ‘splain.

I have incredibly sensitive skin. Like…overly sensitive. Like I wish I could make it an appointment with a really good therapist who’d convince my poor skin that it’s GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT, STOP CRYING, STOP THAT RIGHT NOW YOU ARE FINE.

Basically I’m saying it reacts to everything, breaks out because AIR touched it and is dry like the desert. Lawrence of Arabia up in here.

Sensitive.

I am forever on a quest for products that will

a) not anger the beast (play nice)
b) soothe, calm, and talk down from the ledge (therapy)
c) do that amazing thing we all want: make me look like a 15 year old supermodel who never EVER eats pizza. (wizard magic)

Ok, C may be unrealistic, but I have found a few that sit happily in the a-b range and I’ll be sharing them here.

First up, an everyday lotion: Everyday Coconut. This lotion is my current BFF. It’s light, doesn’t bug my skin even a little and the extra bonus of all that (natural!) coconut smell is that it seems like I’m always coming back from the beach, or maybe downed a pina colada before coming to your party. (the latter may or may not be true…)

Add to that that it is paraben and gluten free, not tested on fluffy bunnies and is certified fair trade. All good things! May I suggest that you give it a try?

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In addition to my sensitive skin, I also have a very sensitive soul (see what I did there?)

I probably really should have put the poor thing into therapy a while ago because OH MY GOODNESS THE CRYING. However, I like to believe that most things can be solved with a long sleep and cookies.

Spoiler: I’m bad at psychology!

But really…sometimes all you need is a good cookie. And today was one of those sometimes.

Continuing our coconut theme, I made these little gems this week from Shutterbean.com, one of my favorite food blogs. They’re easy to throw together on a warm afternoon without turning on the hot oven, include only 4 ingredients and keep well in the freezer. All good things!

All you need are walnuts, honey, shredded coconut, and a little bit of salt, a food processor and enough time to roll the goodness into little cookie shapes. That’s it! For the full recipe, follow the link.

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They make a great, very low sugar treat to keep in the freezer for when you’re busy, tired, and maybe a little sensitive.

Making food is good therapy, cookies are a great reward. Good skin products are a bonus. Treat yourself well, then treat yourself. It’s not a bad motto.

Humbug.

You guys. It’s December. 

How are we already so close to christmas? How is Thanksgiving already over? How did the time run away so much faster than I was expecting? 

I know it’s Christmastime and we’re all supposed to be filled the joy and peace of all that is good and hallmark but instead I’m filled with…the spirit of Scrooge. I half expect 3 ghosts to burst through my window in the middle of the night and show me my terrible fate if I don’t perk it up.

It’s not that I don’t want  to feel Christmasy. It’s just that I, well, don’t. The thing is, I’m feeling extra stuck this year. There were a lot of things I wanted to accomplish in 2013 that are still undone, and a few pretty big unreached goals. I have the blues and I’m pacing in circles…stuck. 

When I get stuck, I get sad. Quickly. It’s a fast downward spiral that ends with a lot of cookies, too many episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show (“I just wanna make it on my own like SHE did!! Whyyyy am I so Laaaaame??”)  and sleeping in way too late. 

All that too say, Bah. Bah to the Hum to the Bug. 

I was moping about my lack of motivation today, unable to remember the last time I did much of anything creative. While drowning my sorrows in tea (read: bourbon) I decided to pull out my little kid set of watercolors and just see if I could be creative. Turns out, it was just the thing I needed. 

I guess the thing that’s so easy to forget when I’m out in the world being busy, trying to pay bills, that creating, writing, making things still have to have a place in my busy busy hours.  Even when, and maybe especially when, there are no good ideas floating around in my brain, the simple act of doing anything else can help get me over the “I’m-so-lame-blues.” 

So in an effort to finish this year more hopeful than frustrated, more Cratchet than Scrooge, I’ve decided to do creative thing a day. And I really think you should do it, too. It can be anything-write a song, paint a painting, bake a pie, make a christmas craft, make a hat for your dog, or a santa clause out of pipe cleaners. Whatever. The point is just to do something

This idea came out of one night’s frustrated painting. I was sad, frustrated, feeling stuck and decided I’d try and paint my way out of the funk. The paintings are so-so. That’s not the point. The point is I made something and then I had the motivation to make something else. What I think I’m learning is that creativity, any creativity, breeds more creativity. 

Find yourself frustrated? stuck? tired and searching? Take a little time this month and create with me. Seriously, anything.  A doodle, a pipe cleaner tiger, a hat out of cardboard. Seriously. Just. Make. Something. And see where it takes you next :)

I’ll be posting this week’s projects soon. Until then-happy crafting! :)

 

A Line a Day. The first.

And so, with a strong sigh, she resolved to keep building.  Every day laying word upon word until she discovered the house she’d been framing all this time. 

If I Had a Time Machine…

I spend a lot of my time with kids. I teach them some piano playin’ skills but also I get to listen to them. They tell me about school and their new markers and the funny thing the kid in their class said or the really mean kid that sits across from them at lunch. Every once in a while I get the chance to give a little advice or share a thought or two. Mostly they’re just shocked that I somehow functioned without the internet before I was 10 (this face—> O_O), but It’s always good to feel like I gave a little something practical back to these sweet kids I spend my afternoons with.

I was remembering my own, nervous high school self this week when I was talking to a student and in honor of back-to-school week (which everyone seems to be doing at the moment) I compiled a little list.

Enjoy, whether you’re 15, 35, or whatever.

21 Things I would say to 15-year old Faith:

  1. First of all, calm down. Ok but for real.
  2. A lot of people are going to make fun of you for your height and some of the things you like. You know what? They’re absolutely wrong. Hang in there till college and you’ll find plenty of people just like you.
  3. You actually have pretty good intuition. Trust it more.
  4. DON’T throw out those pink pants!! I know everyone thinks they’re dumb but they’re wrong and those pants are awesome. You WILL regret it. Trust me, I know.
  5. You can’t wear clothes from Forever 21. You just can’t. It’s not your fault but you’re taller than most of the dudes in your school and built like mad men’s Joan. (You don’t know who she is yet but trust me you’re going to LOVE her.) Just buy your jeans in the grownup section and STOP IT with the tiny t-shirts. One day you’ll discover Gap and all will be right with the world. #curvyfitjeansforlife
  6. He’s not the one. You’re going to feel like he should be and you’re going to be really confused about it for a really long time but he’s not. Cut your loses and move on.
  7. Sunscreen it up, Snow White. Sun. Screen. Your super pale skin is AWESOME and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.  Also, you’re never going to get a good tan unless you sit outside for hours and even then you’ll just end up an uneven rose color.  Not worth it. (Side note-that super red lipstick look that’s about to get popular? Really looks great on us fair-skinned ladies. Embrace the Pale!)
  8. Look, we both know you’ve been through some stuff so don’t be so scared to talk about it. In fact, use it. Write about it, paint it, and create honestly. If people had wanted you to write nice things about them they should have been nicer to you.
  9. That said…remember also that you are not defined by your stuff. You’re a whole lot more than the things that have hurt you. Be braver than your heart wants you to be.
  10. Stop it with the purple eyeshadow and for god’s sake stop curling your bangs.
  11. Mom is right. About everything. I know, I was surprised, too.
  12. You don’t know this because your high school has no music program but schools will give you money if you’re a piano performance major. Save us both some loans and do it, would you?
  13. When someone offers you an Old Fashioned say “yes amen!” (afteryouturn21)
  14. Add the English minor.
  15. Running is your friend. Get some good shoes and get on it! (also, if you run, you can eat more bread. I know, right?)
  16. All that vintage stuff you love? It’s about to get really cool. Buy it NOW before everyone else does.
  17. Not a lot of guys are going to be interested in you and that’s really ok. It’s not going to feel like it. You’re going to feel like the grossest thing on the planet but you’re not. Guys are. A lot of them really are. And at some point you’re going to meet the best guy and you’re going to be so glad you didn’t waste your time dating more of the others. Also, if you could figure out A LOT SOONER that he is the love of your whole dang life, that would be really great.
  18. Your eyes are NOT too small, your face is not too long and you do not need to lose weight.  You just have some of the world’s tiniest friends. It’s like living in a real life polly pocket. Don’t be sad. You’re totally healthy and normal. You’ll figure it out when you move away
  19. Eat all of the pizza while you can! There’s this thing called a metabolism and it is only your friend for so long. Also, I think what you heard me say was eat a lot of pizza but what I said and meant was ALL. Eat ALL of the pizza.
  20. Embrace the straight hair. (we’re still working on this one.)
  21. Seriously, though. Calm down.

Insomnia is a jerk, Edition 3,075

Insomnia thinks your best ideas will fail and your worst ideas are things you should work on right this second.

Insomnia thinks you should totally sign up for that marathon but no way is he letting you wake up early enough to train.

Insomnia and WebMD. BFFs.

Also, Insomnia thinks you have cancer. Or fibromyalgia. Or west african southern italy’s crazy cow nile denial virus. Anyway, you totally have a disease because you’re so tired all the time. Insomnia does not think your fatigue is his fault.

Insomnia is the night time equivalent of watching paint dry. Insomnia is just as exciting as that sounds.

Insomnia wants you to buy a puppy and thinks you should google all the hypoallergenic breeds right now. Cuz you totally have time for a puppy.

Insomnia is SO STOKED when you are home alone. At night. In the darkness. Withtheghosts….

Insomnia is never going to forget that one time you got talked into watching “Paranormal Activity” and is never ever going to be ok with you leaving your leg outside the covers. Insomnia doesn’t care it it’s 100 degrees.

Insomnia just knows you can pay off all of your debt by taking online surveys about grooming products and how much you know about China. Those totally look legit to Insomnia.

Insomnia would like to remind you that you are not living up to your potential. Also, that no one likes you. Or your chocolate chip cookies.  :(

Insomnia is really good at math and can tell you exactly how much sleep you are not going to get now. And now. And an hour from now because yes, you will still be awake.

Insomnia is a TERRIBLE roommate who deserves to be really arm wrestled into getting his own dang apartment.

Insomnia…you are a jerk.  Now read me a bedtime story because this is all your fault.

Little Lists

This is the part of the blog where I make lists. Fancy. 

 If there was an olympic category for list making, I would win gold. The. Gold. I can make a list like nobody’s business. Color coded, categorized in order of importance, tabbed, boxed, paper clipped, you name it. Problem is, it often ends up harder to complete my tasks than it does to list them. 

 Don’t you judge. You’d be tired, too if after all that color coding. 

 I think it’s difficult for two reasons: 

  1. I make really long lists. In my head it seems totally reasonable that I could go to the gym, work a full day, cook a turkey (why not?), practice my piano-in’ skills, complete 7 household projects, plan a Christmas program, run all of the errands, clean all of the things and still have time for some leisurely creative writing but in reality…I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it and I think I need a nap. 
  1. I’m self-employed. I work for myself so I’m my own boss (YAY!) but really that just means I’m the only person who does any work in my entire organization (boooo). The thing is, no one is really checking up on this mess. If I make plans but don’t do anything but the bare minimum, nobody knows. If I don’t work till 3 so I sleep till 2, no one knows. If I go a week straight doing nothing but teaching lessons and eating Pop-tarts no one is going to care as long as those hours I spend working are completed. When there’s no one checking in, sometimes it’s difficult to get the tasks done. 

Based on the research of my primary employee (ahem, my own bad self), here’s what I think I’ve figured out. 

  1. I need shorter lists that I can actually accomplish. There’s really no reason to complete everything on Monday when I have a 5 day work week to work with. I’m learning to spread out the kind of task-y tasks that no one would enjoy over several days…interspersed with treats to make it seem worthwhile. (duh)

 (Side note: The balance of work and reward sometimes makes self employment a lot like puppy training. Or raising children. Keeping in mind that your primary employee is really just a little creature that doesn’t want to work a big kid job helps when coming up with incentives. Send all those emails and make those really uncomfortable phone calls? Cookie! Run all those errands on the hottest day of the year and pick up all of those books because you literally canNOT listen to timmy play that same old song for one more week? Iced coffee on your way to lessons! Task=treat. It brings balance to the universe.) 

(also I don’t actually think that puppies are the same as children. Similar, maybe…but not the same.)

 Right, back to it. 

 2. I have to include things that I actually WANT to do or I will lay down on the                      couch and watch “Essex” important food documentaries all day long to avoid the endless work I try and subject myself to. 

My week becomes a delicate balancing act of immediate responsibilities and long term creative responsibility. The jobs I do that bring in actual income have the potential to suck my brain dry because, after all, they are the most immediately important. However, I’m also a creative person which means I have a responsibility to myself to be artin’ it up on a regular basis-writing, planning, performing, whatever. Spending time on what keeps me creative and alive and not only on what keeps me fed. Balance.

 All that to say, I’m going to try making some better lists here. Right now I’m working on an end of the summer to-do list of all the things I’d like to make time for or complete before the summer ends and everything goes back to normal..until then, happy listing! :) 

 

For more reading on the care and keeping of lists, check this post. Sometimes I ramble about things over there, also.

 

The Summer

Been listening to this lately as I think…feels like a quiet summer evening to my happy little heart. :)

happy summer, friends.

summer nostalgia; rambling about tomatoes in mostly lower case.

when i was a kid we had a small garden box in the cool back corner of the yard. most summer days i could be found there, squishing my toes in the mud, watering curly green beans and enormous sunflowers, chasing lizards away from the sprouts and stowing away caterpillars in the pockets of a dusty blue dress. i plucked the ripest yellow tomatoes for dinner and devoured half of them before going inside. the summer garden was magic. no one could have told me otherwise.

the smell of earth and vine, the heat of the arizona sun on my freckled nose, the way the light changed through summer monsoon clouds and the sense that though sweltering, it was always just about to rain. the moments are as fresh to my senses now as they were then.

now i am grown up, and summer’s magic has begun to dwindle. work does not cease, and the sun feels less embracing than it did when my hair grew long and lemon-kissed and my feet ran barefoot, searching for cool grass or mud to squish. but each time a ripe tomato-on-the-vine finds its way to my hand, i am the same as i was then. i inhale slow and deep the smell of summer, the soul of sprouting things. i am seven and everything is light. for a moment, i am my best and brightest summer-self and everything is magic once again.