Monday, February 10, 2014

Vacation in a Shut Down City

So, we just got back from Portland, one of our very very favorite cities to visit.  The trip planning was initiated by my work sending me to PDX to attend a conference.  Since H and I haven't really had an opportunity to get away together for, oh, fifteen thousand years, I bought him a ticket to go with me, thinking we'd have a nice weekend with some exploring, reconnecting, beer-drinking and maybe a Laurelhurst movie thrown in.

When I received an e-mail Thursday afternoon that my conference might be cancelled due to inclement weather, I laughed, thinking the conference organizers were pulling a Chicken Little.  When snowy photos started popping up on Facebook from friends in Portland, I got excited for a cozy weekend with just enough snow to make the all the coffee we were planning to drink taste extra yum.  When I got confirmation that my conference was definitely cancelled, I felt a hot minute of "is this a good idea?" before texting H that "yay!  we get a real weekend away!"

So we packed our down jackets and wool socks and hopped on a plane.

My boldness is evidence of a potentially awesome, potentially pain-in-the-ass cockiness that growing up in the smack middle of Alaska has given me.  Guys.  Portland was SHUT THE FUNK DOWN last weekend.  Hand written "CLOSED.  Stay safe!" notes in the doors of 98% of shops and restaurants.  The cute little refurbished trailer we had rented for lodging became unavailable last minute due to being frozen like an accidental igloo.  Waiting in 16° (Fahrenheit, not Celsius) temps under a magical and seemingly impossible combination of snow and nearly freezing rain with wet tingly toes for buses that never came.  Our favorite book store that is open on CHRISTMAS closing at 2:00 in the afternoon to allow its employees to get home safely.  One solitary bagel for sale  at the only open coffee shop we could find when all the breakfast places we went to were closed for the weather.  Cab companies refusing to take us to the airport when the buses and Max lines were cancelled.  It was just like vacationing in the Walking Dead, no joke (joking).

And somehow it was just exactly perfect.

It was us being together and problem solving and taking care of each other and having adventures and being flexible and sleeping 11 hours each night and eating a lot of pizza and hop skip jumping between open establishments and H giving me his extra down jacket to wear over my down jacket when he could see me shivering and eating ice cream while watching the snow fall and that amazing feeling of finding warmth after cold and the seeing people ski down city streets and taking risks and just being completely in the moment every moment.

It all so easily could have created fodder for arguments and frustration and disappointment, but instead it created an experience that reminded us there is something beyond expectation.  And while I was ever so grateful to slip into a much needed hot bath when we got home last night, the tingling toes were worth a weekend thinking only of the moment we were in.

Portland, stay safe.  I hope you thaw quickly.  We will see you again in July.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Life Changing Goal Setting

I don't know what kind of juice I was on last week, but I was completely and totally pumped.  24/7.  I WAS GOING TO DO ALL OF IT.

This weekend?  Womp womp.  Womp.

I've spent 70% of it in my happy chair with either a cup of tea or a cocktail by my side, zoning out and feeling like, "uh, what was I doing again?"

We all have these cycles, yes?  I'd think it fair to assume most of us would rather have the "oh my god life is AWESOME and I have so much ENERGY and I'm going to learn and do ALL THE THINGS."  And then when that crashes, as it does, we might slide into feeling we're unproductive or unmotivated or some other "un" that has a socially unacceptable "you're not really that awesome" tinge to it.

FUNK that.

Hopefully it goes without saying, but those happy chair weekends are pretty great for the space they leave open and I can't help but think there's some body repairing magic happening that will allow us to be catapulted into the crazy awesome again when the time comes--a sick body doesn't exactly contribute to the "life is awesome" vibe, am I right?  At least, that's what I tell myself about sitting around in stretch pants all weekend: I'm creating vibrant, sparkling health.

That self-fooling aside, the past week was so rad.  I was just so inspired.  Like ALL THE TIME.  And that led to me feeling very happy and very much "I'm not stuck.  I can totally follow my heart and turn this ship in another direction."  Goodness, what a great feeling.  And I'm glad I felt it, because you know what?  I am totally not stuck and I can totally turn this ship in another direction.  I just needed to feel that in my heart.  And last week gave me a big feel-it-in-every-cell hurrah.  Not that I necessarily changed the world or quit my job or landed some amazing interior-designer, party-planner, blogger to the stars gig.  But the feeling is ultimately what I'm chasing here, not the title or the xyz on my resume, so I'll take it.  Lots of it, please.

So now what?

I think it's clear to you and me that what's happening right now ain't workin', at least not on the "I can do this and be giddy about it for a lifetime" front.  It's working very well in some ways (hello health insurance, financial security and house-buying plans), and I'm stoked on that.  Hell, it's even working pretty well on driving deep into me a desire to go in a different direction, which is pretty great in its silver lining way.  But what now?

"What now" is concrete actions.  No more twiddling my thumbs and talking like a big shot about what I want to do.  "What now" is laying a foundation so when those jobs come up and they say, "must know Adobe suite" or "must include portfolio" or "must have sequined shoes," I'll be like, "is that all?" instead of "agh I can't do it!  Where are my comfort cookies?!"

I think part of what's been holding me back is (this won't surprise anybody who's spent two minutes with my indecisive self), I don't know exactly what it is I'm working towards.  I have a feeling I'm chasing.  I have a general idea (design, aesthetics, logistics, writing, communicating, preferably lots of online shopping), but I don't have a handle on how to get there or even how to identify the markers that tell me which trail to hop on.  Hence the happy chair; it's a nice, safe place.  A nice, safe place I could probably stay in for the next 40 years and be equally disappointed when Monday brings another six pack of the same old thing.

I know this is totally trite, but it occurred to me today that if I don't do something different now, when am I going to do it?  After retirement?  Because as far as I can see, that's pretty much the only time in my future when I can expect a huge swath of time to open up and I will have endless amounts of money and energy (ahem) to spend on pursuing a total life turnaround.  You know what's scarier than jumping into a new, amorphous career when you're 27 with a brand spankin' new master's degree that you probably won't use?  Doing it when you're 65 with 40 years of an identity-defining career behind you and a resume that boxes you into a very specific ability range that has nothing to do with what your heart really wants.  I've spent a lot of time thinking it would all someday get easier.  It won't.


Even though I don't know where all this is headed, I think it's safe to assume doing something is better than doing nothing; I'm willing to trust the puzzle pieces will fit together much more clearly in a few years than they ever will now, as much time as I might invest in trying to logic this whole mofo out.  Sometimes we just have to do, even when we don't have a career track pasted into a nice tidy spreadsheet.

This week I'm planning to get in touch with a career counselor recommended by a friend.  I've been playing with this idea for several months but figured I'd just bumble through on my own. You know what?  That's dumb.  I've been in therapy a few times before and it's kind of the best.  Even though I believe myself to have above-average insight into my own shit, what that really means is I usually have my head stuck up my over-educated tuchus and my believing I have it all together is actually preventing me from having any insight at all.  An outside perspective is nice and more often than not, necessary to changing with intention rather than going where the current sends us.  Would my hot hedonistic little self rather buy a few extra pairs of shoes instead of spending that moolah on a counselor?  Do you even know me?  But my wiser self knows I'll get more bang for my buck with an investment in my life rather than in pretty feet.  Also, we're moving soon and H will be pissed if I buy one more item that will have to be schlepped into our (as yet unidentified) future house.  (I bought a pair of new lamps the other day.  We only have space for one in our current house but as I explained to H, in our new house we might need two lamps, so I bought them both.  He made fun of me for about a half hour until he got hungry and refocused his energy on trying to get me to make some dinner.)

I'm also going to download Working with Passion to read.  Truth?  I had an intense self-help phase in my teens and have not been able to get more than a quarter of the way through anything that twinkles of being self-help since.  But this book was specifically recommended by a friend who made the leap from a "should" job into a passion job, so I'm trying it.  I will read this damn book if I have to drink an extra cocktail every night to withstand the torture.

Finally, I'm going to exercise a wee bit more.  In the most perfect of perfect weeks, I move my bod maybe 5 times, including a couple of Pilates classes, maybe a hilly speedwalk, a bike ride, a yoga class...last week was notta so good.  I was inspired and I wanted to be on Pinterest, end of story.  But I tend to be much more clear headed and centered with a little more movement, so in addition to my base of two Pilates classes, I'm shooting for a hilly walk and a Booty Barre sesh.  Yep, I do old school aerobics.  No, you can not watch.

That's it.  I think it's enough to give me a little kick in the caboose.  Will check in soon.

Even though nobody comments, I know y'all are reading, and I appreciate it.