Saturday, April 20, 2013

Baby Shower Awesome

If you've been a long time reader or you know me at all, then you know that baby showers just really aren't my thing. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of celebrating a new life or adoption, BUT knowing what I know about environmental and toxin exposures/loads, it's incredibly challenging for me to go to most baby showers and see the gifts being given to new moms. Plastic for your kid to chew on?! Sigh. Special toxic lotions to rub on new babies skin?! Sigh. Potentially toxic covered new clothes/bedding/bags?! Sigh. Mass materialism at its finest?! Sigh. I think you're getting the theme, so I won't continue here.... :)

This weekend my gal E flew up from California for a baby shower in her honor however, and so regardless of any continued desire for seclusion, I sucked it up, figured out a gift, and headed across to the suburbs on the other side of the city....where I was happily surprised, not gonna lie. I shouldn't have been too surprised though, the two gals hosting were the same ones who coordinated her bridal shower and that also turned out equally enjoyable. Hands-down it was probably one of the best baby showers I've been to. 

The decorations were adorable:

The (alcoholic) drinks were delicious: 

The craft was useful, fun, and adorable:
(We made iron-on onesies in varying sizes.) 

The brunch food was delicious (creme brulee french toast bake, argula salad, two types of frittatas, and a fruit salad) and then they even had these lil jams as party favors: 
Most the gifts given weren't too bad (in terms of potential health effects), especially in comparison to most baby showers I've attended. And it was also good to see a couple of the other book club gals/friends and E's friends as well. E isn't finding out the sex of the baby (LOVE!) and they're also struggling trying to choose it's been a lot of fun trying to offer all sorts of random suggestions :) 

What a great lil shower!!

New Belt: Different Outfits

Here's the belt I fell in love with and agreed to let M purchase while we were at the Woodburn Outlet Stores a few weekends back. I had yet to wear it and it's a bit wider than I thought, but I was able to use it twice during the latter part of this week. Love it! (But then when don't I love animal prints?!)

Wore this to today's baby shower. This is the combination I first thought of when I saw the belt.

Wednesday night teaching: 
Not my favorite via the photo, but it was a new combo and incredibly easy!

And then not that this takes much effort, but I totally intend to be rocking this easy look multiple times as we start getting into better spring weather: 

So far, the belt is the only new "purchased" item this year although it was technically gifted. Not bad for being four months into the year though! Cleaning out my closet again is on my to-do list, but at least 90% of the items in there I feel like I do wear at this point. I'm thinking about weeding out the items I'm not drawn to/don't wear frequently and putting them in a storage area to see how I do without them. If I don't miss them and I don't feel like my wardrobe is missing them, then donated they'll be. I have quite a few items still hanging in another closet and if I keep putting padding back on then I might be back in my work pants sooner rather than later. All of that stuff I'll continue to hold onto for at least another six months, as I'm sure I'll get back up to my old body frame albeit still healthy. It's amazing how slimming down though, starts to make you worried about getting back to what also was healthy...

The other thing I've realized I need to do however is to take the time to come up with new outfit combinations. Just standing in front of my closet today, I kept thinking about trying x, y, and z together and wondering why I hadn't yet. How come our brains don't do that when we're running five minutes behind schedule and are in a rush to get dressed/out the door?! :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Life this week....

...I'm still just maintaining y'all but it's sort of nice to be happily reclusive, as contradictive as that might sound. Sometimes I just need to hole up and be solo for a while..and I honestly don't know how long this self-imposed seclusion might last, but as of right feels great. I don't have to be anything for anyone else, I don't have to listen, I don't have to give...I can just be...and focus and it's fab-u-lous. This whole experience is making me realize that I need to also spend some time thinking about where I want life to head and who I want to be a part of it as I move forward, because I can't tell you how many times in the last week I've wanted to completely wipe the slate clean and march off into a totally new life, new people, etc.

So what have I been up to...well quite a bit....I've been:

--Getting into a text fight with one of my best hometown friends...who verbally kicked my butt but snapped me out of myself for a bit and made me realize that I truly am tired of other people telling me what and who to be in my life. Ironically, we made up...only for me to again get frustrated....this is just the story of our friendship though.

--I spent Sunday night not sleeping very well due to insomnia which I think is connected to all the stress as of late. I spent Tuesday night dreaming non-stop of my ex only to wake up to a text message from him ....interesting how connected our unconscious sometimes can be to reality. The other nights I've slept hard and fast.

--I've applied for two more great jobs and have one more great one to apply for...all of which have reported that they'll be hiring in June, so please start crossing fingers and praying. I also mailed in my application for a general health/research position with the Air Force to eight different locations across the south (although it doesn't say which/when they're hiring). All things considered, until I do my usual weekend search/applying for jobs over the next few days, I've already applied for 20-25 positions in the last two weeks. Today I also had an orientation meeting for a new part-time (6-10 hr/wk) gig I have for just spring term. It should be just what I need to supplement what I'm currently lacking and get me through until summer but I still need a full-time job in a big bad way come June.

--I've posted at least eight items on Craigslist for sale to try to gain some extra cash and clear out more items from the past, and I also took three bags of stuff to Goodwill and I have about three more bags to take as well. M and I also cleaned out the garage/attic and I became that ex-wife who dropped good's off on her ex's doorstep since every time I tell him I've found more of his stuff, he rarely comes to get it. Purging down to necessities feels incredibly cleansing and freeing though. I've also again priced trading in my cross-over and if necessary, I could do so and make a little off of it.

--My ring finally sold and I got the check in the mail...and directly transferred those funds against my credit card plus a little extra. I also lucked out and my paycheck that I thought was going to leave me short this month ended up being regular size, so I am able to make all my bills this month and pay off my car insurance.

--I've been emailing potential new housemates on Craigslist who have ads posted wanting a short-term room, but I have yet to post my own ad. My parents seem to want me to stay in this house. M has offered to store his stuff in the garage/attic and pay me a storage fee while he's gone if I stay...and he also has a potential part-time housemate for my guest room. But until I feel more secure about staying in the rental, it feels weird to post an ad asking someone else to join the home.

--I'm still in awe at just how different my classes are this term from other terms...and how different they are from each other. Tuesday evening is FULL of chatters and Wednesday evening I have to call on students to get them to speak. The first exam is next week...we're already a third of the way through spring term! Tomorrow I have another training/meeting for the faculty side of things, there's a 3 day conference to attend next week for this new gig, and I have a couple other work engagements plus jury duty before the end of the month. This weekend I also have 100 papers to grade and today I graded the online discussions.

--M's gone up to visit his friends in Washington for the end of this week and his timing couldn't have been more perfect since I have a lot to get done. He's been incredibly busy trying to socialize with all his people before he takes off again (he's only been back in country for two months now), but we're still enjoying our housemate times together. The house is definitely quieter without him right now but makes it easier to get stuff done....and makes me realize that I'm gonna miss him while he's overseas again.

--I've taken a few days off of working out after the ten miler, but both my "easy" runs have been great pacing and mileage for me. I've begun to realize that my five pounds of padding I'm gaining is partly due to finally eating regularly again, tons of stress/cortisol, and the reality that my body is plateauing. I need to make sure my heart rate/breathing is up or that my distance is increased...otherwise these easy runs aren't much of a cardio push these days for weight management purposes. And my run today was a new route---so glad! Oh yea...and this week I may have also tried a bite of M's steak....

--Granny and I had a great visit this evening which also included her insights on my potential for relationships, aka Granny's words of wisdom. 1) I need to be willing to compromise on what I want out of a partner or else... 2) I'm going to end up a spinster and I shouldn't be a spinster. 3) I need to cut some slack both for said potential partner and myself. 4) Apparently my ex also needs to recognize that there is no perfect partner...and both of us need to learn to be content in the future with what is rather than what could be. Sigh, Granny, sigh....but yes, I know these things, yes, I've been thinking lots about this things, and no, I don't expect perfection, although I will probably always have high expectations for myself.

--Oh and I turned Denver down, as in withdrew my admission status. They asked if I wanted to defer until next summer and I've emailed asking whether or not deferral would grant any additional financial incentive...

--I quit book least for the time being. Interestingly I've been reading a ton of books for me, stuff that I want to read and that I've been putting off reading, but mainly I quit because of self-imposed seclusion...I don't want to talk, I don't want to analyze, I don't want to explain or weigh others opinions right now, etc etc. I feel bad, is what it is. And also, I'm honestly not driving anywhere but work these days or prior social obligations that at this point I don't feel I can back out of. I'm not going out for fun, or buying anything new or special...I'm reading books I already own, I'm buying minimal groceries, but ok, ok, I'm splurging on a glass of vino each evening :)

So life...well, right now, it just is. I'm not externally freaking out..and somehow internally freak out is maybe on in, I'm doing what I can (just about) to my full potential.....even if my obvious attempts to keep my stress at bay are mainly due to cutting everyone out and denial....which manifests itself in irritability, a horrible complexion, and trouble falling asleep at least once a week. But I'm also grateful in a weirdly twisted way...hmm...

Hope y'all have had productive, content weeks!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Home--What? Where?

While somewhat of the final state of the house (minus the rented room and bathroom that is). Things in the house are almost exactly how I would want them to be.....
Couch: West Elm; Throw Pillows: Target clearance, Ross, and made by yours truly; Ikea chairs: Craigslist & Salvation Army; frames: Goodwill, gifted, Ross; globe light: PB teen; coffee table/storage ottoman: Target

LOVE throws & patterned pillows!

Leather chairs: Target; side table: hand-me-down/repainted; TV console: Craigslist
This is in the guest room--bed not pictured. Chair: hand-me-down/repainted; desk: thrifted/repainted; painting by friend's father

Bed (for sale!): PB; bedding: West Elm duvets; side tables: Bi-mart; baskets: Joanne's
And yes, I know that the picture above isn't big enough...I have something else for there, just haven't finished it.

I'm in a period of transition--which seems to be the only stable thing of the last year, that ironically there is no stability, only constant flux and uncertainty. Just as I've felt myself gain solid ground, always, always that ground becomes sand, and I feel my feet begin to sink into the softness due to the constant lapping of the waves of life. I'm sure I'd be much better off if I'd just accept that this is how life goes, the tide goes in, the tide goes out....but it's hard to be so welcoming to this notion when I'm constantly struggling to keep afloat financially. And so we come to my home....of which I've been thinking of consistently.

After the ex moved out, one of the most difficult things was being alone in a ginormous (for just me) rental...and the fact that it no longer felt like a home. One of the tasks I used to help "heal" me was to make my house back into a home, which in recent months it's really begun to feel that way again. I'm (mainly) surrounded by things I love--colors, textures, shapes, pictures etc. 

You might be wondering why I didn't just pack up and find a new home once the divorce was for sure going to unravel, and the answer is three-fold. 1) I love my landlords. They aren't in my face, they trust that I'll take care of their place, and I pretty much can just do as I want. 2) My rent is cheap for what I'm getting. I'd have to pay as much as I am now (for a 3 bed, 2 bath home with a large backyard, AC in the summer, etc) for much less if I were to move and stay in the local area. 3) The animals. Rentals are hard to come by for Anna (German Shep or related breeds are restricted, even though she's the sweetest creature) and I'm not going to find another landlord that let's me have both dogs AND both cats. So I've stayed...and rented out a room for the last 5 months....even though part of me really still has this desire to move and start over somewhere else.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my rental. The house would be great long-term if the landlords ever decided to sell (I can't believe I just said I'd like to buy a a few years), although it'd require a lot of upgrades. But for right now it just seems like too much most the time---too much space for just me, too much yardwork for just me, too much in heating/water bills when I only need about a quarter of the space of this place, too much focus on "filling" the space with "things" I don't need, and too much hassle over not being able to leave the dogs in the yard anymore due to the bitchy dogs on either side. 

The "voice of reason" (aka my amazing father) arrived last week with my mother in tow, and he didn't have to say much to soothe my soul. (Plus mom and I had already texted about his thoughts on my recent situation.) I'd already re-priced U of Denver the day of their arrival and realized that there is NO way that I can afford that school ($54k for 1 year of tuition and only $16k in scholarships offered....), but since I only have one class that I can teach this summer (enrollment thus offerings are down and budgets are being slashed...) AND M is relocating to Taiwan for his job for six months starting mid-May....then I'm basically not able to pay rent (again...or any of my bills really) starting in June (even if I get another housemate, unless I get a housemate AND secure a full-time job of at least $15/hr...welcome to my life). I've applied for over 30 jobs this last year...only been contacted for interviews on three and was offered one (which in hindsight I should have taken and figured out the rest of the details later...). In the last two weeks, I've applied for 20 jobs (although many are duplicates with different numbers)....but one thing I've also come to realize is that I AM ready for a change. While it's been great to be settled in one spot for just over two years now (the longest I've been consistently in the same exact residence since high school) and as much as I could see myself coming back to this same job/location in a year or two, I I need to feed my soul, I need to break old ties, I need to challenge my mind, and redefine my heart. I need to start over.....because right now I'm tired, I'm strung-out, and honestly my heart is pretty, pretty hateful. I've put myself in self-imposed reclusiveness status and I might be here for a while....or at least until I feel like I've figured something out. Because I'm not going to lie, I'm getting incredibly tired of feeling this way, of wanting to but not being able to trust (men, friends, life, God), I'm tired of friends trying to get me talk about my problems because talking doesn't change anything, I'm not feeling like I can be a great friend right  now for numerous reasons (one of which is that I'm tired of talking about the same stuff period and my patience level is nil), and I'm incredibly tired of having to depend on my parents for financial assistance when I'm THIRTY years old. I have higher expectations for myself...and I'm failing myself miserably.

One thing I've been reflecting on in the last week is that my heart used to be so open. I cared for the world, for its people, for my friends and family, for the environment. I was eternally optimistic. How did I get so hardened? And will that hardness eventually melt...or am I going to remain jaded, realistic, and pessimistic for years to come? I'm mad at my ex....but I'm mad at myself for trusting him and for letting myself ever become dependent on someone else. I'm mad at God for keeping me in this "learning/struggling" space. I'm mad at the world. I'm not exactly fun to be around right now. And....I'm going to be a whole can of worms for whoever the next guy is that eventually tries to stick around long term. (Speaking of which, B might not have been such a "good guy" as he sort of went off the deep end one evening/morning...and we are no longer communicating....)

I hope for the best for everyone...but lately I'm realizing that it's probably going to be a much longer climb up for me than I ever imagined it would be. I knew the separation/divorce alone wasn't anywhere near my rock bottom, but I've gotten about as close to the bottom in the last month as I'll let myself. In good news, last night I finished a book, that had me laughing and feeling thankful that someone else She writes about losing her job, struggling with love, relocating, no longer knowing what to do about food, etc etc...and it just so wonderfully hit home..almost every single word of it. (Slow Love by Dominique Browning...and I just discovered she has a blog..SCORE!). Will life eventually pick up? Yes, yes, I do believe it will...I'm just not sure where else it's going to step on me before I get there.

So for now I'm listing items to sell on Craigslist, weekly applying for full-time jobs, going through my items and thinking about what I truly need in life (which isn't much really), working, exercising (great 10 miler yesterday!), keeping my friends at bay (sorry y'all!! but you'll thank me eventually), rethinking priorities, wondering (maybe too much as I've had two nights of insomnia lately), and day dreaming about setting up home elsewhere. Because truthfully, home can be transported anywhere...and I CAN recreate what I've created wherever I eventually am taken (Lord, please take me somewhere...).

All that being said, much love to all of you. Be nesters, be lovers, be still, and be full of life. And maybe, just maybe, BE. :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Woodburn Tulip Fest

C snagging a shot in a field of multicolored tulips.

M attempting some macro shots.

M's coworker/friend C is a big photography buff...and he loves to shop. Somehow mid-week or so I got it in mind to tell him about the Woodburn Tulip Festival that happens every spring (and the Woodburn Outlet Mall), which led to his suggestion that the three of us (C, M, & me) head down there on Saturday. I've been a bit reclusive and headed toward rock bottom lately, but M's pretty insistent on not letting me linger to close to the bottom edge for long....and so no matter my hesitation, Saturday morning M made breakfast for the three of us and then we loaded up in C's car. Neither M nor C leave the greater PDX area much, so it was fun to get them out of the city and exploring other areas of what Oregon has to offer (Woodburn is about 45 minutes from our side of PDX). Both guys enjoyed the fields of tulips and we spent about 1 to 1.5 hrs just wandering around the fields, which we happened to arrive between rain showers (although the incoming rain clouds made a great contrasting backdrop for the flowers!). 

After the Tulip Fest, we drove over to the Outlet Mall, where the guys happily went into shops looking for great deals. I tried to avoid most the stores (since I'm on the no-buy challenge and since I'm B-R-O-K-E), but let myself drool over the amazing spring shoes in Nine West....and gave in to M's adamant statement that he was going to buy me something regardless of whether I helped pick it out...and I let him get me this AWESOME faux python belt that I'd been eyeballing in the White House/Black Market window. Best part? It was on sale for just under $10! Once the guys were happy with their purchases, we made our way back to the car, and C drove us back to the house so that M & I could go pick Granny up and take her out for a very special lunch/dinner courtesy of M at Jake's Crawfish downtown. Jake's is 121 years old (it's only 20 years older than Granny) and while Granny didn't quite get the significance of the restaurant itself, she definitely appreciated the trip downtown and the amazingly delicious food! To say that M spoils is an understatement (he could write a book for men on how to treat/cherish/encourage women).

The rest of life heading south, I'll explain in another post, but let's leave this post focusing on the absolutely BEAUTIFUL Saturday. The tulips were amazing (my favorites!), helping C & M experience something new/different was fun, time with the two of them but no other pressure was soothing, and the evening with Granny was equally rewarding. We came home, cleaned the house, loved on the furries, I did some work, we watched some New Girl, and then called it a night. A great Saturday overall!

Hope each of you had a beautiful, restful, soul soothing day of your own!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I got in. Off the waitlist and Into the MSW program that is.

The catch? It's 40k for 3 terms. It's a 4 term program. I was awarded 12k in scholarships for 4 terms. Oh and I already have about the price of tuition in existent grad loans. Perhaps I could land a TA/GA and I know I can teach online in my current job's a lot of money. What if I decide that I actually don't want to work with veterans?! :)

So now comes decision time.

So like normal, I went for a 3 mile easy jog...

...and I'm just going to give myself time to think things through. Just like I've been doing, since I've spent the last week being reclusive and trying to process through the failure aspect of life....again.

In the last two days I've also applied to two full-time local academia jobs (one of which might be especially awesome!) and a part-time extra academia job for this term. I'm sure the local masses are applying too.

Decisions, decisions. We'll see what occurs....'s hoping God can make the "right" direction especially apparent! :)

Memorable Moments 4

A few things as of late to make me smile, laugh, or just pause in enjoyment:

---A moment with Anna, when I whispered to her that she's my best friend and she licked my face in return....officially crossing me from dog hater to owner to lover.

---Having the housemate come home after my frustrating evening course with a giant cookie & ice cream to brighten my mood. And another night when he brought a bouquet of gorgeous tulips (my favorites).

---A longer than usual jog that felt and left me wondering about returning to train for another half.

---Hearing the arrival and pass of a large bird in flight. No other sound nearby. Just the bird approaching and passing overhead in the middle of the snowy woods.

---Laughter. Via text. Via evenings over vino. Via chuckles with the dogs. Laughter.

---Feeling a extra bit of padding protuding around my mid section---meaning that I'm again eating routinely. And having that extra padding start to be something to worry about! :)

---Evenings making dinner with the housemate; seamless, simple, fulfilling. Sitting down at the table together and having real conversations. Or sitting in front of the occasional movie.

---Having B ensure that my coffee order was made right to order. Realizing that there are men that exist that will notice and ensure the small things happen.

---Noticing a bald eagle sitting on a branch above a river along the road trip.

---Sunshine streaming thru my windows in the morning, creating a great wake-up experience.

---A late afternoon/evening tucked into the entryway with both dogs, Major, a cup of tea, and a book.

---New vibrams at a discounted rate.

---Mornings curled up with three of my four furballs as I work from my laptop.

---Being nose deep in several books and sucking up the words on the page, after a couple months absence.

---Berkeley sitting in the sunshine with E. Flowers in hand purchased by M. Soaking up the rays and catch-up conversation, surrounded by cello music & the farmer's market.

---The smell of fresh cut lawn and the joy of pushing the lawn mower over the lush greenness.

---An afternoon of 77 degrees, laying in a bikini on the patio, soaking up some initial warm spring rays with the dogs.

---Conflicted moments, running, running, yet surrounded by trees full of blossoms, greenery, chirping birds, sunshine, and flowers poking up out of the ground.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Redwoods & San Francisco Trip

Had a great trip south last week. As much as I didn't want to spend any money to go, it seriously fed my soul to get out of town, to see old friends, and to explore some new territory---all things that always make me happy.

The housemate and I survived the 4 days of driving together and the middle day in SF, but we also learned many new things about each other :) Haha, and I had to come to realize even more that I have some slight (ahem) control issues about driving. We had a lot of fun together, but I'm not going to lie, the trip made me think (and miss) a lot about the ex also.

So what exactly did we do?

Well day 1 we left Portland about 7am and drove the four hours to my parents where we swapped my cross-over for their prius and left the dogs in their care. On the way though we stopped at a great little beach to let the dogs run & we had coffee & donuts:
We had beautiful coastal views all the way down 101 and we spent the first night camping in the redwoods. We set up the tent in the dark and I was exhausted so went straight to bed. The next day we got up and explored some of the more well-known larger trees: Tall Tree & Founders Tree. It was so awesome walking and camping among the redwoods--definitely something I've always wanted to do!
We got to Oakland about 8pm that night and I was able to spend an hour or so chatting with my gal C and her fiance, who kindly let us stay in their amazing home. We unfortunately didn't get much time with them due to their work schedules, an unfortunate event that had occurred in their social circle, and my other social plans....but I was so glad to get a few moments to enjoy them all the same.

On Thursday we got up and drove to the Golden Gate Bridge where we met up with Wali-G, (who is an old Army friend of the ex) and who is working in Bolinas as a farm intern. The three of us walked across the bridge and back and were fortunate to have amazing weather & views:
From there, the housemate and I drove to Berkeley to meet up with my gal E who just moved down to the Bay Area. I've always wanted to explore Berkeley and it was different than I could have imagined, but I absolutely loved it. After lunch, E and I wandered the Farmer's Market and settled down in the sun to catch up on the last month or two. From there the three of us wandered around the Berkeley campus and the area next to the college. About 7pm, E took off to meet her hub back home, and M & I met up with another old friend of mine and her fiance. It was so great to see S (and meet her guy), as I hadn't seen her in TEN years! M and the fiance hit it off also once they established "mutual nerdness" as the housemate phrased it ;)

On Friday, M & I got up, packed, and headed into the Mission district of San Francisco for breakfast (The Pork Store Cafe). From there we went to Coit Tower, as I'd never been and M wanted me to see great views of the city:
It was an absolutely beautiful day again, so from there we headed North across the bridge to Hwy 1 to find some trails along the coast in the Muir Woods area that I'd read about from a Bay Area blogger. M and I changed and headed out and UP as the fog rolled in. It was an absolutely beautiful trail along the coastline....that kicked our butts! ;)
After the trail run/hike, we cut back over to 101 and drove until we stopped at a hotel just south of Eureka. It was amazing to wake up so well rested the next day and ready to drive back up 101 to swap cars back, load up the furballs, and drive the rest of the route back home. 

Yesterday was a great day that started off early, included a 6.5 mile run with the dogs while listening to Christian music, a wonderful Easter lunch with the fam, some great sunbathing and patio time, my nose deep in a book, some work completed, and just solo time being enjoyed while M was off at work.

But the best part of the trip (besides seeing so many dear friends!) was that it was M's first official road trip! :) LOVE new experiences!