Wanderlust Wednesday: Buenos Aires

This is a short post. Not because the lack of things to write, but more for the opposite. There are so many ideas in my head I have to reach into the swarming buzz of thoughts and snatch one out quickly before it zips away. The slowest thought in the swarm? My amazing trip to BA for my best friend’s wedding. I’ll do a breakdown of events in more detail, but here is my current favorite shot from the trip. This was taken in the famous Recoleta Cemetery. She reminds me of a Tim Burton movie.

Reminds me of a Tim Burton movie

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The story takes place in the winter

She stepped into the February air and was surprised to not feel the biting sting of the forecasted eight degrees below. She had always run a bit hot, especially after a frantic effort to pull herself into presentable shape in the thirty minutes her delayed wakeup call had given, and rather than shiver in the cold she was relieved to let it pour over her. There is a delightful optimism to be felt in the time between threshold to cubicle. The day still holds such promise of to-do list items to be proudly crossed off and post-workday productivity in the form of yoga sessions, writing frenzies, and gourmet adventures. The reality is that more times than not upon crossing back through the portal that is the homestead she would find herself succumbing to the siren’s call of the sofa. But what if today she resisted?

The workday passed by in a grey haze of conference calls, email replies and menial tasks. While her heart did not flutter at the approach to her office building each day, it certainly appreciated the safety and comfort of an honest 40 hours and a guaranteed paycheck. She would daydream of owning a tea shop, a yoga studio, a book store – or all the above. Her heart would lift at the thought of her writing becoming more than simply a hobby, but a real bona fide profession. In public company she would meekly, shyly describe herself a writer, but it rang a false tune as her parents were the biggest fans of said writing. At the same time her heart would lift her stomach would plummet and she would instantly retreat to the safety of her nine to five. Trying was scary. Failing was assured.

And so to the sofa she would go at the end of each day. For the sofa meant no exploration of winsome possibilities. From the sofa no ideas would spark, no wanderlust would take hold, and no dangerous progress could be made on her ‘other’ interests. It was safe, it was snug, it was secure. And at her fingertips a wealth of distraction! Four hours and four episodes later would find her safely tucked in bed with no progress towards her passions.

Today though, today, she resisted. Perhaps it was the weather? Perhaps the uncharacteristic winter freeze warmed within her an uncharacteristic behavior. This time, when the siren call began to weave around her she took one rebellious glance toward the object of adventurous impediment and resisted. Snatching a pen, a pad and her tablet she retreated from the safety of home and back into the world. She wasn’t sure yet where to go, she just drove. The smell of hops beckoned, and with a mental image likening herself to Lewis or Tolkien sitting in a dim Oxford bar creating new worlds, she pulled into the lot of a neighborhood brewery and claimed her own dark corner. She sat down, and she began to write.

Today I decided to semi-creatively write. Thank you to the Seventh Sanctum for the writing challenge generator. Finding a place to start is always the hardest part.

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Porn isn’t something you expect to come up in church

Recently Brian and I have started attending church together. I specify *together* because Brian had been going without me. A Catholic and an agnostic Buddhist, we make an interesting pair. I’m not sold on the whole ‘Jesus is my savior’ bit yet, but I can’t help but notice a few common trends among those in my life who I want to be more like. My aunt and her husband have an amazing, long-lasting marriage where they are really in it together (I wrote an earlier post about how beautiful their love is, in fact). I want that. They are also deeply involved in their church. The friends of ours I find myself drawn to the most and who have such positivity and radiating awesomeness tend to be church-goers. I want to be more like them. The kids I tend to like the most actually enjoy going regularly to church. I want my kids to turn out like that.

So I figure, even if I am on the fence, it can’t hurt to try. Now, that being said, I’m difficult. I don’t like doing things the way ‘most people’ do them. I don’t like to accept things because ‘that’s the way it is,’ and I have a bit of a short attention span. Catholic mass just wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a beautiful ritual for those raised and ingrained in it, but it bores me to tears. No – to go to church regularly I needed a little more excitement and stimulation. We are still in the courting phase, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found my church. You want to know why? Because last Sunday we talked about porn.

This is a conversation I would never have expected to find at Sunday service. Maybe in small group, or in individual study, but laying it all out there on a Sunday morning with 50-75 of your best acquaintances was never something I would have expected. I loved it. I loved that the pastor wasn’t afraid to put out a tough topic – to force a conversation about something we all avoid confronting. Especially as someone looking to join myself body and soul with another human being, these are the scary questions that need to be asked. The other awesome thing is, that I actually learned a lot. For example, did you know that viewing pornography has the same impact on the reward center of your brain as shooting heroin? It causes a release of feel-good hormones that cause you to become addicted. And, also like heroin, the more you watch, the more you need to satisfy the craving. The scary part is that not only do you become addicted, but your brain actually bonds to the images, the pixels, on the screen. It’s the whole Pavlov’s dogs scenario, but instead of a bell and some steak… well I’ll keep this PG-13, but you get the idea. What this does is actually prevent you from having a deep, intimate and satisfying relationship with your partner as they can never provide the same gratification as the images on the screen.

Over lunch today with my step dad, (who I refer to as daddy #2 because I lucked out and have the privilege to have a bonus dad in my life), we were talking a bit about my recent church experience and he brought up the valid and thought-provoking point that almost everything you see on TV and in the movies these days is porn. Heck, you walk down the street and you are inundated with images of scantily clad women, provocative scenarios, and even ordinary women walking down the street dressed in ways so as to tempt the eye that dares to wander. Some may say a woman can dress as she pleases and a man just shouldn’t pay attention, but let’s be real here – men will stare. Geez, I will stare at a woman displaying all that God gave her. You just can’t help it. I won’t post the incriminating evidence, but as a wayward teen I too suffered from the backward thinking that any attention was good attention, and I cringe to think of the tight, short, and suggestive articles of clothing I purchased. My parents never really called me on it, but when I utter a “Oh my God what was I wearing,” when flipping through old photos, my mom can’t help but remind me that particular photo isn’t the half of the bad fashion crimes I committed.

Finding the love of a good man who accepts me completely, I find nowadays I blush if my hem line is too high or even a smidge of cleavage peaks through. Maybe I’ve gone too far in the other direction, but I’d happily describe myself as a prude these days. Yes, I may turn less heads and provoke fewer jaw drops – but I don’t need that any more to feel good about myself and my body. I no longer need external validation that I’m beautiful. Brian reminds me every day just by loving me. My hope is that more young women will learn this lesson, and that we can stem the tide of a culture which has taught women that modesty is anti-feminist.

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Relax, she’s just not wearing eyeliner

Going a long stretch without writing, it is always a tentative step back into the pool. There is a sense of shame, felt more strongly when you publicly share your blog, and it often keeps you delaying your plunge back in. Where to start? There are so many recent events I neglected to share – do I try to recap all at once, one at a time, not at all? Does anyone still read this thing? When I get right down to it; however, I realize I write for me – not for you. Sharing is a perk, feedback is a bonus, but the outpouring is the therapy I really need.

On my mind today, and in no particular order.

The radio and my MSN newsfeed are abuzz about Uma Thurman’s new look. A semi-expert in the art of how makeup application can alter your whole look, I can say with reasonable confidence that the woman just chose not to wear eyeliner last night. I mean, has no one else seen the panda meme? A panda without its black eye rings looks like an awkward plush toy – so do I (and apparently Uma) when we skip the ceremonial inking of the eyes. I say kudos to her for scaling back the makeup. We all need to be more comfortable in our own skin. And if I’m wrong and she did go under the knife – WHO GIVES A CRAP? Come on people, priorities. Did anyone else read that we are kinda maybe gonna go to war soon? Anyone? Bueller?

funny-Panda-bear-mascara-eyes-black-spot

So the war thing. Haven’t yet sorted through my feelings on this one, but I’m torn between wanting to murder the bastards that keep offing our citizens travelling abroad and the part of me that feels strongly we need to stop interjecting ourselves in other countries politics, as this is what makes us a target in the first place.

Jon Stewart leaving the Daily Show makes me really sad. I have never sat down and watched a whole episode, but the clips I see pop in my newsfeed here and there are always entertaining. I hope we don’t stop stating the obvious in a totally sarcastic and non-subtle way when he’s finally done. It’s a role we need desperately in this age of information overload and blatant media manipulation.

Kanye West is a narcissistic ass. Why does this still surprise people?

Brian and I attended our first night of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course last night, and it’s opened up some sensitive areas, but we are both hopeful it will help steer us on the path of smart shared finances and goal setting as we join our households and bank accounts this coming June. More on this to come I’m sure.

I’m considering adding product reviews, book reviews, restaurant reviews, etc., to my blog – but I don’t want to seem too commercial or gimmicky. I hate the feeling that the bloggers I enjoy are being paid to endorse a product and not offering honest feedback. What I do appreciate is a first-hand account of a product/place/food I’ve wanted to try but been hesitant about, and that’s what I want to offer to the blogosphere. Thoughts?

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Foster Failure

For almost two years now Brian and I have fostered for the Greater Charlotte SPCA. Fostering is amazing. And heart wrenching. And gratifying. And just totally freakin’ awesome. We have been lucky enough to help place twelve amazing pups into their forever homes.

Foster Collage

Not all could fit into my collage, but each one stole my heart in their own way. Shae and her mischievousness. Eden and her pitiful, broken start. Kringle and his tendency to be my little shadow. Killian and his big goofy self. Cam, the nearly thirty pound mastiff puppy who refused to walk down my condo stairs. Demi, with her typical lab energy who we had to keep calm for a month while she went through heartworm treatment. She’d given her own body and health to nurse her pups. Izzy with her big goofy ears. Gidget and Gunther we had for only 24 hours, but they stole my heart as they slept on my shoulder, perched like little squirrels. Gryphon, the beagle corgi mix with the saddest eyes and the stubbiest legs. Winston, who charmed his way into our neighbor’s home. And Pauline, world class snuggler.

Then, then there was lucky thirteen.

Cane

So far I’ve managed to refrain from posting a bazillion pictures of my pup (mainly because he doesn’t pose unless he’s sleeping) but don’t take that as a sign that I’m a healthy, normal dog owner. I am obsessed. Like, I spoon with my dog obsessed. He is perfect, and he’s mine. When Cane came into our lives (then Bennett) we joined the ranks of our fellow foster failures, and I haven’t regretted it for one second. Yes, he’s stained a rug or two, and yes, he eats everything and it gives me panic attacks – and yes, he has recently discovered the cats are fun to chase – but he is an amazing dog and everything I’ve ever wanted.

Although we may have failed at fostering, we won’t be stopping. We are; however, taking a reprieve until we move into a larger house. Unfortunately with our two cats and now two dogs we are literally busting at the seams in our one bedroom condo. Some may find it odd, but when we pile into bed and I’ve got our six pound Chi curled up behind my knees, my 14 year old tabby sleeping on my pillow, Brian’s orange fluff ball on his chest, and I’m spooning with my puppy – I’m pretty much the happiest girl in the world.

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On conflict

Recent events (which I won’t go into detail over because I have neither the knowledge nor the first hand exposure required to comment from a position of any legitimacy) have caused me to dwell on the topics of compassion, judgment, and simple kindness.

Acts of violence and cruelty make me uncomfortable. I tend to avoid televised news broadcasts, and instead receive my news through what I like to believe are more objective radio news programs on outlets such as NPR which, in my opinion, seem to avoid blatant emotional manipulation which ultimately feeds emotionally-driven and sometimes unreasonable behavior. Recently we went to see the film Nightcrawler and I was sickened by the idea that it probably wasn’t too far-fetched of a concept. I’m quite certain there are those who will stand behind a camera and shamelessly invade the most private, painful of moments to make a buck. I try to avoid any support of this horrid behavior by not consuming sensationalized media.

I like my television programming to mostly be of the warm and fuzzy and/or entirely not realistic variety. Yes, many of the shows I currently watch have an element of violence, cruelty, conflict, murder and downright abhorrent behavior, but interestingly enough I’m finding as I seek a more balanced and centered life through my yoga practice I find these elements less appealing. My favorite shows, books, video games – any of the media I consume – are those where there is an evil which is defeated and goodness (almost) always wins. This is how I want the world to be. Good should always triumph over evil. Compassion over cruelty. Sympathy over judgment.

What recent events force me to acknowledge is that my ideal world does not exist. There are bad people in the world, and sometimes those bad people win. There are good people in the world who can feel such pain, belittlement, degradation and despair that they are driven to do bad things. There are flawed people who appear to perform good acts, but in private they commit atrocious crimes which overshadow or negate their good deeds when brought to light.

What I do know to be true is that we have a choice. We can choose to fill our minds, our thoughts, and our hearts with kindness. We can choose to use our words to express sympathy and teach others understanding and patience. We can choose not to support those who encourage hatred and practice greed at the expense of others. We can choose to pay attention to what companies and people our dollars, attention, and social media activities support.

We start with ourselves.

We can only start with ourselves.

Personally, I’m starting by challenging myself to audit my thoughts and words. Next time I feel a judgment or criticism bubble up, I’m going to exchange it for a thought of sympathy or an act of kindness. What is your personal challenge? If we focus on bringing mindfulness to our thoughts and actions every day, we truly can change the world.

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