I Drank The Self-Improvement Kool-Aid

Over the past two years, I read both of the Marie Kondo books, I listened to hours of The Dave Ramsey Show, and I followed every spoken/written word of The Minimalists. I even went to a Tiny House show at my local convention center.

The Minimalists

I found myself overwhelmed with “stuff” in 2014 when one of my grandmothers died and the other one left her house permanently to move into a nursing home.

After one garage sale and dozens of trips to the thrift store/Salvation Army to donate my “stuff”, I felt like I had more control over my household. My husband had already been a minimalist and his way had rubbed off on me. But I came from a hoarder mother, a lovely woman who is a packrat to the umpth degree.

I have been dissatisified with my career and place of work since 2014, and no amount of Dave Ramsey books read along with my husband or purging of my closet Kondo-style could spark the joy within me. Hell, even weekly weekend trips to the lake to camp in my parents’ RV was just a Band-Aid to the hurt within. While bawling at an Applebee’s one night into my merlot, my husband suggested I go back to school. I nearly cussed him out until he clarified what kind of school, law school.

I enrolled and was accepted in August of 2016 into my 1L year of law school. Three classes a week at night after work has become quite the balancing act. Lest we forget I have a kindergartener, two stepkids, and a household to run (I take care of all the pets, all the time).

But somehow, I’m surviving! It’s all about time management; carving out time for study, compartmentalizing time with friends & family too. I made the Dean’s List my first semester and was inducted into the law school’s Honor Society. All of my professors have told me they believe I have what it takes to pass the bar exam on the first try.

What law school has really taught me, so far, isn’t just torts, civil procedure, and legal writing. I’ve also learned how to improve my mind and my outlook on life. I’ve been a yogi since 1999, and I gave up teaching nighttime yoga classes at the local gym to start law school.

While I’ve been sitting on my ass studying, it makes me long for the rubbery smell of the yoga mat and the heart-pounding, adrenaline rush of a run on the track. I have not neglected these close friends because time management allows me to schedule it in using the appropriate discipline.

Exercise aside, the self-improvement aspect that law school has manifested within me is the ability to talk to people, to listen better, to have more confidence, and to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I will not always be doomed to walk down the halls of an asbestos-filled (I’m assuming) rickety government building to a career that has betrayed me while I’ve outgrown it.

Aside from studying daily for law school courses, I’ve also taken up reading again for pleasure, which was something I did not have time to do my first semester. I’ve gone through a bunch of John Grisham paperbacks and other books that have been collecting dust in my house. Since I’m a reformed hoarder myself (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), I have looked at the myriad of books I’ve amassed from the thrift store and asked myself the qualifying question: “Does this book add value to my life?”-The Minimalists. Sometimes I ask it the Marie Kondo question: “Does this spark joy?”

I have purged so many books by leaving them at the RV Park’s revolving library and by trying to resell them at 2nd & Charles. There are some books I just ain’t gonna read. Mostly, I have a lot of reference books and nonfiction too, especially yoga-related ones. I have purged a third of my yoga books, kept my favorites on my nightstand, and the other 3rd are upstairs on the bookshelf still.

I did the unthinkable by befriending a law professor. We got to know each other so well in fact, that he gifted me all of his bar-prep books (a HUGE stack of them) and a bar-prep board game as well. I also inherited all of my husband’s old law books (he’s an attorney too), some of which are very outdated but how much does the law really change? I have just accepted the fact that my house will be overflowing with legal books and bar-prep manuals for the next 4 years. Le sigh!

Despite purging books, I have also accepted the fact that I am a DVD junkie. Heck, ya gotta collect something! We have a closet of DVDs, and we actually still watch 95% of them on rotation. They are not collecting dust or wasting space; my family loves movies. If I ever get a tiny house, I will have a storage shed just for movies (and some of my CDs too). And no, I don’t want to put them in the cloud. My son and I like to read the boxes and prioritize them in the order we are going to watch them. Plus I loan out movies to my family and friends.

Marie Kondo

Next, I have pared down my closet so much in the past two years, it’s like I am finally starting to get a capsule wardrobe. I stick with classic pieces in black, gray, navy, white, and occasionally red. I am loyal to brands that fit well and last for decades like LL Bean, Lululemon (more on them later), and Lilly Pullitzer. My law school classmates and I once discussed how we have culled a “uniform” to one day wear once we practice law. I’m trying to evolve my uniform now to wear to the job that I’m hanging onto as sort of a paid internship (it sounds better in my head). If something is ugly, I purge it. If it’s too boob-tight, it gets tossed too. My household has a rotating purge box designated for charity donation.

My mom has gotten better lately and is no longer a hoarder; I’d like to think some of my minimalism has rubbed off on her. My dad has never struck me as a pack-rat, which raises the question, Are men just natural-born minimalists? My son deviates from that mold because his room is a constant wreck, overflowing with plastic toys, books, mismatched socks, and costumes. But I learned from The Minimalists that you cannot convert someone to the lifestyle, nor can you purge his/her possessions because that is just plain immoral.

I am praying my dream comes true soon, which is that my husband gets a better paying attorney job that would enable me to quit my day job. Then I can focus on running my household into minimalist shape while being the mom I want to be, and picking up an extra law class. I realize that I cannot will this dream to happen, but the hope of it is keeping my motivation running. I no longer want to be another faceless cog in the wheel of a machine that has destroyed the very kefi (Greek word for joy) of my soul. I long for a simpler life, a life focused on family, academia, and friends.

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Along my intellectual journey,I heard about one of my favorite brands, Lululemon, and what they do to their employees. My first experience with Lululemon was being in Yoga Teacher Training in 2012 wondering why all the rich students were wearing nice clothes and using pretty yoga mats with the Omega Ω symbol on them. By the time I could actually afford to shop there, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the staff was and that I got a Yoga-Teacher discount! Even on clearance! Years later, I’m still using their invincible mats and wearing the same pieces of clothing I bought on day 1. My husband last week read me a Facebook article about Lululemon, which explained how the staff is encouraged to “clear” out negative emotions (much like Scientologists are audited). Lululemoners are required to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” for the pseudo-libertarian philosophies therein on self-improvement. They have sweat-dates where they get to attend workout classes with their coworkers, and their ambitions are fostered, not shut down (like when you work for the government—me).

Last week alone, two of my good friends moved away; one got a job at a prestigious law firm two hours south, and the other was a coworker who was promoted across the state. This left a hole which I soon healed with detachment. I have moved on using the Lululemon method: I talked about my feelings, I worked out, and I started reading “Atlas Shrugged.” Seriously, I bought it yesterday.

So in tying this article together, the point is that I am constantly in a state of self-improvement. I drank the Kool-Aid and am invested in myself. My dreams aren’t met yet, but I’m working on them as a work in progress. My social life is pretty great, hanging out with like-minded law students/people in the legal profession. I still get to see my sorority sisters from college, and I have a cool role in my church. I’m the greeter at the door, but it feels like I’m a bouncer so it’s fun.

If you need anything from me, I will be memorizing laws, reading Randian philosophies and working on my Warrior 2 out in the woods of the RV park. Who is John Galt?

Ayn Rand lululemon bag

__________________________________________________________________The Minimalists

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time…A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows.”—Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”

 

Catch me on Instagram @yogalawgothygram and Tweet me @marissamacabre

When Hoarding Becomes Dangerous!!

As I type this post, I do so with my thumbs on my smartphone seeing as my right hand took quite a beating today. You see, I was trying to add two new sommelier wine glasses to my stemware cabinet while organizing this morning.

I was trying to balance my cellphone (having a conversation with my mom) and juggling glassware. I slipped, tripped, and broke about four wine goblets & a martini glass.

My pinky finger got gashed by a broken shard of glass. The meat where my index finger connects to my palm also became sliced. I dripped blood all over the kitchen among the broken glass chips. It looked like quite the crime scene!

I frantically called my husband, mom, and mother-in-law in a panic. Neither my primary care physician nor my dermatologist wanted to stitch my finger up today. I had to go to the emergency room at the hospital and wait amongst patients dying of cholera, tuberculosis, Spanish Flu, and Black Plague just to get a stitch. I’m almost 34 and I’m certain that if this were the olden times, my injured GUSHING-BLOOD pinky would have killed me then.

Once order had been restored to my universe, I had my mom help me put the glassware that didn’t  get purged back up in the cupboard. She took some extra glasses, but the rest got packed up in a box headed for the thrift store. No single normal household should have SOOO MANY wine, beer, and liquor glasses! How did I become such a hoarder? I’ve read both of Marie Kondo’s books and I’m a huge fan/follower of The Minimalists.

If you look at the 3rd picture, you will see where I emptied all the excessive alcohol glasses out of the cabinet.

And the 4th picture shows my finished product, complete with labels from my label maker. I donated the glasses that were given to me from people I no longer like and from a snotty brewery club I quit last year.

It took today’s injury to rattle my core (at least my pinky’s bare bone) to force me to get rid of clutter. Y’all be careful in your purging endeavors. My little trip to the ER set me back $150 plus shame and embarrassment. I have the blood spatter in the kitchen to prove that I took one for the team.

Minimalism, Snow & DC Villains (Gotham Yoga)

Happy New Year! I’m trapped with my family for days due to a snow storm with icy roads. But that’s ok. I seriously doubt Henry David Thoreau had this much fun when he was snowed in his tiny house on Walden Pond!

Part of minimalism is paring down things you don’t like anymore in your life and focus on what tickles your fancy at the present. I donated 50% of my belongings in the past year, to clear the way for new favorites, such as DVDs at Christmas (they don’t take up much space, like in my future tiny house). In short, we’ve been watching Suicide Squad a whole bunch!

Since I started law school classes at night from August onward, I had to quit teaching yoga at the gym. I miss it a little bit, so I decided to start blogging some yoga videos…[brace yourselves] in character as Harley Quinn! My son and I call the videos Gotham Yoga and we do short little how-to snippets. Sam is playing Diablo from the Suicide Squad.

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What makes you happy? Obviously, no matter how much law I study, I still go back to my yoga practice. I’ll never throw out my yoga books or beloved mat. Don’t purge it if it still serves you well. Some fads come and go, but true hobbies last a lifetime. I’ve been a yogi since 1999 and a ham since 1983. Snow on!!

Tiny House Road Show- Pictures!

On July 23rd, my family attended the Tiny House Road Show at our local civic center. Not all tiny houses are built as equals. Some were just *presh/gorge*, while others were severely lacking…

Instead of making this an article, I’m going to just post all the pictures of us. Some of them contain *rando humanoids* who happened to photo-bomb us!

I will say this one thing: one day I hope to downsize to a tiny house by a body of water and live as Thoreau did, but of course with WiFi flowing through my devices and Kat Von D makeup on my face. I’ve got a long way to go on purging/paring down the bare necessities…I only buy what I absolutely have to now and donate the rest. With the exception of school textbooks (1,000+ pages), my “biggest” purchase items are DVD’s. Keepin’ it tiny…

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And to end on a note with a compostable toilet, from me to you, enjoy.

Down the rabbit hole…

In the true spirit of a minimalist blog, I haven’t posted in a while. Therefore, the blog has had minimal maintenance.

I have not been camping in 3 months, nor have I had time to ponder the works of Thoreau. Frankly, I’ve been extremely busy since I started…LAW SCHOOL!

alice-4 (My Cheshire Cat husband talked me into to going to law school like he did years ago. He taught me how to write briefs and disappears when I don’t know how to do a proper bluebook citation…)

I wasn’t supposed to matriculate until January of 2017, but I had a freak encounter with the dean of the school who admitted me on the spot at a law school gala. I started classes the very next day, making me a #1L. I’ve been attending class since the first weekend of August, first with a 2 weekend Lawyering Fundamentals seminar put on by Barbri. Then my 3 nights a week classes commenced after I took a quick trip to the beach. So now I have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night classes right after work.

The only thing I’ve been reading has been case law, Torts, Legal Writing/Research materials, Bluebook Citations, and Civil Procedure. As a matter of fact, my new mantra hails from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, whichever rule I’m supposed to memorize for the week.

When I went through Yoga Teacher Training in 2012, I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole into Yoga Wonderland! Here I am again, same old Alice, embarking on a new quest for knowledge via Legal Wonderland.

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I drank the potion and have molded my brain to start thinking like an attorney. (In fact, most Friday nights after class, I go out for a few drinks to a local pub with my lady friend classmates.)

On Wednesdays, I have Legal Writing with the Caterpillar (who smokes a lot from what I can see in his numerous YouTube videos as he spews vitriol regarding Hillary Clinton)

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I can’t understand him half the time because of the poor acoustics in the classroom. He sounds like a cross between Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs” and a very Southern Christopher Walken. He’s pretty tall and handsome, with tales of his recent law school experience to share.

I have truly come to loathe Bluebook Legal Citations as they seem like a convoluted form of math, a.k.a. geometry. Luckily, I’ve been doing technical legal writing since 2005 when I began my law enforcement career. I just have to tweek it for the civil side of legal writing.

Lately, I’ve been racing home after the Caterpillar’s class to watch my favorite show, “American Horror Story: My Roanaoke Nightmare.”

Then on Thursdays, I attend Civil Procedure with the lovely Mad Hatter. He taught my husband 10 years ago and I really appreciate him as an attorney. I’ve learned so much but his lectures don’t make any sense unless you have the 28 United States Code, Constitution, or Federal Rules of Civil Procedure right in front of you. And I enjoy playing back his lectures the next day. The Mad Hatter has pulled some fun out of an otherwise dry source of material. One week we talked about Rule 9(g), Special Damages like Loss of Consortium. I made the Monica Lewinsky-esque joke about if a woman hurts her neck during a car wreck…the whole class died laughing. He knew it was me, and I’m the only student whose name he calls on because of his friendship with my husband. I just cracked up all over again when I played back the lecture. The next week, he was talking about Domestic Relations and how he had a client filing for divorce bringing in a box of adult novelty toys and how his wife cheated on him with Ashley Madison. LOL!

Gotta love the Mad Hatter

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On blessed Friday nights when I’m supposed to be off work having a blast, I have to be stuck in class with the Queen of Hearts (who’s actually a guy from Tennessee who commutes to teach us). Our class had the Queen of Hearts for Lawyering Fundamentals seminar, and now we have him again. Every time he calls on you, he likes to get combative and embarrass you. It doesn’t feel like the Socratic Method, but more like “Off with your head!” Torts is by far the most entertaining subject matter in law school yet (I’m really looking forward to Criminal Law). But Torts can feel like a burden when you have to formulate your essays to meet the Barbri jacked up criteria…and all homework is posted on the Matrix. Pop quizzes are given as often as the Queen of Hearts plays croquet.

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Finally, I have changed so much in the past few months. I have let toxic friendships go by the wayside, but have kept up with cherished old friends. I made new friends at church and at school, with whom I am in constant communication.

Importantly, being away from home for a 10 hour working day followed by a 3 hour class has made me really appreciate down-time with my family. I make an effort to plan fun things with my husband and I cuddle with my son as much as possible. I keep on regularly practicing yoga, having not taught anyone at a gym since August. I also make time to go hiking and to attend church, to keep some semblance of a routine outside of class and work.

As far as finances go, I have to set my intention to live frugally by saving up for tuition and the mortgage payment. I pay the law school tuition 3 times each semester in cash. It’s very affordable legal education. Even if I don’t pass the bar exam, I’ll still have a juris doctor, which looks great on a résumé. The only splurge I made was on a basic $300 laptop on a tax-free weekend. I only do legal work on the laptop; I also bought $600 worth of text books to use next semester as well, and an LL Bean sturdy fuchsia book messenger bag.

Several of my friends with whom I began law school have already quit. But I say, let the pieces fall where they may and let the strongest survive. In 4 years, I’ll be ready to take the bar exam and move forward with my life. As for now, I’m planning a Halloween camping trip with my son and husband this weekend. Maybe I’ll have some new glamping, minimalism, tiny house, nature material for you.

Down the rabbit hole I go…

alice-6…following the White Rabbit (time/opportunity/ambition) has been the best choice I’ve made in years.

Streamline Your Thoughts and Actions so Direct Karma Doesn’t Kick You in the Balls

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just witnessed direct karma. I’m going to back up and state for the record that I am a Christian who belongs to an Episcopal Church in a small town. I’m not preachy but technically, Christians aren’t supposed to believe in karma.

The dictionary gives the following definition:

kar·ma
ˈkärmə/
noun
noun: karma
  1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
    • informal
      destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

The informal definition is the one I’m addressing here. During my Yoga Teacher Training, I studied Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and some Taoism. The Eastern philosophy of karma is by no means Christian. Yahweh doesn’t say in the Old or New Testament, “What goes around comes around.”

Oh. Wait. Yes. He. Does. “You reap what you sow.” I’m paraphrasing but isn’t that in the Bible?

A few weeks ago, I went to dinner after a tumultuous day at work. I became irritated when the bartender didn’t honor a happy hour drink special and even charged my table for a drink we didn’t order. I noticed that the purple-haired barkeep  took out her contact lenses on top of clean plates while serving food and drinks. She didn’t wash her hands and she squirted extra contact solution into a plastic ramekin which stayed on the bar. Not only was this nasty, but she could have potentially intentionally poured the solution into drinks of customers she didn’t like to get them sick. I’ve heard several bartenders talk about dosing annoying customers with Visine so many times.

parish oyster house bar

You can clearly see the bottle of contact solution and the plastic ramekin on top of the clean plates. I watched the bartender pour the solution into the ramekin and take out her contacts without washing her hands and then handling food/drinks.

 

After further investigation, I learned that the bartender was the owner’s wife. And since I’m friends with the restaurant’s owner on Facebook, I very well couldn’t report his wife to him, now could I? I waited until the following Monday morning and I called the Health Department of our county. I launched a formal complaint against the restaurant and the bartender; a few hours later, I was punished by the universe as a direct result of my report. https://mythoroughlythoreauexperience.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/when-emergency-strikes-dont-have-a-lot-of-baggage/ I should’ve let sleeping dogs lie. My work car flooded in a freak accident from a flash flood on my way home.

Last Sunday night, I was all alone in my creepy house because my husband was in Texas on business and my son was at the lake with my parents. I freaked out because it was a dark, stormy night and I began to hear a twisted shrieking sound, like an alarm going off in my house. Summers in Alabama have the background noise of cicadas shrilling, and one was stuck in my house. I watched a few YouTube videos to make sure that was the correct sound. To me, the insect is quite creepy.

At work this morning, the IT guy and I were chatting in another coworker’s office. When he left the office and went into the hallway, the other coworker saw a cicada on the IT guy’s back. It was like that moment in Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold had a squirrel on his back and the whole house freaked out. I had the same reaction. My colleague was able to knock off the cicada and the IT guy squashed it.

I returned to my office with my heart still racing from excitement. The IT guy and my colleague came into my office. The IT guy said he wanted to collect the bug and put it in one of our coworker’s trashcans. I said, “There’s my tissue box; use one of those to pick up the dead bug,” and I pointed to the bottom shelf of my bookcase.

Just when the IT guy bent down to get a Kleenex, he put his weight on a rickety shelf and half of the bookcase fell on him! He was laid out on the ground of my office. Several other coworkers heard the commotion and stormed in to help the IT guy.

My colleague said that it was direct karma! The IT guy was going to do something not-so-nice and he immediately had an accident. There was a direct correlation to his actions. Cause and effect. Karma. The universe expands and contracts. Right now, there is so much violence going on especially in the United States. Maybe God or the universe is giving us a wake up call that it’s time to be nicer to each other.

Your thoughts can manifest into reality. If our minds are flooded with negativity about each other and ourselves, those thoughts eventually become a reality. Especially if we cause actions to occur that are harmful to others. The yoga Vedic belief of nonviolence is called ahimsa and it’s one of the Yamas to observe as a yogi. That’s why so many yogis don’t eat meat. Self-harming also falls under this category, and just thinking about how fat I am or how dumb I am is creating a rift in my consciousness. How many of us do this? I know I’m personally on a diet where I should lose 20-25 pounds and I can’t help but fat-shame myself. But I should practice ahimsa and only think positive thoughts about my mind and body. Next time you are about to be mean to yourself, change your thought structure. Set your intention for peace. The IT guy set his intention for unkindness (even as a practical joke) and it created a rift in the universe.

I’m going to think twice about putting out ugly energy in an already wounded world. Forget the afterlife…right now, we are being adjudicated by our punishments directly after we sin. Let’s turn that around and sow kindness instead. I would love to plant positive seeds in the world and see the fruits of love blossom.

Streamline your thoughts. Set your intentions. Have some good karma come your way!

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“And when you bring what is within  you out into the world, miracles happen.”-Henry David Thoreau

When Emergency Strikes, Don’t Have Too Much Baggage

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Whew! My heart-rate is just coming back to normal. I had a near-death experience this evening.

On a dark and stormy afternoon, I was in my work vehicle driving away to leave my day job and heading to my night job at the gym to teach a yoga class. My iPhone siren blared that the weather was threatening impending doom of flash floods and we were all in danger in the metropolitan area! I ignored it and kept on trucking, lest I be late for job #2.

Going up the hill to get onto the freeway, several cars ahead of me were stalled. My usual route was completely submerged in rainwater. I applied my foot to the gas pedal when suddenly an 18 wheeler came flying down the hill towards me, sending a rivulet towards my work car. An eddy whirled around and my car (which was already on the fritz and was deemed “totalled” last month) suddenly broke down. Water flooded the engine and an “!” red light lit up a warning.

It all came down to panic and drown, or swim out and survive. I tried to open my driver’s door of the Taurus, but water flooded into my seat. I opened the passenger side and lost all of my books and  notes. I barely recovered my lunchbox, purse and empty bookbag. I managed to close the door, thus sweeping in more water. The windows were cracked because the A/C had gone out months ago. I’m sure rain flooded in the windows by now.

The inner mermaid of my soul arose and I swam to the sidewalk, thighs deep in black urban city water. At that moment, I dropped my iPhone underwater on the street. I took a deep breath and fished for it. (Hours later, it started working again, thanks to Mr. Otterbox!).

With my purse, lunchbox, and empty bookbag, I waded waistdeep to the nearest parking lot, full of public transportation buses. It was still pouring down torentially as I made this bold attempt to safety. Meanwhile, I was flailing my arms in the SOS position above my head, begging anyone to help. No boats were nearby, and that’s precisely what was needed. I tried not to blink too hard because my contacts were getting soaked and I almost lost them. I’m pretty blind as a bat without glasses or contacts.

Lightning flashed nearby and I thought, “Oh, my God! This is the end! I’m going to drown, get struck by lightning, or get hit by a truck.”

I started to climb into the abandoned public safety bus to wait out the storm. Just then, a man and his little daughter barely drove up to my rescue! I hitchhiked a ride with them back to my parents’ house nearby by way of the interstate. I prayed to God he wasn’t a serial killer or anything. I had my loaded gun just in case, but really he ended up being such a Good Samaritan! I even tried to pay him all the cash in my wallet, but he didn’t take it.

Once I made it to my parents’ house, I dried off, peeling off the wet clothes and putting on spares my mom keeps for me. They fed me and my family. My husband and son greeted me with open arms, and considering I was so shaken, I fell into them.

If I could’ve been a turtle, I would have taken the car with me, putting it on my back. But all I could muster were three measly bags of possessions. Even that was too much! I lost my journal in the flood and several notebooks full of important information. The trunk had popped open so I’m sure someone got all of my clothes and my 2 yoga mats out of the back.

I called a supervisor from my parents’ house and explained the emergency. He was still stuck downtown and drove up to the street nearby with two other stragglers from the office. They saw the Taurus and said it was still very much under water and unable to be towed. I begged the supervisor to salvage my journal and notebooks if he could.

This whole experience taught me a few valuable lessons. For one, don’t have too much to carry, especially in a crisis situation. Two, possessions aren’t people and can be replaced. Three, listen to your dreams. More on that in a sec. And four, it’s ok to rely on strangers for help. And don’t forget to pay it forward yourself!

I awoke from a lucid, horrible nightmare at 4 AM this morning. I had escaped two violent tornadoes and was hiding from both of them in different places. Maybe my dream was a psychic intuitive premonition that something weather-related and awful was about to occur today. I left a cryptic message on my gym’s Facebook page about why yoga was cancelled tonight.

I’m making peace with the fact that my clothes in the trunk, yoga mats, and notebooks (including my sacred journal) are now gone with the flood! I’m also making peace with not having a work-assigned take-home vehicle. I guess I’ll be shelling out my own gas money four days a week for a while.

Moreover, I made peace with God during the emergency. Somewhere between swimming on the streets, avoiding lightning striking nearby, and hitchhiking, my adrenaline skyrocketed! God protected me after all.

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“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”- Henry David Thorough, Walden

Just Go Hiking!

I have recently had many doors shut on me professionally, even though I am still gainfully employed. Last Thursday, I made up my mind to begin a new journey (that which I cannot specifically say on here at this point in time).

However, I did take the first step towards that new goal today.

In passing conversation at work, I spoke with one of my colleagues by the proverbial “water cooler.” I told her of my career woes and glass ceiling.

She said I was far too talented to stick around this place for the remaining 14.5 years I have until retirement. I thanked her, but said I may have something new on the horizon. She advised me to keep it to myself and just let that flower bloom. Then she began this story:

I was visiting with my cousin before she died. My cousin’s son was friends with a young man who, like you, was very intelligent and talented. He got his degree from UAB in graphic design. He would always complain that he couldn’t get a job with his degree. He applied so many different places but no one would take him on.

This young man loved to hike. He would go hiking all the time. One day, he decided to book a trip to go hiking in Colorado. The young man went on a long hike up a mountain. When he climbed down the mountain, he was at a rest area for hikers taking a break. He looked on the bulletin board near the water fountain and saw an ad for a new company that was hiring. It was for none other than a graphic design job at an up-and-coming company. Fate had willed the young man to go hiking at that time to read that very ad. The company was just around the corner; you know how Colorado is!

He wiped the sweat from his brow, ate his protein bar, and went inside the building. The company boss was in at that time and met the young man. He said, “We don’t normally do this, but you can meet with me in my office.”

A few weeks later when the young man returned to Alabama, he was visiting a relative in the hospital. He had to step out of the hospital room to take a phone call. The graphic design company had offered him a position after all!

The young man moved to Colorado and enjoyed his new position. Being an avid Star Wars fan, he was so pleased to find out that his new graphic design company worked with Disney on the newest Star Wars film. The young man was delighted to be in the right place, at the right time, in a job position made for him. He even played a part in creating the newest robot, BB8.

All of this was possible because the young man went on a hike.

So, just go hiking!

I needed to hear this story today more than anything. When something that I am meant to be doing now was suggested to me by my husband, I felt a huge spark. I even broke down crying last Thursday when I made this decision because I felt relieved and pushed in this direction.

But in the meantime, maybe I’ll just go hiking!image


“…some taller mast of a pine, a shingle tree, or a more perfect hemlock than usual, standing like a pagoda in the midst of the woods; and many others I could mention. These were the shrines I visited both summer and winter.”–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

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UPDATE: The secret I couldn’t share in this post was that I had applied to law school to begin classes in January of 2017. As fate would have it, the dean of the law school admitted me for this August and I started classes early. It’s everything I’ve dreamed of and more!

Ease On Down the Road…with Detachment and Tranquility

To say I’ve been stressed out lately is an understatement. I know that everyone stresses out some, whether in traffic, or over money, or in social situations. Mine has been work and hobby-related as of late.

This week in particular, I’ve been suffering with anxiety, trying to cope holistically without anything to numb the neuroses. I’ve been implementing yoga, deep breathing, meditation, long walks outside, and adult coloring with markers. It seems we are all faced with demanding minutiae each day that pull at our beings like annoyances, but how we react to the external stimuli determines how much stress we swallow down when it’s all said and done.

I took a break from working this morning to leave my desk. As I let my iPod go on shuffle mode, a long time song popped up to play. It was one I learned in summer theatre camp half my life ago. The song was “Ease On Down The Road” by Michael Jackson and Diana Ross from The Wiz.

ease on down the road

There’s nothing like a little MJ to soothe this very own MJ (my initials too).

I started listening to the lyrics while shaking my booty and it hit me! The song is about detachment from materialism and focusing on mindfulness. It may have been great disco years ago, but there’s a deeper level of advice given by the Prince of Pop and the Queen of Disco.

“Ease on down the road, don’t you carry nothing that might be a load…

Let’s keep moving on the road that you choose don’t you lose no ground…

‘Cause there may be times when you think you’ve lost your mind and the steps you’re taking might be 3 or 4 steps behind but the road you’re walking might be long sometimes. You just keep on stepping and you’ll be just fine…

There may be times when you wish you wasn’t born and you wake one morning just to find that you’re alone. You know that feeling only lasts a while. You just stick with us and we’ll show you how to smile.”

Do we feel entitled to a better life? Being raised in the US, I feel like the American Dream is something we all strive for, like better living, more belongings, fame, fortune, beauty and popularity. But this is all a societal illusion, propagated by the man, big greedy corporations, the media, puppet-masters, and probably the Illuminati. JK

I just realized that I’m not getting any thinner or younger. I recently had a mental meltdown about failures in my career such as the crippling feeling of the glass ceiling. I will never get promoted, never get transferred to a different office, never get a better work vehicle, and never get a better job. Is the grass always greener? I think what the song is telling us is that Dorothy is trying to make her way to Emerald City (greener grass) but she is not focusing on having fun along the journey down the Yellow Brick Road.

The Yellow Brick Road for me has been bumpy these past few years. If I follow the advice of the song, I will implement mindfulness, simplicity, minimalism, and non-hoarding. Does each yellow brick I step on Spark Joy? Am I finding relaxation along the way with the poppy fields of life?

Maybe “Ease On Down The Road” should be my new mantra. It might cure my stress-related IBS-D and help me to lose weight. A laissez faire attitude, a.k.a. sprezzatura helps insulate the anxious ones among us from sweating the small things.

I’ve been a Madonna fan since early childhood. The old brood isn’t making wonderful new tunes all the time these days, but every once in a while, she will pop out a gem.

madonna superbowl

The 2012 song “I Don’t Give A” featuring Nicki Minaj has become one of my other shake-it-off type angry cheers.

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u

Wake up ex-wife
This is your life
Children on your own
Turning on the telephone
Messengers, manager
No time for a manicure
Working out, shake my ass
I know how to multi-task
Connecting to the Wi-Fi
Went from nerd to superb
Have you seen the new guy
I forgot the password
Gotta call the babysitter
Tweetin’ on the elevator
I could take a helicopter
I don’t even feel the pressure

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

You were so mad at me
Who’s got custody
Lawyers suck it up
Didn’t have a pre-nup
Make a film, write a song
Gotta get my stockings on
Meet the press, buy the dress
All of this to impress
Ride my horse, break some bones
Take it down a semitone
I forgot to say my prayers
Baby Jesus on the stairs
Gotta sign a contract
Gotta get my money back
All the biters have to go
Standing in the front row

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

I tried to be a good girl
I tried to be your wife
Diminished myself
And I swallowed my light
I tried to become all
That you expect of me
And if it was a failure
I don’t give a

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u

Shots fire
Anything you hear Nicki on: that’s fire
You don’t hear them bums on nothing, that’s fire
Tell ’em catch buyer
In the Bugatti, 10 grand, one tire
Ayo Madonna (Yes, Nicki), maybe I say you original, don dada
In that, yeah Gabbana, and the, yeah Prada
We Material Girls, ain’t nobody hotter
Pops collar!
See I really can’t relate to your Volvo
And you can’t get these shoes at the Aldo
When I let a dude go, that’s his loss
I was cutting them checks, I was his boss!
Yo, I don’t give a f-u
Curse nor bless you, never let them stress you
Yo, I ain’t a businesswoman, I’m a business, woman!
And I’m known for giving bitches the business, woman

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna
Bitch!

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u”

I apologize for profanity but I love the song! I reiterate it to myself when I get snagged on a pesky problem at work or in other areas of my life without an immediate fix. It forces me to live in the present and not to give a f*ck about worries I can’t control.

So let’s take a page out of Madonna and Michael Jackson’s lyric books and practice detachment, tranquility, contentment, mindfulness, sparking joy, and whatever other New Age concept you want to throw at the wall and hope it sticks like al dente spaghetti.

MJ and Madonna

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“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Next Stop, Greenwich Village!…In My Dreams

I’ve been mildly obsessed with Tiny Houses since December, but today during lunch I stumbled upon…TINY APARTMENTS in NY, NY!

manhattan-greenwich-village_a_540x340_20130424

I was eating lunch and reading my guilty pleasure, The Daily Mail, when I clicked on a story about actress Parker Posey selling her Greenwich Village apartment for 1.45 million. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3608848/An-indie-dream-home-Parker-Posey-lists-Greenwich-Village-apartment-1-45million.html

I further researched the 30 5th Avenue, NY, NY 10011 property on Trulia.com, my best friend for real estate intel online. Of course it didn’t share exactly the square feet of the tiny apartment, but it did spark my interest in looking at similar availabilities in Greenwich Village, Upper East Side Manhattan, Brooklyn, and even Harlem.

Let me get this straight for you. I live in the Deep South and have no foreseeable future of myself and my family moving to the Big Apple, although I have spent a few days there and much prefer NY to CA any day of the week. I’m just incredibly nosy!

Do you know how much you can ascertain about how a class of people from a certain area live? Most of the real estate postings featured pictures of seller’s apartments, as they were. Not many had staged furniture and art décor. While surfing, you can see how the NY bunch lives. I must give them a hand….many of them survive in tiny spaces with highly organized lifestyles and utilitarian furniture.

Tim-Seggerman-NYC-Apartment_1Just playing pretend here, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine my current furnishings and possessions from my 5 & 3 crammed into a chic NY apartment. Saying it would be a challenge is definitely an understatement. I would have to PURGE, PURGE, PURGE, to DOWNSIZE, DOWNSIZE, DOWNSIZE. A majority of suburbanite Americans from the middle class would share the difficulties in this feat. If we all packed up and moved to the city that never sleeps, a massive group of people would have to adopt a minimalist lifestyle to survive.

Most descriptions of these Tiny Apartments come with laundry, gym, terrace, basement storage (with a waiting list), and a bike room in each building structure. That means, adios to all of our cars! This is the land where he who owns a bike/a subway pass is king.

Just about any New Yorker you talk to would rather give up unnecessary clutter and space in exchange to live in their fair city in the Empire State. Opportunity trumps possessions. What if we lived like this no matter where we reside? Big city, or big farm, could Americans pare down their material objects enough to where they could pack up and move in small living quarters at any time?

The more I purge unwanted possessions at home (one in, two out rule), I begin to see myself packing it all up one day and downsizing. Most ladies (and some fellas) get their jollies from buying a bunch of new clothes and trendy cars. I like to buy organizational equipment to hang up on the walls, to declutter my closets with the KonMari Method, and to square off my drawers of trinkets. The less I have, the richer I feel. Frankly, this translates into the less junk you buy regularly, the more money you have in the bank. Frugaling and minimalism go hand in hand.

In this new day in age, I’m going to be more mindful of not being wasteful of my space. Wouldn’t it be neat if we all lived like these compact New Yorkers?! [Cue Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York, It’s been waiting for you…” playing in the background]

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Me in NYC 2014 (Midtown, Manhattan)_______________________________________________________________

“My dwelling was small, and I could hardly entertain an echo in it; but it seemed larger for being a single apartment and remote from neighbors.”–Henry David Thoreau, Walden