Things I’m Loving Right Now: July 2013 Edition

It’s been a while since I put together a nice list, so I decided it was time for another edition of “Things I’m Loving Right Now”. This list is just what it says – things I am super into at the moment. Enjoy!

  1. National Geographic: Ultimate Survival AlaskaUSAHoly smokes, I love this show! The good folks at NG found 8 professional survival types, who happen to live in Alaska, and put them to the test. They endure a ten leg journey through glaciers, mountains, swamps, bear country, rapids… you name it… and they do it old school. That means the have no GPS. They have a pack and what they can carry in that pack. They hunt for food They make their own shelter. They have a map and 72 hours to meet up for the next leg. If they don’t get where they need to go, they get left behind. This isn’t like some of the other survival shows I’ve seen. It isn’t a contest, and it isn’t for amateurs. This show is about real people who like to climb mountains and live in the wilderness. It’s pretty badass. Willie Prittie is my hero. Check out the show here.
  2. Stephen KingStephen-King-by-Tyler-Jacobson_510x364I’ve been a fan of Mr. King for a long time, but it feel like this is the Summer of King. To start things off we have the much-anticipated (and to some much disappointing) dramatization of “Under the Dome”. I’ve been watching the mini series and I’m happy with it. No, it isn’t like the book. But since a book and a series are two different mediums I think the changes made were appropriate. Next, SK released a new novel IN PAPERBACK! It sold for $6.99 on Amazon, and it wasn’t released as an e-reader! SK said he thought summer reading should be done with an actual book. I couldn’t agree more. And for $6.99 who can complain? And, his new book “Doctor Sleep” (a sequel to “The Shinning”) is due out next month. Woo!
  3. Crossword PuzzlesCrossword PuzzleI always forget how much I enjoy doing a crossword puzzle. I bought a nice, travel sized book of them to take with me on my flight from L.A. back to Austin, and managed to get five of them done before I set foot on the plane. I guess I get a little obsessive. It’s nice to sit back and engage in something for my brain, and it’s nice to hold an actual pen and write the words. (I do them in pen because pencils break and erasing is for losers.)
  4. Yoga578011_10151290363156621_1747408515_nI know, nothing new here. Yoga has been around for ages – literally folks have been doing yoga since before christ – and it comes in all shapes and sizes. I believe that yoga can help you obtain whatever goals you have – be it physically or mentally. Traditionally yoga is practiced not to “lose weight” or get in shape, but to attain peace in body and mind. It works. I don’t practice anywhere near the amount I need to, but when I do I feel great. I don’t go to a studio. I do it in my living-room and use YouTube as my instructor. It’s a free and easy way for me to feel good about myself, and feel peaceful. It’s also great training for when I get to Ratna Ling – there will be (optional) 6am yoga classes daily, and I want to take full advantage of my time there. Just look at the picture above and see what I mean. How could you not want to do yoga in that setting?
  5. Short HairBeFunky_null_9It’s hot in Austin. Like, 86% humidity and 101 degrees hot. I don’t like it so I cut off all of my hair. All of it. I went full on “Rosemary’s Baby” Pixie and I couldn’t be happier. I was going on holiday and I didn’t want to bring a hair dryer, a flat-iron and hair thingies, so I chopped it. I figured if I am trying to be minimalist, I should REALLY go for it! Not only am I now super cute and worry free, I am now one of a handful of women in this city sporting a chic do. Most of Austin’s women folk sport straight, long hair which is usually tied up in a pony tale. (Yawn) I like feeling sporty, chic and smart all at the same time because of a simple hair cut.
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Zen Habits: Creating Routine

Henry-Millers-11-commandmentsIf you look at any great artist, writer, thinker, dancer, or even athlete – you will see that they have one thing in common: A routine. Most (if not all) highly creative people have a routine, or “a process” in which they traverse in order to create. Just look in the “self help” section of your local bookstore and you will see shelves dedicated to the idea of creating habits – “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work”, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” – just to name a few.

Humans love the idea of a short cut. We love thinking that if we take a pill we won’t have to watch what we eat, or exercise. If we eat this kind of food but not the other, we will be thin. We think that if we adapt the same habits as ‘great minds’ we might ourselves become great. The trick is to find a routine that works for you.

Mark Twain would wake up and eat a huge breakfast, after-which he would retire to his study until five o’clock in the evening. He would work uninterrupted for hours on end, and after dinner he would share his work with his family. While that might have worked for Mr. Clemens, it would be hell for me. I like to work alone, but I don’t know about locking myself in one room until supper. It would drive me crazy! And reading my work out-loud to family? No freaking way. Find a routine that works for YOU, not a famous person you admire. Having role models is great, but admiring someone doesn’t get you any closer to “being” that person. Know who YOU are and what YOU need.

Oh, and speaking of things you need… let me quickly rundown some things you DON’T need. Sometimes habits need to be broken. Here are 3 habits to BREAK:

  1. SMOKING – really? Stop it. You know it’s bad for you. You know it makes you look like shit. It costs a LOT of money over the year. Really, just stop it.
  2. DRINKING – As someone who used to drink “like a man”, I know how fun it is. But, I am a lot happier now that I am sober. I’m alert. I’m hangover free. I’m healthy, thinner, happier… Yeah, I have a glass of wine here or there, but I couldn’t place in a drinking competition any longer. And I’m damn proud of it.
  3. COMPLAINING – Ugh. The worst. Guess what? Everybody has something to complain about. Everybody is as wrapped up in their lives as you are in yours. What makes you think folks want to hear how annoyed you are at the asshole who cut you off, or the clerk who had the audacity to take a phone call in front of YOU? Trust me – if you stop complaining the world will be nicer to you.

imagesMy personal habits are pretty basic. I try to keep a flexible attitude, and a flexible day so that I can take advantage of what the day may bring. Here is what I try to keep in mind, what I try to accomplish each day. Some days I do better than others.

  1. Clean something – I don’t have a regimented cleaning schedule. I do work as needed and since I don’t have a lot of “stuff” I don’t need to work as much. Again, the more shit you own, the more time you have to spend on it. In order to keep a loose schedule AND a clean flat I have a “One a day” rule. I need to do (at least) one chore a day. Whether it’s doing the dishes, the laundry, the tub… whatever. I do one chore a day.
  2. Read & Write – I read every day. I write every day. No exceptions. I think it was Stephen King who said, if you want to be a great writer you need to read every day. So I do. I write too. Practice your art. Daily.
  3. Play! – I do something fun every day. It might be crossword puzzles, and it might be going to Disneyland. It doesn’t matter as long as it was fun. The standard of “fun” is in my head, so I know if it counts. Even if I had fun at work, I try to do something fun for myself. It’s important to keep happy.
  4. Take stock – Sometime before I hit the hay, I take stock of myself. How am I feeling? Did I have a good day, or a bad day? Why? Doing this let’s me reflect on my day in a positive way, and also helps me leave it behind before I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning, yesterday doesn’t matter – it’s in the past. All that matters is today and making today a great day.
  5. Embrace mistakes – Everybody makes mistakes. Half of my day as a teacher is convincing kids that there isn’t anything wrong with making mistakes. Some of my best work has come from what I thought were mistakes. It’s funny, I notice “mistakes” in my paintings right away but nobody else seems to. Mistakes are something we learn from and move on. You might know some stubborn folks who keep making the same mistakes over and over and over, yet never seem to learn from their own missteps. Don’t be that guy. Own your mistakes and grow from them. A mistake doesn’t have to ruin your whole day. Deal with it and let it go. Remember, each time you tell “your story” your ego is getting just what it wants – attention.

The best advice I have is: Do what is right for you. You know what makes you happy, and what you need to succeed. You can design a set of “Commandments” for yourself that will allow you to flourish and be happy while keeping you on the right track. YOUR TRACK. It doesn’t matter what your best friend does, or what the celebrity on the cover of “People” does. All that really matters is what YOU do. And what you don’t do.

Why I quit Facebook

super-hero-facebook-likes1I quit Facebook yesterday. I came home from work and deleted my account. Someone posted something stupid and it made me mad. It made me mad all day. It made me mad all day until I realized I had a choice. I’d let someone who I hardly know infuriate me. I gave someone who isn’t a part of my life, power in my life. No more. I’ve been threatening to do it for a while now, but I just couldn’t commit. I had justification – My blog is connected to Facebook. Being a writer was a great excuse for “needing” a Facebook account. It is easy, free and convenient. But that is just an excuse. This blog has a few hundred followers outside of Facebook. If someone misses me, they know where to find me.

My FB lifestyle was not jiving with my personal beliefs, and who I am in “real life”. I am tired of holding my tongue and I am tired of getting upset. I shouldn’t have to delete “friends” because they use sexist language, are idiots, or I haven’t seen/spoken to them in years. What a pain in the ass. I realized that it is far easier to just remove myself from the equation all together. I am tired of being attached to Facebook and I am tired of looking at pictures of your dog, your kids, your lunch and your neighbors pet chicken. I don’t care what you are listening to. I have no need or desire to play Farmville with you, nor do I give any shits at all about where you have checked in. Your score on Bedazzled doesn’t interest anyone and thank you so much for posting the score of Jimmy’s soccer game. I was totally losing sleep over it.

Two days in and I must say, I feel lighter. I have so many better things to do with my time. I thought I would feel uneasy or nervous, but I don’t. I feel relief. And I don’t suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) so I should be alright. FOMO is the #1 reason people keep their FB accounts while posting about how much they hate Facebook. How often do you check your FB? I bet it is at least in the double digits. Every single glance at all the badass things your friends (and enemies, let’s be honest) are doing just fuels the fire. You start wondering why you aren’t doing badass stuff like climbing mountains, getting married, or getting wasted with a group of Russian tourists.

Start playing the comparison game and you’ll lose every time. That’s how the game works. It starts innocently enough… maybe just a little filter on that picture of your hamburger to make it look brighter. Then, maybe  a second filter to show each and every seed on the bun. By the time you are finished, your photo looks nothing like that thing you ate which gave you indigestion. The only way to win is not to play at all. It’s a losing game. Everybody will always be thinner than you on Facebook. They will be smarter than you. Their Angry Bird score will be better than yours. Their friends will always be hipper than your friends. Their Instagram account will have cooler shots than yours. They will get married before you. Their kids will have cooler names than yours. Their dog will be cuter than your dog. Their cat will be more popular on Youtube than your cat.

You will always lose at Facebook.

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Crawdads (Austin, TX) Alicia Brooks photo

But it doesn’t matter because it’s all a lie. All of it. Take my profile for example. Just recently I posted this picture. Looks incredible, right? Well, here is what I didn’t tell you. That picture was taken at the world’s most boring party. The food you see was not seasoned – at all – until it was thrown in the bowl. Then about six different people took turns salting it. The conversation  was about as exciting as the food. The highlight of the party seemed to be when the host dared a guest to let a crawdad latch onto his nipple… for $5. I kid you not. But, I knew that I could take a very cool picture of the food and nobody needed to know the rest. Facebook is a facilitator of lies.

Everyday we are presented with an endless montage of small excitements disguised as every day activities. We judge ourselves against the carefully cultivated and created profiles that people present as truth. That is absurd behavior. Facebook is the ghost in the machine. It works on your behalf when you are not there. It actively distorts us to our friends, and worse yet to users whom we have never met. Facebook is exploitive and unnecessary. It makes us yearn for approval in the form of “likes”, the more the better. As a writer I began to see my worth in the amount of likes or views a piece got. How backwards is that?

So, I guess I quit in pursuit of happiness. Facebook was affecting my moods and my life so I am taking a sabbatical. How can I attempt to live a minimalist life with the clutter of Facebook in my… face? It might be a week, it might be a month, it might be longer. I don’t know. All I know is that when and if I decide to go back, it will be with a new outlook on the tool. And it is a tool. Just more for the folks at Facebook than for you. I’m not here preaching for you to quit social media sites. Do what you will. I’m here saying take a look at what you post, how often, and how often you are posting. Be aware and maybe take a day off and see how you feel. I feel like I just sprouted wings.

Things I’m Loving: Spring Edition

hannibal_nbc_130301As promised, here is the yin to my yang. Things I am loving right now. This is the partner to yesterday’s article – Things I am over.

  1. Hannibal (TV Show) – Are you watching this? If not, you should be. It takes the characters we all know and love from the books (Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon) and gives them history. A creepy, strange history. We get to see Hannibal before he was “The Cannibal” and watch him be a doctor, a mentor, and wonder if he is a killer. You’ll see lot’s of death, blood and highly disturbing things on this show, just be warned, but it’s awesome. Starring Madds Mikkelsen as everybody’s favorite chef, and Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford – FBI, it’s tons of fun to watch. It’s the kind of show actors beg to be a part of. Again, if you have a low tolerance for gross, then you might skip it.
  2. Hiking: 0410-youcan-hiking-0008It’s free. It’s outside. It’s fun. It’s exercise! Hiking is for sure something I am loving right now. There are hiking trails near where you live, I promise. This handy web site tells you local trails, and lets you review them. I usually don’t read reviews from folks online, but in this case it was helpful. Gyms (for the most part) here in the states are expensive and designed more for getting your money than maximizing your health. Well, with hiking you don’t have to worry about monthly fees and gross muscle dudes watching you from the mirrors. Nope. You just have to worry about the weather.
  3. Music from “Nashville” (TV show)Some of my favorite current music is from this show. T-Bone Burnett is the guy in charge of it all, if that tells you anything. They have cast great singers (for the most part) and the songs are great. Check out Maisy and Lennon Stella for instance. Two little girls (sisters) who sing great harmonies and just finished playing the Grand Ol Opry. They are crazy good. I also really enjoy the musc by Clare Bowen (Scarlett on the show) She is an Australian actress and singer and she kills it. I listen to these songs in the shower or just hanging around the house. Thsese songs easily make the jump frpm screen to real life. Hayden Panettiere has a top single on the Country charts. Check it out. 
  4. Brother DegeHard blues. That’s what I’d call it. If you like the sound of a steel guitar and old school blues and folk, then this is your man. He did some of the music for D’jango Unchained and he is awesome. Here, have a listen. 
  5. Purging my shit: I don’t have a lot of extra shit in my life. Well, I didn’t before I came back to the states. Something about America makes you want to go shopping. Well, no more! I have been having a great time throwing away anything that has no use in my life, or is unnecessary. My world feel less cluttered and my house looks nicer, and I am very aware of what I buy and what space it will take in my life. I am a Nomad, and Nomads don’t have room for twelve pairs of shoes, a TV, and a full wardrobe. Purge!

Paleo is Just Bad Science

Renegade-Diet-Review-Paleo-ProtocolsIf one more person at work asks me if I am “On Paleo” I might scream. No, its not a drug, it is the newest Fad Diet. And everyone know that Fad Diets come with groupies. This diet is not different than the others in that it tells you that restricting certain foods will make you lose weight. No shit, Sherlock.

The Paleo diet maintains that healthiest way to eat is to avoid the ground grain products that were unavailable to our cave man ancestors. People all over the world are changing the way they eat because some dude name Dr. Loren Cordain. PhD, of course. I think he’s a total nut who is selling folks a bill of goods.

Author Laura Miller agrees with me. At least about the diet. She states that thinking the human species hasn’t evolved in billions of years is just plain silly. Humans (and animals) have been evolving and changing for a really long time. She also points out that many species evolve quite quickly (humans being one of them) so basing a diet on “science” of evolution doesn’t hold water. Think about it. Humans have been grinding grains for close to 40,000 years – that’s a really long time to not get used to something. There are a great deal of foods that are included on the Paleo Diet that were NOT around in the hunter gatherer time. Foods such as the Brussel Sprout are only a few hundred years old. They were first written about in 1587, around the time Mary Queen of Scots was executed. That’s a far cry from hunter gather time.

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Of course, people claim that the diet “works”. Yeah, maybe it does, but that doesn’t mean it is good for you. Bulimia “works” too, but I’m steering clear of that as well. The reason the “diet” works is because you are severely limiting your calorie intake. Anytime you put restraints on what you consume, you will lose weight. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that. Wanna lose weight and keep it off? Exercise  30 minutes 5x a week, and watch your calorie & sugar intake. Easy.

The Paleo concept is an idea with very little basis in fact. It’s a gimmick to get you to buy the book. If you follow his plan you’re cutting out low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat Greek yogurt (calcium), lentils and black beans (some of the healthiest stuff around), whole-grain carbs and heart-healthy oils. Sure, our bodies weren’t originally designed to eat these foods, but we (and every other species that is still in existence) have evolved since then.

e76f12b58f27ebddca23ef9e2c51e9f9If you feel the need to lose weight, you don’t need to follow a diet that restricts carbs, or limits grains and legumes (both of which are healthy for humans to consume).  Here is my easy 5 Point Plan for weight-loss.

  • Decide that you are ready to make permanent changes in your life. Yep, life. Loosing weight should be about changing the habits that led you to lose weight in the first place. It’s not about “giving up” foods of any kind. If you think you are not ready to stop eating ice-cream out of the container, then you are not ready. You need to be in a head space of moving forward and of positive change.
  • Once you have decided that you are serious you may begin to make small changes. When I dropped a significant amount of weight I made 1 positive change per week until I got in the habit of just knowing how to make good choices. For example, the first week I cut out all soda. I switched to fizzy water with fruit. Next week I walked for at least 30 minutes daily. You get the picture. You don’t have to make yourself crazy, or into a cave person to see results.
  • Portion control. Do it. Food served and prepared in the states is so big, it could be used as two (sometimes three!) different meals. Eww. If you ordered fries, don’t eat them all. If you want dessert, share it with a buddy. If the plate is as big as your head, then don’t eat everything on it. At home, get smaller plates so you feel like you are eating more.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! In order to loose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. It’s that simple. If you are not exercising you probably won’t lose much weight. You also need to lift weights, or do some sort of resistance training. Remember, there is no such thing as “spot reduction” so stop running the treadmill for an hour, doing crunches and walking out the door. You need to work your whole body.
  • Eat enough calories. I see women all of the time who think that by starving themselves they will loose weight. Yeah, you might. But you’ll also be loosing lean muscle mass, which is want you want to keep. Diets that severely restricts caloric intake result in loss of lean body weight as opposed to fat weight. This can result in a person who isn’t overweight, but has a high body fat composition. Not my idea of healthy. Just be mindful of what you eat, when you eat it and how you feel about it. Keep a food journal if it helps. I used an online food tracker at myfittnesspal.com to help me see my bad eating habits and take the necessary steps to 86 ’em.

I hope you enjoyed this little rant. And I hope that maybe you’ll do a little research of your own, if you are so inclined. The idea is balance, not restriction – with food and the rest of life.

And, in case you are wondering – I do know what I am talking about. I am studying to be a personal trainer which means I have read tons and tons of material about the human body and what it needs to perform, what it needs to drop weight, and what it takes to keep it in good condition. 

The Great American Road Trip: The Planning Stage

ImageBefore I get started, I want to say a couple of things. First, I want to thank everyone for being so supportive. I am so blessed to know so many cool people from all around the world who are a constant source of encouragement and support. That’s not to say that there haven’t been a few nay sayers. A handful of people think I won’t actually follow through, and another handful thinks I’m just plain crazy. Well to you I say – yes I will, and maybe I am.

Now, on to business. The original concept was to do the trip with an RV. This concept has since gone through revision. Aside from the fact that I hate driving, and that I am scared to drive big cars, an RV adventure is still to “posh” for me. It just doesn’t gel with my inner me. You know, that little voice that you can’t ignore even if you try? I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something wasn’t right about the RV idea. But last night I had a revelation.

I was doing research as to what we would see, what we shouldn’t miss, what friends live where, and where in the Continental US the largest ball of twine is. (Kansas) I started making a list called “USA ‘Must See’ Road Trip List”. It started easy enough with the Grand Canyon (my honey has never seen it) and it just kept going and going and going. When I finally put the pen down I had over 50 locations, monuments and weird road side attractions that I wanted to visit.

2011-10-28_1231528   Subscriber-false   Marketing-false   Newsletter-false   RegYSNewsletter-false  MicroTransactions-falseAs I looked at my list I noticed that most of it was National Parks. The Grand Tetons. Yosemite. Yellowstone. Zion. Rocky Mountains. Acadia. The list went on and on. And then it hit me! We don’t need an RV – we need a tent. At first I thought it was crazy to think about camping and hiking our way across, in, and around America. But the more I thought about it, the more doable it seemed.

First, it would be cheaper than doing an RV. We wouldn’t have to buy a huge land boat and the fuel it needs to run. We wouldn’t need to worry about maintenance or parking. I love it! We could invest in really good hiking/camping equipment instead. I am in the best shape of my life and I would love nothing more than to drive from state to state in search of America. The plan is to camp as much as possible and sleep at friends places or hotels or couch surf as needed. We’ll still have to pay for gas, but not nearly as much. And this will really feel like what freedom is supposed to feel like.

FUN.

(*For those of you who don’t already know, my sweetheart and I are going to chuck it all next year and see America. You can read about the reasons why HERE.*)

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

l-A-piglet-full-of-happyIt’s that time of year again. Time for people to take stock of where they are in life, and what they want to change about it. The beginning of a new year means the search for a better, improved self. You’ve probably read lists of ways to be happy before, but this one is a little different. I hope. I have met a lot of happy people in my life and travels, and they all share at least one thing in common…

  1. They Don’t Give a Fuck. Happy people know themselves pretty well. Happy people know that caring about what other people think of your new scarf, or your owl tattoo is a waste of time. Does it change your life at all if someone doesn’t like you? Not really. If someone you care for doesn’t like you, well then you need to look inward and see if you’ve been a jerk, but usually it is just that other person projecting some weird shit onto you. Anyone who has ever seen me dance knows that I don’t give a fuck what people think of me. 
  2. They don’t suffer from FOMO. FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. You know those people, right? The people who say yes to every invitation because they are terrified of missing out on the fun. Women buy unflattering clothes because they are afraid of missing out on trends. Whatever. Happy people know they are not missing anything. I turn down invitations all the time! I figure if I do something that I am really not interested in, then I will be a grump or unhappy while doing it. And that defeats the purpose of being a badass.
  3. They have peace & quiet time. I firmly believe that I am a happy person due (in part) to the fact that I take at least one hour everyday for myself. Alone. With no phone, internet, computer, camera or anything else digital. I sit down and read. A BOOK. That I hold in my hands and turn actual pages. I belive in the ritual and practise of being still. And I believe in taking time away from technology.
  4. They don’t blame other people. Happy people know that whatever they do, is ultimately their own choice. Happy people take responsibility for their own actions, decisions and choices. They know if life isn’t going quite the way they wanted it, that it isn’t _______’s fault. It’s theirs. Nobody makes decisions for you. And you ALWAYS have a choice. The second you stop blaming everyone for your life is the second you will begin being a happier you.
  5. They have hobbies. I just wrote a post about my lovely collection of hobbies. I love hobbies! Hobbies keep you busy and keep your brain firing on all synapses. When you take time to do something just for yourself, you are reminding yourself that you are important, and that it is no one else’s job to keep you happy. It’s your job. Not your partner or your kids, or even your work. It’s up to you. If you can’t figure out what makes you happy, then how will you teach anyone how to treat you?
  6. They don’t care about money or buying a lot of stuff. You’ve heard it before: Money doesn’t buy happiness. I mean, that’s what I’ve heard. I myself have never actually had a lot of money so I don’t really know. But I can tell you that I have been happy as a poor person. I don’t have a television in every room. Hell I don’t own a single television. But I am happy. I don’t have an iphone, microwave, car, ipad, or a lot of clothes, but I don’t care. Mo’ money = mo’ problems. Reevaluate what NEED means and see what happens.
  7. They are active. Happy people tend to be active, and healthy. Look at the folks on the Biggest Loser. When they start out, they are all fat and full of excuses for why they let themselves become fat. By the end of the show they are running a marathon and full of joy. Coincidence? I think not. When your body is active, your brian gets sent happy endorphins! Yay! So stop making lame excuses (“I’m so tired…”, “I don’t have time…”, “I have kids…”) and either get off your couch and change they way you eat, or shut the fuck up about your huge ass.
  8. They laugh. A lot. I take time every day to watch (or read) something funny. On purpose. Think about it. Laughing makes you smile. Happy people smile. Seems like an easy fix.
  9. They say “Please” and “Thank you”. I know this seems like a little thing, but stay with me. When you actively say please and thank you, you are showing kindness and gratitude. You are also showing the people around you how you want to be treated. I say please and thank you to everyone from my boyfriend, to the servers at a restaurant, to the little kids I work with. It makes people smile to hear “Thank you.” And it makes me smile to say it.
  10. Eat bacon. It is a well known fact that bacon makes people happy. The smell, the crunch, the flavor. Bacon! If we all ate bacon (in moderation, of course) we’d all be happier.

New Year’s EVOLUTION

tumblr_mfnvg2Ki8S1qbrdf3o1_500I was going to post Best Movies of 2012 list, but you don’t need that. No. You already know that Django Unchained is awesome, and hell I post so many movie lists that you should have plenty to watch. Instead I wanted to take this last day of 2012 and say “I resolve to do better. I will EVOLVE!”

That’s right. I am going to evolve this year. 2013 is the year I stop making “firm decisions” to do or not do stuff, and start becoming a truly badass human being. It’s going to be lot’s of hard work, but I know me. I can do it. Here are somethings I will be doing to help myself evolve into greatness. Feel free to copy me. I care not.

  • I will be better to my body. This means actually working out. Getting those muscles back into Zombie fighting strength. Because you never know when the Zombie Apocalypse will be upon us. And playing with the Wii only counts if you are 82 years old. Saying you worked out by playing on the Wii is like saying the dog farted when you did it. It’s just a distraction.
  • I will not “waste time”. This is tough. I am a smart enough woman to never be bored, but I do watch a lot of kitten videos on the youtube. So, as a way of bettering myself I will instead paint, or read, or write instead of playing SpellTower or Angry Birds. I’m keeping the kitten videos.
  • Bad ass people make things. I am going to buy less and make more. This goes for food, art, and whatever else I can manage.
  • I will engage more in the community. It’s tough being a vagabond. On the one hand you get to travel and see the world. It was a fear of mine to suddenly be 45 one day and realize that I lived in one place my whole life. How dull! But, the downside of being a vagabond is having to adjust to new places and people all the time. It’s not easy. But, while I am in Texas I might as well enjoy it. So, I am going to get a gym membership, maybe join a book-club or two or something like that. It can’t be all heat and hipsters here, right?
  • Make better choices. I say this to my kids at school constantly. It’s a good thing to remember. You ALWAYS have a choice. Is your girlfriend mean to you all the time? You have the choice to leave. Do you hate your job? Quit. Get a better job. Take action. I make pretty good choices these days, but there is always room for improvement. I can choose NOT to eat the last cookie.
  • I will stop rolling my eyes every time I see/hear Zooey Deschanel. It’s not really her fault that she is obnoxious. I blame her stylist. I will do my part by ignoring her, and pointing out that all of her “IT GIRL” qualities are circumstantial at best.
  • I will accept the fact that I am awesome when I am. And I am awesome a lot. I was dubbed “The Empress” of karaoke and I just blushed and turned shy. Screw that! I AM good! I am good at lots of things and I should be proud of that, rather than embarrassed. Little girls are taught to keep quiet. Women should be taught to be loud and proud.
  • I will stop saying “Seacrest out!” every time I leave a room. It’s time.

Happy 2013, every one. I hope you try your best and do awesome things this year well into March or April. Just remember, there is always room for improvement. Even for you. Espically for Zooey Deschanel.

I leave you with this awesome video. It has lot’s of dogs. Happy New Year! 

 

Why PBS Matters

If you are not American, or you don’t own a television then you probably don’t know what all the fuss is over in regards to PBS. Presidential hopeful and poster boy for loudmouthed bullies – Mitt Romney –  has stated that if he becomes president he will cut partially Government funded programs like PBS. This has left many Americans confused and angry. Why would you cut %15 funding to PBS, and pour more money into the military? Why? What did PBS ever do to anyone? And how exactly will this solve the debt issue?

Romney has been very secretive about his so-called tax plan. In fact, no one knows what it is. He speaks in generalizations and the actual figures he has let slip don’t make sense. (You can read more about it here) And none of his pushy BS explains why he would cut funding to a good program like PBS. PBS is small channel that is dedicated to learning about the world and learning about the arts. Period. Some of my favorite teachers came to me from PBS: Julia Child. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Bert and Ernie. BOB ROSS. Austin City Limits. Bill Nie the Science Guy. The list goes on and on.

PBS is a free channel that broadcasts all over the US. The shows run all day and all night and usually run commercial free. The shows are all educational in some way, and many promote arts like painting or cooking. It is a fantastic station that relies on support from viewers (like you) to stay on the air. Mitt Romney has decided that he has had enough of cooking in the kitchen with Julia, or learning about the universe from people way smarter than him like Neil deGrasse Tyson. He has decided that Big Bird, The Count, and Grover would be better off homeless. Because that’s what is going to happen. There will be no more Sesame Street, no more Bill Nye, no more American Masters and no more NOVA. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an America that values guns over NOVA.

It seems to me that maybe America would be better served if we pulled shows like the ones on THE LEARNING CHANNEL. Think about it….  TLC is supposed to be about learning, and education. It says so in their name. But what do you get on that channel? Well, let’s see. We get Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers and Tiaras, Addicted, Sister Wives and Extreem Couponing. If Mitt Romney wants MY vote he needs to start tackling real issues and provide me with real answers. (Oh, and he needs to stop being an asshole, but that’s a whole separate ball of wax.)

Why is Honey Boo Boo allowed to stay on the air when NOVA is not? Why sir are you cutting a tiny program to fix a debt that it will not even come close to covering? I know you don’t like math but c’mon. PBS is the one shining bastion of American intelligence left in a sea of crap that is called Television. Do the right thing here Mr. Romney, save the little station that taught me how to paint fluffy little clouds, make a perfect Coq au Vin, and discover that science is all around me. We don’t need more guns, or more military. We need more fluffy little clouds.

Ten Commandments (according to me)

I’m not religious, at least not anymore. Like most kids growing up in the USA I was forced to attend church every Sunday with no explanation aside from “It’s what we do.”  I went to the Presbyterian Church which was also called the “cool” church. (My definition of cool is somewhat different nowadays, but I digress.) We read from the bible, sang songs along side hip dudes in their twenties who, for some reason or other wanted to spend their time showing high school kids the ways of Jesus Christ. We had social gatherings and trips to do fun stuff, but when all was said and done – it was still a church.

There was nothing necessarily wrong with my church, but as I got older I began to understand that church wasn’t any place for a free thinking woman like myself. I stopped going when I was a senior in High School because I thought telling teens that they would “go to hell” if they drank or had sex was not only mean, but a big fat lie. And yes, I was told that. Verbatim. And when I asked for proof in The Good Book I was told “later…”. Right, because it doesn’t say that anywhere in there.

The fact that I am happily not affiliated with any organised religion doesn’t mean I am not a woman of faith or spirituality – I am. If there is a god “up there” I don’t think that he/she cares about churches or tithes. I don’t think that god, or buddha or whatever prophet you belive in cares if you drink caffeine, beer or water. I don’t think that deities take notice of whether or not you have kids or if you smoke weed. I think if there is a big someone watching over all of us they just care about one thing: Are you a douche, or not? The following are the Ten Commandments I live by. Or try to.

  1. Thou shalt not be an asshole. It’s easy. If someone has their signal on in heavy traffic and they are trying to merge, LET THEM. When you go to the cinema turn off your phone – completely – people can still see when you text. Don’t stand in the express line with a full cart of groceries. You get it, right? Don’t be an asshole.
  2. Practice forgiveness – This applies to yourself as well as to those around you. Did you break the first commandment today? Yeah? Well, forgive yourself and try a little harder tomorrow. And if someone has “wronged” you in some way? Let it go man. No good comes from holding a grudge, and it give that person a whole lot of power in your world.
  3. TRY – It seems simple, but somewhere along the way I think we forget to just try. Try new food, new clothes, new hair colors, new languages, new places, new people and new books. Hell the harder something looks the harder you can try. Trying is what helps keep us young and alive.
  4. Thou shalt not judge – How hard is this? Really fucking hard. I try to remember how I feel when people judge me and then try not to make other people feel like that. I think when I feel like judging it is just insecurity coming out and that kind of sucks. So instead of looking at that… um… person with different political beliefs and calling them say… liberal fascists or maybe even communists we should think about it first and wonder why we felt the need to lash out.
  5. Don’t take it personally – This is my favorite of all my commandments. If you can master this you will lead a happier life by at least 1000%. If (and when) someone says something negative to me (or about me) I can shrug it off pretty easily – because it’s not about me, it’s about them. We take things personally when we think we are the center of the universe, when it’s all about us. Life is a whole lot simpler when you take yourself out of the equation. I get news for you: Nothing anyone does is because of YOU. I promise. It’s all projection. So take a load off and relax. Become immune to both insults and compliments and you’ll be a lot happier. I don’t need to hear that I am good at work, or pretty or a good singer. I know it. When someone says I suck? Great, thanks for sharing.
  6. Don’t take the good stuff for granted – Do you have an awesome family, or girlfriend or husband, or garden or job? Then show some appreciation! Do one of the chores you sweetie HATES doing. Take your family to the park or zoo just because. Bring some doughnuts to work. Just be outwardly appreciative and everyone will feel happy.
  7. Thou shalt not assume – We all know what happens when you assume… but really. When you assume you are robbing someone of honesty, and that someone is you. Assumption is the close cousin to judgement, and we all know that thou shalt not judge. It’s hard for me not to assume that every dude in his twenties wearing khakis and drinking a Bud Lite is NOT a douche bag, but I have to try.
  8. Thou SHALL Dance! – At least once a month I have private little dance parties… in my underwear. It helps me to relieve stress and remember what a total badass babe I am. I do it alone and I turn the music up LOUD. It’s nice to act like a dork with full freedom to do so. It also helps with the “not giving a shit what people think about you” parts.
  9. Thou shalt Sing Out… Louise – I mean this both figuratively and literally. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I tell it like it is. If you want my opinion, I’m more than happy to give it to you. But you should know that I am going to tell the truth. I’ll call you out if I see you acting a fool, and I’ll call you awesome if you are acting awesome. I also fully advocate singing at any time.
  10. Thou shalt not be selfish – I’m a school teacher so telling people to share is a daily thing for me. But I work with kids, they need to be told. Adults should fucking know better. If you are acting selfish then please stop it. And you know if you are being selfish. Are you asking to cut in front of a dozen people in line because you only have “a few” things? That’s being selfish. Anytime you put your own needs and well being in front of others then you are being selfish. Is there a time and place for it? Absolutely. But the time and place is usually not when you want something that others are opposed to. Try being flexiblle and see what happens.