Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dance Trance!

One year ago, a new class started on Tuesday nights at my Y.  Jamie, Anne and I started going and before long, it became our regular Tuesday night date.  Over the course of the year, we’ve added more friends to our regular gatherings, 4 more nights of dance trance have been added in and 2 new instructors – Jamie and Anne!  It’s become quite a thing and I’ve already talked about how Dance Trance is my happy place, my destressor and my social hour.  I’m a teensy bit obsessed – as noted by my poor husband who is constantly giving me the “no dance trance in the car” or “no dance trance in the kitchen” look. 

So now it’s time to take a minute to pay a small tribute to the little firecracker of energy who has made all this possible – our DT director, Steph.  She moved here from Jacksonville, FL which is the home of the dance trance franchise and told her husband that she’d move to NC under the condition she could bring dance trance with her.  She does so much more than teach a class a few times a week – she has created a community.  It’s an exercise class where people learn each other’s names, where people who have been coming to class for a long time notice when someone new walks in and makes a point to welcome them and give them a few pointers for their first class.  She works a full time job but I know she spends a ton of her free time learning new choreography, managing the Facebook page, sending out emails and organizing group outings.

So Anne came up with the brilliant idea that we should celebrate our one year anniversary of Dance Trance, and really celebrate all that Steph has done for our class.  It was a complete surprise and such a hit.  I know Steph felt all the love she has poured into this group radiated back to her.  Thank you, Steph and Happy Birthday Dance Trance!





Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Update

I’m pretty sure it’s karmic revenge that since I was all “la la la, January weekends are soooo lazy and relaxing” that this weekend turned out to be the complete opposite.  It was jam packed – but it was all super fun stuff so it was worth it.  Even though it felt like Sunday was here before Friday even had time to get started.

On Friday, Matt and I took a road trip down to Waxhaw, NC.  If you don’t know where that is, you’re missing out on a bustling metropolis.  Matt had found a golf bag he had been looking for on Craiglist, so we decided to take a road trip down that way.  I was easily bribed with a trip to Trader Joe’s on the way home, and also worked in a visit to see my sister’s classroom since we were only about 15 minutes away.

We stopped in south Charlotte for lunch, and it was a beautiful 60 degree day in January so we ate outside with the Spuds at Dean and Deluca.  He was more than happy to share a few bites of my chicken salad sandwich with me. 


Then we picked up the golf bag, and headed over to Katie’s classroom.  It was after school so she didn’t have any classes left, but she still gave us a run down on how she uses her smartboard.  Then a kid came in the class to ask her a question and I got to see Katie switch into serious teacher mode.  I love it!  There’s something about seeing people in settings that you don’t see them in daily – it gives you a different perspective of their personality.


On our road trip, I finished a book I had started the night before…. it was a page turner.  I literally could not stop reading it, despite Matt’s admonishment to slow down and savor my books!  I want to see the movie now, although I’ve been told it’s not as good.


On Saturday, Matt and I met Anne & Locke for a lunch date at Skippy’s.  Despite the crazy long line and the fact that the restaurant itself is smaller than my kitchen, this is one of Winston’s gems.


After lunch, I had a blog date with Teri.  We came up with the brilliant idea a few months ago to get together and bounce blog ideas off each other, and use some set aside time to get some writing done… and about 10 minutes into our first blog date, we realized we were kidding ourselves if we thought we were going to do anything but tuck ourselves into a cozy couch and chat the afternoon away.  Our blogs might not be updated, but I always walk away feeling uplifted by our conversations and catch up time!  Budster was invited too – I think he had a good time chilling at his Aunt Teri’s. 


Saturday night we had a dinner date with Jamie & Zac and Donna & Matt at Milner’s.  First time I have ever been disappointed by a Milner’s meal – I should have ordered the fried chicken like everyone else did!  (I had gnocchi… it was swimmingly in an oily pesto sauce.  No thanks.)  It was a night out for both sets of parents without their babies… thanks to Anne & Locke volunteering to baby-sit!  I’m still sort of giggling at that. 

Sunday morning, I did some grocery shopping and prepped a dish for Akanksha’s baby shower – my mom’s new go to appetizer, Cuban Toasties.


Then I spent the afternoon at Akanksha’s shower, and wrapped up the day with some Sunday dance trance.  It wasn’t as low key as my other January weekends have been, but it was chock full of good meals, good chats and good friends. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Akanksha’s Baby Shower

Here comes another baby!  Jamie and Donna did a beautiful job preparing a shower to welcome Akanksha’s baby, little girl Ayanna, who is due in March.






We can’t wait to meet you soon, Little Miss Ayanna!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can You Choose What You Like To Do?


This phrase really resonated with me when I read it in the Happiness Project.  When I saw it in my calendar today, I come back to same thought I had when I first heard it: gardening.
I really like the idea of gardening.  I like the idea of little pots of herbs and vegetables tumbling over on a back deck. I love in the summer when my friends give me their bounties of homemade basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers - last year, I had a field day making salsa and pesto from all these goodies.  I always think "I should do this!!"
Matt planted a whole bunch of flowers around our mailbox last year.  He did all the hard work of planting, and asked me to do the upkeep of watering.
Good thing he knows me well enough to know I’d forget after a week.

I really like the idea of gardening, but when it comes right down to it, I realize I don't actually like gardening.  I like to be outside.  I like the way flowers look.  I like fresh grown veggies.  I hear people say that weeding is therapeutic to them and there's not a single ounce of me that can relate to that.  I can think of a hundred other things I’d rather do besides be in my yard. I just don't like gardening.
I also don't like scrapbooking.  I don't like hiking.  I don't like concerts that don't have lyrics.   I don't like bowling.  These are all things that somewhere along the line, I've felt like I should like or I've tried to make myself like doing.  It feels kind of nice to just embrace the fact that I don't really like these things - but my brain still keeps fighting against this concept.

I like writing.  I like dancing.  I like snowboarding.  I like sitting on a couch with my feet curled up under me talking to a friend until I've lost track of the hours.  I like reading books.  I like cooking and reading recipe magazines.  I like doing crafts.  I like lifting weights.  I like popular, top 10, overplayed music. 

Isn't a weird concept?  That you don't really choose what you like to do?  I often wonder if I did something more often - gardening, for example - I'd learn to like it.  After all, I didn't really like running when I started.  But then again, I didn't dislike it.  I did it initially because I didn't know what else to do after I stopped cheerleading.  I've done it to lose weight, to get over break ups, to manage stress and to complete an accomplishment.  But this year, I've realized I've just been running because, well, I like it.  And so maybe I have all along…
I'm a bit torn on this idea.  It seems fairly obvious to me, when I think about my likes and dislikes.  All of them are things I either tried because they looked appealing to me (snowboarding, crafting, hiking) and either found I like or didn't like them.  Or they were things I've been doing for as long as I can remember (dancing, reading books, writing.)  I can't help but wonder if it's true that you can choose what you like to do or not, or if preferences can be developed over time with intention.  What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snooze Button

Oh I had the best of intentions for this morning. I had my gym bag packed, my breakfast ready to go and my alarm set for 5:00.

Except, turns out it was set for 5:00 pm. Not so helpful when the class you're trying to get to is 5:45 *am.* (And to be honest, 5 am is cutting it close, but I refuse to get up at an hour that starts with a 4. Even 4:59 is out of the question.

So when Buddy woke me up at 5:14 am, I knew my window of opportunity was closed. (But lest I get no workout in this morning, he decided a good neighborhood frolic was in order after his routine business, so I did get a quick little jog in. Thanks, Bud.)

I then spent the remaining extra 45 minutes I had, snuggled on the couch with my feet shoved under a warm doggy butt. It's the best feet warmer ever, ya'll.

We had a pretty low key weekend. We went home to Lincolnton on Friday for a basketball game at Matt's high school. Saturday and Sunday ended up being pretty normal, routine weekend days - some housecleaning, laundry and cooking. Matt, obviously inspired by my closet clean out last weekend, tackled his domain - the garage.

We always make fun of the neighbors who have so much crap packed in their garages they can't put their cars in there, and we were in danger of becoming those people based entirely on the amount of tailgating gear we've acquired.

Saturday night Matt and I cooked ourselves a steak house worthy dinner, complete with our favorite appetizer guacasalsa.

What, don't all steakhouses serve guac? Well they should.

It's hard to rationalize going out when you go to the grocery store and buy all this food for what one meal for one person would cost.

Although I guess there is the whole "someone else doing the dishes" perk.

(And for the record, we ended up putting back one steak. That is a whole lotta meat.)

Sunday night I made chicken and broccoli alfredo from scratch and it was absurdly easy. Who knew?

I also made my own laundry detergent. I think this makes me a hippie. It was also absurdly easy.

I also spent a good chunk of time packaging up all the stuff that I had put on eBay last weekend. I had so many things sell! I love the little noise my phone app makes to tell me I have a new bid. eBay has gotten so much easier to use since I started 10 years ago too - now you can even print and pay for your labels right from the eBay page and request carrier pick up to your house!

I feel kind of bad for my postal worker tomorrow though.

It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend and I was sad to see Sunday night come to an end. January weekends have been very low key - just what I needed after all the holidays, and before a busy February starts up again. January weekends have been my own little snooze buttons to get all caught up.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I haven't done a Thankful Thursday in forever - way too long. Today's page from my page-a-day Happiness Project calendar was a great reminder... so here goes.

Today I am thankful for:

- my health
- my sister (who drove up here on Saturday JUST to see me. No other reason than that. Love.)
- one of my besties, Jessie K, moving to Charlotte!!!
- that my parents (and the kitties) are okay after a huge tree fell on their roof and shattered two skylights over their kitchen table. So thankful no one was sitting there eating their bowl of rice krispies when the glass shower rained down!! (Although I am trying to block out the thought of my Dad climbing up on a ladder in 72 mph winds to put a tarp over it. Again, thankful for safety.)
- in that light, that a year ago *right now-ish* one of my uncles had a traumatic injury when a tree branch fell on HIM while he was out cutting wood (yes, my family and trees apparently don't get along). It's a miracle he survived after passing out in the snow, it's a miracle he was found, it's a miracle he is walking and talking today. I am so thankful for his health, and that a year has passed between that scary time and now.
- that guy I married (he's the best, yall)
- sleeping in with no alarm clock
- Twitter friendship and especially the ones that turn into real-life friendships
- wonderful in laws
- library books
- having friends who I can talk to for hours on the phone, over coffee, during run, over IM... I am so blessed in the friendship department
- Boden clothes
- the bizarre mild winter we are having
- the security of having a job and knowing I can pay my bills
- snuggling with a sleepy Spuds
- a clean house that lasted more than one day
- salt bagels
- dance trance, Steph, and dance trance friends
- having positive upbeat coworkers (hi Susan and Heather!)
- homemade mac and cheese
- scarves
- a peaceful heart

What's on your list?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, January 16, 2012

To Don’t List

I had an interesting revelation this weekend.  But I’m not going to write about that first.  First, I’m going to write about my weekend.

It was four days long.  Four!  Practically a vacation.  I consider myself pretty fortunate to have a 3 day weekend every week now, although I give up a little bit during the week with the 10 hour days + commute time.  (In other words, that “extra day” ends up being a catch up day.)   But the addition of the extra day off for MLK day – plus our lack of any particular plans – made this weekend feel luxuriously long. 

With the extra time off, I tackled a project that had been on my mind for awhile – the guest bedroom.  I love decluttering and organizing projects, but I always get overwhelmed at the time they take because I’m a notoriously slow decision maker.  There’s nothing worse than getting half way through it and having to stop with the entire content of your closet or attic or desk drawers spilled out on the floor.

Where I usually end up leaving it for another month or two.   That always goes over well.

But this weekend, with 4 days off, I dove in!  This closet has become a bit of a catch all – the place where I store my dresses and Matt’s suits, craft projects, things that I need to put on Craigslist or eBay and a whole host of other assorted things that just haven’t found a proper home.  I just hate the feeling of owning too much stuff – I call it stuffocation. 


I pulled EVERYTHING out of the closet first.  Then I immediately texted Jamie (the queen of organization) that I was already panicking.  She diligently sent me positive reinforcements throughout the rest of the project. 


I tried to use the gauge “Do I love it? Or does it add value?” to decide whether or not to keep things.  (I think I got this from the Zenhabits blog, but I read a lot of books and blogs on simplifying so I’m not totally sure.)

I quickly figured out my trouble zones:

1. “Potential” clutter: things that I might use “someday” or, notably, crafts that I am wanting to do or things I am holding on to because they would be good eBay items and I just haven’t had the time to get them up yet.

2. Sentimental clutter: things that I don’t regularly use anymore but they have sentimental meaning for me

The sentimental clutter I am getting better at.  I read a tip one time to take a photo of the item (I think, again on Zenhabits?) and that has worked well for me.  Good-bye, wedding shoes.  You are dirty and don’t really even fit that well, but every time I see you I am transported back to my absolute favorite day of my life.


Ditto good-bye Spain boots.  You also don’t fit very well and the leather is falling apart, but I put you on and I can picture cobblestone feet under my heels, walking to Fundicion with my friends for a night out in Sevilla. 


It was a challenging task but I stuck with it.  When all was said and done, my closet was actually not quite as empty as I had hoped – but it was a lot better then when I had started.  I had a huge bag of clothes to go to Goodwill as well as a stash for Dress for Success.  I forced myself to sit down and eBay the items I’d been holding on to – or put them into the Goodwill pile if I realized they weren’t worth my time.  I created one small Tupperware to start collecting items for this summer’s yard sale (and in a moment of genius, priced them as they went in.  You’re welcome, Future Meghan.)


It took me nearly all of Saturday, one large diet coke, the Glee cast Pandora station, maybe a small temper tantrum and a few hours of eBaying… and I was left with this.


I’ve got one item I’m stuck on…. I inherited this awesome Kodak camera from my Grandpa and it’s been sitting in the closet ever since I got it.  It’s not in working condition, but I’d love a way to display it… anyone have any great ideas?


It felt good to tackle the closet, and I actually carried my energy into some other productive tasks this weekend.  I tackled some binders that I have in our bonus room that were full of magazine articles. For years when I was personal training, I used to rip out workouts and recipes out of magazines and file them in 3 binders with clear plastic coverings.  I haven’t touched them since I stopped personal training in 2008, but there they have sat – once again, a source of “potential clutter.”  (“What if I return to personal training?”  “What if I want a workout for myself?”)  I didn’t get rid of all of them, but I managed to reduce 3 binders down into 1…. progress!

Then I was on a roll… I was a woman on a mission.  I rolled up my sleeves and did something I’ve been putting off forever.  I opened the binder where I’ve been filing Matt’s (deferred) loan statements.  We went through them and figured out how much each one of them were and what our repayment plan will be come end of residency.  It wasn’t a fun project by any means, but it was a huge source of mental clutter for me to know what we were facing in 6 months.

Before this starts sounding like an unhealthy amount of productivity, I’ll also note that I had a fairly equal amount of relaxing this weekend.  I slept almost 10 hours on Friday to Saturday morning, and woke up to find my husband had already gone on a run…and stopped at Starbucks on his way home with a treat for me.  Major brownie points.


I dragged my lazy bum out of bed to go meet Jamie at dance trance on Saturday morning, before tackling the closet project.  I took a break from said project to have dinner with Matt and my sister, who had driven up from Charlotte to see me.  We’ve decided 80 miles is too far away and she’s moving to Winston.  Okay I decided that.  She has yet to agree.


I took naps.  I read a book.  I made soup and ate soup.  I caught up on my Google reader.  I went to a coffee shop and blogged.  I took walks.  Short ones – it got cold.  I slept in.  We met Zac and Jamie and little baby Z for wings on Friday night. 

It was an amazingly wonderful long weekend.  It was relaxing, it was fun and it was productive.  It felt like a vacation – the perfect unwinding from a whirlwind last few months of tailgates, travel and holiday fun. 

So here was my revelation.  I got a ton of things done this weekend that had been bouncing around in my head.  And yet… it hit me, sometime around Monday night that I still had so many things I wanted to get done.  Other closets I want to clean out.  Projects I’ve pinned.  Recipes I want to try.  Blogs I want to write.

I was happy as a clam mid-project.  I lost track of time and I enjoyed the process.  But when it was over, instead of basking in the satisfied glory of a job well done, my mind was already racing on to the next thing.  Kind of like my last blog – even my to do list is subject to the arrival fallacy.  Once I realized this, I had an almost immediate switch.  This little voice in my head went “Oh.”  “Oh!”  If getting so many things off my to do list this weekend didn’t make me feel as satisfied as I thought it would … maybe I should stop worrying about when I’m going to do on my to do list.   Stop worrying about when I’ll get the blogs written that are bouncing around in my head.  When I’ll ever have time to do all the beautiful crafts I see on Pinterest.  When I’ll get to try all the recipes bookmarked in my cookbooks. 

What if I just did what I felt like doing in that moment?  I mean, other than the obvious have to do things – keeping my house running with food in the fridge and clean clothes in the drawers and bills paid and making sure the dust bunnies don’t become so big I can claim them as dependents on my tax records. 

I’m always carrying around this thought that “I’ll feel so satisfied when I completed XYZ project.”  This weekend – where I completed multiple XYZ projects and yet didn’t feel that sense of “relief” that I was done – was a smack in the head.  I’ll still do projects.  I’ll still cook delicious recipes I’ve bookmarked.  I’ll still tackle that other guest room closet (one day.)  But I’ll do them when the moment strikes me that it’s right to do them, instead of always trying to figure out when I can squeeze them in.  And maybe, maybe I can focus more on the enjoyment of those moments and start letting go of the running project list in my head and the fallacy that I won’t be satisfied until I get them done.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Post Christmas Blues

There’s no task I dread more than taking down the Christmas tree…

Not only is it a tedious task (and those little needles can be so sharp!), but it’s a definite indication that the holidays are in fact over.  All that planning and prep, and woosh, it goes by so fast.  I am definitely guilty of not always being good at being in the moment and counting down from one exciting event to the next.  I’m guilty of what Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project calls “the arrival fallacy.”  The idea that when an event you’ve been looking forward to arrives – Christmas, a vacation, a completion of a project, the end of residency – you will be happier than you are right now.  Most of the time, she says, the anticipation is really the enjoyment and most of us are equally as happy (if not less, or somewhat disappointed by the anticlimactic arrival) once the event arrives.

I’ve been trying to keep this in mind as I’ve felt the post Christmas blues, and not let my mind race ahead to the next big thing (which, if you’re wondering, is a vacation in Palm Springs with my family and is 43 days away.  Not that I’m counting.  Okay, I’m totally counting.)

I tried to take this advice and be in the moment today as I took down the tree, unwrapped the garland, took down all our beautiful photo cards we had received and packed up each ornament back into it’s designated nook in my tupperware bins.  I actually started to pay attention to the ornaments as I took them down – something I failed to do in the hustle and bustle of putting the tree up.  Most of our ornaments aren’t random – they were either my own or Matt’s from childhood, or ones we’ve acquired together, or gifts we’ve been given.  Here are a few of my favorites…


Given to me by a coworker at Wake


Given to me this year by Anne… I love the vintage look of it and of course, what it symbolizes.


Given to me by a grad school friend the year the Red Sox won the World Series (2004)


Given to us by Kate last year…symbolic of our tacky sweater Christmas parties


I have a bunch of these, given to me by my parents last year.  We are a Wake Forest loving family!

I know it sounds kind of silly, but paying attention to each ornament as I took it down and remembering where it came from or who gave it to me made the process a little bit more enjoyable.  Less chore like, more like a nostalgia-fest …. and I do love me some nostalgia.  I can’t say that I carried that mindset perfectly into the next couple hours of de-Christmas-ing my house, but it’s definitely something I am trying to be more mindful of this year. 

Less post-something-blues, and more right-here-right-now-contentment.