Go Ahead

I’m not sure if this has ever happened before.

This morning, I’m standing on the corner waiting to cross the street to work and humming along to the song I’m listening to. And then the lyrics that happen to include “go” play in my ears at the exact moment the walk sign changes to the ever-familiar man, arms and legs outstretched. I mean, seriously, the timing could NOT have been more in sync.

“Go.”

And as I stepped onto the pavement, I stopped for two thirds of a second, I grinned right then and there, looked up in the middle of the street, bangs tangled in the humid morning air, trying not to drop my lunch/coffee/purse for the day. I felt like spinning around. I looked up to see 10 seconds on the timer, so I went with my better judgement.

But that tiny fraction of a moment stuck with me all day. I tried to think of what this ‘symbol’ could mean, just for fun. Go for it? On the go? Let go? I experienced feelings relating to each of those phrases today, and each time I again remembered that small but powerful and inspiring coincidence this morning.

What is inspiration? One definition I like is “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” It does not have to be drastic, but just a thought that you want to do something with, to act upon, to wrestle within your mind. Sometimes we search for inspiration, sometimes we just come across it, and sometimes we get to go ahead and create our own.

ˈtwen-tē : ˈthrē

Just today I’ve experienced so many small, happy, incredible, fleeting moments, let alone this week so far. This month? Too many to count. This past year? It’s been one heck of an amazing ride, that’s for sure. I am incredibly blessed by so many friendships, experiences, and new beginnings. My heart is full.

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote this blog listing a few goals I wanted to accomplish while 22. And reading these now, it’s most definitely been a year of growth…let’s see what we checked off, shall we?

1. Pursue the next step in my career path. Whatever that may be.

If I told myself a year ago where I’d be now – within an amazing company surrounded by many wonderful leaders and friends – well, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

2. Keep planning for my own business. Don’t be afraid for an idea to change and grow.

Still working on this one, but I’m much closer than before to an idea I love enough to put in every extra bit of time and effort I have.

3. Make my biggest adult purchase yet. I’m thinking a new car is what I’ll most likely need this year. (No, Dad not a sports car…)

The car is on my radar for fall. But so far my largest purchase has been furnishings for my new apartment. Wait – my plane trip to Vegas last fall may have been more.

4. Try out a new hobby. This past year was blogging.

Hmm…hobby. Still don’t totally get what all falls under the word hobby. I started playing softball through work, does that count? Also finally found an awesome Columbus volunteering group that I absolutely love.

5. Stick to a new workout plan for a week, change it up and stay with that for a while, mix it up again, repeat.

I could amp up my morning workouts for sure. We’ll get there.

6. Eat very healthy for one week (I’m talking no “bad” foods) and see if I can really tell a difference in my physical/mental/emotional health.

Honestly I could probably never eat everything “good” for an entire week. But thanks to new friends and no more college and living on a budget, my diet has improved (at least M-Th) and I am honestly happier for it. I like being healthy and I also still really like cake and wine.

7. Eat only junk food for a day. Or only cake. And wine. It can be more than one day. The possibilities are endless.

Check. Check check check check. See point above^

8. Join a community choir. I miss singing!

I have my eye on a few! Maybe this year I’ll push past the waitlist(s).

9. Visit my grandparents. Help them out when I can.

I absolutely love you three and this goal will never be checked off.

10. Go on as many adventures as possible with my best friends and roommates. Who knows where we’ll be in a year.

Times change and friendships change with it. They either strengthen and grow or fade to make room for new ones! I could not feel luckier for the downright awesome people I’ve grown to love over the past few months or many years – and the adventures we’ve shared.

11. Track above adventures somehow. Journal? Scrapbook? Collection of snapchat stories? Whatever works.

…Does my mind count?

12. Be a little more religious. Maybe go to church more, maybe sing Christian songs in my free time, maybe learn a new religion.

I walked into a new church I’ve never been to just two months ago and it already feels like home. I have a feeling this is going to stick.

13. Channel that sorority girl I attempted to be the last 3 years and paint something for my apartment. Something cute and cliché. And if it doesn’t look good, stick a print-out of Johnny Depp’s face on it. Problem solved.

Now that I have my very own place, I can see this happening soon 🙂 (I did paint an owl that looks a little devilish and named him Lou but I’m not sure if that counts).

14. Travel. To see all 40 states I haven’t yet by the time I’m 30 means 40/8 years = 5 per year. So look out, 5 new states!

I believe 2 new states are checked off so far. Stay tuned for more to come!

15. Build my collection of items from each new place I visit. I’m thinking coffee mugs.

Check on the coffee mug collecting. Probably cliche on one hand, but on the other, they never go out of style.

16. Take classes (possibly online?) about things I didn’t learn in college like app development.

Finished one web development class a week ago!! I mean beginner of all beginner levels. Actually, I should probably retake it…

17. Keep on keepin’ in touch with all my professional contacts and friends from places I’ve worked.

Um, DUH. You guys rock and are some of my greatest role models and friends.

18. Read at least one book. Even if it’s written by Jim Gaffigan. (Yep, I’m not the world’s best reader)

Reading is not on the top of my list yet. Is there a “How to get back into reading?” class? If not, this goal may just keep continuing. Wait! I did read a memoir written by my grandma this year!

19. Force myself out of the house 5 nights a week…even when Netflix is calling my name.

Haha, try 7. I’m the farthest thing from a homebody.

20. Grow closer with my sisters. Set lunch dates with mom at least once a month. Have dinner with dad more often or at least call him just because instead of when I have a problem.

Check (but maybe ask them too). Check, but lunch with mom is more often wine with mom. And check – Dad and I have a place in mind already for our next dinner! Family means a heck of a lot to me.

21. Leave time for me. To go on random solo trips or start projects or lay around and do nothing.

Always! Aimless walks with headphones just a bit louder than necessary is my go-to.

22. …I can’t think of a 22nd goal at the moment but it’ll come to me! Maybe later today, maybe later this week, maybe later this year ~

Goal for this year: end blog posts better than the above^

That, and to follow each day Georgia Byrd’s unfailing advice (from the classic movie Last Holiday ©2006): “We will laugh more, we’ll love more; we just won’t be so afraid.” AMEN QUEEN LATIFAH.

 

May the Force be With You

Today a usual half-smile, polite “how-are-you” exchange with a coworker became an enthusiastic, wide-smiled “Hi!!” And it was awesome.

What changed? We still sit 15 offices away from each other, in completely separate departments, with entirely different daily routines. Answer: we both attended a voluntary work function last evening. It was just a couple hours and a few shared laughs, and now we’re no longer strangers.

Human connection is mysterious, incredible, a truly powerful positive force.

I often like to think about someone who is incredibly special to me in this very moment and think back to when we were strangers. Initial impressions to first conversations to inside jokes and time spent together enjoying mutual interests. And now it may be the case that we can’t imagine when they weren’t a part of our lives. It reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Now not everyone we meet becomes a close friend, but that simple transition from strangers to two people who cheerfully greet one another is still amazing. Previous judgements fade, smiles are brighter, spirits lifted even just for a moment.

Like I said, human connection is a positive force. And we have the power to use it for good. Any time, any day, anywhere. It’s almost too fitting that it’s May 4th – Star Wars Day. May the force be with you, today as well as each day ahead.

Click.

Around 2pm today, gathered around a restaurant table with one great friend I’ve known for 17+ years and three individuals who were complete strangers just a few minutes ago, a beer in one hand, a pair of dice in the other as I laugh off the fact that I’m terribly losing this board game we’re playing…click.

Tiptoeing around browsing customers in order to leave a bookstore this morning because my sister and I are probably a bit too loud catching up on random stories we haven’t had time to tell each other…click.

Driving excitedly to see two wonderful friends last evening, turning up the radio to blast “Funkytown” above the hail storm…click.

Enjoying a movie theater yesterday afternoon, looking over to see Grandma laughing so hard she’s crying…click.

These are just four of many many favorite moments this weekend. Moments I don’t have real photos of but compiled candid snapshots in my mind. Moments I want to remember, most of them simple, random, happy.

After taking a Cognitive Psychology class in college, the human mind makes even less sense to me so I’m not sure if these mental photos are forever in my long term memory, or only reachable again through future connections, or (most likely) will fade out slowly. But I guess that’s not the point. I don’t need to remember every detailed time I was happy in the past two days, or weeks, or months, and so on. What I want to remember is that I consciously took notice of the times I was genuinely happy – and that it was too many to count.

Moments can pass by too quickly and time is far too often taken for granted. At 22 I already feel like time is flying and I don’t intend on wasting it. I want to remember that I was aware of the happy times spent with wonderful people and on my own, in simple occasions and great adventures. Not every moment is good and not every thought is positive, and this makes it all the more important to take a mental note of when they are. So the next time authentic happiness strikes…smile, click, save, return.

It Takes 2 to Tango, But 1 to Polka

I have this sweater. I’ve had this sweater for many years now. It’s one of my favorites. It’s comfy but dressy if I want it to be, and best of all it has these big turquoise polka dots on it. It’s great for a quick outfit because, well, it makes the outfit. Knowing me I’ll probably throw another pattern with it but the polka dots still take precedence.

So naturally I reached for it yesterday morning because I’d slept in a little too late to sift through my closet, and it was Monday, and sometimes you just need a bit of an extra boost in addition to that first cup of coffee. 

Fast forward to about 2pm as I’m headed towards the break room at work singing Viva La Vida in my head (because what better playlist to listen to on a Monday than one titled “Uplifting Pop Motivation”). While fighting the urge to hum along to Coldplay and filling my tumbler with 75% ice/25% water, a coworker of mine breaks my concentration to say that she loves my sweater. I smile and say thanks and explain that it’s a bit aged, but she continues to express her love for polka dots. She says that without fail polka dots brighten her day.

I’m thankful for her compliment, but more than that her comment makes me think. What is my “polka dot?” What is something that always, hands-down, no matter what makes me smile? Do I have more than one? Does it vary per day? Is it something or can it be someone?

There are so many moments I love in life. But most of the time I’m smiling – and I mean the authentic, eye-crinkling, cheek-burning kind of smile – it’s in response to one of the many amazing people I’m honored to know. New goal? Each day to be a polka dot for someone else. To brighten a moment without fail, without expectation, without an angle •

One Hit Wonders

This rainy but not so dreary evening, I’m driving from place to place and clicking between radio stations as often as my windshield wipers clear the dashboard. It’s been a good day and a good night already up to this moment, and then I hear that first chord beginning Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie.” I just love that song.

So naturally I’m turning the volume dial up each chorus, and singing the words I know and the ones I’ve made up to one of the catchiest 80’s tunes, and I know I’m wearing the goofiest grin. But now I’m not even thinking about the song, but just how entirely, effortlessly happy I am in this minute. Don’t worry, I’m still singing – and quite loudly – but I’m thinking of many reasons why I love my life right now.

It’s Tuesday and one step closer to Friday. In about an hour I’ll be devouring my favorite salmon salad for dinner. I accomplished quite a bit at work today. I really like my job. I have an amazing boss. I’m thankful for all of the incredible supervisors and teachers and mentors I’ve had. I’m happy I’ve kept in touch with most. I love my family. I love that I have more time to spend with them now that I’m out of college. I have inspiring, wonderful friends I look up to and have fun with and bounce ideas off of.

Well that got deep for a Steve Perry song. I guess I just got lost in – or really transcended – the moment. Just the other day I was in Barnes and Noble reading this philosophy book and I remember this passage stated that the word ecstasy in Greek means to be outside of yourself. I’m not sure if my brief but intense spurt of happiness tonight falls under that definition but it just might.

Either way, I’d recommend the feeling. Maybe (most likely) it’ll be a different trigger for you but when it happens and you’re blissfully happy for that second, hold on, hold on…🎶

Pointless

It’s Saturday afternoon and it’s nothing extraordinary. My aunt and I are strolling into Kroger to snag some last minute snacks for our small Super Bowl get-together the following evening. Chips, dips, wings, beer, wine – the usual. We step inside the automatic door and we’re figuring out our shopping game plan when we nearly run our cart right into a sample stand in front of the wine selection. No, it’s not a wine sample, it’s free 2oz cups of Jose Cuervo “Pour & Serve” flavored margaritas – one is grapefruit tangerine, the other is white peach.

“Hello!” says the woman behind the table, “Would you like to try-”

“Yes.”-

We each taste the two flavors – and no surprise here – we like both. My aunt is inquiring about the price and ingredients and I’m standing there smiling and listening and partaking in my bad habit of chewing on ice cubes. All of a sudden, the conversation is transforming from the margarita special to the woman’s job title, position, and background. She doesn’t work for Kroger, but for a beverage promoting company. Her name is Annie. She has a refrigerator full of half empty margaritas.

This isn’t at all surprising to me because my aunt loves to talk to people. She’s constantly networking, friend-working, socializing, and any other synonym you can think of. She has this fun, genuine charisma about her that everyone picks up on. It turns out Annie is a social one, too, which leaves me, the one with the on-the-border introvert/extravert personality, to comment and respond occasionally but purposely let the two talk. But I don’t mind listening.

We learn Annie loves her job, the hours, and her management team. She loves her boyfriend with whom she spends most of her time and shares the endless margaritas she drives home. She’s 25 and has beautiful wavy hair. She gives both of us her business card. My aunt is intrigued with her career, I’m intrigued by her marketing background. The three of us are still standing and talking as I shift the cart every once in a while so others can squeeze by. We tell Annie why we’re shopping and how we’re related, and I tell her about my current marketing position.

After another ten minutes or so, my aunt actually invites Annie and her boyfriend to stop by our Super Bowl party the next evening, and Annie’s flattered. We exchange numbers, she promises to bring three bottles of margaritas, and my aunt and I finally leave the sample station to continue with our shopping.

We leave Kroger and I’m smiling. On the drive home, all I can think of is a quote from one of my favorite movies, Boyhood. The film follows the life of character Mason from elementary school to 18 years old. Towards the end of the movie, Mason is graduating, starting college, and beginning to really see the struggles of life.

He asks his dad, “So what’s the point?” and his dad says “What’s the point? I mean, I sure as shit don’t know. Neither does anybody else, okay? We’re all just winging it, you know? The good news is you’re feeling stuff. And you’ve got to hold on to that.”

Walking into Kroger, meeting Annie, talking with her for 15-20 minutes – none of it was extraordinary. None of it planned. None of it extremely meaningful, except for the fact that all three of us left the situation just a bit more cheerful. We shared an unplanned conversation, listened to one another, and formed a new connection.

Meeting Annie wasn’t the point of us going to Kroger, and whether we see her again isn’t the point either. But there’s something to be said about living life one moment at a time and being aware of its affect on us and those around us. Maybe we should stop trying to find the point.