Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Mantra: AHHHH!

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Face your fears...with a handy, dandy weapon, if needed.
As long as I can remember, I've had a serious-verging-on-completely-insane fear of spiders. All of the horror movies I've watched in my life have certainly not helped, but occurrences from my childhood are what really sealed the deal for me.

When I was about 4, my family moved into a new house. I was playing hide and seek and I hid myself right into a giant spider web complete with several spiders. I shudder even now, remembering that dark, dark day. On another occasion, my grandmother convinced me to swap out my Fruit Loops for Raisin Bran. I wasn't all about that life with health in it (or raisins) back then, so I slowly but carefully picked the raisins out one by one. The only problem was that one of them wasn't a raisin. Even when I would take showers, spiders would parachute off the side and land directly on me, leaving me slipping and screaming all over the place. Damn little aero dynamic spiders. They had to have gotten there from some invisible portal that had transported them to me because trust me, I checked for spiders everywhere. Add all of that together with me growing up with a forest outside my back door and you get a lot of black widows and GIANT ASS wolf spiders every-freaking-where.

Trauma, I tell you.

Since moving to the city, I've been fairly fortunate in not having to deal with mass amounts of spiders on a regular basis. I've even become somewhat brave and killed some all by myself (high fiving myself right now). That was until last week, anyway. Last week is a whole other story.

It's Friday night. I don't have to be anywhere, do anything, see anyone. I was all excited about my incredibly laid back evening filled with New Girl episodes on Netflix. I get up, take a few steps down my hall when I see it- a ginormous spider, crouched near my hall closet. I panic. I grab the closest thing I can find, which is vinegar, and try to vinegar it to death. It doesn't even phase the beast. The spider runs off and ducks (Ducks! He had to duck to get under the door, he was that big!) under the hall closet doors, vanishing into a world filled with all of my Christmas wrapping paper and bags. There was no way I was going in there alone.

I call my boyfriend.

The following is a brief account of my screaming/frantic whispering/angry hollering/terrified laughter cracked out message that I left him. It was like three people were possessing my body. This will not make any sense, but it's the closest I can come to explaining it.

"There is a  GIANT ASS SPIDER IN MY CLOSET!!!! A GIANT SPIDER!!! *crazy laughter* Hahaha! *whispering* What am I going to do? WhatamIgoingtodo?! Spiderinthehall…giant...vinegar! *back to yelling* AHHHHH! Not. Dead. *whispering again in a very high pitched voice* Definitely... not...dead! *yelling* IT DUCKED to get under the door. Ducked! GIANT! *whacked out laughing* me...."

Since he did not answer his phone, and I did not want this monster escaping (especially since I was going to be gone for the weekend) I went with Plan B. The reason I had a Plan B was because I may have used this method before in dealing with giant spiders. Possibly. I can neither confirm or deny this.

I grab a rolled up magazine as to carefully open the closet door where my painting tape is stored. I peer in, check all surrounding areas, and grab the tape. I carefully close the door with the rolled up magazine and grab a small step ladder. I then begin the task of taping up every single inch of space where the spider could escape from, therefore preventing an unwanted surprise visit later on. The following resulted:

I'd like to think I'm a creative problem solver.
About halfway through this my very concerned boyfriend calls me. He thought someone had died based on the message I left earlier which was, apparently, not clear at all. There was a lot of screaming, what can I say? I quickly informed him of the actual situation and then hung up as I had to finish taping off all escape routes. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's taping things. Good news: It only took me about 4 hours to calm down once the spider was effectively trapped.

The next day I go home to visit my mom.

Three things you should know before I proceed into Chapter 2 of this story: 1) I usually stay at my grandmother's old house, which is currently being remodeled and 2) I took all of the sheets, towels, and basically everything washable home to wash at my house during the remodel, leaving nothing in the house at all. Nothing. 3) The Universe it out to get me.

Thinking that I've left the spider situation behind me, I relax into a nice Saturday out and about with my mom. As the evening approaches, I head to my grandmother's house to get ready for bed. Before I can do that though, I have to unload everything in my car, including the bedding. I don't get very far before I see it- a BIGGER spider, presumably on crack, running back and forth over and over and over again, right in front of the front door. To put things into perspective, the first spider was about half dollar sized. This one, though, this one was the size of a child's fist. A large child's fist. This one was clearly The Rock of the spider world.

I go find something to kill it with. I get back and see it move right over the front door, where the door and the wall meet, truly trapping me because, if I open the door, it will fall right on my head. I pace back and forth in the house. Back home right now, where I'm from, it's cold at night. And with every blanket, facecloth, and even curtain piled in my car, I have nothing to sleep on, let alone wash my hands with. I'm super screwed at this point. I do what any self respecting adult would do in this situation with only herself and her beloved wiener dog to protect from the beast and I call my mom. Bless her heart, she drives out and kills this thing without so much as screaming twice. Once, but not twice. I finally get to bed.

The next day I see a tarantula and another giant spider, but from a far enough away distance that allows me to flee and never look back. I have no idea what's gone wrong in the world or what I did to deserve all of this. Sunday night I go back home.

I hop in the shower to wash away the horror of the weekend and feel a tiny little needle like jab on the bottom of my foot. I look down, see nothing, and continue with my shower thinking I must be delusional at this point. As I towel off, I once again look down and this time I see something move. A little black something that was positioned perfectly on the shower drain. A spider.

I leap out and look at my foot, fully expecting it to already be decaying and turning into a foot zombie body part while the rest of me slowly wither and dies with it. I grab a glass and trap the spider in the shower, knowing my only hope of surviving relies solely in identifying it for medical authorities. It's late and although I'm traumatized I'm still courteous, so I text my boyfriend.

Are you awake? 

Please be awake because I just got bit by a spider. 

No, I'm not kidding. 

Then, I call him. See? Courteous. I waited a whole 55 seconds.

We both spend quite some time Googling pictures of spiders, which, by the way, is TERRIFYING. I mean it. Don't ever do it.

Eventually, we find the one that got me and determine it's a house spider. I'll live to see another day, supposedly. I finally go to bed only to have very serious spider nightmares all night long. At one point, I even leaped out of bed, grabbed my dog, and ran out the room before I realized it was a dream. Stupid Google with your stupid large and stupid detailed spider pictures!

My boyfriend comes over later in the week and we (I helped, bonus points to me after everything I went through. I'm high fiving myself again, by the way) carefully search through the closet until we find the creature who was super not dead, by the way. It probably loved it's special little vinegar bath!

The good news: The spider(s) are history.

The bad news: I'm probably more traumatized now than I was before. It's time to move to outer space. Please tell me spiders can't live in space, otherwise there's no hope for me.

The morale of the story: It's good to face your fears, but only when you have backup and some serious weaponry available. Maybe a sword, some fire.

Definitely not vinegar.

Image 1 via FunkyJunk
Image 3 via College Humor

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Mantra: Turn In

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: When the outside world's too much, turn in to find the answers.
Melia Metikos Society 6
We live in a very loud, very watchful, very curious world. We live in a very extroverted world that allows us to share ourselves through an identity created through the Internet. We have unlimited access to data, 24/7. This constant ability to tune in to absolutely everything going on, in every inch of the world, can be exhausting. It can be overwhelming without us even realizing it. Worst of all, it can give us a false sense of being connected when we're only truly connected to a computer, not to each other, not even to ourselves.

All of this Instant Action keeps us informed of the here and now. The problem is, if we stay that tuned in all the time we lose a sense of self. We deprive ourselves of much needed quiet time away from the world and everyone in it. We lose valuable time to think, really think, the long, deep important thoughts.

The other night I was alone at my grandmothers house when I was having one of my long overdue Deep Thinking Moments. I was sitting there, in the darkness and the silence, when I decided to jot down some notes on what I would like myself to look like as a whole. What my ideal version of me would be.

At the end of writing everything down, I had this little ah-ha moment. A moment that explained these last several months of the funk I've been in. It finally dawned on me why I was so unhappy. It wasn't necessarily a person or a thing of even just one situation that was weighing on me. It was an accumulation of a feeling that what I was doing wasn't meaningful.

When I think of all of my "dream jobs", my favorite hobbies, and the things I would love to study in school for the rest of my life (which is how long it would take me), they all have one underlining theme- they would make a difference, one way or another. They would be meaningful to someone, somewhere, somehow.

When I realized I didn't have that right now, or at least that I didn't have control over that aspect necessarily, I suddenly understood this darkness that I've been feeling. And just like that, what was left of the darkness lifted. It was like a storm breaking after a hard rain- I had finally found my way out of this feeling of being lost within myself. I found what I needed to focus on: Finding a way to be meaningful in my thoughts, words, and deeds.

I started today's thought process out with turning in and tuning out the world because it's due to having time this weekend cut off from so much noise that I was able to take time to focus in and see what I needed to uncover. I honestly hadn't had that in a very long time. Or, more likely, I hadn't let myself have that time.

Even if you do have that break from constant access to everything, it can hard to shut out the world and sit with your own silence. To hear your own loud thoughts of good and bad and right and wrong. What if this and what if that. Your own thoughts can be the most terrifying things in the world.

But...they are powerful. They are important. And it is necessary, more so now than ever before, to listen to yourself and shut out the world.

Take some time to get away from everything- from people, from technology, from absolutely everything. Get away and focus inward and you will find your way to the answers you seek.

Tune out the world and turn in.

Find what it is that you want.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Scarecrow

I saw this today and had to immediately share it with you. It's only three minutes long, but it's incredibly impactful- and true. We need more scarecrows that take action like this. We need to be those scarecrows.

Also, the song is perfect for this video. Hauntingly so.

For more information on the back story of this video, click here.

What do you think?


(If you can't see this video via the auto email, please go to my home site and view the video there)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Mantra: Funk Off

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Tell your funk to Funk Off. Then bake some scrumptious (gluten free) cookies.
I have been in a serious funk lately and I'm ready to tell it to Funk Off. It's odd, how you can be so happy for a stretch of time and then, out of nowhere, the sadness creeps up on you and covers you in it's sheath of misery.

For a while now I haven't been feeling like myself. I haven't felt like the light inside has reached my eyes- like it's been too dim, as if my own little bulb of happiness was burning out. I've definitely been sad before like any normal person can be, but this time has been different. This time I really let things get to me to such a degree that I didn't want to get out of bed, I didn't want to care, I didn't want to try. I gave up, internally, while outwardly I kept plugging along. I haven't been in a comfortable place inside and it's for a variety of reasons (work, school, trying to continually do too much) and I let these reasons be my Everything. I labeled all of the good things in life that have kept me happy and grounded as Nothing.

I've been focusing on the wrong things.

In conjunction with my funk, I felt as if I had "lost" myself, which is truly an odd concept when you really think about it. One can never lose themselves. We really just get lost inside ourselves with thoughts, feelings, and lack of actions that we want to take, should take, need to take- but don't.

For a while there I fought the sadness. I tried everything I could think of at first which, lamely,  involved a lot of complaining.  I even went away on a vacation to Indonesia where I very much planned to have a Balinese Healer heal the gloom right out of me, all Eat, Pray, Love style. Unfortunately, he was busy and I didn't get to see him (which, sadly, made me think that maybe I wasn't meant to be healed). The vacation in itself was fabulous, but it didn't make me feel any better as vacations normally do. In fact, the whole time I was gone I was inwardly freaking out about having to return back home to all the dreaded things that were waiting for me. I may have even had nightmares. That's how stressed I am, or was, or kind-of still am. Something is changing inside of me, though.

My first few days back were filled with anxiety. I was giving into all of the doom and gloom fairly easily until I remembered something very important: I have complete control over my life. So, I decided to do something about the doom and gloom: I did happy things. I took action.

I went to Barnes and Noble and got a book, The Happiness Project. I called my old therapist and said I needed to talk. I sat down and started looking for new job opportunities. I talked to my mentors at work and they gave me sage career advice which I employed immediately. I started to give myself little pieces of hope, here and there.

By the end of what felt like a very long week, I felt tremendously better. It's funny how quickly things can change when you remember that, whether or not it feels like it at the time, you're in control of your life.

It's empowering.

It's awesome.

It gives you strength.

Also, I baked cookies- the most delicious gluten free chocolate chip cookies I've ever made and then I ate them, guilt free, while I watched a chick flick and let myself feel all my feelings.

I'm not 100% completely back to my "normal" cheery, care-free self, but I'm on my way. I've remembered the light. I feel warm inside again and I will not let myself lose that. I will not let life steam roll me. This is MY LIFE, after all. I will take charge of it.

Thank you for being patient with me while I escaped for a couple of weeks (mentally and physically) and figured myself out. If any of you are feeling funked up too, I recommend reminding yourself daily that you are in control of yourself, your attitude, and the path that you walk on. It may not feel that way, but ultimately you are. You can leave, change, start all over, or try something new anytime you want. We all can. We just tend to forget that.

And now...cookies.

King Arthur Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know how many gluten free things don't taste the same as regular things? And how we all get used to it and, after awhile, forget what good can taste like? Well these taste like real chocolate chip cookies.  Yes, you read that correctly. They're soft and gooey and melt in your mouth fabulous. I haven't been this excited about cookies in a really, really, really long time.

You can find the King Arthur flour mixes at your grocery stores or at this link. The recipe is on the back and below for you as well (right from their site). I altered it slightly...olive oil in place of the butter...and I only used 1 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips when the recipe calls for 1-3 cups. That is a LOT of chocolate chips. Even 3/4 to 1/2 a cup would be plenty. Trust me. Some of my cookies were 99% chocolate chips.

And yes, those were just as delicious.


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

1) In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, vinegar, and baking soda, beating until smooth and creamy.

2) Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
3) Mix in the flour, then the chips.
4) Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/4" balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread.
5) Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes, till their edges are chestnut brown and their tops are light golden brown, almost blonde. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.


Image 1 via Pinterest
Image 2 personal picture
Image 3 via King Arthur

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Read This. Then Stop all of that other stuff.

Hi Friends,

I'm going to be super, crazy busy these next couple of weeks and since I don't have minions or a clone I'm not going to be able to write each week as I normally do.

I really need minions.

Not only are they adorable, but they make things happen. Well, sort of. Let's go back to that adorable piece.
Anyway, I don't want to leave you hanging entirely, so here's an article I came across that is absolutely fantastic: 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

 Read it, then think about all the things you can stop doing to make your life better. As the quote on the page says:

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give
the right things a chance to catch you.

Let yourself get caught by the right things.

I'll talk to you all in a couple of weeks!


Image via