Monday, June 24, 2013

Measure For Measure

The older I get, the more able I am to accept that most of the things that I thought I knew about life are totally inaccurate.

This is both comforting and troubling.

It's comforting because I realize now that this is true of most of us, just bumbling around down here trying to figure it out and get by.

It's troubling because -- holy crap, you mean NONE of us know what we're doing? That can't be good.

At any rate, the hardest thing for me has been embracing the notion that there are, and always will be, crossroads in my life where I want to use what I thought I knew as guideposts even though I know that they are not what I should be using. It's like when you are learning to bake and the instructors tell you to make sure you don't measure liquids in the dry ingredient measuring cup, and vice versa. It won't always ruin your recipe, but it COULD. Of course, we all do it anyway, a time or two. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. Working out the next steps in your life by a set of faulty standards is equally hit or miss.

All of this is, of course, in my noggin because I'm leaving one phase of my life and entering another. I feel out of sequence and somewhat displaced at the moment. It will pass -- all things do -- but I'm wondering if some of the struggle isn't a result of the fact that I continue to want to cling to the ideas I hold about what my life ought to look like instead of recognizing that, as imperfect as it is, it's still mine to live in whatever fashion works for me.

And that may or may not include measuring liquids in dry measuring cups.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Working It Out

I'm in one of those spaces in my life where it's very apparent that I don't control what happens next.

This should be super stressful. It is, in fact, a little stressful, but I'm realizing that most of my stress is related to finishing a big project (packing all of my stuff) but not to the "and then what happens" portion of the program.

Because I've been here before. And it works out. That's the thing about life -- it's twisty and bendy and surprising, and at some point? You have to go with it. You can fight the journey, or you can enjoy the journey. Either way? You're probably going to end up in the same place -- and you can end up there exhausted and bitter, or you can end up there with laughter in your heart.

I'm not choosing to be tired or cranky. (I mean, I'm tired? But not the "I hate my life" kind -- it's the "I need more sleep" kind.) I'm not choosing to fight against where the paths are taking me. Instead, I've decided to be open about what might happen next.

It's hard for me to let go and let it work out. It's not the way I'm wired, not even a little. The older I get, though, the more apparent it is that this is one of the lessons I'm supposed to learn. I think I'm finally getting it.

And it will work out.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


If you see me in the next week or so and I have a deer in the headlights, slightly off kilter look about me, here's why:

I'm moving.

I'm actually moving TWICE.

About two weeks ago, The Fabulous Amber asked me if I would want to rent her condo. Which, YES, because it's amazing. Great, she said, you can move in August.


And yesterday, my friends with whom I am going to rent said condo said, you know, you should really move in with us at the beginning of July and then we can move ALL of our stuff with, like, one truck.

This is a sensible plan. Except, of course, that now I have ... like, 12 days? To pack all of my crap.

I'm not freaking out.


I'm not.

Yes, yes I am.

It's a great idea. I'm actually really glad my friends thought of it, and I'm thankful for the help they're giving me. I'm just -- OH CRAP I HAVE SO MUCH STUFFFFFFF.

So. If you see me, and I look tired and mildly distracted? That's why.

Also, if you have a truck or some boxes or both? Do I have a project for you!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lessons Learned

At particularly low points in my life, I try to encourage myself with the reminder that life is a school. When I was in school, there were subjects I did well in (like English) and subjects that were a bit of a struggle (like algebra). In life, there are going to be moments where you triumph and moments when you fall down. The difference between life and school, however, is this: while you may never actually use algebra, you WILL use the lessons you learn the hard way in life. If I were to have a mantra, that's what it would be: learn the lesson.* It's one of my fundamental beliefs. So is this: the application of the lesson may not be immediate, but it will come.

Beliefs are tricky things though, because they require faith. When I'm going through the tougher lessons in life, faith is like an eel -- slick and hard to hold onto -- and the only thing that allows me to keep it in my hands, juggling back and forth but still in my grasp is determination. Sometimes the mantra comes out through clenched teeth and I think, "What the hell could the lesson in this possibly be? WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO HARD?"

About seven years ago, when I was at one of the lowest points in my life, I was driving home from work on an October afternoon, talking to my mother on my cell phone, and sobbing. It may have been raining. It may not have been. I wasn't in a stage in my life where appreciating the beauty of an autumn afternoon was a thing, because the only thing I could see was personal failure and a great deal of pain. What I do remember, vividly, was saying -- through the crying -- was that I understood that this was a lesson, this was something that needed to happen to me, and that someday it would be clear, while at the same time a little voice in my head said, a little coldly, "There is a chance that you are completely full of shit."

Sometimes, I forget to have faith. It can happen.

Life always reminds me why I should trust the lesson, though. Seven years have passed and in the last two or three, I have been able to reach out to people who have found themselves where I was back then, in a low, painful place, and I can say to them, "I have been where you are and I love you and I can help you right now, if you will let me." Sometimes they don't -- but often, they do. And every time, I think that I am lucky. Lucky to have been there then, and lucky to be in a position to reach out now.

If I could go back seven years and tell my sobbing self that someday, I would feel fortunate to have struggled so much, I'm pretty sure that seven-years-ago-me would punch current me right in the face, and possibly deservedly so, but I'm also sure of this: I AM fortunate. One of the worst things that could have happened was also one of the best. Breaking my heart apart let me put it back together in a way that is bigger and more welcoming and -- I hope -- more kind than it ever was before.

Learn the lessons. All of them. Even algebra -- you never know what they will bring you.

*I should have this inked onto my person, I think.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Things We Lost In the War

I was sitting on the back of a motorcycle for the first time in years. The beauty of being on the back of a bike is that for all that you can hear of the world around you -- the bike, the other traffic, the wind and the birds -- your thoughts are also fairly loud. It's not a good place to converse, so you just have yourself and all of the things around you. If you're me, that means you had the smell of the ocean in your nose and the sense that you were finding something you had lost long ago, and the sense of it is so sharp, so real, that it makes you want to cry a little bit but you're not sure if the tears are happy or sad, but you suspect that they might be both.

And that would be okay with you.


I am a bizarre blend of caution and impetuousness. There are areas of my life where I run to the edge of the cliff and jump without ever looking down; there are also areas where I will refuse to acknowledge that the cliff even exists and spend days clinging tightly to a solid rock a good mile off. It's how I roll.

I know it's weird.

Because of this, I have entered a phase in my life where I don't let anyone tell me what to do. I lived in a very structured environment for a time, one where I was -- or wasn't -- allowed to do, say, or be who I want. This? Doesn't fly with me now. You think you're going to tell me who to be, where I can go, what I can wear, who I can see? Feel free to fuck off.

And yet.

There were things I used to do... Things I loved to do ... That I stopped doing after a relationship ended badly. They had too much emotional weight, so I didn't trust them anymore, and I didn't trust myself to do them. There were places I stopped going and things I couldn't bring myself to do anymore. They were surrounded by the sharp barbed wire of memory and I couldn't bear it so I let them go.

I missed them.

I'm the one who dictates my life now.

So... The person who was keeping me from the things I used to love was ...


The voice in my head telling me what I could do or not do? Was only mine.

And when I told it to shut up?

It did.


I realized this on the back of the motorcycle, as we drove over back roads that I'd travelled many times in the once upon a time but hasn't seen in years. The sunlight danced over the ocean. The trees cast gentle shadows over the road. I sat on the bike and felt the wind in my hair and took back something that had been taken from me, that I had allowed to be taken and had been too frightened to reclaim. I held out my hands and accepted it like a gift, because it is a gift to regain joy in the things you loved, and to find the clippers that will break through the prison of pain and past history.



I rode on the back of a bike, down past the bay and to the ocean. I smelled the salt marshes and the beach roses and exhaust and, maybe, my own tears, and realized that you don't lose what you've loved. You just have to find it again.

You have to find it, and find the strength to hold onto it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Something New

Hello, Faithful Blog Readers!

I'd like to thank you -- again -- for putting up with me as I've been blogging (or not) while my life has been in flux. The month or so that I didn't blog was sad for me, because I missed it. A lot. I just couldn't figure out how to fit it into my new schedule. I quickly realized, however, that I needed to sort that out because I need to write in some way or another, and I greatly enjoy this platform.

I told myself to buckle down and get to it.

And I did.

Which is great, but which quickly caused my second realization: I can't do this every day anymore.

I apologize to everyone, but the reality is that at this time, I can't commit to a daily blog post. I'm really sorry about this, but it's not feasible right now. It may become do-able in the future, but right now? I can't pull it off.

What I CAN do, however, is post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. So that's what's going to happen. Ideally, I will get back to five days a week -- but I don't know when that will be possible. Hopefully it will be soon -- I'm working that out. Until then, you WILL see new posts three days a week.

Thanks for sticking around.

much love,


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finding Your Happy

I had a dream that I was offered a really cool job in Washington DC that would pay me $100,000 more per year than my current job.

And I ...

... didn't want to take it.

Which is how I know -- really know -- that I'm living right.

While it would be nice in both my dream and my reality to make that much money, and it would be completely glorious not to have to worry about money, the bottom line was -- and is -- that living in DC would not make me happy, and the job, though cool, would not make me happy. What does make me happy is where I'm at and what I'm doing.

That's the important thing.

I've said time and time again that I don't need to love my work. I don't think loving my work is a prerequisite for a life well lived. I do, however, think it helps if you enjoy your coworkers, if you like the company you're keeping, if what you do makes you happy on some level.  I don't want to live my job. I want to work at my job and live the rest of my life outside of it.

That's where I am now.

And it doesn't suck.

I think though, even as I write this, that there are people who would be super happy to have a cool job in DC and who think that turning that down -- even if it was only in a dream -- is insane. I get that. I also get this: what makes me happy might not be what makes you happy. So -- when you have that dream? Take the job, if that's what your heart tells you to do. Have at it. Go nuts. And when you wake up, if you're happy that you're in your bed and going to the job you have when you're awake? Sweet.

But if you wake up and you're sad because the dream wasn't real?

Make it real.

I woke up from that dream and I was happy that I was here, in this place, going to this job. That's important. It tells me that I'm on the right path. (Which, finally.)

Find yours.

Find it in your dreams, and find it in your life. Find your happy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Madness

Five things that are less than ideal on a Monday morning:

1) suddenly remembering that you never did get to that thing you went to into the office on Saturday to do, and it needs to be turned in first thing today.

2) booting up your computer and discovering that you didn't turn the volume down after watching Netflix yesterday so the welcoming chime is DEAFENING.

3) cat barf

4) uncooperative, flippy hair.

5) running out of coffee.

Hope your Monday has a more promising start!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Randoms

"It's super humid in here."
"I know, my weather station says it's about 55% humidity."
"That's ... like, halfway to being a pond."
"Peace out."
"Did you just say, 'Spanish rice'?"
"No, I said peace out. But that could be a thing. 'Oh hey, gotta go. Spanish rice.' "
"Am I better at this job than the girl who used to have this job?"
"Yes. But to be fair, she was useless. A tree would do her job better than she did it."
"You should have anticipated that accident."
"The thing is, though, that accidents can't be anticipated, really. They're like the Spanish Inquisition. They come upon you suddenly."
"Or, yes, you're right, I should have anticipated that."
"I sat in the sun for like five minutes and started to burn."
"You're a ginger. You're lucky you didn't burst into flames."

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Doing that thing this morning where you set your alarm because you know you have to get up early and then your need for nine more minutes of sleep overrides your good sense and you hit snooze because there's a part of your brain that's juuuust awake enough to rationalize "No, I can totally get everything done and out the door in time even if I don't get up right now, despite the fact that I timed the morning to the minute" which you will only realize is completely untrue AFTER you finally get up. Stupid, lying, sneaky brain. So then you get up and you have a bajillion things to do before you can get out the door -- coffee, clothes, shower, hair, food, computer -- and you sit down at the computer and get sucked into a photography website where you find yourself looking at photos of celebrities taken by a photographer who has become a celebrity and thinking, "Boy, some of these celebrities sure are attractive" and "how is this guy a famous photographer? I could take these pictures" and you scroll and you scroll and you're scrolling the minutes away and then you realize HOLY CRAP I AM RUNNING OUT OF MINUTES HERE and that, unlike running out of minutes on a phone plan, life minutes are minutes you never get back but, also unlike minutes on a phone plan, you have never once bitched about "wasting" minutes of your life the way you do the minutes on your phone, though the minutes in your life are worth infinitely more and are equally limited. First that strikes you as funny -- not teeheehee funny, but interesting funny -- and then it strikes you as sad because people are more invested in the minutes they're paying for out of pocket than the ones they pay for with their hearts and minds, when it seems it should really be the other way around. You have seven minutes left to finish a blog post and brush your teeth before you have to get in the car and go to work but you take time to think, am I enjoying these minutes? Am I enjoying, appreciating, noticing the minutes as they pass? Or am I spending them in negativity, only focusing on the things that use the minutes sadly, stressed out, and in grumpy, sad space? And you realize that, even if you can't spend all of the minutes of your life doing amazing things, you can spend them making the average amazing, and be a person who finds joy in regular living, and that's not a bad notion to have in the space of a busy, oversleeping morning. Not a bad notion at all. You sip your coffee and sit back, pleased. You should write a contract for yourself, you think, like a phone contract, where you vow not to let your minutes slip past you. And then you think, maybe I just did.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I'm a Wizard

... I'm not actually a wizard. (Aren't you glad I put that in here? What a WEIRDO, right? Like you were thinking, "Hmmmm, I had NO IDEA she was a wizard, I'm so glad she mentioned it.") But at work, where there are multiple running jokes, one of the jokes is that my friend J is the Queen of all Things and I am a wizard. I don't even know how this started.

But it's funny. So who's going to argue?

This is the busy season at my job, so there's been no real time to get trained to do things. It's more of a "watch and learn" deal. As a result, there have been long stretches of "OMGIDON'TKNOWWHATI'MDOING" followed by the sense of "HELP!!!!"

As you can probably imagine, this makes me uncomfortable. I don't enjoy the feeling that I'm clueless. I do very much enjoy being -- cluefull? -- and having the sense that I'm on top of things. I spent six years running the company for my previous employer. I knew how to do everything. And then -- nada, zip, zilch.


At the same time, though? Really very awesome. Because if there's one thing I know, it's that struggling to learn something new is good for you. It's good to be taken down a few pegs now and then. It's good to stretch your brain around new concepts. It's good to learn to ask for help and to work through new challenges.

I like it. Mostly. I don't like the days I feel dumb or useless or "dammit why don't I know this!" but I like it.

Yesterday, a coworker asked me for help with something and I showed him "here's how this works, here's what you do, then do this thing, now do that," and I realized -- I DO know what I'm doing.  At some point in the last 9 weeks, I internalized some of the stuff that's been thrown at me.

If I like the challenge, I LOVE knowing that I actually -- after all is said and done -- have learned what I'm doing enough to help to train other people. It's glorious.

And it kind of makes me feel like I might be a wizard after all.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Getting There

A friend and I were talking about being in our twenties.

"If I could go back to being in my twenties..." she said.

"Not for a million dollars."


"I mean ... No. Just no."

"Agreed. I mean, I wouldn't redo anything? Because it got me to here and here is pretty great. So I don't have any regrets."

"Exactly. Although, if I could have told myself one thing, it would have been to trust my gut."

"That's a good one."

"I know, right?"

But that made me think about the things that I wish I'd learned when I was in my twenties that I'm only just figuring out now. Things like:

1) The bloody mary is the most delicious beverage on the planet. Try one.

2) Credit cards are not your friends. Your friends are your friends. Stop using credit cards to fill the spaces in your life that you won't let your friends into.

3) Happiness -- the best happiness, the most glorious levels of joy? -- is derived from fairly simple things.

4) Listen to your gut. That great guy, the one everyone likes but who sets off alarms in your soul? That's because he's not good for you. Believe those alarms.

5) It's okay to walk a path that is different from everyone else's. We're not all meant to walk together forever.

6) Keep the people who make you smile close to your heart. Let go of the people who make you cry.

7) It's okay not to be good at everything. It's not okay to give something up because you don't think you're good at it.

8) You are not as awkward as you think you are. You're awkward? But no one is that awkward. You're okay.

9) Some people are going to think you're lovely. Some people are going to think you're not. They don't need to be your yardstick for self worth. Believe in the face you see in the mirror and the heart that lives behind it. That's important.

10) The lessons you learn are subject to change. Change is good, both in your life and in your pocket.

11) You will never stop figuring it out.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Great Expectations

Tap ... tap ... is this thing on? Does it still work?

I guess we'll find out.

Before I do anything else here, I would like to thank all of the people who checked in with me to make sure that I was (and am) okay during my -- hiatus -- from my normal nattering. You guys. You make a girl feel loved, you know that? And I missed you too, every last one of you.

Here's what happened: as you know, I took a new job (which I love). I took a pay cut when I took the new job because I figured that less money was an acceptable trade off for more happiness (this is true, though occasionally difficult). As you may not know, I also had some friends move in at roughly the same time (which was very cool, and which is a story for another day). All of these things happened at about the same time.


Processing all of the stuff that was going on started taking up most of the real estate in my head. I was (and, as I say) am happy and okay, but in the interest of needing the day to contain more hours just to get everything else done, I stopped writing. This, I must say, was incredibly dumb because, as I've noted before, this is HOW I process things.

Life: 1

Danielle: 0



If I was good before, I'm better now. One, because I'm back here, doing what I do. Two, because I'm making some additional changes in my life that are going to make a good thing a better thing. Three, because I understand -- finally -- that the best (and maybe the only) way to really define a successful life is through the joy that you experience and are able to bring to other people.

I get it now.

So. Thanks for reading. Thanks for looking out for me and asking after me. I'll be here again tomorrow, and the days after that... and if I see you in person? Don't be surprised if I give you a hug and thank you again.

Every last one of you deserves it.