Happy new week!

2015 is a week old already. Makes you feel all nostalgic for the innocence of days-gone-by, doesn’t it? Ah, 2014. How young we looked… How little we knew…

I had a pretty great year (maybe I’ll do one of those Year-in-Review Top 10 Lists I used to write every January. Maybe I won’t.), but it also featured some sharp-and-pointy personal challenges, so overall I’m very glad to see it go.

Happy New Year 2015

It doesn’t hurt that I rang in 2015 on a mini-trip with my boyfriend. (I feel a little silly acknowledging this fact on the blog. So I’ll say it like I’m in middle school: booooooooyfriend. …Oh well. I’m happy; I’m dating someone who makes me feel adored, not confused. This is a change of pace that I CAN ACCEPT.)

We saw Into the Woods on January 1, and it was such a happy choice for First Movie of the Year; I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time.

I saw the Broadway revival on my high school senior trip, so Into the Woods holds a special place in my heart. (Sondheim! Vanessa Williams! Childhood stories with adult themes!)

I remember ordering the two-disc soundtrack online (2002: A time when buying things online felt exotic and unusual.), and listening to it over and over. Besides beautiful music and clever lyrical wordplay, the show has themes of striking out on your own and following your dreams, exorcising family demons and dealing with unhappy endings—all of this felt close to my heart that summer before I left for college.

It’s a funny feeling to revisit something that meant so much to me (in the capital-m “Meaning” sort of way) at one point in my life, and find that I can just enjoy it 12-or-so years later.

Not so bad, to realize you are no longer nineteen.

This one song still gets to me. Seeing the show in post-9/11 NYC in 2002, it felt particularly powerful. But even now, the world can feel so full of Big Bad things. Giants, witches, granny-clothed wolves: Not always what they seem.

Witches can be right. Giants can be good.
You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.
Just remember:
Someone is on your side. Someone else is not.
While we’re seeing our side, maybe we forgot:
They are not alone.
No one is alone.

Princes, beanstalks, magic beans: None of these come with a happy-ending guarantee. Sometimes your fairy tale turns into a hot, hot mess and it feels like there’s nothing you can do.

Ah, but, musicals remind us, you can always sing. 

 

 

Building a better SJ

Trying to pull myself away…caught in a pattern and I can’t escape…

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Sometimes I think I must be the least type-A person I know.

But that isn’t quite right: I love accomplishing things. I love being good at what I do. I love getting caught up in rewarding tasks. I can multitask like a mu’a fu’a. (I have, on occasion, been described as “tightly wound”…) But along the way, I’m also super-comfortable going with the flow, changing things up, constantly exploring new ideas.
(Oooh look! There’s one now!!, etc.)

You can understand how I often end up, then, with many To-Do lists—not so many Ta-Das. Or, more accurately, a good number of Ta-Das that are hard-fought victories in the battle against procrastination + perfectionism anxiety.
(Wanna hang out sometime? I’m tons of fun when a deadline’s approaching…)

Lucky for me, everybody’s in the spirit o’ resolutions right now, and there are lots of lovely resources on the ol’ web to help a girl like me get her self correct. (I would love so much to spend 2012 getting myself correct…) Imagine how much more I could do (and do well) if I just got my shit a little bit more together, you guys!

These two articles in particular are helping me guide myself to the land of Ta-Da:

“A Master Plan For Taking Back Control of Your Life” (right?)

from “The 99%” (nothing to do with Wall Street, ps.)

“10 Tips to Get Through Your Holiday Hangover”

from “Talent Zoo” (nothing to do with animals, ps.)

[Both are neato websites for creative-professional types. Check ’em.]

From #1, I especially like the idea of working in “sprints,” doing just one thing at a time. Can you imagine the freedom to allow yourself 90 minutes of uninterrupted time for each task on your list? Glorious, glorious fantasy!!

From #2, I love the idea of choosing an “intention” for the year to help you lean into change—vs. resolutions, which often call for light-switch-drastic adjustments. This morning, I thought I just might take my intention from one Mr. Alex Hitchens:

“Begin each day as if it were on purpose.”

Oh, sure, I might’ve made fun of that quote from HITCH once upon a time, but today I choose to let it inspire me.

Like this: The documentary I AM (from the guy who brought us Ace Ventura. No, really.) is well worth your rental. Oprah—from whom all blessings flow—introduced me to this gem last year. Tom Shadyac, the director, has this existential crisis when he discovers that becoming a millionaire doesn’t fulfill him. He starts to look around at the world and wonders what’s gone wrong. Why are we so connected but disconnected at the same time? He goes to some of the best minds we’ve got (scientists, philosophers, writers, Archbishop McDreamy Desmond Tutu…) trying to figure out what’s up with humanity.

The title I AM can be the answer to one of two questions:

#1 What’s wrong with the world?
#2 What’s right about the world?

It seems trite, I know, but maybe the answer really is that simple. What if I follow my intention in 2012, reminding myself to wonder, “What Would Hitch Do?”…so that my “I am” is the answer to #2. On purpose.

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In the spirit of Living Your Best Life as Oprah would do…I’m excited to introduce a new Blog Challenge!!

**Fireworks**Champagne**Confetti**Statuettes**

 “And the Envelope Please…”

Inspired by awards season (which we’re counting as the six weeks between Sunday’s Golden Globes and the Oscars on February 26), the gang is back to blog about “Best of” experiences from our lives (and naturally some movies, too). The goal is 2 posts each week from each of us, so settle in for some red-carpet-worthy writing. Some glamour. Maybe a montage…

2011 Reading Review(s)

*Trumpet solo intro*
Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, creepers & kitty cats,
it’s that time of year again…

Tweet-size book reviews 2011!!

In 2011, I polished off one more book than I did last year, for a grand total of 18. (Last year also included 5 repeats. This year: 3.) The final 10 weeks of the year proved more productive than the first 10 months, too. Thanks to summertime—in which I spent more time swimming and socializing and watching all 4 seasons of Mad Men in a matter of days…summer things—I didn’t finish a single book for a few months.
So unusual, 2011.

I’ve enjoyed making this little trip down reading-memory-lane for two years now
(2009, 2010), so here we go again:

1) The Brain in Love — Dr. Daniel Amen
What we think about when we think about love…Dr. Amen knows what’s up. Boy meets girl meets brain chemicals. “Sex & the Synapse”?

2) The Year of Magical Thinking — Joan Didion
Beautifully sad 2nd reading. “When we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer.”

3) Blankets — Craig Thompson
Momma’s first graphic novel. Nostalgic, lovely story illustrated in black & white. Borrowed from a friend who loves it — even better.

4) The Kind Diet — Alicia Silverstone
Cookbook / lifestyle guide by the girl from Clueless. “Flirting” with clean eating = easier than quitting turkey cold-turkey. (Whatever.)

5) Bossypants — Tina Fey
Pre-ordered? Yes. Devoured? You bet. LOL at the back jacket alone? Absolutely. Delusional fantasies of being just like her? Even worse now.

6) The War of Art — Steven Pressfield
Grand little creativity guide. Short, meditative chapters. “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.”

7) The Artist’s Way — Julia Cameron
The Paper Mill got all philosophical w/ this 12-week course in soul-searchery. Thanks, HBlair, for being my partner in crime & creativity.

8) Letter to a Christian Nation — Sam Harris
“It is terrible that we all die & lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive.”

9) The Moviegoer — Walker Percy
A friend described as Catcher in the Rye for twentysomethings. Loved it more now than as an undergrad. Like Casablanca. Some art takes time.

10) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close — Jonathan Safran Foer
JSF changes my life once again! (Reading Eating Animals helped me decide to not do that anymore.) Final 50 pages or so, perfection.

11) Winnie The Pooh — A. A. Milne
Precious! Somehow never read it as a kid. So clever and sweet. Hope to bring forth more Tigger qualities than Eeyore ones from now on.

12) How I Became A Famous Novelist — Steve Hely
I love @HelyTimes so much. Writes for The Office. Writes hilarious novel, had me laughing out loud on an airplane. Thurber Prize 2010.

13) Sleepwalk With Me — Mike Birbiglia (Tinkles)
Funny, well-written memoir of standup (& sleepwalking). Shows us his secrets & leaves us laughing. Not easy to do. Love / hate him for it.

14) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? — Mindy Kaling
The year of baller memoirs by funny ladies, ladies! This book is absolutely what I hoped it would be. Witty, charming, a little dorky…love.

15) The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho
I’d always heard rave reviews. A delightful allegory — like a Disney movie without the musically talented anthropomorphic characters.

16) Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So – Mark Vonnegut
Kurt V’s son, son! He’s a doctor who’s also schizophrenic. The second half > the first. (so, I’m saying, read it…and stick with it.)

17) Holidays on Ice — David Sedaris
Book club was bothered by this irreverent read, a popular item at Urban Outfitters book stacks everywhere. I love D.S., still.

18) STUFF: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things
– Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee

Authors pioneered research on the disorder disorder (before it was cool — or a reality TV show). Is reality for a lot of people. Fascinating.

:: The End ::

In 2012, I plan to read 29 books for my 29th year. This resolution will demand a purposeful increase in reading productivity…but I feel like I can do it. I read 27 in 2009, after all. Yowza.