March 2013 Quote–and thoughts about Stuff

Be

Truthful,

Gentle

and Fearless.

Gandhi

I retook a class last weekend that reminded me of some important values and desires of my life. How support is so critical in moving forward. It also helped me identify where I’ve been getting stuck (More on that later, I have a post drafted)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Stuff. Consumerism. Excess. Then yesterday I read this post from Dooce about her own reflection on Stuff and life changes. And quite honestly, I’m feeling a bit disgusted with myself and all the physical Stuff I’ve collected over the years. When I was single, like post college/early Seattle years, I moved every 9-12 moths. I learned to keep only the most important sentimental items so I wasn’t lugging around all this Stuff from house to house to apartment.

Lately I’ve been looking around my house and just feeling paralyzed by all the Stuff. I have this anxious energy to purge. Granted, being honest with myself, some of this is also wanting order and not so much chaos. In my worst anxiety moments, when I have trouble sitting still, I can’t even think if certain aspects of my house are out of order. Yes, I talk to my therapist about this. Yes, I’ve been working on reducing the list of Stuff that has to be in the Right Place so I breathe and deal with the issue at hand. Which usually has nothing to do with the Stuff to begin with.

I digress.

I’ve been slowly purging small spaces in the house. When I put the holiday decorations away this year, I got rid of a lot of stuff. I’m determined that those decorations are maintained to 4 storage containers and no more (maybe you think even that is a lot, maybe you think that’s nothing) This past week I’ve been cleaning shelves in the kitchen. Getting rid of old mugs, even some that at one point held sentimental value (goodbye big-ass Philly mug from Starbucks).

We are talking about redoing the family room and need to pick the weekend in March to actually do the transformation. I think it’s a perfect opportunity to purge that space and get organized. My vision of the room is like a Real Simple article…bins with labels, everything in its place, children putting toys back on the shelf. I want the room to look lived in, I also want the room to be free of tornado aftermath.

I was thinking this morning that when I was a teenager, and my dad got totally fed up with the state of my room, I would be sent there and not permitted to leave until it met Standard. I don’t think he realized how much I loved doing that. Yes, I was a pat rack (I kept *receipts* from memorable experiences with friends and family) but I did purge some stuff. Plus, I got to blare my stereo with whatever band/album I was obsessed with at the time.

We live busy lives. Norman and I both work and have our own individual activities that help keep us sane and feeling fulfilled. A has her own list of events and friends and classes outside of school. What I’m trying to say here, is as much as I want to lock myself in the house for a week and do nothing but purge and organize, I need to be realistic with myself that I can only eat that elephant one bite at a time.

I think the happy medium is to actually schedule time on my calendar to eat that elephant. To create an agreement with my husband and my child that for that time, I want to be left alone with my organizational mind, trash can and music. To look at everything I pick up with a critical eye if I truly need that Stuff or if I can take a picture for the memories and move forward (hello Kid Art!) Even better – each one of us should have a list of areas to purge. The family room is the best place to start so we can do the room transformation on time and take it off the home project list.

When I feel the need to change I often don’t verbalize it. Then no one knows, I can continue to beat myself over the head and I don’t have to face the work. So here is my first declaration to the universe that I’m ready to move forward with reducing the Stuff in my life. (Bonus – I believe doing so will open up other opportunities in my life) Particularly since this Stuff rules space in my brain that can be better utilized.

And so the work begins….

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February 2013–Monthly Quote

Here we go….

You are the HIGH in my NOON, the FLAP in my JACK, the JELLY in my BEAN, the HOP in my SCOTCH, the FORTUNE in my COOKIE, the GRAND in my CANYON, the BEES in my KNEES, the ZIG in my ZAG, the ROCK in my ROLL, the FOX in my TROT, the POW in my WOW, the GEE in my WHIZ!

H. Jackson Brown, Jr

He’s the guy that wrote Life’s Little Instruction book.

My cynical, sarcastic self rolls my eyes super hard (like to the back of my head) when I read that. I am not a sunshiny-type. Sure, I like to think about the positive solution, or how to get out of the hole I’m in (whether I created it or not) but dear gawd I am not that sunshine person. Nor do I aspire to be that.

So there it is.

The end.

My 2012 story

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

  • I ran my first half marathon, I survived. I was physically prepared for it. What surprised me about the whole event was the emotional wall I hit at mile 9. I just wanted to give up! Sit down, cry and just stop. But I kept on, I was more than half way there and worse case I can just walk. After all, the goal was to finish, so walking would count
  • I upped my volunteerism by getting more involved in the PTA than I ever imagined in my life. I find it rewarding, but also so incredibly frustrating. Working in a different “system” than the one I’m used to has pushed my professionalism and skills in a way I never imagined
  • I’m coming to realize that the next wave of self-actualization is upon me, I’m scared, uncertain if I’m ready, and charging forward with eyes open…

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Instead of a resolution, I decided to pick a belief, a vision, to move forward. My word for 2012 was Grace. For the most part, I think I did a good job with it. Funny, that at the end of 2011, when I was in one of the deepest depressive experiences ever, I had enough clarity to choose Grace as my 2012 vision. I do have a word for 2013, that will come later.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I’ve had a few friends have children, no one in my immediate family. I saw more friends send their kid off to elementary school this year, I think this question will become…

3a. Did anyone close to you experience a child’s milestone?

Yes! A few entering school for the first time. A few getting their ears pierced (including mine), budding tween-ism and all the scariness that comes along with that.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

I stayed in the states this year. There were a few opportunities that never came to fruition. Which is just fine. I will be ready for our trip in April 2013 (Spring Break!) to London and Paris. And maybe I’ll see Brazil this year for work, who know.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Continued Grace, sacred time, and Vulnerability.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • March 9th – the evening of the PTA auction I co-chaired
  • April 25th – A’s 9th birthday
  • May 11th – my 10-year wedding anniversary (and revisiting the Herbfarm, where we got engaged!)
  • June 23rd – My first half-marathon, Rock & Roll Seattle
  • August 22nd – Trombone Shorty at Zoo Tunes
  • October 2nd – Norman’s birthday
  • October 3rd – Glen Hansard at the Moore
  • December 7th – my birthday celebration – Spa Day, dinner at Sitka & Spruce and a night at the Sheraton
  • December 10th – my birthday!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think it’s the first time in a few years I am not answering this question about work (that I get paid for). The successful event and results of our auction. How I worked through my pain and fear of the fall 2011 work trip. That I focused time (after the auction) to do what was most important to me and my family, nurturing friends and myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My self-pressured mind says that I’m still in the same job. That I had wanted to be exiting after review season. However, in the experience of figuring out what I want to do next, realizing that this time in my job search – I want to be intentional and find the right thing, even if it means working through it more slowly and challenging myself to find what is right, and not what is easy.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully no injury, a few bad colds, nothing chronic or debilitating.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The moonstone ring I had worn nearly every day since I bought it in high school got chipped. I was devastated! I was afraid if I kept wearing it the stone would crumble and I would lose it forever. I needed a replacement. I found a meditation ring at Fireworks that I now wear nearly every day. It was a relatively smooth transition and I do find the tiny sounds of the chimes to be soothing.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

As I watch A grow and develop her personality, I’m amazed how one minute she is running around with her friends being so Mature. Yet the second they are gone she can be a total little girl in the safety of her family. She makes my heart burst with joy, fear for the future and pine for her innocence, every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Appalled – politicians and the circus our election process has become. Depressed – no one or nothing comes to mind. I’m pretty fortunate in the people I choose to surround myself with (note – I do have a choice in who I spend my time with, which leads to the fabulous people in my life!)

14. Where did most of your money go?

Typical monthly expenses, a new car, deposits towards our Spring 2013 Europe trip. I am trying to spend less on “things” and more on “experiences” – so I guess you can say my money went towards friends, good meals and drinks!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The time I spent this summer enjoying the weather and all the activities we have in the Seattle area. And my birthday (complete contrast to last year when I just wanted December to go away)

16. What song (I’m saying artists) will always remind you of 2010?

Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups, The Civil Wars, Glen Hansard, Storm Large, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier (in spades), about the same in physical stature and finances.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Creative pursuits, I want to find more of that in 2013. Whether it be refining my chocolate work, crafts, home projects – I wish to produce more that enhance the life and world around me than in years past.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Wasting time at work, taking on too much during the auction planning rather than relying on the help and support of others.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Spent the morning at home with Norman and A. Then over to my brother’s house with my dad, SIL,  niece and nephew for a pretty laid back day, good food and company. A nice balance of our family and those around me.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Maybe

22. What was your favorite TV program?

30 Rock, Elementary, Episodes, Game of Thrones, Girls, Great Food Truck Race, New Girl, Next Iron Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, True Blood

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I say this every year, I don’t really hate anyone. If I even start to really dislike someone, I think about why, what lesson might there be in this relationship for me. If I find the person is just not healthy to have around, I just don’t have them around. Nice result of being accountable for my choices.

24. What was the best book you read?

There were SO many….I’ll narrow it down to these two. Mostly because they both made my laugh out loud and also spoke to some of the more difficult aspects of life. Around family and mental illness, not easy topics in general, and not easy to write about in a way both funny and building community.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My top three….Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups and The Civil Wars

26. What did you want and get?

Resolution on my 2011 Asia trip. Self preservation.

27. What did you want and not get?

A Single Girl trip somewhere warm and sunny. I don’t think I did any Single Girl trip this year…must rectify in 2013!!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Hm…Comedy, Pitch Perfect. Drama, Les Miserables and The Hunger Games

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 42 this year. 40-freaking-two! For some reason, more troublesome than turning 40, which didn’t bother me at all. Norman took me to Sitka & Spruce for dinner and then left me in a hotel room for a night all by myself!  Had dinner and cake with my family. And on my actual birthday, spent it with my family for a quiet evening in. I did drag out the festivities a few days before and about a week after the actual day. As it should be!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Uh…I suppose saying not co-chairing the auction would be awkward and cheating, since I cannot really erase it from time. Reframe that to – taking a volunteer job on that will require full-time commitment, when already working a full-time job.

I also would have liked that Single Girl trip somewhere warm. My self-charging experience.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

On the casual side – work out wear, jeans or PJs.  From a professional or going out/lookin’ good aspect – more dresses, sassy shoes, fancy stockings, coordinated purses!

32. What kept you sane?

Music. My husband. My friends. My kid.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

While I do have celebrity crushes…none seem to pop in my head now for a 2012 illustration.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Being an election year, and re-election, AND so many critical ballots in WA state this year, it was quite the charged discussion (in all media venues). Besides the people I wanted to keep in, or more importantly, keep out of office…the issue that stirred me the most this year was the Marriage Equality initiative in WA State. Not really a charged discussion amongst the people I hang out with, to hear the believes and impressions from those that opposed baffled me. I don’t mean opposed and in the middle, I mean opposed on the far side. It is more frightening to hear that people actually believe how laws in our state or country can “dictate” the reality of the world. “Legitimate rape” being one prime example in opposition to a woman’s right to choose. I will pause to step off my soap box and just say – I am extremely happy with the results of this past November election and that I could be an active participant in our government.

35. Who did you miss?

I keep having more family move into the area, so it’s harder to “miss” people than it was before. Instead, I cherish that my brother, SIL, niece and nephew live so close I can see them every week!

36. Who was the best new person you met?

A few people at work, one or two out of work – I just keep meeting more amazing people as the days go by!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I’ll tell you two:

  1. As traumatic as live events may be in the moment, to come out the other side, physically unharmed and willing to work through it, means more than anyone (including myself) could ever imagine!
  2. With every discovery about my family, it sheds new light on my past and how it has shaped the person I am today.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Little Talks (excerpt from…) – Of Monsters & Men

Hey! Hey! Hey!
I don’t like walking around this old and empty house
So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you, my dear
The stairs creak as you sleep, it’s keeping me awake
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes
Some days I can’t even trust myself
It’s killing me to see you this way
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore
Hey! Hey! Hey!
There’s an old voice in my head that’s holding me back
Well tell her that I miss our little talks
Soon it will be over and buried with our past
We used to play outside when we were young
And full of life and full of love.
Some days I don’t know if I am wrong or right
Your mind is playing tricks on you, my dear
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore

This entire song sums up how I feel about “support”, it’s incredibly hard for me to ask for (or even how to do it in the first place) and then on the other side to actually accept the offer is more difficult than asking to begin with!


And there it is….my 2012 story.

It may sound cheesy, but if you have any question or wish to wax poetic with me further, send me a message. I would love to get a cup of coffee and talk some more. After all, I am on the verge of something for 2013, and if you can help me get there….well….all the better for me. Right?!

Happy 2013 everyone!

Jennifer Leigh (Gorman) Guadagno

Damn right it’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday!! I turned 37 today. Or may I didn’t or maybe I did, isn’t it true that a woman isn’t supposed to reveal her age? Have I reached that point of my birthday celebrations? I honestly don’t care, I just want to keep acting like a princess and ensure it’s all about ME! 

This month’s quotable calendar is quite fitting:

Your journey has molded

you for your greater good,

and it was exactly what it needed to be.

Don’t think that you’ve lost time.

It took each and every

situation you have encountered

to bring you to the now.

And now is right on time.

— Asha Tyson —

Norman took me out for my birthday on Friday. We started with wine and cheese and friends at Melrose Market, then to Sitka & Spruce for dinner. Then he left me in a hotel room so I could sleep ALL by myself, in the middle of the bed, and order room service for breakfast (although I didn’t actually order room service). It was a fabulous birthday experience (which I asked for this year, not a “thing”).

Yesterday my family came over for dinner and cake and a few presents. It was lovely!

Tonight, there is leftover cake! And wine! And I get to hang out with Norman and my kidlet! I don’t know what we are having for dinner yet, but I might be able to influence that. Maybe we’ll watch one of my favorite movies tonight, who knows.

So far, this birthday has been pretty awesome…

November 2012 Monthly Quote

Into each day,

put in about

one teaspoonful

of good spirits,

a dash of fun,

a pinch of folly,

a sprinkling of play,

and a heaping cupful

of good humor!

— H.M.S.

This month’s quote is totally dorky. And fun. Doesn’t really resonate with me though.

It’s been a year since my trip to Singapore. It’s been on my mind to write the “One Year Later” post about what I’m thinking and how I feel about the experience. More on that later.

Today is the US Election for our next President. And lots of decisions in Washington State too. Marriage Equality! Legalize Marijuana! Charter Schools! The downside of being strictly mail-in ballot is when things are so close. So close that it really gets down to every single form being counted. Which I’m under “Signature Challenge” right now.

Last week, I was pissed about it. Particularly after I sent a mail inquiring about how I know my vote is counted. The first customer service response indicated needing a real signature and not “a J with a bunch of circles.” Um, excuse me?! That IS my signature thank you very much. I’ve refinanced my house, bought a car and a few other legal documents in the last 9 years since I signed a voter registration card. That response – fire breathing, head ripping How Dare They emotional response. I calmed down. Emailed back, with nice, friendly language about it. The second rep that emailed me back suggested I resubmit a voter registration card to refresh my signature. Won’t help me now, I’m actively tracking that one. And telling everyone I know to go make sure your vote was received and recorded.

On the flip side, I guess the system is working. What if it was voter fraud, what if I was deceased and someone was trying to manipulate a vote. From that perspective – yes, thank for you asking me to resubmit a signature. Please, just don’t be a dick about it.

I’m eager to see the results as I’m sure most of the country feels as well. I’m just as eager to see our own state results!

It’s now 4:53, if you haven’t voted you (in WA state) have 3 hours and 7 minutes to get it in. So go do it!

(stepping off soap box)
(for the second time today)

September & October 2012 Monthly Quote

So, where did September go? And how can it be October 12th already?! The start of this school year has been busier than normal. Plus all the PTA stuff (we are loaded heavy this fall, for fundraising) and kidlet trying out for the play. Plus ramping up to my project launch, Norman having travel and his own client launches. It’s been busy to say the least!

September 2012

Every

Thing

Happens

for a Reason

— American Proverb

I suppose I didn’t write a September post because I was angry at the quote. We had to put our dear Katie Cat to sleep last month. It was somewhat unexpected. She had been sick for awhile, was doing better, and then just took a bad turn. None of us were ready for it, it rocked the family. I still expect to hear and see her when I open the door after a shower (one of her favorite things *ever* was to go drink the shower water, which I think is disgusting beyond belief, but I’m not a cat) It gets easier of course, the grief fades, her spirit is still strong in the house.

I was also floating in and out of being sick – achy, tiredness, slight fever, congestion and blah-de-blah. I’m still a little off, but definitely better than the last few weeks!

October 2012

Insist on

Yourself.

Never

Imitate.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not resonating with the October quote either. I think I insist on myself all the time. Realistically, I know I lapse at times.

I’m working on reconnecting to my health. Illness aside, I let myself go a bit this summer. Not drastically, most people around me did not recognize any shift in my appearance. I could feel it though, my clothes were getting just a hair too tight. I was also drinking and indulging a lot more than I usually do. Enough that I recognized the difference, yet I didn’t care. What snapped me awake? Every October I do my measurements with my trainer to see what kind of progress I make over the year. Last October I had a great showing, had gained muscle and lost body fat. Probably the most fit I have ever been in my life. The thought of facing a slide backwards was not pleasant. I figured, I have 6 weeks to turn it around and get back to the healthy living I’ve grown accustomed. (funny enough, Norman went through a similar realization himself, we both made changes at the same time) My measurements are in two weeks and we’ll see where I end up. I must also remind myself to feel grace and acceptance of wherever I land. So much more important than the numbers on a piece of paper.

The deepest roots of the eating disorder never go away. I would describe it as fading away, losing grip, until a moment of weakness arrives and those roots grow a bit stronger.

Next up – reflecting on my Singapore trip, one year later.

August 2012 Monthly Quote

 

May your

life unfold

smoothly,

with ease.

– Buddhist Prayer –

I had an interesting conversation with my manager today about my next career step. Yes world, I’m on the journey to find my next job!

To this point in my life, I have pretty much “fallen” into roles, companies, projects. I have not really intentionally owned the path I was on. Don’t get me wrong, I was making choices, agreements and commitments to organizations and people. I guess I would say it was more going down the path of least resistance and letting the universe unfold before me.

I’m making a change this time around.

It is incredibly uncomfortable for me.

I’m used to having a plan. Goals and milestones. Knowing when I am on or off track. I’m a control freak. I do not deal well with ambiguity or indecision (although my performance review indicates I do very well with ambiguity in the job)

This time around, I want to find the right fit. I want to join a team or company because I’m passionate about the subject matter. Or the team I would work with is such a stellar group of individuals, they would make work fun (most days). I saw a job description online today titled “Supreme Cat Herder” and I thought – OMG that is ME! I want that on a business card!!

My manager’s feedback is to just accept being uncomfortable. To go on as many informationals as I possibly can in the next few weeks (Microsoftie term to go explore other organizations just to hear about what they do) He said I could go talk to 15 people and may find 3 organizations that I’m attracted to. That I should be open to them being ones I never in my life considered something I would want to be involved with on a day-to-day basis. I should allow the journey to evolve and not consider having an end-state in mind.

Holy fucking shit are you kidding me?!

No – I didn’t say that to him.

I thought about it a hour later. Which prompted me into this post.

I’m uncomfortable. Things are uncertain. I don’t know where I’m going next. I don’t like it. At all.

Yet – in that hour of realization, I felt glimmers of being OK with it. That being uncomfortable may be just what I need right now. A way to stretch myself professionally and personally that may not seem like much to the average bear.

To me, it is feeling like a huge accomplishment! So here I go….