Thursday, June 27, 2013

respect the time

I left the house with Tuck one morning a couple weeks ago and we went to our favorite hiking trails.

While we were in the woods for an hour, our house was being broken into and every electronic device I owned was being stolen. And my safe, which had, well, things you put in safes to keep safe, including a lot of cash, was taken. (Like, all my earnings from Skye's litter of puppies.)

I entered the house as I usually do. Confident. Sure that things would be the way I left them. Mindlessly.

I knew something was wrong before the door was completely opened and while my eyes scanned the rooms, taking note of the things gone, my mind was registering:

"This is what it feels like to be robbed."

In 90 minutes, some of my most costly earthly items were gone.

A lot of things in my life recently have happened this way.

A phone call.
The kids are gone.

A Facebook chat window.
Tye passed away.

A random posting on social media that I wasn't supposed to see.
She's pregnant.

An email.
You are a terrible employee.

A text message.
She saw Jesus at 11:15 a.m.

A phone call.
I lost my job.

Seconds, moments that change everything. Some are a sucker-punch to the gut, some are devastating, others are maddening, others bittersweet, but they all have something in common:

They're sudden, uncalled for, unexpected, harsh. 

I was hiking again a few days ago, thinking about how quickly life changes. How in one second to the next, you literally never know what will transpire. Sure, we can plan and plot and execute our best intentions, but at the end of the day, we're all on borrowed time.

Be brave, I heard whispering on the wind.

And my first thought was: oh shit.
One of the last times I heard such an encouraging phrase, one of my best friends died. 

This time, Tuck and I were accosted by a giant dog and I was minorly hurt when I hurled myself into the woods and a ditch to avoid the beast.

Be brave.

This awareness of time is propelling me.
I'm hardly still.
I'm always brainstorming, always working, alternating between hours at my computer and hours on the hiking trail. There are things to be done, stories to be told, life to be lived, adventures to be had. I'm not waiting till tomorrow or the next day.
I'm living now.
Because in a moment, or 90 of them, so many things can change. For the better, for the worse, but nothing is a guarantee.

"I wanna leave this place with a smile on my face knowing what's in my heart didn't just stay in my heart and whatever Heaven gave me, I wanna give it all back. I wanna be an open book - say I gave more than I took."
~  Pam Rose's My Life

Monday, June 17, 2013

The First Date.

AKA The moment in time where two people meet and judge each other ferociously against a mental checklist. Everyone does it. Judging, that is, because if the checklist isn’t fulfilled, there will be no second or third date, or marriage.


That’s ultimately what the First Date is determining. Are we compatible? Because obviously a two-hour conversation over a meal, or drinks, or coffee is enough to let me know if I’ve found the person I will tie the knot with.

Actually that last part is true. 

And while I’m determining other things (like if I’m sexually attracted to the person sitting across from me), it’s marriage that’s the most terrifying part of a first date. Some guys want to know right off the bat, “Are you looking for a long-term relationship?” If I waffle, it looks like I’m noncommittal. If I’m gung-ho, it looks like I’m ready to find the nearest ordained minister. WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER that says: I am invested in my relationships for the long haul, and I’m willing to consider marriage if everything works out?

If everything works out.

Maybe that is the answer.

Every once in awhile I emerge from my happy little world and I enter the Dating Scene, which really represents the busiest hour in an investor firm on Wall Street. You know the scene: every one’s yelling over each other and in another language that seems to make sense to someone and no one, and they’re all running around, grabbing stuff, pointing, yelling, nobody looks happy, and then they collapse.

Despite the gruesome leave-no-prisoners foray, I get out there. I’m the one you never see in the afore-mentioned scene, because I’ve usually found refuge under someone’s desk, but at least I’m out there, right? Right.

I went on a first date not too long ago - a blind first date. Blind in that we’d never met in person, just chatted a bit on the Internets, the World Wide Web.

I have to force myself to do this. Trust me. And on most occasions the only reason I don’t cancel is because I’m telling myself:

“You. Don’t. Back. Out. Of. Shit. You are committed. YOU WILL KEEP YOUR WORD, YOUNG LADY.”

So then it becomes a business meeting (or at least that’s what I tell myself), an interview.
“You’re gonna go interview this guy, it’s a business meeting. You are the master of conversing with strangers. In. Talk, talk, talk. Out. Done.”

So brutal, but so true.

Also, my friends won’t let me back out.

“Just goooo! You never know what might happen. Do this for you.”

So I thought it might be fun to recount some of my most memorable first dates. Here they are, in no particular order or time sequence. If you and I have been on a first date and you’re reading this - don’t worry. No names used.

The one where I introduced myself as him:
Blind date in the purest sense, and I said in front of the restaurant, “Hello, my name is Billy.” And he said, “No, you’re Holly. I’m Billy.”

Lunch went on to be lovely.

The one where the limo picked us up:

A limo picked us up at his house and took us to get more of his friends before we went to a fancy dinner and then a concert at a country bar. The group dynamic was so fun.

I fell asleep in the limo on the way home.

The one I don’t remember:

It wasn’t until I was reading my old blog that I remembered my hairdresser giving me her son’s number, I called him, we went out with some of my friends. He got drunk, and I don’t remember any of it. How that happens - I don’t know.

The one where I ate a foot-long veggie sub:

In my defense, it’s like a salad on bread. No cheese, and only a smidgen of light mayo. This was also the one where I chose a restaurant (my favorite) and it happened to be CLOSED that day, so we ended up at a sandwich shop and their furnace had stopped working. So while I wolfed down my foot-long, we froze our asses off.

Side note: I used to be self-conscious about eating on the First Date. “He’s totally counting my carbs.” I got over that. Let’s enjoy food together.

The one where I multitasked:

In an act of dating laziness, I went through a phase where I’d facilitate phone dates. This guy talked for about 48 minutes straight and all about how he hated his job and most of his life. The redeeming factor of this date is that I was able to walk the dogs, sweep my floor, dice a couple pineapples, and encourage him (through my own journey) to get happy. When I could get a word in edgewise, that is.

The one about going postal:

I judged this poor bloke for his repetitive use of the word “fuck” within the first five minutes of introducing ourselves at the coffee shop. I’m not morally or otherwise opposed to that word in appropriate situations - stubbing a toe, missing a deadline, BREAKING NEWS, dramatic effect, but not the first date.

Also, he said:
“I carry two nightsticks. I don’t carry a gun in public because I’m afraid I might go postal.”

The one where he was inspired:

Another phone date, and he was cutely appreciative of my work, what I do, etc. It was endearing.

The one where he asked if I like men:

That was awkward. My mind was screaming: “NO, I’M HERE BECAUSE I LIKE WASTING TWO HOURS ON A SATURDAY!!” and externally I was laughing.

He’s also the one who wanted to touch my hair.

My verdict:

First Dates are stupid. They’re clunky, they’re designed for you to have an excuse to write off the other person, and they’re awkward. The men’s hands are usually trembling as they’re trying to grasp their coffee cup, and I’m hurrying to engage him in a conversation (with my Mad Journalism Skills) to put him at ease, which means we (meaning he) talks endlessly about something I don’t care about (I.e. motorcycles), so then I become bored, but I’m pretending to be interested (it’s a learned skill), and when I do start to talk about something I’m interested in, I’m observing body language and adjusting my dialogue based on the subconscious cues he’s giving me.

It’s all very complex and exhausting.

What’s my solution?

For the love of Cupid, erase the dynamic of a first date. Do something FUN, and at the very least, if it still fails, we’ll have a cool experience under our belts.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Monday mornings

My Monday mornings look a little bit different.

First, they're mine.

My Monday mornings...

I've excused myself from the rat-race of corporate-ness, the competition of money-centered media, and I've struck out on a different path. My path.

It's been four months and I'm still just as exhilarated about my decision today as I was the night I made it.

Sometimes you just know.

You know when you're supposed to take that chance.

{talk to that boy}
{take that trip}
{invest that money}
{buy that dog}
{make that friend}
{let that go}

I fired my employer on Feb. 13.
On Feb. 14, I was on a plane to Kenya.

Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 21ish, I wondered if I'd have the same assuredness half-a-world-away as I did on that day.

Yes, even stronger.
And today it's even stronger.

Sometimes you just know, and sometimes you just have to jump.

But maybe you're scared.

It's OK.

I'm scared shitless nearly every day.

Taking that step is petrifyingly scary.

Whoa, holy-scariness.

Before I jumped, I was so good at running through scenarios in my head and they usually defaulted to negative ones.

What if....
I don't have enough money.
I fail.
I made a mistake.
I miscalculated the timing.
I overshot my jump.
I crash and burn.
I humiliate myself.
I let my family down.

A couple years ago, my life coach suggested that if I'm going to play the What-If Game, that I change the rules.

What if...
I succeed.
I am making the perfect choice.
I am an example.
I am right on time.

My new favorite singer says it like this:

"What if I fly,
then will I feel the freedom on my skin
What if I,
close my eyes, trust the wind and just lean in?
I'll get there...if I dare...
If I fly.

So what if I'm afraid?
So what if my heart breaks?
But what if I fly?"

Be brave, my friends.
You'll know when you're supposed to jump.
But be prepared.
It'll probably be when you least expect it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


{Real things I've really said to my real dogs}:

"No toys in the bed!"

"You have two chances to sleep in the bedroom tonight."

(10 seconds later)

"You have lost your privilege to sleep in the bedroom tonight."

"I'm on the phone, please stop running through the house."

"I need you to get out of my personal space for about five minutes."

"I do not need you in my face while I'm peeing."

"Do you always have to step on my vagina when you jump off the bed?"

"Do not take her your toy, drop it in her face, and then get mad when she tries to play with it."

"Please stop wrestling over my body."


"Let me have an uninterrupted adult conversation."

"OK, party's over. The squirrel has left the yard."

"I don't mean to dash your dreams, but you will NEVER catch that bird. They fly. You don't."

"I'll be home soon...I love you."

"The water in your bowl is just as fresh as the water in the toilet. Drink it."

"Stop roughhousing in the house."

"I don't want you to run through the kitchen and then take a flying leap onto the couch. It's just not good manners."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What's the ONE Thing?

I ended May in a hotel basement in Austin, Texas.

Why some of my most significant life-moments have happened in a hotel basement, I don't know, but I think I should hang out there more often.

I ended up there because my mom said, "Hey, have you heard about The ONE Thing? It's a book in which the author abolishes the idea of multitasking as a LIE and he'll be speaking about it next week in Austin."

Um, nobody puts multitasking in a corner, so I went. Mainly because I wanted to see WHO WOULD UTTER SUCH BLASPHEMY and also because I wanted someone to tell me what I should do with my ONE Thing.

(My ONE Thing = VoiceBox Media, in case you didn't know.)

To catch you up, here's what I've been doing with my One Thing, etc. in the last seven months:

Started it in November
Quit my full time job in February
Went to Kenya the very next day
Had to abandon my house because of SKUNKS
Went to Houston and Dallas (in the same weekend)
Went to Kentucky
Birthed a litter of puppies
Got an awesome part-time job
Adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate a part-time salary
Went to Haiti
Went to Florida
Started the part-time job
Raised the puppies
Sold the puppies
Went to St. Louis to get my dog from training school
Started contract work
Finished contract work

Got really overwhelmed.

(Thank the Lord (really!) for my friends, my life coach and my therapist)

So when I entered the hotel basement, I wanted to leave with focus. And debunk the "multitasking is a lie" statement.

I left with focus. And the realization that multitasking is detracting from my focus, which my ONE Thing needs. But more on that later.

The author of The ONE Thing asks a great question:

"What is the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"

Instantly, my mind starts freaking out:


The answer came to me while I was vacuuming.

See, I do what a lot of my friends do. I get into the "starting over" mentality. The thoughts that go like this: "I really need to start (blank)..." "If only I could start (blank)...." But my philosophy is that we're not always starting (a new diet, a better spiritual relationship, an exercise regimen), we're continuing a journey. Every day we are on a diet - it just changes based on our choices. Same with our spiritual relationship, exercise regimen, our cleaning routine, etc.

So I gave myself the same advice. Instead of obsessing with, "What can I START doing that will make everything else easier or unnecessary," I took a look-see into the habits I've established in my life where I'm already doing those things.

Here's what I came up with:

Example #1: Freezer cooking
I started this one thing awhile ago as part of my health journey and when I had a full-time job. This habit saves me from asking the "what am I going to eat for lunch/dinner" question that when you really enjoy food as much as I do, you ask yourself shortly after breakfast. Plus it's a big time saver for me, and I'm a big fan of efficiency.

Example #2: My new vacuum (don't laugh)
If you've been following me on Facebook, you KNOW how obsessed I am with my new vacuum. I even demonstrated it to a friend who came over to watch a movie. (I can only use so many words to explain its headlights - you just GOTTA SEE THEM). So how does this one thing make everything else easier and unnecessary? Well, it saves me time, because it now takes me 15 minutes to vacuum the WHOLE house instead of 30-45 minutes to sweep. Plus it's so much fun that I use vacuuming as an incentive for myself. (see? The one things don't have to be HUGE)

Example #3: I walk Tuck every morning first thing
Tuck is my 2-year old German shepherd who, without a walk first thing in the morning, will literally go crazy. So starting our day with a 30-40 minute walk and a 10-15 minute training session sets our day up for awesomeness, because he crashes for a couple hours and I'm able to work in peace for that time. Plus I get the exercise, I get to clear my head, be in nature, the sun, pray, meditate and enjoy his company. So many birds killed with one stone. Love it.

Example #4: Budget. Every paycheck. Before I get paid.
I started telling my money where to go, and I put it there. Empowering! I don't stress anymore about my money "disappearing" and I don't stress about paying bills, because over time I've built up the courage to face that fear. (Money scares the shit out of me, FYI) And over time, my savings account has expanded and I'm in control.

This question can apply to every area of my life: Spiritual, physical health, personal life, key relationships, my job, my business, my finances.

I'm doing it with my ONE Thing. How? I have a should-do list and I check off the one-small-step(s) as they are completed. And I focus on my One Thing by blocking off (mostly) uninterrupted time to devote to it.

Sometimes it's really that simple.

And sometimes I need to hear it again and again.

In a hotel basement.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Health in Year #3 - WE GOT THIS!

I'm terrible at numbers, but there's one I can't forget.


That's my heaviest-weight-number.

And there's plenty of photographic evidence, thanks to Facebook. Wanna see?

April 2010, 4 months before I began my lifestyle transformation
Oh, I'd known I was putting on weight and I knew that I was overweight. I had tried diets for years and various exercise regimes, but there were little to no results and I hit a point of exhaustion. My efforts seemed to be negated by the diagnosis of two chronic diseases, which wouldn't you know? Yep. Adversely effected my thyroid, depleted my energy levels, and wracked my body with pain to the point that I was confined to a recliner on my good days and I spent my worst nights rocking in my bed in the fetal position wishing for morphine and wondering about the quality of my future life.

I gave up on ever losing weight. The hole I was in just seemed too deep to get out of.

Then, in August 2010, I decided to make a change. You know the powerful thing about change? 
It's not going to happen until you make a choice.

My choice came before I made the change, and waaaayyyy before I ever saw physical changes. There were choices every single day, every single moment of every single day, and I quickly learned that the results in my body were in direct correlation to the choices I made...every single moment of every single day. It might seem insignificant to say, "I'm not going to stop at McDonalds on my way home today," but if you add that choice onto the next choice and onto the next choice, eventually you have a pile of good choices and a positive result.

The moment I lost my obsession to see instant results is the moment I started making lifestyle-transformation decisions that led to lifestyle changes, which led to eventual visual results. 

If you want to read a bit about my health journey, here ya go:
(is it weird that I'm re-inspired after re-reading these?)

Photo update after losing 25 pounds
6 months later, a duathlon!
Food is necessary to live, but wow! All the things I'd used it for
16 months in, I was still making good choices
Then I became a vegetarian
The day I ran a mile (ME!! ran a mile)
Running with Lyme disease
Two years into my journey and still going strong
Celebrating 2 years of improved health with my first 5K - a midnight run!
And a month later, another 5K

Then I started writing a bi-weekly health column, and sometimes I'd pinch myself. YOU ARE HELPING OTHER PEOPLE! If I can do it, you can too.

Oh, and here's me in January of this year with my mom, who has been on her own inspirational health journey:

My motto throughout my journey has been: one small step at a time. If I can only walk 20 minutes, I'm going to walk 20 minutes. If I can run a mile or two, I'll run a mile or two. 

Now I'm about to take another step, and I am so freakin' excited for what it's going to do for me and maybe for you too. I've been researching {all-natural} supplements that I can take on a long-term basis that will fuel my energy levels, keep my sloppy metabolism rockin' AND give my body the nutrients it needs {all-naturally}. 

Well, I've found them, they're on their way to me via mail, and they can't get here fast enough. They're another tool for me to use to maintain health, which will continue to enable me to live my best life. 

Happy almost-three-year-anniversary-of-health to ME! 

If you wanna keep up with me, follow me on Facebook!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just a paragraph or two

I fight perfectionism every cotton-pickin' day. What the hell? I even catch myself saying, "I am perfectly imperfect," as if in my dying breath of admitting imperfection I have to rally...."at least I'm perfect at being imperfect." Just give it up already I went to a seminar last week where the guy said that extraordinary results meant that some shit was going to be left undone at the end of the day and that there might even be messes. HOLD THE PHONE. Just give it up already.

I mentioned to my life coach: "You know, I think I might have a problem with perfectionism," and she gave me a "Ya think?" expression that clearly conveyed her message over Skype and hundreds of miles. But wow, what a relief to know that not everything I do has to measure up to the sky-high level of absolute awesomeness that I conjure up in my head. My dogs don't have to win medals at obedience, because realistically I need them to protect me, know 10-15 commands, and let me pee in private every once in awhile and even that's debatable. Lord knows (and trust me, He does) I'm not an athlete, so my goal isn't to win or even compete in any major competitions (even though I kinda want to). My book doesn't have to be perfect (*GULP*) and even this blog doesn't have to be. After all, I'm imperfectly imperfect.