Highlights

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I look at this image and it pretty much sums up how I feel at the moment, soon embarking down a new path – while still trying to take in the beauty and enjoy the journey as you walk toward the fog unknown.

So, you might have noticed that I was M.I.A. for two weeks prior to my last post (on what had to be the bright spot since we last caught up, my time at the AFI Film Festival). Rather than go into the details as to why, I’ll leave it at that it’s because they’ve been pretty lousy weeks if I’m at all honest. I’m definitely at a proverbial crossroads in my life. I realize that when things aren’t going so well, it’s probably a good time as ever to sit down and write about it to help give you perspective and get things off your chest, but I often struggle with how much to share and how much to keep private here, particularly when you take into account that once you put something out into the blogosphere, you never know how it might come back to bite you in the ass. As such, I’ve taken the approach of usually writing about the lesson learned, or what the universe is trying to tell me through whatever difficulty, and perhaps my feelings about it, rather than go into specifics. It just works for me.

It didn’t help that I got sick during this time, but as I look back over it now that I’ve (nearly) recovered, it wasn’t a surprise. I don’t get sick too often, but when I do, it typically takes place around a time of immense stress for me. I think my immune system likely takes a bit of a nose dive, I’m likely not eating enough or right, and therefore become more susceptible to not being able to fight off a simple virus that I would otherwise kick the crap out of. Though it always sucks to be home sick, I actually welcomed it with open arms this time around. I was actually grateful to be lying in bed for 3 days straight nursing a cold because it immediately put things in perspective. (It was also a productive time to get through my Netflix queue). It finally got my mind off the things that were bothering me, and forced me to focus on taking care of myself and getting some rest. In other words, it forced me to be present. It also made me realize that while I think the aforementioned situation that’s been bugging me still sucks, it’s not worth further jeopardizing my health over.

Add in the fact that I think anyone who has a passion for blogging (or whatever your choice passion may be), also goes through phases of complete burnout and lack of inspiration, and it’s almost required of you to take a step back and regroup. My only regret was that I didn’t say so before I took that break (sorry!). I’m still here…for the time being.

The good news is that things are starting to turn around for the better, mostly because I’ve learned to accept the situation (after much moping about it) and then because I decided to do something about it (once I stopped moping about it), which is quite empowering. You know that old saying along of the lines of: accept the things you cannot change, and change the things you can?

Well, I’m decidedly changing them.

I’m grateful that I’m at least in a situation where I can. I’m pretty nervous about it, I admit. It’ll be a journey to get where I’m trying to go and likely a bumpy one, but what I know for sure is that it’s time to take it. I’ve gotten my sign. I only hope that I remember to try to see the beauty in it, trust my instincts, and enjoy it. Somehow this black and photo I came across while looking for the perfect image to go with this post makes me feel more confident about taking new paths.

It’s my first weekend back in the swing of things since the last two found me at the festival one weekend, and home sick last weekend. I’m looking forward to it.

Have a nice weekend! x

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 Image credit: “Un instant magique” by Fan.D & Dav.C Photography used under CC BY.

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With Gratitude…

make-a-wish-atg-final_With Gratitude

I’ve been feeling out of sorts as of late and though I’m pretty aware of the reasons for it, I’m also trying to remember that it goes with the ebb and flow of life. It’s only natural, apart of the ride. Much of what’s contributing to this feeling I realize is a signal that it’s time for a change. I’m trying to work out what I feel the next steps should be to bring me into better alignment with “what next?” but it’s producing a range of emotions that is another story altogether. Rather than dwell on it too much, I know the best way to deal with a flux in your mood as you work through anything in life is to continue to live in gratitude. It’s when you focus on the good, what brings you joy, however big or small, that makes the journey all the more meaningful…and a little easier.

I try to live by the philosophy of keeping your spirits in the right perspective, even as you progress through a range of emotions. Of course, this is a constant conversation I have to have with myself when dealing with the unknown. The interesting thing is that oftentimes whatever is nagging you tends to works itself out, or the right guidance will come just when you need it to. So though I’ve been in a pretty blah mood this week, I’m with gratitude for the small things, waiting until that ah-ha moment comes and I find my next step. These 11 come to mind:

  • As the weather continues to cool in LA (finally!) and it actually starts to feel like fall (finally!), my (very girly) addiction to candles is alive and well again. Nothing beats the warm glow and the heavenly scent that makes home feel all the more like my special refuge.
  • 7 words: Gilmore. Girls. Is. Now. Streaming. On. Netflix. (Amid the glow of those aforementioned candles, will be much “ass on couch time” re-living one of my favorite shows as a teen.)
  • I recently discovered Trader Joe’s Belgian Butter Almond Thins and I can already tell this is going to a be problem. I can’t put them down. Yum!
  • The one thing I never take for granted: being in good health.
  • The other thing I never take for granted: a good job and a paycheck.
  • The other, other thing I never take for granted: a warm place to sleep at night.
  • Iced vanilla lattes.
  • My Stinker – who makes me breakfast every weekend…and readily helps in my coffee addiction.
  • Along with the switch in seasons means (finally!) getting to rock scarves – the ultimate fall staple.
  • Birchbox makes me happy.
  • The smell of a Stargazer lily, arguably my favorite flower if I had to pick one.

I’m with gratitude…

What are you grateful for?

Happy hump day to you! x

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Highlights

What I Know for Sure ATG FINAL{A new read for a new season.}

What I know for sure? T.G.I.F! I’m happy the weekend is upon us again. And while this sentiment is rather surface compared to what Oprah might say, it’s about as fitting as I can get at the moment. I waited almost a month and a half to grab a hard copy from the wait list at the library, and I can already tell after reading just a few pages so far, it’s going to be something quite special to take in and reflect on. I’m actually considering just buying a copy of my own so that I can add it to my non-growing bookshelf because I made the switch to a Kindle and never looked back (though admittedly, it took awhile to give into digital reading).

I’ve always known when it comes to books, there are just certain reads that work well the good old-fashioned way: with pages that you can turn, and words you can highlight in bright yellow as you make your way through them. It’s no secret that I read a lot, but what you might not know is that I don’t usually buy books in general, unless it’s something I’d like to reference again – it just saves money and space. Thus, I get my fix from being an eternal lover of the local library and use it frequently, but mostly for downloadable titles now.

Side note: I’ve also heard that the “What I Know For Sure” audio book is quite moving because Oprah (and that thoughtful voice of hers) personally reads it.

As I think about this week, I do recall stopping a few times and asking myself “What do you know for sure?” I hope to have a much more eloquent answer as I think more about this (with perhaps a post in the future dedicated to exploring this topic), but one thing that comes to mind as I write this is remembering to always be grateful if you wake up every morning with your health alive and well. It seems medical scares and stories are rampant lately about those who are struggling with what I’m sure most of us take for granted, or don’t take the time to really be mindful of…and that’s good health. So I’ll answer this question, in part, now:

What I know for sure is that if you can get out of the bed with your health in tact, that my friend,  is truly priceless. Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.

Life lately has been good, a little hectic, but overall well. It feels like fall, though almost a month behind the calendar, is slowly starting to join us here in LA. Mornings have been foggy at times, my car windows might need de-frosting before I hit the road, a sweater is almost always necessary, and I successfully dusted off my leather jacket and black boots earlier this week to celebrate the transition. Funny enough, I was talking to my boyfriend about how it just didn’t feel like the Halloween season last weekend. Yes, I have my festive pumpkin lights up, and have indulged in at least 3 pumpkin spice lattes already, but it’s strange (even for LA) to be doing so while wearing sandals, with your A/C on in 95° weather.

Thank goodness this weekend will find it temperate! The plan here is to meet a few co-workers for happy hour tonight, catch what many are calling a sure Best Actor nomination for Michael Keaton in Birdman with my boyfriend and a group of friends on Saturday night, and perhaps a jaunt to the farmers’ market on Sunday to stock-up on produce, and of course, to spend some more time with my girl Oprah.

Have a great weekend ahead!

A few other highlights since we last did a life catch-up…

Pumpkins ATG FINAL

{My boyfriend’s sweet response when I complained about it not feeling “Halloween-y” enough. He brought me 5 mini pumpkins Add a $3 Glade pumpkin-scented candle and things are feeling more appropriate at home while we wait for fall to finally get here.}

Pedi ATG FINAL

{A Saturday afternoon at home pedi.}

Milk Hazelnut Ice Cream ATG FINAL

{After years of seeing the line hang out the door, I finally grabbed some of Milk’s famous all-natural homemade ice cream. Yum!}

plan check ATG FINAL

{A Tuesday date night over drinks.}

Urban Sunset ATG FINAL

{Admiring an urban sunset.}

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Inspired.

Where is the time going? How is it already Wednesday? October is half-way over? Why am I starting my post with so many questions?

This week has been hectic so far, to say the least. I can’t seem to catch my breath long enough to feel totally grounded. My Monday night yoga class zen is already gone (and mind you, that was only the day before yesterday!). And though I think I work well and even thrive under pressure (I love a challenge!), I try to remember that it’s important not to get too caught up in the chaos – it’s how life passes you by and how you lose perspective. Since I can’t get to another yoga class to re-capture that zen feeling at the moment, I’m going to my next best resource – the words of wisdom I’ve been collecting as of late on Pinterest.

It’s funny, while I don’t necessarily get the same feeling as I might after an hour and a half of an invigorating yoga class, I do find stillness and inspiration in reading the right words. I have entire notebooks just filled with quotes I’ve collected since I was a teenager. Now in the digital age, I’m finding Pinterest is my new notebook. In the spirit of turning to good advice, I’m taking a mid-week pause to share words that are keeping me inspired and in perspective. I hope they remind you, too, to take a moment to just breathe, keep going, and keep your focus.

“Make today count, you’ll never get it back.” Find your zen within the chaos. x

Inspired ATG FINAL October 2014

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Rants & Raves: Volume 1

Rants&Raves ATG FINAL v7

I’m sure this concept has been around since the creation of philosophical teaching itself, but I credit Eckhart Tolle for much of my personal understanding of the “ego” vs. the “true self” when it comes to matters of the mind, or in his words, the “compulsive thinker” vs. “being.”

It’s interesting how on a higher level I get that most of the thoughts that flow through my mind are nothing more than mental chatter, frequent visitations from the ego with nothing better to do than just be there; and yet, I still find myself entertaining them. I also understand and believe in the grace of the voice that makes an appearance to talk to the “compulsive thinker” voice. That voice is my true self speaking – tasked largely with the goal to keep things in perspective and keep the mind present.

Now, this is not to cause alarm that I’m some sort of mental case that needs to get out her head (though maybe it is that simple!), but I think on some level we can all relate to this. I often wonder what truly goes on in other people’s minds as they go about their day. (Then again, maybe it’s best we don’t get that kind of access to each other.)

We all have a journey or a life lesson or two to learn before our time is up. I truly believe one of mine is to learn to better manage the internal dialogue that can take place in my head as a result of external forces (read: things I can’t control anyway!) and learn to stay centered and present, in a state of pure “being.”

As I’ve gotten older, I do think I’ve made progress with this, but I still have an “active” imagination. Depending on the day (and admittedly the mood I’m already in) what was a simple “hey, he just cut me off!” could translate to “hey, he just cut me off because he’s an asshole who thinks where he needs to be is more important than everyone else!” Ahhh! Aren’t those ego thoughts just grand? Wouldn’t it be quite funny if I later found out that he had just gotten a call from a man holding his wife for ransom, and his cutting me off was really to get to the bank ASAP before someone killed her? This would clearly be a case where I’m okay with being cut off. It’s a more important destination than my trip to Target…to spend money on things I don’t need anyway. (And there’s that active imagination again!)

Experts say that we think on average around 50,000 thoughts a day, and apparently, that’s a conservative number. I thought I would dedicate a post toward writing down some of them. Now I realize the contradiction here: I’m essentially still entertaining my “ego voice” by doing so, rather than just letting it go and being present, but bear with me – somehow putting my random compulsive thoughts out there, may release them into the ether to make even more room for that true voice….at least, that’s what I’m telling myself. And let’s be honest, it just helps to rant!

Oh, and rave too.

A few random compulsive thoughts as of late:

Rants & Raves: Volume #1

Rant: Do us all a favor who paid the ridiculously over-priced $15 to actually watch the movie while “at the movies” – if you’re going to talk through it as if you’re sitting in your living room, then stay home….or go to a bar and talk over drinks. Thanks! (P.S. The occasional comment if it’s related to the movie is fine…and I mean occasional.)

Rave: Boy, do I worship people who honor their word. It’s how I am in my life, but have learned that not many people you encounter are this way unfortunately. There’s one person I have in mind at the moment who is and has always been this way and I adore him dearly for it.

Rant: Condescending, passive aggressive people. 1). You don’t know it all; and 2.) if you have something to say, I’d have much more respect for you if would just find a diplomatic way to speak your mind, than be passive aggressive about it. I could go on ad nauseam about this, but I’ll leave it at that.

Rave: I do most “salon-like” services myself at-home (mani/pedis, facials, etc.), but I treated myself to a quick visit to S.H.A.P.E.S for the 1st time in 9 months and got my eyebrows threaded (still boggles my mind how they do this!). It’s amazing what a little clean-up can do and how it changes your face for the better. Best $12 I’ve spent in weeks!

Rant: As a person who writes incessantly, why oh why does spell check suck so much sometimes? Do you ever find yourself having to spend absorbent amounts of time trying to re-misspell a word better to help the spell checker find a more accurate selection of words that you’re trying to spell? WTH? At that point, I might as well just Google the word. It conveniently auto-populates the correct spelling before I even finish typing it! Horray for Google! Boo for spell checker! End rant.

Rave: Just a general thank you to the kind stranger who holds an elevator or the door for me. Don’t you just love those people who sense someone is behind them and seemingly speed up so that it would now be passed the limit of required kindness toward pure inconvenience to have wait for you now? Yeah, I don’t either.

I feel better already. This was too much fun. I think I’ll turn it into a series!

Do you have any rants or raves to share? I’d love to hear them. As I mentioned, you have 50,000 to choose from on any given day!

Happy hump day!

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*images courtesy Pixaby.com used under CC0 1.0. Final design is mine.*

Peace, Peace, Peace.

May Peace Prevail on Earth ATG FINAL


Where: Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
Location: 3500 West Adams Boulevard, Mid-City
Cost: Free


Peace Awareness Labyrinth Exterior ATG FINAL


“Peace, peace, peace.”

David, my yoga instructor, always closes with these three simple, yet powerful words at the end of every practice. I always catch this slight difference from the more commonly used “namaste” that’s traditionally expressed in my experience at the end of a class. And while “namaste” has an equally powerful connotation by giving the deepest levels of respect when greeting or parting from a person – there’s something about being told to leave in “peace” that decidedly has me going out into the world a little more calmer, perhaps awakened…but almost always in a more harmonious, focused space than when I arrived 90 minutes prior.

How long that feeling lasts before the chaos of the world starts to seep into my peace bubble varies from practice to practice.

I’ve heard more than once that it’s a life-long journey toward cultivating and maintaining an unshakable sense of peace as we maneuver through our days. I like to think of it as exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it. It’s something that must be a priority and sought consistently to reap the rewards. And like weight training, if you stop too long, you may have to start from square one to build that muscle again.

How you go about your peace exercises differs. Perhaps it’s through a sitting meditation, yoga, or going for walk. For some, peace comes from treating yourself to a massage or facial, going to see a movie alone, reading a good book, or journaling. The point is, on some level, it’s something that we as human beings are seeking constantly – a space or a moment in time where you feel grounded in an ever-changing, uncontrollable world.

Much to my surprise, right in the middle of Los Angeles in the most unsuspecting of places lies an entire sanctuary to assist in the journey. A few weeks ago, I learned of the The Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens and instantly was on-board to check it out. Their mission: to provide an oasis for anyone looking to reconnect with themselves, to take a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and just breathe.

Peace Awareness Property

Fountain ATG FINAL

Set on the estate of a restored mansion along the busy Adams Boulevard, the stunning property welcomes you just beyond wrought iron gates. Behind the historic manor boasts a labyrinth and exquisitely designed meditation garden, the entire space fabricated with the goal to envelop all things beauty and peace.

The labyrinth might find you in the midst of a calming walking meditation as the wind chimes that hang on the trees nearby gently sing. No matter where you sit in the neighboring mediation garden, the soothing sounds of water surround you as you gaze at the endless greenery, the bamboo particularly prevalent, and the lily pond complete with fish.

Down to Meditation Garden ATG FINAL

Lily Pond ATG FINAL

I’ve sat in many beautiful gardens in my time. I’ve experienced many attempts (and admitted failures) at learning the art of meditation. And yet, there was something about this place in particular that takes the experience of peace to another realm by simply inviting yourself there and being present to the gifts around you. You find that you don’t need to work so hard at quieting the mind, the setting does it for you.

Peace Awareness Fountain

Peace Labryinth ATG FINAL

Interestingly, I lived a few blocks away from the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens for a year after college and never knew about such a special place less than 5 minutes away from my duplex. What I think is unique about retreats such as these when thinking about those aforementioned “peace exercises” is using it as a resource in a manner that feels right for you, no pressure involved.

Mediation Garden Walkway ATG FINAL

Mediation Garden View ATG FINAL

In fact, it’s best said by directly quoting from their website,”PAL&G is here to promote peace and help you reconnect and renew spiritually in your own way.” I suppose all I needed in that moment on that beautiful Sunday was a space to kick my feet up, sit still, and just breathe – the perfect supplement toward strengthening that muscle and building a stronger peace bubble.

“Peace, peace, peace” be to you as well. x

Meditation Garden 2 ATG FINAL

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Inspired.

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A mid-week pause for some soul encouragement.

But first, a word.

I came across the quote above yesterday. Reading it immediately solidified something for me when thinking about labels, paths, and women.

It’s no secret that women are more likely to encounter the struggle of walking the fine line between the perception of assertiveness and bitchiness, something most men presumably don’t think about (or defend) when maneuvering through life; and if they do, “bitch” (or the male equivalent) is not always the first thing that comes to mind.

Now before I offend anybody, naturally it depends on the person (irregardless of gender), the situation, and how a specific person interprets another, but for devil’s advocate sake, let’s focus on that fine line and what I think makes all the difference.

Obviously, I’ve never met Madonna, and I certainly don’t know the complete circumstances of how she was quoted here, but on some level I think she’s commenting on that aforementioned fine line, following her path anyway, and accepting whatever label comes with it. I can respect that. However, this post really isn’t about her or a comment on her as a human being, so much as the train of thought that her words provoked, inspiring me to write this post. So bear with me.

Let me preface that I’m not at all advocating that women should say, “ok, fine then” and be as much of a total battle-ax as necessary to get where they need to in life, or that we need to start more openly imparting such labels on men to stick it to them in the name of equality. While there’s certainly a vital conversation that could take place regarding the blatant gender hypocrisy at play, that’s not the aim of this post. Instead, what I am advocating is being who you are, despite perception, as long as there is a level of grace to it.

Be assertive, yes. Speak your mind. If you need to raise your voice a little higher so that people can clearly hear you after you’ve already repeated yourself twice? Perhaps that’s necessary. But with anything in life, there should always be grace present. How you’re perceived from there is really out of your hands.

I would describe myself as an independent, assertive woman. I was raised by a single mom so it’s what I witnessed and absorbed firsthand during my childhood. As I’ve gotten older, I think the most delicious thing is learning to take my own path, but on an even deeper level. I’ve become much more selective about how and with whom I spend my time. I don’t have time for disrespect, games or drama. I pick my battles (though this one’s hard!).  If I don’t want to do something (within reason, obviously) I don’t. And typically, when I have something to say, I mean something to really say, I think about the best approach and then go for it. Sometimes it goes just fine, others…well…

The more I think I about it at this moment, I’ve always had these attributes. I think they are simply becoming more defined as I age, and are a work in-progress. I’m still a work in-progress, by no means perfect.

The challenge is that many things in life require a compromise so you don’t always get your way 100% of the time (unless you’re someone like Madonna); however, the beauty is learning what those areas are and should be, while also keeping in alignment with your chosen path. You may have to walk the curb for a while in the name of compromise, but at least you’re still going in the right direction.

It’s even more complicated when taking into account that most of us still want to be liked and loved and respected as a person, while on said path. After all, you can’t do everything on your own.

Clearly, not everyone you meet is going to gravitate toward you or like you. And this is why I use the word “grace” when advocating being who you are. I think the best way to meet like-minded people stems from that. Grace is subjective, like beauty. You’re bound to meet people who gravitate toward your grace and those who don’t. When the “those who don’t people” arise, remain cordial, but keep pushing forward.

Unfortunately, I’m starting to understand that women typically have to accept labels if they want to want to make a mark in the world or stay on their chosen path. I think what makes all the difference is in how you go about maneuvering it. Essentially, it really comes down to being who you are, staying on the path that works for you, while still being able to live in the world with all kinds of personalities and situations that are inevitably out of your control. As I write this and wrap up my thoughts, I see the intricacies involved in that fine line. Grace is your guide. The pendulum of that fine line. It doesn’t necessarily prevent the more harsh perception, I’d say, so much as keeps you grounded and your intention pure, coming from a good place.

While this post has officially become more than “a word” (sorry!) this quote and those below are keeping me inspired at the moment.

Happy hump day. See you Friday!

Blend

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