52 weeks and counting

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At the beginning of the year my roommate breezed by me in the living room, talking about how she already “failed” at one of her New Year’s resolutions.

Then she smiled and said, “Well, at least I have 52 weeks to get better at it!”

For some reason this really struck me. Suddenly, 52 weeks felt like no time at all. It’s so easy to let an entire week fly by after busy work days, and hearing the year condensed into such a comprehensible, easily squandered timeframe confronted me again with just how important living intentionally is to make the most of every moment.

Technically, tomorrow marks the end of week 2. What are you going to do with your 50?

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Knock knock.. you there right side?

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It’s been 6 days since my return to the real world and things are just now starting to get back into a normal routine. Since I opted to go relax at a lakehouse this weekend and therefore postponing the necessary post trip “getting my shit together” for another few days, I am only now settling in to real life. My laundry is done, my cold is gone, I no longer feel like a zombie and the song “I can see clearly now” is playing in my head. Perhaps a weekend of hiking, hammock-ing, and tanning by the pool with my boyfriend, my dog and a few friends was just what the doctor ordered. And that brings me to tonight. Tonight is the first night that I can actually relax. On my own. In my pj’s Well, almost.

The only thing still on vacation is the right side of my brain. My left side is totally here making list, putting in maintenance requests, ordering new credit cards and IDs and establishing new budgets. But that damn right side is still over in Paris – or maybe it was stolen with my wallet in Sevilla? I am having the hardest time at work this last week coming up with an original idea. Pre-Europe Lydia loved brainstorming. I loved utilizing things I’ve read and compiling them to form one new amazing concept. Everything is taking me just a little longer since I must set aside time for staring at a blank screen wondering how I used to form sentences. It’s more than writer’s block. It’s a creative block.

Which brings me to my goal for the week. To get inspired. This entails sifting through the 100+ unread newsletters I have from a multitude of amazing idea-inspiring sites like PSFK, Fast Company (Design, Exist and Create.. I’m an addict), ColossalBig Think and the threads going in one of the many LinkedIn groups I stalk. I am not exactly expecting that I’ll walk into my office by Friday morning with a glowing light behind me and my head full of all-knowing knowledge (but that wouldn’t totally suck), but I am looking for a little spark. Like the lightning that comes down in War of Worlds to send a little driver into the ready and waiting machine that is my mind. That’s all I want. Juuuust a liiiiittle lightning.

Am I also subtly suggesting that you might also be interested in those aforementioned websites? You betchya. They’re awesome. Hop on my let’s-get-inspired bandwagon, flood those inboxes and let’s get those gears moving.

All, I have no idea where that War of Worlds reference came from. Do you see my problem?

Finding…mindfulness.

mind over matterliving in the present quoteSigh… Mondays.

See, I’m not usually one of those people who dread Mondays and complain about their jobs. But I’m not going to lie, I started this morning groaning out of bed and maybe getting just a little bit sassy at other drivers. But reality finally checked in, reminding me just how much I have to be thankful for. It’s easy to get bogged down in all the things that don’t go exactly the way I want them to, which in my case consists largely of having an uncomfortable, embarrassing and altogether exhausting allergic reaction going on the three month mark.

As an interviewee said on NPR this morning, and I paraphrase: It’s like when you’re driving. You don’t think much of the green lights because you just keep going. But those red lights make you stop, make you wait, can even make you late. People invariably end up saying, “Ahh I hit some red lights,” not “I hit some green lights.”

I know I need to spend more time meditating on my own green lights to get myself through the red ones. And I think practicing a little more mindfulness is just the thing to help me do that.

I’ve been reading a book called My Year With Eleanor, in which author Noelle Hancock writes, “Mindfulness is a technique where you concentrate on the present experience without judging or trying to control what is going on. To be fully aware….It helps you stay in the present, where fear does not exist.” One Apartment Therapy article calls mindfulness “an accepting and kind attitude toward yourself and your present moment experience…that will change your relationship to life.”

Here are some tips for practicing more mindfulness, which are all part of my plan this week to try staying gracefully in the present and practice more acceptance:

Change the day’s first words. Waking up and indulging groans and dread for the day sets my attitude, and therefore, perception for at least the next three hours. Complaining is a habit, and I’d like to train my brain to not jump straight into it every morning.

Put. the phone. down. How many times do I re-check email, refresh Facebook on my browser, scroll through Twitter, and when all that still fails to entertain, turn to other apps to see what latest GroupOns are featured and which new pug is on @PugsofInstagram, only to repeat the process? I waste so much time with absent-minded scrolling.

Be thankful for waiting. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of going and then get frustrated when something jars me out of that by making me wait. Instead, this moment that I can’t force into productivity is a fantastic opportunity to breathe and think without feeling guilty.

Dedicate time to just sit. Not in front of the tv, with a book, food or even a cup of coffee. Just me, being still. A word of warning, when you try this one in bed, at night, with a relaxing cool eye mask on…this also turns into a fantastic way to accidentally fall asleep. As I learned from personal experience.

What helps you relax and think more on the positive side of things?

Free Food + A Passion For Purple

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a beautiful mess lavender ice cream recipe

This week my goals are to get back on track with my finances and fitness…purely coincidental these two fall at the same spot on the alphabet, too. Not only did I put myself on a strict budget (is it possible to have a social life on $30 of fun money a week?) and actually make it a couple flights up to my apartment’s gym (really, it’s so close, I have no excuse), but the universe also decided to send me a little note of encouragement the other day at work.

A co-worker turned around randomly and said, “I’m so excited about my free dinner tonight thanks to this Dallas women’s dinner club that’s also free to join.” Working in an all-female office, you’d swear heads have never looked up faster at the promise of free food. A free dinner club that gives women free dinner at participating Dallas restaurants three nights a week? Well, I checked out the Dame’s Dinner Club on Facebook and you could say it is fate that their cover photo is none other than our hero Audrey Hepburn. With a reservation, women eat free off a special menu at Sfuzzi’s Tuesday, The Standard Pour Wednesday and Villa-O Thursday. My only question is, who wants to go and how soon?

Completely unrelated but brightening my week more than it rationally should is some new nail polish and my growing obsession with lavender (like this lavender ice cream recipe from A Beautiful Mess!). Dallas has been bright and just the right amount of warm this week, and I’ve decided that the best way to celebrate spring is with all things light purple and lavender. A purchase of Sally Hansen’s Lacey Lilac nail polish and about an hour of nail-painting later (that right hand is just so hard…), my light but bright purple nails were ready to go. Am I the only one who feels like even the most mundane tasks are that much more fun when your nails look good doing them?

Buck up

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Well, I had a great relaxing weekend with a date on Friday, girls scary movie night on Saturday (that didn’t give me nightmares…high five to me!), dress shopping and bridesmaid dress ordering with my mom on Sunday and then topped it off with a great concert at a favorite venue of mine, the Granada, to see Aesop Rock on Sunday night. I also squeezed in some Berlin and Rome research on Saturday’s perfectly rainy afternoon. Great pre-Europe jam packed weekend!

Do you ever have those friends who complain all the time? And you want to be like “listen here, bro. Suck. It Up.” Well lately, that’s been me. I hear myself doing it too. “Aren’t you leaving for Europe soon?” “Yes! I’m so excited! Ugh but I have to [insert endless vacation to do list] and [insert complaint about how much everything is costing this Spring/Summer because of the many family events happening]” Frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t been slapped yet. Especially because those closest to me likely know that I secretly love to do lists and being slightly stressed (just call me a masochist). Although no one has give me a love face tap yet, I do have a few friends and a mother who simply laugh when I utter an ounce of complaining. As they should!!

Complaining is stealing from your own joy. Even worse, you’re stealing from those around you. If you’re having a great day and I come over and spill red wine all over it, your good mood is stained with my negativity. Who wants to be the friend that is the red stain on someone’s mood or day? Who would want to be friends with that friend?

So this week my goal is to quit complaining. These next few months are really exciting  albeit expensive, and I would hate myself for not lavishing and soaking up the moment. Unfortunately I don’t have friends who will sitcom slap me, but I do have a yoga mat and have instructed friends to tell me to suck it up if I even have the tone of a whine. I want to stop myself from every even considering the Debbie Downer of these great life events and stay a Positive Patricia. She’s way more fun to hang out with.

By the way, one week from this moment I’ll be having dinner in Paris. Can you even believe that? I can’t!

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D.C. life

Newseum in DC - first amendment DC brunch - ardeo + bardeo DCnewseum - good photography quote Newseum - Berlin Wall artNewseum freedomGoing into my long weekend, I have to say I was a little skeptical about D.C. After living nearby in Virginia for several, albeit younger, years and a couple visits later, I still wasn’t sold on the magic of our capitol city. As far as U.S. cities go, New York, Seattle, Austin and Boston inspired an instant infatuation that has only grown stronger since my last visits. Los Angeles won me over with one of the best weeks of my life, and let’s face it, I’ve always been a self-proclaimed California girl at heart (with the birth certificate location to match, thank you very much)!

While I still don’t feel like I really “know” D.C. after this weekend’s trip, I can now say that I do see why people like it and have deemed it worth further exploration. Despite the too close for comfort winter storm warning, my trip enjoyed fantastically sunny weather with just the right amount of morning chill. On top of the weather, I also had some pretty good food, including a completely perfect brunch at Ardeo + Bardeo (great food, menu, atmosphere, service all with bottomless mimosas at decent prices) and a special night thanks to my cousin at Matchbox. Seeing his culinary success firsthand and hearing our waiter tell me, “We always take care of family,” filled me with Italian pride. And as this is probably the strongest familial, food-related pride there is, that’s really saying something.

Now it’s back to real life, and I’m taking this as the perfect opportunity to get back on track with a lot of real life things.

Between the traveling, health costs and a growing combination of laziness/never enough time, my budget has really gone out the window this year. I literally cannot afford to keep carrying on this way, so I’ll be taking stock this week, re-prioritizing expenditures and brainstorming some hopefully cheaper ways to continue exploring Dallas.

I’m forcing myself to write this next one as I’m really not feeling the motivation, but I know I’ll thank myself later…It’s er…well, time to start working out again. There, I said it, and if I’m being honest, I’m even feel a little relieved. I will be adding a couple yoga classes to my week, at least one (although I could probably stand more) runs, and looking for ways to be more active in general. Have you been seeing all the buzz lately about how bad sitting all day is for us? I’m feeling a little more motivated already…

All work and no play, but there are monkey valentines so who cares.

ParisTraveler_Drinks_pinupPicture 11 666c7b94ee5c9f8c475df3dddcdd0108Welp. It’s going to be another busy week! Luckily, this time I woke up right on time at 5 AM to get it started right – phew.

Work in and of itself is going to be pretty stressful this week, but in a particularly good way. I am a freak who actually enjoys having to go to work early to get a head start on the day when there’s a lot to do. Especially when I am having the opportunity to work on projects I’m really interested and invested in.

There’s also a kitchen to be cleaned, laundry to be folded and a car’s interior that is desperate for some TLC. But those will just have to wait. My real goal this week is to catch up on the newsletters that have filled my inbox over the last two weeks. There literally is not enough time in the day to do all the reading I would like to.

Plus, I purchased the most adorable Valentine’s Day Cards at World Market [featured above.] I mean come on. Pop up monkeys? It could only get better if they were sloths. Ever since I moved into a new apartment, I have been single handedly keeping the USPS in business with congratulations cards, Christmas cards, change of address cards, just saying hello cards, and more cards cards cards. I would love to get these suckers written, licked and stamped this week to get it off my plate. The longer I keep them, the more attached I become. And although a single girl sending herself flowers is perfectly acceptable, I have a slight feeling sending myself a popup monkey might keep me singing “All the Single Ladies” a bit longer.

I am also finalizing Euro Trip 2013 this week! My plane ticket is purchased, passport application submitted, but the flights and trains between countries are TBD. I can’t wait for this adventure! It’s costing me an arm and leg, but I think it is upholding my New Year’s Resolution to spend less on things and more on experiences quite nicely. 🙂

Have a great week! If you’re having anything like the weather we’re having in Dallas, it’ll be hard not to.