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Blue

What is it with January?

It seems like every January I find myself either wanting to go back to school or change my career or move to a new state.  Often it’s a combination of these things and I think that they might be a coping mechanism to help me deal with the blues.

Every year I really struggle to get through January and I’ve compiled a short list of theories for this over the past few years.  One reason is that it’s kind of hard to get back to reality after the joy of the holiday season.  Another reason could be fewer hours of daylight triggering some sort of seasonal depression.  Or it could just be that the cold weather starts to get to me and leaves me hopelessly longing for spring and summer.

This January I’ve already spent a fair amount of time with the blues.  But it isn’t because of any of the things I usually blame. This year I’m just scared.

Over the past couple of years I’ve had to deal with heartache and adjust to a lot of changes, but I haven’t done a very good job with either of these things.  I know that everyone goes through hard times and that most of us come out of them eventually, but I’m still really nervous about the possibility of having another year like the ones I’ve been having.

At least February will be here in a few weeks.  February usually does wonders at getting me out of my January slump.

Rethinking Resolutions

I decided to try something a little different with my resolutions this year to see if it would help me stick to them.  Every year I come up with a list of 5 or 10 resolutions and every year I fail at nearly every single one.  I’m pretty good at not beating myself up about it and the silver lining is that I can carry my unaccomplished resolutions with me into the next new year.

This  year, however, I would like to take my resolutions a little more seriously and actually make some positive changes to my life.  That is why this year I’m deciding to focus on creating habits instead of making a list of things that I will have forgotten about by February.

There are a lot of reasons resolutions can be hard to stick to:  often they are too general, they aren’t measurable, they haven’t been broken down into simple enough steps, etc.  But two of the biggest reasons that I’ve read about is that we often take on too many things at once (which is overwhelming) and we don’t give them enough time to become habitual parts of our routine (and we fall off the wagon, so to speak).

Many people suggest that in order to make something a habit you have to do that thing every day and you should come up with some sort of “trigger” for doing that activity.  As I was thinking about my own daily habits the first one that came to mind is that I tidy my bedroom every day (the rest of my home is a different story).  My trigger for this habit is showering.  Every day after I’m finished showering and getting ready I go straight to my room, clean up any clothes that are lying around, and make my bed.  I never think about it.  I just do it.  Similarly, I would like my resolutions to become habits that I do naturally.

For 2012, I’m going to focus on one habit at a time.  I’m starting with flossing my teeth.  I know, it sounds kind of silly, but I’m always thinking about how I really should floss my teeth every day for better  health.  It’s just so easy to put off until tomorrow or next week or before St. Patrick’s Day.  Also, I think it’s a good idea to start with something small.  Once I notice that flossing my teeth has become a normal daily habit, I’ll move on to the next thing.

I’m hoping that this focus on creating habits will help me check off some of the resolutions that turn up on my list year after year, and maybe next year my resolutions list will be much smaller or look completely different than it has looked for the past few years.

Beginning with Intention

I have a tradition every New Year’s Eve.  I write a letter to myself with my intentions for the next year, seal it up, and don’t look at again until December 31st the following year.  It’s a tradition that’s become very important to me because it forces me to reflect on the past year, my current state of being, and what things I would like to nurture or bring into my life the next year.

When I first began doing this a few years ago, I called it a resolutions letter.  But I’ve come to realize that the things I write about aren’t quite resolutions, which I also make at the beginning of a new year.  My letters are intentions that help me set a focus for the year ahead and should help guide my actions and choices to move me closer to the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to have.  For instance, the first year I wrote an intention letter I was coming off an especially difficult year and was very nervous about what the next year would bring.  I wrote about how I wanted to focus on bringing calm back into my life and I let that idea of calmness guide me during the next year.

Yesterday when I opened my letter from a year ago I was surprised to find how poorly I did at bringing the things that I had hoped for into my life.  In fact, one of my intentions was the opposite of what my life actually looked like this year.  The problem wasn’t that it was a bad year.  Basically, I wrote my intentions and forgot about them–completely.  I had no idea what I was going to be reading when I opened my letter.  It doesn’t do a lot of good to write about the things that you want most in your life and then forget about them.  The other problem was that I had adopted such a negative attitude this year and felt so stuck in a rut that it was unlikely that I was going to have a great year because my mindset was all wrong.

This year I’m making a commitment to keep my focus on the things I’m hoping for.  Hopefully when I look back on my letter I will find that I was able to attract many good things into my life in 2012.

Tipping Over

We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
–Ray Bradbury

When I first began blogging a few years back, I did so with the intention of creating a space where I could openly share those things that were on my mind.  I remember writing about how, although I wasn’t the greatest writer, I was an honest one.

Since then, I’ve noticed myself shying away from that kind of expression.  I was afraid of hurting people and creating problems by sharing my thoughts with others.  I closed myself off from others in a lot of ways to protect myself from situations that caused me pain.  I didn’t want to think about them, much less talk about them.

But this action of closing myself off did more harm than good.  I could feel myself becoming quieter and unsure of myself.  I wasn’t just holding back the negatives;  I was holding back everything, even the good and inspiring things I felt and experienced.

It’s not easy, but I want to start writing authentically again.  Maybe in doing this I can relearn how to share my stories with others and get back to being me.

Ahhhh…September

September is one of my favorite months of the year.  I love the way it seems to mosey on into fall-like weather.  Already there is a chill in the air when I wake up in the morning and I’m craving warm, cozy foods and beverages.

To welcome in the season, I decided to come up with a list of my must-do September activities:

1.  Visit an orchard.  I’ve never done this before and I’m not sure where to go for my visit, but picking ripened apples off trees seems like the perfect way to celebrate September.

2.  Buy the perfect pair of riding boots.  My skinny jeans have been looking very lonely and are begging for some company.

3.  Host a dinner party with a fall harvest theme.

4.  Face my fears and finally utilize that gym membership I purchased last month.

5.  Read a non-academic book.  Going back to school leaves very little time for fun reading, but one can hope.

6.  Find a great recipe for vegetarian lasagna and bake some apple crisp.  Apple crisp has already been on my mind for weeks now!

7.  Oktoberfest for beers and brats.

8.  Add more organization at home and work. Time to simplify so I can face these busy times!

9.  Finish crocheting the throw I’m making for my living room, and just in time for cozy winter days.

10.  Sneak in one last hike or outdoor activity before the colder temperatures and snow start to settle in.

What’s on your September must-do list?

 

The first time I ever made granola (which to be honest was really me watching my friend make granola while I marveled at the process…and stole occasional bites), I was amazed at how simple it was to prepare.  I’m not sure why I thought it would be more complicated, but it’s really just a handful of ingredients, mixed with oats, and baked in the oven.

Since that day during my senior year of college, I haven’t once made granola.  I knew it was easy.  I knew I loved granola.  I just hadn’t felt inspired to bake another batch.

Then, Monday night happened.

I was going through the usual list of blogs on my Google Reader, and I came across this delicious (and simple) recipe for peanut butter granola.  Since I had all of the ingredients on hand, I knew it was destined for me to make this granola recipe right then and there.

Peanut butter-y morsels of goodness

The peanut butter granola turned out just as tasty as I had anticipated, and I have been adding it as a special topping to different foods all week.  (I recommend doubling the recipe and adding one or two minutes to the baking time, although your oven may be warmer than mine.)

If you really love peanut butter and granola, and have a few extra minutes on your hands, I highly suggest giving this recipe a try.  You won’t regret it.

So, today is kind of a big day for me for a reason I almost feel silly admitting out loud…and on the Internet, no less.

I feel even sillier for admitting that I’ve been looking forward to today for at least a couple of months now.

You see, today is the day that Matt Nathanson’s latest album, Modern Love, drops, and I’m very excited to add this new album to my collection.

It’s no secret that I love Matt Nathanson’s music.  His songs are filled with a sense of longing and desire to which a lot of people can relate.  Plus, when it comes to writing lyrics, he really knows how to paint a sensual image.  (My personal favorite example of this might be these lyrics:  you move like water, and you broke like a wave.  Awwwww….yeah.)

I did a quick preview of this latest album last night and it sounds promising, although only time will tell if I end up loving it as much as some of his others.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get better acquainted with Modern Love.

“Mean” is without a doubt my favorite song on Taylor Swift’s latest album, Speak Now.  So I was very happy when I saw that the music video for “Mean” fit the song perfectly.

I love the style of this video and the message it portrays.  I think we all have at least one person in our lives that we consider to be an unfairly harsh critic.  You know, the person who never seems to have anything kind to say.

Well, I have decided to dedicate this song to those people whenever I hear it (until I have the guts to actually say something out loud, that is).

Many, many petunias

Pretty in pink

And some purple

Almost marigold

Basil

Balcony view

Fireworks + Water = Love

A couple of weeks ago, my lovely friend Sam posted some really amazing photos of an event she attended in Portland with her cute little family.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the pictures ever since.  I think it’s love.

Anyway, if you love fireworks or stunning visual images, check out her post here.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here in Utah daydreaming about how awesome it would be to live really close to an ocean or lake or really big river.  I can’t imagine anything better than that.