If it makes you feel like you want to vomit.

Just a quick post to commemorate the day, what with it being my last at [international hair and beauty corporation]. I’m officially a stay-at-home freelancer.

Image courtesy of Raving Dave

I heard a friend say this once, “If it makes you feel like you’re going to vomit, you’re on the right track!” She wasn’t talking about a night at the bar; rather, she was talking about how to know if a decision or life change was right.  I’ve been thinking about this little saying for the past week or so, because as I’ve gotten closer to my end working date, the uncertainty of what I’m moving toward has become more real in my brain, more prevalent in my thoughts.  It has made me feel like vomiting, a little!  Because I have had a tendency, in the past, to go charging toward something thinking it will be the perfect thing, the solution I’ve been waiting for!, only to find that it, too, has its pitfalls.

This is a much different change, though, and I’m excited.  I’m working with a great company, and the transition feels really natural, not at all jarring.  The timing feels right, and I’m so excited to see what’s next!

 

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it’s coming…

This is it, we’re in the middle of it already! It’s the time of year that requires, to my way of thinking, the most adjustment: from Fall into Winter.  Yes, capitalized, just like that.  Its seems like only a few weeks ago that it was all sundresses, maybe paired with boots, but maybe not, maybe still with a bare leg and a cute heel.  But now! No dice.  Even though the temps can still be into the 50s and 60s, the morning-time is chilly-willy, down to the 30s.  Even I, Winter Lover Extraordinaire, experience some difficulty in acclimating.  No, it’s true.  I love winter, but I become slightly squeamish about getting out and doing stuff when it’s cold-yet not winter, with wind-but no snow.

Par ejemplo, last night, I went for a run.  But it took some mind-wrangling to get there.  I came home from work and, realizing I had eaten way too much office-chocolate (this is not a euphemism, though it really could refer to a number of things… there’s chocolate and candy f’ing everywhere in the damn office.  I look at it as a good exercise in self control, though it usually turns into let’s-eat-so-much-chocolate-at-work-that-it-makes-me-sick-and-I-don’t-want-to-eat-it-anymore, however.  This experiment, as yet, has not proven successful.), and because I had chosen not to visit the gym, I decided on the running.  I got home and started eating corn chips, mais oui.  And I ate a lot of them.  Stress-eating, you wonder? Procrastination-induced snacking? Yes, yes indeed.  Because it was COLD (44 deg F, or thereabouts) and it was windy, and I simply DID NOT WANT TO.  But, I went anyway, and once I got out there it was good.

The tricky part of cold-weather activity is managing the body-temp gap between starting the activity and being at the point of sweating.  Layering! Of course! But if you run, you know it’s a real hassle to take shit off and tie it around your waist.  Plus, you end up looking like an elderly woman mall-walking at 7am.  So I dress sparingly, and hope I’ve struck the right balance.  I did, last night, and the run was lovely.

My point being, though, that I have to remind myself every year that, while it stinks sometimes to get out there, it’s a matter of wearing the appropriate clothing, and then you can do anything.  Right?  I saw a guy driving to work yesterday morning, on a motorcycle, in 40-something degree rain.  But he was wearing a nice motorcycle suit and I thought to myself, I’ll be he’s real comfy.  And he probably was.  Because he was protected by his clothing, which is the whole point. Here’s a good frame of reference:

Image courtesy of The Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions.

This may seem like the most asinine pastime in the whole world, but there are those who love ice-diving.  I’ve heard it’s beautiful, though I can’t say for certain I’d ever endeavor.  Properly clothed, though, it’s nearly the same as any other cold-water diving.  It’s all about the equipment.

downtime.

I am foraying into the world of self-employ.  While I’ve been freelancing for almost a year, I am now at the point where the work I’m doing is enough to cut back my office-work schedule to 3 days/week, and I have more than enough work to do the remaining 4 days/week for my main client.  I’ve fantasized for years about working for myself; it’s quite a different story when confronted with the reality of the thing, am I right?  I don’t say this as a negative, it’s simply an adjustment in both daily habits and practices, and in mentality/perception. I’m loving it so far, and getting more disciplined about my work habits, primarily because I can see how easy it is to simply work all the time. Although, this isn’t really anything new for me, I’m fond of being a busy-busy-bee! I can also see the necessity of getting out and spending time with people, ie volunteering, and participating in a writing group (of which, incidentally, I found a really great one last week! through the Hennepin County Library system.  Have I ever mentioned how much I looooove the library? Home away from home for this word nerd!).

What I love about working from home, more than anything, is that I get to decide my schedule.  I do not enjoy the necessity of being at an office for a prescribed number of hours during a set time frame. This has always made me a little cray-cray, though I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that it’s what I need to adjust to to make a living in this world.  I’m soooo happy to be finding out that there are other options- and they’re even viable options!  What I love about freelance writing is, well, writing.  Because the more you do of something you love, the more you do of something you love! Or, something to the effect of, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While some may debunk this as bad career advice, I say it’s completely true!

At the moment, I’m taking a break from writing about various types of cancer for clients (just a little light writing for a Monday, thank you very much!).  These are the ways I like to give my mind a rest:

  • More writing, ovbi.  Though it’s nice to be able to vent the randomness in my brain
  • Trail running.  Today @ Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which is a bit of a jaunt, but definitely worth it.  It was grey and dreary, which made the leaves still clinging to the branches scream their vibrant colors.  I f’ing love autumn in Minnesota!
  • Regular running, too.
  • Or walking along the mighty Mississipp’, which is nearby.
  • Doing headstands, a la B.K.S. Iyengar. Like this:   Ha!  No, more like this:Except sh!ttier, with a lot of confused adjusting happening throughout.
  • Playing Words with Friends with a guy I used to date.  I suppose he would be considered some sort of ex, though he wasn’t technically a boyfriend (of course, this is my attitude about our relationship now. Had you asked while we were dating, he probably was considered a boyfriend.  Still, there needs to be some sort of nomenclature pertaining to people you formerly dated.  Ex… datees? No. Come up with something and leave it in the comments, if you would!).  Anyhoo, it’s weird because we don’t talk, but I soooooo want to beat him, so we keep playing.
  • Eat food.  Make food.  Think about going to get food or ordering food.  Looking at food in the cupboards. Making more coffee to drink for when my break is over.
  • Facebooking, tweeting, et cetera.  Truly, an addiction.  (Feel free to friend ‘n’ follow, btw.)
  • Daydreaming about getting a French Bulldog.
  • Perusing adopt-a-dog sites, searching for vicarious puppy-love
  • Many, many other interesting things.

What do you do on your breaks, peeps who work from home and otherwise?  I’m always fascinated by how people spend their downtime… or procrastinate-time.

FOOD! refrigerator pickles

I made these today.

I don’t love pickles, not really.  Something about dill pickles just doesn’t suit my palate.  Dill itself I think is quite divine, but dill pickles don’t interest me at all.  Bread and butter pickles (I think this is the type, the sweet ones?), on the other hand, I do like these.  Which are basically the same as refrigerator pickles.

All summer long I’ve been splitting a CSA share with a friend.  Every week we’d get something different – lemon cukes, edamame, kale, thyme, what-have-you.  More than anything else though, we got BEANS.  Every damn week, BEANS.  Green beans, wax beans, I don’t know the exact nomenclature, but there were OODLES of them.  And I loved to eat them, but I wasn’t creative enough, and got bored, and a lot of beans went to waste, unfortunately.  The whole time though, I was thinking how great it would be to pickle them! But it seemed too daunting, and so I didn’t.  I think I’m a little scared of canning because of something I read in a book once about botulism, maybe in East of Eden, or similar.

But, I digress. Refrigerator pickles, on the other hand, so easy!  I found a few recipes, like this one, and just adapted it, because some of the recipes I found seemed like they wanted to be fancy and I just wanted the most basic one I could find.  No fanciness of ingredient for me, just a plain old McDonald’s burger, thankyouverymuch. Also, I had this big old jar, so I adapted for the size of the thing.

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups cucumbers (pickling cukes are great, but no need to discriminate), thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups vinegar (I used 4 cups white, 2 cups apple cider to cut the tartness)
  • 3 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon celery seeds

Prep:

Place cukes and onion in a gallon jar.  Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Carefully pour liquid into gallon jar and refrigerate.  Let chill 3-4 days.  Pickles can be kept for up to 6 weeks.

Voila! I tried mine after they’d been in the fridge for about 12 hours.  The cukes were still very raw and crunchy, but the flavor of the wash tastes about right, so I’m excited to test them again in a few days!

Are you a pickler, or a canner?  Leave your tips in the comments below!

beautiful. fighter.

There’s not much that either one, or both of these songs cannot cure.  Pretty sure of it.

Sometimes you have to get a little angry.

Then remember: Yes, you are.

hosted!

I don’t know why it’s taken me forever to figure this out.  Installing WordPress on my computer so that I can do all sorts of wondrous things has been nearly as painful as contemplating chewing off my own arm, like that guy in 127 Hours, a movie which did not hold my attention.  Or else I was knitting or cooking and only marginally paying attention to a movie which probably required a lot of visual processing, so it was all just lost on me.  My point being that WP is hopefully installing as we speak.  Maybe.  And then, perhaps, I can figure out how to use it and not funk everything up!  Woo-hoo!

Did I mention I’m wanderlusting?  Whereas the Daily Show will give you a moment of Zen, I am giving myself a daily dose of torture, or inspiration, depending upon how you view it.  I’m somewhere in between, myself.  The image du jour:

I’m practically salivating over anything Montana-related at this point.  Except for fires and the like.  Except if I were salivating over wildfires, I would be, theoretically, helping the cause.  Anyway.

I’m not just fantasizing about any old place in MT, it’s one area in particular.  It starts in Red Lodge, stretches north by way of U.S. Route 212Beartooth Highway, which, according to Wikipedia, passes through portions of Custer National Forest, and Shoshone National Forest and near the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.  U.S. 212 winds in and out of Montana and Wyoming, with a layover in Cooke City, until it finally ends just a bit further along, at the northeast entrance of Yellowstone.

We camped along this route a million times when I was a kid.  An oft-repeated story of Ang-as-toddler occurred while staying at Island Lake Campground, elevation 9,600 ft.  Not ever a graceful child, I fell into the very-very cold water one night and, because I was pretty short, drenched all of my little jeans.  The jeans were hung outside overnight to dry, but the temps dipped that night, and we awoke to frozen pants, and I started to cry.  This is where opinions differ.  I’m quite certain that I was crying because I saw snow on the ground.  The three other members of my family insist it was because the jeans were frozen.  I have always disagreed with this premise, but no longer dispute it when told around the campfire.  There are other stories they don’t tell, like the time when, raising it too quickly, a flaming marshmallow launched from the stick, landing squarely on my cheek.  Or how, as a teenager, I insisted upon wearing makeup throughout our annual westward trek, secretly convinced I would pass some hunky guy on trail.

So, while we’re at it, let’s take a moment to ruminate on how much we love the National Parks and Forests, shall we?  What is your fave Park or Forest?  Share your memories in the comments!

wanderlusting (with links to CO donation sites).

I have a nearly-unbearable case of itchy feet.  I have some vacay planned mid-July, driving to KC for a conference, and then on to Colorado to visit friends, so there’s a goal in sight!  And that helps alleviate (somewhat, very mildly) the urge to pack up and drive away.  For now, I won’t do that.

In my mind, summer is for road trips to the mountains, and it’s been several years since I’ve stared at a high-altitude sky and counted falling stars and satellites.  It doesn’t help that I have an ever-growing playlist (found here) dedicated specifically to road trips, and here’s a little sip of the cheesiness (you expected nothing less, correct?):

Since our camping trips began when I was still in diapers (perhaps before, as my mother once hinted I was conceived in a camper.  We have never revisited this line of discussion.), many of the songs are old.  Most share the bluesy-country-alt country vibe: my mom has always been a lover of country music, my dad leaned more to rock and blues, while my brother, at one point, would listen to nothing but Led Zeppelin and the Guess Who.  Indeed, I cannot listen to any song from the American Woman album without being immediately transported to a rocky, secluded campsite in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming, somewhere betwixt Red Lodge, Montana, and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone.  We owned American Woman on cassette, and when we weren’t driving, would listen to the tape on a clunky old battery-powered tape player.  A little of this, anyone?

I experience strange satisfaction and joy in having reached an age when something so commonplace in childhood has now become an ungainly dinosaur, even to my eyes.

What are you summer songs?  Best road trip memories and locations?  Leave your comments below!

And quickly, since mountains are to Colorado what pretty toenails are to Essie polish, donation and volunteer info from the Summit Daily News follows:

• El Paso County Sheriff’s office: Large animal shelter at Norris-Penrose Equestrian Center needs volunteers: 719-520-7773.

• The Red Cross in Colorado Springs is at 719-632-3563. Those wanting to donate money to the Red Cross can go here.

• Help Colorado Now, a partnership of Colorado Division of Emergency Management (CDEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVAD), has a list of donations needed and Fort Collins location for drop-off.

• The Salvation Army can take monetary donations; specify ‘Northern Colorado Chapter – High Park Fire’ or ‘Northern Colorado Chapter – Waldo Fire:’ 303-866-9216, The Salvation Army, 1370 Pennsylvania Ave., Denver, CO 80132.

• Donate online to Larimer Humane Society 15or mail checks to 5137 S. College Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525. Society currently coordinating rescue of all animals in High Park Fire area, providing water to animals that have not been evacuated, reuniting owners and pets and sheltering evacuated animals: 970-226-3647, ext. 7.

• Text HIGHPARK to 80108 to donate $10 for fire relief in northern Colorado through The mGive Foundation: mgivefoundation.org

• Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department 17Donations can be mailed to: RCVFD-Treasurer, PO Box 2, Bellvue, CO 80521.

Or visit Help Colorado Now’s site, for more specs.

today, part II: and then. (or, how to shake the blues!)

This afternoon, I had a little shift from the wackiness of the morning, and I just felt a little down.  In a nugget, moping. You know how sometimes you just feel it?  Probably just the lack of chocolate in the week’s diet, but it just stuck around.  And wouldn’t go away.  So, I just let it be there, and went about the business of working.  Which really is the best way to get through it anyway.  Much better than lying on the bed, listening to old Cold Play songs that, perhaps, remind you of happier days, say 10 or so years ago, and approximately, oh, 9,000 miles away.  With palm trees, and sunrise diving, and midday hammock time…

Digressing.  Self-pity.  Pity party.  It’s so pathetic, because you can identify it, and you know it’s not rational, and YET.  I was on my way to a friend’s house, to visit her newborn, and I really f*cking needed to shake it, at least a little.  So I started employing some tactics, and I thought I would share.  Yes, I still feel a bit blue, but not so much as earlier.

How to: Debbie Downer

  1. Say thank you.  Say it out loud, or in your mind, or in the windows-up radio-down seclusion of your Ford Focus.  For whatever damn thing that comes to mind: your car, the fact that you have a pair of shoes that fit, whatever.  And not in a smart-assy way.  Say it genuinely, or as close to genuine as you can get.
  2. See the opportunity, if applicable, in the situation that upset you.  In my case, I recently lost a client.  If you can remove yourself from the situation (e.g. it’s so damn nice to have a regular gig), and gain some perspective on the actual situation (I didn’t feel particularly good about the type of biz said client was in), you can see that it might, somehow — in even the minutest sort of way — be a good thing.  And really, it is just a matter of allowing yourself to see the tiniest speck of light that can make all the difference some days.
  3. Get the hello out of the house!  Depression equals wanting to sequester yourself and bask in the badness of it all.  If you can, get your butt outside, even if you’re only going to scowl at people at the library.  Just get away, if only briefly, from the energetic raincloud you’ve been inhabiting.  Stare at a tree.  Buy some notebooks and new pens at CVS.  Eat 15 samples of homeopathic-organic-vegan brioche at Whole Foods.  Make fun of hipsters getting lunch from the food trucks.  Just. get. out.
  4. Exercise.  This should really be higher up on the list, because it’s the best one.  It’s hard to cry when you’re at the gym, watching reruns of House Hunters.  Also, you just feel better when you’re doing something great for yourself and your body.
  5. Go to sleep.  Sometimes it’s just better (unless it’s a habit, then you need to talk to someone).
  6. Listen to a good/inspirational/high-energy song.  Faves include “I can only imagine,” by MercyMe (a disclaimer here, this song is highly, highly religious, but it is bound, indelibly, to Team Hoyt [see vid below], and that is one amaze-balls story, right there.  Much inspiration.), maybe a little Eminem, and loads of other either cheesy or horrible songs that I’d prefer not to make you privy to.  Start paying attention to songs that make you feel good, that give you a little boost when you’re driving, check the interwebs for exercise/running playlists to get some ideas.
  7. Write it out.  I tend to express myself better in writing than I do with the speaking, so it’s always worked for me to have a come-to-Jesus with some loose leaf.  I like a little Q&A, though it can just be a rant, or a drawn-out wallow.  Simply expressing it outwardly can extricate it from your body, and leave you some room for relief.
  8. Scream.  Preferably where no one can hear you.  Again, the car works pretty well for this particular option.
  9. Talk to someone.  A friend, parent, spouse, whomever will listen.  Don’t go on and on for an hour, or they may never listen again 😉 but if there’s a trusted someone you can talk to, see if they’ll lend an ear.
  10. Spend time with an animal.  I love dogs, because they just love you.  Cats sometimes let you get close to them, and they might let you pet them, and it’s possible they’ll purr.  Pets don’t carry around the stuff we do, they just love.  You know what they want, and they want to give it right back to you.  I hug my roomy’s dog as often as I can.  I kiss him between the eyes, I talk to him and call him stinky, I’m intoxicated by his dog-smell.  There’s nothing more joyful than watching him swim in the lake.  Even just thinking about him makes me happier.
  11. Find a way to gain some perspective.  I lost a client.  In the scheme of things, so what!?  As I drove away from the house this afternoon, the aforementioned song “I can only imagine” song was on the radio and I was instantly reminded of the video below.  Lost a client?  Boo f’ing hoo.  This dude runs/jumps/swims/bikes in IRONMAN competitions with his full-grown son in tow.  I like to call this method buck-the-f@ck-up, because sometimes the touchy-feely shite doesn’t work, and you just have to knock it out of yourself.  Which I think is what just happened for me (finally!).
  12. Which leads to the last suggestion: help someone else.  Volunteer, stalk old people in parking lots to help them carry things, wait at a door somewhere and just open it for people.  It feels good to help people out, and it moves your focus away from what’s bothering you.

I know I have more than this, so I’ll update when I can think of them.  What works for you?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!  (Also, see if you can make it through Team Hoyt without crying…)

today, part I: wild.

I started today with a run.  You know what I’ve found?  Before I go to bed, if I set out the clothes I’m going to wear in the morning, it becomes a no-brainer to go for a run.  I mean, for the most part.  If you’re going to sleep, you’re going to sleep, and some days there’s not a damn thing that can be done to change it.  But, most of the time, this simple maneuver gets me up out of bed, and onto the trails before I even know what’s happening.  It’s like you’ve already scheduled it into your subconscious calendar, so it’s automatic.

My point being, that I set out my clothes last night, and went for a run first thing this morning.  A longer route around the lake, to turn the 2.7 of the shoreline trail into a 4-miler.  Easy peasy.  Except that I was wearing a new pair of socks, which are smart wool, which everyone swears by, but I can’t get behind.  They’re still wool, and they still itch a bit sometimes, and I’m already damn picky about what I wear on my feet.  So, the run was sort of whiny and bitchy, and I stopped 3 blocks from the house and removed shoes and said socks, and happily walked the remaining distance barefooteded.

I worked from home today, which is always lovely.  After the run, I had some coffee, and started to work.  I took a short break mid morning to read a bit, because I am currently experiencing the wanderlust, in anticipation of a road trip to KC, then Denver and maybe the Black Hills, and this book has got me roped in:

http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Found-Pacific-Crest-Oprahs/dp/0307592731/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340815040&sr=8-1&keywords=wild%3A+from+lost+to+found#reader_0307592731

I saw this featured somewhere a few months ago (and yes, it may have been in a trashy People-mag type publication), and thought it sounded interesting.  When it came up in the library queue, I scanned the prologue, which, I suppose, really has to be the most dramatic piece of the whole book.  It read a bit too indulgently, somewhat reminiscent of “Eat, Pray, Love,” which, while a decent read, is kind of unpleasant somehow.  I picked “Wild” up again another day, just to give it one more chance before returning it to the masses, and found that it’s really good.  The woman is from Minnesota, so there are all manner of references to this great state.  The bulk of it, when she’s on trail, rewinds my mind instantly to all those ill-advised backpacking trips of the college years, the love and the hate and the dehydration-induced drama and waterworks…  She makes it funny, poking fun at herself and seeing the humor in her surroundings and inner dialogues.  It’s mildly painful.  And yet… it’s got me thinking about that old Dana Design holed up somewhere in the basement.

Then this:

popped into my head.  And I felt a little less wild.

marathon photo (not foto).

Finally done! Unfortunately, iPhoto decided to be uncooperative this week, so it’s taken me a minute to get this all compiled, but here’s a recap of the race.  So fun to go back and look through them, even though it’s just a week past!

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