A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram that I’m burnt out. Between my job, boyfriend, our house, friends and family, this blog, other projects and ventures, making sure we have food on the table every night, and trying to squeeze in a workout here and there, I’m exhausted. And all of you with kids? I don’t know how you do it. You amaze me.
But really, these feelings I’ve been experiencing are no different than ones you’ve had, I’m sure. We’re all busy! Stress happens to the best of us. I simply took on too many things too quickly—a classic tale that’s left me feeling like I’m not doing a good job at any of them.
You know how, when your computer is overheated, the fan runs constantly? That’s what’s happening in my head lately. I can’t cool it and focus on one thing at a time anymore. As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about balance and how to find it. I set out specifically looking for achievable modifications that can help me make a big lifestyle change, rather than a temporary fix, like going on vacation (though that sounds great too!). I narrowed down the top 10 practical adjustments I’m going to try, so I can get myself back on track.
And just like that, it’s 2017. As they say, each new year is a blank canvas—a time to reset and refocus. Over the last couple weeks, as I’ve taken a step away from technology, work, and stress, I’ve reflected a lot about what’s important to me. I’ve considered who I am and how I’ve lived my life as of late.
With 2017 rolling right in, I’ve been reading inspiring blog posts and social media statuses about starting the new year with a word of intention. I’ve never been one to make, and stick to, resolutions. So, to me, this concept of choosing one word to live by speaks volumes.
After giving thought to where I want to be this year, the word I’ve chosen for 2017 is risk.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been reflecting on the things and people in my life for which I’m thankful. I’m sure many of you have been doing the same. I have a wonderful boyfriend, supportive parents, the best friends and family, a job I enjoy, this blog that completes me, a beautiful house I adore…I could go on and on. At the risk of sounding incredibly cliché and sappy (but let’s face it, I am), I truly have been so fortunate in this life.
But while I’m thankful for all of these blessings, like everyone, I often face struggles and get caught up in frustrations and anxieties. Sometimes it takes a day like Thanksgiving to remind me to look around and take notice of life’s little pleasures—the things that always bring a smile to my face. I hope to make a better habit of focusing on them more often.
Then you set out to make Something great But nothing comes out
It’s been one of those weeks during which I started a million things, but can’t seem to finish even one. Call it a post-election rut.
In a post last week, I stated that I think everyone strives for greatness, no matter what that means to each individual. But sometimes, it doesn’t always work out as planned. Roadblocks happen; we all have these draining periods. In times like these, how do you rekindle inspiration to move forward and continue on the path of success? Where do you turn?
I’ve read about a million different ways to find inspiration throughout the years, trying many. I enlisted the help of some friends, as well, asking how they lift themselves out of that sinking black hole feeling. Here’s a list of the things that have worked to help me and a few friends find inspiration, boost our moods, and get back to accomplishing our goals.
The past two years around Halloween, a group of women from my office gathered together for a psychic party. We headed to one of our houses for the evening, snacks and cocktails in hand, and hired a psychic-medium or two. As the rest of us relaxed and chatted, each of us had a private, 20-minute reading.
I’m happy to report that I followed my own set of rules from last Friday’s post. I was able to set everything aside to fully immerse myself in my sister’s wedding. And boy, was it worth it. The day couldn’t have been more perfect.
Katie and the dresses (keep reading for more info!)
One of my favorite details was the collection of family dresses shown above. On the far left is our grandma’s wedding dress, second from left is our mom’s, the third dress is Eric’s mom’s, and the hot pink number is our great grandma’s. Each one had a tag to let guests know who the dress belonged to and the date on which they married their sweetheart. How cool and sweet is that?! When I first saw all the dresses together, especially with Katie standing in front of them like that, my eyes welled right up.
With the wedding also came the opportunity to see family from all over the country, a rare treat.
My cousin, Andrew, and me
Me and my cousin, Amy
Overall, we had a wonderful celebration! I’m ecstatic that my sister found the man of her dreams, and that I gained my very first brother. A great one at that!
Ok, moving on from wedding stuff… here are some things that have been happening while I’ve been preoccupied.
Between wedding prep, visiting with family, and catching up at work, the reality of my life as of late has been that I haven’t had much time to dedicate to tracing paper. So, thank you for sticking with me because I love it here. Please stay tuned.
My sister gets married tomorrow. I mean, what?! It’s not often that you get to say something like that in life, especially when you only have one sister.
Yesterday, Mom and I spent the day helping her with all the finishing touches. Today, we’ll set up and decorate for the reception, rehearse, and sit down to enjoy a rehearsal dinner before the chaos begins tomorrow.
Katie and I are very different people, but, like all siblings, we have this major common denominator of a shared upbringing that connects us. As I wrote my Maid of Honor toast, I did a lot of reflecting on our childhood, and damn, we were lucky. Our parents were (and still are) loving, supportive, and allowed us to truly be ourselves, unconditionally. I want to say all kinds of things about how much I love my sister and Eric here, but I’ll leave all that for the toast.
This weekend, I want to make a point of soaking in every second. I learned from my sister’s bridal shower, and several of my best friends’ weddings, that those hours fly by fast. Real fast.
I want to remember to take lots of pictures, but be present.
I want to put my patience hat on when things aren’t going just right. Let it go; if something’s not perfect, it will not overshadow the day. It’s likely no one else will even notice.
I want to support my sister however I can and make sure she has the happiest, most memorable day possible.
Any advice as we dive headfirst into Katie’s wedding weekend? I hope you all have a fantastic weekend too!
3,000 flags at the Healing Field, a 9/11 Memorial in Buffalo
7th grade pre-algebra class. A panic-stricken teacher ran in, interrupting our integers lesson, and whispered to Mrs. Potashnik. Taken aback, but quickly pulling herself together as the other teacher left the room, Mrs. P. told us that two planes had hit the World Trade Center. She followed up with something like, “But there’s nothing we can do about it now, so let’s get back to math.”
The Mansion on Delaware Avenue, where last week’s Creative Mornings was held
Everything got a little out of whack last week after losing Owen. I did a lot of ugly crying and was feeling less than inspired to write. Grief from the loss of a pet sure doesn’t compare to the overwhelming sorrow felt when losing a person you love, but damn, it still hit me hard.
A highlight that helped turn my week around was attending my first Creative Mornings talk on Friday morning. Creative Mornings, as described on their website, is “a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.” I heard about it a couple years ago, but I can’t recall how or where. I must’ve inadvertently signed up for their emails because my inbox was suddenly full of promos telling me all about these intriguing, inspirational talks coming up in cities too far from me, like Brooklyn, DC, and so forth. I unsubscribed from the email list at some point, probably out of jealousy that I couldn’t attend.
Then a few months back, I read that someone here in Buffalo started a local Creative Mornings chapter. Thrilled, I debated attending, but my social anxiety got the best of me, as it often does, and I chickened out of going by myself. Cue meeting Ashley from Morning Glory blog. We met a couple months ago, and she brought up how inspiring the Creative Mornings talks have been. She was going to be photographing the talk this month and reminded me to sign up. I’m so glad she did.
The gorgeous Mansion on Delaware Avenue again
The speaker on Friday was 16-year-old Buffalo entrepreneur Zandra Cunningham. She started her own line of beauty products when she was just 9 years old. When she’s not in class at her high school, she’s working in her studio or touring the country speaking about entrepreneurship. Jokingly, but truthfully, Zandra admitted that if it’s not on Google calendar, it doesn’t happen—including going to the movies with her friends.
Everyone kept marveling at her age, but she was impressive regardless. Zandra’s talk was phenomenal; she nails public speaking. I was impressed with her story, the business she’s built, and how she carries herself. Talk about an inspiring woman!
At the end of the talk, during a Q&A session, someone asked about her next project or next idea. She hesitated, and then casually mentioned that she might want to start a fashion line. Or sell the business. A true entrepreneur.
This month’s theme for Creative Mornings was ‘weird.’ Something Zandra said near the end of her talk really resonated with me, shown below.
Sometimes life is weird. It’s up to us to choose how we’ll handle it. To those I met at Creative Mornings, to Ashley, to Zandra, and especially to everyone who reached out to me last week—thank you for helping me to pick myself back up and embrace the weird.
Well, that wasn’t how I expected my week to start. But, you never really expect to wake up and experience tragedy, do you? Using the word tragic is a bit dramatic, I’ll admit. But on Monday, I lost my best pal, the first pet who was truly mine—my guinea pig, Owen.
In the summer of 2009, I decided I wanted a pet. I was in college, living in a small apartment and realizing that I would likely be apartment bound for several more years. I’m not a cat person, keeping a dog cooped up didn’t seem fair, I’d never kept a fish alive for more than a few months, and I’d had, and hated, gerbils as a teenager. I wanted a pet with personality and a love for human interaction, but that was still low maintenance.
Shortly after I got him. Such a little bebe.
I waltzed into the pet store, checked out a couple of ferrets, and headed over to the guinea pigs. Several were on display, but one stood out. The runt of the crowd, he had a little cowlick on top of his head and was pretty timid compared to the other piggies. I instantly knew he was mine. I didn’t take him home that day, wanting to take a little time to think it through.
When I was three or four years old, my dad brought home our first family pet, a guinea pig. He was friendly, followed my dad around the backyard, and from my knowledgeable toddler perspective, never seemed to require too much of our time and attention. Between that experience and my terror that someone would come and scoop up the cute piggie overnight, I figured a guinea pig was the right pet for me. I had to go back to the pet store the next day.
That was the day Owen came into my life and changed it. It wasn’t just about me anymore. The first thing I did when I woke up every day was feed and play with Owen. The last thing I did before bed was make sure Owen was set for the night. My life revolved around him more than I knew, just like a child. Now that he’s gone, it doesn’t seem right to wake up and pour myself a cup of coffee first thing.
Owen was with me almost from the beginning of my relationship with Steve; I got him not too long after Steve and I met. He watched me grow up and become an adult. He lived with me in five different apartments, two houses, and three cities. O met my beloved childhood dog, Maggie, my Papa, and my Uncle Jimmy, and is probably partying with all three of them somewhere up there. He stayed with family and friends in both New York and Ohio.
Owen meeting Maggie
One day while Owen was lounging on the couch with me, I discovered his love for watching skiing on TV. In a trance, he didn’t move a muscle until the commercials came on. The Notebook, on the other hand, wasn’t his cup of tea. I wanted him to love it, but he tried to bury his head in a blanket during that one. Typical boy.
Left: Owen and Steve watching football Right: Big booty O
It brings me comfort that for seven years, I was lucky enough to hear his squeals as I walked in the door. He slowed down in his last year or two, but always kept his spirit. Once the shy runt at the pet store, he turned into a show-off in no time; Owen loved any and all attention he could get. Whenever someone would stop by his cage to pet him, he would proudly take them on a tour of his space, running around to all his favorite spots and toys. “Did you see my water bottle yet? How about my igloo? I hope you brought a carrot.” Steve and I often narrated for O, cracking ourselves up. I love to think he understood what we were saying and was making fun of us the whole time.
For most people, pets are more than just animals who happen to live with us; they become important members of our families. That was certainly true of Owen. He ruled this house, and we sure did love him.
On Monday morning, I knew Owen wasn’t doing well. Over the last several months, he lost a lot of mobility and often times couldn’t use his back legs at all. He gave us a few scares, but always seemed to bounce back. I thought Monday would go the same way, but unfortunately, it was his time. I was able to be with him, holding him, as he passed. Although it was traumatic for me, I’m comforted that he wasn’t alone, and that it was me who was able to be there for my little O.
The past two mornings when I woke up, I looked out to the backyard as I always do. A beautiful ray of glowing yellow sun was shining right to the path that leads to the spot where we buried Owen.
Rest in peace, my little sun baby. Thanks for being you. ♥