Life Outside The Box

I’ve been reading this book entitled The Things That Matter, written by interior designer Nate Berkus. I’m finding it fascinating, funny, and in some parts, quite moving. This is not a “how to” book of home design, there are no rules or tips to follow. Instead, it’s all about the things we own that make up who we are.

So many out there say that we aren’t our things, that things shouldn’t matter, and maybe on some level that’s true. We could probably all stand to pare down a bit. But what Nate talks about in his book is also true: some things, maybe not all things, but some important things that we amass over our lifetime tell our stories.

As a blurb about the book says, “they reflect the places we’ve been and the people we’ve loved along the way…” A favorite book with an inscription from a friend in the opening page, a ticket stub from a concert, a cherished teacup that was once part of a great-grandmother’s set brought all the way to North America from Europe during World War II, a pillow from your childhood that goes with you no matter how many times you move and is the first thing you make sure to unpack. Whatever the cherished item, in putting together a real home for ourselves we should take the things that matter most to us and find a way to highlight them rather than box them away for ‘someday.’

What this means to me… (read more)


Waiting for Captain Picard to say “Engage.”

After graduating from college, I wanted to start making regular posts again. I was excited at the thought of extra time in my evenings where I might be able to do other things, like write. I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive when I could jump back in.

You know… it’s tougher than I thought. To jump back in.

Writing’s something that comes naturally to me, much more than, say, public speaking (no, thank you). I thought I’d fall back into writing immediately, no problem. So much to say, so many stories to tackle.

But I just feel so disconnected. Not just to blogging, but to everything.

Maybe it’s a side effect of going back to school. I spent the past 3 1/2 years in the mindset of “keep your head down and get it all done.” There was a ton of work and homework and late nights, some stress, some fun and enjoyment, but mainly just a lot of deep focus.

I spent so much time shoving everything else to the side. Writing, singing, going to the movies, spending time with friends, spending time with family (outside of the holidays, I mean), taking care of myself and my health, you name it, I put it on the backburner. That mentality got so deeply ingrained, I feel like I don’t know how to let go of it. Like someone who goes undercover for a couple years and when the final bust goes down, what are they supposed to do next? How are they supposed to let go of the persona they’ve been playing for two years? How do they get back into their own headspace?

I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

It feels like I have all these ideas about what I’d like to do with my time, but I’m so used to telling myself, “No, there’s no time for that right now, wait until after school is done.” It’s gotten so that I don’t know how to rev myself up to dive in and tackle some of these ideas.

I figure the thing is to just do it, just open a book or read through old story notes or join a group, anything to get involved again. No pressure or schedule about it, just see what energy stirs up and where my thoughts and ideas take me. See what I find myself getting passionate about enough to make the time for it.

But it’s more challenging than I thought. I find myself feeling a bit aimless, like I know there’s something out there I should be doing but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Maybe it’s a side effect of this extra-long-and-lingering winter we seem to be having this year. Maybe it’s a sign that I need a change of venue, something outside of Wisconsin and Illinois, someplace new to invigorate my senses again. I wish I knew what I needed.

I feel like I’m trying to figure it out.

In the meantime, I did say I’d try to post messages with a more positive slant to them, so here’s one:

Happiness is… the kindness of a stranger.

Today I stopped at the grocery store for a few items, and while I was bagging some onions, my scarf got caught on the edge of the bin and knocked a few onions off the stand, sending them rolling across the floor. I made some sort of noise of surprise and mild annoyance, and bent down to pick up the small mess. Another customer walking by joked about how that’s happened to her too and very kindly helped me retrieve the runaway onions from the floor.

It’s so silly, because it’s such a simple moment. But more and more it seems people get caught up in their own worlds (see above commentary about my own ‘stuck’ life right now, LOL) and they stop paying attention to one another out there in the day-to-day environment. That woman could have walked right on by with her cart and left me to take care of the issue myself. It was only about 2 or 3 onions, no big deal, really. I was perfectly capable of dealing with it, but instead she took time to help me out. In doing so, her friendly remarks and generosity in the moment really stuck with me the rest of this day.

So, thank you, Kind Stranger. You brightened my day. I hope someone does the same for you.

Making decisions can be a workout

How bad is it that I may not work out today simply because I don’t feel like showering?


I’ve worked out 3 times this week, thought I might go for a fourth today, but then I looked at the clock and it’s already 12:30 pm and I started calculating in my head how much time I’d lose in my day if I worked out.

Pro: it’s good for me, and I still have lots of weight I want to lose. It also gives me energy.

Con: the whole process is time consuming, and I’m not sure I want to give up that amount of time today. Seriously. It always seems to take at least 2 hours.

You’ve got your workout itself, which ranges in length, depending on what you do. Say that’s anywhere from a half hour to an hour. Then there’s cool-down time. Then you add on your shower which is a must because you’ve worked up a major sweat, and even if it’s the quickest thing in the world you still have to do it and then there’s the time it takes to dry off and put on lotion (because my poor feet are trashed) and deal with your wet hair and get dressed, and suddenly it’s 2 to 3 hours later and where goes the time?

Normally, it’s fine. I take that time loss into account. It’s simply part of my routine, and that’s life.

But some days I just don’t feel like giving up all that time. Like today, for example. It’s Sunday. I got my homework done ahead of time. After being busy busy busy, I’d like to RELAX. Break up the usual routine. Do something DIFFERENT. Something fun. Or just chill out for a change.

Frankly, it’s been so long since I had free time to myself (where I wasn’t thinking ahead to what still needs to be done) that I feel like I’ve forgotten HOW to relax or have fun or chill out.

So today I find myself looking at the clock, seeing it’s already almost 1 PM and asking myself, “Do I really want to lose the next 2+ hours of my day? What do I WANT to do today?”

Sometimes working out is important. It gives you clarity, it gives you energy, it gives you focus. Sometimes it even helps you keep your sanity. (I joke. Sort of. LOL.)

But sometimes it’s okay to make another choice. To NOT work out. To give yourself a different kind of “me” time. And that choice can bring you sanity, too.

The question is: which kind will I choose today?

Catching Up, A Bonus Post!

See, this is what happens when school takes over one’s life. Or, I let school take over my life. I end up not having time or energy to post regularly. I need to work on that!

In the meantime, how can I catch up? Let me cram in some details.

Last time I talked about having a wacky allergic reaction (eyes swelled up, yikes), going in for a follow-up diagnostic mammogram appointment (good news, everything’s okay so far!), and dealing with the stress of school and finals and final projects until I felt ready to cry or scream.

Except for taking a week off during finals, I kept up with my workouts. However, I didn’t do so well with my eating habits, which fell apart during the most stressful times of the semester. That is a red flag area in my life that still needs a lot of work.

I made it through “Month 7” of the workout, struggled, gained back 3.5 pounds and lost an additional 1 inch from various areas of my body.

That covered mid-April through May.

What happened after that?

An Update on My Progress, still trying to catch up to current day! (click to read more)

Catching Up, Part 3

Where did I leave off in this endless ‘catching up’ saga?

Ah yes… in my last post, I talked a little bit about some emotional struggles (exhaustion from overwork and life stresses) and some physical struggles (neck pain! neck pain! OWWW!), and tackled the next phase in my experiment.

I made it through “Month 8” of the workout, lost 5 pounds and an additional 4.5 inches from various areas of my body. Small though it may be, I’ll take that progress, thank you.

That covered late February to the start of April.

What happened in month 3?

Yet Another Update on My Progress. (click to read more)

Now that my brain isn’t melting out of my ears…

In life, there are so many questions one could ask.

The deep: What is the meaning of it all?

The trivial: Exactly how much milk can I add to my cereal without making it all soggy?

And most importantly, the insane: Where the hell have I been for the past 2 months?

I know, I know! I had plans to write every week, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re taking 3 classes and in trying to balance it all and get your homework done, your brain starts oozing out of your ears.


And does not make for coherent posts about health and fitness. Not when all you want to do is tear your hair out and scream, “How did I ever think this was a good idea, going back to school? How did I do all this without losing my mind when I was 20?!?”


I made it through! And I shouldn’t have to take 3 classes at once ever again.

(Whew. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they were interesting classes, but it’s tough to get it all done and have any semblance of a life, is what I’m saying.)

The main point is, now that my brain isn’t melting out of my ears, I can return to this place and write more frequently and thoroughly. For whatever it’s worth. 😀

Stay tuned!

Choices are everything

This was not going to be the subject of my next post.

I was going to be all organized and talk about the workout I’m doing and give a breakdown of each DVD and what it contains, and then have a post talking about ‘month 9’ and how it went and how I’m now on ‘month 8,’ all setting up the stage (so to speak) for semi-regular posting about my progress with all of that. I clung to that plan, making time to write it all up. It was going to be so structured and… blah blah blah.

But then today happened.

Actually, this week happened, and all of those plans went right out the window. (For now.)

What happened today?

I decided NOT TO WORK OUT.


*cue record coming to a screeching halt*


I’m on a journey to lose weight and get in better shape and I deliberately chose not to work out? How is that possible? That’s not how this works! I have to get off my butt and get moving! I’m such a lazy bum!


As with most things in life, it’s more complicated than what it seems on surface level. Since I’m all about digging past the surface level, I’m going to talk about why it’s more complicated. At least, why it’s more complicated today.