Sunday, December 1, 2013

Practicing Whims

After the hubbub of the holidays, I found myself a full day with no guests, no plans, and a refrigerator full of leftovers. So I decided to have an entire day to let whims take over –  doing whatever task I felt like doing in the moment.

Here are some of the whims I had:

1. Tried and failed to fix the kitchen window. Some things aren't meant to be, like functioning double-hung windows from the 1910.

2. Washed my makeup brushes with this super simple DIY recipe.

3. Wore my dirty, dirty hair in Heidi braids.

4. Wore red lipstick.

5. Found the most flattering lighting in my apartment (standing atop the breakfast nook bench in my kitchen).


6. Read about 48 entries on XOVain. I've never been one for makeup/beauty/trying new things, but once you start down the rabbit hole of product reviews, DIY remedies, "puppy eyes" eyeliner how-tos, it's hard to stop.

7. Started up Words with Friends again, after being the sorest loser when I lost my ninth game in a row.

Completely legal move made by my friend Kyle. 

8. Cleaned out my bathroom cabinet. So, so many travel-sized hand sanitizers.

It's rare and privilege that I have an entire day to myself. I used to treasure my solitude, but at one point it turned into isolation. I used to think it weak to need the company of people. Now I know it is a human (and okay) to want and need to connect. But sometimes I need to reset and recharge, and take advantage of those days when I can relish and enjoy my own company.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Let's Make A List -- One Down!

A few weeks ago I posted a list of things I would do if I lived without fear. Today, my biggest fears are failure (in my job, relationships, creative pursuits) and rejection (from strangers and intimate relations alike). In that list, I included:

  • Sing an original song at open mic.  Again, I haven't actually had the opportunity yet, but I have a feeling that if I were asked I would make some kind of excuse not to do it. 

I'm happy to report that the opportunity came and I seized it! Joe and I sang a song gifted to us by his father (so not a an original song of ours -- but an original song nonetheless). Our friend captured the moment on video. My nerves made me cold, so I wrapped myself in my scarf and looked a little like a homeless, disheveled Stevie Nicks.

One down -- six to go! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Change in Perspective

I rag on social media a lot, mostly because of my own insecurities and how I choose to interact with various platforms. However, sometimes, goodness shines through the bullshit. 

My mama Dianne shared this experience on her blog: 

A few months ago, Kim Klassen, who writes one of my favorite blogs, revealed in a post that her husband had been diagnosed with leukemia. I have never met Kim or her husband in person, but have come to know and be constantly inspired by Kim's writing, images and the occasional email exchange. 
Having lost my mother and a good friend to this undiscriminating disease, I was filled with sadness when I heard this news. I know first hand how a diagnosis like this affects everyone. (I am sure most of you do too........) I wasn't aware that her husband was scheduled to have a stem cell transplant until while scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across this post by Kim's friend Myriam Joseph:

I immediately grabbed a candle and then spent ten minutes looking for matches. 
The point of all this is, here I was feeling a little "snarky" about social media when it was brought to my attention the power of the online community. Of course I wish deeply I could do more than light a candle and this won't cure any disease, but sensing the energy this simple act was creating, made me pull back, count my own blessings and send good thoughts through the universe for a friend and her loved ones. 
This is a small sampling of the 193 posts made with the hash tag "LightForJohn". 

Before I end, I just want to thank all of you for being part of my community. This includes my online friends and those of you I am lucky enough to be able to engage with occasionally in "real time". Participating in social media through this blog, Facebook and Instagram has definitely enriched my life and broadened my experience of the world. While it's not always perfect, I now have a stronger sense of the important role it plays in our lives and I am grateful.
I needed this reminder that social media is not all selfies and posturing. Sometimes, genuine connection and raw honesty break through the noise, and we put the "social" back in "social media." 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Let's Make A List

I love lists, big fan of lists. Lists are cascading, straightforward, physical records of intention that follow a delightfully simple organizing principle. And it is also delicious to cross things off lists with beautiful red ink.

A friend of mine challenged me to make a list of things I would do if I didn't have fear. My biggest fears are failure and rejection (not so much fear of broken bones – which is why skydiving isn't on this list). So here it goes.

If I didn't have fear of failure or rejection, I would:
  • Sing an original song at open mic.  Again, I haven't actually had the opportunity yet, but I have a feeling that if I were asked I would make some kind of excuse not to do it. 
  • Move to a new city. I haven't been given the opportunity, but I would make every excuse not to do it, most likely. 
  • Talk to strangers I find intriguing. I always want to compliment people, and for some reason I think they will be offended or find it weird. 
  • Work to create the life I want. One with higher engagement, deeper connections, authentic ownership, more risks, less excuses. 
  • Embrace the richness, fullness, wholeness, oneness. I have a life that is rich and beautiful, I have a disease that tells me otherwise, I have evidence of a different way of being. Instead of exploring facets, I tend to shut down or get insular, because it is easy and safe. Easy and safe is not working out for me right now. I'm getting restless.  

What does your list look like?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writing on the Wall

There have been messages all around me lately – literal writing on the wall. Most positive, some playful, all reminding me that the possibility of whatever it is that seems to be alluding me (happiness, contentment, serenity) is there, I just have to open my heart to receive it. 

It started with seeing this message all over the neighborhood I live in: 

And then I started noticing messages all around me. 

What messages have you been receiving lately? How do you open up to receive? 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Feeding the Wolf

I love the story of feeding the wolf, but what made it real for me what this little tidbit of information (articulated well here): 

In Jill Bolte Taylor's book 'My Stroke of Insight,' she points to scientific evidence showing that the life span of any particular emotion is only one and a half minutes. After that we have to revive the emotions and get it going again. 
Our usual process is that we automatically do revive it by feeding it with an internal conversation about how another person is the source of our discomfort. Maybe we strike out at them or at someone else--all because we don't want to go near the unpleasantness of what we're feeling.

In other words, that internal marching band of self-pity when we're passed over for a promotion; that white-hot rage at an ill-timed comment from a partner that you know stems from years of them actually hating you rather than having your back; that steady rap of guilt from not performing perfectly at school; those emotions typically last 90 seconds until you give them a story.

And we get to choose the story.

That self pity you feel? Maybe choose to see that everything happens for a reason. That anger? Cultivate some compassion. That guilt? Let go of perfection in favor of progress.

Cue the response: "Easier said than done."

It's true. But think again about the wolves – which one do you want to feed? Imbibing in the negative emotions will give strength to the evil wolf. The good wolf will eventually have no room to exist at all. The practice of feeding the good wolf will make it easier over time, and your default will be choosing to see the positive.

The next time a turbulent emotion strikes, try pausing. Live in it for 90 seconds, acknowledge its reality, and then choose which story you give it.

And let me know how it goes, I'm still working on it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mind Full or Mindful? – Exercises in Staying Present

"Mindfulness" has been a buzzword for me lately. I've been adventuring a lot, and there's an urge to capture every moment on my camera phone, immediately scroll through and delete the unworthy photos, filter the chosen ones with soft focus and blue tones, share with the world on various platforms to show them what a great time I'm having, and then check my phone every 10 minutes to see how many "likes" or "hearts" or "favorites" I got. 

It's exhausting. 

I've shared the validation trap I often fall into, this song and dance doesn't help me stay present in the slightest. 

On many of the adventures Joe and I took this summer, we tried to be deliberate in not pulling out our phones and snapping photos (it helped that we were often in areas without service). Instead, we sat in the valley of the Gifford-Pinchot, drinking in morning fog and watching as first rays pierced through. We scrambled down fallen logs to find a clear lagoon at the base of a massive waterfall and listened to constant crash. When we visited Milla, we stargazed at the big, bright Milky Way (the brightest I had ever seen it); combed beaches and found seaglass and agate; danced to local country and bluegrass music. We often left our phones in the car – their only use were as watches, and we were on our time, so it didn't matter. 

On one of our hikes on the island, a group of ladies asked us to take their photo at one of the vistas. I peered through the viewfinder and snapped several options (landscape, portrait, golden section, etc.), and none seemed to capture what I was seeing right in front of me – the iridescent bay, the faint outline of Mount Rainier, the vultures circling in the distance. They left the vista after reviewing my photos, and my companions and I stared out over the view in silence. When I was certain the ladies were out of ear shot, I said, "There's no way you could capture this on camera." 

These exercises in staying in the present proved to be fruitful. I can more easily recall those moments in my mind – what the air tasted like, how my bare feet felt on the ground, how the waves grew bigger in the ferry wake and how their force began to scare me – because I was there. Really and truly there. 

So what would happen if, on your next adventure, you resisted the urge to capture every moment for your social media profile? Would you enjoy it any less? Would you be able to share your experience with others without using photos or video? Would your companions be curious or follow suit (or volunteer to take photos, like Milla did for Joe and I)? 

Lastly, a video to illustrate my point. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Shapes in the Sky

Thought of you, Mary...

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly."
Richard Bach Illusions

A sacred geometry of water and earth elementals connect on July 29th as various planetary energies align to form a "Star of David" or a Star Tetrahedron. This is a potent geometric form that rarely occurs. Consider it a portal of awareness, providing a forum for refection and intention setting for the next 3 months. Here's the chart for this sacred geometry (set for the Moon opposing Saturn at 4:41 AM in Hawaii, 7:41 am on the West Coast, and 2:41 pm GMT; occurs on the 30th from Japan east to the International Date Line).

  • On the 29th, create uplifting personal and global intentions for the next 3 months. Attune to the Tetrahedron energy. Create quiet space for reflection and contemplation.
  • Ongoing ...each day, pay attention to cosmic "stop signs". If the energy feels difficult or heavy, either rest/reflect, change plans, or move in an easier direction
  • Be creative. Despite the intensity, there is a lot of creative potential in the field. Use it with grace and awareness
  • Be discerning about who, what, when, where and how you choose to connect with others
  • Receive nurturing body care therapies such as massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.
  • A short, epsom salt baths (5 - 7 minutes max) at the end of the day can help you purge energies accumulated during the day. This is particularly helpful if you consider yourself "sensitive". Of particular import: staying too long in epson salt water is counter-productive to its benefits, as you'll reabsorb that which you released. If you like a long bath, add the salt at the end. Again...5 to 7 minutes max in salt water.
  • Channel any pent up energy into personal exercise. Mental debates/arguments are not your friends
  • Eat wholesome, organic foods and minimize over stimulating beverages, such as soda, coffee, and alcohol 
  • Avoid recreational drugs. Creating illusions about illusions diminishes clarity and conscious awareness.
I was discussing with my mama last night the merits of being present, yet having intentions. I tend to get caught up in the granular, and used to not be able to breathe if I didn't know every detail of a plan, every action and reaction. I wasn't living, I was rigidly existing. Now, instead of exacting each step and wildly flailing when something falls out of place, I have intentions. I speak my intentions, I take the necessary steps, and I let go of the outcome. 

What are your intentions for the next three months? 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Paying Attention to the Signs

Like I said in this post, just because I've made a few changes in my life does not guarantee that it will be perfect. Recently, shifts have occurred in my world that make me question what I thought my future would be. I've gotten good at letting go of outcomes, but what do I do when the unexpected erupts?

On the morning after I received this news, I saw this writing on the wall on my walk to work:

This gave me pause, and it zapped me back to the present moment. It didn't say everything will be fine, it concluded that right now, in this moment, everything is fine. And that is the truth. My future tripping about the situation did nothing but foster fear. Heeding to the sign, I was able to pause, recognize, breath, and relinquish control. 

I also recognized that the sign did not say "everything is good." Reality is the full spectrum of human emotion, and not everything is all great all the time. What comes next is how I choose to respond.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fake It 'Til You Make It

You've got to get up every morning 
With a smile on your face and show the world
All the love in your heart. 
– Carole King 

Every morning, my alarm clock is this song, Beautiful by Carole King. While I am generally a pretty happy person (if you had told me three years ago I would write that sentence, I would have called you a liar and scowled), there are some days when smiling and showing the world my love is the furthest thing from my mind. 

The days when I swear I am the world's spit bucket. When everyone around me seems to be at odds with my intentions, or aren't listening, or are willfully pushing me. And those days are real. They happen, and will continue to happen. So what to do when my nerves are raw and the slightest bristle sets them on fire? 

I fake it. I slap on that smile; I got through the motions of my content self; my voice mimics a more positive tone; I ask the universe for a reprieve. Eventually, I slip into my regular self. Whatever was wringing me gets lifted and I let it go. 

It took years to develop this practice, and I'm nowhere near having this be my default. But a shift in perspective is helpful in almost any situation, because like Ms. King says, you're beautiful as you feel. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Learning to Live

Me with my 30 day coin — My sponsor has my 1 year coin

So a year has passed since admitting I was powerless over alcohol, and I have learned so, so much. Here are just a few of the lessons (mostly captured for my own benefit—in the darkness, I tend to forget).

1. My goal is serenity, not happiness.

While happiness has certainly been a by-product of this decision (since my serotonin and dopamine levels are not constantly chemically altered), I'm learning that it is okay to feel the spectrum of human emotion. As long as my serenity is the touch stone, I can experience what is real.

2. Just because I made this one change does not guarantee my life will be perfect.

In the same vein, I imagined nothing bad would ever happen again because of this one decision I made. Reality is that bad things will happen, and I have the tools to deal, but there is more potential for joy, peace, exhilaration.

3. Future tripping is not as fun as it sounds.

I used alcohol as a balm because I was so, so afraid of the future. I would try to control people, places, and things, and when one element fell out of place, I assumed the worst and would detail how this one thing would make the rest of my life a shit show. I know now you can never, ever predict the future. We can actionable intentions, and nothing ever happens by mistake.

4. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

Before, so much of my life was ruled by fear. Now, fear still appears, but I know most of it is exactly the acronym above. I can convince myself of almost anything, and it was often easier to live in a place of fear, self doubt, and worry. Those are my defaults. Shifting my focus from the imagined to the actual, and learning to identify the difference, is pretty powerful.

Today, I am full of gratitude. A girl couldn't ask for more supportive friends, family, and fellowship. I'm going to keep coming back.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

My Social Media Validation Trap

"All we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. 
What we think we become." –Gautama Buddha 

I've been a creature of comparison for as long as I can remember. I've written about my struggles with imagined self-worth based on my job, my relationship status, my degree. And while I'm no longer living in that den of thieves, I still vacation there every once in a while, and have fallen into the trap of pivoting my happiness on how people look like they're doing on Facebook.

I deliberately say "look like" here, because I cannot believe people's lives are all sepia-toned pancakes and soft-focus chuppahs (honestly, you got married over a year ago, it's time to change your profile picture, and not to yet another wedding photo). Below is a great Portlandia sketch to illustrate my point.

I am all for sharing celebrations, successes, beautiful images, and important news on social media. That's what it should be for—spreading a little joy. The problem is not in what people post, it's how I choose to react to it. Shifting my perspective from, "Fuck, look at what all these beautiful people are doing 24/7 without me!" to, "Look at what these beautiful people are doing!" anchors what I'm seeing in a little reality. Because we can never, ever tell what people's motivations are for anything, unless we ask and we choose to believe their answer. And likely, they're not posting updates to make me jealous. Likely, they're not thinking about me. Likely, they have their own insecurities and doubts and fears and think getting 27 likes on their photo may buoy their self esteem for a bit.

There is also something to be said for when I check Facebook. I work at a desk and have gotten into the horrible habit of auto-typing "command-T-F" whenever I want a distraction. So I'm in one of my more vulnerable arenas doing the comparison dance upwards of 11 times a day. Am I a masochist? This wasn't providing the distraction I wanted, and despite feeling fulfilled, challenged, and happy with my job, I kept thinking, "Why aren't I manning the first all women astronaut team to the moon? I'm such a failure!"

 So with a little self discipline, I've stopped doing this dance at work. Instead, I have the Positive Affirmations tumblr always open on my browser. When I feel the need for a distraction, I pop that up and soak in some goodness. I truly believe we become what we think. Why not think I'm beautiful, grateful, capable and worthy of loving myself and others? Below are a few of my favorites.

Friday, June 28, 2013

I'd Like To Find A Way to Love You

Right now, I'm sitting in my underwear, with dramatic cat-eye eyeliner sharpening my eyes, listening to  the second album I've made with Joe, and this all seems so wild and crazy as this makeup (the eyeliner was a whim—I've been watching a lot of Mad Men).

I've been absent from Blogland (pronounced "blahglund") for good reason. Since making the shift last year, my world has burst like a firework—opportunities have risen, love for myself and others has blossomed, and I'm processing everything raw and unfiltered for the first time in my life. As I'm circling back on a year, my values are emerging, as are those activities I want to develop into healthy habits. One of those is sharing and connecting with others, and I can participate in the collective conversation through this blog.

So there will be more on my sobriety when (by the grace of God*) I reach one year. For now, my reentry may not be super smooth, but I'd like to say "Hi again!" with our celebratory summer album, You Win Summer, You Lose Summer, available below! And check out a little video we made to accompany one of our favorite tracks on the album.


*Again, I feel the need to mention that I use God here as a placeholder for my higher power. I haven't found a word that captures what I'm trying to express more aptly than God. One of my friends uses Guide, which I love, but gets lost in translation without context. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Thunderclouds Out of Balloons

San Francisco, December 2012

Last night, I had a dream I was at a cafe on the beach. It was the last day of my trip, I had spent the morning packing, and I was enjoying a cup of coffee in a blue-and-white-schemed shop. I looked out the windows into the impossibly bright morning and saw a massive, dark, ominous cloud traveling over the sea. It was coming toward land, and I knew I did not want to be caught in a downpour in the car on the way back home.

I left my half drunk cup of coffee at the cafe and called my traveling companion, imploring him to hurry so we could get on the road. His response was muffled, and I couldn't figure out where he was. I was harried and nervous and angry, and the storm was getting closer. Just as the storm reached the beach and I braced myself for thunder and electricity and confusion, the clouds dissipated and revealed a bunch of gray balloons that slipped silently over my head. The morning went back to being bright.

When I was younger and things seem to be going well in my life, I feverishly scanned the horizon for the next crisis. I braced myself for the nightmare workweek, the breakup, the house fire. Instead of being in the moment and enjoying the happiness, I thought, "Well, this won't last. I should start distancing so I can protect myself." Even though I was willfully making myself miserable, I wondered why my life was always so stormy.

Still today, the impulse to look for a crisis is there, but I know now that by looking for one, I am apt to create mountains out of molehills (or thunderclouds out of balloons, if I may). So instead, I practice the daily reverence and revelry, gratitude, and openness. I embrace instead of run away. I speak my truth instead of silently seething and expecting others to read my mind. I know that this too shall pass, but I can enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Intentions and Taking Advantage of Whims

As the summer crisped into fall last year, Joe and I decided to take advantage of one of the last tolerable weekends and camp out at the beach. Making regular sojourns to the ocean is in my blood, and all week I had been feeling the pull toward the beach. So with very little planning and some hand-written directions in a notebook, we took off toward the coast.

When I was younger, I was a hypervigilant planner. I remember once saying, "I can be spontaneous, I just need to plan the time to be spontaneous!" In my head, if it wasn't planned, it had every opportunity to go poorly. In reality, if it wasn't planned, I couldn't control the outcome, which terrified me.

When we got to the beach, we set up camp just in time to watch the sunset. We went our separate, silent ways, and I spent most of the descent staring at the vastness, the openness, the engulfing waves like mouths. I don't remember a single thought I had. I think I was just lost in the massiveness.

I learned my lesson several times over that trying to control people and situations didn't make me happy, but rather made me quite miserable. So since uttering the quote above, I have practiced a different tack—recognize my intention, acknowledge it, release it, do what I can, and let come what may. This practice varies from situation to situation, and has led to brilliant adventures, some ending horridly, some packed with lessons, some changing the course of my life.

That night, we built a fire and watched the moon rise. Joe suffered frozen fingers as he strummed the guitar and we sang songs. I saw my first shooting star. When we woke the next morning, we again went out to the ocean to just stare, gape, meditate. As we drove back to the city, we reflected on how random and lovely the trip had been.

This trip to the beach is a simple example of the practice of letting go. I had the intention, I put out the idea, and took advantage of the whim. Along the way, I didn't worry about the details. And it proved to be the best possible process, and allowed for the most bliss.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ode to the Bath*

Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle one does not 
dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar. – Pablo Picasso

There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, 
but I don't know many of them. – Sylvia Plath

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, 
a bath, and a glass of wine. – St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the simple pleasures and leisures I am most grateful for is bath time. When I was nine years old, and the family was looking for a new house, what sold my mother on the 1920's bungalow we eventually would call home was the clawfoot bathtub. And, like mother like daughter, while looking for my first "real" apartment, what sold me was the beautiful, white, deep clawfoot bathtub.

So it was at a young age that bath time for me was revered as a sacred space for the bather, not unlike meditation or prayer. I draw my bath, pouring the suds by the capful under the running water, and close the door to allow for the scented steam to fill the room (for me, the chosen scent is EO's Rose and Chamomile). I light candles, slip in, and listen to the bubbles' whisper pops. I like to gather the foam around me, like a sudsy shawl or watery wrap, and feel the bubbles kiss my skin. Silence seeps and thoughts vanish, dissolving like lumps of sugar, and everything seems a simple miracle.

*Reposted from my old blog, Merci Me. I finally have a bathtub in my apartment again, and I have brought the ritual back into my life. All the above sentiments still very much ring true.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kitchen Witch

There is something about the month of January that inspires me to cook on hyperdrive. I think it started many years ago when I received Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for Christmas, and devoured the entire thing in two sittings. For the unfamiliar, Kingsolver and her family moved from the Southwestern United States to an Appalachian farm, and challenged themselves to either grow, tend, and make all their food, or personally know the supplier. I went back to Seattle inspired to buy locally sourced ingredients and make all my meals from scratch for the month of January. Ever since, the impulse to be more creative in the kitchen has hit at the beginning of the new year.

And since my new apartment comes with a beautiful gas range stove and oven, I've been spending more time in the kitchen roasting, mixing, dashing, baking, and creating.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes! Note: the quantities vary on what I have in my kitchen, so none are included here.

Roasted Vegetable and Couscous Winter Salad

Olive oil
Couscous, cooked
Ginger sesame dressing (recipe here)

Coat carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and shallots in olive oil and add two pinches of salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Toss in bowl with cooked couscous, arugula, and ginger sesame dressing.

Cheeseless Mushroom Pizza with Lemon Herbed Arugula

Pizza dough (recipe here)
Pizza sauce (recipe here)
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Dried oregano
Dried basil

Sautee mushrooms in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Arrange on top of fresh pizza dough and sauce and bake per recipe. Toss lemon juice, arugula, dried oregano, and dried basil, arranged on top of cooked pizza.

Lentil, Sausage, and Kale Winter Salad with Dijon Dressing 

Green lentils, cooked
Sausage, browned
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Dijon mustard

Sautee onions in olive oil until translucent. Add kale, cover, and cook until slightly wilted. Combine olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and whisk. Combine cooked lentils, sausage, kale, onions, and dressing and toss.

So what are you cooking this winter?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

AFGEs (Another F**king Growth Experience) and Acceptance

Odds and ends in transition.

Upon returning to my apartment after recording the Christmas album, I was surprised to find a rent increase notice on the floor of my entryway. I knew it was coming, but I wasn't expecting it until after the new year as I was still in my lease, and I wasn't expecting the increase to be to the tune of $325 more a month. But there it was, in bold and staring at me from the freshly-folded-and-slid-under-my-door paper, signed cheerily by the new building owners.

The universe seemed against me for a moment. It was the holidays! I was just getting control of my finances! I had expressed gratitude about my apartment to my higher power on the daily—the location, the brick facade, the gardens in the back, my neighbors. I had been such a great tenant and person for recognizing my privilege, I deserved this apartment. And surely no anonymous property company would force people to move during the holidays, in a market as cutthroat as it is, in the winter?

The welling of frustration that pounded at my temples reminded me of when I was unemployed, shortly after graduating college. Hundreds of resumes and two unsuccessful interviews into my unemployment, I felt like I was being undeservedly punished. For four years during school, I thanked the universe for my life. I loved my school, I loved my city, I loved my friends, and I knew it wouldn't last forever. I thought expressing my gratitude would safeguard me against anything bad happening ever—a kind of insurance. There must had been a mix up in the universe's Punishment Rolodex. It meant to heave frustration and dead ends and self pity on Nicole Richie, it's just that our names were so similar.

My entire life in the back of a truck.

This feeling gave way when I heard myself think, and when I shifted my perspective. I have no children, no pets, very little furniture (although I had just acquired a bed frame off Craigslist that was being held together with zip ties, so that was going to pose a problem). I was in the best possible position to pick up my life and move it to another part of the city.

I also know now that expressing gratitude is not insurance against bad things or unhappiness. It is a lifestyle that brings you to the present moment and encourages revelry. What this was, right here, was an AFGE—another fucking growth experience. Yet another chance to learn some lessons, apply some tools, practice acceptance. I took what I learned from my unemployment—that gratitude insurance didn't exist and that everything that happens is supposed to happen—and dove headfirst into my apartment search.

After a few misses, I found a corner of the world I could call my own. And it, of course, is perfectly lovely.

Unpacked, unfurled, unwound.