mornings.

Morning is definitely my time.  It’s the time of day I’m most creative and productive; my mind is the most open to receiving ideas and making plans.  My mom has forever gotten up before the sun and had her morning coffee, in the dark, and called it her quiet time.  It’s a chance to think all the thoughts that need thinking, to organize her day, to consider the days and tasks to come.  I love the idea of quiet time but the execution is where I falter.  It’s truly a shame that I love sleep too much to actually take advantage of it before heading in to start my actual job at 7:30 am.

Nevertheless, I start every day feeling like Gwyneth Paltrow.  Why GP?  To me, she is the pinnacle of all the things: mother, entrepreneur, brand, woman.  Some people choose Beyonce – who is also incredibly fierce – GP just aligns more with things I could actually accomplish (my dance moves are outdated and I’m not really the Queen of anything).  In the morning, I feel like there really is nothing I can’t do.  Write a cookbook?  Okay.  Three?  Sure.  Workout for two hours?  Easy.  Organize my home and life?  Done.  Start a successful business and brand?  Pssshhh…I got this.

I’m writing this blog because of the things that happen the rest of the day.  Throughout the reminder of the day I’m met with little obstacles meant to diminish my GP-ness.  These are things as simple as doughnuts in the next cube and as complex as laziness or lack of motivation.  Each obstacle I meet, I make the active decision to let it defeat me or not.  Though, until now, I didn’t really think of it in those terms because I didn’t really think of it at all.  Now it’s all I think about.

I’m going to try to work with the potential and promise I feel in the mornings because it seems a shame to waste it.  Even now, there are sticky notes all over my desk; lists I’ve made in my Moleskine (with sticky notes on those lists); there are blog ideas and lofty dreams being dreamed in my head; there are mental vacations being planned and dinner ideas floating around.  I think that’s how my creative side works: ideas will meander in my brain, waiting to be found and focused on. Waiting to be brought to fruition.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even start waking up earlier to make my lists over some coffee?

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something to talk about.

Lately, it seems like the same post is showing up on all my favorite blogs.  The post about blogger burnout.

It’s the topic of the moment.  While I can’t exactly relate (as I’m an incredibly inconsistent blogger with dreams of actually having this problem), I can understand the general feeling of burnout.  My whole adult life I’ve reinvented my situation every two years.  It’s about the marker of time for me to change positions in the company, for moving, for that sneaking feeling of urgency to stir in my belly that something needs to change.  While I’m in this period of embracing my 30’s (myself) I’m trying to pull that part of me in and figure what I can do with it vs. letting it fill me with unease and continue on making me the nomadic person I’ve always been (thus starting all over).

I actually like where I am right now so that feeling is more or less channeling itself in the form of nesting and trying to hone my creativity.  When I say “hone my creativity” it kind of consists of spray painting 20 year old bedroom furniture, replacing the pulls (harder than it seems) and trying with all my might to conjure a blog post.  I have my cart hitched to a fella who loves *stuff* which goes against every bone in my minimalist loving body.  I don’t have any useful life hacks to provide, tips on spray painting furniture (okay maybe two), tips for decorating, etc.  The scariest thing I’m facing currently is trying to figure out what to make my family for Christmas this year.  And guys, those are all blog posts I’ve considered before realizing it would be three sentences long.

I believe in life there should always be a desire for growth, a learning and a refinement; something to spur you on in your journey.  My journey has always been about fulfilling my desire to *be* (all that I can be?).  You guys remember this post.  It’s a lot like that; there are dreams I have, things I want to make, things I want to contribute to my family and the world.  It’s a little exhausting at times trying to do all of that within the confines of every different set of circumstances and I am so.hard.on.myself.  That brings us to the burnout.  I’m in this grey area of time between my birthday and Christmas where I feel a combination of homesickness/productivity/excitement/boredom all at once.  It’s got me in a funk not easily cured by the usual suspects (food, writing, reading, running).  Frankly, I’m feeling a little lack of inspiration.

Doesn’t it seem so crazy that in this world of over-stimulation someone should find themselves in this situation? I think about that a lot. Anywhere I look I can surely find a modicum of inspiration (I spend a lot of time on the internets, guys) but I can’t seem to translate that into something that I want to say.  Maybe over-stimulation is actually a creativity killer?  I can’t seem to see that far in the future so I don’t know where I’m going with this space but I would hope that we’ll still be here; me sharing my stories with you.

Meantime, I hope you’re all well and I’ll be back soon.

giving myself credit

I found this on the interwebs today. And let me just say: “Preach.”

The quote is what took my breath away. “Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” — Steven Prefontaine

Right now, as you know, I’m a pretty far distance from where I started. That’s speaking both physically and metaphorically. Like the article talks about, I think I’ve spent a lot of time being focused on a particular destination. The odd thing is that I’ve found my life being swept up in the lovely in-betweens to the destinations—more as an adult than ever before.

People told me that when I turn 30, all the questioning of my 20’s would go away. I can tell you guys, that much is true. However, in place of it, I find myself questioning the bigger things like marriage and babies and homeownership. I believe it takes special people to get married, stay married and then put that union through the trials of homeownership and children. I have nothing but respect for the people that make those choices every day.

I feel so conflicted sometimes because part of me keeps thinking I should be more concerned with the destinations; my pesky adventurous spirit has always kept me from acting on those feelings. I’m saving those joys for a time that’s precious to me. Some destinations are meant to be savored and fully realized. I have to keep it top of mind that my journey isn’t meant to be like anyone else’s—it’s only meant to be mine.

act your age

I have to be candid here… I’m sorry for the break; I’ve had some heavier than usual stuff swirling around me lately (Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling” amongst other things) and serious things are the ones I struggle blogging about.  It’s always a challenge to figure out how I feel and then to translate that to words… it makes my head hurt.

My younger sister turned 30 this past week.  Our respective 30th Birthday celebrations were quite different (there may have been tears for mine—but who doesn’t cry on their birthday?!).  It got me thinking about her first 30 years and how I’ve been a part of each year.  That makes me feel old.  I’d venture to say even more so than my own birthday.  It also got me thinking about how I don’t feel my age at all.  I started mentally compiling a list of reasons why I don’t feel 31 and I’ll keep the self-deprecation to a minimum.

Reasons I don’t feel my age

1. I leave the house at least 3 mornings a week with wet hair—for work.

2. I still struggle with exercise and eating right.  Still.  10 years later.

3. I wear Chuck Taylors with shocking regularity.

4. I actually own nothing of value with the exception of two TVs and all my Apple products.

5. Money management?

6. I have way more teeshirts than dress shirts.

7. I own a very impractical two door stick-shift car.

When it comes to aging, I always think about an assignment we had to do in 5th grade health class—we had to make a timeline of the rest of our lives filled with important events and at what age they would happen.  At first, I was filled with anxiety because even then I had no concept of what the next day would hold let alone 30 years of days.  Once I overcame the seriousness of the task (they didn’t really expect us to know when we’d die, right?!) I think I slopped down that I’d graduate in 4 years of college, have some ambiguous corporate job, wake up at 7 every morning, be married by 25 and have kids by 30.  Obvi, that timeline was rooted in the idealistic views of my 5th grade mind and I’ve managed to embrace the fact that my real-life timeline is very different from my imagined one.  Sometimes I let that silly timeline get to me and I start thinking about all that I *haven’t* done.  I can’t really say that I know how to combat it other than to let it in, let it have about 5 minutes and then get rid of it with thoughts of all that I have done and all that I do have.

I’m pretty blessed and I definitely know it.  Thank you to all of you lovelies that keep me chasing creativity; the ones of you who challenge me to look at the world, who keep me running and cooking and striving to be the best me I can be.  And not least, thank you to my amazing sister who makes 30 look sparkly and fabulous.

dads.

Since I’ve been driving so much for my job now, I’ve taken to listening to podcasts to pass the time.  Buying books “on tape” from iTunes has been getting just a liiiittle expensive and there’s only so many times I can listen to the same news on NPR.  I’m a huge fan of the Radiolab podcast as well as This American Life (the “Good Guy” epi = amazing).  I’m pretty impressed by the way people they interview can recount one really amazing personal story.  Storytelling is one skill that’s always evaded me.  And if there’s anything about me you should know, it’s that I get really interested in things I can’t do well (examples: farming, running, being a grown up, etc.).

I learned once that the more you tell a story, the less true it becomes.  That would be a good problem for me to have cause the details of a story are where I stumble.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of stories to tell you guys but the things that I remember seem to be limited to the things that were big lessons or turning points for me and they’re snippets at best.  There is no fear more acute to me than the dreaded sharing of ‘fun facts’ at work functions with a room full of my peers.  Maybe I’ve mentioned that I became slightly preoccupied with the notion of a book of essays—till I realized that I have no stories to turn into essays.

So I think I’ve painted a pretty clear pictures of how bad I am with memories… you guys get that, right?  That point is important here because I’m writing the rest of this about my dad (and dads in general).  I don’t have any great dad stories to tell you because I am not so good at telling stories.  What I’m hoping to give you are broad ideas to paint a picture of what my dad means to me.  Let me first tell you, again, that I am blessed in the parental department.  I have three very special parents who would do anything for my sister and me.  My cup runneth over.  There are amazing qualities about my mom and there are amazing qualities about my step-mom, Jodi, and I love all three parents the same.  Growing up, there was always someone to teach me something, someone to ask questions to and I was lucky enough to have three different teachers and three different perspectives.

Moms are amazing creatures.  I think society can agree with me there.  Just this morning on the Today show there was a story about how women do it all: wash the kids, dress the kids, pack the lunches, have a career, run the kids to sports/ballet/tumbling, make time for the hubs, make dinner, do the laundry—and because I’ve had two amazing mom examples, I know this to be true.  Credit where credit is due, sometimes I think dads get a bad rap.  I think the stereotypical dad is the guy that provides financially for the family, is the disciplinarian and generally the TV watcher.  I think there are many, many, many dads that break that stereotype into a million pieces and those are the dads that amaze me.  I’ve observed my friends as dads, friends of friends as dads, my dad as a dad, TV dads, dads of friends and let me tell you—I have seen some AWESOME dads.  That brings me to my dad.

This past week my dad celebrated a birthday and it got me to thinking.  In the last five or so years, I’ve observed my dad being my dad much more than I ever have.  It’s because I see more of him in me as an adult than I ever have before.  My dad is strong, intelligent, capable, hard-working, sensitive, funny, personable, silly and he wears his heart on his sleeve.  What you see is what you get with my dad.  For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be someone my dad liked; I always wanted him to *see* me.  His eyes and his smile and his laugh and his satisfaction were always favors I wanted bestowed upon me.  My sister and I used to take turns sitting in the middle seat in the front bench seat of his pick-up truck so that he could rest his giant dad-hand on our knobby little knees when he wasn’t shifting the gear shift.  My heart is full of a mishmash of memories of my dad: I’ll always think of my dad wearing a tee-shirt in the middle of winter; of him letting us put barrettes in his hair for hours.  I’ll think of him wearing suspenders or riding the subway on our family trip to Washington DC or of teaching me not to be afraid to try new food (my first taste of a mussel at East Side Mario’s).  I’ll think of my dad in stories he’s told or the picture of him as an altar boy when he was so young that’s forever burned on my brain.  I’ll think of him with his huge family and his hand-me-downs and him drinking powdered milk as a boy.  I’ll think of him working from the time he was able baling hay so he could save for things he wanted.

From my dad I learned to be hopeful, I learned to work hard for what I want, I learned to appreciate nice things, I learned the art of giving and I’ve learned patience by watching him (we jokingly refer to it as “the patience of Joe”).  He means the world to me and even with all the ups and downs and highs and lows and wrongs and rights in our history, there is nothing in this world I wouldn’t still do to have him laugh with me or smile with me or talk to me or see me.  Our relationship is less about my seeking his approval and more about understanding the place where we each come from.  Maybe even a little bit of walking a similar path to get where we are now.  I couldn’t be more grateful for my dad.  Pretty soon, I’ll get to see him as a grandpa to my sister’s baby (truth: I’m excited to see all my parents in the grandparent light).  While there are a lot of things my dad isn’t, there are even more things that he is.  The scale tips in my favor and I realize how lucky I am.

The beauty of my parental tapestry is that the colors run together so I’ve become who I am from all my parents’ values and lessons and hopes for me running together—to the point where there isn’t just one person who taught me to love and accept and be open-minded.  Somewhere along the way, all of this became something I noticed.  I’m grateful for that perspective. So on this birthday and all the birthdays to come that I’m lucky enough to spend with my dad, I’ll celebrate him for all the good he’s done, all the good he’s yet to do and all he is.

Happy Birthday to this guy.  My dad.  (and me, obvi.)

Happy Birthday to this guy. My dad. (and me, obvi.)

radio silence

Hey, guys! If you’re still out there, that is. I have been a terrible blogger lately so let me go ahead and offer up some excuses (my favorite, remember) as to why. I intended on writing while I was home in Cleveland for two weeks for work, but every time I thought about it something else came up.

The thing is, I haven’t done anything spectacular lately. In fact, despite potential evidence to the contrary, nothing exceptional has even happened lately. I haven’t even managed to finish a good book. It’s been a pretty lame couple of months. I’m at a complete and utter lack of inspiration.

I just wanted you all to know I haven’t forgotten about this little place. We’re at that point in the year where we’re approaching my favorite season and cabin fever (aka winter blahs) hasn’t yet set in. I’ll be back soon and dazzle you with something that makes you forget about my little sabbatical.

Meantime, here are some other things I haven’t done while I was “gone”: wrote a book; cooked something awesome; run a marathon; bought a dog; gone to Europe; seen a live football game; started a home brewery or become a professional photographer.

waves

When was the last time you did something that mattered to you?

I mean really mattered.

It could be something incredibly simple or something that matters enough to shake your core.  For me, I realized today, I’m lacking in the core-shaking department.

I drove to Sioux City for work today.  It was a gorgeous day for a three-hour drive west in my uber-posh Detroit dream-machine rental.  I had the windows cracked and some Portugal. The Man. on the radio.  I was about an hour outside of Sioux City when I started to smell the smell.  Now, anyone that’s spent any time in Iowa knows what I’m talking about.  (They say in Iowa corn is king but let me tell you that meat has an equal share of the kingdom.)  It was the sickening sweet meat smell from the processing plants that are situated across the state.  In fact, sometimes when the wind is right I can smell it outside my apartment floating over from the east side.  After rolling up my windows, I thought about what might happen at those places.  It disgusts me to consider it.  Yet I’ll go into a restaurant and order a burger that probably started its voyage to my plate the very same way.

Like most of the personal revelations that make their way to this blog, it translates to my life as a whole.  I can’t remember the last time I stood up for something that mattered to me.  I can’t remember the last time I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.  You all know the kind of woman I want to be, so when did I stop chasing those dreams?  A younger Ryan was a vegetarian in personal protest to animal treatment—and I stayed that way for five years (I wasn’t PETA-level crazy, guys).  It became part of who I was.  Eventually (probably for reasons of convenience and lack of proper protein) I went back to eating meat and tried not to think too much about where it came from.

My parents (all three of them) always taught me that I could do whatever I wanted.  They gave me love no matter what I decided to do.  They were on my side when I did well in school, when I was too lazy to care in college, when I was unemployed, when I moved to Cincinnati to go to school cause it seemed like a good idea and every subsequent endeavor whether it be success or failure.  They never made me feel like there was something I couldn’t do.  As a consequence, I think it’s taught me to love everything.  I don’t have just one dream, I have many, many dreams.  I think it’s left me in a constant neutral state as an adult.  Instead of mastering just one thing and pursuing just that thing with my whole heart, I pursue many things with 1/4 of my heart.

I know too much about the things that do matter to me to ever feign ignorance.  I know too much about food and I have very strong feelings about it, I know too much about exercise and the human body and eating right but I still offer myself the best of excuses as to why it’s okay not to live it out, I know too much about living whole-heartedly and being vulnerable yet I still choose to hold myself back; I struggle with the just do.  I read a blog post recently by someone I really admire.  She said “how you do anything is how you do everything.”  I have been kicking that around and turning it over since reading that, trying to find how that fits and resonates in my life.  And it does.  I always thought my life was waiting to happen.  That things would really get going for me when I found my purpose.  And as all of you good people may already know, I learned that my life is happening now.  So if I follow the “how you do anything is how you do anything” principle, how I procrastinate about the minutiae of life is how I treat my life as a whole; how I treat most days is (in reality) how I treat all the days.  I want that thought to light the motivation fire that I’ve spent so much time lamenting the loss of.

So that takes me back to where I started… when was the last time you did something that really mattered to you?  Is that something you think about when making decisions—is this something that matters to me?  I know that for me, I’m going to have to keep that top of mind and chase those things.  It doesn’t come as naturally to me as it might to you but it’s a noble pursuit to chase it.

on excuses (sort-of)

I don’t like excuses.  I never have.  It’s not to say that sometimes there isn’t a really valid reason why you did/didn’t do something.  I think the reason I don’t like them is that I know (deep down) there really is no excuse for my not doing the things I should do.  (Example: yes, my kitchen is small but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to let the dishes pile up in the tiny sink.)  Excuses are the first thing to flood my mind when a challenge is presented.  (Example: my dear friend wants to run a half-marathon in five months.  My first thought is ‘I can’t do it’.)  I’m sure this has a lot to do with psychology and negativity and whatnot but that’s an idea I don’t really have the desire to explore cause I’ll just confuse you and I’ll confuse myself.  I have a point with this blog entry and I want to stick to it – for your sake, friends.

The working title of this blog started in my head as ‘reasons why I don’t write’.  Then I realized that it’s bigger than that; it’s about my relationship with excuses.  To me, excuses are like a vapor: they float in and fog up my end-goal; they confuse and disorient me and I can’t grasp them.  I’m a little too good at giving myself excuses and as a consequence, I sort of end up shaming myself.  Crazy, right?!  The way I deal with this shame is to close in on myself.  I cut out everyone and everything, I go dark on social media (yes, even Instagram), I shuffle on through my life keeping my eyes down.  I retreat – all because of excuses.  That brings us to writing.  I know a lot of bloggers (not that I’m calling myself a “blogger”) struggle with finding their voice, consistency in writing and building a readership.  I know the only way to build my readership is to write consistently.  I feel like, when I’m in this self-shamed-state, that I don’t want to write.  I get so tired of myself and as a consequence I feel like you all will be tired of me too.  I feel like nothing I’m writing will be of any real gain.  Before this spirals into a web-based pity-party, I’m going to continue my original idea giving you reasons I don’t write.  Without further adieu:

reasons I don’t write:

  1. My phone deleted all my pictures (long story – not my fault) so any picture blogging I had planned came to a halt.  I say “my phone” but it was really a misunderstanding between my phone, a work PC and a camera.  I’d never blame Apple for something like that.
  2. I still kind of hate it that I don’t completely understand WordPress.  I’m going to have to resign myself to the fact that I’m simply not a person that can teach myself.  I need someone to teach me.  My ‘WordPress for Dummies’ remains uncracked.
  3. There’s cat litter on my desk which my cats use as a glorified perch.  How is one expected to have a creative space when there are two cats running around like crazies, leaving a trail of litter everywhere (did I mention my apartment is small.  Small space + two litterboxes = mayhem).
  4. I’m not really super happy about anything going on at the moment.  Springtime is fantastic – don’t get me wrong.  I love the city and I love my apartment… but I can’t muster up the modicum of happiness required to put into a blog entry.
  5. See aforementioned “excuse” of closing in on myself – I’m kind of floating around in there right now.
  6. I’m overly critical.  Of everything.
  7. Once I stop being regular about writing, it’s easier to stay on track that way than it is to get a thoughtful post up.

It’s not that I don’t want to blog.  Cause I do.  In fact, I’ve even thought about maybe putting some effort toward writing a book of essays.  Please just forgive me for this awkward time of in-betweenness.  I’m going to get better, I promise.  After all, if I want to be the next David Sedaris, I have to start somewhere.

P.S. I’m headed to Vegas in t-6 days.  Something good will come out of that, surely!  Right?!