Saturday, September 24, 2011

Seeing isn't always believing...

As of this morning, I realize that while I may come off as cynical, I'm actually a die-hard optimist. People are inherently good and have good intentions, with the exception being socio- or psychopaths and that being a completely different topic altogether.

When people are not good and they don't have good intentions (it happens quite a bit these days), the majority are either hurting from an internal pain for unknown reasons or their very survival feels threatened. Many smart, happy people do horrible, cruel things out of fear or pain. When they're terrible drivers and rude customers, it's because they haven't figured their feelings out. When they lie, steal and cheat, it's a survival instinct; those are responses to a presumed threat. When individuals constantly yell at their children or stop connecting with their partners, it's because they're experiencing periods devoid of love, appreciation and pride or they're remorseful, regretful and angry. Deep down, most humans want to love and be loved. Humans value themselves and we want to be appreciated; we know our true potential if only given the chance. This I firmly believe.

I'm a hopeful person. I hope that people around me are exceptional. I hope that whatever their intentions, they are generally honorable. I hope that people defy history and cast off negative labels. I hope that my own dishonest history isn't typified as 'thief' or 'liar' or 'problem child' or 'black sheep'. Instead, I hope it's understood for what it was: a response to a perceived threat. I hope that my current and future conduct proves such theory. I hope that what others see as my 'reckless' or 'dangerous' behavior is somehow understood as a desperate need to simply... live. A need to embrace life and feel. From my first steps to my wild adrenaline-rush missions to the relationship minefields, LIVING is the purpose and adventure is the goal. It's all a race to experience. It's a push to feel.

Physical scars are an outward manifestation of an inner search for reality. I want new experiences and feelings and opportunities, even if some of them seem negative or bad at the time -- that's how we learn! I want to meet new people, try new things and see new places, even if those people are scary, the things are dangerous and the places aren't as great as I imagined... Because most of the living will be incredible. And isn't that the point of being alive?

I overextend myself often in my quest to live. I try to do everything at once and please every person in my life. Fortunately, age and experience have both taught me that you can't do everything or please everyone; perspective is both slow-coming and invaluable. But I also know that I want my loved ones to be happy and the things I'm doing to be great -- which means slowing down and investing time. Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time.

I invest time in experiences because they make me a better person and lead to both job security and success further down the road. I invest time in job security and success because it allows me to help friends and family and experience more. I invest time in helping others because it helps motivate them to live fuller lives and make themselves happy instead of depending on someone else. I invest time in helping others because I had very little advice, caring, support or confidence shown in me.

While that may not have been the best way to grow into a successful adult, it was certainly an effective teaching tool... But only because I decided to use it as a tool instead of a handicap. It created a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman who wants to help others, even if I get taken advantage of on occasion. My growing process produced a savvy, resourceful instinct and desire to learn that invariably led to positive things. It wasn't easy. It wasn't always fun. I wouldn't wish some of my experiences on anyone else and usually go out of my way to ensure my brothers and sisters, friends, family and even strangers don't have to live through that... Because I believe in people.

I believe that, again, people are inherently good. I believe that some people just need to be believed in. A proper measuring of others is in order; blind naivete will only lead to problems. BUT. I believe in the human capacity for extraordinary. I believe in appreciating differences. I believe in making mistakes and learning from them. I believe in encouraging and supporting each other for support's sake despite opinion, religion, race, creed, sex or background. I believe that one person can change the world. I believe that that same person can start a movement of motivation. I believe in transformation.

I believe in all of this because I believe in myself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I can't believe it's mid-August. The summer has just flown by and the days are shorter. At the end of the summer, I always have a weird, regretful longing that I'd gone camping more or floating more or swimming or running or... Everything. I suppose it's the nature of the beast (and by beast I mean my inner 7 year old) to wish the days of summer lasted longer, but that's why summer is so fleeting: we know it doesn't last forever.

While I did do so many new things this year, I didn't do much of what I love. I didn't mountain bike or hike as much as I wanted to, I didn't barbeque as regularly warranted with the purchase of a new grill and I didn't road trip. At all.

The fear that comes with the final bright, sunny days of the season stems from unaccomplished adventures and the knowledge that serious business is afoot. Whether it was school as a child or work/commitment/obligations now, it still strikes a sour note to realize that the carefree days have disappeared.

In the interim, I'll be leaving the country. I haven't decided where or when, exactly, I'll be leaving, but it's time to travel alone. It's time to assault my entire being with culture shock and to experience new friends, new memories and new... Freedom. I'm just beginning to realize that the only thing holding me back for the last while has been ME. There is a refreshing honesty in admitting my boredom and stagnancy. If I return broke and jaded, at least there will be stories. If I don't return at all, there will be mystery -- life requires mystery. So I'll travel alone and find whatever it is that needs finding. I may update this page, I may not.

I suppose that's the beauty of a chapter's end.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Relevant Revelations...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Paleo Living...

After months of battling weight plateaus and upper respiratory infections, I grabbed 'The Paleo Solution' by Robb Wolf at a Border's sale, mainly out of curiosity. I've heard about the paleo diet & lifestyle but didn't know much about it until opening this book... And nearly blew the top of my head off. I was completely blown away but what I DIDN'T know about diet. Even with all of my certifications, so-called expertise and even personal weight loss, I had no idea the ramifications of the agricultural influence in my everyday diet.

There were parts of the book that absolutely terrified me, and with good reason. There were parts that made me laugh out loud and others that made me want to cry. So many times I've wondered why obesity is such an epidemic; I've had theories about sugar being the cause but I have never understood the body mechanics or the human chemistry at work until now -- Robb Wolf explains both the how and the why and for the first time in my life, I don't crave ice cream. I'm moving forward with a new lifestyle and a new outlook and I'm EXCITED. I feel better already. My mind is clear and my body feels good. I mean, not just the 'I finished a two hour workout' good, but GOOOD.

The paleo diet finally exonerates fat from being the diet-derailing devil that it's been made out to be for decades and explains how the human body prefers to use fat to carbohydrates as fuel. It adds more than flavor; it enables your body to easily correct cellular errors and fulfill energy needs for extended periods of time. Paleo eating creates lean muscle through the ingestion of lean proteins and carbohydrates that are actually used instead of being stored, minimizing sugars' effect on insulin and the related hormones. The paleo lifestyle emphasizes the importance of both stress relief and sleep, as well as hydration and exercise. It's a results oriented lifestyle, whatever your results may be. Whether it's cleaning up your blood work, losing weight, gaining muscle or achieving athletic prowess, it'll happen as long as you put the work in.

It's not a magic pill or potion -- it's a lifestyle change. It's hard work, dedication and some more hard work. It can't be a temporary solution to a permanent problem and it doesn't promise to fix your marriage or clean your bedroom. But given time and practical use, the paleo diet will pay off. It will irrevocably change your life for the better and make you a healthier and happier person with more to live for and less to worry about. This has the ability to save your life, given the opportunity.

I'm a simple person: when there's proof and things click, I respond. This book was built for pessimistic speculation and holds up against critics using both scientific evidence and credible humor. And so my journey begins, chin high and eyes bright. I like the way I'm feeling and loving the way I look, even this soon into it all. Stay tuned -- it's about to get crazy.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Old Age...

There is something to be said for the wisdom that experience brings. In the past, I've had a tendency to discount sage advice from those who know better and suffered the consequences of such ignorance... Today contained a revelatory moment that would have passed unnoticed just a few simple years ago and allowed me a rare glimpse into the person I almost became.

I owe so many people so many apologies and so much forgiveness, including myself. There are also a few folks that deserve a kick in the dick, but karma has a way of coming around and bitch slapping those who aren't smart enough to fear the power of turnabout... So I can't really stress about it, now can I? Anyway, back to the sorry part: I'm sorry. There were so many instances in which I could have stood up and simply been the good guy, or even the not-bad guy, and I didn't. There were so many chances to show my real self and the compassion I have for others; I sacrificed those opportunities for social acceptance. I'm sorry I wasted time trying to be something I wasn't instead of being myself and enjoying the self discovery. I'm Sorry I chose 'fun' that didn't last and 'friends' that couldn't bother to stick around. I'm sorry for the bullshit, both yours and mine. I'm sorry I wasn't who I pretended to be, for both our sakes'... Instead, I wish I had been a great friend. I wish I had been a great example of kindness, patience and understanding.

In the end, my unwillingness to be myself was my own undoing -- nobody I knew or who knew me could differentiate between the truth and rumors because they didn't actually know the real me. No one wanted to defend someone they couldn't trust, and even I didn't trust me: I wasn't truthful about a lot of things. The irony of being someone you're not is that deep down, you're so afraid of being lonely that you'll do anything to make people love and trust you, but people don't love and trust you because you're desperate for it and will take anything at all.

I've been called 'intense' and 'complicated' far too many times to count over the course of my life, but only recently has it become a compliment. I know that I dumbed myself down and mellowed myself out so that folks wouldn't be offended or put off, but that just turned me into a mindless fool. Had I been a color, I would have been beige -- kind of a nice color until you're completely surrounded by it day in and day out. Nauseatingly normal and boring... But I tried over and over again to create something that would be colorful, not realizing that the real me was a very unique rainbow. My perspectives are mine alone; only I can see what I see behind my eyes and although the events may be very similar, everyone thinks differently. Fear of being labeled as 'intense' crippled my desire to do incredible things until I was as plain and boring as everyone else. The life I led was a sham.

Labels aren't any fun until you own them. Labels like 'intense' and 'complicated' and 'passionate' left me terrified -- after all, who can love someone who's too complicated or too passionate? I'll tell you who: another intense, complicated, passionate person who's not afraid of what and who they are. It turned out that being curious and spirited and driven and smart weren't bad qualities... They're qualities that build successful, brilliant people when managed properly. They're qualities that can be rough and abrasive initially, but can also be shaped and channelled into wonderful outlets. A stubborn, volatile, soft-hearted little girl can indeed grow into an independently capable and highly animated woman... But only in the right environment. Everyone wants to be an individual, but few of us realize that we already are. Our thoughts, actions and effect make us all individually unique and special.

It was okay to be impulsive and daring. I was young, ignorant and lonely -- but who isn't at that age? Rarely understood and naive enough to believe all intentions are pure, I easily became a trainwreck, full of unexpressed angst.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day and the Hallmark curse...

Some folks say that Valentine's Day is overrated.

In the past, I've been inclined to heartily agree and even solidify my agreement with a raucous "HELL YEAH!" I've been to anti-Valentine's Day parties, Single Awareness Day parties (side note: have you even noticed that the acronym for Single Awareness Day is 'SAD'?) and even penned a bitter girl's dream heart-hate post. Even last year I didn't really have the chance to enjoy it as the holiday happened to be in the middle of 80-hour work weeks for both BV and I. Sometimes, it can be overwhelmingly intimidating and there's just no use bothering with it. But this year? I went all out.

We bought gifts, planned surprises and created what was honestly the best holiday I think I've ever had. I cooked a gourmet breakfast (courtesy of Liz's jelly biscuit recipe and my mom's quiche) and B clocked out early to spend some serious morning time together. Champagne, roses, silly decorations and romance aside, it was honestly fun. I spent most of my night and the better part of the morning hours decorating and cooking, but the look on B's face as he ate was absolutely priceless... The cliche is true: his heart lies at the bottom of a full stomach.

A bowl of fresh strawberries amidst the decorations kicked off a wonderful breakfast feel (left); A very content man, BV just finished breakfast (right).

Due to a planning malfunction, the centerpiece I had in mind didn't manage to get done. Fortunately, a glass hurricane and some crepe stringing paper sprinkled with candy hearts worked out well.

B's giant Hershey Kiss. I couldn't help but buy it.

Diamonds, hearts and candy, OH MY! (left) Champagne and berries in the flute, berry-pomagranate julius in the other. (right)

Chocolates, champagne and heart-shaped candles: It much be February 14th.

On of my favorite pictures of all... And the one that started the brain wave for a blog.

My sister Liz's jelly biscuits -- with berry garnish and a sparkle gel on a wonderfully romantic platter I found at Pottery Barn.

"I didn't burn the quiche! I didn't burn the quiche!"


Pre-pig out...

 ... and post-pig out. HURRAH!

Two kinds of French preserves make for wonderful biscuits -- Bonne Maman tastes fresh, right out of the jar.

Can you even enjoy coffee on St. Valentine's Day without drinking it out of a red mug?!? (left)

Peppermint coffee stirrers only add to the excitement. (right)

While the feast was the main event, the gifts were a blast, as well as the greeting cards. Personally, I don't mind so much that this is supposedly a "Hallmark-created holiday". I just thank god that Hallmark exists. Who else would get me laid so often? Those folks make me actually sound eloquent. They make love sound genuine and help regular people sound like relationship rock stars. They even out the playing field between men and women, too. I know it's a large stretch of the imagination to think that the sayings inside those cards run through his head like the slogans at the bottom of the Time's Square Jumbotron, but it's a nice fantasy. So once a year, my imaginings are validated. What, may I ask, is wrong with that?

I ran out of ribbon, so the alternative was Christmas decorations, strung across both the mantleplace and the ceiling!

White roses make any breakfast taste a million times better. It's been scientifically proven.

Curling ribbon, white sewing ribbon and more Christmas ornaments created a decadent feeling under the chandelier.

Diamond ornament detail.

And yes, kitties love Valentine's, too. Of course! (Even if they are only interested in destroying the paper.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Buying a used car is pure hell.

So BV and I sold our Jeep mid-January and have been searching for a new 4-wheel drive vehicle. While the car was in pretty solid condition and still running well, it was old enough and we were bored enough that we figured, 'Why not buy something new?' To us, that is.

I wish we had kept the damn Jeep because essentially, people fucking suck.

We have driven to Provo (twice!), Heber, Draper, Cottonwood Heights, Layton and Sugarhouse. We've called beforehand, had cash in our pockets and have meticulously planned out every detail so as not to be robbed, jumped, conned or under-bid. Every single time, the seller(s) have lied, conned, or sold the vehicle right out from under us after we've driven over an HOUR to look at their cars.

If you're selling a car that has no rust, IT HAD BETTER BE RUST FREE, GODDAMMIT. If it runs well, THE ENGINE SHOULD NOT TICK, TOCK, CLICK, BANG, OR SHAKE. I'm not buying a fucking clock, people. Don't tell me that "It's in great shape for the year." or that "it blue books for _____". BLUE BOOK IS A DEALER'S STANDARD, you idiot. When a car is 'Blue Book', it means that you've gone over every single detail of the car, making sure it is in tip-top shape for that year, for that price.

Being a private seller on KSL, you're not a dealer. Unless you're wearing a plaid suit in an ugly shade of shit brown when I stop in your driveway, you're not a used car salesman. Don't act like it. As far as we're concerned, if you don't have paperwork and receipts confirming the fact that you had a new transmission installed last year or that the engine has a factory rebuild, it never happened. If the paint is peeling or faded, the exterior condition of the vehicle is "POOR". Claiming that it's anything else is a lie.

If the brake lights don't work, the doors are broken or it won't pass emissions, please don't declare that it's in great condition. If your used 4-Runner is running on 5 cylinders instead of all six and you've been driving it for a year? Congratulations, asshole -- you've just run a car into the ground. DO NOT TELL ME IT'S IN GREAT CONDITION. When I ask why the entire front end looks as if it's been replaced, please don't insult my intelligence by saying that it's just been cleaned. THE BODY IS BUCKLED, MORON. Your radiator is shiny and new, as is the front grille that's been wire tied to that new radiator. The headlight joints don't match up, the paint is a different color and you're grinning as if you're an angry Arab selling me a nuclear bomb. YOU'RE A LIAR.

When you allege to be selling your car because your husband is leaving for Iraq in the morning (sob!) but have dropped the price of the car $800 to match what we offered you because it's been online for a month, only to sell it two minutes before we arrive... Your story has holes. You're not a soldier, you're a greedy bastard.

If we call you from Heber to make sure you're not selling the car that's been online for two weeks, don't sell it to the asshole who shows up with cash and then explain that you sent us a text message once we pull in. WE ARE DRIVING DOWN. Quick law-check: Did you know that in Utah it is illegal to text and drive? What's wrong with a phone call? Are you too scared to tell someone you've changed your mind?


Tomorrow, we're going to look at another car. I'll be carrying a weapon.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas, New Years and such...

Life can feel like a speeding train that's gone totally out of control sometimes. There are days when it's a fun ride of wild excitement; others feel like a deadly plummet to the bottom of a deep chasm. That sums up our early winter. 

B's season started off at a dead stop... It wasn't really a start at all with the late opening of the resort accompanied by the panic of new operations and the confusion of new areas. Luckily, Park City Rug kept him busy right up until his night shift started and there wasn't much down time -- it drives him crazy. Unfortunately, we had no idea what was going on with any of that ski business as A), it is Park City and B), it is Park City. There seems to be a mad dash to get information but it isn't at all. Almost everyone talks shit and spreads rumors instead of getting the facts, so it's difficult to pin down what's truth and what's wishful thinking, especially with a buyout as massive as the one that happened last spring. Welcome to a small ski town. 

From Halloween to shortly after Turkey Day, my schedule slowed down a bit and wasn't insane, but picked back up again the first of December and I spent most of the month traveling and working instead of getting into the holiday spirit. I'm not complaining as it was spent in a few of my favorite places, but Minnesota was an early stop and HOLY GOD. Why would ANYONE choose to move to Minneapolis or St. Paul? It was so cold, so boring and so fattening that I cried tears of joy while boarding the plane out of MSP. There is a shocking bit of locavore/local culture in the wealthier suburbs that was interesting, but it was pretty much like Chicago without any of the cool Chicago stuff... YEAH. Fortunately, the snow that completely stopped the Midwest followed me home and we've continued to receive boatloads of snow. 

Two feet of snow in a little less than 48 hours.

Kailua Beach, Oahu, HI

Lanai Beach, Oahu, HI

A sudden surf get away mid-month was nice and calming, but very un-Christmas-like and although I came home with a great tan, everything seemed to speed up and gain momentum from there. Working 70-hour weeks and barely seeing B took a toll but we made it through and were able to get down to Payson to visit my family right before Christmas, even though B's grooming schedule was a bit of a pain in the ass. We did, however, manage to do some sledding, go ice skating, construct a massive gingerbread house and hassle my mom for a few days and had a lot of fun.

Surprisingly enough, the year that most of the family was global, everyone managed to somehow make it home for the holidays: My younger sister who was serving a Mormon mission in the Dominican Republic had some medical issues and came home mid-December. Not due home on leave until March, my older brother who is currently stationed in Iraq surprised us a few days early by waltzing through the back door with a grin on his face and his sneaky wife laughing. My older sister and her husband and their two little boys came out from Ohio to stay for a few weeks... It was so fun and so shocking to have everyone home. What a house full of batty. 

My body finally gave up the fight and succumbed to a nasty chest cold on Christmas Eve and I've been battling with that for about a week now while B tries to fit in as much sleep as possible. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years.