Saturday, April 30, 2011

Schizophrenic Style: Cupcake Corporate

There are some business staples that I actually enjoy having in my wardrobe despite my leanings toward dramatic statementwear and romantic flowing garb... these items mix really well with my other more unexpected items like cupcake inspired skirts and pastel hair to make a unique yet professional look. I find it especially true when done in a grayscale color palette:

This is how I dress for business meetings...

The magic, as always, is in the details.

"Fashion is so close in revealing a person's inner feelings and everybody seems to hate to lay claim to vanity so people tend to push it away. It's really too close to the quick of the soul."
- Stella Blum

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Little Late for Lent

It never ceases to amaze me just how common it is for those who feel put upon by other people's beliefs to turn around and spew their beliefs in such a way that causes others to feel put upon. It's a disturbing phenomenon. A chain reaction of sorts that I can't claim to have never participated in, but one that nevertheless leaves me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. No one likes to feel as though something is being shoved down their throat be it an idea, a belief or hot dog... so why do we as a species continue to converse in such an intentionally antagonistic manner? It almost seems as though there is an invisible scoring system by which people are awarded points based on their effectiveness in getting under the skin of those around them, dividing and separating people further into categories to validate their "us vs. them" tactics, slinging sarcastic under-the-radar insults and doing so in such a way that any response on the part of the attacked automatically comes off as defensive, petty and/or unintelligent.

 This rant of course was inspired in part by the discourse I witnessed online surrounding Sunday's holiday... one which my family joyously observed. It is however a much more widespread problem that rears it's ugly head much more frequently than the occasional religious holiday.

 So what do we do? I don't know about you but I'm going to start by doing my best to cut out the sarcasm as much as I can... yes, it's funny and often intended light-heartedly but the humor is derived from undercutting someone else's confidence in their own intellect (etc.) 9 times out of 10. Honestly I don't know how to be even mildly funny without it. Sarcasm has become a crutch for me, and I suspect that's true for many others as well. If I can just get in a funny jab right off the bat then I won't be found out, my [fill in prized trait] won't be up for question.

Maybe that's just me.

Either way, I doubt a little more vulnerability and a little less defensiveness could hurt. It may be uncomfortable, sure... in fact I'm almost certain it will be. But the point I'm getting at is that in terms of feeding or starving the proverbial fire a lack of sarcasm will tip the scales in the right direction. Is it the cure? Doubt it.

Any ideas from you all out there in the interwebs? I'm open to suggestions.

In the mean time I'll be posting here and there about my ventures in letting go of my one and only claim to a sense of humor... a sort of post-Lent pledge to bite my tongue. I'm hoping it goes half as well as it did for Lauren over at Salon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hot Glue Gun Adventures: Easter Edition

Now that Bastian is passed the newborn stage and I've regained at least some of my sanity I can really begin to enjoy creating holiday traditions for him. The fun stuff, you know, like Easter baskets! The other day I stopped by Michaels and found a basket in the perfect shade of orange and knew right away that it was made for my little guy... except for those pink buttons, which were easily removed... and in their place:

One one side I added this obnoxiously large, glittery "B"... which is no where near as girly as those silly pink buttons! ...What?!? It's Easter! There's got to be at least a little cutesy going on!

On the other side I added these adorable little hot air balloons which were created to be put in a scrapbook. It was simple enough to remove the sticky foam adhesive on the back and hot glue them to the basket liner to procure a stronger attachment less likely to be removed by the previously mentioned baby. Strangely enough hot air balloons remind me of some of my earliest memories of him, before he was even born... it's a long story but suffice it to say that I was really upset upon finding out that pregnant women aren't allowed to ride. Ah hormones.

Anyways... I plan to use the basket in his room year round with the above side on display.

And the finished basket:

Inside are some of my favorite books I remember having/reading as a wee little one, his favorite not-so-cheap babyfood, some snacks for when he starts gumming on things, little boy socks, little boy hats, two little egg-shaped noise maker-thingys (maracas? Do they only call them that if they have handles?), baby sunglasses (squee!!!) and a little mini guitar toy that plays two short rock n' roll riffs...  the last two being entirely me. How could I pass them up??

What does the Easter bunny make sure to put in your baskets every year?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Big Give Up

We all go through seasons in our lives. Things seem to happen in groupings for whatever reason, and as such I can't help but feel like I'm sitting in limbo waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't intend to go into any details. Even if I knew more, they wouldn't be my stories to share... But recently our home has been affected by the news of two separate, unrelated suicides. That much I need to get off my chest. At some level I feel I need to share this in a public forum in order to process what's been going on in my head.

I've always been what I can only describe as deeply affected. I feel things very intensely and have a hard time processing input without indulging in my own strong emotional reactions. I tend to wallow if left to my own devices. To that end I can begin to understand what these individuals may have been feeling during the period of time that built up to their final decision. On the other end of the spectrum I find myself with the opposite of empathy. I just cannot fathom making such a decision knowing full well how many people would be left behind... feeling the way I am right now. And worse. Because in all reality these were people I didn't know extremely well. Which also leaves me wondering how I would handle it if it had been one of my closest loved ones.

Could I handle it?

Ultimately the answer to that question is that I have an underlaying faith in my ability to make it through. I know as I sit here typing away at my computer that there is the possibility that I may someday take another downward spiral in my life, it's happened once, I'm not naive enough to think it couldn't ever again. I also know without a shadow of a doubt that I would be able to make it through the other side again, just as I did the time before. None of this is to say that I am stronger, or even that I am strong enough. It is all to say that no matter how bad things get I know that I have sources of power outside of myself capable of pulling me through and I have faith in those interventions which I personally feel are divine.

I simply cannot imagine not having that feeling of faith, the access to a power that is not my own which I can rest on. Above all else, that is what disheartens me most about this terrible news. Knowing that those individuals didn't have hope, they must have felt like everything rested on their own abilities and  how crushing that feeling must have been if ever their own competency came into question. Looking at it from that perspective I understand completely how it could have been possible in an instant to let it all go.... and all I want to do is hug them and transfer to them the feeling of strength and comfort I have been blessed with. But I cannot, because they are no longer here.

And that hurts.

I have no other words to explain what is going on within me. My heart hurts. Plain and simple.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Date Night, Music as Fuel for our Marriage

Jason and I went on a date this past Saturday... we've had dates since Bastian was born but we haven't really gotten back into the swing of things in regards to staying out late and acting like kids again. Not that it was a goal of ours to "get back to being irresponsible" or anything but it was so nice to drop the boy off with Grandma and Grandpa and drive out to a show not having the slightest clue what time we would be home. Which turned out to be 3:30am.

I have a tendency to get stuck in serious mode and sometimes the only thing that will snap me out of it is letting go with some loud, live music. Preferably late at night. It makes me feel rebellious, which I am not, and haven't been in a long time, but I still like to pretend.

We drove out to this cool little bar in Rockford called Kryptonite to see Venna which is a really amazing band that I mentioned in this post. Once again I highly recommend that you check them out. We've gone to see quite a few of their shows and although they are always amazing their set this past weekend was the best I've ever witnessed. I knew in advance that we were going to a reunion show for a band called the Meteah Strike and that for those more involved in the music scene it would likely be an emotional night, what I didn't expect was to get so swept up in it. There was something magical about the night though and despite my inability to put my finger on it entirely I have a feeling that it was all the bittersweetness the artists themselves were experiencing translating itself into a vibe that was transferred to us, the audience, through their performances. I love raw performances like that. I fell in love with both Joie De Vivre who played immediately after Venna and the Meteah Strike... both bands that are either currently or soon-to-be broken up. It was similar to the mix of excitement and major disappointment I feel upon delving into a newly discovered Joss Whedon show only to find out it was canceled after two seasons (why I continue to be surprised by that phenomenon is beyond me), a feeling I commiserated over with Heather after the show before heading to a local open-late Mexican restaurant. That Joss Whedon creates some amazing shows he does.

But back to the concert... I would be remiss if I didn't make mention of the fact that in addition to being a night for the history books in terms of music, after years and years of coaxing on Jason's part I enjoyed beer for the first time. And I do mean enjoyed, not just drank. Also, for the record it was my idea and not a result of his cumulative (good-natured) peer pressuring efforts... 312 isn't half bad! It may not be anything monumental but it's a step at least because I've never quite felt comfortable being the one person with a girly mixed drink at more casual venues when we're out and about.

Unfortunately I did not take any pictures the entire night. What type of blogger am I?? So I will leave you with this instead:

Video c/o Christopher Sofolo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Place to Call Our Own

Well we finally did it... we put our condo on the market! Now comes the hard part, waiting to see what happens! I know it's only been a day since we signed the paperwork, heck pictures haven't even been taken for the listing yet, but I'm getting antsy. I'm prone to feeling this way about things. I like to have everything figured out, and it's not helping that everywhere I turn I'm hearing "It's such a bad market for sellers right now". Of this fact I am painfully aware... but I have hope, and would like it to stay that way, thanks.

I am also painfully aware of Bastian's need for his own room. More so MY need for him to have his own room. I am ready to have my own space to retreat to, we are all in need of that right now. Thing is, I've already fallen in love with a particular space. We were out driving around the other day and were frankly exhausted and ready to be home but despite that decided to check out some side streets to see what kind of places may be available in that area. It wasn't planned, and almost didn't happen, which of course leads my over-romanticized mind to think that it's simply meant to be. Honestly I don't know if it's a test or a sign. What I do know is that I can picture spending Bastian's baby years there, having another baby there, hosting family get-togethers, holidays, bonfires in the backyard, watching thunderstorms from the screened-in front porch...

Image c/o Diana Parkhouse
In the mean time all I can do is clean and pack... anything really to distract me from the fact that I am waiting...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Your Mind on Auto Pilot: The Art of Programing Your Destination

   Forgive my absence, this past week has been one of taking in instead of pouring out. A dry sponge is useless in distributing water and so I unplugged somewhat from my world of constant output opting instead to focus on my input. I remember hearing something once that stuck with me, though I don't remember the quote word for word... it's sentiment was that if you are not consistently reading good books what you write is not worth reading, if your not listening to to good input what you say isn't worth hearing. It may seem extreme but if you think about it we are all a product of our input and if there is little quality input rarely can there ever be quality output.

   What I often fail to remember is that input can simply be quite time to think; intentionally delve into thought... not skills, habits, emotions or instinctual  reactions but thoughts. Even more importantly dreams. All too often we react to things from a mental state similar to the auto pilot function in our vehicles. Take a second right now and try to visualize in detail what your ideal lifestyle would be, what car would you drive if every car cost a dollar, what kind of house would you live in (how many bedrooms, bathrooms, what color is the exterior? the interior?)... did you think about options that are a step or two up from where you are right now or did you picture things that are way beyond the scope of current possibility? It's likely that it was easier to visualize a "realistic progression" from your current place in life. Why is that? Why is it so difficult to imagine, in a split second something grand for ourselves? In my opinion it's more likely because it's outside of our realm of input than outside of our realm of possibility. Our auto pilot allows for simple steps up in aspirations for ourselves, but anything beyond the next stepping stone or two takes intentional thought... and that my friends doesn't happen on it's own.

So to tie up my week of proper input I am going to spend the rest of my day thinking on, and writing about the things that I want to have, do and become. Here's a peek into my list:

Have: The house from Practical Magic

Do: Visit ALL of the Disney theme parks... and have the time to enjoy every attraction we want to!
Image C/O Raymond Brown
Become: A woman of strength

What's on your list?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Home in Stay-at-Home-Mom

   Here in the Midwest we're still fighting against winter weather, waiting patiently... no, more like desperately for spring to settle in for good. And I my friends have cabin fever. The baby is even spending longer and longer each day staring wistfully out the window as if to say "please Mommy... can't we go out to play?" and he's never played outside before, what with being seven months young and all.

   I spent a ridiculous amount of time theses past few days comparison shopping online for a new carseat (and can I just say those things are ridiculous... $300.00 for a plastic seat that will "expire" in a few years) and although there is genuinely a need for me to being thinking about the next size up I think part of my obsession has to do with this feeling that when I buy said carseat I will somehow magically feel more comfortable with picking up and heading out of the house on a more regular basis. It's a mind trick I'm playing on myself and though I am aware of it, I can't seem to break through the allure of the next new purchase that's going to make my life simple. The truth of the matter is that leaving the house with baby in tow is always going to be a challenge and a new carseat, diaper bag, hand-cranked baby food grinder, etc. isn't going to get me on the other side of that door if I keep thinking it's going to be a piece of cake due to their presence alone. Not even warmth and sunshine will do the trick. The only thing that makes difficult tasks easier is repetition.

   So here's my confession... I have allowed myself to become a hermit. It's easy to pretend that I get out a lot, because I do leave the house from time to time... but almost never with the baby unless the husband is going too. The idea of grocery shopping just me and the little one is tortuous... actually, pretty much any activity involving me and the baby out and about together, just the two of us, stresses me out enough that I will come up with just about any excuse to avoid it. The exception to this otherwise rule is when I know for sure someone else will be anxiously awaiting our arrival for a visit, someone who just can't wait to get their hands on him... because then? I'm not juggling him and all of his stuff alone.

   Anyone have any advice on this? Was adjusting to being a stay-at-home parent difficult in terms of the whole, you know, being at home thing? Did getting out get easier as your child(ren) got older?

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