You reminded me that living a "golden" life isn't always about the sparkle. It's about the truth telling. The scary kind. to yourself. I always forget how hard it is to tell yourself the truth and have yourself listen.
February, you were a journey filled with creative moments and trying ones. There were lots of unexpected loving moments during all the most random of times. But also lots of teary moments and alone moments and moments filled with heavy-weight thoughts.
For a brief moment I believed that I had it all figured out only to discover that it is still a work in progress. I thought that it had to be only either a or b, but now I think it maybe, might be both.
I made a plan this month, but it was a very emotional month for me in the process. I really sat with all of these things that make me uncomfortable (things I want to do that I don't know how to do, ways I want to be that I don't know how to be), and I tried to figure them out. and poor Viet! He came home from India to find me in a tailspin of windy and whispy emotions. But he totally handled it like a pro! This husband thing sure does look good on him. He seems to prove to me again and again and again that it doesn't matter how few the words are if you say the ones that really matter when they really need to be said. There was one moment in particular that I will never forget where I was talking myself out of something important to me because I was scared and insecure, and he firmly grabbed both of my hands in his and said something to the effect of:
Today is Not Merely Living's 2nd Birthday! I can't believe it's already been two years since I started this journey. I'm feeling lots of mixed emotions today about NML. It has evolved so much in the past two years, and there are so many places I hope that it will still go. It's funny how blogs can be so simultaneously public and personal. Having a blog over the last two years has felt like reliving my coming of age years. Writing here is an ongoing balance of trying to see/seek my true self in spite of all the things I think I should be or wish I could be (even when I just plain know I'm not). It's my journey of finding the areas that I am truly passionate about and being inspired to pursue those fearlessly.
I started NML as a hobby and an online scrapbook of sorts to help me mark the moments, and now it's so much more to me. It's place where I capture my inspiration. It's a place where I challenge myself to live my best life and be my best self. It's a place where I do things that I'm afraid of and things that I've been waiting to have a good excuse to do (heh hem. like making heart shaped moon pies). And like all the versions of our selves we show in public, there are things here that I'm insecure about. I'm not a professional graphic designer, photographer, or an artist, but I dabble in all those things because they inspire me. Do I often feel like I'm not cool enough to play in this glittery, confetti-filled blogger party-world? Sure. But I do anyways, cuz it's fun. Lots of fun things are scary at first. But does knowing that make me less insecure? nope. Do I keep blogging and creating anyways? Hecks Yeah!
And there are things about how I blog that I waver back and forth on. Even though I dream of hiring a professional designer and developer to give me a spiffy new blog design, I'm also really proud of each line and piece of code that went into building this site. I did that. Every time I scroll over one of the buttons on the side bar or the navbar, I want to squeak out a yipee! I taught myself that! I mean the interwebs taught me that, but same thing! I learned something new and tried it out and made it real. And I felt more alive because of it.
At the end of the day, this is the place I come to find my most passionate self. Do I have an inkling of an idea about something I'd like to try or see or taste? This place inspires me to pursue that inkling. I chase after those dreamy ideas because of NML. There are so many things that I do every single day that are inspired by this space, and most of them I don't even write about here. Just having this outlet has allowed me to dream bigger, to think bigger, to have more space for what-ifs and why-nots and heck-yeahs.
Before I started writing this blog, most days I would work a full 8 hours (sometimes more), come home, kick off my shoes, and literally watch tv or read for hours (pausing for dinner) before I went to sleep. And then I would repeat. I spent the evenings allowing myself to completely veg out and relax. But the days moved so quickly that way, and it was so hard to track the time. Don't get me wrong. I still love a good tv series. But to feel inspired and fulfilled and engaged in the world around me, I need more than just a time filler. I need a creative outlet. That's what Not Merely Living is for me. I'm not going through the motions. I'm squeezing every drop of goodness out of my days. And what is the awesome chocolate covered icing on that double decker fudge goodness cake? That I have this awesome resource where I've catalogued and categorized those experiences, inspirations, and lessons learned that is searchable. Searchable! Do any other bloggers love this about their blogs? Can't remember that recipe? found it. Can't remember when we saw that concert? found it. Can't remember where I saved that photo from that awesome day? found it.
And I have so many dreams of where I would like NML to go. For example, this year I hope to create a city guide to showcase all my favorite places in San Fran. I'd like to slow myself down more and write more like this. I get so caught up in all the fun things I'm doing and learning and featuring that sometimes I forget to write- to slow myself and give myself the space to process my thoughts.
But even though there's lots more I'd like to do here, I'm so proud of where we are today! NML really started so small. I just had a tiny corner of the internet to pour my thoughts, dreams and pictures into. I don't think I ever really thought that anyone else would want to read it (besides you, mom). And not that it's so big now, but it's more than just me. You're here too! Thanks for that!!! :)
And yet, I still think, oh the places we can go. Oh the things there are to learn, the recipes I've yet to try, the photographs I've yet to take, the DIYs I've yet to dream up. There is so much making and learning and active living to be done. and I'm so grateful I have this place to share all of those things.
Thanks for being on this journey with me and inspiring me to dream bigger. Let's do it together.
I'm making a wish now and blowing out the candles. Let's close our eyes together for just a second and just dream.
P.S. I'm debuting an exciting new series on the blog tomorrow, so check back for an extra special dose of awesome.
P.P.S. In an effort to dream bigger, I've put together a very short survey of 8 questions about what you would like to see more of on the blog. I'd love if you would take a few moments to let me know what you think! Thanks so much!
I used to do a series here on the blog called Groundhog Thoughts, which was really just a compilation of all the random things I was thinking about, had seen, read, or had popped up on my radar. It also just encapsulates how I'm feeling when I'm stuck between worlds I guess. When there are so many thoughts and feelings pulling me in all different directions, that I'm not sure whether I want more winter or early spring. You know how it is. It feels like those moments of build up before the groundhog comes out of their hole and either is scared by their shadow or faces the day bravely.
Have I taken this Monday metaphor too far? Likely. Thanks for bearing with me anyways.
Today especially feels like a very overwhelming day, so here are all of my groundhog thoughts:
1. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
2. Yesterday our dear friends Amit & Casey got married. It was epic. Just like them. Can't wait to share more pictures this week.
3. The rest of our weekend was lovely celebrating our dear friends. Here's a few shots from the weekend/my random thoughts that go with them:
On Friday we had a lovely ladies knitting night. My friend Lisa (aka master knitter) taught some of the basics to my friend Amanda. It was a cozy evening filled with laughter and concentration (and Lisa's epic almond cake).
I love knitting so much. Recently I've been really dreaming about taking my knitting to the next level. Here are a couple of the knitters whose blogs I'm adoring right now:
On Saturday night, we had a little pre-wedding shindig at Southern Pacific Brewing Company. Excuse the flash. It is dark and magical in there!
Immediately afterwards, I went to my first Drag show at the legendary Marlena's. How have I lived in San Francisco for nearly five years and never been to a Drag show? Excellent question. Oh what I have been missing.
And last week, there were so many inspiring/interesting/beautiful posts in blogland. Here's a few that I love:
+ Stacy's post on local letterpress shop: Rebecca Peters Press. I also recently got new business cards made by Rebecca, and I highly recommend her.
What do you think? I love them! Can't wait to give them out at Alt Summit this week.
+ This thoughtful post by our friend T.C. about DIY culture and blogging. He and our friend Jonathan have just started writing this awesome series for Oakland Local.
+ And from Friday before last, EZ's Alt Summit Survival Kit. EZ was one of the bloggers I had the pleasure to meet at Alt Summit last year. She is absolutely lovely. Just like her blog Creature Comforts. As the green obsessed lady I am, I also loved her mint pinterest inspiration post.
Happy Monday friends. Hope you've enjoyed this random roundup of thoughts & moments.
>The night before last, I awoke at 3:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. As I tossed and turn in a restless, unwinnable battle to calm my mind, I thought about all that has happened in my 28th year as the days left in this year of mine are rapidly dissapearing. It has been a big year for me, both personally and profesionally, and I am ready for all that next year may hold.
But as I lay awake, I wondered why such moments exist, when we are trapped in the silence of our own minds. And today I think it must be to help calm and quiet our thoughts before big moments.
>Yesterday A friend of mine was telling me something her boyfriend had told her when they were talking about the merits of celebrating on holidays and birthdays (he would rather not celebrate those days), and he said (something roughly like): This day, October 22nd, 2012 has never happened before and will never happen again. Why not celebrate something actually unique like that?
These days will never happen again. This year will never happen again.
>Last night, a whole slew of awesome things happened all within the span of the same two hours.
+We had dinner at Chez Maman. It's a quaint little spot in Hayes Valley with delicious food and fast service.
+The Giants won the National League Pennant for the 2nd time since I've lived in this great city.
+President Obama and Mitt Romney completed their final debate before the election in two weeks.
And I sat listening to the talk about dark energy, about the expanding, accelerating universe, about the ways string theory (its breakthroughs and anti-breakthroughs) is reaching towards a grand unified theory, about a multi-verse (my favorite), it was almost as though I could feel the universe expanding.
And a woman in the balcony asked, "What have you dared to imagine past the boundaries of the expanding universe?"
and there were finite answers and infinte ones. It was pouring rain by the time we left the event.
+We got a parking spot right on the street right in front of our apartment.
+It's been a long and stressful week for me, and I've been craving color. Big and bright and rainbow-filled color. I'm ready for fall and waiting for October (my favorite month). I love this print.
+I am in the middle of reading Gone Girl (on audio) and Geek Love. and OH MY goodness, Gone Girl just took an awesome turn. I never really liked thrillers or murder mysteries, but I am loving this book.
+I am basking in the love of Tim and Tiffany from the weekend.
+I am so excited that SF native Jason Brock is a finalist on X-factor. I've never watched X-Factor before, but we've totally sung at the top of our lungs with Jason at Martuni's on Tuesdays and Saturdays in SF, and his audition brought me to tears (of course):
+My hubby this week kept me calm and happy in the midst of craziness. Thank you H-band. I'm grateful for you.
+I haven't gotten enough sleep this week for lots of reasons, and I've slipped off of my exercise plan. I hope next week I will treat myself a little better. We have had no time this week to cook or feel unrushed.
+This weekend I'm going to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the incredible non-profit organization where I work. We're also going to be trying to get some much needed rest.
Oh May, do I have some goals for you.
Hang on to your panties friends, this month is going to be a whirlwind.
In the next 25 days before our wedding weekend kicks off,
I am committing to:
+being kind and forgiving to myself if things don't go as planned or as usual this month. e.g. the blog may not be as well planned or reliable as it usually is. . . and that's ok.
+taking care of myself, i.e. getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, staying calm
+getting in the elevator a lot. This is a metaphor that I came up with to help me focus my life from time to time. I've shared it with a few others, and I'm letting you in on its awesomeness. I like to imagine that I get in an elevator, actively close the doors (with my mind. ninjas can do that) and then I control which buttons I choose to push, whether it goes up or down, or whether it just stays where it is. Most generally, I am the only one in the elevator (unless I'm playing blackjack with Lisa, in which case we might both be in the elevator). I find that it is very empowering when I calm the world around me, walk into the elevator and shut out all other influences. Then I can tremind myself that I can choose how to act, react, speak, behave, (and sometimes, gasp) even feel. When I'm getting in the elevator I like to take both of my arms (hands with palms flat facing me) and pull them together in front of my face as if they were the elevator doors (trust me. it helps).
+not being afraid to tackle sh*t. I am going to cross stuff off my to-do list like a champ and not be stressed by the number of things left on the list. I just can't.
+enjoying the ride. This is it. It's forever. I'm getting married to an amazing, amazing man, and I am going to enjoy every minute of this even if it kills me because these are the days.
they really, really are.
Here are my favorite from the week.
+ My FOH Fanny writes about why Sharing Sucks
+ One of my favorite Neruda poems was featured on the Falling Whistles blog
+ Amen to this! I met Elisse a few months ago, and she is awesome. Here's what she has to say about bowing out of the rat race.
+ An awesome photoshop tutorial on Vmacandcheese. If this blog isn't on your daily read list-it should be. Victoria is amazing.
+ I HAVE TO MAKE THESE (not yelling. just excited): Glitter wire names on Oh Happy Day.
+ 25 Awesome iphone tips sent to me from my friend Rudy. My favorite tip=an app to make your own ringtones.
>Love this idea. Writing the lyrics to the song from your first wedding dance:
>I immediately clicked through and bought this as soon as I saw the pin! I NEED this and it's only $10!
> Happy Weekend!
This week has been a bit rough. I won't lie to you. I'm still recovering from last week, trying to jump back into work, and missing my mom.
On the bright side, this week has brought a lot of joy too.
This week I have been grateful for:
+putting our wedding invitations in the mail (!)
+finding a new car (her name is Pearl)
+my future husband. Thanks to him I have a new car :):
+getting two bridal shower invitations (my friends rock)
+celebrating dear friends
+lunch at Umi. The Best.
+wine tasting for the wedding:
+turning the rental car back in (chevy impalas are not for me)
This weekend we will be trying to tackle some key wedding tasks and soaking up the sunshine.
What do you have planned?