Monday, May 31, 2010

That Elusive Moment of Clarity

The title of this blog for the past 7 years has been "Moments of Clarity and Chaos." I chose it because it describes my life all too well. Unfortunately, these past few years have been filled with more moments of chaos than there have been moments of clarity.
This past week was filled with more discouragement than I care to admit. I came very dangerously close to throwing in the towel on my new life in Arkansas. I can't go into any detail on this subject, except to say, it is not all rainbows and puppies around here.
Again, without further explanation, all I can say is I signed up for the difficult path. I knew it wasn't going to be easy to move to a new state, sight unseen, leave everything and everyone I loved behind, make a major career change, and face it all alone. I knew this and chose to do it anyway. (But then, I expected things to be a little different when I got here.)
As I said before, this week was very discouraging. There were more tears shed than I care to admit. It really didn't feel like any of my choices were worth it. In fact, it all felt like a huge mistake.
The hardest part about being here has been that I don't feel like me. The work I've been doing is a "square peg, round hole" fit. And it is strange how a few initial interactions with someone can get you off on the wrong foot, and keep you from ever truly getting the right footing. This is all to say that due to some initial encounters with certain individuals, I have not acted like myself at all. I was even told at one point to be "a little less me." But the hard part was that I wasn't being me. I was being this new uncomfortable person who has little confidence in her situation.
Have you ever been there? Do you know what that feels like? You aren't being yourself, you aren't comfortable or confident, and you just don't know how to find yourself again?
That has been me ever since stepping into Arkansas. I don't know where I went, but I didn't arrive here in my own skin.
Which is why this past weekend has been so special. (and you know I hate to describe feelings with "special.")
I had some very tough decisions to make- financial, career, personal, etc. Like I said, there were tears. A lot of tears. What is "tough" about tough decisions is generally that we know which decision is probably better for us on certain levels, but we can see a much easier option that brings us temporary and quicker happiness. I so badly wanted some happiness. Nothing has really been happy here in a long time. I needed joy in the worst possible way. I was desperate to just feel happy again.
Have you been there? Can you relate?
But I made the "tough" choice. I chose to put off immediate and temporary happiness for the longer term benefits. And then sat down and cried again, my depression and discouragement only that much worse.
That was the first half of my moment of clarity.
The second half came within an hour of drying my tears and accepting my fate. In one unexpected phone call came a generous gift. One that could save my weekend and give me a little temporary happiness. And when you are in the "depths of despair" (one of my favorite Anne of Green Gables quotes), sometimes you just need to know the following-
1. God hears and answers prayers. God loves you.
2. Even when you feel all alone, God knows how to wake up someone who loves you and get them to call you.

In just a few short minutes my weekend was saved. Enjoyable activities were on the way. A reason to smile was in front of me. I could breathe again.
Not long after that I found myself in a bookstore. I never, ever read self-help books. In fact, I mock most of them. I think you can learn all you need to know from the book jacket, and you can save yourself the $9.99 sticker price. But for some reason, a reason I like to call the Spirit holding me by the lapels and turning my head and forcing me to look at the books, I found myself looking specifically at two books. (more on the books and reviews later.) I bought them, took them home, and read them. And then the craziest thing happened. I found myself. Right there in the self-help section. I remembered who I was and what I like to do, think, and say. And in just 477 pages I suddenly knew how to be me again. I put word clouds all over my drawing board. I sketched, I imagined, I relaxed, and I loved it. I can look in the mirror and recognize the girl smiling back at me.
A pure, unadulterated moment of clarity. I'm me again.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Poor Dog

If you have ever met my dog you know she is a little saint. She's incredibly well-behaved, rarely barks, rarely jumps up on people, is protective, smart, etc. And she's pretty too, for a mutt of a dog.
What happens next is not her fault.
In my ever valiant efforts to save money I decided to not take my dog to the groomer's and not pay $60-100 for her to get a summer haircut. Instead, I bought a dog grooming kit at Walmart for $30, and attempted to do it myself.
Ay yi yi.
I'm so glad she doesn't know what she looks like. She's a rather vain dog. (If you've never had a vain dog this may be hard to understand. But seriously, some dogs are really vain!) And oh my goodness, I did not do a good job on her. I'd take her in to the groomer to get it clean up, but really, there's not much left to clean it up. I feel so bad! If it wasn't so impolite to say it, I'd say she looks like the dog version of a cancer patient right now.
But it will grow back, right? And at least she'll have a nice cool summer haircut and we can avoid heat strokes!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Year of Cutting Back and Going Green

Here at Mission Control (what I call my home) I've been engaged in a challenge I gave myself. I'm calling it the Year of Cutting Back and Going Green. I've decided to start making this blog more about cutting back financially, going green, reuse, reduce, recycle, movie reviews, and product reviews. It is still the world according to me, but maybe with a little more focus on the world, and less on me.

When I accepted my new job and moved cross country, I also took a paycut. So I'm not just cutting back financially so that I can make new investments or savings, I'm doing it because I have to. It has been quite an adventure so far. I'll report back more on my efforts later.

Going Green is so cliche these days. It is so much more than recycling newspapers or plastic bottles. It also means reducing waste, reusing packaging, repurposing many things, etc. I've always naturally been pretty good at reducing and reusing. I'm pretty creative in those respects. But I'm looking forward to sharing some of my little ideas of how to reduce and reuse, and for getting ideas from my friends on how to do even more- while cutting back financially. Unfortunately, going green can be very cost prohibitive at times.

And then there are movie and product reviews. Pretty straightforward, right?

As I go forward, I hope you'll give me your feedback on what is interesting to you, what is helpful, or what bored you completely!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Weekend in Photographs

After 7 Saturdays of living in Arkansas, it finally didn't rain! YEAH!! I couldn't wait to get out and explore the green, Greener, GREENEST hills around me!

I took my trusty companion with me and hit up Devil's Den State Park for a 3 miles hike on Saturday.

Devil's Den is known for having deep chasms and several caves throughout the park. Unfortunately, the caves are currently off-limits and closed to the public due to a bat fungus. Nope, you can't make this stuff up. Bat fungus.

There's also a few simple waterfalls along the main trail. The dog did NOT like having to walk under these!

Just another beautiful view along the trail.

On Sunday I discovered some trails at Lake Fayetteville. I had been given a brochure about the park. It showed a simple, easy, fun, paved 2.25 miles trail. It also showed an unpaved 5.5 miles "nature trail." I thought I could easily handle the 2.25 miles trail with the dog.

At the 3.75 mile marker I had to accept that maybe I wasn't on the 2.25 miles trail. At 4.0 miles the paved trail ended, and I had the fun of having to navigate the 20 berzillion little mountain biking trails through the woods back to my car. Except I also turned back at 3.75 to go to an info station for information, and added an extra mile to my trip. (The info station was closed.) All in all, my 2.25 miles walk was a little over 7 miles.

The dog was less than happy with our extended journey! She tried multiple times to give up and just sit in the shade. But she survived the trip and is now taking it very easy in the corner, and giving me the cold shoulder!
Turns out I had a VERY old map. There are more trails than were showing on my brochure obviously. I also discovered Lake Fayetteville is the home to multiple snakes. MULTIPLE SNAKES. I do NOT do snakes. I REALLY DO NOT DO SNAKES. I haven't decided if I will be going back to this park or not. TOO MANY SNAKES.

30 Rock My World

I love 30 Rock. I love how they will mock just about anything, and not just subjects that are so low brow that anyone can get the joke. They mock more obscure things, or on occasion more intellectual things as well. You can only imagine my surprise when they mocked "Maryland Accents," this past week.
As a proud vocalizer of the "Maryland Accent" (except I've always called it a Potomac Accent, very distinctly defined by the way those who have it say "Pa-TEAU-mick."), I thought this was hilarious. Even in the DC/MD/VA area it isn't a well-known accent. For the most part only true natives/locals have it, and we are far and few between!!

Yes, this is how I say my "o" sounds. I can't help it. I was talking to my dad over Skype yesterday (I'm not allowed to say what country he lives in) and tried explaining this bit to him. He finally laughed at me because i couldn't explain the difference between the way I say "oh" and how apparently you are supposed to say "oh." He said, "You are saying it the same way both times! I don't hear anything wrong." And then I realized - he has the Potomac Accent too!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ear Candling

I have had an ear ache for a month now. I've tried the usual painkillers (Tylenol/Advil/whatever), and I've tried decongestants. Nothing has made a dent in this ear ache. And I swear it sounds like a rock is rattling around inside my ear.
So tonight I spent $3 at Ozarks Natural Foods (kind of like the Whole Foods of AR) on ear candles. It was cheaper than paying out of pocket to go to a real doctor, right?
Does it work? Does it cure all manner of sinus/ear/balance/TMJ/hearing problems? No, I really don't think so. Was there all manner of nastiness in the candle when I was done? Oh yeah. Does my ear still hurt? No, it just feels different. Would I recommend doing it solo like I did and trying to take a picture at the same time? Really big no!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Bet You Can't Not Smile

I bet you can't watch these two videos and not smile.
First video is the unofficial video to "All About Your Heart" on Mindy Gledhill's soon-to-be-released album, Anchor. I first heard this song over a year ago and fell in love with it. It is also played in the background of the virally popular, "My New Life" video about blogger NieNie's life.

Don't you wish we could all be as carefree as this little doll?

And why aren't we all this positive about our lives as this little lady??

You Learn Something New Every Day

I got a very important email tonight. It was from my #1 nephew, Tell. He explained he had to send someone an email so he could get his scouting communication belt loop.
These were like foreign words to me, but I emailed him back anyway and said he didn't have to make up excuses to email me. I like him anyway.
Shortly thereafter his mother (you know, my sister Natalie) texted and asked if we could Skype - because #1 nephew needed to do it for this belt loop. He had to get this last requirement finished tonight because tomorrow he leaves the Cubs and becomes a Webelos.
Again, I explained they didn't have to make up silly reasons to Skype me.
So at the designated time they got on Skype and we had a fun little time talking to each other. It was made even more fun by my microphone going in and out. So for a few minutes we extended his "communication" exercises even more by me signing to him.
And then I asked the all important question. What was this all about?
Did you know that Cub Scouts don't get badges? They get "belt loops." Makes no sense, but whatever.
More importantly, what the crap is a Webelos? All this time I have been picturing it as some sort of jackal or fox. Maybe a weasel? I don't know.
Nope. Not even close. Why? Because Webelos are not real things. Webelos is an acronym!
We Be Loyal Scouts.
Who came up with the bright idea to give scouts a grammatically incorrect name??
Oh and you can never just be a Webelo, cause then you are just a We Be Loyal. You have to be a Webelos.
Also, is it just me or does the Webelos badge look like an ear of corn?

Monday, May 17, 2010

As Seen in Arkansas

Two men wearing camouflage overalls, with long ZZ top beards, hiking down a main thoroughfare, with camp packs on their backs, walking a Dachshund.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Feelings, nothing but feelings

Since moving here there has been a constant dilemma of what to say on my blog. Several of my co-workers could read my blog if they want to. So do I talk about how I feel here? Or just talk about other things? I don't know. But today we're going with sharing feelings.

I'm been struggling with finding a "happy center" - that elusive balance of creativity, personal life, and professional life. And how to find confidence and strength during a time of confusion and loneliness?

I'm fighting off the urge to whine, and vent, and cry about loneliness. How much I miss companionship with someone other than my dog.

But this will pass in a day or two, right? I'll be back to finding joy and happiness soon. Right?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just another day at the office

Its not everyday you get to say, "That's me in the blue thong."

Yep, this is how we spent the afternoon at work. (Sorry about the sideways video.) That would be me losing to a co-worker.
So what did you do at work today?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Mom

Happy Birthday to a great Mom! Enjoy the anniversary of your 29th birthday!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Forgetful Lucy

Once upon a time there was a girl named Erin. Sometimes she would get cranky and tired and want to scream at the top of her lungs that she was mad. But then she would realize that she couldn't remember what she was mad about.
And all of that lead to a really funny idea for a blog post. But before she could get it all typed out she completely forgot what it was.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Two Things I Love the Most

As you may have noticed, these are the two things I love the most- Little and Big Fat Doggy. So indulge me as I tell you a cute story about my 2 favorite things!
I had a "skype date" with Little recently. Talk about fun and cute getting to talk to her via Skype for an hour! I miss my kiddo so much! It was great getting to see her and chat (almost just) like we always do!
But! The whole time we were talking Big Fat Doggy was going crazy! She is normally the best behaved dog you have ever seen. She never barks, never jumps up on people, and would rather die than jump on me! She's an angel of a dog. But during the "skype date" the dog went crazy! She was running all around the apartment, barking loudly, and very forcefully jumping up on me and barking right in my face. I have never seen her behave so poorly! I finally grabbed her and forced her into the bathroom. She fought me the whole way- which she never does. And then she kept barking- LOUDLY!
The "skype date" ended and I let the dog out. She ran one more time around the apartment, and then settled down just fine. And then it hit me! Doggy LOVES Little! You give her the choice between me and Little, and she will go sit and take care of Little every time. Little is her #1 favorite! During the skype, she could hear Little's voice! She was trying to find Little! She was trying to be a good dog, and let me know something was wrong. She could hear Little, but couldn't find her! Poor dog couldn't understand!
How cute is that!?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Things Worth Mentioning

Ben and Jerry's Minis/Personals/Singles- whatever they are called, they are perfect. Just one single serving of B&J's, not too big. You can get what you want, without getting the calories you deserve!

Arkansas is truly beautiful. I can't get over the rolling hills, green everywhere, blossoms, and miles and miles of woods.

Have you ever had a just buck up and and get it done weekend? That was me this weekend. I did so much laundry I went through nearly an entire bottle of detergent. (It usually takes me 2 months to use up a bottle of detergent!) And I used up an entire box of fabric softener. But I was throwing in about 6 sheets per load. (A cat stink issue.) On top of that I spent way more time than a girl should on a Saturday night with tech support to fix a computer issue, hung drapes, hung pictures, rearranged furniture, and a ton more. Verdict? It takes 2 people to hang drapes on windows 8 feet wide.

I saw a dude with a long beard, John Deere green hat, and dark blue overalls out front of a tractor store. It was so stereotypical I couldn't help but laugh so hard that I nearly hit the car in front of me.

Anyone recognize this house? on Twitpic

Some of you may know that my favorite reality show (and the only one I watch) is filmed here in my new town. I just happened to meet someone who works with their production crew once in a while. Result? He told me what the family is like. (They are as genuine and kind in real life as they appear on the show.) And gave me stalker tips. I think he realizes I'm far from being the kind of person who could actually ever approach them! But it is fun to know things about them! (You can see their house-

Movie worth seeing- The Young Victoria! I got this from the RedBox (I do love RedBox), not knowing what to expect. I did know it had received some Oscar and Golden Globe buzz, and some awards. I was NOT disappointed! In fact, I loved it! It is the love story between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I didn't know much about them at all going into it. After the movie was over I stayed up for hours doing more research online about them. I really recommend this film!

Movie to Stay Far Far Away From- I also watched the "Lovely Bones." Disclaimer: I have not yet read the book. I probably won't after seeing this movie. It was AWFUL. I hated pretty much every single minute of it. I don't know if it was awful editing, or the awful plot (a young girl is kidnapped and murdered, and then tells the story of her family's search for her as she watches from heaven), or the fact that I hated their version of heaven. It was just awful. Ugh! I also would really NOT recommend "Everything's Fine." It stars Drew Barrymore and Robert DeNiro. I had much higher hopes for it. I can't believe they dared release it around Christmas. Again, depressing, dark, and I completely disagreed with most of it.
I keep thinking that I should blog. But then I realize I have nothing of interest to say. The new routine is, for the time being, pretty dull. I get up, walk the dog, go to work, come home, walk the dog, eat, clean something, hopefully talk to a friend, and go to bed. Not much variation there. And not much to blog about either.
I've definitely reached a little slump. I've been here long enough to be feeling the boredom

Working Girl

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