Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Guilt

I have reached some kind of emotional-health zen.

Let me 'splain. So, in the past I had a crushing tendency to aim for perfection and then beat myself over the head with my shortcomings. We're talking, regular cry sessions on my knees at night because I just wasn't measuring up and felt like I needed to apologize to God for the numerous ways in which I was obviously a terrible person. (Anyone feelin' me?)

Don't get me wrong, it's good to have a healthy conscious. It's good to have personal morals. It's good to make path corrections when your choices aren't lining up with those morals. BUT. Sometimes I think that too easily turns into a hyper-focus on all the ways in which you are falling short. It too easily causes us to link our inherent worth to which choices we did or didn't make on a given day. I know that's what it easily/often became for me.

And then something remarkable happened.

With all the chaos of the last year of my life, my brain had about as much weighing on it as it possibly could. So much to process, so much to decide, so much to analyze, and SO.MANY.FEELINGS. A month or two ago, I felt like my brain was about to crack under all of it. Something had to to give...and something did. I did choose to give up something important.

I gave up guilt, and I gave up shame.

I reached a point where I was just simply tired of feeling guilty all the time. I didn't suddenly run out and abandon all my personal standards and embrace riotous living and tell myself I could do whatever-the-eff I wanted, don't get me wrong. I just...eliminated guilt. I did away with it. I just let myself make choices, trusted that I was making them with the best intentions of my heart (or sometimes with petulance and blatant selfishness, because I'm human), and then refused to acknowledge or entertain thoughts about whether or not that made me a good or bad person. Just honest, authentic choices from someone who's trying to be an honest, authentic person, whatever that looks like on a given day.

In short, I started giving myself permission to be myself.

I'm pretty open-minded about other people's lives. Friends can tell me the most sad or horrible things about themselves, and it usually doesn't faze me or change my opinion of them as someone I love and care about. My reaction is usually somewhere along the lines of "So?" or "And..?" Why wasn't I ever doing that for myself, too? Why not be open-minded and forgiving about my own life?

In a religious sense, I've stopped approaching God as an ashamed, apologetic version of myself. Instead, I've started coming to Him Just me, with all my ups and downs, just one complete whole with varying parts. Just one complete, GOOD, whole. One whole circle that doesn't have shameful pieces hiding off to the side, but rather has all the various parts inside one bigger, GOOD circle. All different parts, all one good whole. I'm learning to look at myself and say, "I am a good person, AND I have less desirable moments or traits or habits. And that's OK. My heart is still good, and I'm trying my best." Because I honestly believe that is how God looks at me, too. He sees my mistakes. He sees my best and my worst. And just like a good friend and a good parent, it doesn't change my value in His eyes. It doesn't make me lesser, or worthless, or something to be ashamed of.

I've long been taught that I don't need to earn God's love, or earn my inherent worth. I'm finally starting to believe that. And, I'm finally learning that I don't have to earn my own love either.

I challenge you to try it: The next time you feel worthless, guilty, ashamed, etc., simply turn and look at yourself, as a friend, and say, "So?" The next time you're nitpicking every little piece of your day and feeling bad about this or that, shrug your shoulders and say, "And...?" Then remember that you are still good.......and let it all go out the window.

It's like magic: I am allowing myself to be imperfect, and I have honestly, finally, never felt better about who I am.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My First 12 Hours on Tinder

Sometimes when you're curious about something, you just gotta do it.

Like that one time when I wondered if it would be socially unacceptable to take pics in a photo booth by I felt compelled to go ahead and do it. (Evidence.) (Please don't quote me on my curiosity logic and use it as a reason to try drugs or criminal activity.)

I've had a similar approach to Tinder. Don't know what it is? It's like online dating....but it's an app. Basically, you scroll through pictures of people in the gender/age-range/proximity of your choosing, and you swipe right if you like them, left if you don't. Sound shallow?'s what we do in real life anyway when we scan a crowd.

After my first (brief) foray into technological dating a couple years ago, I kind of swore it off.

I've had friends get married from online dating, but I'm not sure the cyber-introductions are for me, even if it's really not so different than meeting someone at a party or on the train or whatever, in the end. But after evvvverrrryyyyone I knew started using Tinder (and reporting good/benign things, mostly), that gnawing curiosity took over I am!

Most likely scenario? It'll fascinate me for a week or two and then I'll lose interest like I do with most new apps on my phone. But in the meantime, why not? It's like this cultural phenomenon that I must try.

My reaction thus far:

  • Really makes me aware that I only find like 1/40 men attractive. We all have our type, so I'm not totally surprised/ashamed by that. Beards, plaid, hipsters, tacos, good taste in music and 90s TV/! (Tinder tells you if you have any Facebook interests or friends in common, which is a neat bonus.)
  • I'm really not into guys who want to tell me what to do, e.g. "Swipe right, you know you want to." I? Maybe. But I might go left just to spite you, bossypants.
  • It really is harmless and less intimidating than other dating sites seem to be. I have mentioned on the ol' blog that I'm a little soured on dating in general right now...but maybe what I need is something less serious to remind me that dating can be fun, so I'll stop choosing Netflix and sneaking-out-side-doors-of-parties over flirting. (Baby steps.)
  • You can tell a lot about someone from the types of pictures they choose to post...or so it seems. Makes me wonder what someone would think about me if they didn't know me and just saw my pictures/brief bio. Do I represent myself accurately?
  • Poor grammar is a big turnoff for me. (That's no surprise, let's be real.) I mean, we all make mistakes...and I'll probably ironically have a typo somewhere in this post just so the universe can spite me. But...some of us make more mistakes than others. Moving onnnn.
  • I'm paranoid I'll match with someone who I end up working with at a future job. Don't get me wrong, it would be hilarious. "Hi, deskmate. I'm glad we find each other attractive." Team unity, right off the bat.
  • I get most excited when I see someone I know on there. I want to swipe right just to say hello, even though I could say hello in real life. So maybe I'm missing the point. Shrug?
The funny part for me, still, (and what I expected I would encounter) is that I'm not sure what to do with myself when I match with someone. I'm just not fully sold on the idea that random virtual chatting is for me. I have all these matches sitting in my inbox and only one of them has said anything to me. And now...? Am I supposed to talk first? Or do we just go silently on our way, enjoying the fact that we just validated each other? How does this work?

Basically these are my feelings:

...bahaha. Like I said, good adventure. Stories to come, I'm sure.

Do you Tinder?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Anjolee Jewelry Giveaway

Who doesn't like things that are sparkly and free??

I'm beyond amped to be teaming up with Anjolee - The Art of Jewelry to offer one of you lucky ducks the chance to win a shmancy new piece of jewelry! If you win, you'll have your choice of the three options below, set in silver with the option of cubic zirconia, topaz, citrine, garnet or amethyst as the stone. *insert some kind of happy Irish jig*

Be sure to check out the full collection of customizable jewelry and engagement rings that Anjolee offers!

So head to the widget below and enter away!

1. Enchantment Bridal Set
2. Eternity Band
3. Romantic Stud Earrings

Giveaway ends on Friday, March 28!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

movies: The Giver trailer

Are you a fan of the book The Giver?

This was one of the first novels I read as a wee, I think I hate that a young child. It was one of the first dystopian novels....a la Hunger Games, Divergent, etc...before that genre really exploded. I always loved it, so the idea of a movie adaptation made me oh-so-happy!

...and then I saw the trailer. 

So...there's new dialogue and attractive teenage characters and...color....and...alien abductions...? ...? What? On a positive note, if they are going to age Jonas by several years at least he's nice to look at. This article used the words "Aussie" and "strapping." *throws book out the window* *buys movie ticket and popcorn*

Mostly, I'm worried this will be an attempt at being like Hunger Games that isn't as good at the Hunger Games type of movie and then everyone will think it's just a lame movie that tried to be Hunger Games. Look, I like HG. I do. But I would have preferred to see The Giver as some kind of artsy indie film. One with good music and things that provoke thought. But for now we have Aussies and alien light beams, I suppose.

I guess there's always hope? Now you watch it and tell me what you think:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Spring Cleaning My Life

I have a chronic habit of overfilling my plate.

Not my food hypothetical daily-life-to-do plate. OK and my food plate too sometimes.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this. It's like one second things are all calm, and you think, "I should take up a new hobby." And then suddenly you have 10 new hobbies. And you're also signed up for jazzercise 3x a week. And committed to bringing dinner to several events a week. And build a house with your bare hands, sans instructions, while blindfolded, etc. It. All. Just. Adds. Up. So. Quickly.

The thing is, I don't think most of us magically get better at juggling as we throw more balls in the air. I think we just increase the speed at which we're headed for some ultimate crash. Some moment/day/week where one ball suddenly flies off course, distracts you, and takes the whole circus down with it. In flames. In crazy, glaring, chaotic circus flames.

My theme for 2014 is to simplify and edify.

And on my 5th straight day of avoiding my email inbox this week (except for the absolutely necessary responses), I had to admit to myself that maybe I've got a bit too much going on right now. A bit too much in one arena of my life, and not enough in other areas that really matter to me. (See: I haven't played ultimate frisbee in 5 months. That breaks my heart and withers my soul more than a little bit.) How did I get to a point where the 20+ emails perpetually in my inbox are controlling my life to the point that I don't get out and play enough? Or, that I become afraid of my inbox and just lie on my couch and do none of the above?

Side note: Sometimes I act like my email inbox is a Tyrannosaurus Rex on Jurassic Park. If I don't move, it can't see me.

And so I want to make some changes. I want to treat my time/energy/brain-capacity like it's a precious resource (because it is) and be more careful about how I portion it out. I want to stop over-committing myself to things I can't keep up with (because that only leads to guilt when things inevitably go undone), and more-commit myself to just the very basic necessities. I want to gut my To Do list and keep it minimal. I want to simplify the number of directions I'm being pulled in so that I can give my all to the few that I give permission to. To sort out my career and really put my whole heart and mind into one focused place. Just a couple balls in the air and one smooth, focused juggle, with plenty of room for play and friends and the stuff that really matters.

I want to carve it down a bit. To give myself permission to say no, so that I can say yes more, when I really want to. To stop acting like I need to do "enough" and recognize the more-important "so much" that occurs in the absence of the clutter (see here). To trust my gut on the things I should eliminate or add to my life. I want to work hard, play hard, and always have time for a Thursday-evening absentminded wander around Target with my roommate, a Dr. Pepper in one hand and a $7 clearance blanket in the other.

Because that matters more than emails. It matters more than deadlines. To be fair, some of my current chaos all added up because it had to. I had to pile on the multiple commitments and freelance writing gigs so that I could survive and eat and pay rent these last few crazy months. But I don't necessarily need that right now. And it makes me kind of teary eyed to feel like maybe I've gotten past some of that. That I struggled, like f'reals struggled, survived it, and can now shake off some of the weight like a worn-out winter coat, look forward and leave it the 'ell behind.

Lately the sun is out, I'm rocking sandals on the daily, cut-off shorts are about to be pulled out on the regular, and...I guess it's time for a little spring cleaning of my life.

So bring on the baseball, fireworks, simple joys and wins. Some honest-to-goodness, long-time-coming wins.

(joys and wins like butterscotch root beer & blurry selfies)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Popbasic: Sunday Collection review

I'm not really the type of girl for high-maintenance clothes.

Which, is probably why I've never owned a 100% silk shirt before. Can I wash it? Dry it? Probably hang-dry it? Can I even touch it? You can't iron silk, right? The good news is, I don't iron anyway. (No seriously. I've been living in this apartment for 8 months, and only recently thought, "Do we even own an iron?")

But when Popbasic contacted me about trying out their Sunday Collection, it seemed like the perfect time to try out a type of shirt I wouldn't normally buy for myself. And you know what? I put that shirt on and immediately thought, "Oh, this is why people buy silk." COM.FOR.TA.BLE. Seriously, this fabric feels like a cloud, and fits like a dream. And that blueberry color? It's totally working for me.

Popbasic is one of those companies where you can get an outfit sent to you in the mail. Every collection comes with three pieces: in this case, it was the blueberry silk blouse, a silver wishbone bangle, and a matching wishbone ring. I love that the shirt tapers at the waist/hips a bit, making it easy to tuck into a skirt without it getting all bunchy. I also love both pieces of jewelry, but since I'm not a super matchy girl I'll probably wear them separately for the most part. Still, three gorgeous pieces and I'm a happy camper!

Here are some photos!
I paired the shirt and jewelry with color-blocked boots from Target, and pleather leggings from CottonOn because pleather leggings of course. (And someday when I have a husband or a tripod, I'll take better outfit photos. Ha.)

Now let me tell you what I like about Popbasic:

1. They are nice people. I had such a nice time email-chatting with Madeline, one of the founders. I felt like she really took time to look around my blog and send me a personalized email when she contacted me. Warm fuzzies!

2. You don't have to commit to a paid subscription. I feel like some of these outfit-in-a-box companies feel like a big commitment. When you give your email to Popbasic, you're just signing up to receive announcements when they release a new collection -- if you like it, you can choose to buy it. If you don't like that particular collection, you don't buy it. Bam.

3. I actually like their clothes. I like to wear a wide variety of styles, but I also have very particular opinions about what I like and what I don't. While browsing through their previous collections, I actually liked the majority of it. That's a win.

And those are my thoughts! Thank you to Popbasic for sending me these lovelies in the mail, and I'm totally looking forward to seeing their future collections in my email inbox!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

So I'm going to Iceland!


You know I done bought myself a passport for Valentine's Day (gee whiz I'm so good to me), and I had my heart set on the northern European region as my first destination. So I poked around on the Internet a bit (and by that I mean I neurotically stalked flight prices, scoured travel blogs, obsessively pinned photos to my travel board, made a Google doc called "Travel is my boyfriend", etc.) heart said Iceland!

I think the following pics should aptly sum up why these travel plans are making my heart do the Dougie in my chest:

...did I make the right choice, or did I make the right choice?

You can bet I'll be rambling about this here and there for the next couple months. And if you've been to Iceland, do tell! I want to hear all your juicy secrets. Or unjuicy secrets. Whatevs. Basically I've been riding one big adrenaline rush for the last few hours since I clicked "Purchase." Combined with the bowl of Trix I voraciously ate earlier, it's probably the best high there is.

images: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Music: Ugly Dress

We need some tunes up in here.

I feel like the ol' shblog has been a bit heavy with all my rambling thoughts lately, so it's high time for a music break! A friend sent this Jesse Woods tune my way a couple months back, and it makes me smile because a) it talks about northern California, b) there's a tambourine involved, and c) I've been known to wear questionable dresses at various times of my life. That's what happens when you shop at thrift stores and don't give a hooverdam what other people think of your clothing. (Looking back at some of the photos, I could probably have stood to give a little more of a hooverdam than I did. #sorrynotsorry)

Enjoy! Listening to anything good lately I need to know about?

i saw you at the picture 
wearing that dress you never liked
you know the one i bought for you 
with purple flowers and green pinstripes
i know it's ugly, that's why i bought it for you
it needed natural beauty, pretty girl would only do

where's that dress now? pull it out for the sunshine
where's that smile now? let it out in the meantime
i'll be waiting in northern california for ya
i'll be waiting in northern california for ya

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dare You to Move

So this is how it happened...

Early last week, I couldn't sleep. I laid in bed and my mind spun 'round and 'round, and I suddenly thought, "I want to go home." Just for kicks, I checked flight prices. And what do you know? You can accomplish a lot by being willing to get up at the A-crack of dawn to fly home, and by asking your boss to take a couple days off, etc. And so, I went home!

And it was wonderful. I saw my family, visited some of my very best friends, watched TV on my parents' couch (who knew House Hunters could be so addictive?), laid in a hammock, sat in a hot tub, and just generally bopped around Gilbert (aka my hometown). It all added up to the perfect opportunity to clear my muddled little head.

And I think I unmuddled some of that muddle.

My first day in AZ, while driving to my nephew's basketball game, I looked all around me at the farm fields and flat land that goes on and on in all directions, and I thought, "I wish this had been enough for me." I had a moment where I just wished my wants/needs were a little more simple, that I could have just found a career and/or a husband and settled down close to my family in a place where everything feels familiar and almost nothing is surprising and life.just.moves.slow.

One of the best parts about being home was being around people that know me, love me and need me.

Don't get me wrong, California has been very welcoming, but it's hard to compare to several years of relationships, and memories that are leaking out of every crevice and seam in the Phoenix valley. Last year, I dated a guy who I loved quite a bit. And when we broke up, one of the reasons (among other things), was that he told me, "You don't need me." That caught me off guard, and after I thought it over, I decided he was right -- because need and love aren't the same thing for me. And if he needed someone to need him, to be less independent than I am, then I couldn't give that to him. I did love him, but I didn't need him.

But I realized this weekend that I was wrong about something: I do need people.

And I do want to be needed. And if I could rewind back to that relationship, I don't know that I'd undo the breakup, but I do think I'd make sure to tell that boy that I did need him, even if I didn't know it at the time. I think something about starting a whole new life last year when I moved to California made me realize how much I did need the people around me in AZ, and how much security it gave me to feel like they needed me too. And, given time, I'll have more of that in California too. But there you go...I, Katie/katilda, chronically independent life warrior, NEED people. And I need to be needed. It might not sound like a big realization to some of you, but it has been for me.

Even as of last night, I wasn't totally sure I was ready to come back to California. I didn't want to move back to AZ permanently or anything, but I wasn't sure I had it in me to jump back into my life today. Back into sorting out my career, back into wrapping my head around whatever it is that my heart/dating life/dating sabbatical/I-don't-know is doing right now, back into the grit of tough-it-out-on-your-own-you-got-this-come-on-now-keep-it-together. I texted a dear friend last night and told her I felt like an empty well, and that I didn't have an ounce of me left to give to any of it. And that I just wish that life would throw me a fact, that life needs to throw me a bone, because I just kind of felt like a puddle of mush on the floor that couldn't go after anything on my own. And I got on my knees and told God to please let me just feel sure and confident about something.

And something good happened when I got back to California today.

I got off the plane, and I felt it in my gut...the same feeling I had last summer when I uprooted myself and moved here all alone like a crazy person, despite all the uncertainty and unknowns. As I stood on the train platform at the airport today and looked at the California hills and trees, and breathed in the muggy, oceany climate...I felt brave, and I felt hope, and I felt a pervasive, thrumming, YES. I know that feeling, because it's what got me here in the first place. And today it told me, "YES, you still got this."

And then I rode the train home to my neighborhood. And the playlist I was listening to shuffled to Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move," and I felt another feeling I haven't felt in awhile. The thing is, I've spent too much of the last few weeks with surrender on one shoulder and defeat on the other, both just sitting heavy on me. I've caught myself, more often than I'd like, looking at the ground while I walked, and dreading run-ins with people who reminded me of things that made me sad and only added to the weight. But when I stepped off the train today, and that Switchfoot song queued up, I felt like lifting my chin for the first time in awhile. I felt like looking life in the face. I felt like fighting, in a good way. I felt like maybe I can accept surrender, as a positive thing, without pairing it with defeat. I felt like none of the setbacks of the last few months have got anything on my willpower, my stamina, or my faith. And I can't even tell you how much I needed to feel those things again.

I wouldn't say that the situations the last few months, of various job setbacks and various little heart bruises and breaks, would be something I want to go through again. And I don't even know, sometimes, if I'd make the leap again if I could have seen how tangled it would all get. BUT. Even if the next few months (or years, who knows!) play out just like the recent ones, today it felt good to remember that I've still got it in me. I don't know if I've "come out on top" yet, because for all I know I'm just somewhere in the middle at this point, but I do know that I'm not a dry, empty well after all. Maybe I was, for a little while, and maybe I will be again sometimes, but today I feel like I've got at least a bucketful of water replenished in there. And tomorrow, maybe another bucket. And more hopeful buckets after that.

i dare you to move
i dare you to move
i dare you to lift yourself
up off the floor