The Wanderer’s Guide to Life

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ~ Douglas Adams

Galaxies are so large that stars can be consid...

Galaxies are so large that stars can be considered particles next to them (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I graduated college nearly five years ago, I would not have considered myself a wanderer (or hitchhiker, as is the case with Douglas Adams).  I was a girl with a very narrow focus on life, and I thought I knew what I wanted: a steady 9-5 job as an Editorial Assistant at a publishing company where I would climb the ranks and, when I got married (who knows when that was going to happen!), I’d move out of my mom’s apartment.  In my spare time, all I aspired to do was catch up on reading.

Fast forward a few years, and my life looks very different than the less-than-inspiring version I was aspiring to as a recent college grad (Not that having a steady job is a bad thing, I’ve just since realized I want something more than that).

When I stumbled across the above quote earlier today, it got me thinking of all the sometimes frightening but always wonderful turns my life has taken, particularly in the past three years.  As another exercise in gratitude, I wanted to list some of those changes:

I have two Etsy shops: Remember when I said I used to aspire to simply catch up on reading? I’ve since opened up to online shops where I sell crafts and fine art (btdubs, I’m having a 15% off February sale in both shops now through 2/15!).  Because I have this outlet, I’m constantly thinking of new ideas for projects, which keeps the creative juices flowing.

I freelance, well, everything: I mostly copy edit, proofread, and babysit, but it’s so different than a 9-5.  I’m grateful that I can make my own schedule and even have time for lunch with friends 🙂

I am in a healthy romantic relationship: I used to be the jaded, single woman who thought that all the good guys were either taken, gay, or my best friends.  Nothing I did to garner a relationship seemed to work.  And then one day (like so many people told me, but I never believed them), it just happened.  A friendship I had for about half of my life blossomed.  And it’s been awesome ever since.

I think it is rare to find a person (and I am lucky to have friends like this too) who loves you, flaws and all.  (I know, I know. I’m probably giving most people a toothache right now, especially so close to Valentine’s Day. If you are not in a romantic relationship, let me encourage to live your life fully now, not in a holding pattern.  The right time and right person will come).

I am a professor: I thought this title only came after numerous awards, books, hard work, and lots of coffee (well, tea in my case).  I’m glad that a local community college gave me the chance to be in front of the classroom.  I am in my second semester of teaching, and it has been by turns challenging and rewarding beyond any of my expectations.

I have recently been commissioned to make art: This is something I thought would never happen. I’m comfortable calling myself a writer, but not an artist.  The painting commission I recently received was a really great confidence booster.

I am living on my own (well, with a roommate): For the past two and a half years, I’ve been living with a college buddy of mine.  We play video games and banter about poetry, faith, and Gangam Style (ok, fine, mostly Gangam style).

I have an MFA in Poetry: When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I determined that I was done with school.  But then I heard about the Poetry program that my alma mater was starting.  I knew I had to apply.  It’s been a little over two years since I’ve graduated, and spending two years breathing, eating, and sweating poetry was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have a chapbook: A chapbook is a shorter poetry manuscript (about 18-25 pages).  I put one together a few weeks ago, and I’m pretty happy with it.  I didn’t think I’d ever have the time or discipline to put one of these together.  Now I’ve got one and a goal of mine for this year is to get it published with a press.  We’ll see how that turns out!

I find myself continuing to explore different possibilities.  I’ve signed up for bartending school and am looking into certification to be a teaching artist.  I’m also applying to and saving for writer’s residencies and art classes just for fun.  I feel that the world is open to me, and I want to try everything I possibly can!

Ok, so perhaps there is no “Wanderer’s Guide to Life” as the title suggests, but I think that’s because to wander means to explore.  If you have a five (or seven or ten)-step plan for it, the fun is sucked out of the adventures.

Of course, wandering comes with its own worries and questions (for me, some of those questions are: what should I focus my time on primarily?  Do I want a career? Can I pay the bills doing activities I love?), but I’ve found that these bigger questions tend to work themselves out if you put in hard work and pursue the activities that make you feel alive.

If you would have told me about my current life situation five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. My options at that time were few because I made it so. My life as it stands now was unthinkable to me back then because it’s completely different than the stereotypical picture I had in my mind.  But when I think about my current circumstances, I smile and know this is exactly where I needed to land.

What is one event in your life that was a pleasant surprise?

10 Songs that Should be on your iPod (or other MP3 player…)

Album cover for the Evanescence single "G...

Album cover for the Evanescence single “Good Enough”, version 1. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Streamy Awards Photo 1189

Streamy Awards Photo 1189 (Photo credit: The Bui Brothers)

Wordplay (song)

Wordplay (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, now that I embarrassed myself with 10 guilty pleasure songs yesterday, let me make some suggestions for songs that I think should be on everyone’s iPod.  I’ll admit, I do lean towards rock, but I have been on an R&B kick lately (though that didn’t really show through on this list).  Hope you find something you like!  This started turning into classic rock songs that you shouldn’t be without…hopefully further editing has balanced this post out.

1. Living in the Moment – Jason Mraz
This is a great song to serve as a reminder to loosen up and enjoy life.  I tend to keep busier and more stressed than I should, and this song reminds me to “not waste my days making up all kinds of ways to worry about all the things that will not happen to me.”

02 – Living In The Moment

2. Hook It up – Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew
Pirate Rap. ‘Nuff said

06 Hook It Up

3. Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – Cage the Elephant
Good song for when you want to feel badass. Just open the windows, put your shades on, and blast this song down the highway!

03 Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

4. Taxi – Gym Class Heroes
A song made up almost entirely of band names.  As a writer, I find that impressive.  When I first heard this song, I tried to write a poem made up of band names.  It failed.  This song, however, does not.

Gym Class Heroes – Taxi

5. Good Enough – Evanescence
Usually known for their gothic stylings, this Evanescence tune is almost classical.  The piano and string arrangements are smooth, and when coupled with Amy Lee’s vocals, this song is absolutely gorgeous!  It’s both sad and happy, but then again, sad is happy for deep people.

Evanescence – Good Enough

6. The Doctor’s Theme – Murray Gold
This man is a music genius!  This song is great mood music.  It’s short, somewhat ominous, and yet oddly beautiful.

03 The Doctor’s Theme

7. Welcome to the Jungle — Guns N Roses
I like feeling badass…can you tell?

Guns N Roses – Welcome to the Jungle

8. Catch and Release – Silversun Pickups
I almost went with Panic Switch, but I needed more slow songs and this is a great one. It’s sexy, but also a little sad.  I always picture a figure skater when I hear this song because the music here is so clean and precise.  I also love the bass melody.

Catch and Release

9. Bromance – Chester See and Ryan Higa
This, like Hook It Up, is a silly one.  The title says it all.  I watched the video for this song on YouTube, saw it was available on iTunes, and downloaded it.  It’s set up as part rap song, part 80s power ballad, and all hilariousness.

01 – Bromance

10. Lost in the Echo – Linkin Park
I wrote a letter to Linkin Park and told of how this particular song was my favorite from their current album, “Living Things.”  It has served to give me energy and confidence.  For example, I played this song while driving to school on my first day of college level teaching in September.  I love the rhythm and hard-hitting lyrics.

01 – Lost In The Echo

ipod shuffle loja online leilao

ipod shuffle loja online leilao (Photo credit: sucelloleiloes)

Now it’s your turn!  What is one song you think should be on everyone’s playlist?

I Can’t Believe I’m Doing This: 10 Songs I’m Embarrassed to Say I Listen To

Back in August, I wrote a post about music I’d recently discovered. But we all have songs on our iPod that we put on when no one else is listening.  They’re the guilty pleasure songs.  For me, a lot of these songs have a nostalgic quality.  Others, well, there’s just no excuse…

1. Ultimate – Lindsay Lohan

Over (Lindsay Lohan song)

Over (Lindsay Lohan song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, this one doesn’t actually have a nostalgia excuse.  I worked at a library for a few years where I helped out with children’s programming.  Many times we’d play “Freeze Dance,” where the object was to freeze right as a song stopped playing.  One of the songs we played frequently was this one.  After hearing it so many times, I just put it on my iPod.

Lindsay Lohan – Ultimate

2. Who Do You Think You Are? – The Spice Girls
A little know song by Britain’s other fab five.  It’s got a funky retro vibe that I dig. But I swear, I listen for the nostalgia.  Not like I dance around in my apartment on a regular basis to this song.  Nope, not at all.

Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are?

3. We R Who We R – Ke$ha
There really is no excuse at all for this one.  I heard it on the radio once and thought it was the most stupid song in existence.  The second time I heard it, I started bopping my head.  The third time, I started singing along.  Oh, pop songs, how you are so terribly catchy.

02 We R Who We R

4. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
Why yes, I do rick roll myself on occasion.

Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up

5. Man, I Feel Like a Woman! – Shania Twain
Silly as it sounds, there are times when I feel empowered by this song.  Not in the “I am woman, hear me ROAR!” kind of way.  But in the “I am woman and, dammit, I’m going to have fun!” kind of way.  Also a fun one to dance to.

Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like a Woman!

6. I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys

Millennium (Backstreet Boys album)

Millennium (Backstreet Boys album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know why nostalgia embarrasses me, but it does.  I don’t think this is a particularly bad song, though I was around 13 when I first made the “this is a good song” judgement.

Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way

7. All or Nothing – O-Town
Another boy band.  I’m more embarrassed by how excited I get when this song plays on Pandora than by the song itself.  Also, I belt it out whenever it’s on.

8. A Little Pain – Trapnest
Oh, the days of conventions and cosplaying!  In an article I posted last week, I showed a picture of me dressed as a character from the anime Nana.  That character is the lead singer of Trapnest’s rival band.  There was a time I was very much into anime, thus how this song made it’s way onto my iPod.

Trapnest – A Little Pain

9. Wonderwall – Oasis
Yeah, nostalgia.  I’m not even sure why I’m embarrassed by this song.  Maybe I just needed to fill space in this post…

Oasis – Wonderwall

10. Heartless – Kanye West
Yo Kanye, I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but I made up this dope dance to yo’ song.  No really, I made up a dance that’s more a series of hand gestures. I don’t know that I’d perform it if asked.  It’s silly.

Kanye West – Heartless

I was going to include a Schoolhouse Rock song on this list, but ,dammit, I like interjections!

Your turn to share!  Any embarrassing songs on your MP3 player?

Kicking the Bucket: Things I’d Like to Do Before I Die

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is the second article on the theme of bucket lists.  I  found my list a little overwhelming, so I broke it up into age categories to make it a little more manageable (at least in my mind!).  Here are a list of things I would love to do before I hit certain ages.
Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon (Photo credit: Eric Lim Photography)

Before 30
  • Act in an off-Broadway play
  • Build my own study/studio (I love books and art and wide open spaces.  For more of an idea of what I mean, check out the Pinterest photo album I’ve dedicated to this dream.)
  • Get my first tattoo
  • Get my motorcycle license
  • Get tattooed with my mom (We’ve had a sort of pact that we’d both get tattooed on her 50th birthday, which is fast approaching.  I guess I should think up a design…)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Go skinny dipping
  • Have a picnic in Central park (basket, wine, the works!)
  • Have coffee (or hot chocolate) with Don Miller (I know the saying goes, “Never meet your heroes.”  I’m willing to take the hit on this one.)
  • Learn to play guitar proficiently (I define this as being able to read the music and pick up the tune easily.  I’ve started taking guitar classes, so I’m on my way!)
  • Learn to use a sewing machine
  • Make Cheetara costume (as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, I’ve dressed up for conventions a few times.  I want to go with a few people to a convention as the Thundercats at some point.)
  • Ride a zip line
  • Run a successful Etsy shop (I define this as 5 or more sales per month in both Roaring Out and Lady Velociraptor)
  • See a Broadway musical (My mom took me to one when I was a baby, so that doesn’t really count)
  • Take a dance class
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Take a road trip where the only parameter is to get back home before I run out of money
  • Take part in a writing residency
  • Try frisbee golf
  • Visit Portland, Oregon
  • Visit Spain
  • Write a fan letter to Jason Statham and see if he responds
flamer

flamer (Photo credit: olaerik)

Before 35

  • Adopt a chimp
  • Fly an airplane
  • Get married
  • Go on a missions trip
  • Gut a fish
  • Have my photography published in a magazine or book
  • Have one or two kids
  • Have publication credits from at least 10 different lit mags
  • Make my own beer
  • Publish my first book
  • Raise $5,000 to drill a well with LiquidWater.com
  • Swing from a chandelier
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Travel to Israel
  • Try blowing glass or working with hot glass
  • Visit Montreal
  • Visit the Globe Theatre in London
  • Walk away from an explosion in slow motion (like the movies!  or Gangnam style)
Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia.

Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 40

  • Be in a band
  • Be in at least one episode of a favorite TV show of mine (preferably Dr Who, but I’d be cool with Supernatural, too)
  • Flamenco dance in Spain
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine (not necessarily go to the gym, but maybe still spar and such)
  • Make my own wine in Napa Valley
  • Read a book a week and write a review for each (I finished a 25 @ 25 photo challenge earlier in the year.  Perhaps I can do a 40 @ 40 book review challenge…)
  • Read at a Poetry reading where I am the headliner
  • Ride a gondola in Italy
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit all 50 states (alternately, have sex in all 50 states. A friend of mine mentioned that she had done this and it sounded like a fun, unique challenge 😉 )
Laurel wreath

Laurel wreath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 50
  • Become Poet Laureate of the state I’m currently living in
  • Make a habit of traveling abroad each year

I must give credit where credit is due.  I would not have written out a bucket list were it not for the blogs of these two lovely ladies: Lesley Carter and Julie

Check out their blogs.  They do some pretty incredible stuff 🙂

What is one item on your bucket list?

Books and Art and Confetti, Oh My!: My 10 New Year’s Resolutions

Confetti, Times Square

Confetti, Times Square (Photo credit: StuartMoreton)

I recently read this article about New Years Resolutions by Don Miller.  It gives some concrete reasons as to why some resolutions don’t seem to work out for those that set them.

Two reasons that stuck with me were 1. the resolutions weren’t meaningful and 2. no plan was made to go along with the resolutions.  It got me thinking about how these two specific reasons are exactly why some of my resolutions for 2012 failed.  I simply didn’t want the results badly enough or other goals not on my “official list of resolutions” were more immediate and promising.  One, honestly, I just plain forgot about.

To avoid resolution failure in 2013, I have made a list of 10 resolutions (or goals, as I like to look at them) that are important to me and that have a solid plan for achievement behind them.

1. Work out at least once a week
This is a failed 2012 goal of mine.  In 2011, I really got into kickboxing.  I stuck with it all year.  Around December 2011, I began to show up to class less and less.  I’d really like to get back into the swing of exercising because I always felt great afterwards (there are few things as refreshing as a post-workout shower).  Also, I miss being able to punch things and not getting in trouble for it 😉

I know “more exercise” is a pretty common resolution for most people, but health is pretty important to me.  During my last check-up this summer, my doctor said I was very healthy and all of my blood work was great.  I’d like to do my part to keep it that way.  Exercising regularly is a habit I want to get into now so that as I age and perfect health may not come as easily, I know I’m doing everything I can to stay in shape.

Books - bookcase top shelf

Books – bookcase top shelf (Photo credit: ~ Phil Moore)

2. Read 20 books I own that I have not read yet
I, like many other literatis, buy books quicker than I can read them.  I have bunches of books on my shelves that I have not read or never finished.  This is typically a source of much frustration since, oddly enough, what keeps me from reading this particular set of books is other books.  This goal is an attempt to help myself focus on the books I already have.

I was going to make the resolution to make my way through all of them, and then I realized that would be crazy.  I like a challenge, but there are times I know I’d just be setting myself up for defeat.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s my list of unread or partially read books (and I have a strong feeling I’m missing a bunch that are hidden in my room under well-placed piles of paper, clothes, and craft supplies):

Ordinary Genius – Kim Addonizio
Eve and Adam – Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant
Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey – Crystal Bacon
Notarikon – Bowman
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers – Shane Claiborne
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Boundaries – Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Vacations on the Black Star Line – Michael Cirelli
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Blinking with Fists – Billy Corgan
Jesus Freaks, Volumes 1 and 2 – DC Talk
Great American Poets: Emily Dickinson – Emily Dickinson
50 American Plays – Matthew and Michael Dickman
Fire to Fire – Mark Doty
Alabanza – Martin Espada
Harlot – Jill Alexander Essbaum
Necropolis – Jill Alexander Essbaum
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Eye of the Fish – Luis Francia
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
New World – Suzanne Gardinier
me and Nina – Monica Hand
Selected Short Stories – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hip Logic – Terrance Hayes
Teaching Poetry Writing – Tom Hunley
Absence is Such a Transparent House – Aby Kaupang
Still to Mow – Maxine Kumin
Breaking the Alabaster Jar – Li-Young Lee
Passwords Primeval – Tony Leuzzi
Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy – C. S. Lewis
That Hideous Strength – C. S. Lewis
Poet in New York – Federico Garcia Lorca
A Gentle Thunder – Max Lucado
New and Selected Poems – Thomas Lux
Gloryland – Anne Marie Macari
Ivory Cradle – Anne Marie Macari
Times Alone – Antonio Machado
Wild Domestic – Tamara Madison
What Learning Leaves – Taylor Mali
What Teachers Make – Taylor Mali
Song of Thieves – Shara McCallum
Panic – Laura McCullough
Pink Elephant – Rachel McKibbons
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Donald Miller
Searching for God Knows What – Donald Miller
The Tiny One – Eliza Minot
Western Practice – Stephen Motika
The Essential Neruda – Pablo Neruda
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair – Pablo Neruda
Lucky Fish – Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Evidence – Mary Oliver
Pier – Janine Oshiro
Dancing at the Devil’s Party – Alicia Ostriker
Volcano Sequence – Alicia Ostriker
Convergences – Octavio Paz
Sudden Dog – Matthew Pennock
Boy – Patrick Phillips
100 Poems by 100 Poets – Harold Pinter
Ariel – Sylvia Plath
The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers – Bhanu Kapil Rider
Capirotada – Alberto Rios
Open Secret – Rumi
With or Without You – Domenica Ruta
Shadow Society – Marie Rutkoski
Barter – Ira Sadoff
Grazing – Ira Sadoff
Year of the Black Rainbow – Claudio Sanchez
Striking Surface – Jason Schneiderman
Hurdy Gurdy – Tim Seibles
Measure for Measure – William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Passion and Pride: Poets in Support of Equality – Bruce Spang
How Good is Good Enough? – Andy Stanley
American Sonnets – Gerald Stern
Early Collected Poems – Gerald Stern
Save the Last Dance – Gerald Stern
Stealing History – Gerald Stern
Dracula – Bram Stoker
View with a Grain of Sand – Wislawa Szymborska
Phantom Limb – Brian Turner
The Girl Who Feel Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne Valente
Door in the Mountain – Jean Valentine
The Water Books – Judith Vollmer
17 Love Poems with No Despair – B. J. Ward
Gospel Night – Michael Waters
This Sharpening – Ellen Doré Watson
Triangle – Katharine Weber
Tortured for Christ – Richard Wurmbrand

3. Read 10 of the books on my Goodreads list.
This is an extension of goal 2.  There are books I already own, and then there are books I would like to get a hold of.  Right now, I have 352 “To Read” books.  10 is barely a dent, but it’s 10 more than I would read if I didn’t make this goal.

4. Publish a poetry chapbook with a press
Last year, one of my goals was to have between 3-5 poetry submissions out at any given time.  I’ve been pretty steady with that submission number, so now I want to up the ante.  My manuscript has not been picked up, which is not surprising as I’ve only been sending it out for about a year.  But, I’d like to tinker with it before sending it out again.

In the meantime, I’d like to market around a chapbook, which is, essentially, a shorter manuscript.  Poetry chapbooks are typically in the ballpark of 18-25 pages.  This, I think (and hope!), will be much easier to put together.  Also, if I publish a chapbook, I may get more press and a better chance of publishing a full poetry manuscript. Yay, professional and creative ambition!

PASTEL

PASTEL (Photo credit: hichako)

5. Create more art (which is to say, work on a piece at least once a week)


This is one of my looser goals.  Since I work in so many different mediums, I want to give myself some wiggle room.  My main three art forms are poetry, photography, and mixed media art.  I’d absolutely love to finish a piece each week, but I’d need way more hours in the day for that.  Instead, I’m being a bit easier on myself and starting with simply working on a project in at least one medium each week.

This goal has a three-fold reason behind it.  When I create art, I feel free.  I love making something from nothing and letting the piece become a force of its own, gently letting me know which direction to go in.  This part has to do with making time to do something I love.  The second reason has to do with the fact that I have two Etsy shops: Roaring Out and Lady Velociraptor.  I sell mixed media art and fine art photo prints in the second shop and would like to increase the number of my wares.  Lastly, while I have been good with submitting poetry (see goal 4), I have not been good with publicizing my art for display in galleries and magazines.  In order to do this, I feel like I need a bigger portfolio.  This will be the year I create that portfolio to (hopefully) give me enough umph to walk into galleries and say, “Hey, I have art and you have wall space.  How convenient!” (except, you know, more professional-like).

6. Practice guitar at least once every other week
Like goal 4, this is another resolution that is branching off of one for 2012.  The 2012 goal was “learn guitar.”  Very vague, I know.  But, I did sign up for a guitar class in the fall and stuck with it.  Because of that class, I have enough material to practice with on my own (though I do plan to continue with the classes in the new year).  I say practice every other week because I already have a couple of things to do each week, like teach and create art and exercise and, you know, sleep.  So, again, I’m going a little easier on myself here.  If guitar goes well this year, I may up the ante in 2014 with practicing every week or every few days.

7. Watch every Jason Statham movie
So, I have a celebrity crush on Jason Statham (there’s explosions and fire and fight scenes when he’s on screen *swoon*).  This resolution is more for fun than improving personally or professionally.  Everyone needs some silliness thrown in 🙂

The movies I have left to watch are:

Jason-Statham

Jason-Statham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Turn It Up
Ghosts of Mars
Mean Machine
The Transporter
Transporter 2
Transporter 3
The Italian Job
Collateral
Cellular
Chaos
London
Revolver
Crank
The Bank Job
Death Race
13
Gnomeo and Juliet (I almost excluded this movie, but he’s the voice of Tybalt. I have to see this!)
Safe
Parker (coming out in 2013, as are, like, 27 other movies with Jason Statham.  I’ll get to those as they come out.  Geez, this Brit is prolific).

Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

8. Try to post something brand new on Etsy at least once a month
As I mentioned in goal 5, I have two Etsy shops.  Last year, I made a resolution to post something on Etsy once a month.  The problem is that I counted renewing a listing for an already existing item as a “post.”  That just wasn’t meaningful enough for me because it was too easy.  So, I’m raising the bar.  I want to post a brand new item in at least one of my shops for each month.  I was tempted to say that I needed to post a brand new item in each shop every month, but I’ll start small for now.  If anything, it means 12 new items by year’s end.

9. Post on this blog twice a week
Much like the previous goal, this one’s 2012 incarnation was too easy.  The goal was to post once a week.  But I was already doing Poetry Monday once a week, so there was no challenge to do anything differently.  Now that I’m recording Poetry Mondays every other week, there’s a bit more for me to keep up with, especially since I’ll need two original posts on Poetry Monday’s off weeks.  Hmm, maybe I should start a Folk Music Friday….

10. Pay off one of my two credit cards
I figured I’d round out my resolutions list with a practical financial goal.  Not much to say here except I hope that by this time next year, I’ll have one less bill to pay 😉

Some final thoughts on an already long post:
1. I once heard someone say that people should strive for progress not perfection.  That’s something I’m going to keep in mind this coming year, and I encourage you to do the same.

Even if I only attend exercise classes regularly for one month and read 4 books from my lists, I’m not going to beat myself up over it because, hey, that’s more than I would have done had I not made these goals.  I can adjust resolutions this time next year if need be.  At the age of 26, I’ve realized that what makes a more interesting story is the journey rather than the destination. But crossing a big goal off the list is fun too 🙂

2. In the fall, I took an e-course called “Creative Courage,” which is organized by Stephanie Levy. In this course (which I highly recommend if you are a creative lady), participants were encouraged to make a list of 5-10 fun things we would like to do before the year is out.  This was an exercise in encouraging us to intentionally make time for activities we enjoy.  I made a list of 8 things and accomplished 6. I think what really helped me focus on these “mini goals” was the fact that I made an actual list and posted it in my room where I’d see it every day.  This constant reminder was so helpful and encouraging.  So, that’s what I’m going to do with this list, too.  I’m going to be staring at these same 10 goals all year and my hope is that I’ll get to cross them all off.

I’m sure I’ll be posting updates on these goals, which will help me with resolution 7 😉

What are your resolutions for the new year?

An Exercise in Observation

About two weeks ago, I was sans car.  It was in the shop for some lengthy repair work and I was bumming rides to and from my job.  One evening after work, I decided to do a little exploring.  So I took a walk to the library (I know, wild times, right?).  But the walk ended up being more than picking up some books and getting some fresh air.  I noticed so much more than I usually do when I’m driving down the familiar few blocks to the library.  As soon as I got home, I made a list of all that I had seen (well, what I could remember anyway).  I thought I’d share my journey with all of you:

– Paw prints in one block of sidewalk cement

– What looked likea discarded lotto ticket with “crossword” written across the back

– A new art studio named “Elements”

– A somewhat hidden street I never noticed while driving down the main drag

– A store I previously thought was a gallery.  It was actually an antique store which also happened to sell art.  I saw a huge record player on sale for $250.00.  Not gonna lie, I was tempted to buy it until I realized I have no vinyl (nor a spare few hundred bucks to splurge).  But it looked so cool!  The last time I played records I was a tiny tot living at my grandmother’s house.

– A house with these cool, cracked crystal ball walkway lights (Yay alliteration!).

– A group of older women sitting on the porch talking.  I know this may not sound all that fantastic, but as I walked past them, I was able to appreciate the sound of their language– Arabic, I think.  I could smell their decadent perfume.  It reminded me of my grandmother when she used to have friends over and they would chatter grown-up talk in Spanish for hours.  I’d play amongst them and let the slick, familiar syllables roll off me.

– Artwork outside a small, local music venue.  There was this piece that really struck me.  It looked like a screaming face and it was made out of bits of magazine pages.  It was such an impressive, cohesive piece….must’ve taken hours to make!

– A silk screen printing shop

– A large Italian Ristorante I never noticed before even though I drive down Main Street all the time and have lived in my town for two years.  Now I want to try it.

– The familiar, speckled, uneven pink brick wall that leads to my apartment complex.  I noticed how unique each brick was with its own grooves, its own specks of brown and silver.

– Tiny plants grew above the grass next to the wall.  The plants looked like baby’s breath, but one was a tiny daisy– a curious hint of spring at the end of summer.

When I got home after the walk, I noticed that I got a big bug bite.  For the record, it was totally worth it.  I’m hoping to take a photo walk down Main Street soon when the weather gets a bit cooler.

What about you?  What are some cool things you have observed on walks or hikes?

Shiny Things! or, 10 Songs I’ve Recently Discovered

Back in November, I wrote an article about songs I was listening to.  I said I would write a post about the new music I discovered on Pandora.  Nine months later, I’m finally getting around to writing that post!  The songs listed here are part what I found on Pandora, part new music I’ve discovered other ways.  Either way, I hope you like what you hear!

1. Propehcy by Carter Burwell – The movie “Howl” stars James Franco as a very good Allen Ginsberg (I will admit, I was surprised.  Playing Ginsberg in all his mania and even simply reading the epic that is the poem “Howl,” I imagine, is difficult to portray). Very appropriately, the soundtrack of this movie has become my new writing music, particularly this song.  It ebbs and flows, dramatic and serene, love it!

Prophecy

2. Ballad of the Sad Young Men by Roberta Flack – I heard this song in the beginning of a lecture by Patrick Rosal.  It stuck with me and I got the album, “First Take,” for my birthday. Rumor has it that the album this song is on was, as suggested by the title, recorded in one take.  I have a lot of respect for Flack’s undeniable singing chops.

Ballad Of The Sad Young Men

3. Acknowledgement by John Coltrane – If you read my Blue Like Jazz post, you’ll know I’ve been listening to Coltrane for a while.  About a year ago, a friend of mine gave me four gigs of new music.  I’m still discovering new tunes from the cache he gave me.  A discovery within the last three months or so has been Coltrane.  I am most definitely falling in love with jazz music.  Something about its inherent creativity and improvisation speaks to me.

Acknowledgement

4. Girl with One Eye by Florence + the Machine – Ok, I know Florence been around for a little while, and I’m late to the bandwagon. I’m just now discovering her awesomeness. It was love at first listen for this particular song and I.  It’s sassy and, yes, I do belt it out in the car…terribly.

Girl With One Eye

5. The Cave by Mumford and Sons – I have my roommate to blame for this one.  It’s his favorite song of the Mumford and Sons collection he has.  Maybe about six months ago he kept playing this particular tune incessantly.  I’d be lying if I said it had to grow on me.  This song starts out kind of slow, but quickly picks up pace.  I can’t help but bop my head whenever it comes on.

6. Sky by Joshua Radin, featuring Ingrid Michaelson – Here’s another song I discovered because of a friend.  She randomly said there was a song she thought I’d enjoy and sent it to me.  She was definitely right.  I feel like this tune is unique in that it acknowledges the fact that people in a relationship fear that the other person will leave them, but, many times, these fears only manifest themselves in dreams.  The song ultimately renews the singers’ love for the beloved.

Sky (featuring Ingrid Michaelson)

7. That Wasn’t Me by Brandi Carlile – Another song recommended by the same friend who introduced me to “Sky.”  About a month ago, I got a voucher for three free MP3 songs on Amazon.  I did a facebook poll asking which songs people recommended.  My friend recommended this one, and, once again, she was spot on with her choice.  This song won me over with the first few seconds of piano playing and kept me hooked with the soulful, honest lyrics.

That Wasn’t Me

8. Right as Rain by Adele – This was a Pandora recommendation. Damn, that girl can sang!  I realize people know this already, but it bears repeating.

9. I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin – One of my favorite bands, RED, toured with Breaking Benjamin for a bit.  I wasn’t able to go to a show on that tour, but I heard that Breaking Benjamin has a music style very similar to RED.  Pandora played this song on the RED station I created.  Definitely one to head bang to!

10. The Last Fight by Bullet for My Valentine –  I heard this song during one of the Body Combat sessions at my gym.  There are few things I like more than punching along to a rock music riff.  Bullet for my Valentine has quickly become a favorite band of mine.  They’ve got a great mix of gritty lyrics and attitude that are right up my alley.

The Last Fight

5 Little Things That Are Simply Splendid

As I got ready to leave work yesterday, I was quite excited with the thought of the maple sweet mashed potatoes I would be making as my dinner side dish.  I thought of how awesome this simple food dish is, which got me thinking of all the little things I love.  So as an exercise in gratitude, I made a list of five “small things” I absolutely love and make my life that much easier/enjoyable (I didn’t include family, friends, or God because I think those are implied.  They are also not little ;-)).

1. New Book Smell – I know the world is moving to e-books and, to be honest, I may go that way someday myself.  But nothing can replace the awesome smell of pages fresh from the press.  As a kid, I loved smelling books.  To this day, I still smell the pages when I get an order in from Amazon.  I know, I’m weird.

2. Baby Laughter – Seriously, how can you not hear them laugh and keep a straight face?  I don’t have a kid and don’t want kids for quite some time.  But when I’m out and see a little munchkin in her stroller, I always smile.  The heartiness of a baby’s laugh provides a bright spot on even the most crap-worthy day.  Case in point:

See?  You couldn’t keep yourself from smiling could you?

3. Tabbed Internet Browsing – I’m really ADD when I surf the web.  The ease of pressing CTRL + T to get the information I want is such a fabulous convenience.  Every now and then, I’m on a computer that isn’t mine and isn’t equipped with tabbed browsing.  The clutter of all those windows brings about my sad panda face 😦

My Wikipedia-famous Posh Spice picture

4. Bobby Pins – For most of my life, I had super long hair (mid-back length).  I cut it short when I graduated college in 2008 and haven’t looked back since.  For a while I looked like Posh Spice with the short back and longer bangs.  Then I cut it even shorter.  Now I have a pixie cut with long-ish bangs.  This is when I became fond of bobby pins.  I can’t put my hair in a pony tail, but I don’t like having bangs in my face most of the time.  Bobby pins are a simple wonder that I am infinitely grateful for.  Eating my bangs doesn’t sound pleasant.

5. Maple Sweet Mashed Potatoes – While the thought of eating my bangs is unpleasant, I could eat sweet mashed potatoes every day!  And they are so simple to make.  I use the recipe found in Jae Steele’s book “Get It Ripe.”  She adds a bit of maple syrup to her mashed ‘taters and I have to say it’s a delicious addition!  Here is the batch that I made last night:

Om nom nom!

What’s one “small thing” you would add to this list?