Making Do And Feeling Rich

I’m drinking warm tea from the very first mug I bought myself. I got it from a dollar store and it has a photo of a Golden Retriever wearing glasses. I remember feeling that the mug represented adulthood. I was finally living in an apartment, not my parents’ home that was already stocked with drinking ware or a dorm room where there was no room for dishes. It has survived over 10 moves and now resides in the community cabinet at my workplace. I share it with my coworkers and today it sits on my desk and it makes me smile that it has been a companion to me as I wade deeper into the trenches of adulthood for over a decade. The CEO has told me it’s one of his favorite mugs.

The first couch I owned was originally my parents’. My boyfriend in college tackled me onto the couch and broke one of the legs. It survived two years in my living room with a stack of textbooks as stand-in for the missing leg. It was my couch the first time I lived on my own sans roommates. It was the place I moped and watched a ton of movies. It was the couch I had when I experienced my first heartbreak by the same boyfriend who helped me break it. It was the first couch my younger brother ever experienced. I have photos of myself kissing my new baby brother on that couch. It was a piece of my childhood offering somewhere to rest when I was on my own for the first time.

Today, I’m newly moved into an apartment and we are without a couch. I had sold most of my furniture when I moved in with the ex. Cohabitation with lovers can be very bad for furniture. Living without a couch has made me wistful for that three-legged ugly couch.

I know years from now I will remember coming home to my current apartment. Seeing my friend and new roommate on the floor. Both of us laying on the hardwood floors and exhaling from a long work day. Earlier this week the pizza delivery guy knocked and she got up and I remained motionless, flat on my back in the middle of the floor. The pizza guy peered over Ashley’s shoulder and laughed. “Is she okay?” Laughter. “We just moved.” I will remember our first night together sitting on the floor and watching Youtube videos of romantic proposals. Her eating candy corn, me eating cereal. “Ready to watch other people be happy?”

When we look back at the moments we thought we were just merely making do with what we have, we’ll learn with the rosy tint of hindsight, that we were in fact very rich.

October On & Off Instagram

October was a force to be reckoned with. I am someone who pays attention to anniversaries, even the sad and heartbreaking ones. October contained the one year anniversaries of the deaths of two friends and the anniversary of the breakup of a six year relationship. The first week of October was hard. I nearly missed the anniversary of one of my friends’ passing. Luckily Treavor so sweetly sent me flowers in her memory and reminded me. I nearly missed it because I had a sick puppy and it hit me how alone I am essentially. The last time Bob the Dog was sick, I had a work-from-home boyfriend who could let him out every hour. I went home three times in one day while living an hour north from work to clean up after Bob. I threw myself pity parties and then quickly had to switch gears to celebrate the wedding of one of my close friends in Houston.

I went to Houston twice in October. The second time was to have a weekend with Oprah with my best friend. I’m still riding the motivational wave of Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour. In fact, her opening speech alluded to stars and the Milky Way and I paid homage by dressing up as the Milky Way for Halloween in New York City.

This month I convinced my mom to have a gazing at the world date with me every time I go to Houston.

I flirted with Neal Patrick Harris and bought a signed copy of his new book, Choose Your Own Autobiography. He is so handsome!

My crazy month ended in New York City. I went with a big group of friends and though I mentioned the second half of the trip crushed my spirit, I spent the last day and minutes of October having truly an awesome time in a city I love with great people.

Not depicted on Instagram were a lot of tears.

night in

GeekyHooker

Players

Momma

Pizza

Oprah!

Reading at Oprah

Neal Patrick Harris

Austin

Seafood Risotto

NYC

NYC

Halloween

You can follow me on Instagram @curiousnotions.

Not Faking It Until I Make It

I am back from my New York City trip. It was my sixth visit and also my hardest. Just two days into the trip I experienced a falling out with a friend. I felt blind-sighted, disillusioned, angry, heartbroken. I had previously felt so certain that this person was the safest person with whom to have a friendship. He was just that nice and that good. Unsure about what kind of relationship I wanted with this person, I cried and leaned on a few of my other friends. Sometimes clarity comes with well-intentioned advice that feels wrong. A couple of my friends suggested I “fake it till I make it.” They urged me to just act as if I am fine and not give the person the satisfaction of knowing he had that kind of power. “That would really show him!”

I have a long history of swallowing grievances for the sake of pride and winning. My parents raised me on many of their own mantras, one of which was, “Don’t cry about people who aren’t crying about you.” I was raised by parents who were also taught to never let people see you vulnerable. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized in learning to silently and secretly bear trespasses, it kept the perpetrators in my life for much longer than was healthy. A defense mechanism that developed as a byproduct was very high tolerance for pain. Pain is how we know when something isn’t working or isn’t healthy. So consequently, I also developed high tolerance for people who were bad for me.

It wasn’t till my late twenties that I learned the value of pain. Like a lot of people, I’m hedonistic by nature and I lean on the pursuit of pleasure as my most sought out cure for pain. Sweep icky feeling under the rug and go on a trip or eat a whole half gallon of ice cream! But pain is good. Pain tells you when something isn’t working.

Another thing my loving but humanly misguided parents taught me that I had to unlearn was not using my words. They commanded me to always hold my head high and never let anyone suspect that they hurt me. With a lot of practice, I got to be very good at silently suffering until I felt numb. Which enabled a lot of mistreatment. Which toughened me up for more ensuing pain from these toxic people because they learned they can do anything and I wouldn’t speak up.

Terrible cycle.

So when my friends suggested I fake it till I make it with this person who made me crumble on what was supposed to be a fun trip, I felt a very clear resolution rise from my stomach and into my heart.

I am no longer pretending with people who hurt me that they didn’t hurt me.

In deciding that, every superficial conversation initiated by this person felt like an uncomfortable game of charades. I took two more days to steel myself to speak up and when I did, it felt so good to be honest. Not only to him but also to myself. I felt strong. Powerful.

Who would have thought that in admitting feelings of hurt, you can actually feel strong and powerful?

September On & Off Instagram

As I mentioned in my August Instagram recap, I was in Greece the last few days of August and first week of September. In September I was in Santorini and then I ended the trip with a couple of days in Athens. It was surreal to finally cross off a couple of things on my bucket list that I’ve had on my list for almost two decades.

I went to my second Chris Guillebeau book signing with Anita and bought Happiness of Pursuit. Also with Anita, I attended a party where Ethan Hawke was an honored guest at the Arlyn Music Studio and a Texas politics festival where we sat a few feet away from Wendy Davis, candidate for Texas governor.

I attended a beautiful wedding of college friends and celebrated the birthday of my future roommate and the third year adoption anniversary of Bob the dog. One of my closest friends who lives in Miami came and we shared our usual Brazilian meal. We only spent two hours together and I miss her so much already.

Not depicted on Instagram was me spontaneously taking the stage of a comedy show for 90 seconds and dishing out unoriginal jokes and having the crowd and stage full of professional comedians in stitches. I’ve been secretly dreaming of delving into stand-up comedy and that experience gave me a fun glimpse into that dream. I also had drinks with three friends and somehow while buzzed, we hatched a plan to go to New York City for Halloween. A week later, still compelled when sober, we booked our tickets. Since then, our trip of four friends have grown to a seven people group trip!

Parthenon

Gyros

Santorini

Austin Way Launch PartyLove

Bob the Dog

Wendy Davis
sept4

Happiness of Pursuit

Ashley's birthday

Magical Garden

Sao Paulo

You can follow me on Instagram @curiousnotions.


Question: Tell me about your September?

Romantic Santorini

Last month I finally experienced something that has been on my life list since high school, and that is to visit Greece. MJ, Anita, and I spent over a week island hopping around Greece and my favorite island visited was Santorini. I always learn about myself when I travel to new places. In Greece, I learned I can plan a trip around beaches. I assumed I was someone who prefers the metropolitan and urban travel destinations. I thought I’d always pick the Lourve or the Met over sunbathing and reading in sand. The rush of navigating a subway system over wading into a deep blue sea. Greece, and more specifically, Santorini seduced me with its pink and orange sunsets and blue horizons.

Like my trip to the Grand Canyon in March, Greece taught me the beauty and luxury of slowing down. To let moments lap at you. We spent a lot of our time leisurely moving from beach to cafe with a beach view to another restaurant with an amazing view. The beautiful views were so abundant, it felt like an embarrassment of riches. I read four books on this trip and ate my weight in mussels and creamy carbonara. I also skinny-dipped for the first time and was exhilarated I crossed this off my list in the Aegean Sea instead of an apartment complex pool back at home.

I started 2014 in the wake of a break-up of a six-year relationship and since then have been on this journey of self-discovery and rediscovery. I’m so thankful Santorini and other islands of Greece were part of this year’s story.

Santorini

Santorini

Santorini

Santorini

Santorini

Santorini7

Santorini

Santorini

Read about a lunch I had in Mykonos, Greece on my food blog.

August On & Off Instagram

In August, I had a photo-taking meet up with a friend. We chased the light around downtown Austin and snapped photos to hone and practice our skill. It was during this endeavor that I met a unicorn.

I met up with a couple of guy friends. The three of us sat on a balcony, drinking sake and eating chocolate and shared painful stories, punctuated with humorous anecdotes that relieved us of the ache. After I peeled myself from the refuge of the balcony floor, I received a Snapchat photo from another friend captioned “boys’ night”. I responded with a group selfie with the same caption. We made an unlikely trio and our night of being vulnerable with each other is not typical for us. So much so that I doubt we’ll ever do it again and yet this night was the most comforting night I had in August.

August ended with my leaving for my big trip of the year. Anita, MJ, and I left on the 28th to fly to Athens. By the end of August we had started island hopping in Greece. We sunbathed in Mykonos and walked around Santorini. I can’t wait to show you the rest of the photos from Greece in the September recap.

Not depicted on Instagram, I went on a couple of dates with someone I’ve been harboring unrequited feelings for for months. It hasn’t progressed much after that but it remains a highlight of the month. As painful as it is to not see reciprocation, being around him makes me smile. Oh the angst!

Watermelon Popsicles  Unicorn

Boy's Night

Downtown Austin

Odd Duck Brunch

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Mykonos Street Artist

Ferry to Santorini

Santorini

Mykonos

Santorini

Santorini

You can follow me on Instagram @curiousnotions.

Experimenting with Being Naked

I’ve started dating this year and I’ve been careful with doling out aspects of my personality and history. It’s safer and feels more responsible. I read in one of Brene Brown’s books about how the difference between vulnerability and over-sharing is that one is an act of trust, incrementally arrived to, whereas over-sharing is an act of desperation. Alongside dating, I’ve also started challenging myself with fears. I did it as a 30 Day project in December and called it Fear Factor December. I challenged myself to face a fear every day that month. The spirit of this project has resonated even after December and I’ve found myself being intrigued by my fears and toeing more lines, from dating to rappelling down 38 stories.

A reoccurring fear I keep bumping up against is being naked and exposed and authentic, or being seen for who I am. There’s so much risk in being yourself. Not only is there the general fear of rejection that I think is part of the human condition, but also the fear of being misinterpreted. Someone not accepting me for who I am is scary but if what if they reject me on a misinterpretation? What if they get me all wrong?

The act of letting myself be seen is also an act of consciously letting go. I surrender to the illusion of control. I can never fully protect myself from rejection. Even if I am careful with what part of me I reveal and on what timeline I do it, there is never going to be a guarantee on not being hurt.

So I’ve been literally and metaphorically experimenting with exposing myself. I am self-conscious about a surgical scar that runs down my back. Because of my insecurity, I typically avoid being seen in my bathing suit or tying my hair up when I’m wearing a strapless sundress. I’ve started to go to the pool when it’s nearly deserted and tying my hair up. I force myself to sit there and enjoy my reading until I am not even thinking about how I’m feeling naked and flawed. I went on a date with someone who I consider first a friend, which is terrifying. There is no hiding who I am when we’ve been friends for a while now. Yet there I am standing, hoping that the flawed parts of my personality he is already privy to doesn’t scare him away from me romantically.

As uncomfortable as it is to stand in the light, the reason why I push to overcome this fear is the payout can be so great. How freeing will it be bask in sunlight and not worry about my physical flaws being judged? How deep a love can I experience if I don’t curate what I project? If I can simply be and still be loved for it?

Yes, I must keep toeing this line.

Conversation with Dad

He held me by my shoulders and looked me in the eye. “Baby.”

I braced for impact. He calls me baby to lace his hard words with sweetness.

“You need to slow down. If you don’t slow down, no one can catch you and no one can fall in love with you.”

July On and Off Instagram

July was a special month. I took a solo road trip through the Carolinas and Virginia and officially reached the halfway point in my 50 states goal. I witnessed old friends get married, fell in love with Asheville and had a first date in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was sad to send off three of my Austin friends to grander adventures, two moving to Mexico and another moving to NYC. I went to the pool when it was cloudy so that I could read in peace. I had my birthday at a 90’s singalong and it was trippy to see girls I knew in the 90’s wearing the clothes they wore in the 90’s. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had. My friends surprised me with a new lens for my camera and a video that made me cry. My parents came in for a day and spent the night for the first time in the history of my living in Austin. And the day of my birthday, I had a low-key dinner with one of my best friends and used up all the courage I had in my courage well to tell someone I like him.

Not depicted on Instagram was an awesome bluegrass show by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, a birthday gift from an old roommate and Austin Culturemap listing my food blog as one of the top food blogs in Austin to follow.

In July, I felt very lucky and loved.

Catching Up

Fourth of July

Baguette House

Rainbow Row

Tree Canopy

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Lotus

Austin Monthly Austin's Most Eligible Bachelors Party

Relish

Going Away Dinner

Biltmore Gardens

Horse

Momma and Pops

Caprese Salad

Birthday Party :)

You can follow me on Instagram @curiousnotions.


Question: Tell me about your July?

Luckiest Break of My 30th Year

My birthday is less than a week away.

Last year at this time, I was in a long-term relationship I didn’t know I was leaving a few months later. I had the sweetest birthday experience with him in our years together, in that he actually showered me with gifts, something he’s never done. For a couple of years, we had talked about being engaged by the time I turned 30. Every birthday gift he presented me I was hoping that it would be a small ring-sized box. I was very seriously committed to him and would have whole-heartedly accepted. The small gifts never crescendoed into an engagement ring.

We limped along until finally, mid-October, during a conversation while I was preparing him dinner, I knew I had to walk away. I’m not quite sure how I continued preparing that meal but I salted that dinner with my tears. When I finished cooking, I left the apartment and called Treavor and sobbed on the phone for precisely 14 minutes, dreading what I knew I had to do.

The following week, I was absent from our home because of work. There was an evening during the work conference where significant others were welcomed to come. I was hopeful he would really be present that night. He casually showed up and very promptly left to catch a movie with one of his friends. His lack of effort felt like a nail in my heart. A few days later, I ended it. Though I was prepared for a long conversation, it took less than a minute. We lived together for another couple of weeks, still courteous and friendly. Still watching our shared shows. We had light conversation about what life would look like for the both of us.

The day I moved out in November caused an avalanche of emotions. I was so scared to step out into the unknown. I could not stop myself from sobbing much to the dismay of my movers. I used up my precious PTO usually saved for travel to spend days at home because I could not stop crying. I walked my dog crying. I answered the door for takeout crying. Eventually, I started to congratulate myself for small feats. Like putting on pants. Or showering. Or going to work. My friends lured me into the light with food and fun. I was amazed how quickly I started laughing again.

At this moment, I feel like I’m soaring through my life. Since being single, I’ve visited 7 new states. I’ve traveled on on my own for the first time twice. I started dating this year and it has introduced me to very kind men with qualities I have never considered wanting or needing in a partner. Even dating angst feels like a delicious new sensation. I look back to who I was in July of 2013 and I feel like a completely different person today. I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself that not receiving that engagement ring was the luckiest break of my 30th year.

This year, I’m going stag to my birthday party and I won’t be anxiously waiting for something that isn’t coming. And that feels like leveling up.