2019-06-27 The Pursuit of Happiness

It doesn’t feel like it should be the middle of the week already, but indeed it is. It does not feel like July is just around the corner, but indeed it is. June was supposed to be my “break” between finishing work and starting back to school and quite frankly I feel like it’s flown by and I really would like to have more time. This is likely due to the fact that I already know I’ve bitten more than I can chew as far as school is concerned and I’m a little terrified at everything I’ve committed myself to.

In any case, I’m still shifting gears and getting used to my new life. Some days I’m like, “oh my gosh is this what my life is now”, because of all the awesomeness and other days I have these bouts with doubt. I think the internal questioning of decisions is human nature and also can be healthy. We should question our choices and fact check ourselves.

If we do that just a little, and listen to our instincts, then we can feel better about the path we are on. I ignored my instincts for too much of my life and that led to a lot of grief. People will always make mistakes, so that’s unavoidable. The trick is to not get stuck in those mistakes or let one bad decision to lead to another and another.

When I started this blog almost 2 and a half years ago, my life was a mess and I was really unsure how to fix it (or even what the real problems were). I knew I needed changes but not sure what or how. The blog was actually the first step and the “summary” statement I wrote for the top of the page was my original intent.

“THIS STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS IS INTENDED TO BE AN UNFILTERED ACCOUNT OF MY JOURNEY TO FIGHT MY WAY TO A HEALTHIER, HAPPIER LIFE. ONE DAY AT A TIME, ONE STEP AT A TIME, ONE ORGANICALLY-GROWN-EMOTIONALLY-RAW BLOG POST AT A TIME”

What I recognize, 2.5 years later is that it is still true. Yes I feel happy and healthy (most days), and my life is so much better now, but the journey isn’t over. It’s never over. I have to continue to make choices everyday with that goal in mind because it’s a moving target. We can’t stay in the same place. We have to keep moving forward. The feeling of “happy” is so transient and comes and goes.

As we approach July 4th, I can’t help but think about that well known phrase from the Declaration of Independence “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. It’s the “pursuit”, which is key. If we want to be happy, we have to keep chasing it. Always.

I’ve recently considered changing my blog summary statement because I thought “I’ve done it!” I have hit my goal, this is it, and now I can just sit back and coast. However, because of the sentiments I’ve covered today, I have decided to keep it the same. I never want to stop striving for a healthy, happy life. It’s still one day at a time, one step at a time, one picture perfect flower, poem, hug, cheeseburger, and blog post at a time!

Yours Truly,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-07 He’s Not Wrong

I met up with my friend Josh for a coffee late yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve seen him in weeks… life, you know. With Josh it might be a different day, but the story is always the same.

[x]Girl complications

[x]Diet analysis

[x]Exercise routines and goals

[x]The employment puzzle

[x]Philosophy and the meaning of life

He hasn’t worked for about 8 years and lives with his mom. A millennial that is ahead of his time, blazing that new lifestyle trail. Money is not a concern because he makes just enough doing side-gig Work for People, mostly home/yard improvement projects. The employment puzzle is his search for the ideal job for him. Not a desk job, a physical job but he’s not willing to even try anything. Why would you if you didn’t have to. After 8 years, if there’s nothing motivating you enough to get your own place, why change now?

I think the only thing that would force the change is if he met a girl he liked enough to move out. But, he’s not really looking so it’s unlikely. Since I started dating and have been unavailable for hangouts, he’s replaced me with another girl, Rachael. So he’s capable, but no girl is ever good enough (also always the same story). I thought my life was a record on repeat but he takes that to the extreme.

Of all the rehashing we did yesterday, there was one bright, shining statement that resonates within me. He said his conclusion about life, and what to do with it was thus “Figure out what makes you happy and just go after it”. That may seem obvious or over simplified, but when he said it, I was just like “Yes!!!”. That’s it.

If there are truer words, i don’t know them. Of course much of life is the “figuring out” part, but by now, i believe I’ve got that nailed down. (At long last) In true Miss SugarCookie style, I kinda want to make a list, but I’ll save that for later. The point is, Ive arrived at the “go after it” part.

If I do a deeper self analysis and life evaluation, it becomes obvious that I’m doing a damn fine job right now. It stands to reason because I AM so much happier than just a few short years ago. My friend Ryan texted me last night and his observation is that it seems like things are going well for me and my reply was that I’m happier now than I have ever been.

Thinking about this in the context of Josh’s comment, it’s because I am doing all the things that make me happy. Is it really that simple? Yes and no. Yes because the road is now paved. The foundation is there and I’m coasting along almost effortlessly. No because it has been rough at times, and getting it all smoothed out is often no small or easy task.

I’ve also learned valuable lessons along the way… 1. There will always be bumps in the road, don’t think to much about that and 2. Just enjoy today and all that the present moment has to offer. Recognizing life is short is key. We have limited time in this beautiful blue planet 🌎 and we should make the most of it.d

Josh might be his own worst enemy when it comes to most of the aspects of his life, but on the life philosophy front, he’s not wrong. If only he would learn to listen to his own advice. Maybe someday he will. 🤷‍♀️

As for me, I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing. I’m more than ok with my current broken record…. I’m fantastic!

Peace 😉,

~Miss SugarCookie

2017-12-03 Sunday Status Update and Reflection

Some days I feel so positive about my progress and some days I just feel like a follow through failure. Braeaking it all down with statistics helps me realize the reality and take feelings out of the story. These “pulse checks” are therefore very helpful. It’s also helpful to compare one moment in time to another. That way I can truly see if I’m making progress and meeting my goals.

Here’s today’s snapshot…

Exercise/Steps: My average steps for the last 7 days was just shy of 20k steps per day. This is on par with where I was two weeks ago but about twice as much as I was getting at the start of the year.

I went to about 6 Jazzercise classes for the week which is also about the same as last week but I’m doing more of this now than at the start of the year as well. I’m still using 8 pound weights but don’t think I can go any heavier because 8 pounds is pretty taxing on my joints.

Sleep: My 7 day average was 6 hours and 50 minutes. This is worse than the last four previous weeks which were all 7+ hours average per night. My goal has been 8 for so long but I’m feeling that’s unrealistic. I’m going to adjust accordingly and shoot for 7.5 hours. I’ve still felt rested and energized for the day when I wake up and I think that’s the important thing. I’m now able to sleep through the night which is HUGE! A year ago I was so far from that it’s crazy and was even still struggling six months ago. I’m attributing my improved mood and energy to this one factor and therefore know for certain the changes I’ve made in my life were not just good ones.. they were absolute necessity.

Eating: It was a tough week and my willpower was low. I had too much junk with sugar in it. I’ve decided I’m going gluten free… and I started a couple of days ago. If that seems familiar, it’s because it is. I just copy/pasted that from two weeks ago. It’s exactly the same. I caved on the gluten free thing a few times and broke down and had too many sweets. But a few days ago, on December 1st, I re-committed myself to being gluten free. It’s time to get serious. I’m not going to try and fool myself into thinking I can also cut dairy or sugar at the same time. So this month I’m going to focus on just that one change.

Employment: Still None. My MFA residency starts this month and I’m now actively engaged in looking for a job.

Relationships: I now have a backlog of writing to do on this subject.. for romantic relationships and new things regarding family, but I’ve not found dedicated time to do so because of other priorities. Of course I’m still single and unsure what to do about these of my life, but it’s not like it’s a thing you can set goals around and make “progress”. Am I Right?

Looking forward to:

1. Monday – Pounding the world wide electronic superhighway for a job. (Yes.. I’m actually excited about this).
2. Tuesday – An evening in or out with my lovely sister. .
3. Wednesday – Showing my HVAC who is boss and filing away the final episode of that saga.
4. Thursday – Lunch with Leah.
5. Friday – FriYay!
6. Saturday – Christmas cookie chaos!!

Life is Still Good,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-05 Why Not Both?

This morning I met with one of my former managers and we had a good conversation about career, things I should look to be doing, and just generally catching up with our respective lives. There was a lot packed into that hour and while I didn’t necessarily come away with a concrete yes on potentially doing contract work for her, i did get lots of good advice.

She agreed I should be going forward and not looking back and that a job in the healthcare IT space would not be the best option. It remains a safety net if I need it, but to better myself and achieve more, I should be looking for something different.
My woes yesterday were fueled by fear and anxiety about money. I shared my thoughts with Simon and his words of wisdom were insightful and comforting. 
Comforting because they validated that I’m not wrong to pursue my passion and insightful in reminding me that I don’t have to completely do one thing or the other.. that I can choose to do a balance of both. It remains true I will not likely find the perfect gig to pay what I was making before with enough flexibility and free time for the MFA. However, I could choose to do something else rewarding and flexible for less pay. 
Instead of being at one end of a pendulum swing or the other, meet in the middle with compassion, dedication, and satisfaction. I need only look as far as the statement of purpose I wrote for the MFA application to remind myself what it is and what it means to me. 
My coffee date this AM was more focused on the career path but actually took my intent one step further to shine a light on the fact that I could be looking for something which actually combines the writing with my 20+ years of Tecnical and analysis experience. There is a great wild world of opportunities and I just need to start exploring. 
At this point I’m totally down with what I need to do next and it’s just a matter of execution. I’m needing a little nudge to do that. I’ve been enjoying my time off quite a bit lately and have established a very relaxed and happy routine. Part of me is not looking forward to giving that up. I keep writing things on my to-do list and managing to only get to the “fun” things and put off the research and resume work for another day. 
I should take a day and do nothing but that. If I make progress it might be just the motivator I need to keep the train rolling forward. 
As of right now.. I’m 48 minutes into writing from my beloved elliptical machine (again combing what I love with what I love). All this other stuff should have been obvious right?! 
I need to finish up at the gym and get home before the kids get home from school. Another round of parent-teacher conference tonight. 
Until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, 
~Miss Sugarcookie 

2017-10-04 Oh the Tragedy of Reality 

I woke up this morning feeling sadness. I’ve been riding on such a high the past week or so I guess it was bound to end eventually. I mean, emotions are situational and fleeting and the reality is that there’s not a whole lot of permanence in this life.

Relationships are temporary. Events that we enjoy come and go. Hurt fades like the jagged edges of a stone worn away by years of water passing over it. Sometimes the change of the tides is welcome and sometimes it leaves us questioning the purpose or meaning of it all. 
This morning I’m just filled with melancholy and an infinite sadness (que the Smashing Pumpkins). 
A week ago I was applying for a job at UNMC and dreading it. I’d come to the conclusion that I didn’t want to do the same thing I’ve always done. But then what?
I then had a major epiphany that I should pursue my writing. It check all the boxes but one. I enjoy it, I’m passionate about it, it’s fulfilling, and I’m certain would lead me to getting more satisfaction out of life. The box it doesn’t check? Poetry won’t pay the bills. 
I rode the emotional high I was on as I jumped through all the hoops required to get the application completed. Most of it was easy and actually quite enjoyable. I revisited my past to collect all my transcripts and it’s nice to look at ones accomplishments. I meet up and had conversations with friends and former colleagues to share my news and ask for their help. Again, wonderful to see and talk with these people I care about. I then had to compile a collection of my favorite poems and compose some words describing my journey thus far and why this program is right for me. It was delightful. I had everything submitted before the deadline of October 1st. Great success! 
Then October 2nd happened. I woke up and checked my email in-box, which is my normal practice. I was greeted with an email that my checking account was overdrawn. My house payment would not clear without more funds being deposited. It’s an easy enough thing to remedy by transferring funds from savings, but also a good reminder that I’m operating in a state that has definite limitations. There’s a finite amount in my savings and not more where that came from without work. 
In addition, I just happened to look up how much the writing MFA costs and found that it’s going to be 30K+. Yowza!! That’s just not an easy figure to reconcile with my current state of being. If money wasn’t a factor, I’d not be taking a serious pause about this decision. But as it is, I am. Not only does poetry not pay bills, it also doesn’t pay back student loans or take me on vacations. 
The hopeless romantic in me argues that it’s only money and does not matter because we should pursue our passions no matter the cost. 
The realist in me recognizes that we probably can’t have our cake and eat it too. I have to figure out what to do to earn money. If by some chance I can find something that will cover my monthly expenses while being flexible enough to allow me to continue pursuit of the MFA, not to mention parenting, household maintenance, relationships, and freetime activities that would be.. well.. a miracle. 
It’s a financial puzzle as well as one one of life balance. I’ve over extended myself before and though I’ve always made it work, it’s not easy and at times taken a toll on me. Am I in for that again or should I take an easier path? The way is unclear. 
I woke up this morning with trepidation about my predicament and worry that I’m going to choose wrong. I’m not fearless and I don’t have a ton of support. Whatever I do, I have to do it on my own and it’s scary.

My children depend on me and I’m leaning toward what my head is telling me and away from what my heart wants. Should I just wait five more years until they are gone to follow these dreams? I might not have a choice, 
Sinking in the Cupid De Locke, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2017-09-18 A Very Nice Homecoming Indeed

Austin was lovely as usual and a nice change of pace and retreat from the normal SugarCookie life. But what is “normal” now days? It’s become highly focussed on health and well being with a heavy dose of doing all the things I want to do when I want to do them. Not a bad way to live.

I knew the kids would be walking to my house after school today, which meant essentially, that I had about another half a day free from all the mom duties. So I did the thing I wanted to do more than anything else.. I went to visit the person I have been dating. Of all the things I’ve been writing about, that one has been in my mind quite a lot but not yet made more than a mention or two on the page. I’m sort of wondering why that is.

Perhaps it is because I’m still somewhat holding my breath it is a real thing. Perhaps it was because I am attempting to be discrete out of respect for someone else’s privacy. Perhaps I just did not yet know what to say about it. Nothing about any of that has changed, and yet now I feel like I just need to say something about it. But what do you say when you don’t have the words and are still in such unfamiliar territory? I guess you take advice from Mr. Mayer and “Say What You Need to Say”.

When I left his house today I felt happy. I have been historically a happy person. I’m generally well liked, I think, and almost always try to be upbeat when around other people. This last year+ put me through hell and I became someone I did not recognize. I didn’t feel well, I didn’t feel joy, and I was very uncertain what the future would hold. As I was going through it, there were times I thought I may never feel my old self again. I thought the loneliness and heartache would go on and on without end. It was a horrible, desperate feeling.

So today when I got in my car to drive away and had a smile on my face and a glow emanating from my insides, I almost didn’t recognize it. As I stated I was, and still am, holding my breath for whatever happens next, but I’m starting to allow myself to acknowledge these positive feelings and be hopeful about whatever it is that is going to happen next.

I did write about a week ago regarding my uncertainty. That’s a thing that still exists, hence my references to “holding my breath”. However, with each interaction I feel more and more comfortable and trusting. Both of those are huge in my book.

From the very start, he was really easy to talk to and even as our topics have gotten more and more in-depth and sensitive, that has not changed. He’s very open and honest and seems to share a lot without me having to ask. This is such a good quality. In turn, this has made me more and more willing and able to share in return. I sometimes still struggle for the right words, because I’ve had my fair share of being nervous that I would say something and it would come out wrong, or that I would say something that would make me sound stupid. Even that has started to dissolve.

He’s intelligent both intellectually and emotionally. We have a similar outlook on health and exercise and eating well. He’s very fit and is very mindful of diet and actively seeking to better himself. This is right in line with where I am at right now, and truly where I have tried to be for many years. It’s refreshing to meet someone who seems willing to support making changes and improvements and trying new things. He’s picked up a book from the library, “The Four Hour Body” and is serious about trying to implement some of the things from the book.

I’ve enjoyed hanging out at his house, as it feels very natural to me there. He makes us coffee or tea and puts on good music and we talk. I’ve been over during the work day before and just sort of did my own thing while he worked and then we would take a break and go for a walk or bike ride. He’s cooked me several meals, which is a thing I could really get used to and of course I have had him over to my house and have cooked a few too.

We have gone “out” a few times, one night to play pool and have a drink and another for Sushi Sunday dinner downtown after which we sat on his couch and watched a movie, “The Last Samurai”. That was about two weeks ago I think.

When I arrived from Austin, I went straight to his place, which is closer to the airport than mine and we spent the rest of my “kid-free” time together until I had to be home to greet them. Which brings me to where this journal entry began, with me doing exactly what I wanted to do.

So now I have done what I wanted and said (some of) what needed to be said and am happy about being happy and having a very nice homecoming. Tomorrow will be officially back to “normal” for me.. whatever that means. 😉

Good To Be Home,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-09-08 On Social Anxiety and Meeting People

It has been a while since I woke up before 6AM, which feels like a really good thing. I feel like I am in a much better place than I was a month ago or two months ago and certainly a world away from where I was at in January. I’ve been fighting my way to a healthier, happier life all year and it’s been an uphill climb, but I really am getting there.

I really don’t think I could have gotten this far without quitting my job. I’m not looking for some continued justification, but it is nice to have some validation that I made the right decision. I also think it has helped these last few months having no contact with Matt. The “once in a while” communication and continued analysis over our failed relationship was unhealthy for me. My friend Rebecca called it, and she was right.

Aside from those two factors, I believe that deciding to try and date again has been a bit of a rollercoaster and have questioned that decision multiple times. I’ve also contemplated exactly how a person should try to meet new people, especially an introvert like me that does not get out much.

People say that you should just do the things you love to do and whatever is supposed to happen, whoever you are supposed to meet, will come naturally. Have those people ever suffered from social anxiety? Do they know how hard it is to put yourself together enough to go to an event and participate all alone? It’s not easy.

So far this year I’ve gone to about half a dozen events put on by the Nebraska Writers Collective, including poetry feedback readings, storytelling slams, and fund raisers. I’ve also gone to Barcamp and a few other random events, such as the “Great Minds” series and a “Reverse Pitch” kickoff. Each time it is sort of the same thing.

The day of the event I’m nervous all day. I go through the motions to decide what to wear and walk myself mentally through getting there and parking and finding a place to sit. I have to psych myself up for it and give myself multiple pep-talks about how it’s going to be fine and that nothing bad will happen. Sometimes the anxiety is worse than others. The more unfamiliar the situation, the worse it is I think.

When I go to whatever it is, I’m generally OK, as soon as I settle into a seat. My heart always races at the thought of having a conversation with a stranger so as soon as I am seated, the chance that someone will approach me is less likely. I probably put out some signal with my non verbal communication that goes like this.. “Don’t come near me, I’m not wanting a chat”. Which is probably why I never meet anyone, and am unlikely to meet anyone at some meet up like that.

When it’s over, I make a beeline for the door and my car as that is where I will find relief from the anxiety knowing that it is behind me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total social failure. I can navigate talking to people and having conversations just fine, but the way it makes me feel is not super awesome and I usually come away from it second guessing something I said or kicking myself for being awkward.

Despite all of that, I do keep trying anyway. I’m totally comfortable at the gym, but I’ve been going there for over 10 years and nobody has ever approached me so I’m not holding my breath for anything to happen there. In my head, the dating app was my best bet for finding someone new. I tried it for a few months and that was enough to convince me it was NOT my best bet, but have had people say I was maybe on the wrong one (I did the Bumble thing).

However, just about the same point that I was “giving up” on the Bumble, I did meet someone who sparked my interest and seemed different than the other people I had met. I’ve perhaps written about a few of our meet ups and some of the interactions thus far, but at this point, I am starting to have a little more trust that this could be really good. I’m so guarded and cautious because of my recent experiences and I also have a bit of a wall up around my heart because of my delicate emotions.

Even so, I am optimistic about where it is going. And I am sure that has also been a factor in my outlook and mood lately. I don’t want to hang my hat on the fact that another person is what is responsible for my happiness, but I can’t deny that it does play into it. I’m certainly capable of being happy and healthy without having a partner, but it does seem easier when you have someone to communicate with and some things to look forward to.

I also enjoy sharing things with someone else and talking about things with someone else, and though I have a fair number of acquaintances, people have their own lives and don’t have time to really dig in and spend hours and hours on that kind of stuff like a partner would. So far, I’ve really enjoyed all of the conversations with my new friend and am looking forward to the next time we get to see each other. That will probably be sometime this weekend. I’m making pico de gallo with this weeks tomato harvest and have promised to bring some over to his place. It’s a win/win. 😃

Anyway, it’s now almost 7 and I’m getting up to get the kids moving for the school day. It’s Friday so yay for the last day of the “workweek”. It means more to them than me at this point.

Cheers To The Start of the Weekend,
~Miss SugarCookie