Day 5 #Happiness

My friends.

I.   Have.   Amazing.   Friends! Today has not been an easy day for reasons I will spare you of, but all the while I have found myself laughing almost constantly and actually having a lot of fun…because of the awesome people  in my life.

So today it is YOU that make me happy.

And grateful : )

Day 4 #Happiness

In case you missed it, earlier today I started (and got caught up on) Oprah’s 30 Days of Happiness campaign. Check that out here.

Today was a happy day because I got a new Filofax in the mail. A Compact Finsbury in a beautiful yellow color (review post on that coming soon, promise. I may even try my hand at a video).

The color of the warm sun on a summer afternoon. A color that can’t help but make you smile when you look at it.

It arrived while I was at work and I thought all afternoon about how excited I am to go home and move into it. As I was contemplating how cool and fun it will be to use, I wondered which I would gravitate to more…this one or the raspberry Chameleon I started this compact journey with.

Mind you, I also have a brown Regency and a black Holborn that are new compacts, but those didn’t even make it into the gravitation thoughts.

And it dawned on me.

Color.  I am beginning to love color.

This is VERY new.

And it feels VERY good.

So today what makes me happy is the human capacity for change…and how much I’ve changed recently, into a brighter, sunnier girl : )

30 Days of Happiness

As usual, I found out about something cool several days after it started…

On Sunday July 22nd, Oprah launched a “30 Days of Happiness” campaign. I’m not a viewer, but I have checked out her magazine in waiting rooms and such and it seemed pretty cool. I have to say that, fan or not,  I’m pretty on board with spending the next 30 days making a point to focus on happiness.

Since I’m also trying to write more these days, I will probably do a quick Happiness Post every day that will end up as a link on Twitter. So check ’em out and play along yourself using #Happiness if you feel so moved.

Because I’m starting on day four, here are three to cover the days I missed:

Sunday – Laughing until my cheeks hurt and holding hands at a funny move with my fabulous boyfriend

Monday – Sharing a sunny lunch break with my bestie

Tuesday – Do I have to pick just one? Sharing laughter with my friends, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dinner, my boyfriend coming to visit me before his 12 hour overnight shift (even though it meant cutting his sleep time short to do so), snuggling on the sofa with my puppy…yesterday was a very happy day : )

Today’s will be a post on it’s own, so stay tuned happy people!

Putting the “F” Back in Filofax

Just be patient…it’ll make sense in a minute.

As you know, I have recently become enamoured with the Compact Filofax. Since giving the smaller rings a try, I can honestly say that  it is quite possible that I may never go back.

The one con (if it be fair to call it that) is that the 9/16″ rings  don’t allow me to carry all the junk I had become accustomed to toting around with me every day. But that is a small price to pay for the real epiphany…how easily I can write on BOTH PAGES. The rings no longer get in the way.

Bliss

So anyway, although I love my perky little raspberry Chameleon (who @kanalt has named Razzle by the way. And pay attention because you may be quizzed on these names later), I found myself longing for something a bit more neutral – because you know me and color. It never lasts very long.

Plus, I wanted an excuse to buy a new freaking Compact.

Enter the handsome brown Regency….which, in keeping with the naming of the Compacts by @kanalt, shall heretofore be known as Gary.

Yes, Gary.

I know what you’re thinking…


Me too.  Anyway, “Let me explain to you the kind of (Filofax) Gary is…”

Maybe feelings are feelings because we can’t control them

I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village

Are you confused by the captions yet? They are lines from Team America: World Police. Which featured a marionette named Gary. Who my new Filo is named after. Stay with me. Jeesh.

PS my diary refills did not change from the raspberry Chameleon, so I will spare you the redundancy of posting about them again.  That would be as worthless as Arec Barrwin.

Derka derka

That’s why they call it ‘acting’

The gorillas beat him to death before the zookeepers could gas them all

He may lack in courtesy, but he’s the best martial artist detroit has to offer

And here is the piece de resistance….

F*ck yeah….

All in all a very dapper addition to the compact family. The one that lives at my house anyway.

Not a comprehensive review of the Regency, I am aware. But there are plenty of those out on the Interwebs already…in fact I think I even did one!

Besides, I was feeling a bit drunk feisty when I wrote this.

So rong, Earthrings!

My Thoughts on Settling

I can sum them up in one word: DON’T

There. World’s shortest blog post.

Yeah, you wish!

Today one of my friends said, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta give up what you want and settle for what you can actually get”. She was talking about dating.

I think I must have had a look on my face somewhere between disgust and shock because before I could even answer, she went on to comment, “You’ve got it easy…you’re happy.”

Yeah, NOW I am.

But that was not always the case.

Settling. Sad to say, I have done it. I think as women we (the forty-somethings) were somewhat raised to do so in some regards, albeit misguidedly, by a generation of mothers who wanted gracious, lady-like,  “good girls” as daughters. Daughters who didn’t make waves, who could procure husbands, run households, and ultimately become mothers themselves.

When my own mother instilled in me that I should be “gracious at all costs” I’m pretty sure she didn’t actually mean at all costs. She didn’t mean to roll over, to be a doormat, to subjugate my own needs for the status quo. She just meant to stay under the radar, not complain, and do what nice girls do.  Like she had done all her life.

Growing up, whenever I rebelled or spoke up at inopportune times (which was pretty much always), I was met with this phrase: “Oh Zoe, you don’t want to be that kind of girl do you?” And although I wasn’t exactly sure what “that kind of girl” was, I knew from her distasteful tone that it was probably not a good thing to be.

As I came to discover in later years, however, turns out I was one.

I am one.

It took me a long time to  figure out and make peace with the fact that I could be both a poised, gracious lady and a strong woman who stood up for what was important to her all the while. I remember having a conversation with her, adult to adult, over martini’s one evening relating something or other I no longer recall  – that she didn’t find terribly ladylike – and her using the “that kind of girl” line on me. I said, “Mum…if my alternative is caving on what I believe in then yeah, I do want to be that kind of girl.”

She just sipped at her drink, nodded contemplatively and said, “I suppose you have a point there”. She knew; she had done her share of settling too.

I have settled for less than optimal relationships far too many times, and I have also had the deep abiding gut-knowledge that I was with someone who was merely settling for me.

I’m here to tell you, both sides of the settling coin suck.  Settling sells everyone involved short.

A curious thing happens when you settle – you put up this vibrational block to the universe,  so that what you really want can’t get to you.

Like attracts like. That’s not relationship blah blah, that’s physics. If you are occupied with a relationship that’s just meh (for whatever reason…to avoid being lonely, to pass time, to get a booty call now and then,  etc), you don’t allow yourself to be open so that the right relationship can find you.

I see people (both male & female) settling all around me. Unhappy. Unfulfilled. Restless. Keeping their options open. Giving away their power and all the while complaining about feeling powerless.

That is no way to live my friends. No way at all.

At the beginning of this year, I’d had enough. I decided that no matter what, there would be no more settling. Period. Even if it meant being alone for the remainder of my days, so be it.

I sat and wrote down (yes, in my Filofax) what qualities I wanted in a mate. Not frivolous things like physicality or status; deal-breakers. I also wrote down what I felt I had to offer as a partner. Turns out, it’s a lot.

Then I wrote down what I required from a relationship. Sort of like Maslow’s hierarchy of relationship needs. They were simple things, really. Simple but important. And I noted what I was willing to put in.

With my new determination to hold out for what I had outlined, bad date after bad date no longer left me feeling defeated and demoralized. I simply went on dates when I felt like it, stopped dating for a while when I didn’t, and stood firm in the knowledge that I would be perfectly fine as long as I stayed true to myself and what I knew I wanted. What I was capable of having.

Society may eschew the single, middle-aged woman as somehow damaged goods, but I was pretty hell bent that I would not be part of a couple again if it meant being in a relationship that left me wanting. Enough with the wanting already.

I’m sure I pissed some people off with my directness – both in turning down dates with those I knew right out of the gate weren’t going to be compatible, and by politely declining more date #2’s than I can count. But hey, my goal was never to stroke egos…it was to finally find what was right for me.

Happily, I did. It took four months (which really isn’t bad in the grand scheme of things) from the day I laid down the anti-settling law.

In a way it felt like taking a giant leap of faith, just like my favorite Tarot archetype, the Fool. He’s not a fool in that he’s a jester or idiot, rather he represents the spirit in search of experience. He is depicted at the edge of a precipice with an air of insouciance, ready to step off – open and spontaneous to whatever may come. Ready to take a leap of faith.

It’s not a leap hoping you’ll discover you can fly…or even that you will land safely; it is faith in yourself, that you can handle whatever comes to you on your journey.  Ever trusting that whatever experience you have will be of value to you.

The point being to take the journey. And make sure it’s your journey.

So here are, from personal experience, my  tips to begin walking the path of She Who Will Not Settle:

Love yourself first…believe in yourself and be absolutely certain that you are 100% worthy of holding out for what you really want.  You are, trust me on this.  Relationships don’t end because they fail; because you have somehow failed, they end because whatever that person came into your life to teach you (or you them) has been taught.  A string of bad dates don’t mean you’ll never fine someone, they refine you and give you the opportunity to figure out what you don’t want. Sometimes as important as figuring out what you do want. Stop focusing on finding “the one” who will complete you…that’s bs…you are the one;  complete yourself.

Love attracts love. Start with you.

Cultivate happiness in your life. Be grateful. Slow down and find beauty. Every day. What you feel is what you will radiate. Re-frame the things that get you down, look at them from new angles. Find a fresh perspective that will lift you up not bog you down. Feelings come from thoughts. So choose your thoughts wisely. Victims, drama queens (or kings) and Eeyores do not attract upbeat, positive people.

Happiness begets happiness.

Don’t be afraid to play the Fool. The tarot Fool. Give up your fear, open your heart, take the risk, make the leap. You will not regret it, I promise.

Don’t settle; don’t esteem yourself of such little value. Because, in case you didn’t know, you are unique and wondrous and so very, very precious.  I know that if you can find a way to believe that, and put that kind of energy out into the world, the right relationship will respond to your beacon and come to you.

How could it not?

I’m so glad I quit settling. The whole vibe of my relationship now is entirely different than any other before it. Because I’m coming into it from an entirely different place; a centered, truly authentic place. It’s not about being perfect (whatever that even means) or finding something/someone perfect…there is no growth in perfection.

It’s about challenging any negative beliefs you cling to about yourself, shedding your limitations…embracing, once and for all, every bit of who you are. And discovering that it’s someone loving and lovable.

Even if you’re that kind of girl ; )

Downsize and Colorize – Goodbye Comfort Zone

Remember how I once likened dubbing around with planners to meditation? Well, I’ve been doing some heavy duty meditating lately, lol!

Partly because I got a new phone and I found a great calendar and to do list app for it. Since then I have discovered that I really like having all my appointments and tasks sync between my laptop and whatever gadget I’m using on any given day. This definitely comes in handy on my phone, but since this app is for both Android and iOS, even my iPad gets in on the planning action.

As Stephen King once wrote, “Life turns on a dime. Sometimes towards us, but more often it spins away, flirting and flashing as it goes: so long, honey, it was good while it lasted, wasn’t it?”

It seems that my schedule and the associated stuff I have to do changes almost constantly. Keeping the majority of it all digitally goes a long way in assuaging the part of my OCD that roils at scribbles and/or white out in my planner.

For those of you interested in such things, it’s called “Calengoo” and it syncs with Google Calendars and Google Tasks. It was spendy for an app ($5.99) but well worth it, IMO,  for functionality and customization options.

My awesome new Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with a great native calendar app called “S Planner” (the S being for Samsung I assume?) which also talks to Google Calendar, however the task component of the app is stand alone and will not sync with Google Tasks. Or anything else for that matter.

The slow-witted, ginger stepchild of Epic Fails.

The phone, however is mind-blowingly fantastic, so I am excited to start using it more for planning & task management and not just dubbing around on the Internet, texting random strangers pictures of my boobs (just kidding of course – I wanted to see if you were paying attention) and whiling the day away on social media.

Oh, and making phone calls…whatever they are.

I soon figured out that, if I start migrating the majority of my tasks to an electronic format,  I could get away with a smaller (and therefore lighter) planner. When you lug your Filofax around with you 24/7 like I do, that’s a very good thing.

A while back I became enamoured with Pocket size and gave that a heroic effort. Which promptly crashed & burned. The page size was simply too small…for my eyes, for my loopy, juvenile handwriting and for the sheer number of stuff I need to cram onto a typical work day.

This time around I’m trying Compact size. Same page size as my beloved Personal, yet a thinner, sleeker, lighter, more portable binder. Could this model be my Goldilocks?

Let’s find out.

Ok, so this go ’round, I picked up a raspberry Compact Chameleon on clearance at Pens & Leather (my absolute favorite Filofax retailer. Richard, I’m talking to YOU). Gotta love clearance; if the idea goes down in flames, I’m only out a couple weeks of Starbucks breakfasts.

Raspberry compact Chameleon. The color makes me want to lick it. Because, you know, it looks like a Popsicle and stuff. Not because I’m weird.

A lot skinnier than a Personal.

Am I seriously going to be able to get away with so little in my planner??!! Place your bets now folks….

Ring size is 9/16″. Slightly larger than the 1/2″ rings of a Slimline, and just enough to make it workable, where a Slimline was not. For me anyway.

The Chameleon does not lay flat out of the box.  Cue sad trombone. I knew this going in because I also have a black Pocket and an aqua Personal, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it and can’t bitch about it.

My other gripe is that I find the 6 credit card pockets on the interior front to be all but useless because they are just a tad too small for business cards (although, true to their name, they will fit credit cards perfectly).

Business cards had to be trimmed to fit into the credit card pockets.

Keep in mind I had to re-jigger my inserts this time around, not only switch binders. I had to think about what I actually NEED in my planner from the ground up. Turns out the difference between a Personal and a Compact was, for me, pretty much a bunch of fluff.

Oh, and inspired by the amazing raspberry color, I’m also trying to jazz up the interior of my planner too. Summer color, good mood – positive crap like that. Stickers will no doubt be added shortly…

What I see when I open up my Filo : )

Lets start with my “Dashboard”. It is just a Filofax plastic multi-purpose holder with a pad of sticky notes in the lower (smaller) pocket and some of my favorite do-dads in the top pocket.  Tarot of Trees “Strength” card and a little token that says, “Well behaved women rarely make history” that my best friend gave me.

The other side of the plastic sheet protector. More happy and positive junk ; ) Also used as a dashboard for overflow from the front.

There are usually sticky notes with various notes on ’em attached to this (hence the dashboard funtion) but I took them off because they be private ; )

Then I have my 6 subject tabs. Although I only have a few sheets behind each, they do fit…which makes me happy. These are DayTimer Shadows & Light tabs (no longer available, sadly) but I am thinking of making some new ones to go along with the brighter color scheme of this Filo.

My current 6 subject tabs. Toying with culling these down to 3 (capture, lists and quotes…gotta keep quotes!)

Next come a set of DayTimer monthly tabs. In this case month on two pages. I can fit the entire year, which comes in handy for jotting down future events or checking back on past ones when I don’t have the weeklies in.

As you can see, on the front of each monthly tab is room to list items to be done that month.

Now comes the meat. Filofax Week on Two Pages – Lined inserts. With all of my aforementioned tabs, a half year of weeklies fits comfortably in the Compact.

Only appointments are in the daily boxes (because I write large and messily). The current day is highlighted with a movable green sticky flag and a DayTimer sticky Hot Sheet is stuck to the Today ruler with a running list of To Do items because I’m too chicken to go digital cold turkey right now.

The left weekly page. Today is marked with the lime green flag.

Until I can make a new habit of going entirely digital for tasks, my weekly to do’s are relegated to a Hot Sheet stuck to the ruler. Just items w/due dates noted. Pretty simple and not too obtrusive.

A busier week. Wish I could write smaller, but it is what it is. Some weeks are even fuller than this…others are so dead you can hear crickets chirping when you open up my book.

Currently I have June through December weeklies in. For the record, this configuration will fit only a single month of Two Page per Day inserts. I’d much rather have less space to write on a given day and be able to fit more pages in for an overview.

But that may change….

After my weeklies, I have a plastic page protector with more encouraging BS in it, and of course the Filofax sticky note accessory.

Amirite?

I know you will call this next bit sacriledge, but I have jazzed up the Chameleon with a Hawaiian Hello Kitty sticker stuck to the inside back cover zip pocket. Oh yes I did.

Makes me smile every time I see it!

You may have noticed the star cell phone charm…the zipper pull is so dinky on the Chameleon that I attached this so it is easier to find. I borrowed this trick from the days of the Aqua Finsbury. Same tiny zipper pull.

Plus, I thought it would look cute.

Size-wise I am THRILLED with the Compact. It’s such a nice, light change (it helps that I can fit it in every handbag I own…) and the color is very fun and perky too.  Although it will be a new habit to quit writing down every detail about every little thing on every single day, I also think it will be a healthy change for me. I tend to, you know, fixate on details.

After a mere three days I can honestly say that my psyche also feels lighter. More time spent living…less time spent obsessing.

If all goes well and I find even more that I can clean out of it, I have the goal of also making this thing my wallet (and using those damn credit card pockets for their intended purpose, lol!).

But one thing at a time.

Also in this order I got the Pocket Petal in mint green. All this color…who am I and what have I done with myself?! It’s so cute that I decided I must find a use for it, so since I can no longer fit my food & exercise on my daily pages, it’s going to be a Fitness Filo. Stay tuned for a blog post on that too : )

So, Compact users, chime in…which one do you have? How do you use your Compact? What diary inserts do you have and how many days/weeks/months or whatever can you fit? Do you use it as a purse/planner combo? Is the Compact your Goldilocks planner?

Talk to me, my Compact using peeps……

Mama Always Said…

My mother was one helluva woman. I wish each and every one of you could have met her, I really do. Because once you met her, you never forgot her.

One way or another ; )

When I was growing up, she was struggling with cancer (the cancer that ultimately got her…but she only let it take her on her terms…and it took 40 years), she was running her own advertising business, and she was raising me alone.

She did all this, by the way, with only one functional arm.

Yeah.

So she was too busy with the serious matters of life to give me advice about boys, explain the birds and the bees, muse about falling in love. Stuff like that I had to learn about on my own as I went along.

I know what you’re thinking.  This explains a LOT.

Anyway, Mum always had fine taste and liked a well-appointed home. She enjoyed moving us around a lot; buying houses and redecorating them and then, when she got bored (and was healthy enough) selling them. I suppose this was her modicum of control in a world in which she had so little over her own body.

Often times, all of our furnishings would also be sold off, as they would not fit in with whatever new style she was applying to the new house.

But she had this once piece of art…a sculpture…that she always kept. And no matter where we lived, that statue’s place was the same, on her bedside table.

It was called “The Kiss” (not Rodin’s version) and it depicted a man, standing vertically, kissing  a woman swept off her feet, so that she was horizontal to him. They were only joined by the embrace of their arms, and their lips.

I’m probably not doing it justice with my description, but I’ve searched for a Google image of it and I am at a loss to find it, so you’ll have to use your imaginations.

One day when she was recovering from a round of chemo, I was hanging out with her watching a movie on her bed and I asked her about that sculpture. I was just starting to notice boys and I was curious…was this what it felt like when you fell in love?

She said it was.

I asked if she had ever felt like that when a man kissed her.

She said she had.

I, as yet un-kissed, got goosebumps and pressed her for more.

She was a lady and did not divulge (until she was dying…then I got the whole story…but that, my friends, is a post for another day).

It was at that moment she passed on to me her one and only bit of wisdom where the heart is concerned:

When you meet “the one” you will just know. You will know it with the same certainty that you know you have a nose on your face. There will be no doubt. No question.

And so began my own wait for the moment when I would “just know”.

I don’t subscribe to the belief that we have a single soul-mate; one person who completes us, one and one alone who we are meant to be with. My mother did, but I do not.

What I believe is that people come into our lives (as well as leave them) for a purpose far, far grander than “happily ever after”. They come and they go to teach us things; bring us what we need so that we may grow and evolve and one day perhaps complete ourselves.

Sometimes those gifts nurture us and feed us and we blossom into someone far more glorious for having known them. Other times we are refined as by fire, and at the time we just feel devastated and charred, but gradually we come to realize that in fact the chaff of us was all that was burned away, and now we are stronger.

There was one time in my life that I was kissed and felt as though I was the woman in the sculpture. It was the first time the man who was to become my 2nd husband kissed me.  I thought that meant I had found “the one”. I thought I “knew”.

And maybe I had…maybe he was. Then.  As I said, I don’t believe love is like Highlander – there can, in fact, be more than one over the course of a lifetime.

But here is what I do know: even if you “just know”, we are all still only human. Imperfect, fragile, free moral agents who are all works in progress, dealing with our own issues and walking our own unique paths. Even if you do find “the one”, you or they, or some external factor, or a combination of things, can screw it up and make it end.

I know this because, floaty kiss or no floaty kiss, hubby #2 and I are no longer together. He is somewhere married to another woman, happy and content. I am here living my life, also happy and content.

Truth be told, that feeling of levitation when someone kisses you is probably more about lust than it is about love. Sorry artists, musicians, poets… don’t mean to be a buzz kill, but I suspect a lot of pretty, exciting, breathtaking things are misinterpreted as love when they really have to do with regions a lot lower down than the heart.

Point is, I believe that, just like everything else in life, true love is a process. As we as individuals grow and change, so does what we look for in a mate. So does what we can offer as a mate. I think “just knowing” starts with self-knowing.

Love is not finite. Love is the beginning of the journey…the journey itself…and the destination.

At 46, that’s what the statue represents to me. Not some fairytale-esque magic kiss but rather the feeling that love, this love that you’ve found, is not possession or restriction or rules or dependency; it is the ultimate freedom.

One of the last things my mother said to me before she left this earth was, “It’s up to you now, to carry the torch”.

I knew what she meant…it’s difficult to quantify in a blog post, but it has to do with the light of the strength and spirit passed down from  woman to  woman in our lineage. To keep her alive by passing on her stories, just as she passed on to me the stories of those that came before her. To take generations of wisdom given by our family’s mothers to their daughters; which she made her own, and in turn to make it my own.

I think Mum was right. I think when we meet someone who is right for us, there is a deep, instinctual part of our hind brain that really does spark. Some je ne sais quoi that draws us to them like a magnet. But as much as I enjoy a good kiss, to me there is far more to the story.

All of that being said, what, then, does it mean to me to “just know”? I will hold that torch up proudly and tell you…

…For me it is this

Walking in the door, looking him in the eyes and feeling like I had known him forever. But still feeling my heart pound with the anticipation of meeting him for the very first time.

The absolute gut knowledge that I can be 100% who I am with him no matter what, quirks and all.

Feeling inherent trust. Which is a big deal because I am not what one would refer to as a trusting individual. Especially of things with penises.

Taking my profile off Match.com after 4 days of emails and texts because that thing in my cavewoman brain was sparking before I even laid eyes on him.

Knowing that I could give this man what is left of my poor, trembling, bruised heart…now more scar tissue than muscle…and he would cup it in his hands as though it were treasure, and make it all pink and new again.

The fact that I, who no longer sleeps, slumber like a baby safe and secure and impervious to anything bad, when I lay next to him. And when he curls up around me and I hear his breathing change as he drifts off, I know with absolute certainty the meaning of peace.

Being with him is as easy, comfortable and rejuvenating as being alone. And, if able to choose, in any given moment I would rather be with him than without him.

The kind of man he is inspires me to strive to be the best woman I can be.

His neck smells like home…

There isn’t one single thing about him I wish were any different than it is today. There are no “buts” (he’s a nice guy, but…I really like him, but…I could see a future together, but….none of that). I like everything that makes him, him.  Just as he is.

Saying goodbye to him, if it had a sound, would be that of pulling Velcro apart.

When I see him, heck, when I so much as think about him, I smile. The kind that starts by curling the lips and ends by lighting up the eyes.

His presence in my life has reminded me that I can feel, that I can hope, that life really is worth living, that the universe may take stuff away but it also gives us some pretty amazing things too and that I can, in fact, still love.

That I would, without a moment’s hesitation, take on the weight of the world if it meant taking if off of him. I would stand in the midst of the fire hand in hand with him. And I would, by sheer force of will, make it go out.

Because he isn’t merely the nose on my face (to use my mother’s analogy), he is my phone booth; when he came into my life I was but an ordinary woman. Now, because of him, I feel as though I have superpowers. I feel free.

I feel like I can fly.

Just like that woman in the statue….

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