Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"And Who Would've Thought, It Figures?": The Great 2016 Transition

Per most of my recent blog posts, I've struggled with just how to say good-bye to Breakfast at Target. I'd scratch some notes in my journal or notepad and would feel momentarily inspired; but as I've learned with this space, forcing or cramming or emptily rushing to throw something together isn't the way to go. And after all this time... she deserves better than that.


There was a post lingering in the far corners of my mind I could never seem to actualize. It very much belonged in the conversation of Breakfast at Target; not the final post here on B@T, but a post that gives a little nod back to what this whole space on the internet was all about. And this past week, it hit me. Hard. In the weirdest, pettiest, cry-until-you-start-maniacally-laughing kind of way.

In the last few months, I've been struggling with our new way of life, our new home, and my new venture into creative entrepreneurship. Coming from a place where John and I spent years making a name for ourselves and being involved in our Capital City community; where we always had a friend to call or an event to go to or a reoccurring excuse to see friends and colleagues; where the pace moves a mile a minute; and where we always had a built-in set of goals based around jobs, associations, etc., it was a pretty significant transition coming here and starting all over again -- this time with the training wheels completely off.

Thankfully the excitement, travel, and joyful chaos of the holidays gave us some welcome distraction in the first couple of months of having moved. Then as the New Year cranked back up and the World went about "business as usual" without the bourbon-infused, tinsel-laden sentiment, I found myself in my little home studio, surrounded by stacks of To Do's. To Do's for a new resident. To Do's for a new small business owner. To Do's for someone excited yet terrified of this new chapter.



When most of your work straps you to your home office chair at your computer -- reading articles, completing photo edits, mapping out a business plan, creating new materials, building a new website, researching your target demographic, etc. -- it's a little harder to put on real pants and schedule time to meet and be around actual people. Furthermore, the temptation to scour social media and find out how you can get to the cool table of the Facebook and Instagram Lands is high... "research," you call it. One's digital presence becomes the utmost priority - after all, no one wants to see the disheveled miscreant on her 8th cup of coffee trying to figure out how the CRAP half of this stuff actually works. People want to see beautifully curated, well-styled images with fresh flowers and chai latte foam art and stacks of books only smart people read and high-end brand styled outfits and sweet treats because, HEY, social media goddesses can afford sparkly sugar-frosted sprinkled confections and burn off the calories by just planning the next GOORGEOOOUUSSS photo for their feeds.

Thus began a swift, jerking shift towards viewing my life through a filtered lens.

Sloughing tirelessly through the endless waters of uncertainty and doubt and trying to figure out who this "new" Lowcountry version of Celia was, I began calculating and strategizing everything... sitting back analyzing and thinking everything through - before, during, and after. I felt choked and stifled but carried on, making sure I did all the "right things" to appear as if I had it altogether.

After several weeks of feeling misguided, tired, and aimless, I needed a "win." A small victory that verified our course in life. A moment that the Universe would tell me, "HEY SISTA FRIEND, I got your back."

And there she was. Displayed in the "boutique" section of a local thrift shop, she sat there among a few other name or high end brand finds. A silk scarf. A pair of high-heeled leather boots. I few well-crafted jackets and totes and pieces of luggage.

A beautiful (albeit dusty and mildly scratched) black bag.
A black leather bag branded and inscribed with the label of the couture gods: Hermes. 

No, she wasn't lumped with the $4-8 handbags. She stood tall among the other pieces once loved by a member of high society, waiting to get back to use.

I often pop into one of the many local thrift shoppes around the Hilton Head area; of course there's a lot of junk, but I've also made some pretty serious scores. I find pieces for styled photos at weddings, pieces for our little condo, pieces to fix up and wear that just need some love. With the older population around here, it's not uncommon for lots of things - NICE things - to be dropped off when homes get redone/redecorated or an older member of the family passes on and families don't have the time or energy to go through everything. So, of course it made sense someone overlooked a black purse and it wound up on the thrift store floor.

I grabbed it and held tight, inspecting the construction and lining - this HAD to be the real thing. It needed some new thread, a serious polishing of the dark ostrich leather, and a few minor pieces of hardware replaced. But it was otherwise in stable condition. I asked the girl at the counter if she was SURE this bag was only the tagged price of $39... was it missing a zero? A couple of zeros? She furrowed her eyebrow and confusedly assured me it was that price. I swiped my card, no questions asked, and floated dreamily to my car. I was a proud, excited, FREAKING OUT owner of an Hermes bag.



After spending a day motivated by the thrill of the magical thrift store find of the century, I went to the leather repair shop the very next day to get the bag cleaned and verified. (I found out if you can prove the authenticity of the bag, they'll send you a new lock & key tassel at no cost, regardless where it came from - no proof of receipt required.) I had events to attend in the near future and dreamed of my black bag draped across my arm like a real grown-up.

After a few pokes and prods, the gentleman behind the counter squinched his eyes and mouth:
"Ehhhh, I don't think this is the real thing... but it's still a nice bag!"
He pointed out a few things with the threading and hardware and minor details he didn't think added up. I was PISSED. How dare he tell me this bag - THIS bag! - is not real, not mine, not the unicorn of all mighty finds? After a sassy tilt of my head and a squinched glance of my own, he prodded some more... and as he dug into the little side pocket, he gently pulled out the lining:

MADE IN CHINA.

-----

'Eff me.

'Eff me in my stupid, loser hiney.

Not only had I believed I won the lottery of thrifting, I had hastily posted my "fortune" on social media and led others to believe I had, too. But I was duped.

It's like meeting the man of dreams... then meeting his beauuuuutiful wife.



I felt like a dummy. A big dumb dummy.

Why didn't I take 30sec to inspect a teeny bit more?

Why did I have to rush to share when I hadn't gotten it authenticated?

.... and why did I believe -I- was worthy of such a find?


The average, sane person would've written it off as a "bummer." I, however, dramatically flung the stupid thing across the room and kicked it for good measure when I got home.

I wanted so badly to believe that bag would mean something... but it was worthless. A fake. I couldn't even bring myself to carry the damn thing, despite it being a decent bag.

And in staring at the black wad of leather sitting lifeless across the room, I knew got what I deserved. Here I was, gifted with a fresh, amazing start in the place where my dashingly handsome husband and I wanted to wind up so badly... and I was more concerned about "fitting in" and "being liked" and sensationalizing my new journey, rather than using the voice and talents I had fought so hard to discover over the last chapter of our lives to explore my purpose.

In that moment, I decided my voice had its own stories to tell. Experiences to share. My friends and family were THE important people, not the random passerby's and people desperate for their own attention. The moments that make me happy don't really need styling and filters and chai lattes - they're unique and special in their own right.

I'm not saying I won't produce work that's not visually appealing or will stop working hard to create things (y'all know I can do some damage with sunsets and a self-timer). I do believe beautiful photos and art need to be shared and appreciated -- but I won't hide them or distort them with a load of flair to distract from the point. I won't overthink my moments in life in terms of "likes" and "followers."**

So, the next day, I quietly sat down, scrolled through my social media feeds and deleted any accounts that really weren't serving me any real purpose or inspiring me to feel and think more. Then, I wrote on Post-It notes all the things that are making me feel less than myself.



I stuffed those stupid thoughts and feelings into the bag.


And I threw that nonsense right in the trash.

Maybe it's not the most environmentally friendly option, but the trail of the bag's deceit needed to end with me.

So I filled up that space with the things that bring me joy, inspiration, and that little bit of happiness:



And I chose to appreciate the reality of my situation.


Because as bizarre and random and "un-curatable" as my life is, I've been given the best thing in the world: an opportunity for my day-to-day to be one seamless flow of whatever I choose to make it, for myself, the online community, and my new home. I don't want to have to apologize for being curious and involved in many different things; and I want to create a space for others to feel like they can do the same. One's "brand" doesn't always have to be color/photo schemes and styles; it can be defined by kindness, gratitude, inspiration, and a fabulous sense of humor.

To those of you who shared in the brief and exciting joy of a world in which a random girl could find the score of a lifetime off a thrift store floor, I can attest for those 24 hours I was really excited. And know I never would pass off a crap bag for the sake of my own validation - I feel like an IDIOT for disappointing.

To those of you who could spot the bag was a fake from a mile away, thank you for letting me live in that short-lived world where I owned a couture bag and let me be excited.
(And let's get real, how tacky is it to call someone out anyways.)

To those of you who have gone out of your way to ensure this crazy journey into our new unknown is successful, fun, and full of perspective, trust me -- your time and energy and sentiment are appreciated more than you will ever know.

To those of you who genuinely and beautifully put yourself and your talents and your truths out into the world without fear, you inspire me so much - and I'm going to get better about letting you know that.

So, I don't own a designer bag.

But I own a life I've got the freedom to design.
One of purpose, possibility, wonder and waffles.

And it's not like I'd bring along that bag to half the cool adventures that await me anyways... ;)

Hugs &
High Fives,
C

------------------------------------

**I want to note this is by no means an attack or critique on more skillfully curated accounts; I applaud their gift for foresight and planning and branding, it's just not a strategy that served me best - personally or professionally. Do I still appreciate those coffee cup, planner + books, flower sprinkled, prettily styled outfit photos? YOU BET. But I'll leave that to the guys and gals who operate best that way. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Without Further Ado...

The time has come, friends. 

After seven and a half glorious, life-changing, big, BIG, years, my little blog is off to play porch-side bingo and drink her gin-and-tonics.

That's right, all - Breakfast at Target is retiring.



It's a decision not made lightly; but after a few months of discovering just how much the voice here has changed, it's time to let her slide peacefully into the capsule that was our awkward chapter between college and the getting to the coast. 

And she has served me so well. She's collected some of my biggest moments and experiences. She's taken some of my most important conversations with people and put them in a place for me to find when I needed to remind myself of it. She was teacher and uplifter of sorts - by having a place to write and knowing there was an audience, as small as it might be, I was able to sort out feelings and learnings through the filter of the interwebs. She never judged as I sat at my computer, whether in the dark shadows of a library with a giant coffee or in my oversized underpants with a bottle glass of cheap merlot. She gave me a space, safe and small and familiar, to be with my thoughts no matter where I found myself.

While the last 7.5 years have not been without their tough times, challenging moments, breakdowns, meltdowns, shockers, and disappointments, they've also been full of great changes, big joys, hugs, waffles, and happy, HAPPY times.



Again, after much deliberation and asking for guidance from the cosmos, it felt like this was the best clean break. Instead of trying to re-work everything and cram her into a new box, I wanted to leave her experiences and message in their integrity.

Breakfast at Target and her posts will live on in this space; and she will remain here, open for one and all, to still be enjoyed. After all the work I've put into this and the support you've all shown for it, she deserves to stay intact. 

And, excitedly, I'm here to tell you my blogging days are far from over...
(Did you REALLY think you were going to get rid of me that easily?)

While we say our farewells to B@T, I'm thrilled to introduce you to the

As with any new creative venture, she's a raging hot mess right now.
But she's going through her magical HTML transformation, 
and she'll be off to the internet ball pretty soon.
(In other words, stay tuned.)

Breakfast at Target has a couple of final posts before we say good bye, so know we'll all have time to wish her well before she's off to the good life.

And she's given me plenty of hugs & high fives to share as we do.

For now, may 2015 close with a happy sigh of relief for making to to a new year, and may 2016 mean great things for us all.

More to come...
-C

Monday, December 21, 2015

Baby Talk: When It's Not So Cute Anymore

Y'all know I have no problem sharing my most embarrassing meltdowns and personal opinions here on Breakfast at Target. (What's a blog good for if you don't toss something wacky into the internet?) But considering the topic at hand and in-my-face as of late, I need to take a quick minute to share a simple thought with you:

Unless it concerns your or your spouse's/significant other's uterus, 
it's none of your business.

Period.



I used to think it was just annoying and wrote it off as standard small talk for recently wed couples, but it's starting to get out of hand. In the last several weeks I've been approached almost daily from people from the many corners of life wanting to know, and often very directly, if my womb is preoccupied and/or will be in the near future. I really don't get it -- it's something I've often wondered about with friends and family when I hear cryptic talk or their Facebook posts are cheeky yet vague, but I don't waste too many thoughts on it. If I'm supposed to know, I'll know. 

And that's how this story will go from here, too:
DON'T WORRY, if there's a little beach bum on the way,
I'll be sure to mention it.

But here's the thing:
If I chose not to mention it, there may or may not be a reason why,
but your life will still go on.

I promise.

Unless you're planning to drop everything and move to the coast and be our live-in nanny and pay for my boob-lift and lipo, I don't understand why it concerns you that bad anyways.

**deep breath**

Please know this post is not a direct jab towards the people who've inquired recently. 

It's not a jab at motherhood or having kids or starting families.

This is not a pro-choice or feminist rant.

This post is merely to share in a frustration that I feel I can't express in the moment because I'm usually too stunned to say anything intelligent -- and I'm almost grateful for it, because the retorts I want to share are probably the ones I'll regret saying if they ever do come flying out of my mouth.

Here's the deal, muchacos:
We're not ready to bring a kiddo into the picture yet.
Sometimes we're convinced our little family is just fine the way it is.
We don't know.
It's a decision between us.
And you're all just going to have to deal with that.

And not just for me, but for others.

You don't know if people have been trying and find themselves experiencing loss or infertility.
You don't know what someone's financial circumstances are that may prevent them from bringing a child into the world with the resources needed.
You don't know if they are plagued with crisis with other members of their family that need their help and be caretaker for someone already in their lives.
You don't know if a person may need self-help and self-love enough to get to a place where they can love and accept themselves before they bring a child in that needs their affection and attention.
You don't know if a couple already has a plan and chooses to set up their lives so when they do start a family, they've done all they can to create a happy, loving, stable place to raise their new members of the planet.
You don't know if people have simply decided their lives are already full and joyful and in a place they want to be, and they don't need to make ANY excuses for that.
You don't know if someone's just putting on a few extra holiday lb's.

And if you don't know, chances are if you're supposed to, you will.

Yes, I have reached out to people asking for information or advice, to close friends who know my (and John's) history -- truth is we are curious around the family planning process, and I approach those I feel can communicate authentically and without judgment or suspicions. It is a conversation that we've had as a married couple; but it's certainly not THE conversation for us right now.

I am not here to say John and I are never having kids. 
I'm not here to say we are. 

I'm also not here to listen to excuses and reasons why I should accept why inquiring minds want to know and why it's an appropriate topic of conversation. 
(I'm serious, I honestly can't tolerate justifications anymore.)

I'm not here to be mad at or be angry with the people who have asked or "encouraged" our baby-making.

I'm busy making my photography business flourish and stand for something. I'm trying to support our new coastal community and give back to thank the Universe for all the gifts its given us lately. I'm signed up for several big running races next year and I'm busting tail to train hard and break PR's. I'm planning a few big trips and am making time for things I care about and am enjoying our new home so much I feel like I could explode. I finally, at the age of 30, pulled off a chocolate chip cookie recipe that didn't taste like it came out of the garbage.

I wish people would ask about that.

Again, I'm not anti-family, anti-motherhood, nor anti-kids. 

If you'd have told me my maternity and newborn lifestyle sessions would be some of my favorite times behind the lens several years ago, I don't know if I would've believed you. I've been privy to being one of the first people to know about my client's new bundles on the way when I'm asked to shoot announcement photos -- and it means a lot they trust me to do it. I am blown away by how enamored I am over my friends' and family's beautiful children; I really do hope my heart will be big enough one day to experience that kind of love. My little niece is in a whole other realm of priority and devotion; she's brought a bizarre joy and excitement to our world, especially knowing John and I share in the responsibility of her up-bringing, even if just a little bit.

But for now, I've got a Christmas and New Years of friends and family, of bourbon and cookies to enjoy, and then a 2016 already full of plans and possibility. 

I hope nothing but the same amazingness for you and your loved ones.

All I ask is that if you find yourself wanting to ask someone about their family planning situation, you think critically about why it makes a difference for you to know. And be prepared to accept the fact they may not have an answer -- and even if they do, they in no way owe you that information nor a justification.

And if you're really just baby/kid crazy, don't forget there are schools, shelters, and hospitals that need someone like you to bring your love of the kiddos to their service. I can name a several if you're looking to get involved.

Let there be peace on Earth, friends.
And let it begin with wine & cheese. 

Hugs & High Fives,
C


Monday, December 7, 2015

The 3rd Decade Disquisition

I have wildly attempted multiple times to write a blog post worthy of a brand new decade. Each attempt felt stagnant or halted or quite frankly like I drank cheap wine and cough syrup (also the cheap stuff) and decided to write a post. A few times I came damn close, as though I had finally figured it out, comprising a winning fete of words and wit that only a shiny new 30 year old could muster.

And each time I went back to primp and prime the final edit, something came up that set it back to the drawing board. Something that made the whole world stop and watch, sitting bewildered and shocked. 

Is it just me,
or does the World finally seem like it's given up?

Nearly daily mass shootings.

Urgent, ignored warnings of the impending disaster that is our unhealthy Earth collapsing in on itself.

Mean, nasty, defensive, self-righteous thoughts and words that smear the digital atmosphere -- a space that often feels of bearing more importance than the one of reality.

Children who grow up in dirty, sh**ty places where simple memories of bedtime stories and colorful spaces and silly friends will never be a part of their childhood.

Veterans and people with disabilities who sleep on cold, concrete slabs and never know when their next meal is coming.

I could go on.

To be honest, I've spent the last several weeks in a state of emotional purgatory; feeling anxious and overwhelmed, yet apathetic and defeated... trying to stay hopeful and present in the moment... trying to keep a smile on my face and trying to see the good in small situations to keep from ruminating over the scary events happening in the world at-large.

Every time I'd get excited about a new idea or new opportunity, a new piece of bad news would hit the airwaves and suddenly it felt stupid or void of meaning. "What's the point" was the constant mantra floating in my head. Why put heart and soul into something that wouldn't survive our own-self destruction? 

Here I was in a wonderful new place in my life, and I couldn't scrounge up the energy or will to enjoy the new possibilities sitting right in front of me.
It felt selfish to wallow in negative thoughts and feelings of helplessness and doom, but I couldn't pull myself out of it.

And through the noise of it all, I knew avoidance and distractions weren't the strategies I needed to get through.

I could spend an entire post lamenting the tortured and fractured soul of humanity. 
But stating the obvious isn't what I'm interested in.

What's not-so obvious is the call to action for positive impact. Between the screaming and fighting heard and seen and felt in so many levels of our surroundings, it feels like our only choices are to hide and ignore or get angry and fight back.

It's not.

I'm here to tell you that at the ripe young age of 30, I've finally discovered the secret:
It starts with simply with each of us.
The unique "You."

Not the sugar-coated, "be-whatever-you-want-to-be!," perfectly styled "you."
No, not your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Not your professor.
Not your boss.
Not that a**hole who cut you off in traffic.
Not that old lady who got in your way at the grocery store.

It's that messy-haired, "I'm freaked out, but I know I can do this!", friend-loving, family supporting You.

There is a wonderful, authentic truth to all of us - and that's where we start to shine a little brightness back into this clouded, hazy world.

Listen, I know it's totally crunchy granola, but discovering your "You" is the only thing that makes sense. When I stopped making excuses and being mad at everything and everyone who "got in my way" and started to explore where my gut was trying to take me, Life started to change. In some big ways. More importantly, it did so in some small, crucial ways that didn't make sense until way later. I had to make amends with the bitter, nervous, lose-at-no-cost person I created because I thought that's what the world needed of me. I had to let go of things I couldn't control. I had to look into the hollow, endless hole that was my fear and geronimo right into the middle of it. I had to have faith my hard-work, my support network, and my intentions were going to work out.

There were some bruises and scrapes to my ego in that leap, no doubt. But ultimately, there were my favorite people waiting on the other side with hugs and high fives. There were people I didn't even know who gave a hoot about my plunge, standing there in the crowd, too. And there was that image of my third-grade self, squealing in her confident, impish joy. 

The move to our new home on the coast has brought a much needed time for reflection and regrouping. The opportunity to be here is a gift John and I have vowed never to take for granted. It's time to let go of the things in my past that did me NO good and start discovering my opportunities here. It's magical and wonderful and a little weird to think we made our dream happen (with some Devine interventions and pushes from pals along the way, of course) -- but the work is just starting, my friends.

To those of you in a crux of self-discovery, a period of self-doubt, or feeling out-of-sorts, I swear to the mother of Meatloaf that you hold more answers than you realize. Your intuition is a serious force to be reckoned with; it's a path you'll have to let faith take over to see it for what it is (for us Type-A, plan-everything-out, get-'ish-done kind of people - we're going to have to work a little harder at that).

You don't need to "change" or "be better at _x_" or "wish you had _y_."

You need be honest with You.
Acknowledge your fears.
Say you're sorry to the people you've not been nice to.
Give in a little bit.
Push a little harder.
Focus on what abilities and capabilities and gifts you DO have.
Don't waste time on the things you don't -- seriously, that's energy and time you'll never get back.
Declare it and share it and get excited about whatever "it" may be.

And know it won't come quickly.
It won't come easily.
It will be scary and awkward and aggravating.

But I can guarantee you:
It will come with amazing new people in your life.
Things that seems stupid and cliche will make sense.
The present will feel more real than it ever has.
And you'll discover that your power towards making positive impact, as small or insignificant it seems at first, is still crucial to the overall force needed to make this world spin a little bit brighter.
And that no wine is too cheap to help when things get tough (just not good for writing blog posts).




So that's 30, folks.
Maybe all those self-help articles and yoga classes are paying off.
Or all that wine is finally catching up.

Either way, I'll take it.
Gratefully.

Hugs & High Fives,
C


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Thoughts

I often resist putting something up on the social media machines in regards to Memorial Day because I'm always scared of coming across as some self-righteous jerkhole. Though I've been touched by experiences with friends, colleagues, and family in the military, I really have no real claim to say I know anything about what these people and their families go through.  

I whole-heartedly believe our fallen heroes deserve a moment of silence and a full day of recognition, but a wistful "proud to be an American!"-ish Facebook post, to me, always feels a little forced... especially knowing the barrage of "back to the real world! (after a three-day weekend!)" posts are immediately to follow, leaving the patriotic sentiment to slip back in the shadows of life's daily chaos. Every Memorial Day I feel at a loss of how to really show appreciation, and, admittedly, let myself get swooped back into the daily grind without much thought.

I've been thinking a lot about next steps in life and that whole conversation of who I'm supposed to be, and it all comes back to a matter of choice. What am I choosing to do for my business, my purpose, my family, my friends, my community... myself? How am I choosing to handle those decisions? Who am I asking for help? What do I hope to accomplish out of it?



The point?
I have the freedom to make choices.

When I discovered, of the 6 billion+ people on this planet, there are really but a handful of us who really can get up every day and decide how we're going to tackle life, it really puts in perspective how important that is. Sure, making those decisions can be terrifying, overwhelming, and drive you to a bottle of merlot... but in the end, it's in your control, at least to some degree.

To fully understand just how much power we have in the ability to make choices for ourselves is to really understand how limitless we are.

And maybe that's how I can show my appreciation: Choose to become the person who's going to rock this world... and enjoy doing so. Because what's the point of being free to make choices if you're not going to do something bad-a** with it?

In addition, I made a donation from my CGP account to the Fisher Foundation because, well, there would be no business account if our service men and women (and their families) hadn't put in their all to protect and defend.

So, to all the families and friends of fallen loved ones and to all those who have served, I thank you.
To those of you who chose to fully immerse yourself in the day with family and friends, I hope you had a baller day.
To every one to waking up tomorrow choosing to take our country, our society, our communities, and our families in positive, uplifting directions, I know your energy is welcome and appreciated.


Hugs & High Fives,
C

------------------

On a side note, I did go to my very first NASCAR experience this weekend:

Doesn't get more #Merica than than that!


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Whole Foods Meltdown

I had a breakdown at the grocery a few weeks back.

Well, almost.

And it was a at Whole Foods. 

Who the F%*K has a melt down in the middle of aisles of magical minimally processed, free range, gluten free GLOWING ORGANIC GODDESS NOURISHMENT of Whole Foods?

I do.

Almost.

The fact that May 2015 is already here (wasn't it Christmas like last week?) punched me so hard and fast that it left me feeling sad and sick and in a constant state of I'm-sorry-WHAT?. So many goals I had yet to scratch the surface of. So many people I haven't seen in months. So many things that have passed me by while I lurk in the shadows, glued to my phone or computer or planner trying to get life under control. So many moments I was completely not present, my brain ping-ponging between the chaos of life, the To Do's, the What-If's, the Have-Nots, the Never-Going-To-Happens.

And it all culminated in the snack aisle of Whole Foods. Seeing the hiker silhouette on the bag of freshly prepared trail mix made me lose my sh*t. He was strong, happy, free, surrounded by nature, looking up at an endless, boundless sky. 

I was washed up, droopy, and empty, wearing the same pants for the 2nd - questionably 3rd - day in a row.

That pounding in my chest and flood of water behind my eyes I've known all too well started churning, and the fear of looking like a complete idiot in the middle of this majestic foodie establishment (where I willingly paid $12 for a plastic bag of nuts and dried berries because it makes me feel like I'm healthy and have my life together) racked my very core. And here interrupts this tiny old Asian woman, squeezing between me and the aisle of highfalutin mixed nuts to grab her salted cashews - 

"Soddy!" she retorts (not really sorry at all).

DAMNIT, WOMAN.

I compose myself.
Just get through the list

A few aisles down and the welling starts again, this time even more ferocious for not having been released the first time. I'm half-way through my list and no where near a proper exit, so the panic adds the juicy pickle on top of the crap sandwich that was my neurotic episode in the making. Breathing deeply I open a freezer door in hopes the cool blast will numb the surmounting explosion in my temples. Tiny Asian Lady appears again, dodging in front of me to get the last jumbo box of cage-free brown eggs. "Soddy!" she exclaims again. I replied with as polite of a smile as I could with clenched teeth, lingered inside the diary section freezer door for a moment longer (what the Jay-Z is kefir milk?), and trudged on. 

The third and final wave came in the bread section; having the ever debilitating white girl struggle of carbs versus-no carbs, it was do-or-die. With the last scratch of the list, seeing the check-out line so close ahead, I started suddenly feeling like I just wasn't going to make it. This would be my darkest, weakest, stupidest moment = breaking under the pressures of life next to gluten-free hotdog buns.

As the flood of emotions rolled into my throat, as the tears began to protrude from the corners of my eyes, Tiny Asian Lady pops up one final time, eyeing the dinner rolls. This time she looks at me, waits until I've got what I need, and allows me to move through first. She offers a polite, encouraging smile - almost as if she'd been in my situation herself at some point. The empathetic look in her calm, old lady eyes was enough to make me realize I was going to get out of here in one - albeit frazzled - piece.

Greeted by the friendly young ladies of the check out line, I felt the pressure in my chest subside. Their energy was bright and happy and curious. To those magical check-out fairies of Whole Foods, I thank you. Your sweet disposition and big Sunday smiles made more of a difference than you'll ever know.

I made it to my car, the heat of the spring sun making my tiny car feel light and cozy...
and just sat there.

I had completely short-circuited.

My life had become a vapid, meaningless existence, guided only by the inertia of deadlines and color-coding and box-checking. I lost my identity, my focus, and my pursuit of plans and goals along the way... and had no clue where to even begin finding it.

Each new day and new week subconsciously terrifies me. The flood of requests I can't accommodate. The endless amount of tasks I'm inevitably going to screw up. The friends I'm going to have to "politely decline" for the 3rd or 4th time in a row because every ounce of spare time I've got goes into trying to get my head above water. The list of things I need to do to make my business thrive that seem so daunting and out of reach. The husband whom I literally have to schedule in "hang out time" during the week because I lose my mind if he excitedly suggests an impromptu little excursion. The random outfits I'm pulling out of the dryer because it's a small victory just to get my clothes clean in the first place.

Y'all, I hadn't lived in the present moment in months.
I was living in the distant land of "Someday" - that magical place when all the To Do's are crossed and I suddenly have all the resources I need to succeed... and all the late nights and early mornings would pay off.

The problem?
I've been doing this my ENTIRE life; on the brink of 30, the "Someday" has never come to fruition, and I keep pretending it's just around the corner.

The living in the "Someday" attitude has been my only way to cope - put your head down, check off the list, play by the rules, and eventually, you'll get there. Right?

Ehhhh....

When you look around and everyone's having magical experiences and scoring major life achievements and settling into beautiful little families -- while you're trapped behind a wall of the computer screen, sitting in your over-sized underpants, hoping you remembered to brush your teeth this morning -- it's easy to lose sight of the little things you've got going in your own life. It's easy to tell yourself you just need to work harder and maybe you're next. It's easy to start questioning every decision up until now, wondering if they have been stupid or bad or poorly made. It's easy to let silhouettes of hiking men ON BAGS OF NUTS make you feel like a giant loser.

(30 Rock- NBC)

And then the Tiny Asian Lady of your life pops up -
Soddy!

She's there to remind you we've all got sh*t to do; and if you don't stay focused, she's there to swoop in and get what she needs first. To bring you back in the moment to remind you why you're standing there in the first place. To get you out of your own head. You can either try to avoid her or accomplish what you came to do in spite of knowing she's going to try to get in your way. And she's not all bad - when you're vulnerable and not afraid to admit it, she'll help you.

At least that's what I got out of the experience.

The truth is I'm THE only person to hold accountable for letting myself implode. I've deluded myself into thinking I need to pile on more work and tasks and projects because that's what's going to get me to the next step. That what I need to do isn't going to be - and shouldn't be - fun and joyful because that's the end result of it all ("work" is "work" for a reason, right?). In reality, it's just distracted me from really making plans and doing what I feel like I'm supposed to do and being honest with the people around me. It's made me anxious and tired and FREAKED OUT. I buried my authentic self under the facade of being "productive" and "busy"....

... and it took a meltdown at the Chanel of grocery stores to figure that out.

To those of you who stuck it out reading this, I'm sorry that I really have nothing to offer you. I can't say I turned my life around and made a powerful life decision and the heavens granted me peace and prosperity.

But I did return to Whole Foods this past weekend. Quietly skimming the aisles for our weekly fare with my handsome darling in tow, I brought with me a new sense of calm, of hope, of being filled with joy to spend the morning uninterrupted by my To Do list surrounded by magical, and kind of weird, foodie goodness. I needed to replace the bad mojo I left in there; I think I did it.

And I swear the hiker silhouette gave me a wink.

Since then, it's been easier to see what the vision for my life is - and get serious about making decisions towards that, accepting my own responsibility for how it turns out. Asking for help. Taking time to research and get excited about the possibilities. Again, it's not easy - but easier.

(source unknown)


 With that, may you all enjoy a wonderful summer.
I'm counting on a proper sunburn and one-too-many margaritas myself.
And maybe a little soul-searching.
(Is that better before or after margaritas?)


Hugs & High Five,
C

Monday, February 9, 2015

The 3rd Grade-Self Reflective




Have you ever done a vision exercise in which you go back and talk to yourself as a little kid?

Of course you haven't. That's weird.

For some reason, I found myself on a long run recently and found myself in a total meditative state. I saw me, a 7 or 8 year old version of myself, and suddenly started asking 3rd-ish grader me all kinds of questions. We sat on the floor of my old room of our childhood home, a room in the top corner of the house that flooded with the most perfect sunlight.

I was a total weirdo. I put together stupid outfits in bright, crazy colors and insisted on not-less than a minimum of three accessories in my hair (unless I was wearing my helmet for horse riding, of which I resisted multiple urges to paint and bedazzle the crap out of - if my Mom wasn't killing my vibe of it being "soooo expensive"). I colored and drawed (yes, I DRAWED, dam*it), and wrote stories of awesome epics involving majestic horses, virtuous dogs, and badass heroines who wore dirty riding boots under their meticulous, sparkling gowns. I collected hoards of wildflowers (they were weeds) and fashioned jewelry and house goods for my dolls out of whatever craft and house project leftovers I could find.

I asked "lil C" what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without hesitation, it was a journalist-TV anchor-Olympic equestrian-creative writer-veternarian. Of course, I'd be done with school and could devote my time to such pursuits, all while married to a handsome Zach Morris-esque stay-at-home hubs' who would tend to our four perfect kiddos. But, I cooked the meals, because that's my jam. All in a day's work.

Such confidence. Such gumption. No sense of limitation. Dreams bigger than Malibu Dream House. You wanna mess with this? Whatever. I've successfully managed a household of 4 brothers and a sister, while y'all play with that creepy baby doll that pees on itself (I secretly wanted one, just couldn't bring myself to ask for it - even though I blamed my parents for never giving it to me in the first place). 

Eyes sparkling, talking 80 bagillion miles a minute while organizing drawings and plotting the next masterpiece - how could I tell her what the world had in store for her? 

Somewhere between miles 6-7, a montage of life flooded between that moment of our conversation on the floor to present. The people who weren't so nice. The things I said that were mean and icky I can never take back. The moments where joy and innocence turned to dark, scary situations. The sense of overwhelming pressure, the feelings of not stacking up or not feeling included or belittled. The stupid, STUPID things I did to make someone else happy or think I was cool. The pain of loss, of failure, of defeat. It turned the later versions of me into this angsty, jaded person who only focused on what needed to be fixed or organized or better. "Good enough" was never good enough (not just from myself but from everything around me), and the bubbling well of resentment towards projects and things in which I worked so hard to achieve but ultimately fell flat came to a raging boil. Even in the running itself, I only focused on how poor my time was, how painful my knee felt, how sloppy my form must've been. I didn't notice the chilly breeze and breaking sunrise and the fact I was capable of running that distance at all - not until my sassy 3rd grader self swung her Scrunchie-tied ponytail and said, "HECK YEAH, YOU CAN DO IT!"

I picked up the pace and another montage followed. The people who made me laugh at only things we could understand. The well-earned victories, large and small. The hugs when they were needed most. The walks on the beach. The ideas and goals and accomplishments that were once floating ideas that became realized. The brilliant pangs of awe of often simple moments in simple places. The sense of wonder. Excitement. Empowering others. Connection. Gratitude. Waffles.

The pre-30 Celia has found herself lately slipping into waves of mini-depressions, feeling that yucky sense of loser-hood when things don't seem to come together. When peers seem to have it all and that comparison creeps into the core. When the wheels are spinning and gears are turning and things don't seem to happen.When people don't support. When nobody listens. When the pursuit of the perfect image becomes the priority. But with a little digging and mental decluttering, I can find the earlier versions of myself when she was happiest, proudest, most connected, most present. And my post-30 self and beyond is going to need even more of these moments to take the next big steps and future risks.

I finished that run in honor of "Lil C," to let her know I wasn't going to let her down. I may not exactly have foraged the path she had in mind, but it's because the world presented many other unique opportunities just for her. And it continues to do so, sending the right people - both the supporters and the "teachers" - who guide her every step of the way. 

2015... let's do this.

Hugs & High Fives,
C


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