Blogging, tiny living

Tiny Living vs. Living Small

go jules go_tiny living vs living small title graphic 23jan2019

It’s eight steps from my living room loveseat to the bathroom.

Seven steps from the bathroom to my bed.

Twenty-four steps -two flights down- from my kitchenette to the front door.

Over the past fourteen years, since graduating college, I’ve moved five times, had eight jobs, four broken hearts, one marriage, one divorce, run two marathons, lost and gained several hundred pounds, said goodbye to five loved ones (including one dog), written two books and 407 blog posts, gotten two advanced degrees, and traveled to three different continents.

Sometimes when things feel stale or stagnant, I review that list and remember: life is always changing. A notion that used to send me into the fetal position now puts a skip in my step. Thank god things are always changing.

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Otherwise I’d still be dressed like this.

No matter how many things we try to track and count, or how many boxes we tick on the Checklist of Life, we’ll never be able to control that one constant – change. Nor will we ever arrive at some magic moment, proclaiming, “Ah, okay, done now!”

When I moved to my 350-square foot apartment in November 2017, the only thing I was sure of was that one chapter was ending and another was beginning.

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Also, that I’d save a butt-ton of these.

I was terrified, but determined. After all, if I wanted a different sort of life, I was going to need to do things, well, differently. Of course, I still placated myself with thoughts like, “If you hate it, Jules, you can leave whenever you want and go back to living with an actual oven.”

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Totally overrated. Photo credit

I needed to tell myself things like that because I still didn’t trust The Grand Unknown. I still didn’t really believe the old adage, “The path will appear when you take the first step.” I always wanted a Plan B, a back-up, something I could measure and rely on. So often we look for sure things and guarantees, favoring our logical, expensively-educated brains, while missing what I’m starting to believe is the entire reason we’re inhabiting these funny flesh sacks in the first place: to follow our hearts.

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Right, Darren Criss?

Who says our hearts are unreliable, anyway? Have you ever tried tackling a tough question by getting still, taking a few deep breaths, and sinking down into that space within your chest? That space that says: You are enough. You can do anything. Your dreams matter. You are loved.

Isn’t that the voice who should always dictate our next steps?

There are still many days where I straddle the line between my heart and my head. Not sure if that’s you, too? In my experience, it feels a little something like this: Hope vs. desperation. Giddiness vs. dread. Authenticity vs. fraud. Ease vs. restlessness. A life of seeming forward momentum and social media-worthy accomplishment vs. that huge part of you that just wants to scream:

“STOP!”

Do you ever imagine standing up in the middle of a busy day and doing just that?

Then you could walk five steps to the fridge, fill three water bottles, and take your one dog two flights of stairs down to your one car. You could drive hundreds of miles until you reached the infinite woods.

There, you could hike countless miles and relish innumerable sights and sounds. You could consider your endless blessings, remember your boundless spirit, and realize your limitless potential.

Because counting only matters when you’re living small.

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On second thought, the hike might have to wait.

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How do you deal with The Grand Unknown? (Hey, come out of that corner, you. It’s safe over here. I have bean dip!)

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Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?, Just For Fun

OH MY GOD I KNOW HER

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Oh, cherubic little Chipmunks. I don’t like to brag, but…

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Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh. I slay me.

…I know some pretty awesome people. Like, Darren Criss shirtless-level awesome. Sometimes they even let me pimp them out on this here blog.

The friend I’m about to feature is one of my nearest and dearest. Jenn and I met many moons ago, at my first “real” job at a little local book shop, and I recently realized we’ve been friends for more than half my life.

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That’s a lot of Kristmas Krafty Korners.

Jenn has the kind of talent that makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf when he realizes Santa is coming to Gimbel’s.

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Speaking of Darren Criss (what? We weren’t still on that?), I once featured a video clip of him singing my favorite Christmas tune, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but: IT GETS EVEN BETTER THAN THAT.

At long last, Jenn has agreed to let me share some of her splendor with you. I don’t care where you are right now, crank up the volume and get ready to have your jingle bells ROCKED.

I love you, Jenn!!!!!!

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From the bottom of my furry little striped tail heart, I’m wishing you a peaceful, joyful, champagne-full holiday!

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humor

One is Silver and the Other is…Old

“When you’re a kid, age matters a lot,” Babs, my mom, said the other day. We were lounging on her living room sofa killing time before her friends, Dick and Fern, came over for dinner.

Hang on. What’s that? You think I’m lying about their names being Dick and Fern? Would I lie about something like that? Babs even gave me permission to use their real names in this post! (Then again, Babs also gave me permission to paint my aunt’s house as a surprise gift…)

Dick and Fern have been friends with my parents since before bottled water was a thing.

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“You know. If you’re seven and the neighbors are ten it’s a huge deal,” Babs went on. “Then you get into your 20s and it really doesn’t matter at all.”

She took a gulp of wine.

“Then it starts to matter again.”

She paused and gave me a look.

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You know the look.

“Dick and Fern are a few years older than us so they’re in their 70s now,” Babs said. “And just look at this.” She whipped out her phone and showed me the text message that Fern had just sent.

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“Late because of rain! At least she finally got a smart phone this year,” Babs went on. “Before that she was doing the texting where you had to hit the number keys over and over!”

I didn’t have the heart to remind Babs how recent her own memorable smart phone purchase was.

“Yeah,” I replied. “It also seems like there’s get-off-my-lawn-seventy and I-AM-JUST-GETTING-STARTED-B*TCH-SEVENTY.”

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This, of course, got me thinking of my own friendships. Had there ever been an age gap that suddenly became too pronounced? Is there ever a “cut off” when you can no longer relate, whether it’s on a surface level with cultural references, or emotionally based on various life stages?

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What I’m really trying to ask is: Do I need to stop talking about Darren Criss?

So far, at 36, age has never been an issue in my friendships, though it’s still certainly bittersweet when they fade for other reasons: Distance, difference of opinion, or interests in chipmunks and priorities that no longer align.

My advice to Babs? Might as well stick it out. At least you’ll get to tell your favorite stories over and over.

As long as it’s not raining, that is.

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humor, Just For Fun

I’m gonna get WEIRD with it.

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“So the ultimate goal, really,” the instructor said, brushing back a curly red lock that had broken loose from her bun, “is to start seeing the whole world this way: a universe filled with divinely placed signs and symbols to help guide you.”

I shuffled a large, colorful deck of cards for the tenth time, glancing around the room at the handful of other students. There was the older woman who introduced herself as a teacher’s assistant, a gray-haired man with turquoise beads around his neck, and someone about my age, in her mid-to-late 30’s.

We sat in the brightly colored yoga studio barefooted, having all been instructed to remove our shoes and wash our hands as soon as we had arrived.

“When you first get your cards,” the instructor continued, “you’ll need to cleanse them. For today, you can wave them over one of these candles, but make sure to pause on each one.”

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If I burn these I’m going to be really pissed.

She then explained how to develop our own interpretations of the “oracle cards” in our hands – oversized decks depicting vivid images and words.

“They come in all kinds of themed decks,” she went on, adjusting her blue-framed glasses, “and you can mix them however you’re called to.”

We spent the next two hours learning about the importance of color, challenging our initial associations between words and images, and tapping into our “inner knowing.”

Fast forward a week later, and I found myself registering for this:

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Yup. That’s right. Part two. I went back for more.

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I mean, you can’t be an oracle card expert without learning how to create your own…intuitive…spreads…right?

Before the end of the second class, I was accurately predicting which cards I’d turn over – from a deck I’d never seen before!

So what was I doing there? Did someone drug me? Threaten to steal my dog? Promise free tickets to see Darren Criss and Lea Michele?

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Oh wait. That’s already happening. I love you, Jenn! Photo credit.

Last summer, I started tugging on a thread that quickly unraveled, revealing a treasure trove of paths to explore. By “following my allurements,” as a favorite teacher of mine likes to say, my love of learning and reading returned with a bang, hidden in a pile of metaphysical books and podcasts.

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This led to a daily meditation practice, which led to more reading, which led to the aforementioned class and which will soon lead to a “Find Your Spirit Guide” weekend retreat at Omega Institute and a Quantum Hypnosis Healing Therapy session in August.

Along with sharing all of my embarrassing snafus and guilty pleasures, I’m letting this smelly cat out of the bag.

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My dad always pegged me for a Phoebe. Photo credit.

Astrology? Reiki? Past lives? Numerology? Near death experiences? Crystals? Sound healing? Chakra balancing? Spirit animals? Astral projection? Telepathy?

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BRING IT ON.

The more I’ve explored, the more I want to know. The humorist in me loves that this is all just another way of following the classic improv mantra, “Yes, and.” The humane educator in me loves that this is just another way to acknowledge we’re all connected. The chipmunk in me loves that this is just another way to guarantee I’ll find some nuts. The project manager in me loves that this isn’t woo-woo at all; as Carl Sagan put it, “science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”

I’m finally finding words to articulate the strange things I’ve always experienced. And, the funny thing is, the more I’ve started opening up about this, the more I’ve found like-minded chipmunks everywhere. I mean seriously. Ya’ll were holding out.

Anyhoo. I’ll make sure to send postcards from down the rabbit hole.

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All right, ‘fess up. Who’s with me?!?!

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Food, humor, PSAs

Sleeping With the Frenemy

I graduated therapy recently.

What? You didn’t know that was a thing?

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Hang on. Is it NOT a thing?

After about two and a half years on the couch, including a brief affair with hypnotherapy, I was released.

But Go Jules Go, you’re probably thinking. You? Therapy? How can this be? Is it the chipmunk thing? ‘Cause that’s been making me kind of uncomfortable for a long time now.

It’s true, friends. This hilarious, blonde bombshell you see before you has some clumps in her mascara.

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Also the chipmunk thing.

At first I felt uneasy being set free. Who would I talk to? And then I remembered you!

GoJulesGo gets ready for BlogHer'12

The thing that made me realize my therapist was right, that I was indeed ready to stand on my own two, massive, massive, size 11 feet, was the fact that I had made friends with my demons. I’d invited them onto that couch with me, and instead of trying to suffocate them with one of my therapist’s oversized pillows, we started chatting.

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Once we got to know each other, we realized we had so much in common!

The one demon in particular who led me to therapy was an old friend frenemy. FOOD.

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That basic b*tch.

When I’m stressed, angry, sad, wondering why Darren Criss still hasn’t returned my calls, you name it, I’ll let it build and build and then the sun will set and suddenly I’m surrounded by crumbs, salt and shame. Even positive things, like embracing an ethical vegan lifestyle, running a marathon, going back to grad school, and making the move to tiny living, brought monumental anxiety.

Every moment in my personal history, a history rich with love, laughter, beautiful sights and broken hearts, is colored by whatever I happened to weigh at that time. Give me any year back to 1991, when I was 9 years old, and I can probably provide an exact number – and exactly how I felt about that number.

During my first couple of years in therapy, I thought I could fix whatever the hell was wrong with me. I knew food was a merely symptom, but for goddsakes, I was in my mid-30s now, surely time to turn a corner here. Then I realized: My issues were never going away, least of all this one.

And that’s what has made all the difference.

My issues and I can sit side by side in this life, sometimes in companionable silence, other times in a raging battle, and everything is going to be O-KAY. It’s how I relate to them, how I deal with them moment to moment, that really matters. Why not pull my darkest parts into the light where I can admire and understand every ugly lovely inch of them? They are part of me, after all.

Besides, if I’m going to fret over anything, it should be the fact that Darren Criss STILL hasn’t called me back.

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My love has only had time to mature, Darren!

“I remember how panicked I was when I first came here,” I said to my therapist on our second to last visit, gazing between her cluttered desk and oversized necklace. “It’s not that my issues have gone away. It’s just that I feel so much differently about them. So much calmer.”

She nodded. “Does that feel like progress?” 

“If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is,” I replied.

So now that I’ve invited my favorite frenemy over to spend some quality time, I’ve decided (s)he needs a name.

I’m thinking Osama binge Laden. Yes? No?

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Any other frenemies out there you’d like to introduce?

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Giveaway Junkie, humor

Is it…could it be…the BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER?!

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THE DAY HAS COME, Chipmunks!

The day everyone showers me with attention, compliments, and permission to drink at 9 AM I announce the winner of my latest giveaway!

For this contest, I asked you to (pretty please) leave a comment describing your ideal birthday, with bonus points awarded for mentioning chipmunks. This particular commenter nailed it. I love word-y puns almost as much as I love sneaking “water” into the movies.

And thus, the winner of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” is…

SHENRYDAFRANKMAN!

Go-Jules-Go-birthday-giveaway-winner-2018Congratulations, SHENRYDAFRANKMAN! I’ll be in touch to send you your delightful spoils.

Oh. What’s that? You’re wondering what my ideal birthday would look like? That’s so sweet of you! I hadn’t really given it much thoug—

Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-1Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-2Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-3Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-4Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-5Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-6Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-8Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-9Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-10Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-11Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-12Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-13Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-14Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-15Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-17Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-18Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-19

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Photo Credits: Darren CrissChipmunksKetchup dogOreo dogBanana dogPopcorn dogTater tot dog; Justin Timberlake

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I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Kvetching, Marriage, Music

“I Do”-Wop

When my BFF, Jenn, asked how things were going in Plural Marriage-ville, she was surprised by my answer.

Here’s a taste of why.

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Have you ever been in a band, or wish you had been? Any groupies out there?

P.S. – Special thanks to Jenn, and to those of you who suggested The Hubs form a band. Less special thanks to Hubs 1 through 3. Now cut that sh*t out.

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