November 25, 2014

Kissing my husband goodbye is a full-contact sport.

(... And not in the way you may think it is. This is a revised retelling of a previously published story. Enjoy!)

Hubs and I will never be the couple who wake up, eat breakfast and walk out the door together. Like, never. He works in shifts. I have a regular 9 to 5. When one of us is up and ready for the day, the other is likely still half asleep, sprawled over onto the now-vacant other side of the bed.

A couple days ago, I tiptoed into our bedroom to put on my wedding rings and to kiss Hubs goodbye. He worked an evening shift so I was extra quiet. Cherishing the moment, I touched his head before leaning in to kiss him on the cheek when HE BURST AWAKE, LAUNCHED HIS BODY UP, FLAILED HIS ARMS AROUND AND SMACKED ME IN THE FACE.

Mumbling something about "catching the bad guys," he quickly smothered me into a weird bear-hug type deal, apologizing profusely and asking what he did. My glasses dug into my head at an uncomfortable angle and I was stunned, uncertain whether to laugh, cry or smack him back.

As soon as I untangled myself from the uncomfortable and slightly suffocating hug, Hubs turned over and fell back asleep like he didn't just wallop his wife in the face. Turning on my heels and stifling giggles, I beelined it to the bathroom to see if this bizarre encounter left any discernible marks.

When I returned home that night, Hubs gave me a quizzical look. "What happened this morning?"

I filled him in. He remembered nothing. Nothing. We laughed, I cried (kidding) and then he suggested I gently push him before saying goodbye. We laughed even more. There's no way that'd be helpful. It'd only make things worse!

The next morning, I opted out of the pre-kiss push. As I peered at him through the dark, the whites of his eyes gleamed back at me. He smirked. I asked if he needed a shove.

He laughed. And launched himself up off the bed in an act of faux-surprise just like he did on that fateful morning. Exactly when my guard went down.

So I shoved him.

November 12, 2014

Figuring out a little more about who I am and what I want to do. (With help)

After spending much of my life charging toward what's next in order to get to this goal – which quickly shifted to that goal or back to this one again – I lost my bearings. At times it seems like a quarter-life crisis lasting two years too long.

Almost four years ago I graduated college with a bachelor's degree in hand and decided I didn't want to do what I originally set out to do. Since then I occasionally wrestle with feelings of inadequacy (Why did I go from a large well-known university to a tiny invisible college? Should I have studied this instead of that?) and frustration (How do I know when it's not a pipe dream? Why do I keep feeling inadequate when I know I'm more than capable?)

I quiet those feelings by saying yes and figuring out the rest later. And I pay better attention to the markers in my path, the ones I miss when I focus on being overwhelmed. I also made changes. Looking back I can't help but roll my eyes at how some were blown out of proportion but I was afraid and fear makes you do crazy things. Like cussing out actors in a haunted house and hiding behind your cane-swinging grandma for protection. Another story for another time.

Encouragement and inspiration came from a few places. Braid Creative was one of them, providing solace as I narrowed down what I wanted to do. And when Kathleen sent out an email about Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do, I went balls to the wall and signed up.

Turns out I had to get creative about figuring out the rest. The course was open for nine of the busiest days in my month so I scribbled frantic notes and printed out all the worksheets to work through in more depth later.

Super practical and completely rad, the worksheets are the best part of the course. I polished off two or three a night and every time I started a new one my brain put up a fight. Long mental lists of why I shouldn't or couldn't or didn't want to do the work and how hard it'd all be populated without any effort. I saw it as a sign I was doing exactly what I needed to do. When I ignored the lists and started writing, I couldn't get my thoughts onto paper fast enough.

I walked away from it with a better idea of what I want to do and – surprisingly – a more defined sense of who I am. A little more clarity, a little more confidence. It helped me uncover and embrace parts of myself I didn't think fit with what I want to do. By pulling apart the bits, I felt a little more whole. And my bearings feel a little more gathered, professionally and personally.

If you're struggling with sorting out who you are and what you want to do, I can't recommend Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do highly enough. It's a small investment with huge returns. Only $75. And the best part? You don't have to wait long to get started. The next course opens on Friday. Registration is open until tomorrow.

Can't hurt, right?

[image courtesy of Braid Creative]

*When you use one of the above links to sign up for the course, I make a small commission from it. I will never recommend anything I don't absolutely love and adding affiliate links like this helps me make a tiny bit of revenue to support this space. Any questions? Feel free to send me an email.

November 07, 2014

A lazy girl's guide to work nights: Fall edition

A lazy girl's guide to work nights

Settling into fall's cozy grays and shorter days doesn't help. Dressing with layers and driving in the dark, along with listening to Lorde and The National on repeat, has lulled me into an uber-relaxed state. After a long work day and an occasionally tedious commute, I run to these things when I get home. These are my essentials for a lazy work night (or a regular Friday night):

1. Sweatpants
(I read it. And I loved it.) 
3. A cozy blanket
4. An inspirational mug to make you feel like you're accomplishing something
5. Tea, to relax you and boost your immune system
6. A funny TV show. I recommend The Mindy Project
7. Nutella, because you're too lazy to make yourself a proper meal
8. A spoon, because scooping out Nutella with your fingers is undignified.

November 06, 2014

Veronica Mars

On Saturday morning I lay in bed reading Vulture's 9 reasons why Veronica Mars was feminist as hell. I loved the article and knew it was time to finally come clean with a recent TV obsession.

I watched Veronica Mars in full a couple months ago and – big surprise – I loved it. Veronica is smart and complex, unwilling to bend to social or gender norms. She knows who she is. She's fiercely protective of the people she loves. She isn't going to do anything she doesn't want to because she already has.

In the pilot episode, you learn Veronica was drugged and raped at a high school party. Her best friend, Lily Kane, was murdered. Her dad lost his job as town sheriff because of the murder investigation and now works as a private eye. But Veronica isn't a victim. She's determined to solve what happened and bring justice to her friend (and to herself).

Veronica Mars is heavy without being too heavy. It's candid and honest without being exploitative. It doesn't shy away from depicting the aftermath of sexual abuse for victims or drawing clear lines about what is and isn't okay. And it does it well.

It's also funny and melodramatic. It can also be tricky to follow. Veronica Mars aired under the perpetual threat of cancellation for most of its three season run. At times the story lines feel rushed and frantic, other times it's slow and steady.

One of the neat aspects of Veronica Mars is that it continues to live on: All three seasons are available on Netflix, and the Kickstarter-funded movie can be rented on iTunes. If that's still not enough, there are two novels – The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell (coming in January!) – and Play It Again, Dick, a spin-off web series starring Ryan Hansen.

It's a great show for dark nights and cozy blankets. A bit smarter and definitely more sarcastic than your usual teenaged television show. Still plenty cheesy.

November 05, 2014

"Maybe you look too pretty?": Why it's never an okay answer.

It was my gut reaction to why some women feel unsafe while running alone, and it wasn't right.

I know how it feels and I never look pretty when I run. While training for my first half-marathon I ran in the early morning to cover my miles before the temperature climbed too high. Darkened pathways and strange men kept me on high alert, picking up my pace when I passed either.

This fear culminates in planning how to defend myself from an attacker: How quickly could I grab my spare key? Where could I jab it to buy myself enough time to run to safety? Could my bladder release on command if I was desperate? If I called out for help, would anyone come to my rescue?

My imagination can get the best of me, something unhelpful as a person managing a degree of anxiety on a regular basis. I take measures to keep myself safe. I don't run with headphones or earbuds. I run against traffic. I wear brightly coloured clothing and I have a pretty fierce BRF. I run in daylight hours. I share my route and estimated arrival time before I go out (even if in a text message).  I do everything the experts encourage women to do when they're out running alone. Still I am always on high alert.

Our world is not as it should be. It never will be. Tiny minorities of ghastly people do unimaginably horrific things and it'll be all we hear about on the evening news. Curtains get pulled back to reveal what's really going on behind closed doors. Sticks and stones are the least of our worries because words on screens have become the nastiest.

Women (and men) aren't victims because they're attractive. Questioning whether a person is to blame for his or her victimization for any reason shifts the blame from the perpetrator – who deserves all of the judgment and vitriol – to the victim. Not okay. Not ever.

And for my mind to jump to this conclusion first? I was embarrassed. And ashamed.

I write this as much for myself as for anyone out there who has ever fallen into the "Maybe you look too pretty?" trap without even thinking about it. Even though I know what it feels like to be vulnerable and fearful. Even though I know better. I jumped to that conclusion. It was the first response that popped into my head. And that's not okay. Not ever.

November 04, 2014

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream

Earlier this year I experimented with natural deodorants. Some were okay. Others were pitiful. Pun intended.

Of all the natural deodorants I've tried, Soapwalla Deodorant Cream is one of my favourites. It smells nice, like a gentle earthy mix of lavender and tea tree oil, and is easy to use. Applying deodorant with your fingers takes getting used to, and I recommend giving it a couple minutes to absorb before putting on a top. It'll sink into shirts before your pits.

Made with food-grade ingredients, I feel confident about using this stuff on my skin. I still store a drugstore stick in my gym bag for lunch break exercise because it's convenient. If you're interested in giving it a try, I order mine from Eco Diva Beauty.