This week was challenging. This week did not kill me. As a friend had suggested, I woke up each day, and survived that, and now looking back, all those days add up to a week. I made it! To celebrate, I took myself out tonight and had a surprisingly amazing time. So when I got home, I ordered this as suggested for me by a co-worker. It’s going to go awesome with my pink Wonder Woman shirt. Yay for spontaneous spoiling of myself.
I’ve been struggling with my self-image lately. Sometimes, I love almost everything about myself, but sometimes I don’t like myself very much at all. (“Typical Gemini” is what my friend Art would say, but I think it’s just typical human.) Someone once said to me that I try really hard at life. (I think it was a compliment.) I tend to be a little obsessed with self-improvement and trying to be the most perfect me that I can be, and most of the time think that I’m doing a pretty good job. (Working on being okay with “not perfect” has been part of that self-improvement process.)
Lately some incredibly challenging adult situations have sent me reeling and questioning myself and my decisions. “I must just not be good enough” is the voice in my head. Sometimes followed by “what the hell is wrong with you Tori Nichelle – be different, be better, be right.” (I sort of feel like I’m going a little crazy, but that’s another post all together.) While most of the time I think I’m super-duper awesome, at other times I find myself unsure if I have value to others, and am unsure if I’m deserving of the life I want. Thankfully in a hail storm of anger and disappointment falling on my head the last few months, there have been an incredible amount of cheerleaders trying to be louder than the voice in my head to remind me that I am deserving. It’s had me contemplating a lot about why I can’t own my life, and why I rely on others so heavily to build up my self-esteem. Part of the goal of this space is to give me a place to revel in how much I love myself – to list and brag and be proud. I want to fill these digital pages with reminders that will soon be a tangible collective of “me” things to lean on when I start to doubt myself. I want to find my way back to loving all of myself, and to find constant value in me despite the situation around me.
This morning it has me thinking about this clip. I LOVE Katt Williams special “The Pimp Chronicles Part 1”. It’s less comedy and more motivational speech with a bunch of funny in it. I will stop channel surfing 90% of the time when it’s rerunning on Comedy Central, even though it’s much less funny when it’s bleeped every few seconds. It makes me feel good every time – and is filled with tiny little nuggets like this one. Fun little reminders that situations and other people shouldn’t influence how you view yourself.
Today, I choose to say that I’m awesome. I’m deserving, and I’m in control. I get to make the choices that best suit me. Life is long, but you only get one – so live it full and life it loud. Life is hard, things don’t go my way, things change and challenges come. But none of those challenges change that I’m awesome. I will (try to) no longer let the “trifecta of disaster” rule how much value I see in myself. I’m going forward in honesty, integrity, intention, gratitude, love, internal strength and purpose. I will have what I want and need in this life – because I think I’m pretty amazing – even if not everyone thinks so.
BEST QUOTE EVER: “Not everyone is going to like you Tori – Do you want to be awesome to Mitt Romney?!”
Uhm, no. No I don’t. I just want to be awesome to me. (I’m pretty damn sure that my hippie “feeding and educating a healthy society” liberal ways aren’t exactly what he’s looking for in a best friend, and I really like those ways about me.)
One of the reasons I started this place is to work on living more in gratitude. I wanted to give me a place to verbalize and acknowledge that state in my life more often, rather than wallowing in the negative. My life seems to be especially challenging at times. This last year or so, I’ve become a little hippie-dippie zen about it all. I’ve come to realize I’m not special or cursed, it’s just how life happens. I’ve learned to roll with it pretty well. It’s become about being grateful for the moments, the every day miracles, and the growth the challenges bring. I have always reveled in the wondrous gifts of sunsets and ocean breezes, long drives and loud music, but the gratitude for every day things has been quietly growing in me. Perhaps because despite all the challenges thrown my way, I seem to be extremely blessed with all this amazingness that fills in the space around them. I want to give more time to acknowledge the people and things that give me so much comfort and joy, and this space seems perfect for doing that. Not only will it be good to recognize those driving forces in my life, but in my weak moments it will give me a place to realize the collective of things that I’ve got in the positive column.
One way I’m going to share my gratitude is going to be every day posts like this one. Just quick notes of thanks and recognition. Another way will be more project based. I’ve started a list of people, places and things that have been a driving force or part of turning points in the path that led me to where I am today. I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to present that – but you can watch for that coming over the next few months. It’s something I’m very excited about. Please feel to participate – I hope we can inspire each other to remember to be in the moment and be thankful for everything on our path.
Until then…here’s a fantastic video by fellow burner John “Halcyon” Styn at TEDxAmericasFinestCity earlier this year called “Crap or Cone – Gratitude, Gifting and Grandpa”. It will make you laugh, and maybe tear up a little – but it’s totally worth your 17 minutes.
So here I am again. Starting a new blog. Shocked? Probably not. I have a lot of neglected web spaces – but I miss all of them and it seems like so much work to get them all going again. I have a lot of little niche places where I tried to do different things, but there’s no public place I have that can be all of me at once and I want that. (Facebook tried to be that, but it’s not the same.)
I miss livejournal. I miss tracking my life and writing every day. I miss working on snappedinsin.com. I miss having a place where I share photos of my adventures. I miss my “I never” blog. I miss having a place to revel in trying new things and pushing myself past my comfort zone. Then there was that big plan to document my gardening that died off quickly and that “live loud challenge” thing I wanted to start – I miss being able to share my experience and intentions for my passions. (I also have my more professional domain, which is also neglected, but I want to keep my personal life somewhat separate from that.) I obviously need a new blog to take care of like I need a new hole in my head, but none of these places I own really fits what I’m looking to start here. I miss doing all of these things, but don’t want to try and go revive a bunch of different places just to express what I’m looking for. So I’m going to give this a go. (I forgot I even had this domain, so it’s nice to finally use it for something.)
So here I am. With intention. With passion. I’m at a time in my life when I need a place to remind me of how proud I am of my life, and how much I want to bring to my life in the future. So this is it. This will be the place where I will live loud, and share my adventures, thoughts, excitements, goals, achievements, worries, fears, bragging, photos, political opinions, idiocies, complaints, and sometimes funny things I find on the internet. And maybe some typos and bad grammar, because I’m not perfect. But you’re welcome to read, lurk, comment and share your own experience as well. I am grateful for every interaction.
It took a bit longer to get this up due to a bit of a rocky start to 2010, but I’m very pleased to look back on last year and see it be so full. It is neat that I still kept going on doing new things the year after Project 30, (which I never properly summarized), just changed into a lifelong project. Here is a “quick” summary of my year in pictures and notes.
Starting in San Diego in the Motel that I grew up in, hung over from a fan-freaking-tastic New Years Eve with my favorite people…Didn’t do the 365 days of pictures project long, but I like this picture.
Shannon flew out from Austin and I spent Valentines Day with the girls showing them my favorite spots in SF, we kicked off trying to attempt the 100 Things to Eat in SF before you die (we ate pizza), and then joined the San Francisco Pillow Fight Club. Truly one of the best Vdays of my life. Thank you ladies!
Likely my favorite picture of the year. This note was found in the alley behind Borders in Santa Cruz in the rain. It makes me believe in real love again. I can read it over and over, even though it isn’t for me, it warms my heart.
Then, I fly to Austin, and Shannon and I went to see Ryan Adams and the Cardinals in San Antonio for one of the last ever performances of the band. We ended up sighting each member of the band separately throughout the night, from Jon Graboff crossing in front of us and walking down the street to Ryan waving at us from the bus. Truly magical. Even if the show was an obnoxious Texas experience.
I met this boy, and I have fallen wildly for him. So much so that I went and saw the Grateful Dead cover band, the China Cats in Felton (with mountain hippies, it was awesome). Later in the month, we drove down the coast to go camping with the very neat people I work with.
First up was Amsterdam, with charming canals, buildings, Anne Frank House, Tulips, Red Light District and more. It was truly a precious and treasured experience, and a town that just charmed the hell out of me.
The day after I got back, I got on a plane and went to see Britney Spears, Thunder from Down Under, and the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues in Vegas with Maria. “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” becomes forever connected to mental images of hot sweaty men dumping water over themselves. I do not mind.
Steve flew into town again, strangely for the second year in a row immediately after I return from a trip. I get to take the boy. My dreams come true when he calls Poltz “brilliant” on a crazy night. Beth Jay and I constantly ponder whether or not he has lost his damn mind. I now expect Steve and Crepes in April annually. No excuses.
I planted things. I try and usually plant things in March to kick off spring, but this year I was late. I tried to grow Tomatoes for the first time, and started with flowers that were already blooming instead of willing seeds to sprout.
My birthday week was a big one. It kicked off the weekend before when Shannon flew out from Austin, we did another run around SF to eat more things to have before we die, went hiking in Big Basin and we saw Banana Slugs!
The birthday week continued with a really incredible moment at the beach where I was lucky enough to have so friggin’ many of my friends there, from so many different places, on one of my favorite beaches in the state. It was definitely amazing. The next morning, I got to have breakfast at Zachary’s with a bunch of the down south crew. There was then a moment on the sidewalk that effected my entire year in a positive way, and I think of often. (Thank you again for that, wonderful person.)
I attended my first Maker Faire in San Mateo with Mike and Mike. Unfortunately, while awesome, was just too crowded and I was having some issues, so we left. But still neat to see so many crafty things.
June continued the year in awesome. Helyn came home to visit from France. Since I had just seen her in April, it started to feel less like she was gone. (Now she is home, and it is part of this year in awesome.)
June brought the month that I saw my Dad for the first time in 3 years. That was magical. I also got a fantastic tour of Perris. Wow, could there be more fast food places in this city? Maria came and saved me, but unfortunately, the Mexican food place that was our option was a very big not awesome part of the year.
The Farmer’s Market became an even bigger part of my week. I had always enjoyed the community feeling of being at the market, but being a person who doesn’t really cook, I found myself struggling during some of the seasons to find things that fit my eating style. But, in 2009, I decided to be more open to trying things, and felt like I succeeded. Dating a vegan really didn’t hurt my need to expand my palette. I have started dividing things into 2 lists. “The Asparagus List” is the list of things that I am willing to maybe try again in a different context, maybe I just didn’t have cooked right before. “The Broccoli list” is the list of things that I am fairly certain that no matter how many ways you try and cook it, are never, ever going to taste good to me. I’ve also tried to apply this to life experiences lately. Are there things that I shy away from because they may have burned me the first time, but may not be all that bad? We’ll see how these lists continue to develop during my new open-mindedness of 2010. This picture was also published in the local newspaper. It made me happy.
Sequoia National Forest made me feel like Alice in Wonderland. From the trees to the wildlife (including BEARS), it was an ultimately magical experience, even if it did include a fair amount of whining on my part. We most certainly will go back.
I continued to grow in the second half of the year. Both literally and figuratively. I was pretty proud of my petunias, and my tomato didn’t have an awful yield either. I learned a lot for the future.
Another big part of my July was meeting the little one that my oldest friend brought into our lives. This woman is my sister, and I can’t believe she is a Mama. It was my first close friend in my life to get pregnant, and it was a weird thing for me. I didn’t know how to react to this “parasite” living inside the woman I used to raise hell with. But now that the little one is here, and I see his smiles and legs grow, I know that he is a true blessing. It began a momentum shift into adulthood. Later this year, big kid things began to happen pretty rapidly in my group of friends. More babies were made, engagements and marriages came, and houses were bought. Craziness. We’re big kids now.
For the second year in a row, we celebrated one of my favorite munchkin’s being born at the San Jose Giants baseball game. I love being a part of this large wonderful family, and it was a nice chance for the family to meet the boy for the first time.
I got one true beach day all summer. (This is starting to be a pattern, I only got 1 day last year.) Unfortunately, this year, I got a very hefty ticket for having a single beer on the beach. I will not do that again. (It’s back to mixed drinks in the Nalgene bottle.)
Moss Landing is only a few short miles south, yet, I never ventured off Highway 1 to explore the quaint little street that is this town. I fell in love. I think I want to live in this house and grow old.
A good friend of mine races s2000’s, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to ride in his street car at Laguna before he sold it. The corkscrew here will never stop scaring me. While I was there, I got to see these electric Teslas. They rocked my world.
My first trip to Shakespeare Santa Cruz kicked off this month, as Steve and Val took the boy and I to see Julius Caesar in the glen at UCSC. It was super awesome, as we were right in front, and one of the actors even sat on our blanket for a bit. I was super stoked when later that week, I was watching a TV show and saw the one of the lead guys playing a lawyer. I am very excited that the series will be back for another season in 2010. I definitely vow to make it a regular part of my summers in the future.
This was one of the more neat things I saw all year. I love the will of nature. This tree decided that it was just going to grow right here, in the crack of the sidewalk. It cracked me up, humans may try and thwart nature, but alas, nature is determined.
Concourse Lemons takes place the same weekend as beautiful cars flood the central coast, but instead, populates it show with oldies but goodies. It was a great afternoon adventure, complete with Bethie hugs. What a bonus!
The month was rounded out by a visit from Brian and Jim for nachos and margs, a visit from my uncle Paul and family, a trip to SF to see Gregory Page at a house concert with Beth Jay and an awesome company picnic/bake sale with the boy.
It was time again for another trip south. And a trip south is never complete without a stop along the coast between Goleta and Ventura to take in the awesome ocean view. The fog, the flowers, and the power lines made this a memorable visual moment in the year.
Stopped at the Madonna Inn, something I had always longed to do. I still want to stay there sometime. I got to party with rockstar Meg on her 30th birthday, for a special house concert in LA with Poltz. I fit in a quick breakfast with Mike Doss and the little one before dashing on to SD to see the folks again, and then a quick Poltz peek at Cheers in Ramona before heading north again.
Mike and I did a day around SF, but this was the beginning of sickie season and he was quite wiped. We still fit in an awesome performance of Wicked, a fantastic dinner at Penepachama, and a trip down Clarion Alley and through the Mission before we ditched the city and headed home.
September also managed to include a bar crawl fundraiser for the TnT Tri crew, and a trip to SF to see the Samaurai exhibit at the Asian Art museum before it jetted away.
I got the great pleasure (not) of getting up damn early to go to Half Moon Bay for a morning while the TnT crew did their practice tri. I slept mostly in the car, but was happy to walk around the harbor a little bit and note that I want to go back and spend more time in this cute little town.
We spent the second weekend in a row booked into a cute hotel in Union Square, this time with the intention of going to see both Dark Star Orchestra at the Fillmore and the Niners/Rams game the next day. But it was my turn to be sick, and boy was I sick. We made it to the first set of Dark Star, and then I spent the rest of the weekend in bed. No football game for me.
I also snuck in Spring Awakening with Robert this month. It had things that were better and worse than the show in SF the year before, but I was glad to see it again and cement the soundtrack into regular play on my Ipod. It was also tremendous laughs finding the cougars in animal print, and growing my friendship with Robert.
Another early morning…this time for the real deal, as we headed to McNear’s Beach, caught a beautiful sunrise, and I cheered the boy across the finish line. I am so proud of him and Shannon, and they have inspired me to do my own race this year. However, the ocean scares the hell out of me, so I’ll just be running this year.
I had a really great Thanksgiving experience. When I went to the lighthouse to watch the sunset, I was surrounded by people from my town. It was very neat to be a part of this collective experience. Thanksgiving foods were consumed the next day, at the annual gathering of friends brought together by Steve and Val. I really look forward to this every year. It is neat to see how it has grown. Have I mentioned I am thankful for this family?
I got to go to Tahoe for the first time. We went for the weekend with a bunch of people who I have decided to start calling MY friends and not just HIS friends. After a fall full of activities, I have really taken a fancy to these people. I cannot believe how much they make me laugh. I can see us all in 20 years in this cabin having this very same weekend.
I ended my year celebrating with this group. (And paying for it the next day…ugh…) I cannot think of a better way I would have rather spent the last day of the year. That was so much fun.
Morals & Lessons of the year:
I love the people in my life. Wow. I will never again say I don’t have a support network, complain of loneliness or feel sorry for myself. This was a year when I felt like I really cemented myself into some friendships, grew others, and truly realized the quality of people around me. Never in a million years could I have predicted that my friend set would include doctors, lawyers, PhD scientists, authors, painters, directors, VPs and experts in a wealth of fields. The success amoung my friends is intimidating and breathtaking all at the same time. Even if the last year did bring some challenges, I know that my friends are my family. I started working on my family tree of friends, I think I need to finish that. I cannot believe how many branches I have grown. I truly love you people, and feel grateful that you have allowed me into your lives to share in these days with you. I cannot thank you enough. The first week of this year has shown me that no one in your life is permanent, no matter how solid you think the are placed there. There is always talk of not having the chance to say all that you intended when someone dies and leaves your life. I never anticipated that I would start my year without a chance to say goodbye to someone who simply passed on me (and a lot of really awesome people.) It has shown me that it really is important to walk in love, appreciate the people who show you that love, and never leave anything unsaid. Granted, that was a lesson for 2010, but it overlaps with last year, so we’ll stick it here!
I’m very lucky to have a job like I do, work with the people I do, and have the freedom that I do. While I miss some of the travel, I GOT THROUGH THE YEAR WITH NO TRADESHOWS! I feel healthier for it, and happy that I am not looking back on a year spent in airports and hotel rooms. The only thing that suffered was my reading volume. I got a chance to try out a bunch of new projects, grow my knowledge and be a part of some really awesome growth at a company I believe in. It is so very weird that I have spent 9 years working for this company now. I get to go to work every day, and help people make art. That is not a bad way to contribute to society and get paid for it. At least I don’t think so. Plus, I work with the most awesome group of women, that make coming to work a lot more fun.
Even without Burning Man, the lessons from the playa persisted in my life. It moved from an experience, to a lifestyle. I realize, I may not need to go anymore for it to have the same impact on my life. It is in my heart every day pushing me forward. I truly don’t think I could do this 1/2 marathon without knowing I have the mental strength to walk home in dust storms, so I know I can make my feet move. I struggled when it came and went, thinking I had to work to find something to replace that experience. I then realized that my whole year what that experience. From storming the streets of Paris and Amsterdam, to finding a way to let my parents in again. While I look forward to the mental growth that occurs in those dusty days, I realize that those days have grown into something that will forever push me forward to say “yes” when I otherwise wouldn’t. In my bathroom hangs the picture that reminds me to ‘keep on burnin’ in the free world’ and I try and do exactly that.
I felt pressure to find my ‘thing’ this year. I now think my ‘thing’ might be learning and living. I got very depressed at the end of the year feeling like I was lacking passion for something specific, that in all this success around my friends, I am struggling with mine. After a big talk with the boy, and some soul searching, I really think my passion in life is to learn lots of things and to live in lots of different experiences, and to repeat as few of them as possible. Just like I have advanced in my job by jumping from project to project, and have enjoyed the lack of boredom, I think that my life is on the same career path. I don’t focus well, and I don’t think I really want to be an expert at anything (except maybe pictures) but ultimately, I’d love to just have a lot of skills and to see as much of life as possible.
I’m pretty sure a month didn’t go by where I didn’t go to a museum, exhibit, performance or trip. While Project 30 is clearly over, my intentions to live big and try new things is not. I have changed my P30 blog into “Living Life Loudly” and will continue the “I’ve Never….” project the rest of my life. I’m having a lot of fun compiling all the shows I’ve gone to, and trying to find lists that I can use to challenge myself. I still need to summarize that awesome year of adventures, and work on getting it up to date for this year, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this grows in 2010.
Happy New Year – Here is to an awesome 2010 for all of us. (And hopefully, just a little bit better for me than the last week has been…)