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No really, who’s my soulmate?

“Did I pass you on the sidewalk?”

Hola, readers! Ugh, it has been a weird/crazy week over here, so I apologize for not posting yesterday. In time, I’ll explain it all, of course.

But, something has been on my mind. You may have noticed that when I posted about what happened with my last crush/male-interest, etc., a fellow blogger posted her advice. Here it is, in case you didn’t see it:

Are you willing to give this a try? Right before you go to bed each night, think of the perfect person you would like to meet in detail, down to what you are both wearing, what you are doing, etc- like you are watching yourself in a movie.

More than once, the entire experience has come true in almost the same detail that I had imagined; made the hair on my arms stand up straight and reminds me every day to keep looking forward.

This advice comes from Linda over at A Moxie Girl, and she’s actually someone I’ve worked with in the blogging world. She has some pretty amazing stories about the truth in the power of visualization, so I definitely want to take her advice.

But one thing her comment made me realize, is that I sort of have no idea who I’m hoping to meet. Who is going to fulfill my needs? My desires?

When I was in high school, I made a list of all the things I (thought I) was looking for in a guy. I don’t have the list now, but I remember some things were superficial, i.e. “looks good in a baseball hat”, and some things were personality-based, such as “keeps up with the news”.

It was a pretty long list, and I really have no idea why I made it. I also thought I was only going to sleep with one person EVER, and be married by the time I was 25, so we can just chalk it all up to high-school ignorant-bliss brain.

Later, an English teacher mentioned during a lesson that you can list out everything you want in life, or your career, or in a partner, and you’ll probably end up with the exact opposite. I wondered if what she said was true.

There are times I’ve dated men that fit my original, high school list (I really am a sucker for a guy in a hat), but of course I never wrote down things like “cheats on me”, “is abusive”, or “won’t meet my parents”, and I’ve landed myself in all of those situations.

So, what the heck is it that I want? I know that I need someone who is honest, comfortable (not complacent) in their skin, kind, and a little selfless. I want someone who takes care of themselves, who’s interested in a healthy lifestyle, but won’t judge me when I eat French fries. I want someone who values what they have; someone who is hardworking, but knows how to kickback, too. I hate admitting this, but I want someone who appreciates nice things, whether its a rare scotch or a fine dining experience.

Looks? I am not really sure. Yes, I see men I find attractive all the time – but they don’t all look the same. And I suppose THIS is what I need to work on when it comes to my “nightly visualizations”. Don’t worry, I’ll think on it and get back to you.

What about you guys? Ever visualized HARD and had it actually happen? I’d love to hear about it!

It’s true: You really can’t go home again.

Indianapolis.

Last week, I took a trip home to Indiana to visit some old friends and family. It had been 18 months since I’ve been back, and I was really looking forward to it.

I had three big things on my to-do list during my six-day trip: 1. Honor my friend Cheryl by participating in a Crohn’s Walk with my mom, 2. Get answers for a romantic relationship in-question, and 3. Visit my friend and her son.

Item #1 happened basically as planned, although there seems to always be secrecy and planning that happens behind my back and then – SURPRISE! – I arrive and it’s not what I thought it would be. Whatever.

Item #2 is a toughie. You see, I have had a little bit of a crush on this person for, well, half of my life. I am really lucky to call him my friend, first, but I know things were starting to inch toward the gray area and I needed to know where we were headed.

Long-distance relationships are difficult, and I have no intentions of getting involved in one unless there was a clear means to an end. One thing I wanted to know was if he planned on staying in Indiana forever.

If so, that would be something I’d have to seriously consider: would I move back to give this thing a chance? I’m happy to report we talked about this right away. I’m not-so-happy to report that his answer was yes, he’ll be staying in Indiana foreevvverrrrrr. Ouch.

Now let me say this, I’m definitely not married to the idea of staying in Austin, Texas forever. In fact, I’m already considering my next move. But I know I’m not equipped to move back to Indiana. I haven’t done all I need to do!

There were other wrenches thrown into the mix as the week progressed – things that showed me, clearly, a romantic future is just not in the cards for me and this guy. I don’t want to say much more than that; I do hope he’ll still be my friend for years to come.

It’s sad, in fact I’m still pretty bummed out about it, but I’m glad I saw things for myself and got the answers I needed before we traveled too far down the rabbit hole.

If you’ve been reading around these parts for awhile, you know that I’m kinda (ok, really) bad at dating. I have a history of ignoring red flags and getting myself stuck in some sticky situations. So, even though this didn’t end in love this time, I have to say I’m really proud of myself for standing up and not just “going with it” when I know something doesn’t align with my values. I know what I want for myself, and I’d much rather be single than try and force something that isn’t right.

So, it’s a bittersweet win.

Now, item #3 just plain didn’t happen for reasons I’m not really sure of.

I’ll say that as much as it pains me to admit it, sometimes people just grow apart, no matter how long or deep a history they have. And maybe that has happened here.

Regardless, my heart is still hurt, and I have been on the mend (read: sleeping way too much) since my return. Loss, of any sort, isn’t easy.

Aside from those things, I spent some quality time with another friend – we got some good laughs, drank delicious wine, and we endured some interesting challenges along the way.

We joined up with some old friends from high school and I laughed until my cheeks hurt over inside jokes that possibly only we think are funny. We went to see Guster and Dispatch in concert, and there were literally fireflies dancing above us, and it was the Indiana I’ve romanticized since my departure 14 summers ago.

As I always say, Indiana will always (!) hold a special place in my heart – I went through a lot of things growing up there. But when I boarded my plan to Texas last Thursday morning, every ounce of me knew that things just weren’t quite the same. Even if Texas isn’t my forever home, I know Indiana isn’t.

I spent 12 years in Louisiana, and although it didn’t necessarily feel like “home”, I accomplished so much there, and it really shaped who I’ve become. Texas, well, hard work got me here, and it gave me a fresh start. It’s an opportunity that I still sort of can’t believe I have.

So, cheers to old friends, but also, to looking ahead, wherever that may be.

BBC: ‘Head for the Edge, Keep Walking’.

Happy Friday! It has been a busy week on my end, and I’m sort of in a race to the finish – the finish being my flight to Indianapolis a week from today. Before then, I’ve got a lot on my plate and I feel like I’m running on some serious adrenaline, but hey, it’s all good!

I still had some time to read this week, and finished my book sale find ($1) “Head for the Edge, Keep Walking” by Kate Tough. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Jill Beech’s nine-year relationship is over. She covers the sadness with madness, going dancing with her off-beat friends and attempting a series of hilariously bad internet dates. Then life is flipped on its head again by some shocking news. Adrift in her mid-thirties, no-one does lost quite like Jill. Wry, witty, resilient but bewildered, she is left asking, what does it take to stay sane in this life? And why does it look easier for everyone else? While her friends are preoccupied with pregnancy, Jill looks elsewhere for meaning. Will she find happiness with a kitten called Cyril? A job she can finally believe in? Or a charming ex-snowboard champion who wants to settle down? Events force Jill to head for the edge—will she fall headlong or turn things around and keep walking?

When I read the back of the book, I felt like “Omigosh, this sounds exactly like me” – minus that whole 9-year relationship thing. But when I read the book, her problems weren’t exactly as the book jacket described.

Yes, she was trying to find her life again, trying to find little bits of joy in her job, and see some sort of meaning in the endless cycle of going out each night. But she was also faced with some semi-serious health issues, on top of attempting to date and find love.

It was a good read – just a little bit different than I expected, and I’ll admit, I often don’t understand British humor.

The next book I’ll be reading is “The Night We Said Yes” by Lauren Gibaldi.

I hope you all have a great weekend – I’ll be doing some baking tonight, so if you want to see it you can catch it on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7. Tomorrow, I’m road-tripping it to Louisiana, and I’ve got a Dispatch album in my console, along with an audio book!

See y’all on Monday!

‘Southern Charm’: The Hangover.

Finally, The Scene!

After the way we left last week’s episode, I was really looking forward to last night’s chapter! Naturally, things kick off with Saint’s birthday party, where Kathryn does decide to go. Everyone is pretty happy to see her there, and she actually gets along with Thomas.

However, Patricia still has her sights set on Thomas and Landon getting together. So, she tells Thomas he should go to Landon’s house one evening and take her on a walk – because that is what they did in the days of courtship, and it worked.

So… drumroll… we finally get to see THE SCENE they showed us in episode one! Thomas goes over to Landon’s house – she’s actually in the midst of figuring out her website/magazine naming crisis – and he brings her a rose (to which she merely says, “For future reference, Orchids are my favorite” – ugh), and asks if she would like to take a walk. She does, and so does her little dog, Charlotte.

Even though I don’t like Landon, I will admit, this is pretty cute. Remember, in last week’s episode, when she said all she wanted was for someone to take her and Charlotte on a walk? Well, ask and you shall receive!

So, they walk to a nearby lake, and this is when Thomas says something along the lines of, I know you have a lot at stake, but why not just give it a shot? And then we see what we didn’t see before – Landon admits she DOES have a good time when she’s with him, and at some point, she’s going to have to stop punishing him for Kathryn. And so, they agree and skip off to get a bottle of wine.

Later, Shep stops by Chelsea’s house unannounced, and he really seems to be having a puty party for himself. They have a few beers, and he’s audibly asking her, “What was I thinking, giving you up?” He’s realizing just how chill she is, and that he needs to change his lifestyle and maybe become a one-woman guy.

She’s not buying it, but he tells her he has an appointment with Cam in the morning to make an offer on a beach house. Apparently, his current downtown home is the cause of all the partying… right.

But, in the morning, he never shows for his appointment. He also doesn’t answer any of Cameron’s texts or calls, so she drives over to his house to find his front door unlocked, and his house a complete wreck (think: frathouse the day after a home football game). And there Shep is, fully dressed in khakis and a polo, still asleep at 1:30pm.

He says he’s okay, and that this is the reason he needs to move… but the whole scene is pretty grim. As Craig points out, Shep doesn’t have any accomplishments, no girlfriend… all he has is money.

Yeesshh. Next week looks like another serving of Naomi vs. Craig – not to mention a little bit of a blow up between Shep and Austen. Whoop!

Saying goodbye to ‘Girls’.

Saying goodbye to one of my favorite shows!

While most of America was gorging on honey ham and chocolate bunnies, I was waiting for the series finale of HBO’s “Girls”. Don’t worry, I whipped up stuffed shells with butternut squash sauce and some crescent rolls for the occasion.

I know “Girls” took a lot of shit – for making millenials look bad; for highlighting self-absorbed characters; for a lack of diversity; and well, often because of Lena Dunham. But I really, really liked this show.

Let’s be clear: it is/was not “Sex and the City”. Instead, it was the story of a group of friends living in New York city, post-college. It involved shitty boyfriends (and husbands), crap jobs, Brooklyn apartments, and the underlying sting of figuring out how to navigate life.

Before the final episode aired, I was a little nervous! But the episode flew by and it was a little surreal. Basically, it was a look into life after Hannah gives birth – 5 months later.

Soo… she actually named her baby Grover, which I was surprised by, and Marnie moved in with her to help with the baby. Naturally, they’re getting on each other’s nerves, and Marney is still navigating how to properly be single.

I was sad to see that the only characters in this episode were Hannah, Marnie, and Hannah’s mom. We were left with the same questions we started with this season: What would happen with Shosh? Did she actually get married? Would Desi ever get clean? What about Hannah’s dad? And Adam – he’s going to stay with HER?

The end just didn’t seem to fit for me, and I know I’m not alone because Twitter.

Everyone was saying last week’s episode was the real finale, which was probably true. All of the ladies found themselves at Shosh’s engagement party, and basically decided they weren’t meant to be in a room together.

Nonetheless Hannah and Jessa ended up dancing the night away, judgment-free.

Regardless, the finale tied a bow on the six seasons we’ve come to love. Hannah grew up and is somehow raising a child without the help of a man. Her mom has found peace, and Marnie, well, she’s learning to find her own way.

No, it’s not an ending that answers our questions, but truthfully, this season was for the books. I’m sad to see this show go – the reason I got HBO in the first place – but I know it was time.

Farewell, “Girls”!

‘So Cosmo’: Woman Up.

Diandra at “Fun Fearless Money”.

Hey, hey! It has been a bit of a doozy of a week – so bad I almost had to go out and buy myself a bottle of wine, but I didn’t, because 1. I’m too lazy, and 2. I’m really serious about not messing up my “sleep study” (please read Tuesday’s post for clarity). Either way, I’m happy we’re on the downside of the week, and coasting right on into the weekend.

Which means one thing: A new episode of “So Cosmo” was on last night! The episode starts with Diandra and Evan on a D-A-T-E – she gets a helicopter to take them over the city. Seriously? THIS is the type of shit I need to be doing? Where have all the cowboys gone?

It was super romantic until Evan was all, “Is there a Mile High Club for helicopters?”

Meanwhile, Tiffany has a girlfriend over for a little champagne and she just casually has the “Cosmo Karma Sutra” book on her coffee table, because it’s “pretty”. So the ladies are flipping through the book and they get to talking about guys they’ve dated and it comes up that Tiffany actually went through a recent breakup with a guy she thought was “the one”.

In work news, Adam got a great opportunity to shoot the “Tips and Sips” shoot – remember, it’s the spread about manicures inspired by cocktails? Basically he is flipping the fuck out over it, and trying to get help from other coworkers and they are having none of it.

Later, there’s a Facebook Live event where Evan has his shirt off and is holding a puppy (I mean, dear God). The readers are allowed to ask questions and of course, they want to know if he is single. He says Diandra wants to keep things secret, so yeah, he’s single! And heeereeee we gooooo.

The day of the “Tips and Sips” shoot, and Adam is really nervous to show his skillz in front of Leah. And right off the bat, the first look he chose is just too much (think: red sequined jumpsuit with Sangria-inspired nails).

But as the shoot continues, his style picks are right on-point. Leah tells him he did a great job, and he’s really, really relieved. Yay!!

At Diandra’s apartment, her friend is over, and she also invites Evan over, and her girlfriend is like freaking OOOUT over how how Evan is. He does seem flattered that Diandra has at least told one of her friends about them.

At a work event, Diandra gets a text from Evan – a pic of him with his shirt off and damn it looks FWINE – and Tiffany happens to be looking over her shoulder and sees the picture. Naturally, she freaks out and starts asking a ton of questions about what happened in Miami. Diandra plays coy and is now afraid she’s going to be labeled as “The office slore”. Well, yeah. Probably so.

Another night at the office, I’m not sure how, but Diandra and Tiffany are having glasses of wine at their desks, and Tiffany tells Diandra this story about how she ran into her ex- the ex – the night before. I guess he left Tiffany and got married right away, then divorced soon after and already had another girlfriend – who he was with when he ran into Tiffany. Yikes.

Later, a second coworker tells Diandra that she knows about Evan and Diandra needs to “watch out” if she’s thinking of dating someone at work. Diandra says she loves her job, but she also doesn’t want to sacrifice a relationship, but she stands Evan up for their next date, and man does he look sad. Like, real sad.

She eventually tells him they need to cool it because she can’t handle people at work talking about it. And he is sad! Like it seems really sad – I didn’t even know guys cared, at all. So… this has kind of got me hooked because obviously the episode was over after that. Next week, y’all! It goes down!

‘So Cosmo’: Big New Future.

Cosmopolitan's fitness contributor, Evan Betts.

Cosmopolitan’s fitness contributor, Evan Betts.

Howdy! So… I totally tuned into “So Cosmo” late because I forgot to record it, was not willing to wait until it aired again at midnight, and was clearly REALLY busy eating quinoa to even check my life. So, I missed the first 15 minutes. Apologies.

When I tuned in, Evan is now officially hired and he attends his first staff meeting with Joanna – there is still talk about her leaving, but I’m assuming she didn’t walk out that same day as she had said she would in the previous episode.

Evan invites Diondra to lunch, but she declines even though she knows it would probably be innocent. She is determined to set the boundaries on this relationship (we’ll see about that).

Evan later strikes up a meeting with Danielle, who is the editor of the fitness department. They are going over the workout he is thinking of for the issue, and Diondra sees this through the window and is getting pretty jealous. So naturally, she busts in to see what’s happening. Lord.

Later, Tiffany throws a decent fit over clear hangers. The rack must have clear hangers. Not black ones. Okay?

Meanwhile, the head Beauty Editor, Leah, is really worried about the new editor coming in. She has worked with other magazines before when this has happened, and every time, the editor has cleaned house and brought in an entirely new staff.

So, apparently Joanna did announce who the new editor would be, and the team is seeing her -Michelle – while they are out at fashion week. Awkward!

Leah finally meets with Joanna to talk about her concerns. Joanna basically tells her to just stop worrying about it, do the best she can and stop crying.

But all the while, Fashion Week goes off swimmingly, and things are all pretty good in Cosmo world. In the previews for the next episode, it’s more drama between Evan and Diondra, making me think that THIS is going to be the main storyline for the season. Ugh.

But hey, who’s watching with me next week?!

Introducing my spiritual masters.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

A few months ago, I was listening to the “Happier” podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. In each episode, they offer a tip you can try at home that might make your daily life a little happier.

In one episode, their tip was to “Imitate a spiritual master”, basically someone you can look to for guidance, or perhaps someone that can inspire you when you need a little push. I’d never really though about having a spiritual leader, but Elizabeth said hers was Barbra Walters.

Uh, yes! I’d always thought it would have to be someone like Ghandi or the Dalai Lama (both would be fantastic spiritual leaders).

Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about who my spiritual masters are, especially in these times – I have a feeling I’m going to be looking to them a lot. So, I made a list:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Hamilton” creator and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda was the FIRST person I put on my list of spiritual masters. Frankly, he’s so freakin’ awesome, I think I could have a list of JUST him.

Yesterday, the Oscar nominations were announced, and Miranda is nominated for Best Original Song. Not only is it just another thing that makes him cooler, but it puts him closer to something only few can dream of: an EGOT – a rare title one gets after winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Damn.

As mentioned in a New York Times article, “Mr. Miranda has two Grammys, one for the cast recording to his 2008 Broadway musical “In the Heights” and another for his smash hit “Hamilton.” He has personally won three Tony awards (and his musicals have collected many more). He won an Emmy for his work on the music and lyrics at the 2013 Tony award show.”

So why is Miranda one of my spiritual masters? Aside from being a wildly talented writer and performer that I can look up to, what I look up to most about him is his attitude. He’s willing to speak openly about his political views, but remain positive on a daily basis.

Seriously, when you’re in need of guidance, just go to his Twitter feed @Lin_Manuel and get a dose of sunshine.

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Issa Rae

I first heard of Ms. Issa Rae on the HBO series “Insecure”, which premiered in the fall of last year. I pretty much loved the pilot episode and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Little did I know that Issa was more than just an actress on the show.

After graduating from Stanford and attending the New York Film Academy, Issa had started to build her reputation as a screenwriter and a video producer. She created a series on YouTube, “Awkward Black Girl”, that has more than 200,000 subscribers.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

She later turned her web series into a book (which I am currently on a waiting list for at the library), and it quickly became a New York Times bestseller. And then HBO came a-knockin’ and she actually was given a budget to turn her YouTube series into a hit on network television.

She da-bomb! Yeah, I just said that. She’s beautiful, hilarious, and sharp as hell – I cannot help but look up to this woman.

“It’s a bit cliche, but you can’t go wrong by writing what you know. Even if you’re a horrible writer, your own knowledge and experience is unrivaled. Nobody knows what you know like you know what you know. The way you see things is pretty unique.” – Issa Rae

Trevor Noah

I know I can’t be the only one that’s basically looking to comedian and host of “The Daily Show”, Trevor Noah to guide us through the next four years. I’ve limited my new coverage to 10 minutes of “TODAY” each morning, and then leave it up to Trevor to pick up the pieces each night before bed.

Born in South Africa, Noah comes from a very interesting background which he talks about in his book, “Born a Crime“, and serves as a lense for his unique sense of humor.

One of my biggest concerns in the coming years is how the press is going to handle it all (aside from that whole nuclear thing). We need journalists who are going to be blunt, and check the President on everything. And Noah just so happens to do it with a laugh.

“We get angry about the small things sometimes, I feel, so that we feel like we’re doing something, so that we don’t have to tackle the big things. And it’s fine; let people do that. But I’m not gonna now change because of that. You know? Like, the worst thing that happens to me is you don’t like me. And then what?” -Trevor Noah

Anna Kendrick

I didn’t really get the craze surrounding Anna Kendrick until I read her memoir, “Scrappy Little Nobody” last week… and I loved it. Of course, she was awesome in”Pitch Perfect”, but I had no clue she’s been working her little butt off since she was 12!

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

Not only does she have drive, but she’s hilarious, humble, and has a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to men and dating, which is just the kind of advice I need from a spiritual master.

“Maybe I am stepping up in the world. Pretty soon I’m going to be 30 and making dope carrot soup and will have my sh-t together.” – Anna Kendrick

JohnJay Van Es

I can’t have a list of spiritual masters without including JohnJay Van Es, co-host of the best radio show ever, “JohnJay and Rich”.

While I know cohosts of the show, Rich and Kyle, would get a big kick out of my trusting of JohnJay with my spiritual guidance, but I’ll explain. I started listening to the show years ago, during a time when my job was pretty rough.

JohnJay Van Es.

JohnJay Van Es.

I found daily solace in listening to their jokes, phone pranks, and the simple chatter of small problems. Little did I know, I was about to lose my job, and when I did, I kept listening to the show. It was sometimes the only thing I looked forward to each day.

Years later, I am still listening every day, and I love laughing along with JohnJay as he tells the stories from his insane life. He’s also the creator of a kindness movement, LoveUp, which promotes random acts of kindness of all sizes, each and every day. It’s changed how I look at the world, and I can’t thank him enough.

There you have it! I’d love to know who your spiritual masters are these days – who knows, maybe I’ll add them to my list!

Tackle your passion!

PASSION in 2017!

PASSION in 2017!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m so excited about this being a new year, I feel so fresh and rejuvenated, and overall I’m just ready to really tackle my life and my dreams in a way I haven’t felt before.

When I got my first day job, I remember my coworkers were always so shocked at how much I had going on in my life outside of my job – at times I was bartending at night, I was always maintaining my boxing regimen, I wrote and published books, kept up with this blog, taught my blog classes, and did freelance editing work.

There were times I hated being so busy, but the truth is, when things are slow, I really don’t know what to do with myself. I may ALWAYS have a life like this, and that’s how I like it (within reason, of course).

In reality, I’ve sought activities and side jobs outside of my 9-5 job because there was always something my day job was missing. And I think no matter what job you have, it won’t be perfect. Even if I was being paid enough by simply keeping up with this blog, I would still be at the dance studio every night, I’d still be attempting to learn how to write a screen play, and I’d still be doing freelance.

My struggle is really staying focused on my passion, which is writing. Period. I always want to be writing and want to be perfecting my craft. And in order to be a great writer, I have to be a great reader. So, aside from finding quality time to write, I’ve got to find time to read! It’s the great balancing act.

Now, I’m not sure if any of you are working on tackling a passion project this year, and there are many methods out there that can help you get things done, but I came across one way that sounded interesting: the 90-90-1 rule.

The 90-90-1 rule is this: for the next 90 days, spend 90 minutes first thing in the morning, on your 1 passion project. Sounds cool, right?

I would consider myself a morning-ish person. I always get up earlier than necessary so I can have extra time to get ready or to write, or whatever I need to get done. So the 90-minute thing would probably work for me each morning. But maybe you’re an afternoon person, or a night owl – I say do it whenever you feel your mind is going to be the best for whatever your passion project is.

Several weeks ago, John Mayer (swwooooon) was on Facebook Live doing a Q&A session before releasing his first single off an upcoming record. He was answering a fan’s question, about what I don’t remember, but he told the person something along the lines of, “Go too far with it…go crazy…those are the people that succeed.”

Preach! It takes a lot of time, and work, and guts to succeed, and that’s why some of the most successful people (whomever you consider that to be) are probably a little weird – because they are SO passionate about what they do.

I have this daily struggle of being super regimented in order to “succeed” at my day job – go to bed early, get a good night’s sleep, work through lunch, work late, etc. But then the weekend rolls around and I’m dead tired, and I have to cram all of my leisure reading and blog writing into two days, and it hardly works.

I have always wanted to live a life that’s full of variety – where every day feels a little bit different. Maybe it means, going to a coffee shop before work instead of just drinking from my little coffee maker, or maybe it means checking out a new place to eat lunch, or even just staying up late on my couch on a Monday night to finish reading a good book, at the risk of being groggy at work the next day.

The latter sounds more fun, right? If you’re tackling your passion this year, I’d love to know what method you’re using, or how you’re planning to go about it. Let’s support each other as we work to live our dreams!

BBC: ‘Black Heels to Tractor Wheels’.

Hey, hey! I am back at the office today, and wow is that whole come-down after Christmas ROUGH. It’s like this month-long build up for a single day and then, it’s over. It’s honestly how I imagine me meeting John Mayer for the first time, only on a 16-year scale, with devastating disappointment (don’t tell him I said that though).

The good news is, there’s another long weekend on the horizon, so there’s that to look forward to – wow, my life isn’t pathetic or anything.

But! I did get some reading done over my lil Christmas break, and I’m really excited to talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read, “The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” by Ree Drummond.

I’ve had this book on my list for awhile, but I sort of forgot about it until I stumbled upon it at the library when I was looking for something else. I couldn’t put off reading it any longer; I figured I could probably use a good (and TRUE) love story in my life. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

Wildly popular award-winning blogger, accidental ranch wife, and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) tells the true story of her storybook romance that led her from the Los Angeles glitter to a cattle ranch in rural Oklahoma, and into the arms of her real-life Marlboro Man.

I came across Ree, or “The Pioneer Woman”, for the first time on Food Network, and I came to absolutely love watching her show, “The Pioneer Woman”. She lives on a gorgeous ranch in Oklahoma, and she makes fairly simple (yet delicious) dishes for her family and friends. I’ve made her enchiladas many times, and they never fail to delight!

Her husband, Lad, makes some appearances on the show, and he is very handsome, and he seems really genuine and kind. So, I wasn’t surprised when I read this book and heard the many times she described him as such, only she referred to him as the “Marlboro Man”.

In fact, the book reflected what I assume to be her real-life personality, because it was just how she acts on the show. However, true fans of this Pioneer Woman may have been just as surprised as I was to learn that she was once a big city gal, living in Los Angeles, working in corporate America, drooling over high-end designer clothes, and spending her nights out guzzling martinis. Who would have thought?!

But she did, until her life took an unexpected turn and she ran into this Marlboro Man one night in her home town. A month later, they went on a date… and they’ve basically been inseparable ever since. This is really a love story that touched my heart; one that I really needed to read.

One theme that’s brought up a lot in this book is something I’m still learning and trying to understand about love: that it doesn’t matter how much you embarrass yourself, how silly you are, whether or not your mascara is perfect, or in Ree’s case, just how much you sweat through a gorgeous suit, the one you’re meant to be with is still going to LOVE you.

I’m really glad I got to read this lesson in this way – because Ree’s story is really beautiful, and the way she tells it is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

Another cool part about the book is that, of course, Ree talks a lot about food! While it doesn’t quite explain how she got involved in her cooking blog and her show, she discusses the meals she made for Lad when they were dating – many of which she flubbed due to nerves, or simply because she wasn’t an experienced home cook yet.

The back of the book contains recipes for most of the recipes she mentioned, but one stuck out to me the most – the Tagliarini Quattro Formaggi from Intermezzo in West Hollywood. Since angel hair is my FAVORITE form of pasta, I knew I was going to have to replicate this dish… so don’t be shocked if you see it on my social media feed in the near future. But, just in case you want to make it, too, here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 pound of tagliarini or angel hair pasta, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of grated fontina cheese, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese,  4 ounces of goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1 garlic cloved, halved.

DIRECTIONS: warm the cream in a saucepan over low heat. Prepare the pasta according to package direction, but undercook it just a little so it’s al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot and add butter. Next, add the warm cream, and all of the cheeses. Stire gently, allowing the cheese to melt and coat the noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add the nutmeg. Stir to combine. Rub the bowls you’re serving in with the garlic, before scooping the pasta into the bowls. Yum!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. Read it with us by following and chatting right here on the blog or on social media @OrangeJulius7. Happy reading, y’all!

BBC: ‘One True Loves’.

Oh here we are, another week down, another Friday is upon us! Is it just me, or has this week been ROUGH? I I am hoping to get in some quality rest this weekend – I’m exhausted.

But in the meantime, I am happy to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “One True Loves” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I stumbled upon this one online – I believe I saw it on some sort of list, and saved it for a rainy day. When I found it in the library, I read the back of it, and was HOOKED. Here’s what it says:

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

Does that not sound SO GOOD?! Not only was I excited to check this one out, but I saw a few other titles from this same author and read their descriptions, as well, and they all sound just as great. Don’t you love it when you find a new author to binge-read?

Once I got started, it was really easy to get into, and the story moves rather quickly, while still providing enough detail to image the scenes.

I loved that the story was a bit adventurous – I mean her husband was lost at sea, for godssake – but it really makes you think about how something like that would make you feel. Who would you choose? Once I got about 3/4 of the way through the book, I was really curious who she would end up with.

No spoilers here – but I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re into a little romcom. There’s a few wintry scenes if you’re looking for something relative (bbbrrr!).

The next book the book club is reading is “The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels — A Love Story“. Read it with us and shoot me a note on social media @OrangeJulius7 to get the conversation started!

I’ll be in the kitchen, baking this weekend, and generally trying to stay warm. I’m also hoping to get some rest, lots and lots of rest. Happy Friday, y’all!

‘Mariah’s World: For Love of the Tour’.

Welcome to 'Mariah's World'!

Welcome to ‘Mariah’s World’!

Hellllooo! How was your weekend? Mine was… eventful in an unexpected way. I spent a majority of my Saturday running errands – mostly for Christmas presents – which was hectic, and to top things off, it was cold and rainy. I came home around 6, got things put away, and settled into bed to watch “Orange is the New Black”. I was about 5 minutes in when Blanche comes running into my room, chasing a mouse.

Yep, a real mouse. With a tail.

Longtime readers may recall this exact thing happened to me last holiday season – you can read about that incident right here.

Last year, after screaming bloody murder and finding refuge standing on the back of my couch, I coaxed myself into my car, drove to the nearest Walgreens, and bought all the traps they had. I set them that night, and then locked myself, and the cat, into my bedroom, in hopes the traps would solve the issue.

I never saw the mouse, or any mouse, again until Saturday night, when one ran through my bedroom, heading toward my Christmas tree, which is in the living room. I said nothing, grabbed my keys, went to Walgreens, set the traps, and locked us back into the bedroom.

Apparently, we’ve got a new holiday tradition. Holly, Blanche, and the Christmas Mouse. Look for it in Barnes & Noble, nationwide November 2017.

Despite being terrified the mouse was going to jump out at me, much like the squirrel in “Christmas Vacation”, I spent Sunday cleaning, wrapping gifts, and watching Christmas movies.

And of course, I was counting down the hours until the premier of “Mariah’s World”! Sooooo who else watched it? Let’s get into this recap.

 The show started off with what I assume was a preview of what’s to come on this 8-part “event”… and in this 3-minute series of clips, I had no freaking clue what was happening. There were so many different people, lots of arguing, and lots of audio from “Fantasy” on repeat.

Right off the bat, we’re taken to Italy, where Mariah is vacationing on her yacht, which is across the water from her then-fiance’s yacht. I noticed immediately how vocal Mariah is about material things. It’s not enough that she’s on a lavish yacht, wearing diamonds, as she’s about to jump in the ocean, but she has to say it outloud that she’s wearing a dress and diamonds and is about to jump into the ocean.

I don’t know why this surprises me, but it certainly does, and it’s kind of annoying. She acts like she’s new money, when sure, she came from nothing, but that was many, many years ago (not a knock to her age, but rather a nod to how long she’s dominated the industry).

The residency in Las Vegas has just wrapped, and for some reason, Mariah’s assistant Stella, is scheduling a 27-stop European tour, that’s going to start in just two weeks – around the same time as her wedding.

So there’s lots of scrambling, lots of yelling on the phone, even a bridal fitting (super awkward), and eventually, Stella hires a person named Molly, who seems to have no experience as an assitant, yet she’s going to work on this European tour.

Seriously, HOW DOES THIS SHIT HAPPEN?

But nonetheless, that’s not the high point of the episode. Instead, it’s the first side of Bryan Tanaka – one of Mariah’s dancers, but also her now boyfriend.

Bask in the shady palm trees, my friends.

Like, let’s lay this out, because in the show, she’s PLANNING a wedding with James Packer. But during these dance rehearsals, she is ALL about some Tanaka.

Here’s my other odd observation. Why are the dance rehearsals held in her home? Better yet, why doesn’t she have a rehearsal space in her home? She’s literally practicing beside a pool table, and then when they go to rehearsal, there’s no real equipment – she’s using a water bottle as a mic, and they’ve set up gymnastic mats and plywood as a makeshift staircase.

Did anyone get the memo that it’s a Mariah CAREY reheasal?? That just seems odd to me. She doesn’t strike me as the kind of person to cut corners, but shit.

By the end of the episode, Mariah has pushed back the wedding, strictly in the name of the tour, and she’s a whopping 3-hours late to rehearsal.

This… should be an interesting 8 weeks, folks.

The State of Holly.

Clap on, Paul Ryan.

Clap on, Paul Ryan.

Many years ago, there was a great blog called 2 Birds, 1 Blog, and one of the writers, Meg, used to do “State of The Meg” every so often to write about all the random things happening in her life. It was sort of like the Presidential State of the Union, only obviously way more informative. If you’re looking for a good laugh, go back and read the blog in its entirety. There hasn’t been a post in years, but you’ll laugh your ass off, and given the way 2016 has happened, my guess is you could use a good laugh.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately (perhaps moreso than usual), and with no real plan on how to address it, I’m doing what all writers do and stealing Meg’s format. But it’s a tribute, because she is fantastic.

So anyway, I briefly mentioned that over Thanksgiving, I had a mild anxiety attack. This is not totally out-of-the-ordinary for me, but it’s been awhile since I had one. Although there are tons of things that can cause anxiety, I know I’ve been feeling stressed over a mix of things including (but not limited to) money, my job, my health, the holidays, and my car.

Well, I am really happy to say that I FINALLY got my damn Jeep fixed. After visiting four dealerships, and being on waiting lists since September, I found a place 20 miles away that fixed my car in less than two days, provided me with a rental car, and honored my Jeep warranty. Luck was definitely on my side, and I’m feeling much better now that the ordeal is over. Seriously, why do things like that have to be SO difficult?

There’s also been something else on my mind, and I’m sort of embarrassed to admit it, but who’s reading this, anyway?

In the spring, I wrote a 6-part series about a…well, I’d say relationship, but I suppose fling is the more appropriate term for what it was. Anyway, the whole thing is still just really bothering me.

The blog series really pissed this guy off, even though I still don’t understand why. I really don’t. They didn’t say anything bad about him; but I suppose he was embarrassed to have people find out that we hooked up (even though I did change his name, and others involved).

He begged for me to remove the posts, and/or stop posting them, and had a friend threaten to sue me over it. I never wrote the posts to hurt anyone, but I also couldn’t agree with him bullying me into removing them – so I never did.

And you know what? His life went on, and he is okay, and he still has a job, and owns a new house, and is probably happily in a new relationship.

In my brain, I know I didn’t do anything wrong. But everywhere else… I feel pretty messed up over the entire thing. I still feel really betrayed by what he did to me prior to me even writing the posts, and then he’d told me that if I stopped publishing the posts, we could go on being friends.

Since I didn’t do what he asked, he’s cut me out entirely. I tried reaching out to him months ago; I wasn’t ready to apologize, and I still am not sure if that’s really in my heart. But, we’d been friends for like, half our lives. Is this really the end of that?

Obviously, he ignored my call and later blocked my messages, and has blocked me on all social media. Even his friends told me he probably will never talk to me, ever.

Sure, I’ve cut people out before… but it was like… when they wanted to kill me. Is what I did really worth that type of punishment? I don’t know.

And that’s the fucked up part. It’s like, I really feel like I just nailed myself onto Karma’s bad side by blogging about what happened between us. Even though it really is what happened between us, and that’s what this blog is: my life, unedited (for the most part). I’ll be even more honest here; there were some things I purposefully left out of the blog posts because I knew they would be hurtful, and I wasn’t trying to do that.

Some days, I really wish he would reach out to me and we could just resolve this and say, hey we could all use someone to lean on and let’s just call it even and wish each other the best. But other days, I know I was just standing up for myself and sharing an experience that happened to me, and he just happened to read it, so fuck it.

But this whole feeling of “fuck it” – I’mma do me… it’s only empowering for a few seconds, because I feel like a person that spends their life saying “Do you” or “I’ll just do me”, ends up in a deserted cabin, alone in the mountains eating canned soup a la the “Dexter” series finale.

Amirite? Like obviously we can’t all just do ourselves or we’d be a globe full of loners.

And hey, part of this mass of thoughts about this situation are because it’s the holidays, and last year around the holidays, we were actually talking and spent New Year’s Eve together. So, please send cases of booze to Austin, Texas in preparation for this NYE party of 1, because I’ll be fucking miserable.

I know, I KNOW you’re saying, but Holly, just get with someone else! And sure, there are days I think of that, too. Like okay, it’s time to stop this whole bitter gig and give a little. But then I hear stories from my girlfriends about dates they’ve been on – stories of bird carcasses hidden in kitchen drawers, “hang outs” instead of actual dates, and hour-late arrivals.

And then I cut myself another slice of chocolate pie, loosen my drawstring pants, and say, “Fuck it, I’mma do ME”. Because, no.

But the truth on that matter is, I am not mentally equipped to move from guy to guy. I have done that, and it ended very poorly for me. It’s taken me years to learn that I have to give myself time, no matter how long the fling or how serious, I need time.

If I don’t allow myself time, I’ll pick a guy out of needs that aren’t fit and I’ll end up more hurt than I am now. And that’s not a place I want to be.

On the good side of things, obviously I have a future in placing my head on other people’s body in photographs, so I can probably make a career change in 2017.

Podcast: Happier With Gretchen Rubin.

My latest podcast obsession.

My latest podcast obsession.

I’ve still been listening to podcasts like they’re going out of style, and I’ll have another roundup of my latest favorites for you in the next few weeks. But today I wanted to focus on one in particular, “Happier” with Gretchen Rubin. So far, I’m about 2o episodes in and I couldn’t help but take note of what I’m hearing because there’s so much good stuff in each episode.

Let me start by explaing who Gretchen Rubin is. She came into my life, and probably many others, when she published her book on happiness, “The Happiness Project”, which explored habits the average person could take in order to improve their general state of happiness. I really loved this book and got a lot of takeaways from it that I still apply to my life, years later.

So, when her next book was released, “Happier at Home”, I snatched it right up. But truthfully, it seemed like she was starting to make up rules about ways to live extravagantly, just to “be happy”. I took a break from Gretchen after that.

Until I stumbled upon this podcast, as it is always listed in the iTumes Top 100 list. So, I took a listen, starting at episode one.

The show is hosted by Gretchen, who is by now a “Happiness Expert” ontop of being a bestselling author. Gretchen’s sister Elizabeth serves as the cohost, and she’s also a TV writer living in LA (SO jealous). She serves as a good other half to the show because she’s more neutral to the rules of happiness, and she’s a regular person with a job, a husband, and a kid – so hearing her side of the happiness theories balances out Gretchen’s sometimes over-the-top approach.

Each episode is only 20 minutes long, so it’s easy to fly through them. The episode layouts are all the same: they begin with a “try this at home” tip, which is a little task that’s supposed to make your life happier. This is my favorite part of the show, as I like to see if these tips would make my life better. Here are some of the tips they’ve suggested in the episodes I’ve listened to:

  • The 1-minute rule
  • Set an alarm for bed
  • Keep a one-sentence journal
  • Embrace good smells
  • Do a power hour
  • Treat yourself like a toddler
  • Give warm hellos and goodbyes
  • Treat yourself!
  • Make the positive argument
  • Indulge in a modest splurge
  • Stop reading a book if you don’t like it
  • Dedicate space to shrines
  • Imitate a spiritual master
  • Have an exact space for everything

One of the best suggestions is the “1-minute rule”, which basically suggests that if a task takes less than 1 minute, you just do it. For me, this is simply picking up my kitchen or living room at the end of the day so when I wake up, I don’t see a pile of crap right when I’m getting my cup of coffee. It’s easy, but it makes a big difference.

The Power Hour, on the other hand, is setting aside one hour a week, or maybe it’s per month, where you do tasks that you’ve been putting off – such as hanging that picture that’s been leaning against the wall or changing that lightbulb which requires the big ladder.

“Treat yourself like a toddler” is an interesting one, which highlights the idea that we look out for children and make sure they have everything they need, but we often don’t do that for ourselves. For example, making sure we get enough sleep, are dressed for cold weather, or eating a nourishing meal. Basically, be extra nice to yourself!

Aside from these “Try at home” tips in the beginning of the episode, there is usually a happiness lesson that takes up a majority of the remaining time, followed by a listener question, which is always interesting.

You can check out the podcast here, I know I’m going to keep listening and collecting these tips in hopes of living a happier life… to some degree.

Living your dreams… with a day job?

Truth bomb!

Truth bomb!

At the beginning of the month, I got an email with the subject line that read: Does a day job mean giving up on my dreams?

It was an email newsletter from Marie Forleo, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker (named as the thought leader of our generation by Oprah) whom I’ve been following for the last two years.

The body of the email talked about the problem of a specific person, who had been trying to make a business work, but wasn’t quite making enough money to pay the bills. But if she took a regular job, would that mean tossing out her dreams?

There was a video attached, because if you follow Marie, you know she truly excels in front of the camera. What followed was an hour-long (free) training called “How to Get Anything You Want”.

I listened immediately.

Before I go any further, I’ll explain that I’ve toyed with this idea of “Dream vs. Career” for pretty much the last 10 years of my life. I have always either worked two jobs, or had a job and freelance on the side, or had a job and wrote this blog on the side… all because there was something my day job wasn’t fulfilling in me, whether it was enough money or the social environment or creative freedom, something was missing.

And things are finally getting to the point where I’m not sure how much longer I can go just imagining my dreams. It’s time I got off my ass and actually made them a reality.

So, Marie’s training came to me at a great time. She started off by talking about how everyone has dreams, but not many people actually attempt to go after them because they’re so afraid of failure (totally me).

Realizing your dreams; even just writing them down on a piece of paper in a hidden drawer, makes them real, and puts yourself out there. So, the first step is gathering that courage to define your dreams.

As silly as it sounds, this may be the most difficult part for me. Why? Because I have SO many dreams. I don’t want to let any of them go, even though I know I can’t live them all. I want to live in Los Angeles AND New York and not at the same time; I want to go to London; I want to take an Alaskan cruise; I want to write for Vulture or The Cut; I want to write a made-for-TV screenplay; sometimes, I just want to choreograph dances for the local high school pom squad and other days I want to have a guest spot with the Laker Girls. I kind of want to go to culinary school, or maybe just write a TV series, all until John Mayer finally swoops me up and I can just live Montana cabin life and write his blog for him.

I know, I sound like a crazy person. So, I’m still working through step one (I’m using my holiday weekend to get some of my thoughts organized). Overall, though, I know I want to empower and motivate others, and I know I want to do that through my writing and through teaching others how to write and publish their own blogs, to get the fulfillment that I have gotten.

Marie talked next about a woman who really wanted to write a book and have it be published. But as soon as she wrote this goal down and committed her life to making it happen, life got in the way BIG TIME for her. She had family problems, and major financial problems… basically all signs pointing to “no!” But, she kept on and wrote her book. And once it was finished, she sent it to publishers. And they, too, told her NO. Even the publisher that eventually told her yes, told her to keep her day job because she wouldn’t see enough money from the book.

That woman, of course, was J.K. Rowling, and the book was the first installment of Harry Potter. And look how that turned out!

Now I know, we can’t all turn out like Ms. Rowling, but I have always loved that story. Anyone can make their dreams come true, and Marie was using that story to say that once you absolutely commit to something, it can happen.

That’s why you have to make your goal as specific and concrete as possible (again, not easy). Because once you fully commit to this goal, other goals have to take a backseat (heart = broken).

So, if you’re feeling me and doing this exercise, you get a clean piece of paper and write down your dream. “What I really want is…”

And it doesn’t have to be something career-related. It could be a project at home; losing weight; running a marathon; learning a skill; traveling to an exotic place; saving money, etc. Whatever you truly want!

Once you define what you want, write the WHY. And while I know I’m still defining my wants, I know the why. I need creative freedom and fulfillment, and I don’t want to necessary be strapped by the daily office grind.

Next, make a list of all the excuses you’re going to tell yourself as to why you can’t achieve your goal – such as, “I can’t afford it”, “There’s not enough time”, or “I live in the wrong city”.

Next, debunk all of those excuses with a solution. According to Marie, time and money are the top two excuses we use on ourselves, and they can be solved if we just try. The time one is definitely one I’ve heard a lot from other people over the years – when I had a second job or wrote books or maintained this blog, my coworkers would say they didn’t understand how I had the time.

But time is the great equalizer; we all have 24 hours in a day. And yes, I know Beyonce and Oprah have full staffs to keep their empires going, but you control how you spend YOUR 24 hours. Do you spend it researching, reading, at the gym, etc. doing what you have to do to reach your goals, or do you spend it sleeping?

If you can’t find ways to solve your potential excuses, there’s a chance you just don’t want it bad enough. And that’s okay, time to seek the next dream! Because if you want it, you will make the time. Use this as a way to become more self-aware; see how many times you tell yourself you can’t, and then look at your list of solutions to keep things moving.

And finally, you’ve got to keep the faith. Be your biggest cheerleader, and be ready to pick yourself up when the course changes, because it will.

So, all of that to say, that this has what’s been on my mind for the last few weeks. I’m 100% certain you’ll be hearing more about it, because I’ve got to put my dreams into the universe if I think they’re ever going to become real.

I’d love to know about your dreams. Maybe you’re living them already, and how did you get there? How do you keep yourself going? I’m ready to jump into a supportive community right away!

But first, turkey (amirite?).