2015: My Roller Coaster Year

Love where you’ve been.
Love where you’re at.
Love how you think.
Love the power you pack.
Love all that you seek.
Love all that you feel.
Love your rocking emotions.
And the thoughts you make real.
~ The Universe ~
(http://www.tut.com/note/details/89/)

Remember as a kid going to an amusement park and riding rides all day? You became impatient and perhaps angry waiting in line for the rides. You were hungry and thirsty, for food, drink, and more. You faced your fears and rode that big roller coaster that took your breath away. At the end of the day, you were sunburned, exhausted, yet happy.

Life is a lot like that.

2015 has been my roller coaster year. When January 1 arrived after a hellacious New Year’s Eve party, I was impatient for change, And I got it, for better and for worse, in all aspects of my life.

Halfway through the year, I lost an important friendship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control. That loss, though, turned out to be my gain, as it caused me to delve within and find my strength again.

I spent six months trying to leave a job that was killing my soul and my spirit. I applied for jobs with more fervor. Like throwing darts at a dartboard, I knew that when it was the right time, I would hit bullseye.

At one point, these two crises came to a head at the same time and I hit rock bottom. However, I didn’t panic. Instead, I threw myself into traveling and writing, which have never let me down. I traveled to Monterey, San Francisco, upstate New York (Hudson Valley and the Finger Lakes), and Chester County, Pennsylvania. New outlets for my writing, like Snooth and American Winery Guide, manifested themselves.

The turning point was September. On September 1, I was forwarded an email, which within 13 days, led me to my new job. It’s now been seven and a half weeks and I am so much happier. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be valued as a human being and part of a real team of professional and caring people.

November 3: I opened the Facebook app on my phone and there was my ex-boyfriend – the longest, most important relationship in my life (to date) – in my news feed as one of the people I may know, under a fake name. His profile and cover photos were of him and another woman. According to his About section, he had created this profile for her and was in a relationship with this woman more than three months before we broke up. There it was, in all of its glory, the answer to that question in my head for three years: Was there someone else? The good news is that I didn’t cry, I laughed.

In the blink of an eye, 2015 has essentially come and gone. The ride came to a screeching halt and I was breathless, but OK. I rediscovered myself: my power, my talents, and my calling. I found happiness within. I fell in love again with who I am and who I want to be.

Love,
Beth

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What to do when life blindsides you

I feel like I owe everyone an explanation for not being very present right now, feeling disconnected and discouraged. However, that’s just my HSP talking. I don’t owe anyone anything. What I am going to share is what to do when life blindsides you.

  1. Cry. Get angry. You can’t move forward without feeling your feelings. Expect to cry frequently, at the most inopportune times, and to feel anger out of the blue. Grieving is real.
  2. You will wake up in the middle of the night, often more than once, so I suggest going to bed earlier as an attempt to get sleep.
  3. You will also unconsciously dream about what happened and rehash it over and over in your mind. Do whatever you can to stop. Breathe. Exhale. Release. It’s all in your head.
  4. Go to your chiropractor, your massage therapist, your acupuncturist, your counselor – whichever floats your boat – to heal yourself.
  5. Spend time with your pet. Pets offer the unconditional love you need that humans cannot.
  6. Immerse yourself in something worthwhile that will distract your attention, like writing, a special project, or charitable work.
  7. Purge or exercise. There’s nothing like a good purging of material possessions and/or a workout to physically release what’s going on in your heart and your head.
  8. Force yourself to get together with friends, even though you would rather stay home. Once you arrive to hang out, turn off the damn phone. Pay attention to each other. Savor the time.
  9. Plan a trip, alone or with others, in an attempt to leave negativity behind. It’s OK to escape.
  10. Do something you haven’t done in forever. Last weekend, I went shopping at a brick-and-mortar mall. I bought a dress. I can’t remember the last time I went to a mall, nor the last time I wanted to buy or wear a dress. I also bought kick-ass wedge sandals and strappy heels to go with the dress. Go, me.
  11. Take social media breaks and focus on you, because you are all you have and you are all you can control. Remember that social media is still media, complete with falsehoods, biases, misinformation, and people who aren’t what they say they are. You, on the other hand, matter most of all. Be good to yourself.
  12. If all else fails, make this song your mantra:

Here’s to survival,
Beth

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Autumn in the vineyard

Autumn in the vineyard

If I could describe this year in one word, it would be crazy. Who in the hell packs up and leaves the life they know, their comfort zone, their family, their friends, their people, the South, the reality they have known all of their life, and moves across the country to start a new career? I’ll tell you who. This crazy girl.

It’s been a roller coaster of a year. The first phase was bliss: I can’t believe I live and work here. Every season is gorgeous, well, except the pouring rain right now. I pass famous vineyard after vineyard every morning on Silverado Trail and in the beginning I was thinking, “Holy shit, I LIVE here!” There’s wine everywhere. People drink and give wine away like it’s water. I have about 90 bottles right now and started out with 24 when I moved and I am drinking wine multiple days per week.

The second phase is reality. Napa is expensive. My apartment is a third of the size and over triple the rent of my apartment in Virginia. Fresh food is abundant, but costly. Gas is higher than in much of the country. My old car had two major, unexpected repairs. Health insurance finally kicked in and I realized I need a dentist, doctor, and medications. I also needed a veterinarian for my cat. Reality exists in Napa Valley. I finally went to a chiropractor after having been in pain since December 2013 and realized that’s one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. Because of my chiropractic care, my overall physical and mental health have improved. I no longer have the pain I had. I’ve cut out most of the daily medications I was taking for allergies and other things. I now take one allergy medication and a couple baby aspirin per day (confession: I’m terrified of having strokes like my mom and uncles had, even though I’ve never smoked like they did). I also discovered along the way that I’m not really like about 80% of everyone else. That was a big reality check. There’s also the reality that every job has its good and not-so-good days, even at a gorgeous winery in Napa Valley.

The third phase I’m going to call the holidays alone. It’s the time of year when my dad passed away. My mom is in a nursing home in North Carolina. I’m in a place far away from my people. Strangely enough, in a place that is often festive with an abundance of wine, food, and events galore, it’s been hard to connect with people here. I knew a ton of people here via social media, then I arrived, but my social life is meh. There’s also the “I have no one to spend the holidays with” syndrome, which has been going on since 2012. This is my third year trying to arrange things so as to not be alone. In fact, this past month, my coping mechanism has been crazy-ass travel: Philadelphia, Seattle twice, and Asheville. I needed to get away and be with my people.

Although most days I feel like I am where I want to be, there are some days I really struggle. I miss people from the East Coast, I battle loneliness, and I have sleep issues from the stress of such a big life change. Sometimes it feels like me against the world. I owe an apology to those I’ve maybe leaned on a little too much this year, but I am thankful to have you, too.

Today was one of those challenging days. Both the rains and my tears flowed most of the day. However, at the end of the day, I discovered an unexpected blessing. A much-needed blessing. It was in that moment I truly felt like the Universe may not have forgotten me after all and I was filled with a bit of hope. After the rain and tears stop, there’s something beautiful to behold. Someone at work told me that when things get crazy tough, just go running through vineyard to clear my mind. I think she’s right. Running through the vineyard sounds like a much better idea than tears.

I’m ready to get back to the bliss phase in 2015. And admittedly, it’s still there inside of me when I allow it. I still say to myself, “Holy shit, I LIVE here!”

Love,
Beth

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

Tribute in Light: September 11, 2011 (Shankbone)

Tribute in Light: September 11, 2011 (Shankbone)

A few years ago, I wrote a post about this topic for another blog, but the blog has since been discontinued, which is sad, because it’s like losing part of my writing history.

On September 11, 2001, my life was so different. I was a college professor in Virginia. I was dating a guy who lived and worked in the New York City area, so the events of that day hit close to home. I remember I was teaching a class via interactive television when the technician ran into my classroom and switched the channels as we saw the replay of a plane hitting the twin towers. It was and still is so surreal. When the first plane, American Airlines 11, hit, we thought it was an accident. When the second plane, United Airlines 175, hit, we knew. I dismissed class and the college closed, but my students remained glued to the classroom televisions. I made my way to my office and kept trying to call my boyfriend from my cell phone, but my calls would not go through. Finally he called me to tell me he was OK, as was his brother, who worked for Citibank. I was relieved for them, but heartbroken for those who lost their lives and who lost family members and friends. Silly me kept hoping for more miracles than actually happened. To this day, I still cannot believe the magnitude of loss of life.

During the course of that morning and day, we heard about American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, then United Airlines 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers attempted to gain control of the aircraft after it was hijacked. It was as if the destruction and death would never end. I will never forget this day or its moment in history. I still grieve for those who lost loved ones.

I still remember what it was like to fly after 9/11, how quiet it was when I landed at Dulles instead of National for a required doctoral class at George Mason. I remember seeing the smoldering twin towers from my weekly flights in and out of LaGuardia Airport for what seemed like a very long time after the events of that day.

I also remember the kindness that we shared with strangers after this tragedy. For a while after 9/11, people seemed to care more about each other. I saw more public displays of politeness and affection and less frustration and anger. It still breaks my heart that it took a tragedy like this to make us treat each other with more love and mutual respect than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.

If there is one thing I could wish for this anniversary of 9/11, it would be for us to return to love, in spite of our differences, and in honor of all the lives that were lost that day.

Love,
Beth

Photo Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/

Who am I without any money?

Every day I receive an email from my favorite blog, The Daily LoveToday’s featured post was about learning to take risks towards success by facing and managing fear. The section below jumped out at me.

How much money you have doesn’t define how successful you are. It’s your inner peace that defines how successful you are. You want to know how successful you are – answer this question: Who are you without any money? That answer will define how successful you really are.

We are all are on a journey to better our lives and achieve our definition of success, whatever that may be. In my journey, I know I have days where I feel like I am treading water instead of moving forward. I battle loneliness. I struggle with inner peace. All of those challenges aside, who am I without any money? 

I’m a loyal and steadfast friend and confidant. I’m my cat’s mommy. I’m a survivor of a budgetary reduction in force. I’m a teacher and student of life. I’m a hopeless romantic in spite of a great love lost. I’m a certified wine geek and a certifiably crazy travel geek. I’m a new media writer. I’m a person who gives my all to what lies before me, no matter how great or small. I’m a risk taker. I’m a single girl doing it all on her own.

I may not be where I want to be yet, but look at me! Not bad, eh? So what about you? Who are you without any money? I hope you’ll toot your own horn in the comments, then keep moving forward, kicking ass and taking names.

Love,
Beth

This week’s life lessons

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Simply A Rose

This week gave me many opportunities to think about what I say, what I do, and the decisions I make. Let me be very clear that I hate conflict. I think that preventing conflict from happening at all is the key to a happier, easier life. I avoid it like the plague to the point that I sometimes allow myself to become submissive to other people’s demands. Which leads me to this: NO MORE TRYING TOO HARD TO DO EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE ALL OF THE TIME. Living life with something or someone else as the primary focus keeps your eye off the real prize, which is yourself, your life, and your happiness. You matter first. You are the only one that you can change. Look within. Choose to focus on you. Make yourself and your life better. Most importantly, allow others to do the same. Our happier selves lead to happier everyone.

In letting go of trying to be and do for everyone else, you realize YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE TO BE HAPPY. I struggle with this all the time. Do I want to be single, dating, or in a relationship? However, the bottom line is that I can do this alone, even if it sucks sometimes. I’m strong. I’m a survivor. I’ve earned my new life and I have the scars to prove it. I need to celebrate me. You need to celebrate you.

If there is anything that you should take from this post, it is: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Or in other words, LESS IS MORE. We all know this. Simplicity leaves time for more of what’s good in life. Saying less often leaves less room for error. If you have a choice, don’t say whatever it is you were going to say, especially if it’s negative. You can always say it later if it really matters, but most of the time, it doesn’t. Simplicity also keeps us from taking on and doing too much. Excess is often the root cause of any problem, whether is be thoughts, words, or actions. Life should be about QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY. Scale back, slow down, relax, breathe, savor life’s simple pleasures.

Love,
Beth