July 26, 2013

Frisky Friday - A week in review.

  1. I learned this week that cleaning my house on a weeknight is not only oddly rejuvinating, but it frees the weekends up for more fun things.  I am continually aiming for that perfect combination of freedom, fun, and R&R in a weekend, which is not always attainable, but by trying to squeeze in some chores during the week, I feel like I'm getting closer to that ideal. 
  2. Lately I've been working on calming my food noise, a term coined by my favorite former Housewife, Bethenny Frankel.  Calming my noise means allowing myself to give into temptation a little more often, as long as I'm doing it in a moderate way.  The ultimate goal of this is to avoid a constant diet mindset.  For the past week I had been craving cheap mac & cheese, the really bad-for-you kind made with the powdered stuff, so that's what I had for din-din Tuesday night.  Yes, it was amazing as cheap mac & cheese can get, and yes, I started my day the next morning with a fresh green juice.  Life is about finding the right balance that works for you; my personal balance just happens to include mac & cheese every once in a while.
  3. I was never a pedicure kind of girl, but since a nail place opened up two doors down from my work I've become a total convert.  It is like the best little indulgence $20 can buy.   OPI's "It's a Girl" is currently on my toes right now and it's the Perfect Nude Pink, IMHO.  Sexy and subtle - just the way I like it.
  4. If friends are the new family I have the best family a girl could have.  Yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, my best friend sent me the sweetest email which completely melted my heart.  It reiterated the importance of these kinds of relationships and just how lucky I am to have certain people in my life. 
  5. A weekend with no set schedule is one of the most underrated luxuries in life (see #1 above).  This weekend happens to be the first in several weeks where I don't have to be anywhere at any given time and I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT IT.  If all my weekends were this way I probably wouldn't be so excited, but a quiet one amidst several busy ones really is like a diamond in the rough. 
  6. You know this post wouldn't be complete without a little music tidbit.  Of course, right?  Well, this week I've been really digging Booker T. Jones's Sound The Alarm.  My personal favs are "Watch You Sleeping," "Broken Heart," and "All Over The Place" - all tracks featuring some lesser known yet exceptionally talented vocalists. 

July 20, 2013

Putting the Present to Practice

Now that the dust has settled after reading Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, I thought I’d do a little follow-up post.  It is only natural for inspiration to wane after time, for us to forget the lessons we learned and to revert to old habits, but for whatever reason, this book has continued to improve my approach and my perspective on life.  Here are a few of the big takeaways that continue to have moved me:


 “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now.” – Eckhart Tolle

I used to worry about time a lot, especially with things like life and mortality, the past and future, by anticipating and worrying about imagined future events that were completely beyond my control.  This was exhausting.  I thought that I needed to worry about the future, as if that would help prevent the things I worried about (death, catastrophic events, awkward social interactions) from happening.  It was only until I read this book that I realized that this kind of incessant worrying is completely counterproductive and unnecessary. 

Now I try not to focus on mind time, to worry less about things that are out of my control, and to not think too much about the future.  This is not to say that I don’t consider chronological time, which involves putting events on my calendar and requires some modicum of planning, but the obsession, the worry, the anxiety about the kinds of things that are completely beyond my control has been reduced drastically.  And I have to say, I feel a huge weight lifted off me.  Life really is so much more enjoyable this way, the way that it should be. 

 Worry pretends to be useful but serves no actual purpose.” – Eckhart Tolle

Overthinking is another issue I've always grappled with.  I am an INFJ, a Pisces, and an English major, meaning that I have all the personality traits of an overthinker.  All I did in college and grad school was read books, analyze them, and then write about them.  I used to think that being an overthinker was a good thing.  It was only when I realized that it’s actually being that is the key to enlightenment -- the opposite of thinking -- a light bulb went off.  Just the other day I was reading an interview with Singer Janelle Monae who said that “[R&B singer] Erykah Badu once told me, ‘Stay out of your mind.’  Whenever I’m anxious about something, I remember those words to anchor myself and not overthink the moment.”  It's comforting to know that some of my favorite artists struggle with this too.
Thinking too much zaps our energy stores (leaving less for things like creativity!), when all we have is the now, this very moment.  If we’re in our heads the whole time we’re missing out on experiencing the richness of our lives right in front of us.  Though I might be inherently prone to overthinking, I’ve learned that when I step outside my head and actually think less I’m a much happier and more content person.
Acceptance and Surrender
         “Sometimes surrender means giving up trying.” – Eckhart Tolle

So much of my life has been focused on striving, improving, and becoming that I often fail to realize that it’s okay to just accept where I’m at and be for a bit.  The cliché really is true: you have to just stop and smell those roses from time to time.  While lots of things can be achieved by being so future focused, it's easy to lose sight of basking in the glow of life as it is now.  Accepting and surrendering, that is, just letting go to whatever state you're in and not resisting where your world is at the moment, is a completely new concept for me, but it is incredibly freeing and invigorating.

Friday night I came home after work and dinner with a friend and was exhausted from a long week, so instead of resisting the urge to do nothing, I accepted it and surrendered to where I was.  I stripped out of my work clothes in the kitchen (don't judge:  you know how hot it's been!) and laid down on the floor and watched the sunset.  It sounds strange, but it was my own way of accepting and surrendering in the moment, and it was perfect.

"If you are present, the painbody cannot feed anymore on your personal thoughts, or on other people's reactions." - Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle writes about this thing called the “Painbody,” which he describes as the “emotional aspect of egoic consciousness.”  (This article explains it really well.)   Painbody can be likened to an addiction to unhappiness.  While I am not fundamentally a negative person, the concept has made me more aware of how easy it is to grasp onto the negative, to latch onto thoughts that fuel negativity and dysfunction in relationships.  While we don’t like feeling pain, we are also somehow drawn to it, kind of like masochism.  By realizing the kind of actions that fuel the painbody, I have been working on my awareness of it within me, which has made me conscious of when it tries to rear its ugly head. 

July 9, 2013

Just a Tuesday Tickle.

A random list of thoughts brought to you on a Tuesday by yours truly.
  1. It occurred to my on my ride home from work today that Enrique Iglesias's "Bailamos" might be one of the great long-lost pop hits of the '90s.  Just don't watch the video because let's just say it hasn't aged well, the styling of which has reduced the song to a corny choreographed mess.  But the song really is a sexy little number.  Listen to it, and you'll hear what I mean.
  2. This article made me feel a little less guilty about consuming a half-watermelon every time I crack one open. 
  3. The writing in Dexter continues to blow my mind.  Dr. Vogel offered up this gem (Episode 2 of Season 8), which really resonated with me: "I developed a framework for your survival.  That's what mothers do."
  4. Another beautiful quote from the ever-inspiring and enlightening site, Brain Pickings, has stayed with me ever since I came upon it the other day: "Always be more than you appear, and never appear to be more than you are." - Angela Merkel 
  5. It's amazing what things do to your ego (and after reading The Power of Now I've become that much more aware of how ego is involved in everything we do, think or say), but alas.  So, one of the Entertainment Weekly's editors followed me on Twitter the other day and then "favorited" one of my tweets today.  Is it bad that it kind of made my ego's day? 
  6. I'm pumped that Sara Bareilles's new album comes out on July 16.  Her songwriting's so pop-rock delicious.  I also happen to be a pretty big fan of the beautiful/talented/good girly/nerdy combo.  (And as an FYI, she's pretty fun to follow on Twitter.)
  7. I'm always walking that fine line of whether it's inappropriate or appropriate to tell someone I've dreamt about them.  The honest part of me feels a strange ethical obligation to let them in on it, as if it's something they need to know, to be privy to; the other part of me realizes this might come off a little creepy.  I wonder if this is some kind of strange compulsion or whether it's normal-ish.  (Thoughts welcome.)

July 6, 2013

Maine Beer Company's Lunch: The Soulmate of Beer?

I visited Maine Beer Company’s (new) digs in Freeport, Maine, over the long holiday weekend and I will say that it didn’t surprise me that the brewery, which includes a bustling little tasting room, lives up to the growing reputation of its product.  Before I go too far, I should mention that I only know about craft beer by way of reading about it and taking sips from my husband’s glass.  Being the curious cat that I am, however, I find myself intrigued by the craft beer movement.

What’s intrigued me about Maine Beer Company is its entire approach to its product.  From the bottle, which is taller and more slender than a standard beer bottle and therefore more akin to a wine bottle, to the crisp and clean-like-linen label, to the slogan “Do what’s right”, Maine Beer Company is all about quality over quantity, with nothing – from taste to image -- being sacrificed.  It's apparent that the product, the beer, sells itself, which is suggested on the label as being consumed within 90 days of the "stamped born date" as "[h]oppy beers do not age well."  Lunch, Maine Beer Company’s perhaps most sought-after American IPA, receives a world-class rating of a 97 by Beer Advocate, emits a delightful aroma of citrus and pine.  And though I’m no connoisseur, it is the most delicious-smelling beer I’ve ever set my nose on.  No exaggeration. 

After visiting the birthplace of Lunch, the tasting room of which is situated in a light and airy space where you can order all MBC’s offerings as well as some interesting mashups off a chalkboard, I was struck by how the space itself was a continued reflection of the company’s product with its white-washed walls, hand-carved taps, and large picture window where you can watch beer being made as you sip an IPA born yesterday and play a little game of Jenga with your friends.  All of this is comfortably flanked between a pastoral farmhouse setting and Coastal Route 1.  Ah, Maine - the way life should be.

Like Maine Beer Company, I am a quality over quantity person.  Take a look at my friends and you will see what I mean.  They can be easily counted on two hands and are all equally incredible people: smart, interesting, wonderful, and wise.  They all happen to have superior qualities to me, which I'm well aware of, and hope that through immersion their greatness will eventually rub off on me.   

Maine Beer Company is kind of like that knock-your-socks-off person you meet who’s almost too good to be true:  Smart.  Interesting.  Deep and also funny.  Humble.  Wise.  Attractive.  Fun to be around.  Refined but not snobby.  Can be found uptown or upta camp.  And bonus!  (Also happens to be quite sexy.)  As you probably know, this is a next-to-impossible combination, though of course it does exist.  Hey, just take a look at Lunch!  But when it comes down to it, many of us are a little intimidated by that knock-your-socks-off beer, person, or thing, and instead settle for what is easy, cheap, and ubiquitous.  Though my good friends aren't easy, cheap, and ubiquitous, I happen to go for this combination in my mascara (which is usually L'Oreal Voluminous, if you really want to know.) 

Sometimes, people will go for what’s a little below them because it has the dual effect of temporarily boosting their egos while also expending no intellectual or emotional energy on their part, which is not always a bad thing, though it is usually accompanied with temporary gratification and ultimately leaves them kind of bored and under-stimulated in the end.  To get to the thing that knocks your socks off typically takes a little extra work, a bit of effort, some hustle and flow.  Take MBC’s Lunch, for example.  It can be hard to find at your typical corner store, is rather pricy at $6 a bottle, and might be confusing to the palate at first, which is why many of us go for the easy-to-get and often underwhelming Budweiser; the overrated and oversweet Pumpkinhead Ale (just because it's seasonal doesn't make it better); or PBR, the beer that everyone knows and everyone makes fun of, but will still hook up with, because hell, cheap ass is still ass.   

Though my friends would receive similar ratings to MBC’s, I actually happen to have a beer palate of a five year old, which is why you will likely find me sipping on any sudsy low-end light beer, if my preferred drink of choice -- a vodka tonic -- is not available (though if you know me really well my ultimate preference would be chocolate cake).  So, let's be real here -- who am I to write about Maine Beer Company's Lunch?  All I can say is that I know a good thing when I see it.