What I Know For Sure Part II

Some more beliefs to add to my collection…
(Missed part 1?  Catch up here:  What I Know For Sure)

1.  Always have champagne on hand, life is one endless celebration.
2.  Take time to quiet your mind.
3.  Exercise is important for both your physical and mental health.
4.  Talk to your grandparents as often as possible.
5.  Multitasking is so 2005.  It’s better to concentrate on one thing and do it well than to do 5 things half assed.
6.  Helping others makes you happy.
7.  Smiling is so much easier than frowning.
8.  So is letting go of grudges instead of holding them.
9.  The beach is the best church I’ve ever worshiped in.
10.  Mens back muscles are proof that God loves women and wants us to be happy.
11.  Sometimes the prettiest flowers grow in the biggest piles of shit.
12. Drink water out of stemmed glasses.  They just make everything feel more elegant.
13.  Keeping a journal is the best therapy.
14.  So is writing this blog.
15.  Beverly Hills 90210 is still the best TV show of all time.
16.  Closely followed by Broad City.
17.  Wanderlust is real.
18.  Dogs are woman’s best friend.  They are the epitome of love.
19.  Procrastination will get you nowhere.
20.  Laughter is the best medicine.
21.  You have to appreciate the little things before you can appreciate the big things.
22.  Keep going, no matter what.

Cheers!

Reflections: It’s Been One Hell Of A Year

I remember it like it was yesterday; it was October 11, 2013 and my whole family was in the Outer Banks, North Carolina celebrating my cousin Hillary’s marriage to her soul mate Nick.  I was supposed to be there, but instead, I found myself walking around my neighborhood with my dog asking myself one question:  Krystal, what the f*** are you doing?

If you’ve ever asked a woman how old they are chances are they answered with “29”, so naturally when I turned 29 I thought that it was going to be my year; after all, I had Key West on my side this time.  I had just moved back to the island and into the Girl Cave.  So anyways, 29 was going to be my year, aaaaaaand then my sister died.  And as if things couldn’t get shittier a guy I dated for years got engaged.  So there I was, drowning in grief and single.  It was seriously like someone had taken a machine gun to my ego.

Overboard-goldie-hawn-35188717-640-340

Overboard, one of the greatest movies of all time…
Annie: “Dean, how old am I?”
Dean: “29”

Now I’m going to try to put my “aha moment” into words so try to stay with me here… note the date above, October 11. I was born April 12, 1984; so October 11th was exactly one day before the 1/2 way mark of my 29th year.  I don’t know what it was that made it click but I literally had a light bulb moment on that walk.  I realized that my 29th year wasn’t even half way over, and if I made a conscious effort to change I could still salvage the year and make it my best ever.  So that I did.

Please refer to my previous blog post, Any Day Can Be Day #1 for more inspiration on fresh starts…

The first thing I did was download a shit-ton of spiritual self-help books; sounds cliché but I had nothing to lose.  Then I tuned into Super Soul Sunday on the OWN channel and got to work.  I started taking notes about my thoughts and behaviors and started looking for the good in everything.  I started a gratitude practice where I made sure to focus on the people, places, and things that made me most happy and I started writing in my journal again, religiously.  The results were astounding.

I literally became my thoughts.  I became a genuinely happy and grateful person and it’s pretty awesome.  Another pretty cool side effect to being happy is losing weight.  Once I got happy, I mean genuinely happy, my body just changed, it was so weird but I’m not complaining.  People in my life started to take notice of my spiritual/ emotional/ physical changes and it felt pretty damn good.  So I just kept the ball rolling.

Since last October I’ve made so many changes in my life but the most influential change I’ve made came within the last few months.  August 1st I started going to a Buddhist Sangha twice a week and introduced meditation to my daily routine.  The effect that silence has on your mind and body is hard to put into words but its calming effect is unmatched by anything I’ve ever done before (including pot).  Meditation has helped me tremendously with my anxiety and now when I don’t make the time for meditation in my day I can physically feel the effects.  Crazy!

If you are interested in starting your own meditation practice I recommend signing up for a FREE guided mediation lead by Deepak Chopra.  It is a 21-Day Meditation Experience that you can do at your leisure whenever and wherever you would like, try it out, whattaya got to lose?!  https://chopracentermeditation.com/experience

I could seriously sing from the mountaintops about how awesome my life is and how happy I am living it and if you don’t feel that way about your life I suggest making a change. If I could give one piece of advice it would be to count your blessings, not your problems.  Everyone had hardships, it’s how you handle them that counts.  Being happy starts with yourself, once you get that down the rest just happens, like magic!

So Happy Super Soul Sunday and cheers to new beginnings and happiness!

Get Your Nose In A Book

Remember back in the day when summer would roll around and all of the libraries would have summer reading clubs and contests to get kids hype about reading throughout the summer?  Someone needs to start doing this for adults except with enhanced prizes such as a bar tab or Target gift card as the prize to the person who reads the most.  Hell, throw in some MAC cosmetics and I know some women that would read novels like a flip book from the 50’s.  I mean, I know a ton of people who like to read but don’t or can’t seem to find the time to read  books they enjoy because let’s face it, as we get older carving out time for ourselves becomes harder and harder.   I guarantee that people would carve out more time for reading if the price of the bar tab or gift certificate is right!

Price Is Right

I decided this summer that I’m going to revisit “The Classics”.  So while I plan on reading Little Women, Tom Sawyer, and To Kill A Mockingbird, I also intend on reading some of my personal favorites which are classics in my book (no pun intended!)

Fun Fact:  My friend Lauren and I started up a book club in our 3rd grade cubbies.  We charged other kids to borrow our Babysitters Club books (we also sold baseball and hockey cards on the side; not kidding).  This was a secret operation, we flew under the radar until the end of the year.  Now when I say we charged kids I should clarify that it was a minuscule amount, 5-10 cents per week and our currency was this:

Plastic Kids Play Money

The currency was also only good at Mrs. Darling’s General Store which sold pixie sticks, erasers, novelty pencils and bouncy balls, if you were lucky!  At the end of the year we had so much damn money that we were like the Robin Hood’s of Mrs. Darlings 3rd grade class.  Pixie sticks for everyone!

Kindle vs. iPad vs. Books.  I’ve had the debate a million times.  If you like to read #getwiththegets and get a kindle.  I’ve had pretty much every model that has come out in the past 3 years and in my opinion, the mack daddy of all eReaders is the Kindle Paperwhite.  Its lightweight, glare free, and backlit.  If you are a book lover and one of those people who says “I just like a book.  I like to hold the book, and feel the pages…” I’ve got a message for you; that’s what everyone says until they get a Kindle.

As a side note I also recommend becoming an Amazon Prime Member.  It’s $99 and hands down the best investment I make all year.  For $99 you get free two-day shipping on most items, to borrow a book a month from the Kindle Owner’s Library, and Prime Instant Video (which has taken the place of my Netflix subscription saving me $8.99 a month now that Amazon introduced an app on my smart Blu-ray player).

Below are some of my fictional favorites, Klassics* if you will, along with some other recommendations for your summertime reading list in no particular order:

Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells*:  You’ve probably seen the movie, and while I admit, the cast was fabulous and they did a great job but it’s no match for the book.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet read the book, and if you have seen the movie read the book anyways.  It’s a good story of a lifelong friendship between 4 women and Rebecca Wells does a fabulous job of telling their story.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett*:  See above minus the last sentence.  While I love the movie, and anything with Emma Stone if I’m being honest, I was disappointed when I saw that some of my favorite parts of the book were left out of the movie.  It’s an easy read and will make you laugh out loud.

Perfect On Paper by Maria Murnane:  This is the first of a 4 book series that I stumbled upon a few years ago.  I read the first line of the description on Amazon “Waverly Bryson is a successful businesswoman in her late 20s who almost has it all…”  and was like BINGO.  I breezed through all 3, staying up throughout the night many times because I couldn’t put them down and then was pleasantly surprised when the author, Maria Murnane, decided to release a 4th a final book on Waverly’s adventures.    For all you Amazon Prime members, the books are free in the lending library.  Get on it.

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover:  I could. not. put. this. book. down.  It was an ok read until about 1/2 way through, then it was like whoa; I stayed up all night long to finish reading it and told everyone I know to read it too.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah*:  My go-to book.  I’ve given this book many a time to my girlfriends throughout the years, usually for birthday gifts.  It’s a story of a friendship of two women.  It will make you laugh and it will make you cry.  And then you will give it to your best friend to read and when she’s done you’ll immediately have the debate over who in your friendship is Kate and who is Tully.  I love, love, love this book as well as many books that Kristin has written, she is one of my favorite fictional authors.

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park:  A quirky beach read that I just loved.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling:  Seems a little juvenile eh?  Well obviously if you think that you’ve never read the books.  I had heard the hype growing up and in high school often read passages to my babysitting charges before they went to bed but never sat down to read the full series until the summer of 2008 when I found myself book/ magazineless at the pool.  I finished the 7 books in a little over a month.  Luckily I jumped on the bandwagon right before the 7th and final book came out so I didn’t have to go through the torture the rest of the world did while waiting for the next release.  READ THESE BOOKS.  THEY ARE GOOD.  ALL 4,100 PAGES OF THEM.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks:  Again, you’ve probably seen the movie, and while I admit, the cast was fabulous and they did a great job but it’s no match for the book.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet read the book, and if you have seen the movie read the book anyways it’s a good one!  I’ll admit, I burned myself out on Nicholas Sparks from 2004-2006.  It started with The Notebook and spiraled into a slight obsession as I found myself hitting up the Leon County Library and checking out as many of his books that I hadn’t read yet at a time.  But things started to blend together, after reading 10 love stories that took place on the beaches in North Carolina all of the story lines began to run together.  So I took a hiatus and gave Safe Haven a chance the summer of 2011.  It’s a nice easy read that becomes a page turner before you know it.

Off The Face Of The Earth by Aljean Harmetz:  I read this book back in 1999 and recently stumbled upon it again.  If you like mystery thrillers this book is for you.

What am I reading now you ask?  I’m currently reading The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty by J. Randy Taraborrelli and The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer.  It’s a pretty interesting combo; that Conrad Hilton was a hell of a business man and I had no idea about their Hollywood history dating back to the early 20th century.  And The Untethered Soul, well just the title has weight to it so you can imagine the content.  Although I have to admit, I’m ready for a good fictional summer read after these.  I’ve been reading some pretty heavy material for the past 8 months and I am ready for some light-hearted reading.

book

Share your recommendations and summer reading material on Instagram using #shovelingsunshine.

 

Super Soul Sunday

SSS

Growing up my mom taught us that Sundays are for re-grouping; and in my house re-grouping is defined as getting your life together and preparing for the week ahead.  I can’t think of a better way to get my life together or prepare for the week ahead than to work on my soul.

I love a good weekend, although like everyone else, my idea of a “good weekend” has evolved over the years.  These days my Sundays are usually filled with deep cleaning my 200-square-foot apartment, spending time with my pup Skyy, and watching Super Soul Sunday* It wasn’t always that way however, in the words of my mama Kath, I’m a work in progress [cupid shuffling through life].

My life shifted on October 11th 2013, the day before my cousin Hillary’s wedding.  I was walking Skyy on our normal route through Old Town and feeling sorry for myself.  Still drowning in grief from losing my sister earlier that summer to cancer, I found myself thinking about all the things that had gone wrong over the last year.  I was so overwhelmed, exhausted, and sad.  I mean, 29 was supposed to be my year.  My theory was that if you ever ask a woman how old she is they always reply 29; so something good must be happening in that last year of your 20’s or women would pick a different year.  So there I was, 10 months into the year 2013, thinking about how the shitty column was going to to take the lead on my yearly outcome tally.  Then I had an “aha moment”.

Grinnell & Angel Streets, my favorite intersection in Key West and where I had my "aha moment".

Grinnell & Angel Streets, my favorite intersection in Key West and where I had my “aha moment”.

I realized that just because a few months of my 29th year sucked (I mean reeeeeeeeally sucked) didn’t mean the rest of my year, or life for that matter, had to. The other thing that the next day, October 12th, would not only be my cousins wedding day and future anniversary date but also the first day of the second half of my 29th year (if you haven’t figured it out yet, my birthday is April 12th).  A few things happened when Skyy and I got back from that walk:

  1. I promised myself that I would change my life the next day, October 12th starting at 12:00am.
  2. I cried.
  3. Skyy and I had Hamburger Helper for dinner in bed (this is not uncommon).

So on October 12th I made the conscious decision to be happy and got to work on myself.  I started reading, writing, and living. I started to realize that I am a part of something greater.  A little over two weeks later on October 31st I wrote in my journal just three sentences, “I’m grateful for Key West.  I’m getting it.  I’m feeling so many aha moments its crazy”.  And that’s the truth.  I realized that just because happiness wasn’t showing up in my life the same ways it had before it was still there, and I began to find happiness and strength in routine and nature.  I started to take everything in because the realness and the closeness of the death of my sister made me realize that nothing is forever or for sure and not to take a single moment for granted.  I finally got it.

How To Be Happy

By nature, human existence is trials and disappointment, the trick is to find joy on the other side.  Elizabeth Lesser, author and one of my favorite spiritual teachers, says that “God does not waste a hurt.  Usually when you come out on the other side of pain, grief, and hardship there is something wonderful waiting for you.”

Crazy things happen when you start to focus on yourself and even deeper, on your soul.  I started taking my dog on longer, more frequent walks, and appreciating the simple things in life like a good cup of coffee and a smile and hello from a stranger. Most importantly, I became genuinely happy and lighthearted.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t walk around for 29.5 years scowling and mad at the world; it just took me that long to start living in the moment instead of worrying about everything that was to come.  Words to the wise: “Worrying is like a rocking chair, you can do it all day and it won’t get you anywhere”.

 

*Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is hands down my favorite show on television and become a tool I use to help re-center myself.  If you haven’t tuned in yet, #getwiththegets.  She’s introducing spiritual leaders and topics to the masses and taking the digital world by storm. Recently voted the #1 Inspirational Channel on cable television and if you don’t get her cable channel OWN you can now tune in live on her website, Oprah.com.