I hope you spent this wonderful long weekend catching up with friends, hitting the beach, sleeping in, and eating as many burgers as you possibly can. Although I certainly partook in a host of holiday festivities, this year something was a little off. It was a little hard to celebrate in the midst of so many national and global tragedies, especially the burning of a whole series of black churches and Donald Trumps assertion that most Mexicans were criminals. It’s hard to feel for a nation that quite possibly might have a more compassionate culture if it was still owned by the British. I took my moments of reflection in church, and then suddenly a light hit me.
Oh hey July! Didn’t see you coming. Wasn’t it just January?
Where has the year gone? More than half of the year has passed and I am not really sure how I feel about that. On the one hand I am like “yay 161 days until my birthday” and on the other hand I am like “what the heck have I accomplished since January 1st?”
Ever feel like that?
Chances are you’ve accomplished lots since the start of the new year but like me, you’re probably giving your small steps and small wins the side-eye like “that’s it.”
I am a huge proponent of taking stock of the things going right (and wrong) in your life and celebrating your wins. I do struggle with knowing what “win” warrants a celebration. Should I celebrate hitting publish on that blog post? Should I celebrate creating pretty digital goodies for you to download for a 3rd month in a row? Should I celebrate the fact that I’ve been mostly consistent in checking in with my accountability partner even if my weekly output has been less than ideal?
Yes, yes, and yes.
Same goes for you too darling. Small steps count.
Small steps toward the goals you’ve set before you are still steps and worthy of celebration. Sure your steps might not be perfect and you may even trip a couple of times but you’re stepping and that is all that matters.
Keep going. Ok.
Make July beautiful and remember small steps count.
BONUS: I had so much fun making and using last month’s worksheet that I made another one. This month we break down our one thing into small steps (and check boxes cause nothing feels better than DONE and CHECK ha!). Sign-up for my newsletter. I’ll be sending printable like these out to my Beautiful Life Makers every month (psst: if you’re already on the list check your in-box for the Small Steps printable).
In my effort to be the best me I can be and usher in my 32nd year of life, I have been a sweaty, disgusting, growling mess.
That’s right. I have been dancing.
If you are a part of the standard American cubicle village, you probably spend 75 hours on your arse and 40 of those using the virtual world to make your connections and get things done. I am no different. I like typing as fast as I can, crossing things off of my to-do list, and checking out with Pinterest. Especially checking out with Pinterest.
But in my quest to get back to my more authentic self, I realize that I am missing connection. Connection as in, like actually touching people. Here in New York City, we play a daily game to see how we can get through the most crowded place in the nation while interacting with the absolute minimum. I find myself putting in headphones even when music isn’t playing to distance myself from the world. Although I did this originally to remain unfazed by the 384 cat calls I receive each day, I have quickly realized that the life I lead is one devoid of hugs, touches, and pats on the back. I am a Southerner. I cannot live like that, ya’ll.
In my effort to get back to what made 13 year old Kel Daroe smile, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time (and even more coins) on the dance floor. Monday is salsa. Wednesday is hip hop. Thursday is tap. Saturday is salsa party My back hurts, but I could not be happier. And the funny thing about happiness is that it can’t be contained. Happiness in one area of your life can’t help but spill into another.
Let me tell you a secret. I am in charge. I go to a job where I am known for getting things done. I stay there for an unreasonable amount of time. I go home to my single apartment, and arrangement that I have had for nearly 15 years. And I live the luxury of not having to ask anyone what I should cook for dinner or if they mind if I wear no pants.
It’s pretty luxurious at times. Other times, pretty freaking miserable. Introspection, therapy, and a session or two with a love coach have let me know that the characteristics that make me superwoman at work make me seem utterly unavailable and invulnerable to one of the things I want most–connection, community, and love.
But on the dancefloor, there is no pedigree. There is no superwoman. I cannot lead. The best I can do is follow. Truthfully, that is a great relief.
Deep down, I can’t change that much. I will still have to call the shots at work and at home.
But on the floor, I can wait for him to give me a signal and react just in time. I am a girl, apart from current cultural norms and expectations. I am free and I can breathe.
And boy, oh boy, can I dance.
Words cannot express how much I have missed connecting with all of you in our usual fireside chats. The reasons for my absence are everything but interesting. I let something that is a need (ie WORK) take over all the breathing space in my life. Alas, that’s not sustainable. After a little “Come to Jesus” talk with my best friends, my nutritionist, my therapist, and my dog, I have begun to eek out time for things that actually make me happy and healthy–going out on dates, eating vegetables, and talking TO YOU!
Pulling yourself out of the ditch is never easy and it’s all but impossible to do alone. Here are my failsafe steps to getting your groove back better than Terry McMillan.
- Name the beast. There’s a reason why everyone’s first step in AA is to admit that they have a problem. Things without names do not exist. We were all ushered in the world and called something, which allows us to go through the world being acknowledged. Allow me to re-introduce myself. Hello, my name is Kel Daroe, and I am a creative who masks her fear of failure by being a workaholic and kissing boys who are not nice!
- Throw your plans in the trash. If you are reading this blog, chances are you are a confident and smart lady who feels exhausted by the daily grind and needs a moment of restorative calm, pretty flowers, and puppy videos on YouTube. However, we often use the same approach that got us into predicaments to get us out. If you are feeling overscheduled and overwhelmed, it’s easy to create a list of all the things that would make you feel better (going to San Fran for a weekend, buying something from Jonathan Adler, going rock climbing). But those things take time and energy and you need relief now! Don’t think, just feel. Go outside. Call a friend. Take a jog. I guarantee you will feel better immediately. And THEN you can plan that trip to San Fran. Please take me with you.
- Don’t go it alone. No man is an island. Even the most self-sufficient women in the world are peninsulas at best. Reach out to your network when you feel like things could be going awry. Your family and friends love you and are just waiting on you to let them in so they can support. After my third 13+ hour day in a row, BC pulled me aside and reminded me that the beautiful life I wanted to create was NOT AT MY CUBICLE. I cannot thank her enough.
We are all teaching each other here, so I cannot wait to hear from you!
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau said that. He was on to something.
What am I busy about?
I’ve clocked more over time hours (which I don’t get paid for by the way) in the last six months than I have in the last six years. Since November, I worked more 12+ hour days spinning my wheels and accomplishing very little than I care to share. I blame multitasking and saying yes when I should have said no. Juggling fifty eleven things at work doesn’t make me #boss; it makes me #bitchy and when I’m bitchy the quality of my work suffers and more importantly the quality of my relationships suffer.
This month, I am scaling back. Multitasking is a liar. She’s dead to me. One thing at a time is my commitment.
Are you with me?
I’m committing to doing one thing at a time with as much care and attention to detail as I can muster. And when the work day is over, I am making a beeline for the canvas or computer where I’ll spend my evenings focusing on what matters most – making beautiful messes and the occasional magic….the artist’s way.
BONUS: a WORKSHEET yay! I’m obsessed with printables and worksheets. Focus on one thing with this pretty printable. Grab a pen, pencil or crayon and write the one thing you’ll focus on this month in the pink watercolor circle then post it somewhere where you’ll see it every single day. To download this pretty worksheet. Sign-up for my newsletter. I’ll be sending printable like these out to my Beautiful Life Makers every month (psst: if you’re already on the list check your in-box for the My One Thing printable.
Focus on one thing for a beautiful life.
Want to see how obsessed with printables I am? Follow me on Pinterest.
I spent last week in Atlanta enjoying some much needed time away from the city and work. My sister and brother-in-law were so kind to put me up for the week. Twenty-four hours in and I had nearly used up all of their hot water.
I took three baths in less than 24 hours (three!).
My private bathroom had a garden tub that literally called my name over and over and OVER again. The funny part is I am not a bath person. In fact I can only stay put for 9 1/2 minutes before I am reaching for the shower then my towel.
My insane bathing routine had little to do with how clean I felt and more to do with the incessant conversation going on in my head – my day job life vs. my dream job life.
Ever have those sorts of conversations? Ever feel bothered by what you do for a living and why you have to do it for a living in the first place? Ever want to just quit and go do that OTHER thing that makes you happier?
Yeah me too.
No amount of stress-reducing eucalyptus body wash helped (and I used nearly half the bottle). What did help were countless conversations with my bestie and my God. One asked What do you want? The other said, Breathe. Everything is working out.
Both were right on time. And hopefully my sharing with you is too.
Make May beautiful.
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After last week’s realization that rushing to do everything was getting me exactly 0% closer to my goals, I took a moment, a whole weekend actually, to just exist. I caught up with friends, drank delicious libations, and got a massage. I actively chose not to work and didn’t even bother to wash the dishes. I spent 2 cozy nights in my overheated bedroom and for once shared my sheets with a rich, old, white man. Frank Underwood got it like that.
But of all the things I did for myself to restore my shine, none was more important than salsa dancing.
When there’s nothing but strip malls and chain restaurants to keep you company, extracurriculars are a Southern girl’s best friend. Whether it was swimming, cheerleading, or jv soccer, I was always keeping active. Movement to me is freedom and there was never anything more liberating than putting on pink tights, or an African turban, or jazz shoes to really get me to my primal self. Even as an adult, after the classes had ended, you could find me in my 4 inch stilettos breaking it down until the break of dawn.
So when my fave guy friend asked me out to dance, I didn’t understand why I felt such dread and trepidation. Then it dawned on me…
I don’t remember dancing, I mean really dancing, in the last 5 years.
The funny thing is that once you have tasted something good, you never forget it. My authentic self quenches my thirst for a better life. I have no choice but to drink up.
Preferably after a sweaty night on the dancefloor.
We live in a time that is increasingly go, go, go. Here in New York City, I can expect to hear a horn honk even before the light changes. Everyday I see people literally risk their lives to run in front of moving cars, just to get to their ice coffee about .45 seconds quicker. Work is no different. Americans are working longer hours than ever before. Those who are at work for long periods and seem to be constantly busy are perceived as important. From the Industrialized Revolution to 1990, if you stayed longer at work than you were supposed to, it usually indicated how inefficient and unfocused you were. The 35 hour work week is something I truly wish they would bring back from the Mad Men era. That, daytime cocktail hour, and clothes that flattered an hourglass shape.
I have come to the point of having enough. The deadlines keep popping up like whack-a-moles and the faster I hit them, the quicker another one rears its ugly head. I know the signs of exhaustion a mile away. A perpetually catatonic state. Crying at the drop of a hat. The inability to laugh. Inexplicable aches and pains. Going 4 days without lipstick.
I NEVER GO 4 DAYS WITHOUT LIPSTICK.
When I realize I am a person I can’t recognize, in true type A fashion, I create a bevy of solutions designed to make me more efficient ASAP. 1.Go to bed an hour earlier 2.Pick up frozen dinners (watch the salt) so you don’t have to cook 3.Research shows that a 15 minute cat nap can help with productivity. 4.Buy a new pack of underwear so you don’t have to wash clothes so often.
SPOILER ALERT–it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because there is no mind shift. All those strategies are designed to ultimately help me in the very thing that is doing me in–going faster, better, stronger, harder.
But where I am going exactly? What do I gain by getting an impossible amount done in very little time? And how is getting this report done/signing my boyfriend up for health insurance/lending someone my last dollar/saying yes when I want to say no actually reaffirming my values of joy, creativity, and authenticity? I can tell you how! It isn’t.
I can’t magically transport myself to a place where the pace of life is slower and I am not trying to build my career. If that was true, I would snap my fingers like I Dream of Jeannie and be in the Carolinas or on a Caribbean island married to a (hot) millionaire in no time flat.
The last time I did this, in all honesty, was as a child. I could sit in a white room with some crayons and be entertained by my own thoughts. I was fully alive in my body and in my life whether I was on the dance floor, at the dinner table, or in the pool. Especially in the pool. God, I miss being a Southerner with unlimited access to a pool, lake, or water park anytime the temperature is over 75 degrees. From the time I was 8 to 15, my summers were spent in lessons where I learned to race from one side of an Olympic-sized pool to the other. But before I could even do that, I had to learn to tread water. You don’t learn how to backstroke or how to dive for rings on your first try. You have to learn to be in one spot until you are uncomfortable with the choppiness of the water, until can deal with the wave. That’s the importance of treading water.
Staying still where you are and being ok with it is sometimes the only way to protect yourself. It’s the only way to ensure, when things get rough, that you will not drown.
If I could bundle up all the pretty in the world and give it to you, I would. In fact, I dream of bundling up pretty and giving it away almost daily. I steal minutes to scribble, doodle or audio record each new dream I have for this blog and business of mine with the hope that the blocks of time I tell myself I need to create will materialize tomorrow or the next day or on the weekend.
My day job is eating my dream job alive.
I did have a come-to-Jesus-moment a few days ago though and here is some #truth #forabeautifullife for the both us.
(and my addendum) Do all you can. With the time you have.
The conditions for making your dreams a reality will NEVER EVER be perfect so you might as well flesh out those scribbles and doodles and roll back that tape. I am.
Find a few moments.
Steal a few moments.
Put those precious minutes in a vice grip if you have too.
Do what it takes.
You and your beautiful dreams are worth it.
Take these five free desktop + iPhone wallpapers and let them inspire you to keep on keeping on because your dreams are valid and valuable.
Five Free Desktop + iPhones Wallpapers
Can you guess which one I am gonna use on FRI-YAY!!!!? I swear I haven’t met a polka didn’t I la-la-la-LOVE!
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