Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Next Big Thing

I think I'm in a rut. Or a slump. Or maybe just a really bad mood that has now lasted for several days. Whatever it is, I know the cause of it but it still makes me mad at myself for letting it get to me when I have so much else going on that I ought to be thankful for.

I realized the other day that for the first time in quite possibly my entire life I'm not working towards something big. I'm not preparing for the "next big thing." I don't have a goal in mind that I'm focused on achieving. For the first time, maybe ever, I'm just sort of living. Surviving. Existing from one day to the next. Growing up there was always something I was working towards--the next grade level up...moving from middle school to high school...getting my driver's license...applying to college...going to college. Then it was finishing college...finishing graduate school...getting married...finding a job...moving. For the most part I've always been so busy looking ahead that I never had time to sit back and think much about the day to dayness of it all.

Then I take a look at my life right now and I realize I'm in a dead-end job that's going nowhere, I'm not in any type of relationship (serious and committed or otherwise) that is moving in any type of direction, I don't even have anything big that I'm working on in my personal life outside of work. I mean, I'm having fun and I'm not unhappy per se, but I don't feel much sense of purpose or direction right now, and frankly, that makes me sad. Sad and frustrated actually, because I like having a plan and a goal and something to look forward to. (And for the record, I'm not complaining about this, or looking for sympathy at all. I'm mostly just reflecting).

So I brought this up at family dinner night last night so that I could take advantage of the wisdom of some of my wonderful friends. I told them about this feeling I have of just existing right now. Of living day to day and of not having something big going on to look forward to. We talked about it a lot. We talked about what it means to be content vs. settling for less. We talked about what it means to be patient, and to trust that there is a bigger plan. We talked about how frustrating it is when it feels as though nothing is going your way, but how ultimately, things always tend to work themselves out for the best in the end.

I thought a lot about what they said and I started to ask myself, what's so wrong with just living life day to day sometimes? What's wrong with surviving? What is so bad about not always having something big coming up, not always having "the next big thing" on the horizon? My friend Amy pointed out that in America, we have come to expect to always be comfortable, to always be happy and to always be content. We are so averse to any type of discomfort, anything that we find the least little bit unpleasant, that we end up basically wishing our lives away by looking for the next big thing to come along. We get so focused on what we need to attain somewhere down the road in order to make us happy, that we completely miss out on the happiness that comes just from being alive and living every day. That's pretty humbling for me because I know I am very guilty of it.

Amy also pointed out that sometimes its GOOD to not have something we have to be working towards, because that gives us the opportunity to take our time and pick something that really matters to us, something that we choose to focus on, as opposed to things that we do just because they seem like the natural next step.

So! I made myself a goal that I'm going to do my darndest to stick to (which should be easy since I don't exactly have a lot else vying for my attention these days). My goal is to do my best to live in the here and now. I want to get to a point where I can be content, if not happy, about my current situation and circumstances. No, this isn't what I want forever and I'm still doing everything I can to search for new jobs and that sort of thing, but until the "next big thing" comes along, I want to be able to find some joy in every day. I don't want to wish my life away waiting for whatever comes next and end up missing out on all the good of right now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Butt's on Fire!!!

That's really more of an inside joke than anything else, so for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, no worries. It isn't relevant to this post at all, just a suggestion one of my friends came up with for what we'll name our racehorse should we ever have one...I just think its HIL-ARIOUS.

Anyhorse, I just had the most fantastic weekend EVER. No, really. Ever. Maybe in the whole history of creation. It was that good.

I've been wanting to do this for a long time but this weekend I was finally able to take several of my friends home to Kentucky. We rented a mini-van, (because we're just that cool) and roadtripped it all the way up to the Bluegrass for a long weekend. Oh. My. Gosh. I can't tell you the last time I've laughed so much or had so much fun, much less been surrounded by such amazing, beautiful, talented girls.

It was the first time in Kentucky for all of them, so I really wanted to not only show them my home and where I grew up, but do whatever I could to give them the ultimate "Kentucky" experience. (Mostly cause I'm a biased snob who is thoroughly convinced there's no greater place in all the world. You can try to tell me differently but well, you're wrong). Holy Hotbrown Batman, we did so many fun things! We did Keeneland. We did a leg of the bourbon trail. We tailgated for the UK football game and stood on the old center court at Rupp Arena. We walked through Triangle Park at dusk, drove through "horse country" in Versailles and Lexington, and ate burgers at my favorite place in the world--Shamrock's. We drove down the Mountain Parkway to Jackson and spent the rest of the weekend riding horses, going to the church I grew up in, and going out on an old strip mine. We gorged ourselves on homemade chili and fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits, then sat out under the stars and made s'mores around a bonfire. The girls got to see my highschool, meet my parents, sister, grandmother and cousin, and tour UK's campus where I spent five of the best years of my life to date.

Out of all that you know what the best part of the weekend was for me? Aside from just being at home in general, it was the opportunity to share my home with some of the people I've come to be the closest to. It was a chance to finally merge my old life and my new life together; to take a step back and say "This is where I came from, and this is where I am now, and maybe the two don't have to be so far apart at all."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Family Dinner Night

I think one of the things I miss most about being in a relationship and/or living at home is the sharing of meals. When you spend the first 23 and 1/2 years of your life eating most of your meals with other people...the act of eating alone can feel awfully lonely. I hate that feeling. Loathe it, actually, to the point of refusing to fix food for myself when I'm alone. I love to cook, and I love to sit down to a really good dinner every night, but when it's just me I'm 9 time out of 10 just gonna rock a bowl of cereal hardcore.

So a few weeks ago I was talking to some of my friends who all agreed that its much more fun to eat dinner together than alone, but the fact that going out to eat can get a wee bit pricey after awhile...even here in NOLA where you can find good food for cheapy, kinda sorta puts a damper on it. All of a sudden, it dawned on me--just because I'm 1000 miles away from my family and no longer married, doesn't mean there aren't people out there I could eat with. I have fantastic friends who I LOVE spending time with and (BONUS!!) a few of us actually enjoy cooking. That, my friends, is what we call a win-win situation.

And thus, Family Dinner Night was born.

Family Dinner Night has got to be one of my Top 5 Best Ideas of All Time. SERIOUSLY. I rank this even higher on the scale-o-awesome than the Crossword Puzzle Wall I created in Graduate School. That's saying a lot. But seriously, we've been at it for a little over a month now and Family Dinner Night has quickly become one of the highlights of my week. I look forward to it for days in advance now!

There are four of us who participate and we get together one night each week at someone's house for dinner. We've decided to rotate hostess/cooking duties each week so that each of us is essentially responsible for one meal per month...and, oh yeah, its AWESOME. We eat, we laugh, we pray, and we even play board games together, but the best part, the very best part, is when we play High-Low.

High-Low is Jonnie's brainchild and its where we go around the table and take turns telling each other about the best part (our high) and the worst part (the low) of our day. It sounds simple, and maybe even silly, for a group of grown women (I'm the youngest and I'm 25) to play a game that Jonnie probably learned when she was 3 or 4, but you have no idea how great it really is. The act of not only sharing food but sharing your life--thoughts and feelings, excitements and fears, with other people is such a wonderful feeling...ahhh. I'm so thankful that I have friends in my life who are as caring as mine.

(And now, just to make your mouth water, here are some of the dishes we've created thus far...)

Pan-seared redfish and asparagus

Turkey and Pesto Paninis

French Onion Soup


Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Best Things in Life

Sent at 4:23 PM on Tuesday
me: i am totally gonna cry
like happy tears
Jonnie: hahahahahahah, don't do that!
me: happy cry
Jonnie: You're loved. It's totally normal.
me: hahaha
i am very blessed
Jonnie: aren't we all.

(Exert taken from my gChat conversation with my dear friend Jonnie today, after being surprised at work by flowers that she and a couple of my other friends sent. Tell me I'm not the luckiest girl in the world).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Classy and Fabulous

First let me just say that I freaking LOVE birthdays. Yours, mine, your neighbor's grandson's best friend from second doesn't matter. Birthdays just make me excited. On October 5 I celebrate the quarter-century mark which is terrifying and exciting and a little depressing all wrapped up in one big, bubbly mess of emotion...but that's really neither here nor there with regard to this post. What is of extreme importance though, is the fact that this year, for the first time in my life, I have very close friends whose birthdays fall one day before and one day after mine. Um...if that doesn't scream joint birthday party, I don't know what does.

Another friend of ours graciously agreed to host a birthday party for us and let me just say, it was so super wonderful...I cannot thank her and the rest of our friends enough for making the weekend of my 25th birthday such a wonderfully special time. Best night ever! The theme of the party was "Classy and Fabulous," which was derived from the Coco Chanel quote that "A woman should be two things; classy and fabulous." There were cupcakes galore, champagne and balloons, music, dancing, and of course, the best part was spending the night celebrating with some one the most amazing friends anyone could ever ask for.

This is the first year actually, that I won't be with my family on my actual birthday which at first I was afraid would be a little bit of a downer. But! (Not that I won't miss being with them that day) I feel so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, loving friends that I have absolutely no reason to complain at all.

Holy Awesomeness, Batman!

Jimminy Christmas, where do I start?! It's been a fantastic couple of weeks and by fantastic I mean, well, fantastic. Let's see, where to begin? Let's first back it up to last weekend when I spent three days in the booming metropolis of Alexandria, Louisiana with my great aunt, uncle and cousins to attend the wedding of my cousin, William and his(now)new wife, Kristin. So much fun. I love weddings anyway and theirs was so nice and so beautiful...ahh! I had a great time helping them decorate and prepare, and just getting to spend some time getting to know Kristin a little better too. Oh and eating wedding cake. I never pass up an opportunity to gorge myself on wedding cake. And how gorgeous was she, by the way? PLUS! My mom and Nanny came down for the wedding so on top of meeting and getting to know some of my extended family I'd actually never met, I also got to spend the weekend with them. It was great.

After the wedding Saturday night Mom and Nanny came back to New Orleans so that they could spend Sunday here in the city with me. I took them to church with me that morning, and then gave them the Lauren version of a driving tour of the city. Nanny hadn't been since Katrina, so there was much that had changed. We wound through Uptown and the Garden District, ventured into the 9th Ward, and finished up in the Quarter, then had lunch at this fantastic little gem of an Italian sandwich shop a few blocks from my house.

After that, we decided that the weekend just wouldn't be complete without a little shopping. I mean, come on. We went in search of a new rug and bookshelf for my apartment and ended up coming home with...dum dum dum...wait for it...LUCY SPARKLE!

That's right, I got a puppy! Ok, so puppy isn't entirely accurate as she's actually seven years old, but whatever...look at that face! The Louisiana SPCA had their traveling shelter at the mall on Sunday and when we went in and I met this one, I pretty much decided I had to take her home. I didn't really have a choice, did I? I've thought about getting a dog for awhile now but had just never taken the time or made the commitment to go look for one, but once I met her, I decided that Lucy was the perfect fit for me. I like to think of her as my birthday present to myself. The shelter was calling her Goldie but I think she's much snazzier than that, so I have since renamed her Lucy. Lucy Sparkle actually! (My sister totally gets credit for the fantastic name). She's now been home with me for a week and (fingers crossed) so far, seems to be adjusting perfectly. She's house trained, very obedient, walks well on the leash and as of yet, hasn't chewed up a single piece of furniture or eaten any of my underwear. I can't really ask for more than that, can I?

Ok so, I was going to try to cram all of my fantastic-ness into one post but I think that would be just a little too extreme for all of us, so I'm going to give you a chance to let this soak in before I hit you with the awesomeness that was my 25th birthday party! Until then...

Teddy bears and kisses!

Lucky Me

I have many, many things to catch you up on--and I will, (pinkie promise) but for now can I just say that I have THE BEST friends in the whole wide world?