Sunday, December 27, 2009

+ stepping outside of my life. +

I'm in Charlotte, NC for a few days. Til Tuesday or Wednesday-ish, haven't decided yet. I lived here for about 6-8 months back in 2007 and was blessed to make a few very good friends to come home to visit.

I love Charlotte. And what it is to me. Even though it was only a little blip in my life, between Arizona and moving back to Ohio, sometimes I think I grew more here than any other time in my life. Coming back is like reverting back to a life I had. You know those moments you catch a glimpse of a world that says, "this is who you could be?" Being here is a mix of this is who you could be and this is who you were. It's difficult to process, and adds another level of confusion to where I am and the decisions I've made.

Starting over has always been tempting for me. And so I have, multiple times. This year's tension has been between starting over, and reforming what I have. There is much to be said for both, and I've been pushed to do the latter, as the former began to look a bit like running from things. As I get older, however, I realize that life is 100% what you make of it, and proactively moving, changing, deciding, altering, pushing, going, leaving are the components of making your life. Active, not passive. I've always wanted this, and reforming the Lauren that exists in her semi-hometown seems too slow to be active, and I always have the discontent of passivity.

Sidenote: I focus better in a place I've never been. I am removed and undistracted and uninfluenced by the visual and tangible. The history of places speaks too much limitation to me. A fault, yes, and one I can't seem to overcome.

Second sidenote: Is it alright to have faults you cannot overcome, and to consciously act out of that, knowing your action is determined by your fault?

And the problem it seems
Is with you and me
Not the Love who came
To repair everything

And I don't know
What to do with a love like that
And I don't know
How to be a love like that

When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. { Mark Twain }

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

+ slowing down. +

I clearly haven't been blogging. So, what have I been doing?

Slowing down.

Several months back, I read something about how we've become a society that is so obsessed with documenting [ twitter, taking photos, fb statuses, blogging, twitpic, moleskins in your pocket ] what we experience, that the documentation has become the experience, and not the experience. This has haunted me to the point of guilt, and I've finally decided to make a conscious effort to document less.

Quality, not quantity. I've felt so pressured to churn out quality en masse - and if you're human, you just can't do it. I've cut off 95% of my creative outlets for awhile to teach myself this lesson. The world won't stop if I do. I've taken a little bit of time to watch the world, instead of the world being forced into watching me. Quality will come back, per elimination of quantity.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an excerpt for the book What Matters Now (you need to read this, by the way - it's a free eBook here) that's worth sharing:

We are the strivingest people who have ever lived. We are ambitious, time-starved, competitive, distracted. We move at full velocity, yet constantly fear we are not doing enough. Though we live longer than any humans before us, our lives feel shorter, restless, breathless...

Dear ones, EASE UP. Pump the brakes. Take a step back. Seriously. Take two steps back. Turn off all your electronics and surrender over all your aspirations and do absolutely nothing for a spell. I know, I know – we all need to save the world. But trust me: The world will still need saving tomorrow. In the meantime, you’re going to have a stroke soon (or cause a stroke in somebody else) if you don’t calm the hell down.

So go take a walk. Or don’t. Consider actually exhaling. Find a body of water and float. Hit a tennis ball against a wall. Tell your colleagues that you’re off meditating (people take meditation seriously, so you’ll be absolved from guilt) and then actually, secretly, nap.

My radical suggestion? Cease participation, if only for one day this year – if only to make sure that we don’t lose forever the rare and vanishing human talent of appreciating ease.

Also, a challenge from Rajesh Setty:

The Litmus Test: If you are truly enriching someone’s life, they will typically miss you in their past. They think their lives would have been even better if they had met you earlier.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

+ marvelous, words can't define. +

finals are done.

i have my life back for three weeks.

prepare yourselves.


there are entire worlds between words so similar.

in love to be found: settled. not settling.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

+ an attempt to not crash and burn this time around +

Happy December 1st! We have one month to go in finishing out 2009!

I know that for me, December usually comes and goes almost overnight, and I wake up January 1st resolving to stick to the budgets and goals that I utterly destroyed in December. So, in honor of maintaining a well-directed, well-intentioned and unregrettable December, I wanted to blog some things that I will be using to keep my finances and my priorities in check!

It's easy to spend more than you make in December, especially when we all guilt trip ourselves into buying presents we can't afford for people we believe deserve them. Unfortunately, this still doesn't mean we can afford them. Remember this: Irreplaceable love is giving of yourself, not of your resources. Credit cards are not the answer, and if you "must" use them, keep your utility over50% at all times. With this in tips here we come:

Budgeting: - It's the best out there, so don't bother shopping around. It's free, and there is also a free iPhone app to keep yourself in check by the minute. Set your budgets, follow them, track & organize everything. It's awesome. You can follow them at @mint.

Spending: - Searches the entire web for the best new and used prices on books. You'll probably find what you want for $5.

That's all I'm gonna give you right now (more coming), but remember to resist the urge to "go shopping" and do as much online as you can. Case in point: on Black Friday I was nearly convinced twice to buy a car charger "on sale" for $26. I found it on Amazon for $4, s&h included.

MAKE things, WRITE things, and be CREATIVE. Pretend you have zero balance in your bank account, and take some honest time to sit down and think of what the people closest to you would genuinely appreciate. Again, irreplaceable love is giving of yourself, not of your resources.

Financial Advice: forums - You can find every question about credit, credit reports, credit cards, loans, debt, large purchases, and etc answered here. Free to join so you can ask your personal ones too. - some awesome resources here too, and you can follow them at @moneyunder30. They have a great article on best 15 financial iPhone apps.

MintLife Blog - Solid advice here.

Giving Back.

Holiday seasons remind everyone how much they want to volunteer, get involved, help out, share love. Yay. Here's a couple great sites to check out: - 15 minutes a week. I'm doing it. (@itstartswithus)

Help-Portrait - If you're a photographer, I beg of you to do this. You can't put a pricetag on family photos. (@help_portrait)

Staying Organized / Your Time.

This is the hardest for me. Sit down today or tomorrow and write down everything that needs to be accomplished this month, and everything you want to accomplish. Keeping things written down eliminates 75% of my stress. Keep track of presents left to purchase, loose ends to tie up on projects, and errands to run. Also, you'll probably want to write down the order of your priorities so that you remember to spend time on things you might put on the backburner, and will remember why you're saying no to others. Set your financial goals while you are at it. Self-discipline is a great thing. Pretend its a muscle, and work it out this month. :D

Listography - Online to-do list. Simplistic, basic, fast, and fun to play with.

Evernote - Evernote is amazing, and offers a free iPhone app. I won't even explain this, just go look for yourself.

This post is a work in progress, and I will be adding things throughout today and tomorrow. If you have anything you believe should be added, please comment, @laurenlankford or email me.