Happiness & joy from me to you

In no particular order:

That photo to the right? That’s a magnet on my fridge and it rocks. I got it in Maui and no, I don’t know where you can find it in any other locale. But search for it online if it tickles your fancy.

My amazing former-ballerina Pilates instructor in NYC, who kicked my ass into the best shape it’s ever been, has a YouTube channel! People, this woman gave me the long, lean muscles that cause massage therapists to ask, “Are you a dancer?” Oh yeah, that shit’s real, though we won’t talk about the flab layer over said muscles that proves I enjoy eating. I’ve missed Gina’s workouts like they’ve gone off to war or something – and BTW, if you don’t feel breathless and in pain after you do these, you’re fucking them up. Form’s key, y’all. “Scoop” your abs (as Gina says – i.e., pull your belly button away from your shirt) and squeeze the muscles you’re working on as you do these exercises. You’ll die for sure, but you’ll have an ass that can grate Parmesan.

This candle in my living room smells like a pumpkin shit 40 homemade pies and I think everything about that is completely delicious.

Kale and delicata. It’s what’s for dinner.

There’s nothing like a very hipster holiday. I’ve been listening to this like a lunatic. Also, a bit o’ trivia: every time I close my eyes while listening to Zooey Deschanel speak, I hear the identical voice of my NYC biz partner, Demetra. I miss her crazily, but it makes me happy.

My clients are getting these this year. Yes, each and every individual person I work with gets their own box of loot. Aren’t they lucky ducks?! I ordered them all today because I have OCD and problems with anal retentiveness.

I’m totally bewildered by the holiday spirit I’m bursting with this year. It’s been many years since I gave a rat’s nut about the holly-days. I don’t know what the fuck is up, but seize the day and whatnot. I might even buy this because you know I can’t even decorate like a “normal” (*retch* traditional *retch*) person – shock! awe! madness!

Ari’s update from the road in the great southwest made me piss and snort: “In Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Thinking about karma and chimichangas.”

Here’s wishing all of you good karma this Chrismukkahwanzaa season!

Advertisements

Thanks for a great run, Andy Rooney

You made us laugh, think, and you inspired lots of funny thinker types – especially all of us writer-commentators who will forever look up to you.

Me and JF in particular will miss you.

My private parts are more notorious than me

So while trolling the internet to assemble clips for the soon-to-be-new-and-improved nicolechristie.com, I see that my bikini wax essay made a repeat appearance on Yahoo Shine last summer. “Back by popular demand!” it says. Duuuude.

I think the heir to this throne will be my experience attending the “How to Please Your Man” workshop in NYC. Alone. Because my friend ditched me. And I put a condom on a carrot with my mouth and wondered where the fuck I’d lost my dignity, while the instructor in a Wonder Woman belt extolled the virtues of the “connection” between a couple in the porno she was screening while we all worked our root vegetables.

Encore!

Some stuff of note

I’ve become obsessed with skulls. And not because it’s Halloween! This has been going on for a few months now. It might have something to do with wanting to kill most of my clients (more on that in a mo). I’ve been on the hunt for a fabulous pair of silver skull stud earrings – and coming up dry. So…I’ve commissioned my even-more-fabulous jewelry designer cousin to work his magic for me. He’s way into the macabre stuff and it’s groovy. I’m monstermash-excited.

Stress can suck it. Yes, July – November is always my busy season. But this year’s madness was of gargantuan proportions – we’re talking 14- to 16-hour days for six weeks straight and me writing roughly 50 (I stopped counting at 43) separate communication pieces during that stretch. That includes two 23-page benefit decision guides (titillating, I know), dozens of emails, posters, postcards, letters, banner ads, web content, PowerPoint prezos, Godhelpme. And let’s not forget the strategist and project manager roles of my gig. That’s actually what really was getting me – the mistakes that were being made once I handed work off to the clients (hello people – it’s like a relay race…I pass you the baton, in excellent condition, exactly when I’m supposed to, then you run with it…don’t come back and make me run your leg!). So yeah, it was good times. And yet, not for naught: this level of insanity is what pushed me over the edge with regard to my professional direction. And how drastically – and promptly – it needs to change. People, my ass literally did not move from my desk chair for an inhumane amount of time. And what does that do? It sends one running to the doctor with chest pains, acid reflux, and back pain. Twice in two months. For someone who generally only visits the MD once a year for the tune-up, that ain’t cool.

And here’s what else stress does (at least to my bod): it turns into an egg allergy. An egg allergy!!! WTF! Eggs are my life – for someone who keeps a meat- and dairy-free home (sans the half-and-half…let it go), this is hell on wheels. Plus, let’s not forget how much STUFF has eggs in it!! And yes – THIS is what was causing my chest and back pain, as well as the cough and phlegminess I had going on. Here they were checking me for heart probs and a pulmonary fucking embolism, and it seems I’ve simply had such elevated stress levels that I’m releasing a massive quantity of histamine that has made me sensitive to…eggs. Of note: this happened to me with shrimp and strawberries in my teens, and let’s not forget the hives I developed during the last year of my marriage (for the *entire* year). And so I wait for this too to pass. It’s the curse of being an emotional intuitive. Seriously – click that link and let’s talk about why I’ve had temporary allergies my whole life and a uterus that bleeds off-cycle during times of emotional duress – not to mention when I’m absorbing the emotional pain of someone in my life. Yeah.

In sunnytime news, Maui is a *delight*. There were times over the past few months when I wasn’t sure I’d make it to October 28th – when all my projects would be shipped and I’d be about to ship myself to Alohaville. But they shipped and I shipped, and the next eight days look something like this:

7:30 a.m. (yes, really!) – Wake up to blue skies, sunshine, ocean breezes, and native birds chirping.

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast on the lanai. Legendary veggie scramble is of course kiboshed. Poo. But that’s OK – toast with almond butter suits just fine, especially alongside all the exotic fruit that’s being nibbled. This morning featured a strawberry papaya. Will make like the Terminator and be back for more o’ dat.

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Beach walks/runs, ocean swims, snorkel time, shop perusing, fresh seafood and more exotic fruit eating, island drives, journaling, snoozing.

5:00 p.m. – Beachfront happy hour…sunset…right into dinner.

10:00 p.m. – Lights out. Early to bed = miracle of epic proportions. But so tired…so happy…so cozy.

And the next day, more of this kinda memory-making. Mahalo. ๐Ÿ™‚

Generation X bites reality right back

One of my favorite topics (my generation) by a great writer (from my generati0n). (Thanks for this, Scott O.)

And my additional $.02/$200:

Damn straight, we were latchkey kids. Damn straight, we only got trophies when we placed, not when we participated.

Damn straight, we brought you Google and Twitter – and VitaminWater and Pearl Jam. We were also the generation who convinced employers that working remotely, flex time, and casual attire were worth more than corner offices and gold watches. And that an individual contributor was just as critical – if not more so – than middle management waste. You have us to thank for that.

And P.S. I lived at home during college and for four years after college – first to save money on room & board, and then to save money for a down payment on a condo. I drove a 1981 Toyota Tercel that I bought myself for $1,700. I ponied up for the insurance and gas too. I worked part-time all through high school and college. And for the record, I made $14,750 a year in my first “real” job out of college – in 1995. My then-boyfriend-now-ex-husband couldn’t even find a job out of college – for two straight years. He used his mechanical engineering degree to work at a frame shop while living at home, paying off his student loans, and saving for that aforementioned down payment.

I didn’t have opportunities to travel the world until I was nearly 30 and had a good chunk of corporate slavery under my belt to foot the bill. I also spent most of my twenties working for less than $35,000 a year and often cleaning conference room coffee pots and pitchers of curdled cream. But I sucked it up and did it with a smile and to the best of my abilities – because that’s just part of the deal sometimes.

It may seem that I’m embodying the “whininess” my generation is often touted for. But I just want to make it clear that times haven’t changed too much in terms of the struggle that awaits post-Pomp-and-Circumstance. Everything happens when it’s supposed to. And it often isn’t easy. It also gets harder and scarier the older you get – but you grow more resilient and trusting of the blessings of time. You learn that it truly is all about the journey – because the destination is a myth. There may be milestones along the way, but when the journey ends, you haven’t arrived. You’re dead.

In the meantime, attitude is everything. And entitlement is non-existent.

Manifesto 39: Pure Intentions

So here we are – just you and me, birthday #39.

I tend to get especially pensive at b-day time. I guess that’s not uncommon at the conclusion of one personal year and the beginning of another. Of course, I’m also a very big fan of the examined life – regardless of time of year. I can’t imagine a life lived without intense introspection, questioning, realigning, shifting – all in pursuit of a life lived not just happily (as fairy tales would have it) but with intention, purpose, and above all, authenticity.

I’ve talked a lot about authenticity in this blog, in conversations with many of you, even in last year’s holiday letter. It’s also been an on-fire topic in popular culture, almost to the point of annoyance. Personally, I feel I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on it – coming to understand what’s important to me in this life, what I feel called to do as opposed to what outside influences would like to see me do, what family, friends, religious doctrine, and group associations would likely lay as my path. So lately I’ve been shifting my thinking more to intentions – why do we do what we do? And how pure are the intentions behind our choices and behaviors?

Over the past 12 months, I’ve come across a good deal of questionable intentions that gnaw at me. People who have said, “I just want to make a lot of money and not work that hard.” Or, “I need to make a lot of money so I can pay off all my credit card debt.” Or, “How come <enter any celebrity name here> is famous and I’m not?”

You have no idea how hard it is for me to choke back my judgmental tendencies to keep from responding: “I wouldn’t expect much with such a shitty attitude.”

YECH. I hate the fact that this thought even crosses my mind, so I don’t dare let it cross my lips. But there’s truth to it. When your intentions are fame, fortune, attention, making people like you, and trying to get others to cover the consequences of your past irresponsible behaviors, I gotta tell ya – it’s gonna be a bumpy road.

To some degree, I speak from personal experience. I spent a lot of years (seven, to be exact) locked in a “reward mindset.” (This revelation courtesy of the Greatest Therapist Alive, whose services I “graduated” from after ten painful and expensive but completely life-altering months of serious inner grunt work). This means I spent a lot of time moaning about not being given what I felt I rightly deserved – usually in the form of a healthy romantic relationship – because I had “paid my dues.” I’d been through a divorce! I’d uprooted my life to follow a cherished dream! I’d been courageous and conscientious and done my best and started my own business and made a success of it and lived well on my own in New York City and bought my own home in Seattle and, damn it, I’d proved I could do it ALL BY MYSELF! I’d suffered and martyred and thrown myself upon my sword! WTF! Where was my prize?

I shouldn’t have expected much with such a shitty attitude.

The world doesn’t owe me anything. It doesn’t owe you anything. It doesn’t owe ANYONE anything. There’s something to be said for karma but we can all tick off instances of bad things happening to good people, and good things happening to bad people. This doesn’t mean you can’t hope for things, want for things, ask for things. It just means you need to be honest with yourself about where your intentions lie.

I recently had my natal chart read by a lovely, non-cuckaloo astrologer. During the course of our discussion, she asked if I wanted a romantic relationship in my life. I explained to her that, for the first time – and largely in thanks to the Greatest Therapist Alive – I recently arrived at a place where I’m happy and content on my own, AND also want to share my life with someone. In the past, it was always one or the other – I was “happy” on my own (which, in retrospect, was really false bravado under a layer of bitterness) or I was desperately wanting to be with someone. When I was in the former state, I paid no attention to men and probably gave off full-on “I-don’t-need-you-fuck-off” vibes. And in the latter state, a piece of low-hanging fruit would drop into my lap and – believing this was my “reward” for being “happy on my own” – I’d sink my claws into it and try to force the relationship to be something it wasn’t. When I explained this to the astrologer, she asked, “Have you ever said what you want from a relationship? What this person you’re looking for is like?”

I explained that I’d tip-toed around it and even made some lists of what I wanted in a partner, but that I didn’t think my intentions were in the right place when those lists were drawn up. That was the first time I really grasped the meaning of “intentions” and how loosely engaged mine had been – particularly in the romantic realm – for quite some time. When she asked me to tell her what I wanted in someone, what this person “looked like” (in terms of virtues, not physicality), I got a little sheepish. And nervous.

“I’ve never really said it out loud,” I said.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Because.” I paused as tiny tears teased my eyelids. “I’m afraid that it doesn’t exist – so if I say it out loud and then start really searching for that person, I’ll never find them. Or I don’t REALLY know what’s right for me in a partner, so I’ll say it out loud, which will cause me to put blinders on, and then I’ll totally miss this lovely person.”

My astrologer friend smiled. “And how’s that working for you?”

“It’s not!” I laughed. “For seven years, I’ve been telling myself to be ‘open’ and have just dug into everything that’s crossed my path. Completely sunk my teeth into it and gave so much of myself away, and tried to make these people, these relationships, into what I’m afraid to ask for out loud.”

“So do it now.”

And with these few words of encouragement, all sorts of wishes, wants, desires started tumbling out of my mouth at sports car speed. But they weren’t the typical “kind, good job, handsome, funny, blahblah” that people toss out when asked to list what they want in a mate. These were desires about what kind of person he is, what type of life he leads, what’s important to him. Stuff that sits at the meat of the question, “Who ARE you?” Not what do you do, what sorts of activities are you into, who’s your family, your friends, your religion, your group association, your decorating preferences – all that shit that looks great on paper, but really doesn’t matter when it comes to compatibility, much less building a life with someone. Gwyneth Paltrow’s late father, Bruce, said it best, “You have to want the same dreams. One of you can’t plan to walk the streets of Paris while the other wants to work in a coal mine.” (He also added, “You can never want to get divorced at the same time.” Wise man.)

So as the clock flips to October 19, 2011 and I look at what’s ahead in this last year of what has been a very challenging and transforming decade, I’m eyeball-deep in life examination. And when I look at what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and what’s left to do, where I have yet to go, I realize there are two things I want more than anything in life. And that, sadly – particularly over the past couple of years – I’ve done little to nothing to get them. The funny thing is that I want them both so badly, I’m terrified. Both will force me to put myself, my gifts, my capacity to love fully out into the world. And that means there’s a risk of rejection and failure. Or, possibly worse – a risk of acceptance and success. Because sometimes the idea of getting what we most want in life – that which comes from a pure, authentic place – is really scary. It’s scary to imagine getting something because then there’s nothing to hope for. When things are ahead of you on the path of life, there’s possibility. You can think, “Oh I’ll write my book someday, get married someday, quit my job someday, start a company someday.” And there’s always the fear that, if you succeed – at a job, a relationship, as an artist or entrepreneur – the bar will be raised. And you won’t be able to scale it.

But here’s what I know: Whatever it is that scares the living shit out of you is what you’re called to do and who you’re meant to be. And that whatever-it-is-whoever-you-are comes from a place of pure intention. It’s your calling, your soul purpose, and it peels back your layers and leaves you raw and exposed. That’s why it’s so fucking horrifying.

So. I’ll tell you my plan and you can tell me yours. Maybe that way, we’ll hold each other accountable – because Lord (and the Beatles) knows we all get by with a little help from our friends. I’ll go first:

#1: Write and publish my essays. A LOT. I’m tired of giving my life to internal communications work. I’m exceptional at it, I have a great reputation in this field, it’s the heart of this entrepreneurial venture I’ve built and am immensely proud of. Also, it certainly pays the bills – and pays them well – so I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to it forever. But I’m sure as fuck going to try. I’ve just shipped my last projects for 2011 and, after I take two weeks of vacation for the first time in eight years (Maui, baby!), I’ll have a very limited workload for 2012. Again – enough to pay the bills. But that’s it. I’ve taken myself on as a client (albeit a pro bono one). I’ve even put myself on my project plan so I can track progress and deliverables.

Here’s what’s up: in January, a new nicolechristie.com will launch (for realz this time – my exceptionally talented designer friend Amy is working on it now and even launched a temporary site just to get that horrific lime green circa-1999 FrontPage-created site off the internet). Also in January, I’ll launch a new blog on nicolechristie.com where I’ll write one essay per week. If you subscribe, you’ll get each essay, which I hope will move you in some way – make you laugh, cry, get pissed off, and alwaysalwaysalways think. My intent is to entertain you with my stories and give myself the accountability of a “public” deadline and an audience hopefully anticipating the latest weekly installment. I’ll also be entering the world of Twitter and will tweet my essays and related posts, so I hope you’ll follow me come January as well. Details on the blog, subscription, and Twitter account coming soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

The second part of this project is that I’ll pitch my essays twice a month – something HAS to at least get sent to some editor somewhere, no matter what. Of course all of this means I’m scared shitless of writer’s block, my work not being good enough, rejection, and even taunting from the Twittersphere. I’m even terrified of losing my privacy, to whatever small degree. But if I were to channel Oprah and tell you “what I know for sure,” it would be this – I was put on this earth to tell stories and make people think and feel. That’s my gift. It’s time for me to put my effort where my intentions lie.

#2: Be in a healthy, committed relationship. I’m serious. I’m not turning 40 without a great man in my life. One who has a strong sense of self and makes me – and US – a priority. Enough of these flip-floppy emotional entanglements. This is not a codependent thing, nor is it a desperation thing, though you may have thought that a few sentences ago. This is me realizing it’s been a great run of building this incredible life for myself in my thirties and wanting to share it with someone else in my forties and beyond. It’s about balance and realizing that solo time and girlfriend time is and always will be a big part of my life, but there’s something to be said for the benefits of a healthy, committed relationship. I had one for 15 years and – for at least 13 of them – it was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. So bring it, people – I’m going balls to the wall and am prepared to do a lot of wheat-from-chaff sorting that I’ve never been up for. I simply didn’t have the emotional resilience over the past seven years. But I no longer believe that failed relationships and weird dudes reflect on me or my judgment – nor do they meanย  I’m an unworthy, unlovable person. (You’re damn straight I thought this for a very long time – and just the thought these days makes me weepy. Again, one of many painful revelations that occurred on the office couch of the Greatest Therapist Alive).

Finally, I give you this: there is nothing, nothing, NOTHING I hold off on in life because I’m waiting for a man. But this – THIS is the one thing I’m waiting to experience with an incredible guy:

PARIS.

How about for the big 4-0? Say it with me: “Next year in Paris. With published essays and fabulous dude.”

I have every intention.

Meet me, at the age of 8

Particularly with the interview portion of this clip, I feel like I’m watching myself circa third grade.

If I was British. And my name was Sophia Grace. And Rosie was my childhood BFF, Tracy.

Hilarity.