Unedited ten minute writing prompt from my last writers’ group meeting. The prompt: Describe “that moment”.
Oprah says you’ll have an “Aha moment.”
“What was your Aha Moment?” she asks. As if I’m supposed to know. But the truth is, I haven’t had one yet. It seems Oprah’s had a ton of Aha Moments, so who knows – maybe she stole mine.
“I made cauliflower mashed potatoes,” she says on TV. “Get them at your local supermarket.”
But I searched my Vons high and low and I could not find those fucking cauliflower mashed potatoes anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m a Trader Joe’s shopper.
So it seems not only can I not find my Aha Moment, I can’t even find Oprah’s Aha Moment even though it’s advertised on national television. During prime time.
There have been times I thought I’ve had an Aha Moment. AHA! That’s what I’m going to do. This or that or fill in the blank, but I’ve never done any of those things. I don’t even remember what any of them were because I didn’t do them. Aha meet blazy.* Blazy is the winner.
So that moment? I’m still waiting for it. Maybe I’ll find it one day in Vons next to Oprah’s cauliflower mashed potatoes.
*Blazy is a term my writing group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness.
So, there’s this young woman in my office named Angela who is super chill. (My seventeen-year-old daughter will never read this, but if she did, she’d roll her eyes all the way to the back of her head and say, “Mom! Don’t talk like that.” Anyway.) Angela said to me, “I saw this thing that looks really fun and made me think of you, but I don’t know if you’ll be offended by it.”
“Uh oh,” I said. “What is it?”
“It’s this wine and beer tasting event called Sipurbia,” she said.
“I know what that is!” I told her. “What would offend me about it? The fact that is sounds awesome?”
She giggled and shrugged.
“Or that it sounds like something a suburban mom would do?”
“Yeah, maybe that,” she said coyly.
“Well, that’s what I am,” I told her. “At this point, I sort of have to own it. Plus, it sounds like a lot of fun.”
“It does,” she agreed.
And you know when a fifty-year-old suburban mom (I know, I turned fifty two-and-a-half years ago, be quiet!) and a super chill twenty-five-year-old think something sounds fun, you know it’s going to be fun!
So, you’re asking, what in the heck is Sipurbia? It’s a wine and beer festival happening right here in Agoura Hills at Paramount Ranch. And when I say wine and beer festival I mean there will be unlimited (yes, unlimited) wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries. So please. Leave your car at home and make sure that Lyft app is downloaded on your phone.
There will also be food trucks, lawn games, cool vendors, and music. And when I say music, I mean the The Spazmatics (which everyone knows is the best 80’s cover band in the world!), 3 Strange Dayz (for those of you who prefer 90’s music), and a DJ to keep things going when the bands are taking a break.
Plus, if that weren’t enough the event benefits The Bumblebee Foundation, which gives financial and emotional support to families affected by pediatric cancer. So by going, you will not only be doing something good for yourself. You will be doing something good for others.
Here is all the info you need:
Website: www.sipurbia.com When: Sunday, May 6th 2018 from 3-7 p.m (last call at 6:30) Why: Benefiting Bumblebee Foundation (www.bumblebeefoundation.org)
Where: Paramount Ranch 2903 Cornell Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 (just off Kanan)
What: Beer. Wine. Music. Food. Charity. Memories.
Look, Dave and I are actually going to be in Napa that weekend for a wedding on May 5th, but we’re hauling ourselves back home early Sunday morning so we can go to this thing. It sounds that fun.
Tickets: $40 (GA) & $100 (VIP) per person until 2/28. (And then they go up, so get them NOW!)
But because I’m so nice (and I want to hang out with you) if you click here to purchase tickets you will get 25% off if you use coupon code ROSS25
I sit at my writers’ group on Saturday night with my third (or maybe it’s my fourth) glass of wine in my hand and feel so lucky to be int this group of smart, funny, kind women who happen to be great writers. They encourage me and hold me accountable and don’t judge me. We laugh and cry and commiserate and tell each other our triumphs and heartaches and fears. I look forward to our meeting every month. I know that the next morning I will write “Writers’s group” in my happiness journal for Saturday, February 10th.
A little after midnight I receive a text from Dave asking if I’ve heard from Marley yet. She’s at a concert downtown at the Shrine and she said she’d text us on the way home. We knew it would run late, but it seems too late. I tell him I’ll come home and wait up for her.
Rina lives down the street and Dave dropped us off so we could take a Lyft home, but Kim only had one glass of wine and even though she lives in the opposite direction she says she’ll give us a ride. Julie’s husband dropped her off too, installing Uber in her phone so she can get home that way. Kim offers to drive her home too, but she declines, saying she lives too far (all the way in Thousand Oaks). We tell her Lyft is better and she promises to download Lyft next time. We tell her to text us when she gets home.
Marley’s phone goes straight to voicemail and she does not answer texts or Facetime. I’m not quite worried. Yet. But I’m tired and want to go to bed. Marley calls at 12:44. She’s sorry! No service! She can’t believe how late the show went. They are on their way home, but might stop for a quick bite to eat once they get in the Valley. I tell her fine, as long as they go through the drive through.
I sit on the couch with the dog snuggled next to me and try to read my book , but it makes me too sleepy, so I scroll through Instagram the blue light from my cell phone keeping me semi-alert. Julie group texts to thank Laurel for a lovely evening and to let us know that she is home safe and her Uber cherry has been popped. I let them know that Marley is on her way home. Drunk “I love you” texts circle around. I try to doze off but don’t really and Marley walks through the door at 1:45. She had fun and I’m happy that live music gives her the same thrill it gives me. Since it’s technically Sunday, maybe I’ll hold onto that feeling for my Sunday happiness journal entry.
Sunday morning I wake up late, but not nearly late enough. I’m lucky that too much wine and cheese and not nearly enough sleep did not net me a hangover. I have a cup of coffee and make toast out of the Trader Joe’s beer bread I made for dinner Friday night and chat with Dave. I’m meeting my mom at Costco at 10:00, but have to run errands first so I need to get moving. I go to Bed Bath & Beyond for hairspray, mascara, and a nail file, using my $5 off $15 coupon. I text my mom and ask if we can meet at 10:15. I didn’t get going quite as early as I’d meant to and I’m running late as usual. Then I head to Target with a return and pick up cedar balls and store brand peanut butter for the dog’s Kong. Small, but necessary suburban errands.
We take our time and Costco and buy too much and chat in the parking lot after loading up our cars as our frozen items grow warm. I don’t get home until almost noon. I put the groceries away, make myself some tuna, and start some laundry. At 1:00 I insist Marley wake up. I spend the rest of the day on the laundry, organizing papers and filing, getting my tax documents together for my appointment with our accountant on Thursday. Sunday busy work.
Rina and Kim and I have been texting throughout the day. Rina has clothes she had put aside for a clothing swap that Kim and I went to a couple of weeks ago that Rina was unable to attend and wants us to come over and look at them before she donates them. We were supposed to go over at 4:30 but she is stuck at a birthday party and it’s looking like 5:00. Too late, I say. I need to start dinner. Maybe another night? Kim calls me at 4:59. “I’m coming over to get you. I’m already on my way. I need to cross this off my list. It will only take a few minutes.” I inform my family I’m being kidnapped and dinner will be a bit later and head out the door.
We go through Rina’s clothes quickly. Rina’s family is going to a friend’s for dinner at 5:30. Kim has been hiking all day and still needs to make her Sunday trip to the market. And I have to make dinner. But it doesn’t feel rushed. It feels nice to be with my friends, even briefly. A quick reprieve from the busyness of a Sunday evening. Again I feel lucky. To live in a Shangri-La at the northern most end of Los Angeles. To spend a Sunday doing mundane and ordinary, yet useful things.
I go home and Dave and Marley are watching TV and I smell popcorn, their hunger unable to wait for my late dinner. After a dinner of roasted chicken, roasted cauliflower, green beans and rice, we all clean up and then I walk the dog. I choose “new country” on Pandora and decide to do a two and a half mile loop. Dave and Marley want to watch something that doesn’t interest me, so I retreat to the bedroom to read my book. It’s only 8:00, but I put on my pajamas and snuggle into bed early at the end my my ordinary Sunday in the suburbs. I am content.
What will I write in my happiness journal for Sunday? All of it.
Go to the gym for a 5:30 class or write. (Translation: go to the gym or fuck around on the internet while doing everything in my power to avoid writing.)
Take Marley to school. (She has zero period and her first class starts at 7AM.)
Take the dog on a two and a half mile walk.
Get ready for work and be at work by 9AM (ish). (I’m really supposed to be there at 8ish.)
But on Monday I wanted to be at work early, so I walked at 6:00 during my workout/fuck around on the internet writing time instead of after dropping Marley off at school. And then I remembered that is was finals week. Finals week has a different schedule and the kids go to school later. What time did Marley have to be at school?
We did talk about finals the night before and whether or not Marley was prepared (she swore she was, but I never saw her crack a book over the weekend), but we never talked about what time school started. Or we started to, but never finished the conversation. We must have gotten distracted by a squirrel or something.
I stopped mid-walk and tried to find the schedule on my phone, but either the school’s mobile app doesn’t have that information, or I’m not mobile app savvy enough to figure out how to find it in the middle of a dog walk when it’s freezing outside (45 degrees – BRRR!), so I texted Marley, whose morning routine is to get up at 6:00, grab her cellphone off the kitchen table (because we make her turn it in at 10:00 at night so she can go on her iPad or laptop or whatever and roll her eyes at how stupid we are to think that we are helping her go to sleep at a decent hour by taking away her phone), go back to bed until 6:40, where she takes all of ten minutes to get ready for school so I can drive her, to see if she knew what time finals started. But since she goes back to sleep she didn’t answer.
So I texted my friend Kim because even though her kids aren’t in high school, she’s the Communication Coordinator for the school district, plus she gets up early to actually write, so I figured she’d have access to that information.
So I was right that is was finals week. But finals didn’t start until Wednesday. And on Wednesday morning when I banged on her door at 6:50AM because she hadn’t come out and was going to be late, she yelled from the other side that her final didn’t start until 7:40 so she was still sleeping.
Even though I swear on Tuesday night (keeping the Monday morning debacle in mind) I asked her what time her first final was. She told me that she thought it was at the regular time, but she would check. She must have checked, but she never told me. And I should have remembered and confirmed, but I must have been distracted by a squirrel. Or something.
So I guess it’s me that’s the unorganized mess. And in five months she’ll be eighteen. I’m not sure she stands a chance.
A buffoon was sworn in as president, beloved musicians succumbed to depression or hard living (RIP Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Tom Petty), a madman killed 58 people at a country music festival, and Mother Nature showed us through hurricanes and wildfires that climate change is no joke
On the home front, a tree fell through my house during a storm in February.
Okay, through my house is an exaggeration. It fell on my house, creating a big hole and lots of damage and a ton of drama. And due to the drama (battles with the insurance company, contractor issues, etc.) we weren’t able to get new flooring until the end of the year. So instead of looking like this four days before Christmas:
My house looked like this:
Yes, ten months later. Because of the tree.
And no, my house did not look like this all year. But the scheduling for our flooring could not have been worse – new laminate floors throughout the house the day after Thanksgiving and new carpeting in the bedrooms four days before Christmas.
But I did manage to put together a Christmas in miniature in our den.
The kids got the gifts they wanted. And both told me separately that it was one of the best Christmases they’ve ever had.
And amidst the chaos, a bunch of good stuff happened as well. Things both humongously big and infinitely small. And I tried as best as I could to capture them in my happiness journal – the calendar that I keep to write down my happiest moment from the day before when I get up early to write (or more often not write) and drink coffee in quiet solitude.
And on January 1st, I sat down in my living room (that looked better than the picture above, but was (and is) still deep in boxes) with a glass of champagne and my happiness journal to reflect on 2017.
Here are some of my moments. Some of them big. Some quite small. But all of them filled me (at least momentarily) with joy:
January 3: When Chandler told me good night he said, “Sweetest sweet dreams in the whole wide world and have good luck.” (Which is what I used to say to him when he was little.) I will miss him when he goes back to school.
January 21: Marching with Marley and Arlyne and Marisa and thousands of other women for women’s rights. The signs. The sisterhood. The feeling. All of it.
February 12: I went to a clothing exchange and was talking to a woman who lost 90 pounds (the hard way – through diet and exercise) and she told me what a blessing the exchange has been to her because she could never have afforded to buy clothes in all the sizes she’s been. Listening to her gratefulness made me so happy and grateful myself.
March 23: Watching Marley audition for TedX. Wow! That kid is amazing.
March 24: Writers’ Group – Julie telling us that Lily by Any Other Name is going to be published. I’m so happy for her.
April 28: Heading out to Stagecoach was fab, but the highlight of my day was Chandler calling to say he got into Berkeley. OMG! Berkeley!
May 7: My mom’s 70th birthday party. I really think she had fun. Seeing her face when we brought out the cake. I love her so much.
May 20: Hearing the first drum beats of Sunday Bloody Sunday as U2 opened their set literally filled my heart with joy.
June 11: Chandler clipping a rose from the front yard because he loved the pop of color against the gray sky. And knowing that I taught him that – to seek out everyday beauty.
June 23: Driving home from Friday night yoga, I was singing in my car. At a stoplight I looked at the car next to me and saw Steve (also driving home from yoga) rocking out in his car.
July 16: While I was making dinner we were listening to music and Dave was sitting on the couch reading, I noticed he was swinging his feet back and forth to the music. That made me smile.
August 20: Taking an hour long nap on the couch in the afternoon. Heaven.
August 25: Dad literally crying tears of joy at dinner and telling us this was his best birthday ever. (My brothers and I flew out to Texas to surprise him for his 70th birthday.)
September 23: Tailgating at Coastal Country Jam. All of it. All of it. All of it. Hanging with Lindy and Kerry. Getting a pic with Matt Ramsey. Meeting so many people. Putting my feet in the water. The music. The love. Dancing on the truck. Sharing all of it with Rita who feels it too. Best day ever.
October 13: Awesome date night. Dan Wilson at the Troubadour. I loved what he said about writing: It’s 10% hope (at the beginning), 80% self-hatred (in the middle) and the last 10%… Well, I didn’t die. OMG! So true!
November 1: Singing Something Just Like This at the top of my lungs in my car. There were sun rays beaming through the clouds. It was magic.
November 17: I say it every month, but only because it’s true. Writer’s Group fills my soul with love and my heart with happiness.
December 18: I said to Dave, “I made you laugh,” and he said, “Every day.”
So yes, 2017 was a struggle. But also, it was pretty great. I’ve read time and again that the key to happiness is gratefulness. And I am grateful – for the big moments (did I mention Chandler is attending Berkeley?) and the little moments (whether it’s for giving her a ride or making her breakfast or putting her clothes in the dryer (but only so I can put mine in the washer), Marley tells me “thank you” every day) and everything in between.
I’d love to hear from you. Tell me a big moment and a little moment that made you happy in 2017.
Four years ago I participated in a six-week, Biggest-Loser-Style fitness and weight loss challenge called Just Lose It at my gym, Stevenson Fitness.
I wrote a weekly blog post about the program and my process and how terrible it all was.
Actually, it wasn’t terrible. I mean, it was because it was so damn hard. (And I’m not talking about the grueling workouts or the clean eating, I’m talking about the fact that I couldn’t drink wine for six weeks!)
But it was also awesome, because I lost 12 pounds, 4.2% body fat and a whopping 13.5 inches of flab. (Almost 4 inches were from my waist!) Then I continued on working out with my teammates and eating clean(ish) and went on to lose four more pounds. I even started running (something I had never done or had any desire to do) and ran in a 10K race. Yeah, I was rockin’ it.
Well. That was four years ago. I managed to keep the weight off for two years, but then. You know how it is.
Eating healthfully takes planning and that takes time and who has that?
My plantar faciitis flared up again and I was unable to workout for a few months. (What did you say? I could have ridden the bike and done upper body? I can’t hear you because I’m plugging my ears and saying, “La-la-la-la-la.” Also. Shut up.)
And I got a new job a year ago that likes to keep its employees (very) well fed. (Turns out I forgot the word “no” was in my vocabulary when it comes to treats in the breakroom.)
Also, I was drinking a lot of wine. Like, one or two (or, okay, sometimes three) glasses a night. Not every night. But let’s say if a month has 30 days, then I probably had wine 28 of those days. So, okay. Every night.
And blah and blah and blady-blah-blah-blah. (Insert reasons and excuses here.)
So that 16 pounds I lost? It slowly crept back on. With a couple more. I found myself heavier than I’d ever been except for pregnancy and postpartum. Bleh.
And even though I obsessively got on the scale every single day (so it’s not like I didn’t know), I somehow managed to convince myself it wasn’t that bad. I mean, okay, so most of my pants didn’t fit anymore, but I still wore a medium top. (And the same shoe size!)
And then I saw this picture of me and almost cried.
And I’m not talking tears of joy because I’m with Shane McAnally, Nashville’s hottest songwriter and producer. And not because my bangs are all jaggedy. (Seriously, WTF is going on there?) Because look at my face. It’s so fat. And my face is always the last place I gain weight. It’s like my body hits maximum capacity and there is nowhere else for the fat to go, so it floats up to my face.
I knew it was time to get serious and do something. And since my gym was starting another round of Just Lose It, I decided to give it another go.
But as excited as I was to participate in the program again (well, maybe excited isn’t quite the right word), I also felt a bit of dread. Not because I had to give up my beloved wine (okay, maybe a little because of that) or because of the hard work I was going to have to put in (okay, maybe a little because of that too), but because I felt like a bit of a failure. I mean, I succeeded in this program four years ago, and here I was again, three pounds heavier than when I started the first time.
Would everyone think I was a big loser (and not the right kind) for joining this program again?
As it turns out, it was quite the opposite. What I got was encouragement. High fives, and “way to goes” and “you look great.”
We all fall down. And when we do we have a choice: sit there in the dirt and cry about our fat face (as we’re stuffing it) or stand up, dust ourselves off, and cry about the wine we’re not drinking and the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt we’re not shoveling into our gullet because our mean trainer has given us a clean eating diet and making us do hard workouts six days a week.
Okay, that was a terrible analogy, but you know what I’m saying. The real failure is not falling down. It’s not getting back up.
So for six weeks…
I got up every morning at 5AM and did a seven minute workout that at first was really, really hard and by the end was (almost) easy.
I ate clean. (Bye bye wine, dark chocolate and break room goodies, and hello chicken, chicken, more chicken, vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and quinoa.)
I recorded every thing I ate and drank in a food journal. (Boy is that eye opening. If you’ve never kept a food journal, you should try it some time. You’d be amazed at how much mindless eating you do throughout the day. At least I was.)
I drank an ocean full of water. Daily.
I weight trained three days a week at 6AM (good morning!) with these awesome ladies under the guidance of our trainer, the mean, terrible, awful awesome Christy. (I do not think there was one workout that I did not whine at her. Or swear at her. Or both.)
I worked out three days a week on my own doing sadistic cardio routines created by the Just Lose It evil masterminds. (We were encouraged to do our cardio as a group, but our schedules never seemed to line up. Stupid jobs and kids.)
I went to multiple Happy Hours and only had club soda with a (teeny-tiny) splash of cranberry juice with a lime squeeze. (Make that Unhappy Hour.)
Also I stopped drinking wine. And eating chocolate. (Oh, I said that already? Sorry.)
It was terrible.
But also. It was amazing.
I felt great. (When I wasn’t achy and hungry.)
I slept great. (Turns out not drinking wine and being physically exhausted from grueling workouts helps you sleep. Who knew?)
And about half-way through, I started looking great.
In the end I lost 14.4 pounds, 6.9% body fat and 14.75 inches! (5 inches from my waist alone!!!) Even better than the first time. (Okay, okay, I had more to lose this time. But still.)
And did I mention that it was a contest? We competed as a team. (Sadly my awesome team, the Iron Maidens -great name, right?- were robbed and did not win.)
But we also competed as individuals and guess what? All that hard work, clean eating and whining about not drinking wine paid off, because I was the biggest loser of all. (Meaning, I was the winner!)
So, yes, I am a big loser. (Exactly the right kind.)
Below is the result of the writing prompt “What are you looking at?” from a recent writers’ group meeting. My friend Kim decided to be brave and post hers. (Which by the way wasn’t that brave because it’s so good. You really need to read it.)
So I’m being brave and posting mine. I always intend to write fiction during our prompts, but almost never do. The event below never happened, but it’s also not exactly fiction.
“What are you looking at?” Dickie said.
“Nothing,” I answer, but we both know it’s not true.
“Liar,” he says.
“Fuck off!” I tell him and his eyes go big.
“I’m telling mom,” he says and we both laugh because that’s how it used to be. Except I never told my brother to fuck off. I don’t think. If I had I’d have gotten my mouth washed out with soap. That’s how it was back then. Mouth washed out with soap for bad language. The wooden spoon for… I honestly can’t remember for what. Lying. Defiance. Kicking in the bathroom door because I locked myself in when we were fighting. We did that. Kicked the door in. Twice.
(Side note: I tried washing Marley’s mouth out with soap once. But liquid soap doesn’t work quite as well as that bar.)
We fought a lot. We weren’t close.
But we are now. Or at least close-ish. We’re different. So different. I mean he voted for Trump. But I forgive him. Almost.
But we have each other’s backs.
“I’m looking at you,” I decide to tell him. “I’m glad you’re my brother.”
*My brother says he didn’t vote for Trump. But he also didn’t vote for Hillary. I forgive him. (Almost.)
Four festivals and three concerts are more shows that some people will see in a lifetime I realize, but those are not my people. God that sounded super assholey, didn’t it? That was not my intent. I’m super grateful to have gone to these shows. And I’ve got more on the way this year.
Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears (OMG!) Adam Ant (OMFG!) Green Day (Finally!) Thomas Rhett with Old Dominion & Walker Hayes (Cannot effing wait). And something called Retro Futura with Howard Jones, the English Beat and a bunch of other 80’s throwbacks. (Bought for a steal on Groupon – going with Dave and the kids. Should be a blast.)
So yes, it has been and will be a good year for music. Because live music more than anything is what makes me feel so alive. And young. (Seriously, so fucking young.)
And fun is great. Important, even. But I have goals this year that I have not achieved. I wanted to interview more artists like I did last year with Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion and Matthew Nelson of Nelson. But I haven’t. Because that takes effort and I’ve been busy with a new(ish) job and life and just trying to keep all my balls in the air.
You know. Like everyone else.
I’ve only written seven blog posts all year. And maybe two newsletters (which you should totally sign up for because I obviously won’t overwhelm your inbox and you get a free book. Or rather bookette).
I did write this piece for my friend Jessica’s blog that I’m quite proud of, but only because she asked. And really. It was just a reworking of a piece I’d already written.
And my WIP – the sequel to Frosted Cowboy. LOFuckingL. I have an outline (ish). It’s actually a great story (at least that’s what everyone I’ve told the plot to says), even better than the first. And I’ve written some of it, obviously. But. But. What?
I’m just busy.
And so damn scared.
Because writing is so hard. And what if it’s terrible? (And like any first draft, it is so terrible.)
So, sure. I’ve had some goals. But I haven’t really had a plan. And A goal without a plan is just a wish. I read that on Pinterest. Or maybe it was Twitter. One of those very philosophical websites.
Saturday as I was cleaning that pile off my dining room table I came across an article I ripped out of Sunset Magazine by Anne Lamott called Time lost and found. And even though I was “so busy” and I’ve read it at least a dozen times before, I knew that this article about finding time to write was exactly what I needed and I sat down and read it again and it made me cry.
Because Anne Lamott knows the truth.
It’s so easy to make excuses. To be too busy to write. Busy job. Busy social life. Keeping all those balls in the air.
I’m not going to stop going to concerts or hiking with my husband or (god forbid) Happy Hour.
But what if I didn’t work through lunch every day. Or let one of those balls drop? (Or two? Or three? Or four?)
What if when I get up at 5AM (and I do, every single day) I actually write a blog post? Or contact a musician’s publicist? Or stopped being so scared to tackle my WIP?
Maybe in six month’s time – when the year is completely over, I’ll have done more than just have fun. More than just work. I’ll have created.
And my year will be one that was not half-lived.
*The quote “A goal without a dream is just a wish” is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery (but you can find it on Pinterest).
Last Thursday I went to run a quick errand at Target and saw the 100.7 KHAY van in the parking lot and saw a station remote set up. I walked by and said hello and was asked if I wanted to try to win VIP tickets to the Oakheart Country Music Festival on Saturday.
“Oh, I already have tickets,” I said, “but I’ll take a swag bag, if that’s okay.” I chatted with the radio station people for a few minutes and then went into Target for my errand. (You’re dying to know what I had to buy at Target, aren’t you? Well, guess what – I’m not going to tell you, because it’s irrelevant to the story, and I’m trying to be more pithy with my words.)
What was I saying? Oh yeah. As I was paying for my purchase, I realized that they were giving away VIP tickets and I had GA – why not try to win? So I marched back to the tent and told them I did want to enter the contest. They told me the winner had to be present and they were drawing names in 20 minutes. It seemed I had a pretty good chance as there were only a couple of people lurking around, so I went into Target to kill time before the drawing and looked at all their cute summer clothes that I will not be buying due to my serious money diet and (baby) steps towards minimalization.
I came out and there were about five people milling about hoping to have their name pulled. A one in six chance at VIP tickets? Sweet! At precisely 2:30 a name was drawn and… it was not mine. Oh well. Then the guy from the radio station said he had a pair of GA tickets, did we want him to draw another name? Everyone said yes, so he pulled another name and I WON!
“You know what?” I said. “I already have GA tickets – I was just trying to get an upgrade. Pull someone else.”
He pulled the name of a woman who was so happy to win. “I tried to buy tickets, but they were sold out,” she told me. “Thank you so much,” she said, giving me a hug.
I went home feeling happier about my good deed than disappointed about not getting the upgrade. When I told the story three separate times to my three family members at home, every one of them said, “You should have taken the tickets and sold them.”
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked them. “It felt so good to see that woman so happy. I’m writing it in my happiness journal.”
On Saturday I sat down at my computer at two-thirty to print the tickets as my friend, Simmah was coming over at three o’clock to pick me up for the show.
I couldn’t find them.
My search for Oakheart resulted in 20 different emails telling me that tickets were on sale, Josh Turner, David Nail and Drake White were added to the line up, get your VIP tickets NOW, and tickets are almost sold out – hurry!, but no email with a link to my tickets.
I logged into Eventbrite, figuring I’d find my tickets there and saw my tickets for the Boots and Brews Country Music Festival in two weeks, but no Oakheart tickets.
I found the email to Simmah dated December 15th – did she want to go? Tickets, normally $50, were on sale that day only for half price. The line up hadn’t been announced (or even secured), but it seemed like a $25 gamble worth taking.
I did buy the tickets, didn’t I?
I searched my bank records to find that indeed I did. I looked up the company i purchased the tickets from online and tried to get in touch with their customer service department. I sent them an email. I called them. I even tried to contact their Customer Service Manager via in-mail on LinkedIn. But it’s a small company located in Georgia and it was now almost six o’clock eastern time. On a Saturday. No luck.
According to their FAQs (which were ridiculously hard to find, BTW) they mail their tickets via USPS. I didn’t remember getting tickets in the mail, but I purchased them six months ago. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so it’s possible. (Okay, I do actually remember what I had for breakfast yesterday -full fat plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola- the same thing I have every morning, but you know what I’m saying!) There are only a few places I’d put something like that so I searched all those places. Nothing.
My book says the F word 42 times. I said it a lot more times than that in this frantic half hour period.
Simmah got to my house and I told her the news. She helped me look for the tickets. I did more email searches. And yes, I checked my spam folders. Still nothing.
Why did I give away the tickets I won to that stupid woman?! They only sold out five days before the show. She had a whole six months to buy them! I’m crossing that out of my happiness journal. I do something so nice and look what happens to me. There is no such thing as karma. Why do bad things always happen to me? Shit!
I was so mad at myself for waiting until the last minute to print the tickets and mostly for disappointing my friend. She said it was fine, things happen, we’re going to a bunch of concerts this year. After two hours of fruitless searching we decided to do what any rational person would do in this situation: sit in the backyard and drink wine.
“Why don’t you just go and see if your name is at will call,” Dave said, sticking his head out of the sliding glass door. “Then at least you can tell the company you did everything when you call them on Monday and demand your money back.”
I rolled my eyes. Husbands are so dumb. There is no way I’d be on a will call list, but we finished our glass of wine and decided to try. The festival was only 15 minutes away and we’d put some feelers out to see if anyone had extra tickets – maybe we’d get lucky.
And miraculously, we did.
My name was on the freaking list.
So I guess sometimes husbands are pretty smart. (But don’t tell him I said that!)
“I hate it when you’re right,” I texted him. “My name was on the list. We’re in.”
“I know shit about shit,” he texted back. He’s right. He does.
The music was great. I saw my niece. I ran into a good friend. Two different people bought us beer.
It was our lucky day.
“I listened to my husband and he was right,” I wrote in my happiness journal. (But seriously. Do not tell him I said that.)
Two weeks ago I cleaned out my closet. I was inspired by my friend Kim who told me that on April 1st she was going to participate in Project 333, which is a capsule wardrobe concept in which you choose thirty-three items for your wardrobe and can only wear those thirty-three items for the next three months.
The items include clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories and outerwear. (Outerwear?! Really?!) They do not include underwear, pajamas, loungewear and workout wear. But, workout wear is only for working out and loungewear is only for lounging at home. So if you’re regularly sporting those Lululemons (or like me, those Costcolemons) for your Saturday errands or trips to the soccer field you have to count them too.
I know, it sounds terrible, right?
But still, I considered it. Would it be possible to wear just thirty-three items over the next three months? It shouldn’t be that difficult because I work remotely part of the time and only go into my office about three days a week. And the days I work from home I wear the same yoga pants, tank top and sloppy sweatshirt as if they’re a required uniform.
The philosophy behind Project 333 is to simplify your life. To make it easier, not harder. It’s not about suffering, but rather streamlining your decision-making process in the morning and saving time and money from not continually shopping. And we all know that we only wear about a third of our closet anyway. But my closet is grossly overstuffed and a third of it is way more than 33 items.
Also, since your choices are so limited, you choose the items that you love best and the items that fit now. Those jeans that haven’t fit since you lost ten pounds from the flu two years ago aren’t nagging at you every time you open your closet. Every time you get dressed you feel good in what you’re wearing.
I read the Nazi-like rules guidelines and decided to see how much I could eliminate from my closet. Rather than pull things from your closet you are supposed to take everything out and put your 33 items back in. I didn’t do that. (So I was already breaking the rules at step one.) But I did pull like I’ve never pulled before. I made four piles – one to donate; one of things that no longer fit, but I plan on fitting into again (someday); one to pack away to see if I needed something so badly I was willing to get it out of the attic (I’m guessing I’ll forget what’s up there); and one to put in Chandler’s closet (he’s away at college) so the items were out-of-sight, but still easily accessible.
I also got rid of all the crap that was shoved in the bottom of my closet.
5 (yes, five) gallon-sized Ziploc bags of old make-up, scrunchies, stale cough drops, and hotel shampoos (don’t ask).
6 pairs of shoes -in boxes- from the 90’s that I probably haven’t worn since then.
Various backpacks and gym bags.
A still-in-the-box off-brand Nerf gun in a Target bag presumably a gift for one of my kids when they were little.
The bottom of my closet was like a clown car – things kept tumbling out of it. I wasn’t sure it was going to end.
Then I rearranged my closet. My clothes have always been color-coded from light-to-dark (actually, the black clothes are on the left side and the white clothes are on the right side, so I guess technically it’s dark to light, but whatever), but work and casual clothes have always been mixed together. So I separated the work clothes from the not-work clothes. I left my dresses kind of a jumbled mess. I’m a dress girl (even though I don’t wear them nearly as often as I used to) and am a tad bit emotionally attached to them. Culling my dresses might require therapy. But they are on the far side of the closet – out of the way.
I put the hangers on backwards and have been flipping them the right way as I wear something. In three months I’ll reassess. If a hanger hasn’t been flipped the right way, that means I haven’t worn that article of clothing and don’t need it anymore. Or maybe don’t need it. We’ll see.
I didn’t get it down to 33 items. Not even close. But I could if I wanted to. Probably. Maybe. But still, my newly pared down closet is like a breath of fresh air. Every time I look inside I feel calm. Happy.
Less is more. I’m working toward being more with less. (Even if my less is more than thirty-three.)