Celebrating Survivors, New Stages in Life

What now feels like 80 bajillion years ago, I went to Houston. (For those not prone to hyperbole, that would be October.) I had my little food, shopping, friends, events photos all collected nice and neatly on my phone, but two iOs updates and too many weeks later, I’ve given up.

So I’ve reduced it to just a small handful. I feel like the most noteworthy things I should mention about my travels to Houston this October are still worth looking back at, not only because they are events supporting cancer survivors, but because they segue so nicely into a huge change in my life…

On Friday, November 15 (exactly 5 years and one month from when I started at the little advertising agency that could) I resigned my position and accepted a new job at the American Cancer Society. (Although I was smart enough to not do things in that order.)

I have so many mixed emotions and thoughts about leaving my first “real” job out of college, it’s hard to know where to begin. But the practical things I can set straight in my head are this:

  • Traveling 40-50% of your work life is hard, and so is being a remote employee. It’s hard to have your heart in two places, always feel like you’re missing something when you’re in that other city, and feel slowly yet increasingly disconnected from your coworkers when working from home 400 miles away.
  • Five years is a long time to sit still. I used to not think of myself as a particularly ambitious person because I am not a loud, overt leader or aggressive in my demeanor. But I do want people to recognize my skills and talents, I want to feel creatively and intellectually challenged, and be pushed out of my comfort zone to become stronger. Although my current/almost former job gave me so much freedom to grow – and Lord KNOWS I was challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone for the betterment of my introverted atrophied social skills – sometimes just getting comfortable working somewhere, with a specific culture and way of doing things can limit your world view.
  • It’s the American Cancer Society. After spending four of my five years at the agency representing MD Anderson in the Greater Houston community, I’ve seen and heard some amazing, gut-wrenching, awe-inspiring things. I’ve heard so many personal stories of people going through cancer, and I’ve seen how the programs ACS provides benefit the lives of MD Anderson’s patients and others. When you get the opportunity to be a part of something that truly MEANS something, that enriches and even saves people’s lives, how can you say no?

So, the pictures below really mean something. They represent the last time I dawned my pink MD Anderson shirt for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (at least in an official capacity). From now on, I’ll be sporting purple, and I couldn’t be more nervous, excited, blessed, and a million other things I still can’t seem to compile all together.

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Christmas in Two Time Zones

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It started innocently enough. A couple of years ago I found these ADORABLE glittery retro Christmas cards. I loved them, the hubs hated them. But it was too late, the seed was planted. Fast-forward two years and my house official has two time zones – my office is retro modern and the rest of our house is modern rustic. (I suppose that’s what you could call the two styles.) Either way, there’s a whole lotta Christmas going on, and it all makes me so cheery I thought I’d post a few (million) pics to share the inspiration.

The office:

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The house:

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Are you eating your feelings again?

My best friend asked me this on the phone a few weeks ago. She knows me way too well.

Lately, I’ve felt completely disgusted with myself and have been trying to pull myself from the depths a cycle of emotional overeating in response to being overweight.

So I answered her in the affirmative. In a whimper. Which was returned with full sympathy until I told her my weight. Which then turned to anger over the fact that she considered that her “normal to skinny” weight.

But she’s 5’7”, and I’m 5’3”, and somewhere in those four inches lies the entire world of difference.

Though this was not enough to sway her from mentally hexing me at the time, I’ve since done some truly disturbing research. That I needed this here slice of cake to complete. (Later tonight, I plan to pay some bills over a bottle of wine, so let’s just call this whole week a bust.)

According to the BMI scale – the #3 biggest threat to my life’s happiness (#1 and 2 being skin caliper tests and European sizing), these are my guidelines:

Underweight (18.5% BMI or less): 104 pounds or less

Normal (18.5–24.9% BMI): 105 – 140 pounds

Overweight (25–29.9% BMI): 141-169 pounds

Obese (30% BMI or more): 170 pounds or more

Yes. According to this guideline, if I weighed 105 pounds, I would still be considered “normal.” Which I find interesting, because I’m not sure how healthy I would be as an amputee. Also, the skinniest I have ever been in my adult life was 118 pounds. I was a freshman in college, was very active, and lived off about 600 calories a day in granola bars and went to bed hungry every night because I didn’t like my dorm food/was terrified to eat by myself.

It was a dark time. But then again, I wore a size four.

Given this fact, my current state and the tags on my clothes these days, I can confirm that if you are a shorty like me, every 5 pounds off or on your body is an entire dress size.

Think about that, tall people.

Five pounds.

So the next time your horizontally challenged friend complains about their weight, just remember the battle of the bulge is harder fought from the ground floor.

As for me, I’ve got 6 or 7 dress sizes to go.

Is it time for that drink yet?

Winning the Lottery and Painting Furniture

I know exactly what I would do if I won the lottery. And like Peter from Office Space, I know exactly what I would do. But surprisingly enough, it wouldn’t be nothing.

My lottery list:

  • Pay off all debts
  • Help my family
  • Buy a house in Houston to use as a home base
  • Travel the world
  • Open a furniture store where I sold unique pieces (some of which I refinished myself) and original artwork and accessories (I would only curate – my skills aren’t that great)
  • Travel the world again, looking for cool items to put in my shop

THAT’s how much I love interior design. Sometimes I think I missed my calling. I mean, what kind of person uses rearranging furniture as a relaxation technique? Seriously, when I can’t fall asleep at night, I calm myself into my happy place by mentally moving around the furniture in my house and finding creative ways to mix it up.

With my latest project, I do feel a little like I won the lottery. The hutch is exactly the style I love, oh-so perfect for my home office needs, AND has some great open shelves just itching to be backed in wallpaper.

Here’s progress so far:

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Now I’m just down to one final decision – what “wallpaper” should I use to match the paint? The color paint I chose is called “Little Sprout” and is a pale greeny yellow. The sample image from Valspar looks a little neon, but here and here are some good pictures from other bloggers who used the color. (I also managed to find the hex code for the color. You know, just in case I’d like to match things on my computer to my office. Don’t you just love the internetz?)

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TANGENT.

What this is all very slowly getting to is the fact that I am now at a standstill. I’ve narrowed it down to three paper patterns, and I’m not sure which to use:

1. Rifle Paper Co. “Midnight Floral” paper

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2. Glasses wrapping paper from PaperSource

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3. “Spring Rain” by ChicShelfPaper.com

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Please vote in the comments below!

Delicious Mod Sale on HauteLook Today

Be still my heart. HauteLook is having a sale of everything lusciously mid-century mod, including chairs identical to the ones I lusted after last time I was antiquing in Austin:

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Other mod goodies I don’t have the budget for:

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Talk about inspiration pieces. People ask me all the time how I find cute stuff on Craigslist, thrift shops, etc., and this is how. I know what to look for because I know what the nice stuff looks like. Kind of like shopping in the Galleria’s expensive section (you know, the part with Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo and such all in a row) and then going to Target and using those mental images to tell which designs are the decent-looking knock-offs. Works every time.

Because one can never have too many retro mid-century china hutches…

This city doesn’t have the best Craigslist furniture selection. I’ve been going through a project dry spell, but today I managed to find (well technically my husband found) and secure this lovely piece:

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So now I will have an office hutch and a kitchen hutch (the hutch below). Because really, who can subsist on just one? (Hello, I’m crazy. But stay tuned to see painting updates!)

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Snark Attack

1. Anthropologie knows a lot of things, but for some reason is really confused about how normal people spend their Sunday mornings. Exhibit A:

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Yes, my morning routine on Sundays OBViously includes a ritual where I sniff my right armpit, attempt to read the mind of my water bottle, pray over an apple, then take another deep whiff of my armpit. This time, the left. Art direction fail.

2. Galveston is a tragic city – filled with dilapidated historical homes and mansions from the 1800s, and absolutely no economic structure to maintain its history. Case in point – The Mermaid & The Dolphin Resort is up for sale. It was once the home to the sister of Texas founding father Stephen F. Austin and a former Texas Governor.

Today, it’s a white trash mess of a B&B and wedding venue.

Today, every room is equipped with its own jacuzzi.

Let that take a minute to sink in.

JACUZZI.

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Because nothing says historical B&B to me like a nasty-ass hot tub in every room. As if Galveston isn’t humid and smelly enough?

I would love nothing more in the WORLD to have enough money to buy the place, de-renovate it back to its former glory, and turn it into the beautiful wedding venue it could be.

I mean, if you look past the PURPLE WALLS in the ballroom to the original hardwood and antique four post beds, it just oozes potential.

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All Or Nothing

I read this blog about a project called “the burning house” where people answer the question “if your house was burning, what would you take with you?” with a single picture.

Examples:

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Of course, the idea compelled me to immediately survey the place, wondering how I could artfully contribute to the project.

Perhaps because of my rather grey mood today, or general all-or-nothing attitude towards life, I came to a rather morose realization.

I don’t know that I would grab anything.

There’s no one particular possession that makes me hurt to leave behind. All the physical, tactile things I’ve really loved have been broken, chewed (Oscar!), lost or worn completely out at some point. I think it’s God’s way of keeping me (less) materialistic.

Sure, I love the things I have. Lord knows I love collecting, surrounding myself with design, trinkets, mementos. And Aaron knows me too well to throw away a greeting card without a considerable mourning period, but if I really had to do it – evacuate my life with just the essentials, they would be just that.

Dogs, computer, phone.

Assuming the computer data was all backed up somewhere else, I could let that burn too.

There’s something about contemplating the most terrifying of life scenarios that reframes the way our minds think. Once the impassable mental barrier is broken between the land of routine and that-stuff-only-happens-to-other-people, there’s an eerie freedom on the other side.

I really think there must be something wrong with me to have this general feeling. That escape from everything – even the good things – is somehow better. A relief.

Does everyone have this place in their mind?

Maybe I just really need a vacation.

We all know what it’s like.

This week, I’m sick. I’m tired from travel and working weekend volunteer hours and all these weather changes are making my allergies a nightmare.

We all know what that’s like.

This week, work is dragging and there’s lots of it, so I haven’t had time to catch up on personal things. Like doing dishes, or say keeping this blog updated.

We all know what that’s like.

This week, a friend of mine (the one who made these amazing cookies for our anniversary) is facing some unforeseen medical expenses. She’s twenty-something and working a full-time job and doing everything right but she’s a millennial like us who doesn’t always have the world’s largest rainy day fund.

We all know what that’s like.

This week, that friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She is twenty-something and she has cancer. And those medical bills are expanding exponentially in front of her.

Can you even imagine what that’s like?

It gets a little harder to justify capitulating on the self pity when you hear things so shocking, unexpected, overwhelming happening to real people in your life.

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So, I came out of blog hibernation temporarily to tell you this –

I know there are a million things you can do with your finite free dollars. And I know there are a million causes out there they could go to, but I encourage you to consider this one. Because it’s not a cause. It’s a person named Kristine. Exactly, exactly, exactly like you and me. And she’s a pretty cool girl. And in these situations there’s not a whole hell of a lot you can do to feel useful and actually help, but in this case you can do something to relieve a little bit of stress for someone real and just like you.

What can you do?

Skip Starbucks this week and give $25 to Kristine’s Cancer Fund.

I’ve heard you can make a pretty decent Pumpkin Spice Latte at home for $1. Check it out.