Coming Clean: An Attempt to Rescue My Time & Life

I have a secret.

I’m addicted to being busy. And I hate it.

I’ve had many people tell me that me + busyness is like peanut butter and jam–that we go together, hand-in-hand. They say that I look so happy when I’m busy or that being busy is my thing.

They are correct in their superficial observation, but I know, on a deeper level, that this observation is also an incorrect assumption. (It’s not their fault though, I’ve believed and perpetuated this falsity for so long…)

Acknowledging Busyness = Like Barfing

If you know me personally, it’s probably hard to believe that I’ve cringed every single time (seriously, every time) that someone complimented me on how “happy” and “energized” I look when I’m busy.

No joke–my stomach does a nervous somersault EVERY. DAMN. TIME. My gut feels so knotted that I sometimes imagine myself physically detangling it and needing superhero-level strength to do so. I also imagine vomiting. That’s how visceral of a reaction I get when someone says that I look good and happy when busy. (Quite simply, YUCK.)

Now, if I step back and analyze that reaction, I see that it’s pretty damn unhealthy to imagine barfing and needing to be a superhero to undo such a simple and seemingly innocent observation.

Yet, I’ve rarely stopped to fully analyze this uncomfortable feeling until just yesterday evening when I was up until 4:00 AM writing this post.

Typically, instead of stopping to reflect on this particularly knotty and confusing feeling, I’ve just kept moving on and on, just like I think I should (the keyword here is should, which is no good).

Because somehow I’ve come to believe that progress doesn’t happen by doing nothing. And goals don’t get accomplished if you don’t have focus, if you don’t work hard, if you don’t do XYZ and 10 million other things x 10 million more. Blah, blah, blah.

Sure, there’s some truth to these positive reminders that help you accomplish things and be successful (in whatever way you define your own success), but I’ve also found them to be a seriously tangled and messy web that’s easy to get stuck in and hard to get out of.

If I’m being 100% honest with myself (and others), I have to come clean–I DON’T LIKE BEING BUSY. I HATE IT. I HATE IT SO MUCH.

Why My Life Is a Busy Ball of Hell

But I am busy. So fucking busy. ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME.


Because I’ve internalized so much BS–from society, from culture, from “success” stories I’ve heard, from what I’ve learned growing up, from what I’ve told myself, etc. etc.–that being busy is akin to a virtue.

That busyness is the way to success (and what kind of success? I have no f’ing idea).

That you cannot reach professional and personal fulfillment without being constantly busy doing something to get to the next level.

That you cannot be a “worthy” person if you aren’t doing super amazing things all the time (and, preferably, super amazing things that help others).

That you cannot reach the next whatever without pushing the needle just a little bit more, doing just a few more hours of this or that, etc. etc. etc.

A Slight Detour: Defining Busyness

Before I continue, I should define what I mean by busyness…

When I say busy, I mean packing almost every hour of your day with some sort of active activity. Active activity = writing a blog post, doing actual paid work, cooking, baking, cleaning, tackling various projects/assignments…essentially knocking of anything on your never-ending to-do list.

An active activity is different from a passive activity.

A passive activity would be anything that gives you deep relaxation and that you derive great pleasure from. For me, this would be reading a book or magazine, taking a bath, going for a walk, writing and creating for fun, and being still and just observing the wonders of the world around me.


  • Active = things that keep you busy going toward some kind of defined, albeit arbitrary goal
  • Passive = relaxation (i.e. no “real” goal that society at-large could easily define–and likely a “goal” that you (or others) might consciously or unconsciously shame yourself for doing because you should be doing that other active “goal”).

Back to: Why My Life Is a Busy Ball of Hell

And so, when I look at my own life, all I see is busy. Busy at 6 AM. Busy at 9 AM. Busy at 9:05 AM. Busy at 9:10 AM. Busy until I go to sleep too late at 1 AM and then wake up just five to six hours later. (Yep, super unhealthy.)

I’ve come face-to-face with the ugliness that is busyness before. For instance, when I’ve exhausted myself so much so that I’m snippy and unhappy around family and friends and I mistakenly blame it on something else (a job, a particular situation, someone else, my existential crisis of not knowing what to do with my life–more on this particular form of BS at a later time, etc.).

But really, my bad/lackluster mood and poor behavior is (often times) the result of being so damn tired because I am so damn busy doing ten million things all the time and holding myself up to super unrealistic expectations. My energy is completely sapped. I no longer feel alive in the way I often appear to be for the initial launch of my many projects and activities. What I’ve experienced time and time again is that this energy doesn’t last. And it’s not because I don’t want that energy to last; rather, it’s because I’m literally suffocating my time to death because I keep stuffing my days full with just one more thing.

And I’m sick and tired of it, this busyness. It ruins my life–rather, my enjoyment of life–way too often.

This busyness stems from a number of assumptions that I’ve held so firmly from years of social and (American) cultural input (I really have to learn to embrace my Croatian cultural input instead…so much more relaxed and balanced!).

Some of these assumptions (and my accompanying commentary–enjoy!) include the following:

  • You should try your best on everything you do. This means doing it close to perfection and often, doing it better than others. (HA! Question for you–why do we always have to compete with others and compare ourselves to them, American/social culture? Because it’s BULLSHIT.)
  • You should try to one up yourself to keep challenging yourself so that you grow. (But grow into what? A fucking flower? The strong, awe-worthy beanstalk from Jack and the Giant Beanstalk? Who the fuck knows…)
  • You should always be working because “an idle mind is the Devil’s playground” and you can’t reach your potential or save the world or take care of your family or make the money you want (etc.) if you’re not working all the time. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (1) How do you–whoever you are (or even the Devil)–know what my full potential looks like? And (2) BULLSHIT.)

How I Broke-Down and Confronted the Busyness Bully

Just this weekend I came face-to-face with busyness again in all its ugliness.

I turned in an assignment (i.e. take-home exam) for a grad school class that was only 50% complete, which means that I’ll probably get a 50% (maybe less) as my grade for it (will I fail the whole class, though? Probably not, and so I’m letting it go…).

But why did I only do a horrifyingly 50% of my assignment? Because (1) I underestimated the time I would need to spend on it (and I underestimated my overall comprehension of the material) ,  and (2) my life has been split into so many different busy pieces that by the time I sat down to do the work, I was already exhausted and had difficulty doing simple math.

No bueno, as David would say.

So after I had a mini breakdown (I threw multiple books onto the floor and stormed away from my computer, so disgusted and frustrated with myself), I decided to work through my anger and everything else I was feeling instead of letting it consume me in shame and self-pity.

Thanks to this huge fail of a moment, what I realized was that I can’t go on living this way, in this constant state of busyness. (To be honest, this failure kinda saved my life, and I’m grateful for it. Insert heart emoji.)

  • (1) I can’t actually get through all 20 items on my to-do list in just one weekend. It’s impossible (although I was close, somehow, until I quite literally failed my assignment, which derailed all my hopes and dreams of having a perfectly complete to-do list–HA!).
  • And (2), I don’t even need to be doing most of what I have on my list anyways.

For instance, this blog. I want to have this blog because I want to write. But I don’t need to do it nor do I really need to stick to some kind of posting schedule that I’ve been trying to force upon myself simply because I know what you need to do to grow a blog following.

Yes, it’s great to know these best practices for work and commerce, but I’m not doing this blog for work or to make money or even to grow my audience. It’s just for fun. And it’s just for me (readers are an extra bonus–and I 100% appreciate you!).

My Come-Back-to-Reality-and-Stop-the-Busy-Train Lessons Learned

What I’ve also realized is that I really, truly HATE being busy–as I’ve always known, but have been afraid to acknowledge.


Because it means confronting the uncomfortable truth that I must learn to love and accept myself on my own, and that I’m worthy of love and belonging (to borrow Brene Brown’s words), even without having all the bells and whistles of projects, activities, and the like to cover-up (instead of deal with) my own self-criticism, self-consciousness, and lack of self-compassion.

Moreover, for many years, I’ve used busyness as a way to show how “successful” I am to the outside world, because, really, the outside world validates this path to success (and success in terms of $$$, power, and status, etc.) ALL the time–from corporate America to your parents and friends (and we–me, included–really need to stop this…).

For example, next time you see someone, like me, doing 10 million different projects, don’t say, “You are so amazing. I don’t know how you have time for all of this. I wish I could do that.”

  • Because (1) you really don’t want to do what I’m doing because it’s insane and unhealthy.
  • (2) I don’t actually have time for all of it; I’m drowning.
  • (3) I need to learn to embrace that I am amazing no matter what, regardless of if my to-do list is full or not. I also need to learn not rely on other people’s compliments for validation of my own worth.

Again, it is no one’s fault for saying something like the above example, but it is probably better to congratulate people on accomplishing something they were working on (and really wanted to be working on) rather than congratulating them for doing lots of projects and, by extension, being busy trying to “do it all.”

The Infinite Wisdom of Luca Spaghetti

I’ve also used busyness as a way to show how “successful” I am to myself. I’ve held up my worth against this ridiculous and totally arbitrary measure of success, i.e. if I complete EVERYTHING on my crazy long self-created to-do list by this weekend, THEN I will deserve praise and relaxation.

In writing this, I can’t help but think of Luca Spaghetti from the Eat, Pray, Love movie summing up this silly (American) notion so nicely:

Luca Spaghetti: You feel guilty because you’re American. You don’t know how to enjoy yourself!.

Liz Gilbert: [looking a bit taken aback] I beg your pardon?

Luca Spaghetti: It’s true. Americans know entertainment, but don’t know pleasure.

. . .

Luca Spaghetti: . . . You want to know your problem? Americans! You work too hard. You get burned out. Then you come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the TV.

Liz Gilbert: That’s not far off, actually.

Luca Spaghetti: But you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says, “It’s Miller time”… and you say, “That’s right. Now I will go to buy a six-pack.” And drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible. But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. He walks by a sign that says, “You deserve a break today,” and he says, “Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon…”

My Real Values vs. My Adopted Values

So, even though my real life values have nothing to do with optimizing my newsletter for my ideal readership or spending hours on a paper so that I get an A+ or working 60+ hours in a week to make extra bucks, I still somehow spend the majority (actually, all) of my time on this stuff. I mean, that’s crazy, isn’t it?!?!

What I truly value is quality time with family and friends and being creative and writing and above all, FREE TIME TO ENGAGE IN ALL OF THESE QUALITY, FLEETING, AND WONDERFUL THINGS.

Yet, I’ve continually deprived myself of free time so that I can keep climbing that ladder…that imaginary ladder to someone else’s version of success and fulfillment.

Don’t get me wrong–there are things I must certainly do, like clean, cook, do homework, make money, etc. BUT that doesn’t mean I should spend ALL of the time on these things. And it most certainly doesn’t mean that I should sacrifice my own health and sanity for these things either.

While I know this letting-go-of-busyness process will be very difficult, since it’s always hard to unlearn a long-held habit, I’ve decided to consciously try saying “no” to any external invitations or internal naggings that don’t align with what I really want to be doing with my time and life.

The Burning: A Liberation

And so, to celebrate this healthy step in the right direction, I decided to burn my 2018 goal list, which contained many things I enjoy (like cooking, reading, writing, etc.) but in a format that was way to social pressure-esque and prone to too much shaming if I didn’t get something done.

As I watched my 2018 goal list burn, I felt so much stress melt away and so much peace come rushing back into my life–the same peace I felt before I put pen to paper to create the list in the first place.

Here’s my liberation, proof in ashes:

unnamed (1)

In addition to this fiery celebration, I wrote a little 2018 Don’t Do List to empower myself to make healthy life, time, and priority choices. Because: “Hi, I’m Kristina. And I’m a busyaholic.”

To embracing la dolce vita like Luca Spaghetti,


P.S. Here’s a sample from my 2018 Don’t Do List:

  • Stop trying to revamp your blog newsletter. Actually, better yet–stop making your blog newsletter completely because it’s just another thing on your to-do list you don’t need to actually do.
  • Make whatever recipes you want each week. If you try something new, cool. If you don’t, fine. You’ll be fed. Your world will be just fine if you don’t reach your previously set goal of trying a new recipe every two weeks. Do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up.
  • Don’t say yes to everyone and every invitation to do work, go out, volunteer, have brunch/coffee, etc. And don’t feel guilty for wanting to stay at home and read a book and drink hot chocolate by yourself.
  • Speaking of reading, read whatever books you want, whenever you want. GoodReads is great–but don’t feel like you MUST reach the Reading Challenge goal you set because really, what you want most is to enjoy reading, not to win a fucking competition. (But keep on reading your one poem a day because that gives you so much joy it’s astounding.)
  • Don’t try to make this blog anything more than what you enjoy (because if you enjoy it, likely others will enjoy its authenticity as well). You created this blog to kickstart writing for yourself again (not for work, not for fame, and not even for your lovely audience of friends). You did this for you. So keep doing it for you. Your friends will like and respect you no matter what.

P.S.S. Another dose of inspiration I stumbled upon today from one of my fav. travel bloggers:


Feature photo credit: Goal List Ashes / KP



Waking Up to Sleep: A Reflection on Gratitude

This is my year of gratitude (among other things). Really, every year should be a year of gratitude. I’ll probably keep this particular theme around–a lifetime sounds good.

With just 17 days into the new year, I am finding ways to be grateful for things as small and simple as the sunset on a cold winter day–the way pastel pinks and muted oranges mix like an abstract painting in the deepening gray sky. I am also finding ways to be more grateful for bigger concepts like my overall health and the sturdy roof over my head.

I have found that by silently expressing gratitude throughout the day–a simple pause in thought here and there, nothing more formal or profound–that I am increasing my awareness to the abundance that is around me, even if the day might feel a bit colder, darker, and blurrier than others. Each new day has a surprise waiting for us if we only open our eyes, hearts, and minds to gratitude.

Deep shit right there–I know. But it’s true.

With more gratitude and deeper awareness comes more sound fulfillment and joy. It’s not superficial; rather, it’s long-lasting and powerful in ways that no material thing or experience can be. What I find most powerful about gratitude is that it gives you back your own power–you’re no longer putting your happiness into the hands of a job, class, friend, family member, or social norm. You’re taking back happiness and putting it where it’s lived all along–inside your heart and mind. With gratitude–that is, consistently practiced gratitude and an openness to present awareness–you have an ever-replenishing supply of joy. Some days the joy burns more brightly than other days, but it’s always there, saying, “Hey–remember me? I’m here for you. Forget me not.”

I was reminded of gratitude today as I was fighting off sleep at work. I got maybe six hours of rest the night before (and the night before that), and woke up a few times before my alarm officially went off (the worst). Thanks to my persistently playful and hungry morning lady cats and some strong Kroger-brand black tea, I was ready for work in no time. However, tiredness seeped in throughout the day. My face grew warm. My body moved slower. My mind was mush. All I wanted was sleep–something I never really thought of making a priority until more recently.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found sleep to be instrumental in regulating my mood, appetite, and energy levels. Most of us know this–but I’ve forced myself to become very aware of it so that I truly understand the consequences. I’ve watched myself become sluggish and irritable when I’m low on sleep and grow energetic and level-headed when sleep is in plentiful supply. In sum, sleep is great. It’s wonderful. And I want more of it–or well, enough of it to not be so damn tired and drained during the day.

So what does sleep have to do with gratitude? Because I realized today as I was staring at my work computer and not typing that it is something to be grateful for–this miraculous, natural way we rejuvenate ourselves. I barely paid sleep much heed before–oh, I’ll get 8 hours this weekend, but tonight six is fine. Oh, another almost all-nighter…well, the weekend is coming. Nope. Enough is enough. The more I put sleep to the side, the more I push myself to the sideline. Without sleep my gratitude meter drops, my mood is all funky, and my energy goes from zoom to zilch in a few hours time.

I’d like to be awake and grateful for the things happening in the here and now. So I’m raising my glass to you, sleep–now, time for bed.



P.S. My monthly Inspiration Newsletter is getting a makeover. Check out the before here, and check out the after by subscribing today–you’ll get a copy to your inbox on the last Sunday of every month. Ca-ching!

Feature photo credit: Newport Beach Pier / KP

Living Through Uninspired Times: A Search for Honesty and Fullness

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” -Steve Jobs

“All too often, we feel that we are not living the fullness of our lives because we are not expressing the fullness of our gifts.” – Elle Luna

It has been a long while since I’ve written. Over one month to be exact. I have failed at my goal of writing at least one post per week and publishing on Wednesdays (today I am publishing on Thursday). While I feel some weight of guilt, I also feel at peace with my decision because I knew I would return. I also knew that I needed to step away.

Over the last month or so, I have been busy as just about everyone else has (because we are all apparently in a constant state of busyness…can we please take a break soon? Say no to something? Hit pause on a project? Take a day for ourselves?). But I have also been out of touch with myself. Sure, there have been some personal matters that needed attention. And these matters required different levels of energy and strength to handle, which made them tiring in their own right. However, I knew on some level that these personal matters were not the root of my self-disconnection. I was.

I haven’t been honest with myself. As a result, I have felt completely uninspired and unable to truthfully contribute to my blog, which is all about inspiring readers to work toward the good and the better for themselves (and not take themselves so seriously while doing it…live a little!). It wouldn’t have been fair to my readers to post content that I couldn’t totally get behind.  So I didn’t. I took a break. And now I’m back, coming out of a period of hibernation to reawaken my inspired self.

Living through this uninspired time was f’ing rough. As a naturally-inclined creative, feeling no inspiration and being unable to gather inspiration from places that are usually supplying it by the ice cream truck loads really gnawed away at me. I felt stifled. Little. Sad. Alone.

I would wake up in the morning and just feel the blandness of my mind as if it was something tangible. It felt heavy and impenetrable like a steel metal door. And I felt trapped.

What’s more, I did this all to myself. And it started off innocently enough. (Oh how our inner monologues can lead us astray…)

Here I was, barreling down a path I created for myself, a direction I chose to go, the next steps I decided to pursue for my life. And there I went for a while. Doing a little bit of this, doing some of that. Doing what I was supposed to do. But after a while supposed to feels like a maze you can’t get out of and eventually you lose track of yourself.

What does losing yourself feel like? Well, like you’ve put on an octopus suit and are sitting in a subway car with your uncontrollable fake tentacles bopping around, making you and everyone else feel uncomfortable. In sum: out-of-body, out-of-mind, and out-of-place. A creature whose movements and thoughts are totally foreign to you….yet you are this creature. And also not this creature. So pretty much you find yourself experiencing a circus-like existential crisis.

How awkward. And how frustrating.

As I wrote earlier, I entered this state because I ultimately was not being honest with myself. I was doing what I was supposed to do, but not enough of what I needed to do. And what I needed to do was “have the courage to follow my heart and intuition” (Steve Jobs), to express “the fullness of [my] gifts” (Elle Luna). I not only failed at my blog schedule, I also failed myself.

I lied to myself saying, “Oh, but you need to do this. You said you were going to do this, so must do it. Otherwise you will be a fraud.” When in fact I was creating a fraud, someone so unlike me it hurt.

I’ve been so absorbed trying to be a certain way, to fit a certain mold that I stopped being engaged in the things I love: creativity, writing, reading, physical training, making friends, taking adventures, and just generally having fun and enjoying life. Take away those things and I’m effectively a zombie (minus the people-eating).

Changes are on the horizon now. The clouds are clearing. The steel door is caving in. Time will tell what truly unfolds, but I have hope that my slightly re-routed path will take me where I needed to go all along–back to my creativity, excitement, drive, and ambition.

And so if you, too, haven’t felt like yourself in a while, take a look about you. Take a look inward. What’s the same? What’s different? Where is the source of tension, of loss? Is it something you can mend? Do you need help from others to heal?

Take the time to reflect on how you’ve been feeling, what you’ve been doing, and even what you’ve been saying. Things will get better, but only if you stop and listen and observe, and then take the steps you need to make a change and get back to yourself.

It can take some time. Be patient.

We are only here once. We owe it to ourselves to make it count–to create an inspired, full, and honest life.

With love,


P.S. My monthly Inspiration Newsletter is pretty swank and sweet. Subscribe today and check it out! ❤

Feature photo credit: As Above, So Below / KP

From Chubby Kid to Fighting Adult: A Story of Beginning and Empowerment

(Note: The post below is not this post about beginning again…but if you read that too it will make me happy.)

To get where you want to go you have to begin. It’s that plain and it’s that simple. You don’t need some fancy formula or notable book to tell you that (although such things do serve as pretty little reminders).

You can begin anywhere at anytime and in anyplace but you just gotta do it. Start. Launch. Do. Initiate. Commence. Whatever synonym you want to pick from the bag, it’s there waiting for you to snatch it up and get going.

So what are you waiting for?

Oh yea, there’s that thing called fear…oh and there’s always “busyness” and some smattering of other options in-between. However, if we take the time to dig down into the trenches of our hearts we will find fear there, lying in wait like the fabled Boogie Man under the bed and covered up by all the other excuses we tell ourselves to make us feel just a tad better.

Just like so many folks around the globe, I too have struggled with beginning (and of course, fear as they often go hand-in-hand). My worst victim of not beginning is writing, which is why I finally said “f this shit, I’m starting this blog” so I did and here I am. But that’s not the story I want to tell today (since I kinda already did here).

I could tell many a story of all the things I began and kept on at, began and abandoned, and then those times in my life when I never began at all.

Today I want to share a story that encompasses all three of these, a story of my self-empowerment that has been propelled in large part by my physical training (and which still remains an anchor for me to this day).

Let’s dig in…

The Chubby Kid Who Doesn’t Run

I was the chubby kid. I was taller than most of my peers for the better part of my childhood (until everyone caught up and many surpassed me) and I weighed more than most. I wasn’t obese, not even fat, just a chubby little girl who didn’t like to run or do much physical activity aside from climbing on monkey bars (an area in which I somehow excelled on the playground).

My parents kindly enrolled me in various extracurricular physical activities (ballet, soccer, tennis, ice skating), many of which my older sister excelled in (since  I wanted to do what she was doing).

Yet to probably no surprise nothing seemed to fit me as well as it fit her. So I quit these activities, but at least I began them–I tried, that counts for something and at the very least I am now left with less regret.

The Chubby Kid 2.0 Who Runs

Fast forward to my later childhood years, the confusing times of middle school. I was still chubby, although I had grown more into my skin so perhaps “average” was a more accurate description? Who knows. Doesn’t really matter.

Anyways, I was still pretty eh about the whole running thing…about sports in general. My physical fitness tests were close to laughable. Most of the time I didn’t even try because I knew it was the same old story: I wasn’t meant to be good at these things so why make an attempt?

But the truth was that I just hadn’t found the right thing to begin. Hence the repeated tries and later, lack of tries. I had somehow decided to give up on myself. (As I write this my grownup self is thinking–WTF, KP?!).

I decided to resign myself to a life of carbs (mainly the all powerful glorious pasta god of mac and cheese) that helped mask a whole slew of unhappy thoughts about myself. I lacked self-confidence, self-compassion and the ability to self-empower.

(Disclaimer: While pursuing physical fitness does not necessarily mean you will be more confident, compassionate and empowered, it can be a factor in your personal growth–it certainly has been for me. I encourage you to begin things that will bring you the growth you seek.)

I was an emotional mess. But then something inspired me (I can’t remember what for the life of me…) to join the middle school track team. I made a decision to begin once more at something I was sure to fail at. And I did fail. Holy moly I failed and failed again.

I ran long distance and I was painfully slow. I was so far behind my teammates on our distance practice runs that they would lap me. And every time one particular eighth grade boy passed me, he threw out some rude remark about my slowness (or chubbiness…apparently both were synonymous). (Side note: please know that while I remember these comments, I don’t dwell on them as I once did. Today I remember him by the middle finger that is permanently glued on his head in my imagination…imagination is such a beautiful thing…)

Despite the rude comments and my slow times, I kept at this running thing that I was failing at because I saw that people could improve…and I saw that improvement in myself, however small. It was this realization–that you could begin something and actually get better (after much trial and error, of course)–that got me hooked on the power of physical fitness and it’s magical ways of breaking down my mental blocks.

(Another disclaimer: I’m no gym buff or expert. I’m just a person who found I liked fitness and kicking some butt.)

And so that takes us to…

The No-Longer-Chubby-Yet-Not-Super-Fit-Kid Who Runs, Lifts Weights and Throws

I continued with this running thing into high school where I really pushed myself to get better so that I could be good enough to run with the big kid distance team. I ran every day, lifted weights, did sit-ups and push-ups, and exercise cut-outs from Health magazine.

I never became super fit, but I was the most fit I had ever been in my life, and the hard work and perseverance paid off: I could run faster and do more sit-ups and push-ups than most of the freshmen boys on the team.

Beyond that, I felt empowered for the first time in a long time. I had shown myself that just by beginning and putting a little faith into myself that I could begin again the next day and push a little further until all the new-day-beginnings compounded and turned me into more of the person I needed to become (i.e. someone with increased self-confidence, compassion, etc.).

Me getting ready to throw at a high school track meet

And while I never did end up running distance for the high school track team, I did join the field portion of the sport as a discus thrower who made varsity the first year and remained on the varsity team all four years.

But remember: I didn’t get to this sweet spot in my journey magically. I got there because I began and failed so many times I could no longer count and at some point my beginnings floated me in the right direction.

As Cheryl Strayed once wrote in her Dear Sugar column, “Let whatever mysterious starlight that guided you this far, guide you onward into whatever crazy beauty awaits.”

Which takes us to more recent times…

The Adult Who Runs and Kicks Butt

I still run today. Long-distance. I like 5Ks. I’m not super fast, but I’m not slow either. Occasionally I’ll practice sprinting but mainly to develop speed and agility, not because it’s my favorite.

All painted up after a 5K Color Run (which we actually ran–never walked!)

I no longer throw, but I would LOVE to again some day (I’m a crazy technical throwing fanatic).

Nowadays, I train on punching bags and people. With my recent transition, I am at a MMA gym, polishing up my punching and kicking skills, getting into better shape, and learning entirely new techniques (woohoo!).

mma complete
Me all excited after my first MMA workout

But I’ve just begun there and so my progress is TBD at the moment so let’s go back a couple years…

The Adult Who Came Before the Adult Who Runs and Kicks Butt

Two years ago, I changed jobs from a highly sedentary telecommute position (literally did not have to move to work aside from tapping my fingers on a keyboard) to one with an hour long commute to an office (still somewhat sedentary but at least I left the house).

During this particular transition period, I realized how badly out of shape I had gotten and how my mind kept telling me how I wasn’t good enough (among ten million other things).

So I picked up on my pattern of little activity = lower self-confidence and decided it was time to change it. Naturally, I went on the all-holy Groupon. There I found a deal at a local Krav Maga gym. I had always wanted to learn how to defend myself so I thought–why not? (Note: A perfect phrase to jump start your beginning–why not?)

For my first class I was the only participant. No one else had showed. I ran slowly, did push-ups from my knees, did painful sit-ups, and tried my hand at some basic techniques. I was decidedly horrible at everything at that point. Weak. Out of breath. Afraid. Highly self-conscious. Exhausted.

I left that first class not feeling so hot about myself (since I wanted immediate perfection not progress apparently), but I also left with an excited glow I hadn’t had in awhile.

I decided to try again.

I went to a second class, which was very similar to class #1 (i.e. weak, out of breath, afraid, etc. etc. you get the picture). And then I went to a third and fourth and eventually signed up for a year membership after seeing that this was something that was going to get me back in shape and also make me feel good about myself.

And wow–over the two years I trained, I grew into myself, becoming who I always knew I was deep inside but who was always hiding from the spotlight.

Krav Maga–and the people I shared classes with, instructors included–helped bring me into my own. My self-confidence, self-compassion and self-empowerment skyrocketed to levels they had never been at before. I finally felt really, really good being me.

Me and my Krav buddy having a fun little photo op. #fightlikeagirl #fighton


This brings us to today–today I am not without faults, failures, hesitations or fears. But I am also not without dreams, inspirations, passion, values and dedication. I have all of these things in me, as do you.

And do you know what that means? It means that you can begin today what you keep putting off to pursue. It means you have the capacity to grow and learn and get better. YOU. Yep, you right here reading this.

So I’ll ask it again: what are you waiting for?

The world is waiting for you to begin so that you can guide yourself into becoming who you need yourself to be.

So begin, and begin again, and begin until it feels exhausting because at some point you’ll find a new beginning that will revitalize you in such a way that all your past failed beginnings won’t matter one bit.

I am raising my metaphoric glass to you and toasting to all your future beginnings. May they be glorious and meaningful, even if it will take you awhile to see them as the gifts they truly are. (And remember: you have to begin somewhere, somehow to gain access to these beautiful gifts.)

With love,


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Feature photo credit: The Girls / KP

Finding My Anchors Amid Uncertainty

The Rock (yes that Rock–Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is the inspiration behind today’s post. Or one of them at least.

(Remember, I’m going to occasionally talk about my obsessions on this blog…The Rock is just one of many…and did you know he has an f’ing alarm clock you can download?! Mind blowing goodness, that’s what it is.)

In a recent video post on his Instagram page, The Rock spoke and wrote about his anchors in life–his family and his physical training–and how they drive him to keep pushing himself.

In The Rock’s own words, “Find your anchor and protect it.”

(Now that man should have his own f’ing daytime talk show. Oprah, can you smell what The Rock is cookin’?)

Rock GIF.gif

And so, thanks in part to The Rock, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of anchors. 

Having recently transitioned out of one life chapter, I’ve been grappling with how to stay steady and strong as I begin a fresh, new chapter.

A lot has changed over the past few years.

  • I’ve grown older and wiser and tougher.
  • I’ve changed jobs and volunteer gigs.
  • I’ve had some dark days and I’ve had some great ones.
  • I’ve travelled and stayed still.
  • I’ve tried new things I never in a million years thought I would (pole fitness, skiing, Krav Maga, shooting a gun to name a few) and stubbornly refused to let other things go (mac and cheese addict forever).
  • I’ve read and not read.
  • I’ve written and not written.

All through these normal life fluctuations my anchors have largely remained the same and kept me sane–my family, my friends and my own training.

Anchor #1: Family

My family has given me the unconditional love only a family can. Despite our disagreements, annoyances, and frustrations we may share sometimes, I know that I can always count on them to be there for me no matter what. 

I am grateful to have such a family as I know not all do. They are there with a life float if I ever need it and they are always open to listening if I choose to share my thoughts.

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful. Thank you.

Anchor #2: Friends

My friends have given me joy, adventure and a place among them to shine as myself. With them, I am safe to be exactly who I am while also being pushed and challenged so that I can grow ever more wiser. They make me smile, but more importantly they make me laugh.

This last sentence reminds me of a line in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennett writes to her aunt and uncle about her relationship with Mr. Darcy: “I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.”

My friends aren’t quite like dreamy, steamy Mr. Darcy but the same sentiment applies as they give me pure joy.

Thank you. I am so grateful.

Anchor #3: Training

And then my training anchor comes in two parts: inner (self, soul, emotional, mental, whathaveyou) and outer (physical). I have found over the years that if I leave either part unattended my whole self suffers whether or not my family or friends are readily available.

My inner training has ranged from reading and writing to coloring and meditating and yoga. All of these practices bring me back to center even amid chaos.

My outer training has varied over time from steady distance running to high intensity fitness like Krav Maga and MMA. Whatever it is, I know I need it. Go a week without it and my mood and outlook already feels off. With it, I feel powerful and empowered.

Find Your Anchor(s)

If you’re like me and feel like you’ve lost your way during a life shift or anticipate some life changes happening down the road, I encourage you to think about who or what are your anchors and make sure you keep ‘em by your side.

You may not need them all the time (helicopter anchors are no good just like helicopter parents–eek!), but when you do need them they will be there waiting for you. Just remember to pay attention to them occasionally if they happen to be real people…real people don’t wait forever (real talk).

And if you feel like you don’t yet have anchors–don’t worry. Try some different tactics on for size that may make you feel calm, collected, safe and happy. No harm in trying and no harm in failing. Just keep going.

I wish you boundless seas of goodness in your anchor search. May you find what you need even amid uncertainty.

With love,


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Feature photo credit: Opatija’s Sea Maiden / KP

Remembering Cruelty and Choosing Compassion

“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” -Stephen Grellet

I remember when I first witnessed cruelty.

Sure, over the course of my young life I had seen various new stories about this person shooting that person or the 48 Hours Mystery episodes that always freaked my younger self and my mother out, making us extra cautious about going to sleep that same night, checking and rechecking the locks on our doors.

But this cruelty I witnessed was different because it happened right before my young eyes rather than passively through a TV screen.

A Memory I Cannot Forget

I was maybe 7 or 8, or perhaps 9. It is hard to remember now. But I was in Croatia, the country of my heritage where I spent most of my childhood summers with my grandparents at our family’s village home in the region of Zagorje.

I was walk-skipping around our small, new rectangular fish pond — a place my grandfather, a recreational fisherman, had always dreamed of having since he was a young boy. The fish — catfish and trout — were still new residents to the pond so the water was murky-clear, unlike how it is today — mudded from age (but still teeming with life).

Zagorje countryside
Zagorje Countryside / KP

The sun was setting against Zagorje’s rolling green hills, the sky turning a hazy mixture of orange, pink and blackish gray. And I was here at the fish pond with my grandfather. We had just finished throwing dried yellow corn and pieces of stale bread to the fish.

This was a favorite part of my days at our family home — watching the fish come to the surface to gobble up the goodies we gave them, their shiny fins and bodies slapping the water’s surface, creating small ripples.

As I walked along, I moved carefully, quietly, almost on my tip toes, not wanting to scare the frogs. But they were easily scared — jumping into the water from a crevice in the stone walkway as soon as they felt a vibration or heard the drop of my foot as it hit the cement.

I watched with awe as these scenes of life unfolded before me — a life I was only observing from the small spot I occupied in their universe.

As my grandfather worked and I walked, we were greeted by a furry black dog visitor who ran through our open fence doorway and up to us with such boundless joy and energy you couldn’t help but smile and feel instantly at peace. He was happy to see us — and I was happy to see him, as if we were old friends reuniting at last.

This dog — who knew nothing of me or my grandfather — showed us such kindness and gentleness that I will never forget him.

I begged my grandfather, “Can we keep him? Can we keep him?”

My grandfather, a man of few words, replied with a jolly smile and a hearty chuckle, nodding his head.

“Can we keep him?” I asked again.

“Yes, if no one comes for him,” my grandfather said.

I jumped up and down, ecstatic — I had never had a dog before, but I was no stranger to having animal companions. Nearly every summer I spent in Croatia, I had the honor of being surrounded by barn cats and sweet hens and protective roosters from our relatives’ farm next door.

Abi Playing
Abi Playing / KP

Over the years, I also had the pleasure of caring for (with my grandmother’s ample help) many non-human members to our village family — a pair of ducks named Peep Peep and Splash, a rabbit named Curiosity and her many babies ranging in name from Brownie to Bunnicula, a pair of chickens named Blizzard and Blondie, and an amazingly fearless cat named Junior.

To have a dog was the icing on the cake! But alas, his owner, our neighbor, came back for him.

The man stood there speaking with my grandfather, the dog hanging out nearby. I was walking toward them, leaving the fish pond behind, when the man called his dog. He trotted over, tail wagging.

Then the man kicked him, kicked him hard in the ribs. And he kicked him again, harder still.

The dog whimpered and immediately collapsed into himself, skidding away from his owner’s foot. He was no longer the happy-go-lucky dog that greeted us just 15 minutes ago — he became an abuse victim right before our eyes.

It terrified me, having never witnessed something like this before. I froze.

A few moments later I slowly inched closer, but still wanted to keep my distance from this man. I wanted so badly to punch him in the face — I day-dreamed about it right then, hitting him square in the jaw, watching him recoil in pain and surprise.

But of course I didn’t — I was too small and too afraid. I said nothing. And my grandfather said nothing. I don’t blame him for his silence because you didn’t tell people what they do with their business. And perhaps my grandfather was in shock too, and also a little afraid — I will never know (RIP Deda <3).

The scene replayed in my head as I stood there silent: the man kicking his dog, once, twice, and the dog recoiling from his touch with his tail between his legs, his body hunched.

I can’t help but forget this, this moment of cruelty, because it was so senseless and unnecessary. I didn’t know this man very well. All I knew was that he was our neighbor, although I had heard rumblings that perhaps he wasn’t the greatest human being in the world.

But that shouldn’t have mattered.

It shouldn’t matter if you’re a good person or if you’re a little morally off. It shouldn’t matter because we should treat others with respect and compassion.

But we don’t.

Duck walk
Duck Walk / KP

We know all too well the lack of compassion that permeates through our society and the ways in which we treat each other as well as the ways in which we treat our fellow beings on this Earth.

However, this moment painted a very clear picture for me of how random and sudden cruelty can be. This man just reacted and likely didn’t think, “Oh yes, the dog ran away from our house and to our neighbor’s; I am going to kick him.”

Or perhaps he did because he was angry.

But he didn’t seem very angry while talking with my grandfather. He kicked the dog anyway despite his calm demeanor. It was like he wanted to make a spectacle of it, to show us that he could rule, that this was his property, this dog — this kind, loving dog.

Choosing Compassion Over Cruelty

I thought about this memory today as I read an article exposing common cruelties on a mink fur farm in Russia.

I won’t go into any gory details (you can find those through Google) but these are some of many cruelties that people inflict on other beings of this Earth simply because they feel superior to them and because they want what they want and they don’t give a damn what is done to get it.

But this is wrong — is it not?

Waiting Dog / KP

I understand that we all come from different backgrounds and upbringings and that we all don’t live in the same mode of thinking that I live in. I am aware of this and I can appreciate our differences. But it is difficult for me to grasp why we choose cruelty and why we choose to support cruelty though our buying choices when we can make a difference. We can make a change.

We do not have to choose cruelty, we can choose respect and compassion.

I try to have compassion for all living beings. You will never hear me say “I hate that ugly snake,” “I hate that disgusting spider,” or “I hate that pesky groundhog.”

You will not hear me say these things, not because I feel morally superior to my peers, but because I truly believe that hatred and fear can breed untold cruelties in us and acceptance of cruelty if push comes to shove.

Friendly Cricket Neighbor / KP

And so I am always careful because I believe in making the world better. And one way to do that is to show compassion for all — all our fellow humans and all our fellow animals.

I look forward to a day, if it ever does come, when kindness and compassion outweigh the cruelty. I look forward to continuing to fight for these better days, this better model. We can do better, and I expect us to do better.

On Writing This Post

When I was thinking about this post, I didn’t want to hit the wrong notes. I didn’t want to it to sound like a diatribe from the animal protection movement, although I am a part of this movement as well as other social movements.

I wanted the post to be relatable to readers so that you would be open to what I’m saying and not shut me off because you aren’t in the same mental space as I am — which is totally fine.

But I knew I needed to write this and I know I will continue to write about this topic and related issues throughout the course of my life.

While we live sometimes in a cruel world and live surrounded by some people who choose to commit cruel acts, we also live in a world where people are fighters, where people get up in the morning with a fervor in their blood and choose to do the right thing — they choose to be kind and they choose to be compassionate and they choose to think before they act and not react.

Sleepy kitties
Sleepy Neighborhood Cats / KP

They choose love, not hate. They choose to be open rather than afraid. And this is the type of world I hope we are moving closer to.

So much has changed over the past two decades — I am so incredibly impressed — but I also tremble with some fear. There are people trying to push us forward and people trying to push us backward — but that is always the fight, isn’t it?

We must climb a huge hill or a mountain the size of Mount Kilimanjaro to get to the other side. And we may then still need to swim across a dangerous lake the size of Lake Victoria and as choppy and unpredictable as Lake Superior. But we can persevere in the face of these obstacles, especially if we are willing to put our pettiness and egos aside and band together.

And so this is why I wrote this post — it needed to be written because we need to do more and we need to do better.

I sincerely feel in my bones that we all have the capacity for compassion — no matter how much cruelty or unkindness one may inflict on another human or non-human — I know there is more to you than that.

We can all be more and we already are more — if we make the choice to wake up with compassion in our hearts.

With love,


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“I raise up my voice–not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard.” -Malala Yousafzai

“I know you can’t live on hope alone; but without hope, life is not worth living. So you, and you and you: you got to give them hope; you got to give them hope.” -Harvey Milk

Feature photo credit: Brijuni National Park Donkey / KP

Why This, Why Now

I have this hunger gnawing at me — but in a pleasant way. So gnawing is not the best word….nor is hunger, perhaps…

…let’s revise! One more go…

I have this deep, deep and ever-replenishing well of creative energy inside of me and it’s going to burst and explode all over like f’ing confetti at a kid’s birthday party if I don’t start this damn blog and write the shit outta it.

There. Much better. (BTW — I’m PG-13 rated.)

With that, I welcome you to my very first blog post of my second, third, fourth…(who’s counting anymore?)…blog.

(You can find one of my still active blogs from a few years here — from a time when I explored Croatia as an English language teacher post-undergrad. I also have a fun, new Tumblr of GIFs I started with a good friend that you can check out here.)

I am excited to be here, and writing and publishing once again — finally! (Hallelujah!)

But why this blog, and why now?

I’ll tell ya: because it’s time!

It’s time to fully embrace my creativity once again — that creativity I once had by the boat-fulls in high school art classes and overflowing in college creative writing workshops — and harness this crazy energy inside me that wants to jump for joy and scream at the same time.

(Creativity is such a marvel, isn’t it?)

And so, as all good writers and poets do, I will tell you a story:

Once upon a time, like many folk, I was self-conscious to the extreme, very shy, and very self-critical, always second guessing my words, my actions and ultimately, myself.

Why? I’m sure for a variety of nature and nurture reasons — but let’s not busy our pretty selves with that now. Because frankly my dear, I don’t quite give a damn any longer.

And so, not long ago I decided it was high-time to kick that silly self-critical bandwagon to the curb (because we’re all pretty frickin’ awesome BA people just walking each other home) and focus on what really matters — living your life the way you want it to feel.

Now, I live for myself — but also to help others.

I continually strive to be a strong, successful woman working to make the world a more sustainable, humane, compassionate and happy place, knowing that every little bit helps. (Personal mission here, folks — hello buzzwords!)

I also live continually inspired by the retrospective thoughts folks have later in life that whisper to their internal brainlobes, “Looking back on my life, I wish I could have experienced that or done this differently. I regret…yadda, yadda, yadda…”

I am inspired thinking of this often quoted generic scenario not because I aim to think such thoughts myself as I grow better with age (pinot grigio, anyone?), but because I aim to not have such thoughts, or at the very least to minimize this nostalgic and sad internal dialogue.

We only have one life anyway — so why cloud up our precious mental landscape with sad, worrisome and negative dialogue if we have the ability to change our thoughts and our ways?

Of course, we will all reach a day when FOMO* becomes a reality you can’t rewind — but I would prefer, as much as I possibly can, to embrace life with all its warts and bruises and all its soft spots and light, breezy skies — because this is it.

This big, beautiful, strange, at times horrible, and usually pretty okay thing we have going for us is life. Our life. One. Just one, folks.

Let’s just say I’m ready and willing now more than ever before to explore this life to the fullest and see how far it can take me until I can look back on all the wonderful and challenging experiences I’ve had by myself and with those I love and think — “Wow. That was a pretty damn good ride.”

Onward — and rock on.

Ciao for now,


P.S. Here’s what you’ll discover on this site over time:

  • Musings about life growth and journeys.
  • Thoughts on all sorts of relationships (friendships, familial, romantic).
  • Travel posts that go beyond the “see this, do that!” formulatic article style.
  • Musings on the world of activism and movements.
  • Random injections of humor and lightheartedness.
  • Less click-bait, and more meaningful content.
  • Posts on writing, reading and books as my heart desires.
  • Random posts on my personal obsessions.
  • Occasional guest posts by some extra, special folk.

P.P.S. You can check out my writing on other online spaces here, here, here, here and here.

P.P.P.S. Sign up for monthly InspirationInspiration for Good‘s newsletter! You will have my heart forever. ❤

*FOMO = fear of missing out — a brief footnote for all the folks like me still stuck in the early 90s and beyond who have no f’ing clue what everyone around you has been talking about in this 21st century of ours…

Feature photo credit: Book and Relax / KP