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



#MeToo: A Story of Holding Back, Self-Blame, and Opening Up

Please note: Adult language & triggering information about personal experiences follows.

I’ve been struggling to figure out what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

I stand in solidarity with the strong and amazing women who have spoken out against sexual harassment and assault and have shared their own stories via #MeToo and through other means. And I stand taller now, thanks to all of these courageous women, feeling more confident than ever to speak up if I see an injustice or abuse occurring, or if I experience it myself.

While there is plenty that still needs changing in our government and society at large, I am invigorated by the momentum that women’s stories have been gaining over the past few months in the media and in normal conversation.

These are important conversations we are having together–one-on-one and in the broader social space. It gives me hope for a better world. And I certainly hope it’s a world where we will be inviting and accepting of all voices–from women and non-binary individuals to LGBTQ+ individuals and people of color, among others.

It also brings me back to all the times that I’ve experienced harassment and gendered exploitation in my personal and professional life.

In addition to reading the many stories shared by women all over the world about their experiences with sexual harassment, assault, and abuse, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about vulnerability by shame and vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown. Both of these elements have converged and have compelled me to share my own stories.

It’s time.


I’ve been cat-called and honked at since I was in middle school as I walked to the local strip mall with my friends and it continues to this day as I walk with the same friends to get ice cream at the local Dairy Queen.

We are not walking for you to look at us and give us attention. We’re walking for ice cream, not for you. Roll your window back up, shut up, and go away.

I’ve received unwelcome shoulder rubs from men in superior positions as young as high school.

It’s my body. Not yours. Stop it.

I’ve listened to countless sexual “jokes” from so many men, even in what was supposed to be a “professional” environment.

These are not jokes. They’re lewd and disgusting. And I think you are too.

And I’ve experienced what happens when these sexual “jokes” open up to more sexual harassment.

A former adult student I taught told these “jokes.” They were all part of his game (I later realized) to get me out of the classroom for some coffee and practice English outside in a social context, so innocent and reasonable, it seemed. Oh, how I wish I knew then what I know now…but I won’t beat myself up about it because he was the one who violated and abused our relationship for his own personal gain.

That coffee turned into him trying to get me alone, and then turned into him standing behind me and putting his hands in my coat pockets. I pulled away. Then he tried to feed me a chocolate bar. I pushed his hand away, immediately. I was completely shocked, speechless, and so very uncomfortable.

After this incident, I dreaded every lesson with him.

I never reported it. I wish I did, but I felt that it wouldn’t have made any bit of difference because “that’s just how he is,” as someone told me in reference to his “jokes.” But I still wish I told everyone around me–even if our supervisor wouldn’t have listened.

I later learned that I wasn’t the only one. His inappropriate and abusive behavior was known at his place of work, and yet his superiors did nothing.

I’ve been contacted on social media by men seeking to “start a conversation” with me, which I now know is cue for: I would like to send you sexually explicit messages and images.

You have NO RIGHT to contact me or anyone in such a manner. Who the fuck do you think you are?

I’ve gotten the check-out and been told I looked “sexy” by a supervisor.

It doesn’t matter what I was wearing. That is inappropriate in any context from a supervisor. And it made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

I’ve been discouraged from speaking up, sharing my ideas, and reaching my full potential in past professional contexts because of both male and female superiors/colleagues who preferred to listen to male voices over a female’s.

Plus, I’ve been paid shit time and time again yet expected to produce excellent work in high volumes while being treated so poorly.

I’m not a perfect employee by any means, but I never deserved your bullshit conditions (which also happened to be promoted by those seeking to “do good in the world” with their organizations — well, you better start in your own damn backyard. #TimesUpAR (= times up animal rights) and #TimesUpEC (= times up environmental community).

It has taken me until just a month ago to realize that these people are bullies. They bully you with slights that you barely even notice but 100% register and internalize until you have no desire to speak up because it won’t really matter anyways, right? Because they’ve made it clear that you don’t matter. But you do.

And it has taken me until just a month ago to stop allowing these “superiors” to have power over me and my story and to stop them from living on in my head.

I’m going to shine and it’s not going to be because of you. It will be in spite of you. And it will be thanks to all the other wonderful mentors I’ve found when you’ve failed me.

Shame on you for your lack of attention to and regard of many talented professionals that you’ve lost because you’ve refused to change and expand your view to include other voices. You may have the experience and skills to be in a leadership position, but you ARE NOT A LEADER.

I realized that when many of the above circumstances have occurred that I wouldn’t have been so forthcoming about the harassment or exploitation. I would have preferred to tell someone that I was uncomfortable, that something felt wrong–but that would be all.

If I encountered these situations today, I would more likely label them sexual harassment and gendered exploitation because that’s what they are, at their core.

I think my reluctance to label them as such in the past is that I almost immediately looked at myself to see what I was doing wrong.

Was I being too friendly to this person that they thought I would want this type of attention? Should I not have worn my tall winter boots over my jeans with a blouse from The Limited on casual Friday?

And after placing blame on myself, I would go on the defensive, prepared for the next time a particular person would come back with “sexy” comments or “jokes” or try to touch me. I would say, “I have a boyfriend.”

But these responses–this, “I am not single so leave me alone,” and this, “it is my fault somehow”–are both woefully inadequate and showcase how much we–us, the victims–have internalized the ever-prevalent social norm of victim-blaming.

These types of responses reinforce damaging gendered narratives and place the burden on the victim to rectify something (the situation, or themselves), rather than placing responsibility on the perpetrators, who should be the ones held accountable for their inappropriate, exploitative, and abusive behavior.

This feels good, to be writing all of this. But it also makes me angry. And it makes me sad. And it makes me feel so vulnerable that I wonder if this is a good idea. But I know we need to share our stories because stories are powerful.

Stories can inspire someone else to share theirs–that’s how we got the #MeToo movement. And that’s how we’ll get many others started.

As we’ve seen from so many stories before and many more still to come, harassment and abuse happens to so many of us. It takes a lot of courage to share such stories–and it’s a very vulnerable and painful experience as well.

I want to encourage you–if you have a story you’ve been holding inside–to share it when you’re ready.

The time is now. The time is always.

With deep admiration & gratitude for all of you,


Feature photo credit: Color-changing camping fire / 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

Starting Over, Starting Again

“We carry these lists near our hearts and finger them like worry beads. It doesn’t matter what is on them. They are the thieves and it is the insidious virtue to have everything in order before we live that is the greatest thief.” -Mark Nepo

My two cats are running over the furniture, from room to room. It’s close to midnight and it’s their daily pre-midnight run-play fest. I love watching them tumble and bounce off everything in their path and then wrestle each other to the floor, grappling for entertainment. Each day, they remind me of balance. Of love. Of joy. And of fun.

I’d forgotten about these things over the past year and maybe even longer than that ( you’ll probably hear more about this in future posts). Sure, I had plenty of good times (I even got married in Croatia–which was a blast!) but much of the year had this icky grey filter over it that I just couldn’t shake. And then it took going into a dark place and then back out again to finally shake free from the shit cloud.

Now, I start 2018 with a renewed outlook–not a new one entirely, just the one I’ve had in me all along but that’s been hiding out under some rock. This outlook has a new dimension though–it’s a reboot, so to speak, but with a twist. Because I’ve decided I don’t just want to paste on some positivity and call it a day. I want to be positive, sure, but more than anything I want to own who I am fully and allow positivity to live out from this true place of being. In this way, the positivity can be genuine, not simply a flimsy filter through which I try to see and live my life.

This means being vulnerable and not shying away from vulnerability–whether in silly or tough situations. This also means believing I am enough and living boldly with this belief. It means not feeling bad when I choose to take time and enjoy something I’ve been looking forward to, like reading an article in Poets & Writers Magazine or going to bed early, even if there’s still one more damn thing to do on my damn endless to-do list. It also means charging what I feel is fair for my freelance services, based on the high quality of my work, my knowledge, and my experience. More than anything, it means being who I am and not being bullied out of it by a situation, thought, emotion, or person.

And so, I’ve decided to start over on this blog, or start again. It’s been a year of not writing here and that makes me sad. I don’t feel bad about it, just sad, which means it’s something I need to do for myself so here I am, doing it. Re-booting this blog is one of my reach goals for this year mainly because I have a whole lotta random goals in different categories like fitness, health, creativity, travel, career, and family/friends. For example, one goal is to read one poem a day and another goal is to try a new recipe every other week (doing well so far).

All of this–and restarting this blog–seem doable now, but I know that once my regular schedule sets in (grad school, work, side projects, etc.) that the goals could be pushed aside. Even if some of them get sidelined temporarily, I know they will be there, waiting for me to come back, and so I won’t feel guilty about letting them go on vacation for awhile. I also know that even making a little bit of progress on each goal will be WAY more than I did before to improve in each category so that’s a big deal and I will celebrate accordingly.

In addition to my 2018 goals, I plan to:

  • Make some more headway on my Top 100 list (i.e. my bucket list which I’ve updated via the link, if you’d like to check it out).
  • Revamp my monthly newsletter, Inspiration, with a whole bunch of fun, new, quirky, and delightful exclusive content that you won’t find on my blog. (Subscribe here to check out the revamp.)
  • Launch a new monthly series called The F That Blog (a blog within a blog) that will feature quirky illustrations (in collaboration with a local artist) along with a spunky, honest post about things that bully us (think: depression, naysayers, evil never-good-enough thoughts, guilt, shame, etc.) out of being our full, cool selves and how we can be empowered to tell ‘em to “eff off!”.

So, cheers to 2018–what I’m dubbing the year of seeking inner peace, embracing gratitude, and finding adventure anywhere and everywhere.

Ciao for now,


P.S. My monthly Inspiration Newsletter is getting a makeover. Check out the before here, and check out the after by subscribing today.

Feature photo credit: Old Town Stairs / 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,


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Feature photo credit: As Above, So Below / KP

Choosing a Life of Travel and Adventure (My 100 List)

On a bus driving back from a middle school track meet my teammates, our favorite coach and I were discussing places we’d like to visit. Smiles were plentiful as we shared what lands near and far we wanted to jet or drive off to see in our lifetime–California, Hawaii, Australia, England…the list went on and on.

We also discussed places we had no desire to visit. I remember my coach saying, “Idaho. Who would ever want to go there?”

I jumped up off of the sticky-hot black bus seat waving my hand in the air and said, “Me! Me!”

“Of course you do. Only you,” he said, laughing.

“I Love Potatoes!”

I settled back into my seat with a big, silly grin on my face, my eyes wide with excitement. I didn’t register the teasing nature of his voice and so naturally I continued on.

“They grow potatoes in Idaho! Idaho potatoes! I love potatoes!” My grin was so large then as I thought about everything that you could make with potatoes…French fries, hash browns, mashed buttery goodness…

He laughed again, and the conversation transitioned to different topic.

A Steadfast Love

There’s nothing particularly dramatic or exciting about this old conversation yet I still remember it all these years later. It’s a moment I come back to occasionally as it reminds me that (1) my love for potatoes is long-standing and still unshakable, and (2) that my love for travel, adventure and new experiences has always been undeniably important to me.

It’s a choice I’ve made about my life–that I will (and must for my own sanity) continually seek out new adventures, opportunities and travels as much as my budget will allow. As I’ve written before, I live my life in a way to minimize any regrets I could have later on down the road because I didn’t do this or that.

I try to do everything I want to, within reason. And at the very least I’ll know someday that I tried my very best to make it all happen.

Putting Love into Lists

To better focus my passionate travel-adventure desires, I’ve made bucket lists, both long and short, throughout my life. The same items have often appeared from list to list–visiting the Egyptian pyramids, going on a safari in Africa, learning to scuba dive, etc. etc. But what each of my old lists share is that they have gotten lost or have simply been forgotten in the abyss that is Google Docs.

Recently, I opened up a bucket list that I started at a time when I thought such a list would keep me motivated and excited about the future since I was in need of a little inspirational push. Well, no surprise: I forgot about it. As a result, it never served much of any purpose except for fulfilling my incessant need to organize my thoughts and plans.

Looking through it, however, I realized that I still wanted to do all of the things and go to all of the beautiful places listed. I was also surprised that I had already started to chip away at the list, having visited Colombia, gone camping, seen a Thunder from Down Under show (100% recommend), sat in awe during a Cirque du Soleil show, completed a color run, hiked among the beautiful rugged nature of Red Rock Canyon, and taken pole dancing classes (also recommend).

I was elated when I was able to cross these items off. I thought to myself, “Holy shit, I’m doing it!”

And so here’s to getting out there and f’ing doing it–to continuing down whatever dreampath you set for yourself long ago but have forgotten about or strayed from. Go back to it now and review whatever it is you wrote down, drew, or clipped from a magazine and saved in a folder.

It’s Time

It’s time to pick up your dreams or plans again and forge ahead–because it is an honorable and courageous act to try your best to do what makes you feel most alive.

If you feel that you need permission to go forward then I’m giving it to you now. Your steps may be small and require some time and preparation but they are not insignificant. Each step you take is a display of your own bravery and perseverance to keep on despite challenges and setbacks that life puts in your way.

To keep myself accountable to my own dreams, I decided to distill my crazy-long bucket list down into a top 100 list, a la Hanny who blogs at Beradadisini.

Here it is and here I go, moving forward every day.

Wishing you a happy journey,


My 100 List (updated 1/3/2018)

  1. Go skydiving
  2. Learn to scuba dive
  3. Volunteer abroad
  4. Go on an eco-vacation
  5. Attend a wellness retreat
  6. Attend a silent retreat
  7. Go paragliding
  8. Write at least four books (1 poetry, 1 fiction, 1 nonfiction, 1 children’s picture book)
  9. Volunteer at a farm sanctuary
  10. Own a beach/vacation house
  11. Start and manage a successful small business
  12. Attend a fancy (fur-free) runway show
  13. Participate in GISHWHES
  14. Learn Italian
  15. Become fluent in Croatian and Spanish
  16. Learn basic German, French, Turkish, Hungarian, and Arabic
  17. Learn to play Clar De Lune on the piano (or violin)
  18. Learn how to give a good massage
  19. Run a half-marathon
  20. Try acupuncture
  21. See a movie at a drive-in
  22. Live in an ashram for a period of time
  23. Go skinny dipping
  24. Watch a meteor shower
  25. Learn the basic star constellations and be able to identify them
  26. Give a moving public speech to a large group of people (100+)
  27. Attend a TED talk/TED conference
  28. Attend a writing retreat
  29. Take an acting or improv class
  30. Take singing lessons
  31. Take a class in basic car mechanics
  32. Take a photography class
  33. Take a class in painting or drawing (or both!)
  34. Build my own garden
  35. Learn a few good magic tricks
  36. Take a ceramics class
  37. Take a jewelry making class
  38. Take a sewing class and learn the basic skills
  39. Go on a winery tour
  40. Take a social etiquette class
  41. Learn to drive stick shift
  42. Get a PhD or an advanced certification/get an MFA in Creative Writing
  43. See a Blue Man Group show
  44. Attend a fancy red carpet awards ceremony
  45. Go on a week-long train trip (ideally a Trans-Siberian Railway trip)
  46. Stay on a private island
  47. Stay in a lighthouse
  48. Go on a safari in Africa
  49. Visit the Amazon Rainforest
  50. Stay at Kindness Ranch
  51. Visit the Egyptian pyramids
  52. Go on a cruise
  53. Go camping — DONE! (Twice–once in a tent and another time in a yurt.)
  54. Visit all 7 continents (visited Europe, North America & Central America, and South American so far–four to go!)
  55. Vacation in Igloo Village (Finland) or stay in an ice hotel
  56. Learn to tango in Buenos Aires
  57. Have three meals in three countries in one day
  58. Visit all provinces in Canada
  59. Visit all 50 U.S. states (visited: California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia–36 more to go!)
  60. Visit the Great Bear Rainforest
  61. Tour the White House
  62. Go to Niagara Falls
  63. Go to San Francisco — DONE! (Summer 2017, for the AFP Conference)
  64. Visit Bora Bora
  65. Visit Stonehenge
  66. Visit Macchu Picchu
  67. Visit the manatees in Crystal River, Florida
  68. Visit the Coney Island Boardwalk
  69. Visit the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center
  70. Attend the Venice Carnival
  71. See the 7 Natural Wonders
      1. Grand Canyon
      2. Pacicutin
      3. Northern Lights
      4. Victoria Falls
      5. Harbor of Rio de Janeiro
      6. Great Barrier Reef
      7. Mount Everest
  72. Explore some of the 7 Underwater Wonders
      1. Belize Barrier Reef
      2. Deep Sea Vents
      3. Galapagos Islands
      4. Palau Reefs
      5. The Great Barrier Reef
      6. Lake Baikal
      7. Northern Red Sea
  73. See some of the 7 Industrial Wonders
      1. The Brooklyn Bridge
      2. Bell Rock Lighthouse
      3. London Sewerage System
      4. Panama Canal
      5. Hoover Dam
  74. Become a major donor to at least one organization
  75. Attend and participate in a body painting festival
  76. Create my own perfume
  77. Invest in the stock market — ½ DONE (investments in cryptocurrencies via David)
  78. Learn how to be a strong negotiator
  79. Learn to birdwatch
  80. Learn to ballroom dance relatively well
  81. Ride in a hot air balloon
  82. Participate in a Color Run — DONE!
  83. Take a solo trip to three different countries in one summer (a la Eat, Pray, Love)
  84. Work in a bakery
  85. Pay for the bill of a stranger
  86. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  87. Improve mental math skills
  88. Go white-water rafting
  89. Jump off a waterfall
  90. Create a set of greeting cards
  91. Take a helicopter ride
  92. Bathe in mud
  93. Give blood
  94. Go on a cross-country road-trip
  95. Learn to surf
  96. Attend the Olympics (summer or winter)
  97. Paint an abstract painting
  98. Ride a Segway
  99. Eat at the Melting Pot or enjoy fondue in a more glamorous location like Switzerland
  100. See a male strip show (Thunder from Down Under, etc.) — DONE (Thunder once & Magic Men twice!)

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Feature photo credit: Istanbul Lion / 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