A New Friendship, and an Authentic St. Paddy’s Day

There’s nothing like meeting someone new and a friendship seems to develop effortlessly from your acquaintance. One day you’re shaking hands, and a few weeks down the road you’re sitting in pjs together on the couch, beer in hand, analyzing Jersey Shore.

My friend Maura started working at my company in early January and we have since become fast friends. It probably helped that two weeks after meeting one another, we had to share a hotel room for 5 days at a company trade show. Living in such close quarters helped us form a quick bond, and I have found myself more comfortable in her company than I have with some people I’ve known for years.

Last Saturday, we ventured to San Francisco for St. Paddy’s day with Maura’s boyfriend and our friend Emily. While St. Paddy’s day is always a blast, it was made even better by the fact that Maura is 100% Irish. She misses her friends and family back home, so St. Paddy’s day is her chance to feel at home in the U.S.

From left: Emily, myself and Maura.

We started the afternoon at the Irish Bank near Union Square, which was complete insanity. I asked Paul to take a picture of the crowd:

People crowded in the alley outside the Irish Bank as far as the eye can see! Luckily we were able to get our beers (in green bottles, no less) without much trouble. The highlight of the afternoon was when Maura was asked by the band to jump on stage to help sing “Back Home in Derry” seeing as she hails from County Derry and is a true Derry Lass!

It was great to experience something new, and the St. Paddy’s day excitement humming through San Francisco’s Union Square was infectious. It was even better to celebrate with a new friend!

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My Happy Place

A few weekends ago, I discovered my happy place, and best of all it’s not just a metaphorical one (although those are good too!).

Helen Putnam State Park rests in the rolling hills on the outskirts of Petaluma, surrounded by farmland. Most people I’ve met who were born and raised in Petaluma tend to think Helen Putnam is no big deal. It’s certainly not as strenuous as other hikes, the trails don’t wind through gigantic redwoods and it’s in their own back yard. But I, for one, am blown away every time I wander the trails there.

The view from the top of the first hill. Definitely reminds me of the rolling, green hills of Ireland. Most of the trails are open land at first and then wind into tree covered trails.

Harrison looking very stoic underneath a treetop covered trail.

I’ve been taking Harrison there every weekend. (Side note: It used to be impossible to walk him, but I finally purchased a front lead halter and it is working wonders!) I find myself looking forward to our hikes every week, and I think something about the openness of Helen Putnam really allows me to reflect. Harrison does some reflecting too. Here he is checking out the wildlife:

a.k.a longingly staring at all the other dogs who pass by.

When I’m stressed out during the week, I think about my upcoming hike to feel better (well, that and wrapping my fingers are an ice-cold beer!). It may not mean a lot to everyone, but it has special meaning for me, and I’m so happy to have discovered it!

 

 

 

A Beautiful Birthday

I turned 26 on Saturday. I’ve been so busy with work I’ve hardly had a moment to process the fact that I’m not in the “25 or less club” anymore (as someone so succinctly pointed out on my Facebook wall!).

My 25th year was one of my best despite the many challenges I faced, and I’m proud of what I was able to achieve. I rang in the arrival of 26 years by celebrating with close friends, and felt the love of friends and family far and near.

My friend Maura threw a get together for a few of our close friends from work:

We had a great time drinking cocktails, laughing, and eating a mound of sweets.

Two of my best friends (who were away for the actual day, but will celebrate with me when they return) left me cupcakes, which were delicious.

My parents and closest friends from Arizona called to sing me “Happy Birthday” and even made a cake to eat in my honor.

Even though getting older is often slightly depressing, I appreciate the fact that birthdays remind me that the people I love love me back. I was stunned and humbled by the reminder that there are so many people in the world who care about me, and go out of their way to express it. In the past, I’ve often felt empty on my birthdays, sad at the idea of getting older. But when Saturday ended, I went to bed feeling fulfilled and happier than ever before.

Puppies and Patience, How Harrison is Making Me a Better Human Being

Harrison did something the other night he has never done before…he peed on my bed. He squatted down on my brand new, beloved ivory bedspread, and peed. I was beyond livid. Why, I ask, after a year of peeing outside does he suddenly decide to pee on my place of rest?

I ordered him out of the room and shut the door. Apparently this was torturous for him since he’s attached to my butt at all hours of the day, and he lay outside my door whimpering while I seethed.

I immediately did what any dog owner looking for answers does and googled “Why do dogs pee on beds?” Many people think dogs are expressing their anger when they pee on beloved couches or clothes, but from my past dog training experience, I know that dogs are not vindictive creatures (that’s what cats are for).

After reading all the potential reasons (of which, there are many) my anger slowly ebbed. I walked over to the door and saw this face:

The same worried, furrowed brows that say “Do you still love me?” (or in the case of the photo above, terrified brows that say “Get me off this boat!”). My heart instantly melted and within minutes, Harrison was back up on the bed (after I removed the bedspread to wash, of course).

So what does this mean in the grand scheme of things? I realize that I forgive Harrison for any and all transgressions ten times faster than I forgive my boyfriend, friends or coworkers. Even when he is being mischievous, I don’t harbor anger about his actions. Why? Because I have no doubt in his intentions and know beyond a shadow of a doubt he loves me. In short, I trust him.

I’m not sure if I’m the only one who struggles with this, but I often have pangs of self-doubt. I wonder if my friends really like me, or my coworkers actually value having me on the team. I find it hard to trust, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have found lately though, that the more I try to put trust in others, the less anger I feel.

After all, if Harrison can brave his fear of canoes simply because he trusts me to protect him, I can put my trust in others to love and support me.

Thoughts on Relationships

Ah, relationships. It still boggles my mind that I could be turning 26 next week and still be so confused about matters of the heart. Shouldn’t I have enough experience now to have it all down? Yet, I think my particular experience with relationships is what has left me so confused. After my marriage failed, I realized that I had never thought long and hard about how to truly make a relationship work. When my husband and I met, we fell in love almost immediately. It was like everything was so easy we didn’t have to try. Obviously now I realize that mindset contributed to the ultimate demise of our relationship (though there were admittedly many other factors).

Relationships take work. Yes, this is something we hear time and time again. But how many of us put this into practice when it gets down to the nitty gritty? We are a generation of instant gratification. We click a button and we’re instantly connected to hundreds of peers on Facebook. We want information and it’s at our fingertips. We expect the world to be handed to us on a silver platter, because we’re…special. I am by no means saying this is a catch all explanation for everyone in Generation Y (in fact, I have many friends who seem to have it all figured out), but I do think patience is a harder skill to learn in today’s social landscape.

I grew up attending a large church every weekend, which offered me a large community of support. My own parents have been married for 36 years, and I’ve seen countless examples of lasting couples. You’d think I would have learned tools for relationship success merely through observation. But here’s the sad truth…I simply wasn’t paying enough attention.

After my marriage I spent a lot of time simply trying to move past the hurt and anger. After that however, I realized that I must become intentional about my relationships. In fact, I realized that my emotional situation was so dire, that if I didn’t get down to the bottom of it and learn how to function in a healthy relationship, I was setting myself up for a lifetime of hurt and tragedy.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of my emotional hang ups, tendency to withdraw and general commitment phobia. I’ve read books and talked to friends. Still, I find myself struggling so much in my current relationship that I finally broke down and enlisted professional help…I contacted a therapist. It’s true that this is probably something I could (and should) have done long ago. But for some reason I was very hesitant to poor my heart out to a stranger. Now that I’ve bit the bullet, I’m hoping that therapy will give me the tools I need for success. To be continued…

My sidekick Harrison

A year ago I walked into the Oakland Animal Shelter and fell in love with a skinny puppy, curled up on a towel for warmth. Unlike the other dogs jumping on their gates to get a better look, he merely lifted his eyes, warily looking a yet another person walking by. After taking him into the playroom, he started wagging his tail shyly and eventually picked up a toy and dropped it at my feet. I had come that day with no intention of falling in love, but after I left, he had a name…Harrison.

Who could resist those eyes?

Even though it took me approximately .5 seconds to fall in love with his wrinkly brows and sorrowful eyes, adopting a dog was not a rush decision. I’ve always been a dog lover, and had been very close with the dog I had begged my parent’s to adopt when I was in 5th grade. After separating from my husband, I was forced to pick up the pieces and put my life together. I felt alone, and wanted a companion. I wanted to pour my energy into another living creature, and give and receive unconditional love.

Since the day I adopted Harrison he has been both a challenge and a blessing. He has challenged my patience with his undying energy, his penchant for shoes, and his dislike of his crate. But he also makes me laugh at least five times a day with his precocious personality, a body that wags so hard his tail hits him in the face and his insistence on making anything soft his new home.

He has endeared himself to me with his loving gazes and his willingness to cuddle. He has wormed his way into my heart and I don’t see him leaving that place anytime soon. Best of all, he’s helped me heal. And for that, I will always be grateful.

2012 “Weigh In”

As 2011 came to an end, I promised myself that 2012 would not just be better than my so-so 2011, but that 2012 would kick ass. I truly believe that a large part of reaching goals stems from holding yourself accountable instead of letting yourself off easy.

That’s why instead of an end of the year re-cap this December chronicling what I could have done better, I’d like to have a monthly “weigh in” if you will. This weigh in is meant to check my progress and keep me motivated.

So here’s how January stacks up. January was a crazy month, work-wise. Not only did I step into a new position that involves getting to know several client accounts, but I planned and attended my company’s biggest trade show of the year. It was exciting. But it was also stressful. I found it difficult to find the balance amidst new life changes. Not only that, but I let myself down on one of my biggest goals: to keep blogging.

On the bright side, I got a yoga mat.

I even used said mat. Whenever I could, I did yoga in my room for 20 minutes. One time, I even got my booty to yoga class.

I hiked more, and took Harrison out for walks more often.

I didn’t save as much money as I’d like, but I did put a large effort into using the money I spend to spending money to make my apartment an enjoyable environment. 

I’m trying to recreate the above picture from pinterest in my room. For too long, I’ve put absolutely zero effort into making my room comfortable. I’ve noticed that the more effort I’ve put into making my room a space I enjoy, the more I find myself wanting to hang out at home instead of going out.

Work-wise, I’ve gone into my new position at full force. Even if I’m less than 100% successful, I know that I’ve put every ounce of effort possible into making my position succeed, and that’s a good feeling. I also started my class, and am enjoying it so much. I love having the week broken up, and learning about a fascinating topic.

Overall, even if I didn’t reach every single specific goal I set, I think I did well in I think I did well in consciously creating changes in my life. And that, after all, was my biggest goal of all.