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work/life balance

Blog Love a la Carte

Love A La Carte: Bad Wolf Edition

6 June, 2014
"Bad Wolf" graffiti

Love A La Carte features all the little things that make my life just a little more delicious.

"Bad Wolf" graffiti

Finding “Bad Wolf” graffiti in the bathroom at my favorite coffee shop. Somewhere nearby, there must be a TARDIS!

Usually people think about going to Paris and falling in love with someone else, but this lovely article will make you understand how to fall in love with yourself no matter where you are.

This list made me laugh because it’s so true: 10 People You’ll Meet in Every Coffee Shop.

Feelin’ Good playlist on Spotify: some great soul music to get you going. All upbeat and all awesome.

Spending time with family and snuggles from a little ball of fur.

Viewing art at the Dali museum, learning about the history of the artist and the meaning behind his works and taking advantage of the exhibit about Andy Warhol: Warhol: Art. Fame. Mortality. Both men pushed the boundaries of the definition of art and both men cultivated dynamic, mysterious, and over-the-top personas. Absolutely fascinating. And totally inspirational.

Having a lovely Cuban meal at Columbia restaurant with one of the best key lime pies and one of the best espressos ever.

Reading and thinking about healthy eating and making an effort to follow a plan. Time to embrace real food, get rid of the processed stuff, and get back into the exercise. I see lots of salads and fruit in my future. And a lot more protein than I have been eating. Also, more healthy fats. More water, less sugar. It’s time to take charge and treat myself right.

I decided a little over a month ago to make Saturday MY day. It’s my day to get things done and work towards goals. I’m starting my day with learning about coding, web design, and web development, working on WordPress or CSS. After that, I’m setting aside a little time to clean my abode or run errands – do the things I never make time for during the week – like scrubbing the shower, tidying my clothes, or getting my car an oil change. And after lunch, I’m making a date with myself for a couple hours of creative time. This time is strictly set aside not to be structured. I can do whatever I want for three hours, so long as it involved exercising my creative mind. Perhaps it’s some writing or maybe I’ll paint or work on a collage or do a home decor DIY project. Regardless, it’s time just to be by myself and work on some type of art. I am making a pledge to myself that the television will not go on. And while reading is a great way to spend time on a day off, I will make time for that in the evenings, not during this time. This time is especially for spiritual and creative growth.

Getting totally lost in a book. This time it was Peach Pies and Alibis by Ellery Adams. Deliciously mysterious. Love, death, magic, tragedy, and scrumptious pies (with recipes!) – what more could you want?! Even better than the first in the series in my opinion. Also, if you’d like to add me on GoodReads, you can find me here.

Life Lesson from Shauna of Nubby Twiglet: Stop Overthinking It. As a Virgo, I tend to do this, too. I think it’s part of our nature to analyze and contemplate. While some thinking is good, sometimes you just have to go for it. As Shauna said, “The bottom line? We felt good about it so we just went for it.” I’m vowing here and now that when I feel strongly about something, I’m just going for it.

Blog The Desire Map The Happiness Project

The Desire Map

3 July, 2013

I recently started upon a new journey briefly mentioned in my post on themes for 2013 (Gratitude, Beauty, and Health) called The Desire Map (affiliate link)*. The program, authored by the luminous Danielle LaPorte, is all about how we want to feel in life. Much like setting up themes for myself each year instead of writing out a list of aspirations, The Desire Map encourages people to map out their core desired feelings instead of concrete goals. By doing this, the program helps people to access a more holistic life plan, both inclusive and flexible, as opposed to a traditional rigid and limiting set of goals.

Danielle focuses on five areas of life: Livelihood and Lifestyle, Body and Wellness, Creativity and Learning, Relationships and Society, and Essence and Spirituality. Each of these five areas deserves concentration and affection. By mapping out desired feelings in each area, people are able to make clear what it is they really want to get out of an experience – the feeling that comes during and after that event: pride, relaxation, comfort, physical well-being, spiritual connectedness, the list goes on.

The purpose of the program is, in Danielle’s words, to guide you in using your preferred feelings as a guidance system for making choices, and for being more present and alive, to help you use your desired feelings as a way to access comfort and clarity during painful times, to show you how to use your desired feelings as creative fuel to make great things happen in your life that will radiate out into the world, to help you accentuate the positive aspects of your life, while still honouring, and not invalidating, the negative parts that you want to change. All of these things sound like wonderful ways to get in touch with myself and where I truly want to be in life. So, I am working with The Desire Map in conjunction with my themes for this year.

I am in the process of crystallizing my vision for my core desired feelings. I am making my way through the workbook and finding a way from gratitude through desire to action.

Join me in the journey by following along here, or do it for yourself with The Desire Map* program (includes book, workbook, audio books, email inspiration, audio contemplations and motivations, worksheets, a web app, how-to videos, and 4 music playlists, as well as access to The Desire Map Facebook Group).

*While this is an affiliate link, I truly do believe in this program and what it will do for my life. I am already appreciative of the workbook and how it makes me more aware of what it is I truly want and how I can achieve my true core desired feelings. I hope sincerely that you will join me, not because I will make money from your purchase, but because I would love to have allies, friends, and co-conspirators along this journey. Please do leave a comment and let me know if you decide to do this program so we can work through it together.


Blog The Happiness Project

2013: Gratitude, Beauty, and Health

28 June, 2013

In the past couple of years, I’ve chosen just three words to focus on for twelve months. Last year, my words were Create, Celebrate, Simplify. Though I didn’t follow through with all of the goals I set out for myself, I was relatively happy with how they manifested for me. I got back into writing and wrote more than ever before during NaNoWriMo. I celebrated with friends, I celebrated myself, I even got to travel to Indonesia to celebrate my brother’s wedding to a wonderful Indonesian girl. And I simplified to such a degree that I find myself wanting more, for I have bare walls at home begging for some art.

For 2013, my three words are: Gratitude, Beauty, and Health. Here I have outlined them with words and photos, including ideas on how to better bring these wonderful things into my life and how to move forward with goals that will keep ensure they stay a part of my life.

[I realize that I’m a bit late to the party in posting this, but I’ve literally been working on this all year. (I started the first draft of this post on January 4.) I actually think taking my time and posting about this later in the year has helped to crystallize my vision for what I want and constantly updating this draft has kept me focused on these three words.]


prayer offering in Bali

  • Goal word: GRATITUDE
  • Path 1 to the goal: Keep up my lists of Love A La Carte (gratitude, wonder, and general awesomeness).
  • Path 2 to the goal: Live in the moment and be thankful for what I have.
  • Path 3 to the goal: Give some of the gratitude away. Instead of random acts of kindness, perform targeted acts of kindness, sharing with friends and family.
  • Path 4 to the goal: Complete Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map.
  • Distractions: Getting stuck in a rut. Getting overwhelmed or stressed.
  • Steps to the path: Keep a cup of “great times” moments listed on colorful Post-It Notes, eat seasonal food, update to Happier as often as possible, and take more photographs to document awesome things.
  • The finish line: Making 2013 my most grateful, happiest year yet. Feeling a sense of accomplishment. Radiating gratitude and kindness.
  • What’s next: Inspiring others to radiate gratitude and kindness.



  • Goal word: BEAUTY
  • Path 1 to the goal: Spend less money and more time appreciating the beauty that surrounds me. Find the beauty in the mundane.
  • Path 2 to the goal: Write about beauty in the world and appreciate the beauty in myself.
  • Path 3 to the goal: Take more photographs of the beautiful details in life.
  • Distractions: Distractions. Being busy. Lack of awareness.
  • Steps to the path: Update my iPhone (camera) to a better one and/or carry my digital camera more often. Make my own beauty products. Organize and weed out beauty products I already own. Stop feeling guilty about making myself look good (STYLE).
  • The finish line: Experimenting with multiple design and style aesthetics.
  • What’s next: Finding a design and style aesthetic that pleases me.


blueberries and blackberries

  • Goal word: HEALTH
  • Path 1 to the goal: Getting new glasses. (check)
  • Path 2 to the goal: Finishing dental work. (check)
  • Path 3 to the goal: Going gluten/wheat-free. (So, okay, I tried this and it didn’t really work out for me. It was too hard not to eat wheat and too expensive to keep up with. But, I tried something new. So, at least there’s that.)
  • Path 4 to the goal: Finish one full year on Weight Watchers.
  • Path 5 to the goal: Keep current with all doctors’ appointments throughout the year.
  • Path 6 to the goal: Start running.
  • Distractions: Time restraints, convenience, expense.
  • Steps to the path: Track the food that I’m eating, experiment with wheat-free cooking and baking, make and keep doctors’ appointments.
  • The finish line: Making 2013 my healthiest year yet. Losing weight. Feeling more full of energy.
  • What’s next: Don’t stop. Run a 5k. Run 3-4 times a week consistently. Add yoga.

*All images mine.

Blog The Happiness Project

Mental Health Day

21 May, 2013

Do you ever take a day off just to cater to your mental health? I do. And I’ll tell you why: sometimes you just need a day away from work, away from responsibilities to take care of yourself – a time and space completely your own.

I  took the day off yesterday because I needed a day to be inside myself, without working. I needed extra sleep and extra care.

So, I slept in. And when I got up, I cleaned and did chores around the house, put fresh sheets on the bed, bought new pillows, organized my room, hung summer clothes in the closet and put away the in-between clothes, went grocery shopping, and watched television (cooking shows and the Office, ironically). I bought a jewelry tree to organize my accessories. I hung up my magnetic makeup board. It felt good to take care of all these things and to largely disconnect from the internet. I didn’t pay attention to the news. I didn’t read blogs. I checked Twitter and Facebook sparingly.

At the end of the day, I felt relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to face the world again. There’s just  something about getting your physical space in order that leads to getting your mental space in order, as well. Sometimes taking a day off just to care for yourself can be just the thing you need.


On Inspiration

22 April, 2013

I keep waiting to be inspired. And then I am inspired by absolutely everything, but I don’t have the words to write. As the glory of spring blooms around me, I am reminded that I need routine in my life. A routine of being inspired. A routine of creating art. A routine of writing.

I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite quotes:

Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -Clive Barker

It is so often that artists credit their routines with inspiration for great art. It seems so simple, yet is often a challenge to stick to that basic schedule. In essence, not only do we have to plan to be inspired, but clear the time and space for it to happen.

When I find myself uninspired, I know it is time to make energy move. It’s time to clean up, clean out, organize, and simplify. That time is now.

Love a la Carte

Summer Lovin’

16 July, 2012


Love A La Carte features all the little things that make my life just a little more delicious.

♥ The above illustration from ♥ This makes my heart jump up and down with happiness: the Business 9 Women Kept Secret for Three Decades. ♥ Affordable Care Cat (the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act was HUGE good news for this country, a huge win for the underprivileged and for women in particular). ♥ How neat is this documentary on the Cave of Forgotten Dreams?! ♥ This article on mental health really made me think: Why Americans Are Anxious, Stressed, Depressed, and Fat. What do you think? Are we addicted to novelty? Is technology too much for our brains? Do you find yourself overwhelmed? I know I do. Sometimes I just have to step away from the computer and the phone and take a breath of fresh air. ♥ Some fantastic combination of art and science: Berndnaut Smilde Makes Real Clouds Appear Inside Gallery (and photographs them). ♥ Making plans for a vacation and getting out of the city for a week for time with my family, relaxation, and lots of time by the water, both beach and pool. ♥ Taking a well-deserved coffee break. ♥ Getting stains on my fingers from fresh summer fruit, especially berries. ♥ Thunderstorms. ♥ LUSH’s Ocean Salt scrub, which is great for tired feet – I use this for at-home pedicures. ♥ Having a really rotten argument turn into a learning experience. ♥ Second chances. Or third. Or fourth. Or… ♥ Candy-colored Post-It Notes. ♥ The Princess Bride (forever a favorite). ♥ Trips to Barnes & Noble because new books are so exciting! (And walking around among books is good for the soul.) ♥ Discovering new music via friends online. ♥ Dressing up for no reason at all. ♥ Looking at photos from past vacations and trips and loving how utterly happy everyone looks. ♥

My Summer Beach Vacation Spotify Playlist:

This wonderful chat between friends about beauty, gratitude, and self-love:


Southeast Asia: The Trip of a Lifetime, Part 3: Adventures in Central Java

11 May, 2012

Not only did we get to witness a beautiful wedding, but we also got to experience much of the culture in Central Java through our travels there. We were fortunate to have a wonderful trip all planned out for us and enjoyed every minute of every day (well, except when my parents and I got food poisoning – ick!). We took a bus trip through the countryside and up into the mountains to stay at Dieng Plateau. We arrived in the evening, after dark had settled, but could see the beauty of the gardens at the tea plantation where we were staying. When we woke up the next morning, we could not only see the loveliness that was the waterfall outside our door, but also the other mountains in the distance. It was a breathtaking view.




We got a tour of the facilities and lessons in how to process tea leaves to make both green and black tea. Did you know they both come from the same plant? Black tea is just fermented. That’s the only difference. This tea plantation has 800 tea-pickers who are all women. They grow tea for Lipton… next time I drink a Yellow Label, I’ll remember everything about how it’s processed and prepared. Mmm, tea. (I love tea. I have many favorite types and love experimenting with new blends. What about you?)

While staying in the area, we also visited a beautiful old Hindu temple that was built in the 8th century. The facades were cracked, but you could still make out the carvings. It had long since been robbed of the figures inside the shrines, but the structures themselves were still quite impressive.


On the way to Jogjakarta, we visited Borobudur Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Though this temple was built in the 9th century, it is still used for worship today. There are three levels to the structure, each representing a different realm in Buddhist cosmology: namely Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and finally Arupadhatu (the formless world). Humans live out their existence in the first level, the world of desires. Those who have pushed away and overcome all desires live in the world of forms, where they can see forms, but are not drawn to them. Only Buddhas, or those enlightened, can reach the realm of the formless world. In addition to this symbolism, there are also panels depicting the stories of Buddhist lore, the birth and life of Siddhartha. There are 72 statues of Buddhas, which through subtle differences, represent different directions and carry different meanings. Their different purposes include: calling the Earth to witness, benevolence and alms giving, concentration and meditation, courage and fearlessness, reasoning and virtue, and the turning of the wheel of dharma. The temple of Borobudur was not only impressive, but truly breathtaking.


My favorite temple, however, was not Borobudur, but the Prambanan Temple, a Hindu temple. Prambanan was also built in the 9th century and celebrates the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). (Can you guess which one I was drawn to most?) In a similar fashion to Borobudur, there are three levels: the Bhurloka, the lowest realm of common mortals (humans, animals also demons), the Bhuvarloka, the middle realm of holy people, rishis, ascetics, and lesser gods, and the Svarloka, the highest and holiest realm of gods. In the lowest realm of mortals, humans are binded by their lust, desire and unholy way of life. In the middle realm of holy people, they have begun to see the light of truth. It is in the highest and holiest realm of gods that heaven is represented. This is where the righteous go between lives on Earth. At Prambanan, there were also many reliefs. They represented the epic stories of the Ramayana.