2016 Book Report – Part One

I did a lot of reading this past year, much more than any of my previous adult years. I recently fell back into a habit of reading and I made it somewhat of a priority in 2016. I thought I’d do a quick review of what I read last year. I’ve broken the list down into two parts for your reading pleasure. Here’s some of what I read in 2016:

Big Magic. Read more at pamelapetrus.com

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No Goals

Goal setting and goal trackerI never thought I’d be the one saying this – I’m not setting any goals this year. I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. I usually do quite the opposite. I unintentionally set way too many goals to accomplish in one year. I simply can’t prioritize and save some things for later. Instead, I feel like I need to do all the things by yesterday. Not setting any firm goals for 2017 feels pretty foreign.

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Where to Stay & Eat in Jackson, MS

Airbnb Jackson, MSYesterday I turned 31. Last year I was soooo excited to be turning 30 and I even threw a big party to celebrate. This year I’m feeling a little more low key and choosing to soak up some R&R where I can. I asked Matthew for a shopping trip for my birthday because that ole closet of mine is needing a refresh these days. This past weekend, we went to Jackson, MS to hit up some of my favorite stores and check out the outlet mall. Here’s a fun recap of the weekend.

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One Little Word – 2017 Edition

Yoga at Home - One Little Word I’ve thought a lot about what my word for 2017 should be. Choosing one little word for the year can be an impactful exercise. I agree that it can also feel a little silly. Nonetheless, having a specific concept to meditate on for the year can certainly help to steer your mindset.

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2016 Year in Review

2016 Best Nine Year in Review2016 Best Nine Year in ReviewWhat a year. If you would have told me last December that this year would have included the many outrageous things that it did, I wouldn’t have believed you. I embarked upon 2016 with big dreams and big ideas as to what the year would look like. I was overjoyed about turning 30 and I even claimed that this would be my year. I think that naiveness goes to show just how unpredictable life can be and that we should always be careful what we ask for. While standing here at the end of 2016 does leave me in a happy, wonderful place, the journey to get here was less than ideal. I learned so much about life this year and I can honestly say the trajectory of my life and my perspective have been changed forever. Let’s look back at this year together. Continue reading

Finding Joy this Holiday Season

Finding Joy this Holiday SeasonThe 2016 holiday season is now in full swing. (I say “now” in full swing so some of you don’t burn me at the stake for “skipping Thanksgiving.” You know who you are.) Now, we can all go full on Christmas mode and not be shamed for maybe or maybe not having our trees up early. Personally, I’m feeling quite ready for the holiday season. 75% of our gifts are in route to my house, my calendar is laid out in pretty colors, and Christmas cards are on their way. And most importantly, I have a certain peace about this season that I haven’t had in a very long time.

I’m not sure if my calmness over the holiday madness comes from the life-changing events of this year or from my age. I wouldn’t say that I’m more prepared than usual, maybe even the direct opposite. However, I’m simply not feeling the anxiety that I’d normally feel as the happiest time of the year approaches. Let’s look at the facts.

Reasons why I should be worried:

  • As of noon last Wednesday, we had 0 gifts purchased.
  • I ordered Christmas cards later than planned and could have throat punched that stupid website.
  • This past weekend was our last weekend without something planned until January. January!
  • We’re testing out some new holiday traditions this year.
  • I’m heavily involved in the success of a plethora of holiday events coming in the next several weeks.
  • We’ll be hosting family in our home a few times and some things still aren’t finished or “ready.”
  • I know, with certainty, that we’re about to be exhausted for the next 30+ days.
  • My decorations aren’t ready.

Reasons why I should NOT be worried:

  • Matthew and I got a heavy dose of perspective on life in 2016. I’m simply not as bothered by things that used to cause me stress.
  • My new home is lovely and I’m happy to host people here!
  • We made a huge dent in holiday shopping (online) over the weekend.
  • We know exactly where we’ll be and when over the holidays. There will be no obsessing over who we’re visiting when and who’s going to be upset if we don’t show. Plans are set and that’s that.
  • I’m transitioning into a better place of making decisions that are best for Matthew and I – without so much emphasis on what others want or expect. This is a GREAT place to be, by the way.
  • We’ve had a fantastic year. We’ve not only survived, we have thrived. And basically, no one or nothing can steal that joy from me right now.

I could likely keep listing reasons for both sides of this argument. I’m just too excited to get bogged down in the minutia this year. Matthew and I have so much to celebrate, and I simply won’t allow the madness or chaos of this busy season distract from that. My #1 intention for this season is to truly enjoy spending time together and with those that we care about. The details might not be perfect and we might be outrageously tired after the first week of events. Nonetheless, I’m not concerned. We will attend each event that we’ve selected and we will enjoy ourselves with those people in that moment. We will have gifts for those we’re buying gifts for and even if they’re not the most perfect gift possible, they’ll have been selected with care and love. I will not live this season in guilt over not doing everything that everyone wants. Instead, we will enjoy this holiday season and celebrate the close of this life-changing year.

My new perspective could come from having faced one of the most trying obstacles we’ve encountered thus far and making it. Last Christmas, we would have never imagined the heartache 2016 would hold for us. I think experiencing something like that is sort of like a near death experience or severe illness – when you’re faced with something of that magnitude, and then get another shot to do better, those tiny details and expectations of others that drain the life right out of you, suddenly seem trivial. You’re forced to take stock of your life and how you’re living it and when you see things you’re not happy with, you make unrestrained adjustments. If this fresh perspective on the holiday season is a result of the flood, this will be another seemingly unrelated area of our lives that has been altered by the events of this past spring. On the surface one would think we simply had to remodel a house, fight insurance battles, buy new stuff (That’s fun right? Not really.), and be homeless for a bit. Quite the contrary. There’s really not an aspect of our lives, our business, or our relationships that wasn’t altered somehow because of this experience. If my take on the holiday season is another one of them, I really wouldn’t be too surprised.

Another possible factor in this newfound peace could be my age. Someone once told me that as you get older, you’ll slowly (and then suddenly) stop caring about what other people think. Whereas at one point you might live and make decisions based on the feedback you’d get from those around you, you suddenly stop doing that and do whatever in the hell you want to. For me, I’ve always lived in the mindset of guilt. I made decisions or did things to avoid the guilt I’d feel if I didn’t do them. What was best for Matthew and I might have been a different plan entirely, and yet we’d go with the flow and oblige so that I didn’t let anyone down. Even people that would let me down in a heartbeat if something was inconvenient for them. Lucky for me (not), guilt has controlled me for much of my life. Therefore, we’d get up, dress the part, and attend every single event possible. We’d show up boasting food or gifts, regardless of whether we wanted to be there or not. Suddenly, I no longer feel the need to do this. And I won’t feel guilty for letting that obligation go. If this is indeed some coming-of-age moment for me, I cannot wait to see what other areas of my life in which I’ll get some relief.

So much of life is about making choices. We choose what we’re going to do and not going to do. And more importantly, we choose what our attitude will be surrounding these experiences. We can be positive or we can be negative. It’s a choice, and I’ll be the first to admit that my anxiety-ridden self was the first to buckle under the pressure of the holidays in the past. I let the minutia of this detail and that one steal my joy. I think my anxiety and exhaustion (and sometimes dread) often stemmed from feeling like I didn’t have a choice in the affairs of the holidays. I sometimes felt like I was one “Merry Christmas” away from losing my mind. However, deciding to choose our schedule for December brought with it a fresh perspective and a sigh of relief. We’ve chosen our plans for the holidays, and I’m choosing to experience them all with joy. It’s a Christmas miracle!

If you find yourself getting drug along by the hustle and bustle, take a little break and remind yourself what this season is truly about for you. Remember that it’s an opportunity to share in a wonderful season with the people that you love. Remember that there are many wonderful things about this season and if we focus on those, it might lift our anxiety and frustration just a bit. And most importantly, remember that no matter what, nothing about this season must be perfect. We don’t have to give the best gifts in the entire world (and we certainly don’t have to go into debt for them). The Christmas treats don’t have to be perfectly made, and our halls don’t have to be perfectly decked. As a matter of fact, if we look with an adjusted mindset, we can probably see beauty in the imperfection. Furthermore, if the season brings with it some sadness over loves ones lost or misfortune of the past year, we can still work to see the best even in the unfortunate situations. Over time, we can condition our minds to find something good in almost every situation, especially if you’re looking for it. Truth be told, you will always find whatever it is you’re looking for. If you’re looking for joy, you will eventually find it. And if you’re looking for despair, it’s certainly there.

During this holiday season, and in the upcoming year, I encourage you to choose your perspective. Choose your path and celebrate those decisions you make, even if things don’t go as planned. I wish you the happiest holiday season, no matter your circumstances, and I truly hope you can find joy amidst the seemingly unavoidable chaos. This life, and this season, are what you make of it!

And I Like That About Myself: An Experiment with Self Appreciation

Brene Brown quoteI came across this article and it reference a line in Something’s Gotta Give that I’d never even noticed. As I read through the rest of the post, I agreed silently that women (and men) should know what they like about themselves and be proud to agree and say those things out loud. As a matter of fact, I wanted to go right away and tell everyone I knew to start saying aloud what they loved about themselves. And for those who struggled with identifying those things, I wanted to challenge their thinking. I wanted to help encourage them until they did realized there were things that made them truly amazing and unique that they did like about themselves. And then I realized something; I didn’t want to do the exercise myself. Continue reading

Create More Than You Consume

Walk-In Closet RoomThis phrase has made its way around the internet the last few years. It’s on journals, sketchpads, bags, and tshirts. It’s in Instagram photos galore. “Makers Gonna Make” and other similar phrases have taken hold and passed all around, in theory inspiring makers and creators to spend time working on their crafts. To spend more time actually making something than you do scrolling Pinterest.

I’ve thought about this saying – create more than you consume – multiple times. In my head, I rationalize things to myself by saying that I don’t have time to create. Besides, what is “consuming” anyway? Is listening to a podcast as I walk consuming? Should I be using that time to make  a podcast instead? I’ve toyed with what this really means many times in my head, often justifying to myself that I don’t have a consumption problem and I make plenty.

While sitting on a train heading from Washington back to Oregon, I was listening to a podcast and it provoked thoughts of this very phrase. While staring out at beautiful, lush forests and expansive views of water, I felt compelled to write. Thoughts and stories fluttered though my head, beckoning to be written. I knew that if I didn’t go back to my laptop and get these notes down on “paper,” they’d be gone by the time I tried to write them later. Nonetheless, I just wanted to sit and listen to my podcast aimlessly. That’s the precise moment that I understood this lofty statement – create more than you consume. By continuing to just listen, even when I felt inspired to make, I was consuming instead of creating. Falsely convincing myself that I’d remember these thoughts when the podcast was over, was me enabling myself to keep listening. Here are the facts:

Creating is much, much harder than consuming.

Creating requires effort.

Creating sometimes requires struggle.

Consuming, on the other hand, is easy.

Consuming requires little effort.

And most importantly, consuming can leave us with more inspiration than we know what to do with, resulting in stagnation of ideas and lack of productivity.

Finally, I understood the magnitude of this mantra. We consume more than we create because it’s easier. There’s less risk. And although we don’t have to be churning out 1,000 paintings a day or writing more books than we read, we should make time to be sure that we, too, are putting our work out into the world. When inspiration strikes, we should stop immediately and go explore that spot. Liz Gilbert says ideas are fleeting. They only stay with us a short while and if not put to use, they’ll travel on to someone else.

Finally seeing this saying as more than just something to repin or put on a tshirt, I paused my podcast and wrote those posts. I stopped consuming for a minute in order to create something, even though continuing to listen aimlessly would have been easier.

Most likely we’re all faced with the create vs. consume crossroads more than what we realize. And what if we broadened the spectrum a bit? What if instead of always being the person to receive lovely notes from friends, you were the one to send a note – creating kindness and friendship? What if rather than always being invited to lunch by a coworker, you invited someone to lunch with you – creating relationships? If we broaden the scope of this mantra outside of just the artistic world, we can pretty easily see ways in which we consume more than we create. I wonder what it would be like if we created more in all areas of our lives. What if we created more art? Created more relationships? Created more kindness? More opportunities? More love?

When faced with the opportunity to create or to consume, I think we should remember – consuming in the easy road. Creating is the road less traveled. Which one will you take?

(P.S. Above photo is of my closet/craft room. You can see more on the quick home tour!)

5 Years of Halloween Costumes

I have always loved Halloween and I think working on and wearing some sort of costume is so much fun! Since today is Halloween and this year marks mine and Matthew’s 5th Halloween together, I thought we should all take a quick trip down our memory lane of costumes. Grab yourself a pumpkin spiced latte – or more realistically – some of your kiddos Halloween candy, and enjoy a few pictures of our various shenanigans from the last 5 years!

2016
Matthew was the World’s Strongest Man – including that killer mustache and new tattoo sleeves – and I was the Ringleader.
Earlier this year, I also dressed as a red pepper for a “Boiling Point” themed real estate conference event.
Ringleader and Worlds Strongest Man Halloween CostumeRingleader and Worlds Strongest Man Halloween Costume red pepper costume

 

2015
My tennis partner/friend and I attended our work party shortly after things had gone awry on the court….  Matthew and I wore some pretty fun wigs to the Wiggin’ Out event and dressed up for a friend’s 1920’s themed birthday party!
angry tennis player costumegreen afro and rainbow wig 1920s costume

 

2014
First, Matthew and I were Frankenstein and his Bride. (And sadly, this might be the only photo from that night.) Then, we attended another party as Little Red Riding Hood and the Lumberjack!
Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein costumeLittle Red Riding Hood and the Lumberjack costumes

 

2013
I hope my dates aren’t off here. I blogged about the fun 90s Party we went to in 2014. However, I’m pretty sure the event actually happened in the fall of 2013. Either way – we love the 90s! And look like babies!
90s costume

 

2012
We were pirates! This was our very first Halloween party to host together and I still love these costumes and pictures. I also dressed as Audrey Hepburn for our work party.
couples pirate costumeAudrey Hepburn costume

 

And that rounds out most of the costumes we’ve worn for the last 5 years – both for Halloween and other occasions! I do love to dress up and I’m glad Matthew and our friends enjoy it too.Bert Macklin Janet Snakehole Worlds Strongest Man and Ringleader costumesDo you enjoy dressing up too? What are you planning to be this year??

Bad Days and Deadlines

What to do on a bad daySome days are better than others. Some days turn into weeks, and I’m going to be real with you – some weeks suck. This week is one of those weeks for me. I knew within an hour of waking up on Monday that everything was turning south quickly. By the time I made it to my office, I was ready to drop kick everyone that crossed my path. Lunch with Matthew wasn’t pleasant because my bad mood took hold of the room like a permeating stench, and nothing he could say or do was turning that negativity around. For the record, I did apologize for being in such a foul mood and just asked for some grace until I could get ahold of myself.

So what do you do on days or weeks like this?? Tuesday didn’t seem to start off any better and the rest of the week wasn’t looking so hot either. I’ve wrote before on what to do when you’re having a crappy day, and realistically, I needed to go into hiding and avoid everyone until this dark cloud of a mood could pass. However, what do you do when you have made a commitment with a deadline and you can’t simply withdraw from society for a bit? Unfortunately, when I needed to employ my usual tactics the most, I simply couldn’t.

Here’s what I did. I avoided as many people as possible. There was simply no need in infecting the masses with my mood. Because don’t forget, a bad mood and a bad attitude is just as contagious as a good mood and a positive attitude. If you’re not careful, you’ll have instilled the funk in everyone around you and that’s just not fair. Then, I put my head down and PUSHED through my tasks. I had a specific goal to reach and I buckled down and pushed hard for it so that I could get the hell out of there…for everyone’s sake, not just my own. And then I bought myself prizes

Thankfully, the commitment I made before knowing my mood was going to fail me had a specific deadline. Since I couldn’t set it to the side until I felt more positive and productive, I simply powered through. It’s like seeing the finish line at the end of a long race. You can see the end point and you can push yourself to reach it, even though you’d like to collapse on the ground. (I’m assuming. I don’t run races.) Either way, I can see the endpoint. I seriously buckled down and pushed hard for the goal, knowing that very soon, I’d be able to stop and retreat. As soon as I completed these last few (22 to be exact) tasks, I could give myself a break and do something to help pull myself from the funk.

Not all bad days are accompanied by pressing deadlines. If not, try to employ any of the tactics I mentioned in this post. If you simply do not have the ability to run away at that time, like my situation this week, my next suggestion is to buckle down and get your job done ASAP. Then retreat. Treat it like that last day of work before vacation. We accomplish more on that final day before leaving than we do all year! Don’t drag it out. Just get it done and then move on to something that will hopefully make you feel better. Dragging out your responsibilities will only make it worse, and at a minimum, it sure as hell won’t make it better.

In conclusion, understand that you’re going to have those days and sometimes those weeks. It’s ok. (If you find that you have more of these days than positive ones though, reevaluate your surroundings and make changes to remove the negative stimulus. Or speak to your health care professional.) I’ve been known to beat myself up when I have these bad days, because usually they make me pretty unproductive. And if you saw Monday’s post, you know that productivity and achievement are my vices, which I’m actively working on.

For now, if you’re having the sort of week that I am, get your work done and then go get you a cupcake. Do your best to feel better and if it’s just not happening right now, know that this too shall pass and it’s ok to have a crappy day every now and then.    

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