I don’t use a bookmark.

In the Company of WomenAs I finished one of the new books that lives on my great-grandmothers’s pie safe in my living room, I prepared to throw away the empty page of stickers I’d been using as a bookmark. The stickers had all been used to seal note cards I’d sent to someone here or there. It originally housed six, round stickers to be exact.

Before standing to walk to the trash can and to put the finished book back on the shelf, I thought to myself how strange that I was throwing away my “bookmark.” It made me think back on the randomness that I’d used as a bookmark in the past. It made me wonder what I’d stuffed in those others books on the shelf to hold my page. Old receipts, business cards, and a half of a napkin are all things that come to mind.

My first thought was something along the lines of “get your shit together” (the reoccurring rumination I force upon myself when I feel inadequate) “and get a real bookmark.” The world is filled with pretty bookmarks. Floral patterns, fun quotes, or initials. You can likely get a bookmark with anything you could dream up on it. And yet I continue to use whatever randomness is nearby when I start to read. Why can’t I just buy a real f-ing bookmark!

I stare at this empty page which used to hold beautiful round stickers and at first, I glare at it with resentment. Then, in an attempt to show the universe who’s boss, I smile. I tell myself that I’m happy to fill my books with randomness instead of carefully selected bookmarks. Who has time to find a bookmark when it’s time to close the book for the day anyway? No one, I’d like to imagine.

I decided in that moment that my used napkin of a bookmark is a testament to my outlook on life. I use what’s nearby, disregarding “rules” or expected behavior. I’m stuffing each new book with something new, something that doesn’t seem to belong. In some ways, I’m giving new life to something who’s role is seemingly over. And I’m absolutely romanticizing my laziness over bookmarks into something more grandiose.

You know what though? That’s who I am. I’m the girl who stares at an empty sticker sheet and dreams up a full story about it. I’m the girl who turns something as simple as a bookmark into a story. I’m the girl who ignores what’s considered proper and makes nothing into something. Into a bookmark, as a matter of fact.

I realized in that moment that I’ve always tended to make something out of nothing. I’ve always made the most of whatever I had at hand. I’ve saved slivers of leftover ribbon and used for other packages. I’ve folded tiny squares of wrapping paper and saved them for something just that size. I’ve decorated house after house with random shit I’ve collected, found, or bought cheaply somewhere. I’ve made full paragraphs out of a few words about a bookmark. It’s who I am.

The North Louisiana Flood – A Year Later

North Louisiana Flood 2016North Louisiana Flood 2016I tried so many times to write about the flood. I spread as much positivity as possible during that terrible time and I wanted to share what the roller coaster of emotions was really like. However, I never had the words. Honestly, I lost my voice entirely for a bit. I tried to write to make sense of things and I just didn’t have the words.

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Red Rock Canyon – Nevada

Red Rock Canyon Mojave Desert

The day before Keller Williams Family Reunion (our annual conference) began in Las Vegas, Ashlee and I went to hike around Red Rock Canyon. The canyon is roughly 20-25 minutes from the Las Vegas strip and we conned an Uber into taking us there. Note: You do NOT have cell service once you arrive at the canyon so schedule your return with a driver BEFORE you get there. I was so thankful for having done a bit of research or it’s quite possible that we would have been stranded. Continue reading

March 1, 2016

planting spring flowersI stumbled upon what would have been a blog post for the first week of March 2016. I wrote this post just 8 days before our lives were turned upside down from the flood. I decided to share it today as an example of just how quickly everything can change. I would have never guessed that just a few days later, all my plans and ideas of what the month was going to look like would be entirely different.

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Thoughts on an Interesting Life..

Pamela Petrus at Red Rock CanyonIt’s a Sunday morning and I’ve just finished my coffee and a bowl of cereal. I’m considering my options for the day, as I catch up on my favorite blogs. My original intention was to do nothing (besides laundry) after a busy week + weekend of work. In true PP fashion though, I’ve been making a mental list of all of the things I could do — play tennis, clean out that closet, go to the gym, sit by the river and read. That list goes on and on.

I keep sitting and reading, thinking that any moment I’ll be encouraged to get up from the couch. The “last” post I’ll read before taking a bath is this one, an interview with out-of-the-ordinary questions, not your typical who/what/where kind of stuff.

After reading through the questions and answers, I begin to think a little introspectively. (Again, classic PP.) I ponder how I’d answer those questions. How would my friends answer those questions? Strangers that I admire or respect?

It caused me to think harder about those bold, outstanding moments in life. What are those specific moments in time that we’ll never forget? What are those stories and experiences that we’ll recount for years to come?

I often think about my daily decisions in terms of how they’ll contribute to the whole. Will this thing, task, or event contribute to my life story in some way? Will it open doors for other opportunities or provide a story worth telling when I’m 80? Of course, not all experiences can (or should) be momentous, spectacular events that you speak of for years to come. Yet, is there a way to make this day one of those days?

I thought more about what I’ve done so far in life. Overall, I’m happy with the story lines I’ve created. Compared to some, I’ve missed a lot of opportunities and yet compared to most, I’ve already done so much. For the most part, I’ve lived my life with an emphasis on never regretting not doing something. I’ve tried new things, explored new places, and taken my fair share of risks.

And then, somewhere along the last year or so, I slowed down a bit. I began thinking harder about my decisions, often disregarding my instincts and many times, playing it safe. I lost a little bit of my exploratory spirit for a bit and instead placed emphasis on safety and predictability. This isn’t a bad thing, of course. We all go through different phases at different times. We’ll be a little more this or a little more that as we go through certain stages of our lives. That’s the beauty of it really.

Nonetheless, as I read this interview with it’s interesting questions, I remembered how much I value experiences. I remembered how much I want to lead an interesting life. I remembered how badly I long to truly experience life. So therefore, I am choosing for this season to listen to every song as if I’ll need to recount it for an interview soon. I’ll take trips and find new things locally, as if I’ll get to share that experience with someone the next day. I’ll focus on making memories, some that’ll eventually pass away and others that’ll hang around forever. I am so incredibly thankful for this perspective on life. This unwavering understanding of its fleeting nature and it’s uncertainty. I am thankful for understanding these things to be so true that I work hard to not put off things for tomorrow. I work on seizing opportunities today, for I know I’m not promised a future in which to finally chase my dreams.

What would you say if you were interviewed today? What stories would you tell? What exciting adventures do you remember? If you struggle to think of things, that’s okay. Use today to add a new chapter to your book. Use today to do something spectacular, something just for you. Use today to make a memory you could talk about in an interview.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.S. I was just interviewed as part of the Meet Monroe series at jackiedaily.com if you want to check that out!

Coffee Cups on Instagram

Sneaky Beans Jackson MSI went through and added the #ppsips tag to all of my coffee photos. Not surprisingly, there were almost 200 photos involving a coffee cup or coffee. In my defense, I tagged a few icees and such too. I post quite a few pics of coffee and I’m cool with admitting that.

My name is Pamela and I post pics of coffee on Instagram.

Some people make jokes about people posting pics of their food and such and I do that too. You can’t blame me for that one though. Once you work in the tourism industry, it’s forever ingrained in you to take pics of your food. You might need them for an ad later! My apologies if you think that’s super lame.

So why go back through thousands of photos and hashtag them? Oddly enough, all of my different cups have a special, different meaning to me. They all remind me of some memory or retell a story, and I love seeing them cataloged together. As I went through photos back to 2013, I realized a larger connection though. Each of the coffee photos had a telling caption. I either used that coffee to wind down and relax or make up for a bad day. In essence, the coffee was symbolic. Therapy of sorts.

coffee cups on instagramWay back in the beginning, I only drank white mochas from Starbucks. They were my gateway drug, if you will. To some, it probably seemed wasteful that I made so many trips there, almost daily. If you total up what I spent on white mochas, we probably could have bought a small car. Or a new patio set. Something substantial, for sure. However, those mochas meant something more to me. Those mochas represented a turning point in my personal development where I finally realized that it was acceptable, and even necessary, to do something for myself. To buy something, just for me, without guilt. I’d never been so kind to myself before and I only turned this corner with the encouragement of my husband. Even though he saw how much money we were throwing at Starbucks, he insisted that I keep going.

These mochas were also my excuse to relax, to take deeper, slower breaths. There was just something about settling in with that cup that slowed down the world around me. Honestly, I was more addicted to that moment than I was the caffeine. When that warm liquid hit my mouth, it was like the entire world around me hit the brakes. My shoulders would relax. I’d breathe deeper and slower, and most importantly, my mind would slow down just a bit. It was with these cups in hand that I’d think and dream and rest. I’d also never given myself that luxury before and it was as if I finally got a glimpse into self-care and slower living and I never wanted to be without that again.

As I scroll through the rest of my old feed, I saw when I finally started making coffee at home. It was a learning process for sure, and it took a while for me to get that same satisfaction with a less tasty cup I’d made myself. Eventually though, I hit my stride. I started with a few gifted cups and then began collecting them from our travels, etc. This was another turning point for me because I allowed myself to purchase cups that I loved or meant something to me instead of continuing to use those logo cups you get from your insurance agent. (More about that journey here and here.) These cups are where I first started to practice surrounding myself with things I loved instead of only the cheapest version or things I already had. Still, when I pull one of these new cups from its cabinet, I’m reminded of how much joy this transition has brought.

In the Company of WomenAs I read through some of the captions, I realized that these photos of coffee cups represented either the highest of highs or the lowest of lows. My captions either celebrated finally taking a moment for myself or marked a moment of recovery from a bad day or hard time. Those early captions absolutely make me cringe for a variety of reasons and yet I feel joy over the progress I’ve made in the last few years, and I am proud to look back and see myself working to navigate that change. Those photos and those captions represent a time in my life where I was wrestling with a lot of new truths and working hard to learn more and grow out of some limitations and struggles I’d carried with me for years.

I sat there looking at those almost-200 pictures, knowing that some find them silly. Some snark at the idea of me continuing to share photos of my morning coffee, even more so at having a special hashtag for them. Who cares about a cup of coffee, right? We’ve seen plenty. I care though. I realized today that sharing those photos isn’t at all about the coffee and it’s only barely about the cups. Instead, they’re about my journey to self-care. The represent little windows of time in which I slow down and process life and the world around me. They’re the only thing I can photograph to celebrate my progress and growth into the person I ultimately want to be. Eventually, the captions won’t be littered with apologies for taking that time to myself and sharing a photo of it. I’m going to keep working on that.

Do you want to share #basic photos of your Starbucks, pretty donuts, or artisan muffins? Do it. Haters gonna hate either way. I’ll be sure to throw a heart your way. And I’ll keep sharing my basic pics so you don’t feel alone. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. For you.

By the way, here’s more on coffee. In case you thought this wasn’t a serious enough matter, there’s more.

My Audience. My Tribe.

In the Company of Women I attended a webinar held by Emily P. Freeman on writing to better serve your audience. I didn’t really know what to expect from the webinar. I had simply received an email and signed up, reserving some personal time for myself on Thursday night. Out of nowhere and completely unexpectedly, this webinar might have been life changing.

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Blow Up Your TV. Throw Away Your Paper.

Flowers at Kiroli ParkI sat there sipping my coffee, still reeling a bit from the hatred I saw the night before. I have a tinge of a headache and I’ve debated what might have caused this one. I’ve engaged in some intelligent dialog already this morning, which restores a bit of my faith in humanity. I’m listening to John Prine’s Spanish Pipedream (video below) for the first time and considering it as a political statement of sorts.

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