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  • This and That: Updates on Life

    So, it is September. The END of September. Fall has arrived! And! Mercury just entered into the post-shadow phase in the retrograde cycle, and to say that I have felt the effects of this particular retrograde cycle is perhaps an understatement. But, especially for those who share the Gemini sun sign, this seemingly unnoticed planetary movement cycle, is a great time to slow down, reflect, catch up, and double-check everything. Walk the line between crotchety Midwestern person with a moderate-to-severe case of OCD, and zen Hippy. I tried my best to keep this in mind last week, and along with seeing a praying mantis last Tuesday morning, I was confident the universe was trying its best to tell me to slow down, breath, and think. (i.e.: chill the fuck out, Annaliese)Rewinding and reflecting in my mind on this Sunday evening, the past 4 weeks have overwhelmed the entirity of my being with emotions (aka: have overwhelmed the shit out of me). So much has changed in the past few weeks since moving from Madison. Usually, change is hard, but this shift was more intense. Maybe part of this is the fact that I didn't anticipate change. Yeah, you think about the basic needs and things when you move (where the hell will I grocery shop in South Beloit? Where is the post office? The best sunset walk??). But you don't realize that eeeeeeverything else in your lift will inevitably shift, like tectonic plates, whether you like it or not. 

    And not going to lie, I didn't like this shifting, this change... I didn't like the uncomfortable moments I had with my mind being still (maybe that is why I was darn enthusiastic about my new job orientation? Distractions, gimme!!). I didn't like the anxious pull I felt towards a path I knew I had to eventually walk down, for my own well being and for others. I didn't like the fears within me creeping up, and getting the better of my ego. 

    But, here I am. After some massive changes in my life, I am still here...sitting on one of my favorite comfy chairs, looking out over a city that I never imagined I would be living in, working at a job for a company that, if you asked me a year ago, I never thought I would ever have accepted. I feel a bit crazy, a bit off...and a few words of advice: if you too are feeling unsure about life in general, please (maybe) re-consider visiting The House on a Rock. Still after a few weeks since visiting the many rooms of random, eerily placed and carefully curated pieces, certain images still haunt me. But hey, new experiences, new adventures, new views...bring it on!My biggest lesson so far? To let go. Just let go. Listen to your intuition, to your guts, to your heart. Realize that you have power to change and be happy. You have the power to take the fear you hold within your being into your hands, place it in a jar, put the lid on (and screw that shit on tight!!), and tuck it away for a day in which you are ready to objectively analyze it, and tell that fear who is the boss (you are the boss!). You don't need to feed your jar of fear...your fear is not a kombucha SCOBY that needs to be tended to on a routine basis...because quite simply, you don't need your fear to grow and consume, and then dictate, your actions...your emotions...your decisions. 

    So, here we are, with all of the feels....all of the ups and downs....and you know what? We can still find joy. How have I found joy in the past few weeks? 

    I have found joy in my friends and family. In some pretty dark and sad moments the past few weeks, they have been there. My sister, my mom, my best friend, my aunts...all there, keeping me going. Even co-workers, despite me keeping everything bottled up inside, have been a source of inspiration to keep moving forward, even if I feel as if I am walking through mud with a pair of flip flops. Still moving...forward...just a bit wonky at times. Good thing my job doesn't require me to be super accurate in executing about 95% of the tasks I need to complete throughout the day (let me be clear here: that was sarcasm; whoever thought it'd be a good idea to hire me as an R&D Scientist, well, joke is on you!).

    I have found joy in being outside. What wonders sunshine can do! Feeling the sun on my skin, hearing the wind whirl past my ears, feeling my hair fly around in the wind, and listening to the breeze flow through the trees. Man, we are so lucky to be alive, and be here.I have found joy in my strength, and reflecting on how far I have come in my "personal fitness" journey. I mean, if you told the 4th grade me (chubby kid, poofy curly hair, awkward and shy as all get out) that I would one day I would be able to run 1 mile....2 miles...3 8k...a half marathon...without dying, I would have laughed. Moving around, even if it is just for a 30 minute walk outside, makes such a poitive difference in my mood and disposition.

    I have found joy in activities that I love to do. Re-learning the guitar (why is it that those measures of music that once terrified you before a Solo and Ensemble competition stick wtih you the most?), listening to music, journaling, taking bubble baths, baking, eating chocolate, cooking, brewing kombucha, drinking coffee, spending waaaay too much time in grocery stores and co-ops looking at food products, putzing around farmers markets and buying waaaay too much produce and very...awkwardly...but still beautiful bunches of flowers for myself, reading, meditating...I have plans to start drawing/sketching again, too.I have found joy in sharing with others (aka: making my co-workers eat alllll of the carbs, gluten, sugar and chocolate!). 

    I have found joy in knowing that I can figure shit out (um, taking apart a drain pipe to fish out my favorite pearl earrings? Check! Buying a car? Check! Learning how to drive said car with a MANUAL transmission? Check, check, check). 

    I have found joy in realizing that right now, in this present moment, I am enough. The universe has silly, bizarre, random ways of showing you the path you ought to be on. While on the journey down this crazy path, despite feeling as if I am walking outside without pants on, I can hold my head high knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right here, right now (with pants on-reast assured, I have yet to leave my apartment without the critical garments of clothes required by society at large). The journey may get bumpy along the way-but we've got this. We can handle it. You can handle it. I know you can! That is all for now. I'll be back soon, and on a more regular basis, in the future. Get out, enjoy life, and never be afraid to reach out when you are feeling are not alone! 

    Let me be clear: I am no challah baker, but this...THIS challah (my first!) was fabulous and will be on repeat in my fall recipe rotation. After getting up at 5:00AM on a Monday, pulling the weaved loaf from the fridge for the second and final rise for 40 minutes, and baking the loaf off, I was pleasantly pleased with the results of my first challah. I carefully hacked the loaf in half, taking one hunk to work and hoarding the other like a fat squirrel preparing for the winter. Thoroughly enjoyed slices all week with coffee before work. Carbs for life, along with fancy-ass coasters. And a plate I may or may have not jacked from Willa Jean's in NOLA.Did I mention carbs? Yeah...after one particularly stressful day, and after promising a co-worker banana bread after generously lending me a key ingredient for a formulation, I made some banana bread. With hunks of salted dark chocolate, a generous pour of Four Roses single barrel bourbon, and lots of walnuts. This recipe will make an appearance here, soon. And like the first time, I'll shuffle 90% of the loaf amongst others, since sharing is caring, folks. And honestly, how else am I supposed to make friends??And if the sugar high wasn't enough already....cinnamon rolls. With too much butter, a metric fuck ton of cinnamon and treacle-heavy brown sugar, as well as eggs from my aunt's chickens. Ohh oh oh, and icing. Because please, pleaaaase don't make cinnamon rolls a health food, ok? Ok. After searching for inner peace, carrying with me an intense chocolate craving, I arrived at the famous World Peace cookies. After making several batches over the holidays last year, I knew these would do the trick. I think I put a few people at work in a sugar-induced coma, but hey, it was worth it. You are worth it. Enjoy, people...enjoy!