the holiday season

Thanksgiving weekend was a blast! I had a great time visiting my good friend Adam’s family in Voorheesville, NY. We ate, drank, played indoor and outdoor games, and relaxed a ton. It was just what the doctor ordered. And now that we’re home, I’ve begun decorating the house for Christmas!!

I’ve really only gotten the “mantle” (or top of a long, short bookcase) done so far. Hopefully we’ll be getting a tree sometime this week, and I also plan to string up a few more lights here and there.

I had a great time throwing a bunch of our holiday decorations up on the mantle in what appears to be a chaotic fashion (but it wasn’t, I promise!).

That batch of greens I bought a few weeks back were just minding their business in our living room. So I commissioned them to don some fancy flare and anchor the Christmas Mantle.

I adore some of the old ornaments I have – they were handed down to me by my mother and grandmother. I saved some good ones to put on our real tree too, but some of the most adorable three dimensional ones, especially ones that could stand up unassisted, earned a spot on the Christmas Mantle. This little Santa on a tricycle might be my favorite ornament of my entire collection. Look at him! And the tricycle’s wheels actually move!

This is another favorite ornament. I’ve hung it on the little greens tree this year because whenever it goes on the big tree, it always gets lost among all the other decorations. It’s a tiny copy of The Night Before Christmas, which I knew by heart at age two and would recite often.

Best of all, the entire story is printed inside.

I had fun putting these decorations up last night and I’m looking forward to filling our apartment with delicious smelling sweet treats today, as I begin to do some December baking for Fanny & Jane.

I love this time of year. As stressful, overwhelming and constant as it can sometimes seem, it’s also festive, nostalgic and comforting. The countdown to December 25 has begun. I keep almost buying Advent Calendars and then deciding against it. I’m never a fan of the cheap chocolate they use.

Our Fanny & Jane holiday shop is open for two more weeks. We will accept our last order on Monday, December 14. I expect to be very busy between now and then. And I’ve decided that the best way for me, personally, to tackle these next two and a half weeks (I leave town for Crystal Lake, IL on December 19) is to make sure I get in some exercise every day, and that I keep myself and my sanity as a top priority.

I’ll leave you with this slightly terrifying creature, a large Santa from my grandmother’s collection of Christmas decor. He’s almost nightmarish.

But he’s nothing compared to another figurine I have, one that I refuse to photograph. It’s a fat little Santa smoking a pipe and holding a clown doll. And he looks way too jolly for anyone’s good. If we get through the season without that thing coming to life and eating us in the night, I will be pleasantly surprised.

feelin’ festive

I love this time of year.

I spent the day finishing up odds and ends that need to be taken care of before we go out of town tomorrow. Oh and I also took a nap. Mmmm..

I had some last minute Fanny & Jane shipments and deliveries to make this evening, along with a quick trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients for our contributions to the Thanksgiving weekend (garlic mashed potatoes from scratch, a big salad, and apples, cheese and crackers as an appetizer) and now I’m home for good until we leave tomorrow evening to drive upstate. I can’t wait!

The city has a magical feeling about it right now. The holidays are in full swing. Everyone’s out and about buying gifts and flowers and food and wine. People are already traveling, lugging suitcases on the subway and hailing cabs to the airport. I just love the idea that so many people are working at once toward the same event, the same big meal, the same indulgent afternoon that they will share with family, friends or even strangers.

Of course there are many people who won’t get to have that this year, who never get to have it. And that makes me incredibly grateful for this blessed life I’m living.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone! I’ll be back next week!

p.s. Faryn and I are gearing up for Fanny & Jane Holiday Craze. I’m excited, nervous, terrified and thrilled to embark on this holiday season as a baker and sweets purveyor. Last year right around this time, I came up with the idea of baking sweets for my friends and family instead of buying gifts for people for the holidays. I just wanted to get a little creative with my gifts, save money, and stop the pattern of buying people a bunch of crap they don’t need or want. Even so, it blows my mind to realize that now, just a year later, I co-own my own little sweets company, I’m a small business owner. And the first spark of that idea happened last year when I was baking and gifting sweets for my friends. I would not have believed for a second, 12 months ago, that I’d be in this position now. But here I am.

Again. I’m really lucky.

daily dessert

Can you believe how long it’s been since I’ve done a daily dessert segment!? I can’t even remember the last time. It’s not that I haven’t been enjoying yummy desserts lately, but the truth is, some days I’ll only eat a little something sweet and it’s not blogworthy. And some days I’ll just eat a couple bites of Fanny & Jane leftovers. But the main reason, most likely, that I haven’t been writing daily dessert lately is because I’m so constantly surrounded by desserts that I haven’t been craving them as often as I used to. Smelling a fresh pan of brownies just out of the oven is enough for me to feel like I’ve satisfied my sweet tooth. Weird, right?

(Don’t worry. I’m making up for the loss of calorie consumption by eating more pizza.)

Last night, after a weekend filled with baking sweets, shipping sweets, a dinner party, a sketch comedy show performance, an all-girls sleepover with some of my Bests, a (terrible) movie-going experience, and lots of red wine, I headed home to Brooklyn to CRASH. I desperately needed to sleep off not only the very busy and very fun weekend, but also the entire last week.

I worked harder last week than I may have ever worked in my life. Naturally that’s meant to be an exaggeration, but then I think about my life and I think – Really, though, when have you ever worked this hard? It was just nonstop. And that’s not a bad thing. It is a challenge and an adjustment.

Last night when I got home I laid on the couch watching TV for the first time in forever and I marveled at how much I was able to accomplish over the last seven days – how many hours I spent each day moving, planning, organizing, arranging and troubleshooting. I ached from it all. I fell asleep at 11pm last night and slept FOR TWELVE HOURS. Yeah. Like I’m a 7-year-old kid with the flu. My body is so thankful today.

Before I landed on that couch last night, and after the horrible movie I saw (I won’t even tell you what it was for fear that you saw it, liked it, and we therefore cannot be friends anymore), I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up a few odds and ends. Poor Kevin has not had real food in this house in days. (He does the laundry around here. I do the grocery shopping.) I just haven’t had time to shop. So I grabbed some eggs, some fruits and veggies, and some cereal and bread at TJ’s – just stuff to tide us over until Thanksgiving. And then I saw these.

And I had to have them. They just looked so…delicious? Unique? Vintage? I don’t know. I was drawn in. When I got them home, Kevin’s interest was piqued as well and we immediately cracked open the box.

Oh my gosh they’re so yummy! I love them.

They’re salty, sweet and the maple cream filling is SO GOOD. They’ve inspired me to try to create a maple treat to add to the Fanny & Jane menu. (We’re also considering adding Snickerdoodles to the menu for December! I adore Snickerdoodles, especially when they’re the perfect combination of chewy and crispy. You know what I mean.)

I’m already enjoying this slower paced week. I have a few business-related odds and ends to finish up today and tomorrow. And I have to prepare two easy Thanksgiving side dishes. I’m also going to do a quick apartment clean and I want to get a couple good workouts in before the holiday. Beyond that stuff, I’m hoping these next two and a half days, and the long, fat, sleepy weekend that awaits us all, will be relaxing. I definitely need some time to recuperate and recalibrate before the December rush (Eeeeeeeek!!!!).

For Turkey Day, Kevin and I are heading upstate with some good friends. My best friend Adam and his parents have generously invited us to join them for their annual Thanksgiving weekend. I will miss my family for sure, but it wasn’t convenient to go home to Illinois for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. A few of our friends from college have been going up to Adam’s parents’ house for years and years to spend Thanksgiving together and this is the first year Kev and I will be tagging along. We can’t wait!

guest book

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had a guest post on follow my bliss. There’s no real reason for that. But as soon as I heard about this young lady’s story, I had to have her write about her experience so that you all could learn about what she’s doing with her life.

The short of it is, D., as we’ll call her (she’s smartly asked to remain anonymous for now – her desk job stay doesn’t end until the spring and she doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers…), found herself unsatisfied with her job, her daily routine, and the way it all made her feel. And she decided to do something about it.

I am inspired and moved by what she’s decided to do with her life instead, and I’m honored to share with you this beautiful piece she’s written about her situation.

I’m leaning over my miniature bathroom sink staring straight into my puffy, bloodshot, sleep deprived eyes. For the 4th, or is it 8th night, in a row I am keeping my bathroom mirror company as I look at my reflection and say “ Something has got to change.”

I came to NYC for college 9 years ago. I came to be an actor. I remember sitting in the backseat of the rented van my parents were driving- we were headed down the BQE and suddenly, like a mirage, New York City rose up in all its overpopulated glory. It was love at first sight.

I spent my college (and some of my post college) years doing the usual route for those who are actors in NYC. Juggling so many part- time, off hours, menial paying jobs that I barely had the time or the finances to do what it was I was here to do. To paraphrase a friend of mine; I realized I didn’t love acting so deeply and blindly that I could put up with all the other jobs I had to do to keep this life. At that point I decided it was time for me to “sell out” aka make a living wage.

I began the song and dance of interviews having only a resume of long term temp jobs (all signs of bartending erased) and a degree in theatre. I’ve never worked so hard at selling myself in my life. Not even at open call casting calls for Broadway shows. I’ve always thought of myself as a hard worker and intelligent. I worked hard to try and follow my dream. It was difficult and hurtful to realize that having this dream, something I was proud of having, made me foreign and slightly suspect in the black and white strict lines of Corporate America.

I eventually got a job at a will remain nameless firm. For the first few months I loved it. A steady pay check (no whipping out the calculator to figure out how much more I had to make in how many days to afford rent), health insurance (!), and a steady dependable routine. Then reality set in. Reality as in a black hole of boredom. As in I spent 50+ hours of my life Monday – Friday WAITING until the day ended and I could get out. Everything I have that is a strength was not utilized or challenged. My personality was against the grain of the norm. I began to feel removed from who I was and what I was good at. I was measuring my life to the tick of a clock. Or measuring it to the amount in the bank. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I started to find myself anxious and trapped. I’d unconsciously clench the subway pole as I sat on the train to work. Unlike my previous jobs, I loved the life this job afforded me in the sense I could live alone, I could take trips, and I could go to the doctor. I couldn’t go back to hand to mouth but I couldn’t stay in this place. I was spinning.

So I began a big ol’ think and a chat with God, family and friends. I began eyeballing the rest of my life; what I could give to my life and what I want to do with it. I was praying and debating about either going back to school to get a masters in Theatre Ed (summers off!) but that required two more years of corporate America to afford the cost of school (boo) or figuring out a way to get to Ireland (I’ve lived there in the past and have active acting actor friends there). However getting to Ireland legally was a challenge. I realized I wanted to teach, I wanted to travel, and I wanted to be engaged in and with my life. I love New York yet there was a shift in our relationship. I began to feel as if I was staying in a relationship that was familiar, loved, and comfortable but, at this point, had gone as far it as it was going to go.

Then the way out came in the most unexpected package. And at a time where I was ready to take a leap of faith.

I’ve always been an ardent supporter of fighting human trafficking particularly in the area of sex trafficking with women and children. A friend of mine, Rachel, started a not for profit, http://www.theSOLDproject, which is dedicated to preventing the buying and selling of children for sex. It was a Monday morning, I had been to church the day before and had said to myself and God, “whatever this next step is, be it outside the realm of New York and Ireland, I will do. I am ready.” I fugitively opened my private email account to an email entitled “Life in Thailand”. In it Rachel spoke of SOLD starting a prevention program at a school in Chiang Mai (a city with high risk of sex trafficking). Part of the program would be an arts program. They needed teachers. I stared at the email transfixed. I felt like the light bulb that went off was showing over my head as if I was in a cartoon. This was it. The culmination of all I realized I wanted and needed in my many sleepless nights and tedious days. I poured my heart out to her and ended it with “if you want me, I will go”. I hit send… and then I got lightheaded. I think it was a combination of euphoria and fear. It was about living. I felt happier than I had in months.

It’s now nearly two months into this process and another five until I depart for Thailand. I feel like I am coming back to myself. I’ve put pragmatic me in the backseat and am letting my head work with my heart again. The doors that are opening from this decision that let me be creative again are amazing (even writing this blog! :). In a time of great financial duress people have been generous with funds. Sure, I have had moments of “OMG, wait -what am I doing?!” particularly when I catch the view of NYC from the above ground train or spend time with my friends. Or think about 24 hours of flying and being in a non English speaking country. But it has never changed the way this decision resonates with me. I am going to be creating an arts program and teaching English as a second language to Thai children. I will be doing my part to fight back against the monsters who sell human beings. I will be in an environment where I will be challenged. And I can’t wait. Someone made a joke I was getting my midlife crisis over with early and I laughed. But I know this isn’t what this is. In a mid life crisis you are trying to find out who you are, what you want and what you can do. I know who I am and what I can do and I have, mercifully, found a place where I can use that for something bigger than myself.

Thank you, D., for writing such an honest account of your life and upcoming journey. May you find everything you seek. I have a feeling you will.

the end and the beginning

This is the full photo of the shot that now graces the header of follow my bliss. I’m in love with this photograph.

The garden in front of our house is doing fascinating things these days, as the warm weather flirts with leaving us for good until spring, and the cold seems to be fluffing its feathers up for its grand entrance. The duel climates make for interesting outfits worn by the humans and interesting processes experienced by the plants.

Some of the trees in our neighborhood are completely dead, naked, ready for winter. And some still have green leaves. And in our front yard, some blossoms are dying while others are just popping open – on the same plant!

That photo, which I snapped earlier in the week, is of a yellow flowering plant who is partially alive and partially dead. The hay-colored floral skeletons are, obviously, the dead blossoms, and the bright yellow and green ones are the brand new flowers.

Our beautiful rose bush is doing the exact same thing – crunchy dead leaves and blossoms right next to buds that are ready to burst open and meet the world for the first time.

I just cannot get over this. It seems like some kind of phenomenon.

And I decided to put it as the new header on the blog, to represent this new phase in my life.

As much as I adored that old header photo of Chawser, our red cat, trapped behind a big iron door, staring out into a world beautiful sunshine that was just beyond his reach, it’s not a metaphor for my life anymore!

But old things dying while new things are being born – well, that’s a little more along the lines of what I’m going through right now. Old habits, patterns, and routines are dying. And I’m replacing them with new ideas, rhythms and experiences. These days, I’m learning more about who I am than I’d learned in two years sitting at that desk job. And the juxtaposition of old and new, life and death, the end and the beginning is striking.

On a more down-to-earth note, I’m BUSY AS HELL RIGHT NOW! GAH! I asked for this, certainly, by opening up our Fanny & Jane Holiday Shop online and choosing to take on most of the workload because Faryn’s got a full time job in an office these days (one that she really likes, though). But boy oh boy. With Thanksgiving just a week away, and our lovely friends and friends of friends wanting to support us with their orders, we are swamped. It’s a great problem to have, as they say. And as I stare down the barrel of having to produce 400 Red Velvet Cake Bites within the next 24 hours, I’m only slightly terrified.

Lucky (very very oh so very lucky) for me, my darling boyfriend stayed home today to help me get a ton of stuff baked, packaged and shipped out. And he also helped me organize a schedule, which has calmed my nerves considerably. After a nice long walk to the post office (the one farther away has better service than the one nearby), we broke for a well-deserved late lunch at a diner, and now we’re back home, awaiting Faryn’s arrival, so that the three of us can spend the evening baking sweets for the United States of America.

I cannot believe this is my life now. I cannot believe that this isn’t just a day off from the desk job, that this isn’t just a weekend or a vacation, but that this is my life. There is no desk job to return to on Monday morning. I bake and sell sweets for a living right now. Holy cow.

And it’s just the beginning.

….back to work. I can honestly say I haven’t worked this hard, day in and out, in a long time. It’s pretty awesome.

a little project

I made my own holiday cards!

I cannot tell you how much fun I had doing this and how delighted I was when I was finished. They’re not stunning pieces of art by any means, but I enjoyed making each one. And now I don’t have to buy them.

Since quitting my desk job, I actually have been really busy. But “busy” is all relative. In general, I just have more time available to me now, and it’s really nice.

I wrote up a quick post last night about how I tend to spend my time now, just running through a typical Monday, for example, and I’ll post that later in the week. But writing it made me really take a close look at how often I’m able to fit the things that are really important to me into each day. Sure, it’s still sometimes challenging to get everything done, but it’s infinitely easier than it was when I spent 11 hours of every day (9 office hours and 2 commuting hours) working for someone else.

I was able to sit on my couch on Sunday night – NOT so exhausted from a weekend of trying to fit everything in that I felt drained, NOT dreading waking up and going to work the next morning – and make a dozen or so holiday cards with a bunch of markers, stickers and crayons. Doing stuff like this is a lovely new part of my lifestyle.

When we cleaned the apartment on Sunday, I ended up emptying out an old (cherished) desk that now sits in our bedroom. It was being used to store a bunch of crap, but I decided on Sunday to use the drawers to store Fanny & Jane shipping supplies (the new “Shipping Center,” as Kevin referred to it) so I had to either toss or reorganize the rest of the stuff that was in there.

It’s unreal how much JUNK lived in that desk that I haven’t used – or even thought about – for years. Old cell phones, old cords that belong to nothing, tons of packs of playing cards, modeling clay, a sewing pattern. (I do not sew). I had collected some random stuff. So I went through all of it and after I purged most of it, I found places to store the rest.

An old bathroom caddy (that now lives on a shelf in the newly arranged closet!) ended up being the perfect place to store a bunch of markers, crayons, and colored pencils that I found in that old desk but didn’t want to throw away. Never know when you’ll need to break out some craft supplies.

Sooo, I was sitting on my couch on Sunday night, patting myself on the back for all the healthy reorganization we’d done that day and then I remembered my new/old box of craft supplies. An hour later: holiday cards.

I’ve had a box of stickers for years and I’m not even sure where they came from. Maybe some office supply job I worked during a summer off from college? I love the little penguins.

I really wanted to use these pretty glitters, which I bought last year to write our names on our Christmas stockings, but I decided it would be a bit too messy to do while sitting on the couch.

Aren’t they pretty?

It was a fun and relaxing way to spend an evening.

so clean!

My good friend and improv teammate, Sarah, recently sent out a request to a bunch of us saying that she’s looking to pick up some odd jobs for the next couple months so that she can make extra holiday cash. She offered services of all kinds – cleaning, errands, laundry – and I instantly wanted to take her up on the offer, especially because I knew it would help her out and I like her.

I did quit my job, but it turns out I’m not quite as broke as I thought I’d be. Actually, I don’t know what I thought. But I was prepared for it to be tight. I’m so lucky to have money, even if it’s just a little bit of money, coming into my life right now. Still, I’m as frugal as ever and spending money asking a friend to clean something, something I could just as easily clean myself, seemed outside the budget. So I put Sarah’s offer on the back burner.

But then I was making lunch in our kitchen on Friday and I noticed the ceiling fan. And it was pretty dusty. And that made me pretty annoyed.

You know that feeling you get when you look around your house, which you *think* is clean, but then you suddenly notice twelve varieties of dust bunnies under your desk, and then you remember that you need to do laundry, and that the vacuum cleaner needs a new bag and you haven’t gotten one yet, and that you haven’t looked under the couches since May? And you suddenly feel so overwhelmed that you just want to sprinkle dirt into your sandwich so that you can build up your immune system and be done with it?

For whatever reason, turning 29 has made me feel more like an adult than any age before it ever has. I’m sure the Age that does this for people is different for everyone. It seems mine is 29. NOW I’m an adult. I run a home. I go the grocery store. I don’t play games in my relationships. I make travel plans. I buy new shoes when I need them. I’m a real grown up. These are all things that were true the day before I turned 29 as well, but for some reason, they feel more real now than ever before.

So in turning 29 and in becoming a real grown up, I’m more irritated with a messy apartment than I ever have been. And it’s not that our apartment is an absolute disaster. We keep it pretty neat for the most part. But ceiling fans? No. I don’t ever clean the ceiling fans.

Why not?

Well…

For one thing, I’ve never lived in an apartment this big as an adult. I have to clean every room?! It’s overwhelming.

Plus, using up several hours each week cleaning my apartment when I was working full time (and spending anywhere between 11-18 hours every day outside the house) was the opposite of what I wanted to be doing. Kevin and I had an argument over the summer about how best to keep the place clean within our limited schedules. Maybe we’d institute a 10-minutes-a-day rule. Yeah, maybe. Or maybe we’d only bicker about it and never do it.

Also, I’m not one of those people that loves cleaning. I hate doing big cleans. Ugh, I hate it. Sure, once I’m in the groove, here we are, let’s keep going. But oh my god I’d rather do 1800 other things instead.

Plus we’ve got two damn cats. That potted plant is surely going to have its roots ripped out in a matter of days anyway. Why not just wait until that happens and THEN clean? Right, honey?

I have a TON of excuses! It’s almost fascinating. Look, we all have our weaknesses. And really, the long and short of it is that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. YES, I know how to clean. But I don’t have the routine or the habits in place quite yet. And I haven’t exactly started doing much about it. Even though I want to. Even though I’ve decided that when you’re 29, you clean your ceiling fans.

I realized this as I stood in my kitchen the other day staring up at that stupid fan. Let’s remove it and throw it away, I thought. Like when my old roommate threw away all the silverware in the apartment because he didn’t want to wash it. I was actively and aggressively against his decision at the time, but now I’m rethinking my stance. Let’s just do that, I thought.

NO, I decided. Get it together, Jen. Just do a big sparkly kitchen clean! And you will feel so good.

And then I died inside. I do not want to, I thought.

And then I remembered – SARAH!

Perfect.

I can ask Sarah to come over here and clean this kitchen – the stuff we rarely get to like the tops of the cabinets, the inside of the fridge drawers, and the vast floor which gets mopped never. Maybe if she’ll do that big stuff, I’ll feel like I’ve gotten a head start! I literally stopped what I was doing and walked over to the computer to email her immediately. A few minutes later, we’d decided that she’d come over on Sunday to clean the kitchen. And I was elated. Spending money on something like this suddenly seemed like a great plan.

Inspired by the potential peace this may invite into my life, I decided that Kevin and I could clean the REST of the apartment while Sarah did the kitchen. It would be the perfect opportunity. We could listen to tunes and get shit done.

And that’s just what we did yesterday.

Kevin and Sarah got off to a great start. While I sat on the couch and geeked out on the computer for the first thirty minutes. To my credit, I was blogging! But still. Maybe this is part of the problem, I wondered. But once I finally got my act together and got to work on the living room, I was able to make some major progress. And Kevin whipped the bedroom into better shape than it’s seen in months, including a reorganization of the closet shelves. Huge.

And then, there’s my kitchen. Oh my beautiful kitchen. Sarah cleaned it in a way that it has never before been cleaned. And I’m not ashamed. I’m letting go of the fact that I couldn’t muster the resolve to do it myself and I’m just embracing the hell out of the gift she gave me yesterday. She cleaned ev-ery-thing. And you can tell. And I’m not going to go in there anymore because I want it to stay that way forever. Kevin, this is your warning. Do not set foot in the kitchen. We’ll eat in the tub.

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The whole apartment looks fantastic. And I’m so happy about it. I’m going to work hard to keep it this way because now that I have a running start, there’s no reason I can’t maintain this. I’m home often and I have two cats who are so offended by the vacuum cleaner that it’s almost hilarious, so why wouldn’t I run that thing a couple times a week, just to remind them who makes the rules around here. (They do.)

Here are a few shots of some of the reorganization in the living room and bedroom:

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I’ve never before paid anyone to clean my apartment. I grew up being sort of disturbed by the idea. Why can’t you do it yourself, I thought? Sure, it’s nice not to have to, but that seems pretty spoiled. I suppose that’s partly because my grandmother would never in a billion trillion years pay someone to do anything that she could easily do herself. But it’s her loss because it rules.

Now that it’s done, I cannot think of a better way to have spent that money. I don’t plan to keep doing it – that probably would be a waste of my money right now. But doing it this once was a fantastic decision. It sounds strange, but I would not have been this pleased with a massage, a nice meal, or even a week of yoga classes. This is better. I actually kinda feel like I gave myself those things anyway by giving myself this peace of mind. It was a little birthday gift To Me. Thanks for working so hard, Me. Here’s a clean kitchen. You deserve it.

And thanks, Sarah! Do you wanna move in?

the first month

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Yesterday, I happened upon an old post of mine, entitled “do what makes you happy (?)“, which I wrote back in May when I was still very much at the desk job. I knew I desperately wanted to leave but I didn’t see when or how I’d be able to make it happen any time in the immediate future. I’d been writing follow my bliss for almost six months.

I remember that particular day quite well, in fact. It was a beautiful day, one of the first very warm and summery ones of the season and I was absolutely beside myself at having to be inside sitting at a desk. Not being able to enjoy amazing-weather days was one of the reasons I had decided, back at the beginning of that year, that I couldn’t work in an office any more. I wanted to be able to enjoy the world and not let my youth pass me by. Maybe it sounded frivolous and childish to some, but yes, I wanted to be out in the sunshine.

I was so frustrated that morning. I’d been good about being positive and hopeful and working toward my goals. I’d felt proud of how I’d stayed focused on making progress and not wallowing in the discontent of my present circumstances, but I woke up that morning just feeling overwhelmed by everything. I wanted to gripe and moan.

I wrote:

It’s rewarding to be working toward the small business venture and other personal goals. But I’m feeling down today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I want to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant. I want to have left this job, be baking and selling sweets, be freelance writing, be taking yoga class every single day. I want an instant lifestyle makeover. I know that’s a lot to ask for.

I had to stop and reread that paragraph two or three times yesterday. I know that I set out to leave my job and do things that made me happier, which is why I’m where I am today. And I know that I started a bakery with a friend so that I could bake and sell sweet treats. But it was still strange – and thrilling – to read what I’d wanted out of my life six months ago, what I’d daydreamed about and felt like I might never achieve.

AND HERE I AM! AHHH!

I have to tell you that it was a personally awesome moment for me when I read that paragraph, took a look around and found myself having finally made my wish into reality. How amazing.

It was akin to remembering the middle of my journey to lose 115 pounds. There were times when it was easy, when the pounds melted off. But there were also times when it was hard as hell. When I wanted french fries, nachos, eleven slices of pizza and every cookie in the box. And I just wished and hoped and prayed that losing all the weight would one day become real. And then, one day, it did. Making progress is so fulfilling.

Another thing that struck me about that particular paragraph was that I’d said I wanted to bake and sell sweets. And I also said that I wanted to be taking yoga class every day. And that I wanted to be writing.

Now, I know those things about myself – that I love to write and take yoga class. But it’s very easy to make excuses for not doing things that I love to do, even now. I’m too busy, the bakery needs my attention, I’m too tired, I have nothing to write about, I don’t need to do yoga every day, I don’t need to do yoga every other day, I’m still finding out who I am and what I want. Going to yoga class costs money, it’s not going to earn me any money. Sitting down to write takes time, it’s not my focus right now.

All those things might be true. But it’s also true that there was a time when my vision for my perfect life included a few simple things. And sure, that vision will always be morphing and changing, but those are such easy things to add into my life! There was a time when I wanted more yoga and more writing, and I still want more of those things. And there’s no reason I can’t have them today. In that sense, it was enlightening to check back in with who I was when this reality was just a dream. And I owe it to the girl who sat at that desk every day for years and years to make sure I’m now really doing the things I set out to do. I am reminded of how much I craved this time back them. I am reminded of how desperately I wanted and needed to have a different lifestyle, and how elated I would have been if I’d actually been able to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant.

I’m still as pleased as ever with my decision to leave my job. It was, I maintain, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It almost makes me want to cry sometimes to realize how grateful I am that I’ve done this.

But life is life. Good, bad, hard, fun, boring, thrilling, tiring, rewarding and all the rest of it in between. And it can be easy to grow accustomed to the day to day. And there are good days and harder days.

There are days when I’m content and relaxed. When I just want to scoop the whole world up and hug it because I’m so happy and feel so lucky to be alive, to be 29 years old (which remains, one week into it, to be an excellent age, by the way), to be standing at the beginning of the best years of my life, with my fantastic boyfriend, who happens to be my best friend, by my side, living in the best city in the world, building my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

And then there are days when I feel grouchy, moody, frustrated, worried, stressed and when I feel small and incapable. Sometimes I feel like I won’t succeed. Like I will be back in a paycheck job in six months. There are days when I feel completely blah. Human. Normal. Days when I feel nothing. Because you can’t have joy without pain and you can’t have excitement without boredom.

And that’s okay with me. Being blissfully happy all the time was not the goal. The goal was living my life how I wanted to live it. The honeymoon is ending and I’m coming into the phase of this journey where it’s my normal. I left my job almost exactly one month ago. And I can sometimes hardly remember what it was like to go to that office every day. (On second though, if I try for a second I could probably remember it exactly.)

This is my life now – the good, the bad, the indifferent.

I also wrote in that post about the fear that was sometimes crippling to me:

…fear of being broke, fear of leaving a “good” job that allows the people who care about me (myself included) to sleep at night, fear of ending up exactly where I dream of going and discovering that it’s not what I wanted at all, fear of having what I want and learning how hard it really is, fear of missing my desk job, fear of choosing a road less traveled, fear of making the wrong choice, the right choice, the impulsive choice, the overly-planned choice, fear that I’m running away from something or toward the unknown, fear of not having built any kind of real career for myself by now, fear of being judged, fear of being laughed at, fear of being lonely…

And the truth is? All those fears are still here. But they’ve quieted substantially. Because the quickest and easiest way to quiet fear is to do what you’re afraid of. Done and done. If you think there’s a ghost in the closet, open the closet and find out. (That’s a real life example.)

I will still worry and have anxieties about whether or not I will succeed. But the very act of getting up every day and actively living my new lifestyle gives those fears no true voice. And that’s something I want to share with anyone who’s still at the beginning of their journey to follow their bliss:  the fears we have will never go away, but they are completely meaningless. Holding onto the fear and making decisions based on the fear does nothing to bring us closer to our goals and dreams, it only provides something for our tired brains to chew on when we’ve got nothing else to obsess about. And it also gives the fear all the power. If anyone’s holding the power, it should be YOU. You are not your anxieties and worries.

The last paragraph of that old post said:

The beautiful and painful bottom line of the whole self-created saga I’ve laid out here is that I and I alone am the only person who can make these choices and take these actions and nothing anyone says – not my boyfriend or my mother or my boss or my grandfather – is going to create what’s true for me. What’s true for me is what I decide to make true for me.

So I made it true. Here I am. I still don’t have a solid understanding of what will happen, what my life will look like, say, a year from now – when I turn 30, for instance. But if the last month is any indication, it’s going to look pretty great. I’m happy, healthy, active, LIVING MY DREAM, and creating more dreams to work toward. And it’s The Best.

union square market

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After an appointment near Union Square yesterday, I found myself in the world famous Union Square Green Market. What was once just a few vendors collected in one end of the park has become, in the last couple years, a huge farmer’s market with tons of fresh produce, flowers, dairy and meat. It’s always fun to walk through it.

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Before I left my desk job though, walking through the market was usually somewhat of a nuisance. The otherwise wide sidewalk becomes narrow when the different local farms’ tents take over, and you can barely get from one end of the park to the other without hitting your shins on strollers and being clothes-lined by dog leashes.

But now that I don’t often have any where I need to urgently be, now that I can take a bit more time to stare at the sky each day, I rarely mind happening upon the bustling market. Especially since there’s so much to see, smell and consider buying.

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I have been obsessed with having flowers and plants in our house lately, as I’ve mentioned. I am doing my very best to be frugal in every respect right now, but I’ll gladly shell out a few dollars each week to have some foliage around. I fell in love with one farm’s stand of dried flowers and grains. They even had a huge wreath of dried red peppers, which was so beautiful. I didn’t get a photo of it because I felt strange snapping shots of all their wares. But I was able to sneak a few clicks…

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This $7.00 green flowery type plant was one of my two floral purchases. I have no idea what it is, but it smells amazing and after I water it for a week, it will require no more water and just sit beautiful in a dry vase in my living room! Ahh! So great.

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This pretty little bouquet of dried flowers was my other purchase. I love the fall colors. Frankly, I could have bought up their entire inventory.

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After selecting my purchases, I met up with Kevin, who’d just had a dentist appointment. Here he is trying to smile while the right side of his mouth is still numb.

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I couldn’t wait to hurry home and put out my new greens. Here they are on our makeshift mantle (next to all the pretty birthday cards I received last week!). I think those greens will be very happy there. I love looking at them.

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And here are the darling dried flowers, sitting on my desk, next to my framed photo of Floyd the cat when he was a kitten. Floyd passed away in March of cancer. He was only five years old and it was very sad, but I love that my good friend Sara made me this awesome frame (she actually made it long before he died) so that I can look at his little kittenness every day.

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I’m glad I got to spend some time at that market yesterday. It’s reason number 296 I’m still happy I quit my job.

More on all that later…I have some thoughts and revelations to share soon.