Time for the magic notebook to shine

At this time of year, there’s something appealing about looking back over the next year, measuring it, weighing it, and putting it in a neat little package to set aside and get ready for the new year.

When I was little, I used to have this idea in my head of the ‘old’ year was crumbling and old, waiting to be replaced by the shiny glossy new year at midnight on New Years’ Eve.

It’s useful for us to put time in little packages. To measure it. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years. But time isn’t really like that – it just keeps flowing. Life isn’t like that either. Much messier. Harder to measure, weigh and package.

But what is useful is pausing from time to time to take a look at where we’re going, where we’ve been, lessons we’ve learned and plans we want to make. Clich├ęd as it seems, it’s useful to pause and reflect, then prepare for what’s ahead. And the start of a new year on some arbitrary human calendar is just as good an excuse as any.

I have a notebook that was given to me as a gift several years ago, a really nice one. With a padded cover, cloth binding, creamy lined pages, and a satin ribbon bookmark sewn in. I’ve become convinced that it’s a magic notebook. At the start of 2002, feeling trapped and desperately unhappy with many different areas of my life, I took it off the shelf, and wrote down a list of things to accomplish to better my situation. I wrote a little essay about each item. I tracked my progress toward each of the goals for a couple of months. Then I forgot about the notebook. But I didn’t forget the goals. I kept working.

At the start of 2003, I pulled it off the shelf again. I reviewed the old goals – some of them accomplished, others not. I took stock again. I set my intention for the coming year.

My notebook became a regular habit. At the turn of a new year, I pull it out, review the goals I set the previous year, and set my goals for the coming year. And magically, the goals are accomplished. Not always in the first year they were set down in writing, but they are accomplished. It feels good. At some point, it started to feel like magic. Thus it became known as the magic notebook.

It’s that time of year again to pull out the magic notebook, review the previous year, and set my goals for the year ahead. I invite you to join me. The magic lies in setting your intention, asking for what you want and trusting that you’ll receive.

A fun way to give for the holidays

I know it’s getting to be pretty close to Christmas, but I just found out something that sounds really fun.

Each December, the USPS received hundreds and hundreds of letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole from hopeful little children. This I’ve always known. But I had no idea that you could contact your local post office and volunteer to answer the letters!

Contact your local postmaster to ask how he or she runs the program at your post office, but you can either just write back to the children as Santa or you can find letters from less fortunate children and send gifts to fulfill their Christmas wishes.

There’s something really appealing about this to me. I remember the fragile hopefulness I had as a child when I wrote my letter to Santa each December telling him how good I had been and making my requests for Lite Brites, Spirographs and Easy Bake Ovens. It would have been simply magical if that letter had been answered.

More information:Answering letters to Santa from the USPS

Moonlight visitor

Fifteen years ago this July, I received one of the best gifts I had ever received in my life: two seven-month old kittens. They were sisters from the same litter. Midori was shy, the runt of the litter, white with a black tail and a weird black patch on her head that made her look as though someone had spilled paint on her. Sarabi was brave huntress and impossibly beautiful. She was a creamy brown color with a white tummy and a black nose. Think about it for a minute – when have you ever seen a brown cat?

They were two of the best cats I have ever known. They were sweet and cuddly. They both followed me from room to room, and took turns sitting on my lap, one gently nudging the other when it was time to switch places. Even if they were sound asleep, I only had to click my tongue, and they’d both come running.

But circumstances change, and my life in chaos, I found myself in a situation where I could not have cats. Heartbroken and sad, I gave them up for adoption after spending seven years with them, and proceeded to sobbingly choke down a pound of chocolates covered in salty tears.

Last night I dreamed I was reclining on my couch at midnight with the light of the full moon streaming in the window when Midori walked in and hopped into my lap. She looked at me and meowed a few times in her whiny way and I immediately understood: Sarabi has died. I held Midori close, petted her, and comforted her through the loss of her sister, and then she left, and I woke up feeling sad for the loss of my pet all over again.

Hunt well, Sarabi. You are missed.

Everything always works out for the best

Here was my message from the universe today:

The reason things always work out for the best, Natalie, is because this is actually the highest of all spiritual laws.

Any apparent exceptions are simply evidence that work is still in progress, whether or not it can be seen.

Always,
The Universe

I love this one, because it’s what I believe already.

Namaste.

Acceptance

My Freewill Astrology horoscope a couple of weeks ago had this quote from Christiane Northrup:

The only way to get a difficult feeling to go away is simply to love yourself for it…If you think you’re stupid, then love yourself for feeling that way. It’s a paradox, but it works. To heal, you must…shine the light of compassion on any areas within you that you feel are unacceptable.

These are the things I need to learn to love about myself:

  • My financial messiness that I am in the process of cleaning up. Though it may be hopeless to ever think I could live frugally sticking to a tight budget.
  • A body that is less than perfect.
  • A wicked sweet tooth.
  • Always feeling like my whole life is on the verge of crumbling into an absolute mess.
  • The fact that despite completing the C25K running program, I don’t like running and don’t care to do it ever again.
  • An almost complete inability to sit and relax for more than 10 or 20 minutes at a time.
  • An unstoppable tendency to bite off more than I can chew.
  • An inexplicable compulsion to sing along with "Copacabana" whenever it’s on the radio.

What about you? What are you learning to love about yourself?

A little sad about Crazy

Crazy is my fish. I’ve had him for a four or five years. So I guess he’s kind of old as fish go.

Last week I noticed a big lump on his head. Some quick Google searching confirmed my fear – it’s probably cancer. When your $2 fish gets cancer, there’s not really much you can do.

Crazy seems fine. He’s eating normally (besides a little issue with being able to see his food around the lump on his head) and swimming around just like always.

Even though it’s silly, I’m a little sad. He’s my buddy. He’s been sitting here on my desk next to my computer, keeping me company while I work for years. My desk will be a whole lot lonelier without him around.

Why I remain calm…

I’ve just finished reading an interview with Charles Hawkins, a concierge at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Yes, the one from Pretty Woman.

The interviewer asked him, "Do you ever lose your calm?" He said:

It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. As long as I know there is chocolate somewhere in the hotel – and there alway is – I can get through anything.

The comforting presence of chocolate.

Sticking to my standards

A few years back, I got pretty upset with a boss of mine when she told me that not everyone holds themselves to the same high standards that I do, and that I had to cut other people some slack. I’ve never felt like I held myself to some hoity-toity high falutin’ standards, and I didn’t understand why it was so unreasonable to expect the same from others that I expect from me.

I could see a problem if I demanded more but not the same.

Doesn’t the universe come along with this:

The only person who should ever have to live by your standards, Natalie, is you.

Let everyone else off the hook. Besides, it’s doubtful they’ve lived as much, dreamt as big, or will ever be able to saunter quite like you.

Tallyho,
The Universe

So as much as I hate to say it, I guess that old boss of mine was right. She just didn’t have the panache that The Universe has.

Hundreds of Things

Inspired by: Tricia

  1. I adore Hello Kitty to a point that should be embarrassing for a grown woman.
  2. I used to hate pink, but now it’s my favorite color.
  3. My pet is a fish named Crazy, but I really want a kitty. My roommate is allergic.
  4. Growing up, I told everyone I wanted to be a wildlife biologist, but I really wanted to drive around a pickup truck full of cleaning supplies and clean and polish road signs.
  5. I have a secret hope that one of these summers, I will get so many freckles, they’ll all touch and I’ll finally have a tan.
  6. I just started the Couch-to-5K program and in 9 weeks I’ll have worked up to running three miles. In a row. Without stopping.
  7. I’m obsessive about lists and keep a collection of them. Things to do today, things to do this week, things to do this month, things to do this year, things to do before I die, things I need to buy, things I need to remember…
  8. I can never buy things with my name on them. They never have “Natalie”.
  9. I love vintage poster art. I once went to a vintage poster fair and saw the real things – it was so cool. I wanted to buy one, but the cheapest one was $200.
  10. My favorite fruit is any kind of berry.
  11. I adore Marilyn Monroe and Audry Hepburn.
  12. I think that I’m afraid of my own power.
  13. I taught my best friend Diane to knit, and now she’s better at it than me. I knitted toys for her new baby anyway.
  14. I don’t understand people who don’t like knitting or reading.
  15. I love having long-term projects that take months or years to complete. I think that sometimes I drag a project out just to make it last long enough to make me happy.
  16. I’m totally and completed addicted to lip balm. There is at least one tube or compact of lip balm within arm’s reach of my body at all times.
  17. I can’t stop collecting small notebooks.
  18. I can’t stop collecting blank journals.
  19. I re-read old books the way some people catch up with old friends.
  20. I wrote a novel that is sorely in need of some revisions and rewriting.
  21. I get up each morning four hours before I have to be at work even though my commute is only 20 minutes so I have plenty of time to have a slow start to my day.
  22. I’ve broken into three separate hot tubs to go skinny dipping.
  23. I love my job. I love making web sites. I like being the only girl at most places I work.
  24. Sometimes I think I’d like to move to Italy. I’ve never been there.
  25. I was married for seven years, separated for six years, and now divorced for two years.
  26. One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is walk along the boardwalk at the beach.
  27. I love to bake, but only bake for other people.
  28. I took my sewing machine to be fixed a year ago and haven’t used it since. It was broken for four years.
  29. I think I could be happy being single for the rest of my life and just traveling and working. I also think I could be happy being married and having kids. I don’t know how to decide.
  30. When I start to worry about the future, I try to just have faith that everything that happens is exactly what’s supposed to happen. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
  31. Sometimes I have dreams that come true later.
  32. I could live the rest of my life on nothing but cheese, chocolate, and bread.
  33. I love wearing high heels and being ultra girly.
  34. I want to take ballroom dance, belly dance, and swimming lessons.
  35. I took classes to become a professional mediator, but stopped short of getting certified.
  36. I saw my grandfather in my kitchen a year after he died.
  37. I’ve learned the hard way that you shouldn’t play ‘light as a feather stiff as a board’ with a waiter wearing nothing but tighty-whities in a hot tub.
  38. I can’t stop eating peanut butter frozen yogurt from the Big Chill. I go at least once a week.
  39. I love pinup girls. I want to be a pinup girl.
  40. I kissed the Blarney Stone even though it looked gross.
  41. I read so many books as a kid, the school librarian gave me special permission to take out up to 10 books from the library each week. The other kids got two.
  42. On my first day of kindergarten, I wore a t-shirt that said “Girl’s Lib”. Yes, it was the 70s.
  43. On my second day of kindergarten I wore my Mork and Mindy suspenders.
  44. I was in the marching band in high school. I loved it. Nothing particularly interesting ever happened at band camp.
  45. I spent weeks searching for a pink laptop bag for my laptop. Then I sewed a Hello Kitty patch on it.
  46. Sometimes I really love going out for a nice dinner by myself with a good book.
  47. I think that whoever asked for the date should pay.
  48. I want to get some formal training in graphic design.
  49. I think my housekeeper might be stealing little stuff from my apartment. Like my stapler.
  50. In ninth grade, I sunk every minute of my extra time into saving a friend’s life who kept threatening to commit suicide. After that, she would only talk to me to be mean. Really mean.
  51. Hemingway’s shortest story (For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.) makes me really sad.
  52. I don’t use Twitter much, but I could stare at Twistori all day.
  53. I never had rice until I was 16.
  54. I was once offered a job as flight attendant on the condition that I removed my ankle tattoo. I refused.
  55. I’m almost always doing something. I almost never just sit and relax.
  56. I think that there is no better breakfast than a crepe with nutella. And sometimes strawberries and bananas too.
  57. I own shelves full of books and with very few exceptions, I’ve read them all cover to cover.
  58. I was disappointed with college because I thought it was going to be full of people passionate about learning and reading. It wasn’t.
  59. I really love playing board games, even though most people think they’re nerdy.
  60. In fact, I’m undefeated at Trivial Pursuit.
  61. I’ve never been in a limo.
  62. I can’t wait until I get my braces off. I intend to go to the ridiculous candy store up the street and buy tons of starbursts, gummy bears, chocolate reisins, and swedish fish and feast on them until I’m sick the day they come off. Then I’ll chew gum for hours.
  63. I try really hard not to care what other people think of me.
  64. I refuse to believe that gay marriage is evil.
  65. I never want to live anywhere that it snows ever again.
  66. I’m so scared of bees and avoid them at all costs. I was 17 before I was stung. I’ve only been stung one time since then.
  67. I’m reasonably sure that in a past life I was a blond bombshell actress.
  68. Being serious for a really long time makes me silly.
  69. I also get silly when I’m tired.
  70. I got highlights to cover my gray hair.
  71. I’m sad that all my friends seem to be moving away from Los Angeles. I love it here.
  72. Considering the good eye I have for design, it’s shocking how bad I am at framing and taking photographs. Never hand me your camera.
  73. I’m in the midst of my own long-term extreme makeover. Grew out my hair, got braces, and have lost 50 pounds so far.
  74. I work really hard not to let jealousy get the best of me.
  75. I cannot roll up my tongue.
  76. If I was a boy, my mother was going to name me Gregory Nathaniel. If my dad had known he was going to have three girls, I would have been Faith and my sisters would have been Hope and Charity.
  77. I have a hard time buying shoes, bracelets, anklets, and bras on account of my larger-than-average body parts.
  78. When I hear a new song I love, I play it over and over until I know all the words.
  79. I snore.
  80. I made it to the State Championships of the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee when I was in sixth grade. I got out in the third round for misspelling ‘independence’.
  81. My favorite lunch is a grilled cheese sandwich and cream of tomato soup.
  82. I graduated high school with a 4.0 and college with a 3.9.
  83. I love that I’m an INFJ, the rarest personality type in the Myers-Briggs test.
  84. I didn’t go to the dentist for 12 years. I go regularly now.
  85. I’m really good at grammar and spelling. I think it’s all the reading.
  86. My favorite Christmas special is Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. I know all the songs by heart.
  87. I’ve never needed glasses or contacts, but dread the day I will.
  88. I hate spending the entire day in meetings.
  89. I don’t drink coffee. I never did.
  90. My favorite movie snack is popcorn with extra butter and M&Ms mixed into it. If you’re going to eat a bad-for-you movie snack, you might as well go all the way.
  91. The house I grew up in had an old-fashioned claw foot tub. I was the only one in the family who loved it. I’d take baths with the water up to my neck.
  92. I’m so hyper-sensitive to caffeine that an espresso can leave me jittery and with ringing in my ears.
  93. My favorite video games are puzzle games like Tetris.
  94. I love going to a baseball game and kicking back with a hot dog and a beer. I don’t really know much about baseball, and don’t care to learn more than I know now.
  95. The ocean and the moon are my favorite things. The stars are a close second.
  96. One of my most treasured possessions is a ring that belonged to my grandmother.
  97. I’m often annoyingly positive.
  98. I am a staunch believer in karma.
  99. I hate avocados, olives, pineapple, and mushrooms.
  100. I am an Aries.