Energy, defined as available power, exists in two forms: physical and spiritual.  The physical energy is processed when we fuel our body with food and burn the calories as we perform tasks.  Whereas, spiritual or emotional energy is processed when we fuel our body with experiences and use up our emotional and mental capacity.  Essentially, physical energy is cellular; spiritual energy is "soul-ular". 

At different points in our lives we dispense this soul energy in various ways--at the beginning of a new relationship, we invest a large chunk in our lover: discovering who we are together, exploring the feelings they inspire in us, and building a foundation of soulful connection so that eventually it is not as exhausting to co-exist.  Other times we spend our energy on a passion; training for a marathon requires not only physical endurance, but a dedication of soul.  We cannot commit to a goal without pooling our emotional energy and focusing on the end result. 

However, I believe we have a finite amount of both types of energy; there is a limit, a point where we simply become exhausted, so it is important to learn how to spend your energy.  Life is at it's best when we have found a way to invest our energy in different pursuits: family, passion, love, learning, friends, etc.   In order to feel completely centered in life, we need to become efficient managers of our spiritual energy, to know when we can spend a little more in one area, and when we need to pull back and spend a little on ourselves.  In essence, this is my attempt at a somewhat scientific explanation of the need for balance in one's life.

Ironically, it can be exhausting just trying to figure out where to spend our energy.  But when we do get it right, the result is a blissful hum that resonates beyond our physical existence. 

The result is peace.

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Romance, Tim-ed out.

Some evenings I sit with every intention of writing.  The birds chirp outside as the smell of fresh rain wafts in through my bedroom window.  I wait, and the words never come.  Perhaps it is the idea of a computer that bothers me.  Though it allows one to be more prolific—one’s hand can only move so fast—it does not have the romance of a large, loopy script scrawled on thick card stock.  The clicking of the keys does not lend itself to the musical ear, nor does the blue glow from the screen do much for the aesthetic appeal of the pastime.  I picture the ladies of old who would sit down at their writing desk, dip their quills in the thick dark ink pot and begin a brilliant letter with no other intention than to invite their neighbor to dinner.  How formal life was then.  We’ve done away with formality in exchange for productivity.  A few hundred years ago, a woman would not dream of going down for breakfast until she had been laced into her corset.  Even a few decades ago, leaving the house without a proper hat was a major faux pas.  Today we go to the grocery store in pajamas and Ugg boots.  Though I appreciate the opportunities time has granted for a woman such as myself, I also long for the days when life was simpler...and a little more romantic.

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Thought, Challeng-ed.

Last night I attended the second meeting of my newly founded book club, which I must say is quickly becoming the highlight of my social calendar.  It is a rare occasion that a group of women in their twenties can get together and inspire stimulating conversation that does not include an evaluation of whether or not 'he's just not that into you.'  (The minute someone suggests that book, I'm out!)

Anyway, this month's pick was a novel by Kathryn Stockett, The Help, which tells the story of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi, during the brink of the civil rights movement.  Two black maids and one white wanna-be journalist tell a heart-warming story about what it's like to live on the outside of social norms. I highly recommend it for its innovative treatment of a frequently visited topic and for its general humanistic appeal.

Throughout our discussion, the topic of activism vs. progressive came up (quite appropriate for the week of MLK's birthday).  We struggled to define both terms and essentially came up with the following:
  • An progressivist is a forward thinker, someone who challenges the status quot, but does not take action to change the behaviors of others.
  • An activist is one who takes a stand for his/her beliefs and works to change the attitude or behavior of others in order to reach a goal.
A ring of women sitting on couch pillows in a Manhattan apartment suddenly began to judge themselves.  Could any of them even consider themselves progressivists?  What were they doing in a world, that although changed since the time period of the current month's book selection, still harbors inequality in tiny pockets across its surface?  Sometimes we forget that just because we're one, we can't join together to create many.

What would you do if you had the power of many?


Imperfect, perfect-ed.

My sister always jokes that I want the greatest life that has ever existed. Every time someone brings us flowers, I make a comment about always wanting fresh cut flowers in the house to brighten up the rooms. I make lists of books I think will enrich my life. I wade through thousands of slides, looking for a piece of art to put over my bed, but never can decide on just one. I choose what I eat not based on nutritional value or caloric content, but by how pleasurable it feels on the tongue, how satisfying it is. Sometimes I think I spend so much time trying to create the perfect life that I forget about all the perfectly imperfect things that make life so beautiful.

Was it wrong to want all of these things in my life? Perhaps not at all. In a way, I believe they all stand for something greater—-a material representation of things that are difficult to identify and nearly impossible to recreate. The books may stand for the knowledge and enlightenment I actively seek throughout my life. The flowers may represent a simple, natural beauty I long for in all aspects of being. The sweets and fresh fruit and delicious, satisfying meals are the ultimate basic pleasures—a way of indulging the senses, exploring a realm of delectable treats.

Through all of this, the writing has always been there. An outlet, a pastime, a love. And perhaps, if all else disappears—if the books are all read, the flowers wilt and die, the food looses its taste, the writing will still be there to live, to love me back. Because, after all, I've perfected imperfect.


Life, Interrupt-ed.

I think your twenties are …

I have trouble filling in this blank.  Horrifying, Awful, Confusing, Frustrating, Amazing, Brilliant, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

The truth is, no matter how much we want to deny it, we don’t have a f***ing clue what we’re doing.  And like a sick joke, the more we try to figure it out, the more lost we become.  As if we are wandering in the woods and the harder we try to find a clearing, the more entangled in the brush we become.

Take me for example.  I graduated high school with a plan.  I would move as far away as possible, major in journalism and travel the world, eventually settling down to write a few best-selling novels and dote on my fabulously handsome husband, and three brilliant kids.  There, it was settled.

And I really had myself fooled.  My first year at college I stumbled through writing courses and mass communications electives, until one brilliant advisor suggested I switch my focus to Public Relations.  “It’s journalism with parties.”  I like people, I figured.  So, with a swift flick of the pen, and a few red tape hurdles, I had moved over to the dark side. 

Three years later, I still foolishly believed I had it all figured out.  Then, I blinked and it was spring semester of my senior year and time for me to decide what to do post-graduation and suddenly I was terrified.  I knew I could move home and take some time off, but after making an executive decision four years ago to move as far away as I could get, this seemed counterintuitive.  But I did.  Now the dreaded question was sputtering out of every mouth, “what will you do now that you’ve graduated?”  Aka “what will you do with your life, you uninspired, lazy bum?” 

That was the problem, though.  I had no idea what would make me happy.  I knew that really good chocolate, and long runs, and time with my two dogs put a smile on my face.  I knew that I was never happier than when traveling to new places and exploring new cities, but I also knew that now, more than ever, my family was where my heart felt lightest. 

One thing that has never changed is my love of writing.  When I’m happy, I write.  When I’m sad, I write.  When I feel just about any emotion at all, I write.  This is my way of figuring out who I am.

So, I figured that there would be no better way to untangle the convoluted mess that is my life plan than by writing about how truly messy life gets in your twenties.

What luck I have.  I graduated just at the low point of the greatest economic downturn in the past 20 years.  Jobs that had been filled since the birth of companies were suddenly being eliminated to cut costs.  Two years earlier I could have had my pick of any job I desired (that is, of course, if I could have decided what it is I wanted to do), and expected a salary that I might actually be able to live off of.  Now, I spent four months searching the corners of every job site, e-mail blasting every contact I had ever acquired, stuffing my resume into the hands of any casual acquaintance, and dressing up for interviews across the state…All without a single offer. 

Although it was incredibly liberating to spend a summer without a single responsibility besides eventually waking up at some point in the afternoon, I started to go somewhat batty.   One particularly beautiful July evening, I went for a long run.  It was one of those perfect evenings when you are so consumed by the way the light penetrates the delicate green canopy that three miles turns into four, and before you know it, you are in a part of the neighborhood that you’ve never seen before.  It was this evening that I decided to run a half-marathon.  I took on my training with the same energy one might devote to a new job, and so I spent many a summer evening jogging around the neighborhood burning off calories and frustration.

It wasn’t until late September that my childhood best friend’s father called with a job opportunity.  There was an opening at his company and he thought I’d be a perfect fit for the position.  I specifically remember this phone call coming after a three day stretch of wearing the same pajamas and never once leaving the house.  It was time for a job.

Everyone always tells you that you can make anything happen, that if you really put your mind to something, you can achieve anything.  They leave out the part about how hard finding something to put your mind to can be. 

All my life I’ve wanted something big.  I’ve always known I was destined for greatness, or at least that I would lead a great life.  And although I feel very blessed, there are times when I just simply feel lost.  I imagine many feel this way from time to time.  I think my biggest frustration is that I feel uninspired.  My biggest dream in life is to be inspired and inspirational.  To move and to make people want to move.  To shake things up, get people thinking, doing, acting, changing.

Time to make moves.  Time to figure it out again.  Time to for a little inspiration...



Let's start a resolution revolution.  No more of this eat healthy, work out, and learn a foreign language crap.  We all know that you won't keep at it unless it really means something to you.  And because I've never met anyone who's New Year's resolution was to fail to keep their resolutions, I'm here to help.

First, be specific.  It is not enough to resolve to "work out more in 2010."  Sorry, but you might as well pull your fat jeans to the front of the closet cuz it ain't happenin'.  You want something you can measure.  Start by defining 'more.'  Give it a mileage, a training goal, a pound decrease, anything that you'll be able to track.  And give it a timeline while you're at it.

1.  Run a half-marathon by the end of June.  If you're lucky, try the full thing by November.

Give yourself some motivation.  Another popular one: 'budget better.'  How much are we saving here? And why?

2.  Put away 10% of every pay check to save for a down payment on a condo, a vacation, a steak dinner after you complete resolution #1...

Next, make your NYR relevant...

3.  Read Le Monde instead of the NYTimes on Tuesdays & Thursdays.  Keep a vocab list of the words you didn't know.  Use your new vocabulary on that trip you saved for thanks to resolution #2.

Lastly, make your New Year's Resolution personal.  Only copy from your neighbor if it makes sense for you.  Sure, their list may look like the beginnings of the perfect life, but is it your perfect life?

4.  Be more thoughtful (send notes to friends when they least expect it, tell Mom you love her whenever you call, hold the door for strangers).

5.  Revise your resume by March.  Perfect timing for the beginnings of a new job search.

If I may offer one more piece of advice...write them down on a srap of paper and tuck it in your wallet.  Pull it out every month or so to keep yourself on track.

Wishing you all a happy, healty, and prosperous 2010!  I'd love to hear your NYR's.  Inspire me.

pic: weheartit