Be-free

You Say Apocalypse, I Say Opportunity

| Inspiration, Life

I’ve spent the last week reviewing 2011 and making big plans for 2012.  A new year always excites me, as should any time when a blank slate and a fresh new start is offered. Nothing is as exciting as challenging yourself to do new things.

Reviewing the past year made me a bit uneasy. 2011 was not a good year for me. The beginning of 2011 started off as looking incredibly promising. I had a sweet new office space, a brand new LLC, and was living in my dream city. Then things started to slowly fall apart. I couldn’t find my focus and I became removed and depressed. Then – BAM – I was living back on the East Coast in a place that left me uninspired and even more depressed. Needless to say, 2011 was a big, fat, shitty flop for me.  It felt like all the progress I had made in my life up until that point meant nothing and I had rolled back down the hill.

Although I have high hopes for 2012, the act of planning still left me with an empty feeling in my gut. There was something missing in my life and in my planning process that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then I remembered what year we were rolling into: 2012 – THE YEAR THE WORLD ENDS!

For those of you unfamiliar - The Mayan Calender, one of the most prophetic writings ever, ends on December 21, 2012 (The Winter Solstice). This has caused many “experts” to believe that the world will end in less than a year from now. There are also many other fun theories surrounding  this date. It could be the beginning of a global shift in consciousness. It could be when singularity starts to happen. (There is a really cool book called The Mystery of 2012 that poses all the possibilities that scientists and gurus alike think that this date holds.)

To be clear – I love end of world theories. I read my horoscope even though I think astrology is total bullshit. My modus operandi is to indulge, scoff, and then entertain that little voice in the back of my head that says “But what if it is truuueee?”.  It is fun to dive into the unknown and to think about possibilities that most people would consider absurd.

The little voice in the back of my head asked me a silly question yesterday. “What if the world DOES end on December 21, 2012?? What would you do with your last year on Earth? How would you make the most of your life? How would you avoid what happened last year?” And then the big voice in the front of my head said, “AHA! The world is totally not ending on December 21, 2012. BUT you need to live your life like it will.”  Then I began to write goals that would really change my life. Goals that will make 2012 the most meaningful year ever. At that point my little nagging hole of uncertainty began to fill up.

 

If 2012 was my last year to live, what would I do?

 

Have better relationships
I am antisocial by nature and as time has gone by I have become more misanthropic and closed off with my friends and family. I don’t speak with my family and long-distance friends that often. I find it hard to make new friends, and I never let the ones close to me know how much they really matter. In my last year I would like to be a huge bundle of radiant love, and let everyone I know how much they truly mean to me. I want to take down my walls and build bridges.

Love myself
Self-love is hard for most people, women in particular. Every day we are being bombarded with messages that we are not skinny, smart, successful or sexy enough. I have found myself in a whirlwind of self-improvement for the past 5 years. Why do I feel like I am not good enough right now and I need to be improved? Even if I don’t complete anything else in 2012, I want to fall in love with myself and accept who I really am, regardless of what anyone else believes.

Explore
If you have looked for me at any time in the last few months, you would have found me in my apartment, in my pajamas, basking in the glow of my monitor. I am in a new city and I have hardly explored it. I have the whole world at my fingertips and the ability to get up and go, but I have locked myself in a cage of blog reading and sweatpants. In my last moments, I want to explore my physical surroundings at all times, looking at everything with “new eyes” and the curiosity of a child. I also want to explore mentally by learning new things and discovering secrets hidden in my own mind.

Travel abroad
I am almost 29 years old and I have still not traveled outside of the USA. FOR SHAME! I want to spend 2012 traveling to new places and exploring new cultures! New Zealand and Tokyo, here I come!!

Create big things
Nothing feels better than creating something bigger than yourself that can help other people in profound ways. It is the one thing that I have always wanted to do but I feel that I have not really attained. I spend most of my time learning about what other people have created and being envious.  I plan to make 2012 a year of creation and innovation.

Have a home
I am a homebody and love spending time curled up with my boy and my kitten. The fact that I have lived 5 different places in 6 years, tears my heart out. I am aching to have a permanent home that I can nest into and build a stable life. This may seem like a silly goal to set if the world is going to end in a few months, but even if I get 3 months of that feeling of “home”, it will be worth it.

Skydive
This one is simple. It is something I have always wanted to do. I’m doing it this year.

Become more spiritual
I am not a religious person, but I am very spiritual. In the past few months I have found myself tapping more into that side of myself.  Spirituality is profoundly important if the end is near! I want to get more clear on what I truly believe this year and tap into the energies that are within and around me.

Do impossible things
In 2012, I want to do things that most people would consider impossible. I want to invoke Oohs and Aahs. I want to bend beliefs. Defy convention. I want to make people think differently.

——

This whole idea takes the trite saying, “live every day like it is your last” and puts an end date on it. A deadline.  It takes an improbable theory and makes it an undeniable truth. It creates urgency in your everyday life to not miss out. Sometimes it is easy to stay inside on a beautiful day, blow off your friends to stay home and watch Netflix instant, or troll the internet instead of creating meaningful and lasting projects. But what if you only had a few nice days left?  What if your friends were only going to be around for a few more months? What if you needed to do something BIG before it is all over? Wouldn’t your life me more genuine and fulfilling? Would you be completely and totally present?

If the world were ending any day, would you stay at that job you despise? Would you spend your nights watching reality TV? Would you do things that make you feel awful or good? Would you reconcile with an old friend or lover?

How would you spend every day to make sure you were getting the most out of it?

 

Radical Changes & Moving On

| Life

I have been a creature of intense change all of my life. I get bored easily and am always looking to morph into a different (and sometimes better) person. 10 years ago I was a club kid, popping drugs like candy and dancing in warehouses until 4am. I had hundreds of friends and half as many lovers. I was a true wild child and loved every moment of it.

7 years ago I was a junk food eating borderline alcoholic. I slacked off in college and lived a miserable existence. My relationships were a mess and my mind was decaying. I was constantly sick and incredibly unhealthy.

5 years ago my radical changes turned for the better. Between then and now I have become a health obsessed vegan, an aerialist, a blogger, and a devoted other half to a wonderful man. I’ve moved across the country twice, started my own business,  became an insatiable reader, and have learned how to cook like nobody’s business. 10 years ago I would have never guessed that I would be the kind of person I am today.

Now I feel as if  it is time for more radical changes in my life. I’ve hit a deep, ugly rut that I can’t seem to escape. I find myself struggling to find a purpose. Most days, getting out of bed is a chore. That zest for life? Pretty much gone. When times get like this I know that change is on the horizon.. and it is kind of exciting.

4 years ago I started a project that changed my life in many ways. I started a blog called Chic Vegan that turned into a semi-popular site for vegan women looking for fashion, food, and news. During down times at my office job I would work hard on writing articles and connecting via social media. When I quit my job in early 2010, I began to devote even more time to cultivating Chic Vegan and getting to know its many readers. A few months ago a new design was launched along with a few new features. I started to plan some bigger projects. And then suddenly – I just stopped. I couldn’t figure out why.  I never made a conscious decision to stop.  I just did.

Looking into it, I realized that I wasn’t happy writing and editing Chic Vegan anymore. My days felt like a waste and I felt as if my creative impulses weren’t being fulfilled. I enjoyed helping others learn about the vegan lifestyle but I just wasn’t a “pro-blogger” anymore. (This whole thing reminded me of  the day I unexpectedly stopped smoking cold-turkey after 10 years of addiction because I just wasn’t the kind of person that smoked anymore.)

It may have been my struggle to walk the tightrope between “militant vegan abolitionist” and “compassionate realist”. It may have been overzealous marketers. It may have even been my fatigue of the topic.  The true reasons I stopped updating Chic Vegan are manifold, but the ultimate truth is that it just doesn’t make me happy anymore. It doesn’t make me excited and it does not invoke passion.  I love helping others learn about the vegan lifestyle. Helping animals live better lives is a goal I plan on forever pursuing – just in different ways. Chic Vegan will always remain online and stand as a resource for anyone who happens to stumble upon it, but it shall remain a relic of the time during my life when blogging was my thing.

I’m not sure how long I have felt this way. It seems for at least a year I have been hanging on to the presumption that since I have spent so many years of hard work on the site that I should never give up. Just recently I have realized that it is really ok to give up. When something in your life turns into a thing that weighs you down instead of setting you free – just let it go. This goes for relationships, work, and hobbies. Try your best and if it doesn’t light your fire.. say goodbye. I live by the old adage – Life is short, do what you love.  The things and the people I love may change from time to time, but I made a promise to myself a long time ago to never stray from that path. To never settle on something for any reason if it doesn’t make me swoon with love.

So begins the next chapter of my life. I feel like there are many more radical changes on the horizon. Who knows – I might move to Japan, or write a cookbook, or become a professional circus performer. But whatever it is, I know that it will make me happy. This is the only life I have and I will continue to pursue things that help me grow and change, and when life becomes stagnant I will get up and change again. This is the only thing about myself that will remain forever constant.

**

I will be posting more frequently here since I always have a desire to write (even though it might not be well)  and I excel at writing exclusively about myself. I will also be posting recipes, and my Fall Fashion Challenge updates that I would have posted on Chic Vegan. So if you are a Chic Vegan reader, never fear! This blog will be more genuine but updated less frequently – so be sure to subscribe!

 

Breaking News: Chic Vegan might be taken over by another vegan blogger! Stay tuned for details.

 

Losing Sight Of The Shore

| Inspiration, Life

 

Lately I have been scared. Scared of uncertainty. Scared of change. Of becoming a better person. Of embarking on a new journey and leaving things behind. I am in a state of limbo, it seems. Between evolution and stagnant mediocrity. While you would think the choice would be easy, it is tremendously hard.

I will be posting here much more. Details to come soon.

 

——

I have a Pinterest page that you should follow.

 

I also have a Tumblr.

 

 

 

 

My (Sort Of) Epic Journey Across The United States

| Life

This time last month, I packed up my bags, put the majority of my possessions in storage and embarked on a trek across the US.

This came as quite a shock to me.  I was finally getting settled in my new home in the glorious Pacific Northwest, and here I was – heading back to the East Coast.  The reasons for the journey are manifold, but in short – We are spending some time in Charlotte, NC helping out Doodlebug’s family.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The Road to Somewhere

We didn’t realize that moving was inevitable until about 3 weeks before we had to leave.  I work from a laptop and we were month to month on our lease, so the whirlwind of insanity that changing your whole life in 21 days can tend to create was not as bad as it could have been. I tied up loose-ends, finished up some big projects, and squeezed all of our non-essentials into the smallest storage space they had. In the midst of this I made a long planned trip to Philadelphia and my Mom came out to Portland to visit us.

Storage Tetris!

Finally, the apartment was empty, the car was packed and we were getting our last meal in PDX when we realized… we never planned our route! How are we going to get the 3,000+ miles from Portland, OR to Charlotte, NC without getting lost somewhere in the bible belt and camping on the side of the road? There was no turning back. We entrusted our journey to the mighty GPS.

Lead The Way GPS!

First stop: Pendleton, Oregon. We left late in the day and drove as long as we could stay awake.We came to a stop in Pendleton, home of wool blankets… or something like that. We crashed at a Holiday Inn Express and the next day was one of the most glorious days I’ve ever encountered. The sun was warm and the sky was cloudless. The breeze was perfect. Thus began a not-so-epic, pretty boring, kinda-life-changing roadtrip.

I have to admit, I didn’t really keep good track of where we went and what we did. Our mission was to get across the country as quickly as possible, so forgive my hazy recollection of places and events. The route ended up being devoid of any sightseeing spots and we didn’t stay long enough in any city to really explore. I think we probably took the most boring route you could possibly take across the US.

Hey Ho I'm In Idaho

The next day we stopped in Boise, Idaho for some lunch at Shangri-La Tea Room and Cafe where I had a nice simple salad and some AMAZING freakin tea. The tea was called MateJuana, and was a euphoric mix of Mate and Kava Kava. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves Mate. They don’t have an online store, but you can contact the owner, Toni and she can sell it to you over the phone!

A Lovely Salad from Shangri-La

 

During our travels that day we made a pit stop in a small town in Idaho on the edge of Utah. I have no idea what the town was called but it looked like something out of a western! I sat outside for a while and patiently waited for a drunk to be thrown out the swinging tavern doors and be challenged to a duel. It never happened so I reluctantly continued my journey for the day.

 

yee-haw!

That night, we decided to be adventurous and stopped off for the night in Tremonton, UT… population: 15.  Although the town was tinier than my shoe, everyone was so very nice and the seemingly seedy hotel was actually very quaint and ran by a nice family. The best part about this place was that it was located at the base of the Rockies!!! The view was beautiful, the air was clean and the people were so nice it was actually kind of creepy.

Rockies!

At this point I came upon the realization that traveling cross country with no itinerary isn’t exactly the best idea for a vegan. And thus began my nutritional decline. That evening I had french fries for dinner.

The next morning we ventured into Salt Lake City, which was probably my favorite city of the whole trip! It was very artsy and unique, while still keeping a big city feel. There are so many vegan-friendly places to eat in SLC I couldn’t decide!  However, we arrived a bit on the early side and many places were closed. We drove around for a bit before stopping at The Blue Plate Diner for breakfast. I had a massive breakfast burrito that was delicious. Our server was incredibly nice and chatted with us for a bit. I think I convinced her to move to Portland!

 

Vegan Breakfast Burrito from The Blue Plate Diner

The rest of the day was spent driving through Wyoming which was an absolutely gorgeous state (although the most beautiful state by far is Oregon!).  There were massive red rocks everywhere and wild horses! I believe the following photo was taken at the Flaming Gorge.

The Flaming Gorge

At one rest stop we were bombarded with ultra curious ground squirrels that made silly little noises. There were also roadrunners and little teeny chipmunks!  Unfortunately travelers tend to feed the wildlife here and I caught this little guy munching on a Cheeto. Not cool, people.

 

Wyoming Ambassador

We unexpectedly ended up in Cheyenne, Wyoming which is a city that Doodlebug has been obsessed with for a long time – although I have no idea why.  He was so excited that we had to pull over and sightsee for a few hours.

Cheyenne, Wyoming

So in Cheyenne, Wyoming they have big cowboy boots everywhere that are painted with different motifs. That’s about it.

 

From here on out, things got kind of rough. If you ever need to go to Nebraska – don’t. There is no reason for anyone to ever go to Nebraska. It is a vast nothingness. It is flat and boring.  There is nothing to eat, an eerie lack of culture, and the people are weird. There are also super religious billboards every few miles, that make you feel like someone is watching you… judging you.  I know this is a shitty generalization and I’m sorry if you live in Nebraska. I’m sure there are some nice places somewhere…maybe.

Most importantly, if for some god forsaken reason you find yourself in Nebraska, DO NOT STAY AT THE FORT SIDNEY INN in Sidney. We were driving for a long time and it was quickly getting dark. In the midwest part of I-80, you have to get off of the highway at night because there are no streetlights and no nearby city lights to compensate. We pulled over and found that all of the major hotels were booked and the next town was over 40 miles away. We drove farther into the actual town to look for a room and came across the Fort Sidney Inn. It looked kind of crappy on the outside, but only in a Jersey Shore Motel kinda way, so I wasn’t too deterred. Doodles, on the other hand, had serious apprehension. I convinced him that we needed to get some local flavor and enjoy a new place. Plus it is always good to support local business – right?

The lobby of this place looked like a 1980’s porno set, and I feel like it probably smelled like one too. The owner stared us both up and down before giving us a room and told us we “had 10 minutes to look at the room and ask for a refund” as he looked at the clock. The room smelled like beer, smoke, decay and sadness. The bathroom looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in 17 years. As soon as we put our bags down, Doodles warned me to not look at the online reviews. I agreed that it was probably a bad idea and as soon as he got in the shower (yuck!) I did just that. The tales of bugs, mysterious bite marks, smells, leaks, and shady activities sent me over the edge. At this point my only other option was sleeping in the car and I was about to do that. I mean, they WROTE the hot and cold water settings on the shower wall with MARKER.

Seriously.

 

Instead of spending the night in the car, I decided to man-up. I placed all of our bags on a high table and attempted to sleep in my clothes, on top of the sheets with my own blanket.  I didn’t get in the shower because I didn’t want the towels to touch my body… and I’m pretty sure I would have came out dirtier.  And even with all of these precautions I only slept about 2 hours because the worst storm I had ever encountered was going on outside. I spent the whole night in a horrified panic.  Needless to say, for the rest of our trip we stayed at the Holiday Inn.

 

After we escaped the evil clutches of Nebraska, we landed for the evening in Kansas City, Kansas. Early the next morning we headed over to the more eventful side of the Mississippi – Kansas City, Missouri. Up until this point in our trip the weather had been amazing. But now we were paying our dues with a torrential downpour, which was sad because Kansas City seemed pretty cool! We were finally back in vegan food territory, and I really wanted to head over to the vegan/raw cafe, FÜD but it didn’t open until 11am and we had to get on the road. Time was not on our side! We ended up stopping at Mud Pie Bakery, a super awesome vegan bakery. I got a giant cupcake and Doodles got a scone. They were both yummy! Nothing like rain, coffee and a vegan bakery to make a girl feel like shes right back home in Portland.

Next stop: St. Louis! I was really excited to go here because one of my favorite old movies is Meet Me In St. Louis… but that turned out to be completely irrelevant. We stopped here for lunch and got some pretty decent Vietnamese in a little hole in the wall place. As we were heading out I got a quick glimpse of the Gateway Arch, which was pretty cool even though we were heading in the wrong direction. Someone should construct a gateway to the East. It should look like a huge middle finger.

We crashed for the night in Nashville, and ended up staying right across the street from the Grand Ole Opry!! The next morning we did some sight seeing and ventured over to the Grand Ole Opry and to The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson’s Estate). This would have been a truly exceptional day except for the fact that there was a crazy storm going on. I thought the apocalypse was approaching – it looked like fire was about to rain from the sky. Needless to say, I didn’t get any good pictures this day. Nor did I get to go to Jack White’s record store. Boo!

We were now on our 5th and final day of travel! And what a day it was. The evil storm chased us across Tennessee and into North Carolina. We had to pull over a few times it was so bad. Eventually we drove through the Smoky Mountains and we knew we were in the home stretch. The Smokies were very pretty, but not very photogenic in the rain (we could hardly see out the window.. hazardous!). :(  I plan on heading back there in the fall to go hiking. There will be photos a-plenty then!

The last stop on the not-so-epic roadtrip was Asheville, NC. Asheville is totally awesome!  It’s a very artsy little city with tons of food and a good amount of culture. We strolled down Wall Street and grabbed a bite to eat at Laughing Seed. I was so happy to have a healthy vegan meal for the first time since Boise. I got the raw manicotti and a huge green juice and almost passed out from the rush of enzymes. I’ll also be heading back to Asheville a few times during my stay here, since it is only a 3 hour drive.

 

Finally, we landed disheveled and exhausted on the doorstep of Doodlebug’s parent’s house. And eventually we moved into a sweet-ass apartment in Charlotte, NC – but that’s another story for another time.

 

All in all, I wish we had more time to explore he cities we stopped in, but we did great with the time we had!  The whole journey was pretty relaxing and it was nice to take a break from technology for a week. I feel like the trip allowed me to get in touch of my more spontaneous side and allowed me to relax and go with the flow a bit. Sometimes I get so whacky planning out my whole day, I forget what it is like to just go on an adventure. I was happy we arrived on the East Coast in one piece, with clear minds and open hearts. We are ready to embrace the new adventure that life has planned for us!

Here’s to a totally mind-blowing, epic trip back to the West.

 

xoxo

 

 

Hello Again

| Inspiration, Randomness

I’m still here. Just hiding. Trying to figure out life and dodging the blows. I’ll be posting again real soon. Promise. For now just enjoy the sweet words of Jeff Buckley.

The Ultimate Collection Of YouTube Lady Gaga Covers

| Randomness, Video

The world is overcome with Gaga fever. The internet is overcome with Gaga covers. Let’s rejoice!


Little Timmy




Grayson Chance -Paparazzi




Paul Dateh – Telephone




Christopher Walken -Pokerface




Yoel Brach Productions – Bad Romance/Paparazzi


(Weinbergerrrrrrrrrrrr)


Some Acapella Group – Bad Romance/Poker Face




PS22 Chorus -Just Dance




Pomplamoose -Telephone




Chat Roulette/Telephone

(not a cover.. but absolutely epic)



Lissie – Bad Romance




Baby GaGa -Telephone




Did I miss any? What are your faves?

30 Things: Check, Check and Check

| 30 Things

Only 2 years and 10 months remain before the dreaded 3-0.  Ok so 30 is actually only dreaded because I made this list, and if you know anything about me, you know that I stick to (and make a lot of) lists!  But thankfully, I’ve gotten a big hunk accomplished in the past few months. Let’s review!

# 2 Relocate to the West Coast – Done and DONE. Read about my journey, here.

View of Portland (and Mt. Hood) from the Pittock Mansion

#4 Learn to swing dance – A few months ago I took a swing dancing class with two of my favorite girls in the whole wide world. Actually, I only took about 2 classes because the series was canceled.  I learned some basic steps and had a few laughs, but am far from a flipping, twirling, hep cat. Does that count?

#7 Become self employed – I am technically self employed at the moment, working exclusively on freelance. I’m going to try to do this for as long as I can, and hopefully establish a company that will do something amazing for the world.   Now for some paid writing jobs and circus gigs. Anyone?

#12 Get rid of my car and travel via bike - I sold my car the day before I left for Portland. Now that the weather is warming up I’m really excited to get a bike. My mission is to get the biggest shit bomber I can on Craigslist. My budget is $20.

#16 Read some Ayn Rand - I’m currently reading The Fountainhead and will be reading Atlas Shrugged soon after. So far I’m just trying to get used to her writing style, and letting my eyes adjust to the awful font used in the print I have. I never thought I would be interested in an 800 page novel about dysfunctional architects, but so far it is fascinating. Oh and Howard Roark? Love him!

#18 Eat at Horizons - Did I ever! This place has hands-down the best food (vegan or not) I have ever consumed. If you are from Philly or will be in the area at one point in your life – eat here!

Nommy Nom Noms From Horizons, Philly

#24 Save 5k in a real savings account - I made sure I saved a copious amount of money before moving across the country without a job. I just don’t know how long that money is going to stay there!

#28 Sprout - A few months ago I successfully sprouted some mung beans and also successfully ruined some chickpeas. My mission to make raw hummus failed in a mushy, smelly catastrophe. I will try again soon, though!

8 things done…. 22 to go!  Come on New Zealand and Dolphins!