I’m Not The Sort of Person Who…

Guys. I’ve been on holidays for over three weeks now, and one thing that keeps popping up is my idea of Who I Am. Indulge me for a minute here: Take out a piece of paper or open a blank document on your phone or laptop. (Please make a cursory attempt to do this at least– it’s fun and enlightening, I swear). Answer the following prompts as honestly, as thoroughly, but as spontaneously as possible, and then meet me in the next paragraph for discussion. ūüôā

Prompt #1: I am someone who ____________________ (or simply “I am ____________”)

Prompt #2: I’m not the sort of person who ______________________ (or simply “I’m not _______”)

List as many things as you can think of for each prompt. For example, coming into this vacation, some of my answers for myself would have been:

I am someone with high standards. I am someone who believes in doing the best job I possibly can. I am someone who is careful and conscientious. I am disciplined and in control.

I’m not the sort of person who enjoys crowds. I’m not one to let loose in public. I’m not a party-er.

That’s just the start. I’ve also discovered how widespread and totally arbitrary my “rules” about who I am (or should be) are. Many times, I’ve caught myself saying things like “I can’t eat dairy” (i.e. I am someone who is limited by what she can eat), “It’s late– I should really get to bed” (i.e. I’m not someone who deviates from her usual routines), or “I don’t think that’s worth it” (i.e. I don’t splurge on anything. Ever.)

Take a look at some of your own answers. Do they lay out very specific– and, let’s face it, highly unlikely– circumstances under which you’re finally allowed to have fun or to experience joy? Do they make you feel free or do they keep you trapped indeterminately? I don’t wear skirts or shorts. I’m not a ‘two piece swimsuit’ kind of woman. I’m not a swimsuit person, period! I don’t eat meat. I don’t eat carbs. I don’t eat fat. I swore off sugar. I don’t have sex during the day, on weeknights, or when the kids are at home. (Or at all.) I wear my hair up. I usually wear my hair down and part it on the right. I hate my job. I love my job! I gain weight just by thinking about food.¬†

This idea really hit home for me when Marty and I went to Florida for a week. Originally, we had planned to winter in Ecuador, and when we discovered that you have to fly through Florida to get there, we thought, Well, we might as well spend a week in Orlando! Our travel plans changed dramatically soon after we had booked ourselves into a random resort in Orlando, leaving us far away from Ecuador but still scheduled to fly across the continent and to partake in things like Disney World and Universal Studios for a week. Eek!

En route to Orlando, I nervously peppered Marty with questions on the plane. Do you like rides? What if we hate it there? When’s the last time you’ve been on a roller coaster– what do you mean, ‘never’?¬†I was extremely apprehensive about deviating from our usual vacation MO– camping or staying in a cheap hotel, hiking, logging extensive urban kilometers, discovering hidden gems in nature, etc. The thought of staying in a¬†resort¬†and going to¬†theme parks for a week made me sick to my stomach, especially when I read the cost of Disney admission in our guidebook. Having fun ain’t cheap, sister.

Anyway. We arrived in Orlando and checked into our villa, with my carefully crafted idea of Who I Am rearing its head and ramming into our surroundings at every opportunity. Ugh– I don’t do ‘poolside’. What do you mean, there’s a cigarette butt station right outside the elevator? Gross. Mandatory mini golf fee, are you kidding me? It got worse when we purchased tickets to both the Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios, my hand quavering as I signed the exorbitant credit card slip. You mean I’m paying to spend time in a crowded theme park with a bunch of screaming kids? Am I crazy?! And I have to set my alarm for what time¬†to get there? That’s, like, 4 whole hours before I normally get up… What on earth is happening to me?

Ever the strategists, Marty and I made a game plan the night before heading to the Magic Kingdom. Being the crusty, childless couple that we are, we decided to capitalize on Parade Time throughout the day, bee-lining for the far flung corners of the park while¬†everybody else jammed Main Street to see the floats and to have their photos taken with Mickey Mouse.¬†We don’t do parades. We don’t care about Mickey Mouse. We hate crowds. We are serious adults, for gods sake. It will be the perfect time to get photos without any people in them, for once.

At the park the next day, everything was going according to plan. At 1 pm, we saw the park attendants rope off a generous area for parade traffic and heard some spirited, G-rated music blaring from some speakers in the distance. Let’s head for Tomorrowland!, we mouthed to each other and enthusiastically pushed through crowds of people to make our way as far from Main Street as we possibly could. Marty decided to shoot some photos of Cinderella Castle en route, and that’s when we saw it:

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Some poor soul dressed up as King Louie, the orangutan from The Jungle Book, was doing the twist with a young girl in the middle of Main Street. I made a snarky comment–¬† likely ridiculing people who were shallow-minded enough to unwind and have fun at a theme park of all places– and then Marty dared me to go dance with the orangutan. The default programming flooded in immediately:¬†I hate parades. I don’t like crowds. This song sucks. I would never dance with an orangutan period, let alone in public. What are we doing in Disney World, anyway?¬†But Marty persisted. And I got curious.

This is what curiosity looks like for me-- a mixture of sheepishness and disbelief about what might happen next.

This is what curiosity looks like for me– a mixture of sheepishness and disbelief about what might happen next.

Hmmm… Am I really ‘not a parade person’? What if I could enjoy a parade, just this once? Maybe I can enjoy this one, right now? Maybe dancing with a person in an orangutan costume isn’t so ridiculous after all? Maybe it will even be– gasp– fun?!

That’s how this happened:

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Yup. I finished that song feeling completely exhilarated and didn’t even have to prompt Marty to join a congo line right afterward. (He was in there before I could even dare him!) Pure joy rushed through my veins for the rest of the parade– not to mention the rest of the day– and I felt like hugging that orangutan when everything was over and the floats were being steered back to the garage. ME! DANCING AT A THEME PARK! HAVING COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF FUN! LOOK AT ME, EVERYONE!¬†

Needless to say, we happily crowded around the barricades for every subsequent parade that day, and we gasped in collective wonder that evening when the cast from ‘Frozen’ transformed Cinderella Castle into a bedazzled, snowy confection. (I even wept when Jiminy Cricket narrated the fireworks show. I was overcome with emotion about dreams coming true!)

A super cool "Sleeping Beauty" float at the next parade.

A super cool “Sleeping Beauty” float at the next parade.

I don't believe anyone who says this display wouldn't bring them to tears...

I don’t believe anyone who says this display wouldn’t bring them to tears…

Yes. The moral of this story is to examine “who you are” and “who you are not” in light of new opportunities and experiences that come your way. You never know– maybe, like me, you’ve got a parade-loving, monkey-dancing persona just itching to break free from your disciplined, super serious facade. (Or maybe not, in which case, at least you’ll have some incriminating photos taken of yourself for the future…)

 

     

Sunday Signage: The Baby’s Gonna Blow!

I love Seattle. I love its zany architecture, crazy ass hill climbs, scenic views, and even its weather. It’s been so awesome having several weeks to explore this city (penthouse living, baby– yeah!), mainly so we can discover random gems like this one:

Quick! RUN FOR COVER!! Baby's gonna blow!

Quick! RUN FOR COVER!! Baby’s gonna blow!

This is not just any restroom sign. It’s a full-scale, life-sized, labor-intensive tiled mosaic that not-so-discretely lets visitors know where they can do their business at the famed Pike Place Market. I haven’t pictured the ‘mom’ part of the mosaic in this particular photo, but I can assure you she’s pretty casual looking. The Girl Child, on the other hand, seems to have more of an, um, urgent spring in her step, and the Dad? Well. I think that Dad has a Diaper Emergency on his hands… literally, from the looks of it.

I’m just picturing the commissioning process for this mural:

Pike Place Market: We need you to lay some tile downstairs. Huge mural. It’s going to be brilliant. The baby needs to be at arm’s length from the dad. I’m talking Dad Arms at 90-degrees. Everyone except mom needs to be breaking into a run.

Artist: Um, okay?

Pike Place Market: Make sure the Girl Child is almost as tall as an adult female. Dad needs to be a freaking giant. Baby will do a superhero pose– it’s going to be awesome.

Artist:¬†And you’ll pay me?

Pike Place Market: Of course! We value all artists here in Seattle!

Artist: In that case, show me that cash money and hand me the grout.

Love you, Seattle!

Acting “As If” For the Win!

Several months ago, I was inspired by fellow blogger Robin to sign up for daily Notes From The Universe e-mails. These little nuggets of inspiration are sent out weekday mornings and contain pithy words of wisdom and lots of cheerleading from The Universe. “Rah, rah Dana– you’re amazing!” and “Reach for your fabulous dreams, Dana– you can do it!” sort of stuff. Things like that are right up my alley.

When you sign up to receive the Notes in your own inbox, you are asked to create a profile– basic things like your name and e-mail address, but¬†also¬†two of your most sacred hopes and dreams for yourself. These dreams have a character limit and need to be written out in a specific fashion so they can be inserted– proper grammar sort of intact– into special Notes every couple of weeks or so. Here’s the thing: Even though I’m fully aware that I personally created this profile for myself, I’m always secretly shocked when there are references to my biggest dreams within the daily Note. Sometimes I even feel¬†tears¬†springing to the corners of my eyes reading them, like, “OMG! How did the Universe know?! (It’s embarrassing. Yeah.)

Anyway. On December 20th, this was the Note I received from The Universe:

Hey Dana, great news!!!

Your new book sold out, again, “A Gorgeous Bright Serene Spacious Waterfront Home For Everyone!” Readers loved the chapter on “Acting As If.”

By the way, your publicist called and asked if she could bring her boyfriend to San Tropez?

And you said, “Darling, she can bring anyone she wants.”

Success has so not changed you,
The Universe

Predictably, when reading this Note, I was all, “OMG! How did the Universe know¬†that one of my secret dreams refers to a gorgeous bright serene spacious waterfront home? And as a tangent: how perfect is it that the Universe also has a penchant for using too many exclamation points? It’s a match made in heaven!!!” (Full disclosure: my true secret dream actually contains commas and personal pronouns when it’s typed out, all official-style, but my, oh my— I do love me some serenity on the waterfront!)

In case you didn't figure it out, this is me being serene on the waterfront. They don't call me "Dr. Obvious" for nothing.

In case you didn’t figure it out, this is me being serene on the waterfront. They don’t call me “Dr. Obvious” for nothing.

I’ll confess that I let out a goofy laugh when I first read this Note. Telltale tears also pricked the corners of my eyes (those emotional bastards!). I noticed Marty glancing at me with question marks in his eyes, so I tried to act all nonchalant and whatevs by… letting out an even more exaggerated guffaw. No words. Just guffaws. The sheer force of this way-too-loud laugh then squeezed out more tears from my eyes, so I was hee-hawing and half-crying at the same time. Classy moment alert!

Why was I even more awkward than usual when reading this particular note, you might wonder? Well, first off: I was thunderstruck by the “Acting As If” reference in this note. We all learned in “Manifestation 101” class that one of the best ways to bring about something is to “act as if” it’s already there. And guess what, dear readers? On December 20th, I happened to read my special Note from the Universe whilst checking my e-mail at a badass computer desk in a gorgeous, bright, serene and spacious waterfront home. (FOR REALZ!!!)

Here's where it happened! At a desk made out of airplane wings... or something made to look like airplane wings.

Here’s where it happened! At a wicked cool desk made out of airplane wings… or something. But the home! Check out the brightness and spaciousness of the home in the background, though!

Yes! I am so on top of this “Acting As If” chapter! Marty and I are babysitting a dream home in Seattle for the holidays, so for two full weeks, I will be fully immersed in manifesting my own gorgeous home via “acting as if”. (You hear that, Universe? I am ON THIS! A++++)

Yep. I live here now. (For two weeks, but whatever... Minor technicalities.)

Yep. I live here now. (For two weeks, but whatever… Minor technicalities.) Is it bright and serene enough for YOU?

Rational Me has the unfortunate tendency to be rendered breathless/motionless by questions of affordability, practicality, and “trying to figure it all out”-ity when thinking about gorgeous and spacious waterfront homes.¬†However, House-Sitting Me thinks nothing about pushing the “PH” (PENTHOUSE!!!) button in the elevator– after all, that’s where I¬†live right now. It’s simply a matter of fact. (Delicious, marvelous FACT!)

And Seattle... hello!! Who doesn't appreciate solar-powered singing flower statues and the Space Needle?

And Seattle… hello!! Who doesn’t appreciate solar-powered singing flower statues and the Space Needle? (If you don’t, maybe we shouldn’t be friends anymore.)

Logical Me doesn’t dare to dream¬†too big when it comes to serene homes with an expansive view of the Pacific Ocean, lest I crush my own heart with disappointment and unfulfilled expectations. However, House-Sitting Me has lots of fun pretending that this super awesome PENTHOUSE SUITE is mine for keeps! (We’ve already designated Marty an inspiring studio room here and I’ve even called dibs on my office space… not that either of us are working on holidays, mind you.) House-Sitting Me is really great at playing make believe and isn’t personally invested in things working out one way or another. Let’s enjoy this place to the max while we’re here!

Ahhhh... gorgeous and spacious!

Ahhhh… gorgeous and spacious!

Serious Me would never dare to “make a place my own” while looking after it for somebody else. (In fact, Serious Me’s head would barely graze the pillow each night while sleeping– we wouldn’t want to actually¬†sleep¬†in the¬†bed¬†that’s made for sleeping!! That would be preposterous!) However, House-Sitting Me– that savvy she-wizard!– made a joyful ritual out of banishing any “non-me” items to the unused bathroom on Day One. Out of sight, out of mind! Those items will sit in quarantine for two weeks, all by their lonesome, but will magically and perfectly appear in their exact right places on the evening that our house-sitting duties expire. (Until then, this house is 100% mine!)

Let's be honest here: how many "air fresheners" does one house need? Well, if it's *my* gorgeous, bright, serene and spacious waterfront home, the answer is none. Scented candles, Febreze bottles, and sticks and sticks of toxic "scent", I sentence you to two weeks in the farthest corner, behind a closed door.

Let’s be honest here: how many “air fresheners” does one house need? Well, if it’s *my* gorgeous, bright, serene and spacious waterfront home, the answer is NONE. Scented candles, detergents, soaps, lotions, Febreze bottles, and sticks and sticks of toxic “fresh scent”, I sentence you to two weeks behind a closed door in the farthest corner of this beautiful home. Good riddance!

Stodgy Me¬†wouldn’t dream of “going overboard” with this penthouse suite experience. Sure, it’s nice and exciting and all, but mum’s¬†always¬†the word when it comes to Stodgy Me. No need to bring it up in random conversations, right? However, House-Sitting Me… well, how do I put this delicately? House-Sitting Me is SUPER HARDCORE about enjoying this penthouse suite. (“Guess what, strangers I’ve never met before? I LIVE IN A PENTHOUSE SUITE! Hell, yeah!!”) Moreover, House-Sitting Me gets the EFFIN’ GOLD STAR for savoring **Every. Single. Moment.** spent in this gorgeous, bright, serene, spacious waterfront home. House-Sitting Me doesn’t care if it seems ludicrous. Or outlandish. Or excessive. Or shallow and materialistic. House-Sitting Me loves everything about this penthouse suite and might just shout that from the top of this gigantic ferris wheel:

I'm on it, Universe! A+++

PENTHOUSE LOVIN’ FOR THE WIN!! I’m on it, Universe! A+++

And you, dear readers? How are you planning to spend the holidays?

Anybody want to swap Penthouse stories with me? (Not those kind of Penthouse stories– the G-rated ones, obviously!)

Sunday Signage: Pretty Please Stop Creeping Me Out

I’ve posted this sign before, when Marty and I had the terrible misfortune of taking an overnight bus from Victoria to Calgary in the days of yore (aka in March 2011). I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it begs an encore appearance, though, especially for my new(er) readers. Truly: You haven’t¬†really lived¬†until your retinas have been permanently burned with the image of the creepiest DIY sign ever. You can thank me later!

Spotted at the Greyhound Bus Depot in Chilliwack, BC:

What. The. HELL? This was one of about 20 handmade signs on the fence at the depot, all with the same general “Keep Out!” message. Dear Chilliwack Greyhound Workers: We get it. I’d never want to be on the creepy side of that fence, anyway.