Level With Me

Maybe it’s because I had a long day, but I’m not in the most positive of spirits. I get in these ruts where everything seems to stack and stack and stack up to catastrophic heights, all while floating through the day as if all is well. The stacks never fall.

Deep down I need a change. I know a large part of that is professionally speaking. I don’t like that work energy is so easily brought home. I care too much (most of the time) to fully disengage my brain from the 8am-8pm coverage windows I have to monitor.

I get this from my mother – I am most certain of this fact. We are doers, you see. Helping anyone who needs it and bending over backwards if need be. But what happens when we need a break? Does anyone notice? The answer to that question seems to be a blatant “no” at the moment.

My kitchen confronts me daily with dishes I’ve left undone from the previous night; sometimes two nights. Nothing major but enough to make my skin crawl with annoyance.

I love my dog, but there are times I wish I wasn’t so hands-on with him. He’s my shadow and comes to me for everything – even if S is doing absolutely nothing. It can be overwhelming at times. Just call me super mom.

I was taking my sister and nephew home tonight when I had a concealed panic attack behind the wheel. Driving is something I absolutely hate and I’m not really sure why. I’d just missed our exit and I was surrounded by assholes and semi-trucks.

I don’t think she noticed but I immediately went into a breathing exercise for relaxation and mindfulness. To distract myself, I had to focus on my breathing and veer away from questions about her day. We could catch up later. My only focus was getting the two of them home safely so I could scream in my car and turn the music WAY up.

I feel as though being nice is turning me into an asshole. Does that make sense? I reach a point of “no more” in multiple areas of my life and a shift happens almost too easily for me… and not for the better. I suppose my team could use a more strict environment, but I don’t have go full vicious on anyone.

(This is the part where I read you the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)

I got home safe after battling the bright lights and over-sized trucks of the interstate. I could finally sit down, vent and release the weight of the day, and make sure my attitude wasn’t crashing into anyone’s world but mine.

Cleaning always helps me chill the fuck out. S has a holiday party tomorrow – spouses aren’t invited – so that’ll be a good chance to reel in my crazy. I also have a feeling that tomorrow’s morning workout will be a great one…

I’m going to sleep now. Goodnight, everyone.

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Getting in the Holi-DIY Spirit

Christmas is around the corner and we couldn’t wait to get our decorations up this year. It’s always been the tradition in my family to throw the Christmas tree and the rest of the decorations up the day after Thanksgiving – ours were up the week before Thanksgiving this year (laughs out loud).

I wanted to do a smidge more this year with the decor without doing too much and decided to check out Michaels for inspiration. “Stairs, lights, this, and that.” I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish in our space that I love so much, but it would be easy to go overboard if I didn’t control myself.

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Garland and lights were on my mind prior to walking through those doors, so I went straight to the faux-pine section of the store. Naturally, there were way too many choices. I spent quite a bit of time pulling the long strands of garland down to check out the various detail that had been added. In the end settled for four strands – running $8.99 per strand – and left the store with twenty-four feet of christmas garland and lights.

Did you notice how I said I settled? I knew I was going to check out Target’s holiday selection before I reached my car. The Target near our place is usually hit or miss when it comes to any item you may  need. I had to chance it because the garland in the craft store bags weren’t going to help me achieve the look I was going for in our living space. Sure, I can drape my ass off, but I didn’t want that.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find that Target had bundles of garland on sale – $10 for fifty feet! I placed two bundles in my cart and knew right then the garland from Michaels would not be leaving the glitter-sprayed bags in which they rested.

The garland from Target was plain and did not have any of the extra bells and whistles – fake snow, acorns, berries, etc – but I own a hot glue gun! Any extra pizazz I could surely add. My original thought was to wrap the garland and lights on the banisters so this ended up working out for the better.

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In the end I spent about $30 on Christmas decor this year. Last year I raided the dollar stores and Walmart and put my glue gun to work. I preserved those projects and will continue to use them in the years to come. Our tree is from one of S’s first apartments out of college and it works and looks just fine. Our stockings are from the dollar store and look just as  joyous above our fireplace as the over-priced products that fill most store shelves today.

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The point is to work with what you’ve got and don’t be afraid to get creative. I have this ritual before I decorate a space. I scan the internet for ideas, walk every square inch of the space I wish to transform, and hit the stores for supplies to recreate the looks I stumble upon for about 60% less of what you’d end up spending on more expensive decorations.

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So what do you think?! I think I’ll go ahead and wrap up this post so I can get back to Christmas shopping online and this zinfandel.

The Horses of Burr Oak Farm

We got the chance to help the family shoot some footage of the horses for prospective buyers this Thanksgiving weekend. The buyers are way out in Oregon, so they’re unable to check out the horses in person.

It was my pleasure to step out of my comfort zone and help them with this.

The more I work on creative projects that allow me to explore new realms, the more inspired I become. Now… those of you who know me may be REALLY shocked to see me anywhere near a horse – let alone in my forces, hello! – but I had a blast.

We plan on getting down more often to help mom and dad elevate their customer experience and show off the beautiful horses of Burr Oak Farm.

 

3 Things Keeping us Happy at the Moment

November is here! And with a new month comes new and refreshed interests in our day-to-day activities. One of my favorite podcasts, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, has a weekly segment in which they share what’s making them happy that  particular week. Every week, host Linda Holmes and a few other NPR panelists and guests share tidbits of pop culture that happen to be filling their individual happy tanks with joy. Items shared in the past include music, television shows, literature, video games, and don’t forget that viral video or meme everyone’s discussing. Here are a few things that’re keeping S and I happy at the moment:

Roseanne 

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This show is hilarious, undeniably relatable, and is filled with effortless humor. S and I have been spending a great deal of time with the Conner family in between IU basketball and The Real Housewives of fill-in-the-blank. We started season one at the end of September and found ourselves beginning season seven this afternoon. Every detail from the way the characters dress, down to the snacks the Conner kids eat is similar to how S and I grew up in the 90s. Another aspect of Roseanne that we appreciate is its honesty. This family is nowhere near keeping up with the Joneses and they don’t try to be. Roseanne and Dan Conner do their best to provide for their family and celebrate every victory that comes their way. The show was also way ahead of its time in the way it discussed (current) social issues.

 

Our Immersion Blender

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This nifty little handheld device is usually used to whip up a great tomato bisque soup or keto mayo. With the weather starting to change,  making things a bit more chilly, I’ve been having some fun with blended coffees in the morning. First I pour an 8-12 ounce cup of dark roast coffee in the blending cup, followed by a splash of unsweetened coconut milk, a scoop of Perfect Keto chocolate sea salt exogenous ketone powder, and finally a blend of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin spice seasonings. I then blend the mixture for about a minute or so before pouring the finished product in a mug or travel tumbler.  You could easily make this in a shaker, but you’ll find the ingredients come together much better with the help of the immersion blender.

 

The Weather!

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I’m usually ready for summer to be over by the time it actually ends. If it could be fall the months of September through May, and summer for the remaining months, that would be perfect. Does anyone know if a place like this exists? The air is finally feeling a bit more crisp, and the leaves are creating plenty of social-media-worthy opportunities with the gorgeous array of colors falling to the ground. The arrival of fall also means the temperature is sitting just right – completely void of Jack Frost or humidity hell if you’re out for a jog or long walk with the dog. A few other things the current weather has us pumped for include: crockpot meals, fall fashion, basketball (for S), and scarves (for me)! I love good scarf in the wind moment when I’m walking down a breezy pathway.

What’s making you all happy at the moment? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!

J

*Reblog* One Night Dance

Original post here.

I embrace the dark, pulsing, cloud of people that is the dance floor at the bar. Dancing is something I have to be in the mood for, and tonight I would turn up the heat.  Scorpio season’s influence is heavy in the air as I begin to wind up – serving up my best Beyonce – and feel the rhythm of the sounds around me.  It’s not long before my friends and I are in the zone, and wondering eyes find their attention on our group.  I turn around and make instant eye contact with the buzzed and beefy stranger who would become my dance partner for the better part of the following hour. Not moving an inch out of my personal circumference, I watch him approach; his interest growing with every step he takes. I don’t miss a beat as he enters my bubble. “Hi” he speaks over the music, and syncs his movements to mine. “Good evening” I respond as I let his palm meet my chest. Together we move like one of the ocean’s traveling waves, and communicate only with our eyes.  His buzzed head, thick frame, and fitted jeans move in ways I appreciate greatly. The only thing that would send this moment completely over the top would be if S were standing in the corner watching. “You’re good at this” he breathes into my ear, before turning around to offer his backside, and run his hands up and down my thigh. “Well, I did get you to come over here… and thanks.” I allow him to enjoy me for a little while longer before I find his eyes again. “It’s past my bedtime, sir. Thanks for an amazing dance.” “Would you like company?” he offers with eyes both timid and curious. “Not tonight, but thanks.” Using one hand, I pull his belt buckle loose, flash a smile, and exit the bar.

A Cabin for 2 and a Pup

It was so great to get away,  disconnect, and recharge in Brown County this weekend. Never underestimate the power of a quiet weekend in the woods – with limited connectivity – to put some zing back into your zen. The weather didn’t feel like fall at all, but that’s okay… We’ll keep our soup recipes and sweaters handy for a future fall cabin adventure.

It’s Been 3 Years!

Gays in the Life turned three years old yesterday. Can you believe that? I was listening to one of my favorite podcast this week when I found myself triggered. You see, the conversation centered around how perfectionism could be the cause of procrastination or the reason some people never go after their goals. Needless to say, The Friend Zone podcast struck a chord and it got me thinking about what growing the Gays in the Life platform has taught me. I suffered some major writer’s block this summer and wasn’t as productive as I would have liked to be. Large part of that was due to me being unable to get out of my head. Here are a few items that have contributed to both the darkest and lightest lessons over the past few years (and especially the past few months):

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Productivity. When I started Gays in the Life I had more time and endless energy to put into ideas and content. Fast forward through a couple promotions, a busier work life, and time juggling personal projects and you’ll notice all that energy and time has gone out the window.

Today I’m slowly getting back into my groove and making time to fidget with the blog every couple days. If writer’s block is getting the best of me, I’m maintaining tasks for my side hustles or tweaking ideas to improve the GITL platform. The secret for me has been to remember the fun. Once the fun is gone, I’ll truly be doomed and none of you will see another blog post.

Next is my relationship; my marriage. Three years of diving into my marriage through the blogging medium most definitely shed some light on strengths and weaknesses – things we need to work on and things we can celebrate.  Gays in the Life has become an ever-changing blueprint for our relationship.

Going through old posts, we recognize opportunities to learn and grow beyond the lessons we’ve already shared on the site. We jump at any chance to improve below average scenarios and capitalize on shared victories. My heart dances because S and I have been able to share our experiences and paint a realistic view of what it takes to survive the early years of marriage.

Balance has been trying and tricky the last few years. I touched on it lightly at the top of the post when I mentioned having a busier work life and juggling personal projects.  Navigating my perceived lack of availability was exhausting and began to eat at my creative process. My life was evolving in other areas and keeping it all together and on track was a challenge.

Instead of getting caught up in the sludge of life I do my best to keep to the schedule and goals I set, and don’t beat myself up about missing any desired deadlines. Another helpful trick to keep your cool when you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, is to reflect on the things you did accomplish that day. A quick reminder that you aren’t completely worthless never hurt anyone – and remember, you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce.

With all that being said, I’m happy and appreciative for how Gays in the Life continues to morph. From the early stages of focusing on content only and maintaining the basics of the site, to present day where I’m digging more into GITL social media analytics and elevated site design… I’m challenged, inspired, and feel the next phase of evolution on the horizon.

We’ve got some fun things coming your way on GaysintheLife.com and it only works with your support. So thank you all for hanging in there with us.

Cheers,

Snowy Peaks and Bourbon

S refuses to go to Alaska with me during winter. I’ve been haunted with the biggest urge to ski recently, and home – yes, Alaska – has the most gorgeous views you’ll ever see. Snowy peaks and bourbon… Wine by the fire… I think a ski trip back home could be a sexy time. 

Mountain views have always held a high position in the romance category for me. Taking in the sight of nature’s first castles with that special someone has a way of inspiring a love at its most peaceful. Massive and majestic… range upon range… mountains stand as a representation of the best and worst relationships in their makeup and existence alone. 

(us on our way back to Anchorage from Seward in Alaska, summer 2014)

I picture us in a scene from some GQ magazine shoot taking place at a modest mountain resort. Warm lighting enhance our grins as we settle into broken-in leather chairs. With a Maker’s Mark (neat) in my hand and a tequila soda in his, we’d enjoy some of our favorite tunes and make the most of our chilly backdrop. S genuinely hates the cold – I’m not a big fan either – but as I write this I’m realizing this is a vacation fantasy I’ve had for quite some time now. 

Snowy peaks and bourbon after a few hours on the slopes… I was never the best skier but it sounds therapeutic at the moment. Some of you may think that sounds awful, and S would agree, but the rest of you are already picturing yourselves in a similar setting. A workout, views, drinks and a little romance? There’s no way this wouldn’t be a trip to remember. 

*goes to drawing board and checks available air miles* 

Put in the Work.

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October 23, 2017 will mark the 6-year mark for S and I’s relationship. “Where has the time gone?!” would be the common response to this fact, but you can’t ask me where all this time has gone so quickly. What you can ask is how we’ve managed to keep things pushing forward.

Six years is like 20 years in gay years. All jokes aside, and in my opinion, this amount of time in a relationship can be defined as “long-term,” or at least be bordering the category. Some couples stay together for one to three years and consider that to be long-term, but that’s a blip of time in the grand scheme of things.

So how have we lasted this long? We put in the work. From first days of our relationship, communication and being open with each other has been the sole requirement and expectation for each other. Sure, there are other factors to consider –  like not being a shitty human being –  but communication ties to every aspect of our relationship.

You’ve all heard me go on and on about the importance of communication’s presence in any relationship, but I won’t bore you with those points for hundredth time. Where things get interesting is when you’ve been together for an extended period and you check in on your relationship.

How are things going?

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So many couples get caught up in the ebb and flow of their relationship routines and lose sight of the work it takes to maintain a solid partnership. This is a lesson S and I learned recently. For the most part, we’re a pretty easygoing pair of husbands; handling any issues as they arrive, if we have any at all. So when we discovered a couple of glaring blind spots, we knew we had to take action.

The past handful of weeks have been dedicated to just us. We’ve been social here and there, what with the baby shower and all, but our attention has been on each other. We noticed that we’d been stuck in our relationship routine; if you can even call it that. Work… work… tv… more tv… sleep… more work. We were very much together but caught up in the chaos or our individual worlds. It’s no wonder some relationships don’t survive when spouses have higher-level careers – there’s no time to put in the work.

Flipping the script and focusing more energy on things like date night, versus corporate fatigue, has kept us engaged and energized. Instead of complaining about work and becoming a prisoner of exhaustion, we put time into activities and entertainment we can enjoy together. Things like: going to dinner, playing our favorite video game together, our low-carb health, organizing our house, or exploring Indy.

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S and I weren’t so far gone that we couldn’t recognize an opportunity to build a stronger foundation. Becoming that disconnected couple who puts on a show when friends and family are around can never be an option for us. I’m grateful for our drive and for the focus we harbor. It shows us that no matter what, and for many many years to come, we’ll have each other’s support in maintaining us.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, turn to your partner and surprise them with a kiss. Ask them something other than how their day went. Hold their hand and meet their eyes with a smile. That feeling you’re experiencing? Don’t ever let go of that.