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Where will you be 5 years from now?

How many times have you been asked – or asked yourself – this question.  How much time or energy have you spent crafting your answer to this?  It seems like more often than not, the answers to this question tend to be of the “established in my career, married, 2.5 kids, with a nice house in the burbs” variety.  People want to seem put together and focused, and attain certain life benchmarks that equal “success” by someone’s measure.   These are the things that people seem to equate with happiness as well.


Is this the best or only way to answer this question?




Can we look at this – and should we – from a different perspective?


I say yes to both.  Emphatically.


What if, instead of thinking into the distant future, we focused on a five minute plan.  Think of something you can do in the near future that you want to do.  Not what someone tells you to.  Not what you think you should be doing, but what you want to do.  Something that adds meaning to your life or makes you happy.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, or immediately life changing, but it will have an impact and move you further towards your ultimate goals.


Also, instead of thinking about “things”, try to focus on bigger picture things like being happy, having a job you love, or being surrounded by people that love and support you regardless of the “things” you have or don’t.  At the end of day, these are the things that I know make me feel rewarded and fulfilled.


These approaches also allow for more freedom, more exploration, more chances to try new and different things since you’re not tying yourself to any one path.  This allows you to truly listen to yourself to figure out what the best path for *you* is – not what someone else tells you or you think is the right answer.  Live life for you.  Don’t be afraid of making some wrong turns.


Listen to your heart, be happy, and follow what inspires you. You may end up taking a slight detour, but you’re still on your way to where you are meant to be.

2011 (or the year Melissa got her groove back)

2011.  Oh, what a year you were.  You provided some great times and some not so great times.  A lot of people hated you and can’t wait to move ahead to the next year.  My feelings towards you are a bit more complex and live quite firmly in the gray area between hate and love.  While I could likely write a book recapping my thoughts on this year, I’m just going to hit on a few key moments.


2011 is the year I lost a dear friend.  Kent Berg, I miss you and always will.  I miss your humor, your sass, your fiercness, and your love for late-night Sonic runs.  I am thankful to have been assigned to the staging location in the middle of nowhere southern Minnesota at the house with the AMAZING bathroom wallpaper.  You were such a great support to me during 2007 and as I transitioned into my new job, and I hope I offered some support as you moved ahead with your career.  I am sorry if I never told you directly how much you meant to me, what an inspiration and amazing person.  You brought laughter to a room, and knew how to connect with people to make them comfortable.


When I heard of your passing, I didn’t believe it. It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I couldn’t believe you were gone.  I still have moments where I think I see you walking down Selby towards Nina’s or want to text you about something funny that I saw or read.  I am thankful for the time we ran into each other outside of Nina’s, which ended up being the last time we saw each other.  I must have known that something was going to happen, because I felt compelled to give you a huge hug to try to tell you how much I valued you and our friendship.  A few weeks before you died, I sent you a gchat telling you I missed you.  Again, I must have known deep down and needed to send you that message.  I only wish that it might have changed the outcome of what happened, but know that I will never know why you did what you did.  I just know that you know longer are in pain and are at peace now.


For anyone that may be reading this that needs some help, or knows someone that is struggling, please don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.  It can and will get better.  It may be hard.  It may hurt a lot.  It may take time, but in the end you can get through just about anything.


There are a number of resources out there for folks, and I’m listing a few below:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)


The Trevor Project


2011 will also be the year that a lot of things became much clearer to me.  I started to realize a lot of things about myself and who I am, what I want to do and who I want to be.  Much of this I’ve written about here, so I won’t do a full recap in this post, but it it is truly an amazing experience to listen to yourself and make decisions based on what makes you happy and content.


Throughout this year I have also met a number of amazing people and also strengthened friendships with people I already knew.  Although I may not say it nearly enough, I am truly thankful for your friendship, support, kind words, doses of reality, laughter, suggestions of things to read, watch or listen to, inspiration, kindness, awkward shoulder pats (or hugs when appropriate), feedback, kindness, and for you being you.


I also reconnected with a lot of passions in my life that had somewhat taken a backseat while I was working on campaigns and getting settled into life in Minnesota – photography, music, Harry Potter, TV, movies, fangirling (and not ashamed to admit it. . most of the time), traveling.  I also discovered some new passions as well – this whole writing thing I do here, quiet time, and cooking more stuff from scratch.  These are things that help make me a more fulfilled person and allow me to feed the different parts of my personality and quite honestly make me happy.


This year also included me getting my first ink.  Now, this is something I debated for awhile, both the merits of doing it, along with the question of what to get and location.  However, my trip to Nepal helped end this debate and a few weeks ago I found myself at a studio in St. Paul getting not one, but two (!) tattoos.  The first one is a koru on my foot.  The koru is a Maori symbol that means rebirth, new beginnings and spirituality.  The second is a white ink tattoo of a star on my wrist.  When I learned about this technique I was excited and knew it would solve one of my problems with where I wanted to get a tattoo.  If/When you see me, you probably won’t notice it, but it is there to be a constant reminder of a number of things.  No one (other than me) knows the full inspiration behind it but I am really pleased with my decision to get it.


The best part of 2011, hands down, was my trip to Nepal.  It changed my life in some pretty amazing ways and helped me realize a number of things.  I wasn’t expecting it to be more than 2 weeks away from work and my first trip to Asia, but it ended up being so much more than that.  I have some amazing memories – me dancing around to the Glee version of “Firework” overlooking Mt. Everest, paragliding, and EL GATOOOO – that really just left an impact.  I was also reminded of my love of traveling and how much I need to to feed my soul and renew my spirit.  Long story short – I suffer from a strong case of the wanderlust, and it’s something I need to make sure I indulge in whenever possible.


After spending some time reflecting on the past year, I’m going to say that for the most part the good out weighed the bad during 2011.  I’m excited about what 2012 will bring and some new endeavors I have planned.  As I said on my facebook earlier this week, I feel as if I’m entering 2012 as a better, stronger, more confident person. I’ve experienced and grown a lot, and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.


I end with this:

Be thankful. Be happy. Be in the moment. Don’t be afraid to do, be afraid of not doing. Embrace change and the unknown. Learn and share. Take care of you. Give yourself to others. Dream. Be the brightest star you can. Live.


Happy New Year to all of you.  Be safe.  Stay safe.  And I look forward to sharing 2012 with you.


You had me at meat tornado?


The internet is made up of approximately 75% cat related items – videos, pictures, shopping, you name it, it’s out there.

Yesterday, my roomie shared with me one of the most-funny cat related things I have seen on the internet in a long time – Cats that Look Like Ron Swanson.

This is even funnier since we say that my cat Oliver is Ron Swanson is cat form. 🙂

What’s your favorite random cat-related thing on the internet?

No rest for the weary. . .

Wow.  I can’t believe that I’ve been back from Nepal for three weeks already.  The past three weeks have pretty much been a blur, between catching up on sleep, getting caught up at work, traveling to Chicago for a weekend, and then a beyond busy week at work, I’ve barely had time to just relax and get caught up on stuff for me.

This weekend will be for that, for the most part.  I was going to do a bunch of stuff yesterday, but then had a slight hiccup with those plans, so spent most of the day on the couch trying to feel better.

Even though I was only gone for 2 weeks, it almost seens like I was in Nepal for much much longer.  More on this later. . .  🙂

Today I’ve got a lot I want to do, a few things I need to do, and some stuff I should do, but totally won’t.  It’s just going to be one of those weekends.  However, one of the biggest things I need to do is enjoy some down time, some me time, some time to do things that aren’t work or uber serious.  I am pretty drained after the whirlwind that was the last week especially, and know that I need to recharge the batteries in order to tackle many of the things on my plate. 

As is my normal, I, of course, turned to music to help me focus, get a temporary boost, and just make it through the long days and stress.  What songs were the most helpful?  What songs pretty much were on repeat over the last week?  Keep reading. . . .