Am I really a Dinosaur?

(This was a bit stream of consciousness and therefore a tad rambly, apologies for this!)

dinosaur bones

I was late to the blogging game, I fully admit. By the time I got here the days of high profile blogging were already long gone. Meaning that today, in order to get “seen”, you have to exceedingly special or, in some cases, brave, in order to be heard above the crowd. Is it OK to be average? Is that allowed?

I once worked for a woman who constantly reminded me that it was alright to be ordinary. In her view, to underachieve was disrespectful to one’s self, while overreaching expectations could be disrespectful to one’s colleagues. This was difficult for a here-to-fore overachiever to wrap her head around. Wasn’t perfection always the goal? Since when was mediocre ever OK?

While I still don’t fully agree with this “tall-poppy”-ish, zero-sum type stance, I will concede that age has taught me a few things about perfectionism and persistence. Mainly that they are relative to your particular situation, and a few other things:

  1. Perfection does not exist. Full Stop.
  2. Comparison is everyone’s Achilles Heel. Even if it’s comparison with yourself in a different time span.
  3. Persistence will be exhausting. Expect it.
  4. Persistence will (almost) always pay off.
  5. Being “average” but persistent, will usually yield better results than being “perfect” but lethargic.

So here I am, hanging on. In a sea of bloggers, all vying for our voices to be heard. Me, without any videos or fancy fonts. Thinking average thoughts and writing about mediocre things. An average middle aged woman with an average day job and an average family.

And I am SO grateful for all of these things (including my lovely readers)!

Am I really a dinosaur (i.e. old and irrelevant)? Probably, but I am learning to see these wrinkles as the reward for a life of effort.

Thanks for listening, stay cozy!

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes… (School & Side Hustles)

trees winter

Hi all! To say that I’ve been away for awhile is a bit of an understatement. I’m afraid that my family and I have had a lot going on lately and blogging had to take a major backseat. I apologize for being gone without an explanation…so here goes!

My son started (and is in the middle of) first grade…and several clubs…and several other groups. Our schedule is a bit ridiculous, and there’s been more than one occasion that we have been double booked. There’s also nothing like finding out that your little one has an assignment due in less than 24 hours that requires both work and supplies that you have not yet acquired. In all honesty, it’s great fun watching a little one navigate school and social situations, if not a little nerve wracking.

I have been doing quite a bit of experimentation in the kitchen and you can expect to see some new recipes coming soon! My focus lately has been on whole foods, i.e. trying to reduce the processed stuff. I have tended to enjoy recipes that are simple to cook and fewer than 7 or so ingredients lately. More to come on that!

I have been working my day job a lot. Probably too much. I have started a few new hobbies because I needed more to do *chuckle*. I have been dabbling a lot in graphic design and photography over the last year. This has lead to the opening of my new Etsy shop. Feel free to take a look, if you’re curious.

Oh, and it’s been snowing here….

How have you been? Has it been a crazy year for you, too?

Hope things are evening out! Stay cozy!

My Life Has Become a Wes Anderson Movie

boy scouts

Courtesy of Pixabay

Greetings blogging friends! My sincere apologies for my internet hiatus. I’m afraid I’ll be away awhile longer, but I hope to be back in full force by the middle of April. Things have gone (quite) a bit Wes Anderson-ish around here and the Cozy and Sage family have some hurdles to tackle before we expect to be back to normal.

Wish us luck?

Best to all of you! And stay cozy!

Tuesday Thoughts: To Makeup or Not to Makeup?

5 minute face makeup

As I sit here with my coffee and one of my favorite YouTube channels blaring in the background, I shop through some online makeup shops while simultaneously checking for blog reviews. After an hour or so of this (having filled my Nordstrom’s cart to over $200), I pause to think about how much I will actually use these products.

Do I love eyeshadow? Absolutely!

Will I actually wear it? To be honest, most mornings are consumed by coffee and making myself look vaguely presentable for work. Of course, I do usually wear makeup, but only two or three products, and nothing that would require wielding a brush in any kind of precise manner (although my reliance upon concealer borders on addiction).

It feels weird to state that makeup fills any sort of utilitarian purpose in my life, that idea makes my life seem so trivial. However, having said that, the manner in which I actually use makeup IS quite utilitarian.

Am I trying to be artistic or relax myself every morning, hunched over my makeup mirror, attempting to apply products in a pleasing, yet mostly undetectable manner? No, I’m just trying not to look too sick or tired to work. That’s the truth of it, no matter how I attempt to delude myself.

Which brings me to the next logical questions…Am I uncomfortable with how I look? Am I not able to accept myself as I am? Why is that?

It’s true that over the course of history both men and women have worn makeup for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, status, class, culture, etc. The practice of painting our faces is in no way anything new. However, in this day and age of barefaced models posting selfies on Instagram and everywhere else, one would think that going “un-made” might be more the norm.

The thing that perplexes me the most is that while I desperately want to accept my face as it is and bear it to the world, I am also concerned about the perception it gives. Wearing makeup does give me confidence (by helping me not look dead), and yet it simultaneously saddens me that I can’t allow myself to go to work without it.

It seems like such a *ahem* superficial thing, but my internal conflict about the status of my makeup dependence can get rather deep at times.

There are so many folks I see everyday with beautiful faces, made up and not. I often wonder to myself why or why don’t they wear makeup. It’s one of those questions I wish I could pose to the masses.

Hey, maybe that’s what Twitter is for…

I’d love to hear from you about what your feelings are about wearing makeup; stay cozy!

Grateful

Annoyance

One night last week I got home from work to find my home much cooler than usual. I searched the house for open windows and, after finding none, proceeded to play with the thermostat. Minutes passed, the house maintained its chilly demeanor, and the fans that should bring in warm air from the furnace refused to clicked on.

cabin in snow

Courtesy of Pixabay

At first, I was angry. I thought perhaps the gas company had erroneously turned off our service, or maybe the household accountant had forgotten to pay the bill? It was a near-freezing evening and I had a small child in the house. I was irritable and slightly furious at the thought of my poor little one freezing through the night.

I managed to reign in my anger, and my interaction with the gas company phone representative was actually quite pleasant and productive. I wrapped up my son in layers of pajamas and a few blankets, and the gas company sent out someone the next day to solve our furnace issue. Our house is apparently well insulated as the temperature actually only got down to about 64 degrees F inside.

Elsewhere

Fast forward a week, and on my way to work I was listening to the BBC radio crew discuss what is happening in the Congo right now. I was awestruck and dumbfounded by what I heard. The displacement of more than 1.7 million people? The stories were heart wrenching and almost unbearable to listen to; kids starving and dying, families literally ripped apart.

I recall being a teenager and learning about the Rwandan genocide. I remember, then too, being gob smacked by the images and the accounts of tragedy. I felt so helpless about it, and I found myself, for a while, constantly wondering what could be done. The same is true decades later during the recent civil war in Syria.

Although I do attempt to educate myself about politics, I’m afraid I am no expert in foreign affairs and I do not claim to understand the circumstances by which any of these conflicts have taken place. There are much more intelligent people out there who can understand and explain that part so much better than myself.

What I do recognize, is the humanity.

When I stop for a moment and try to put myself in the shoes of someone who has just lost literally everything (granted, I understand that I can never really know how someone feels or thinks), I feel my soul ache. I begin to see the gaping yawn of hopelessness, and I still can’t imagine experiencing it real life, rather than from the safety of my pretend perspective.

africa

Courtesy of Pixabay

This is not a movie. This is not a story. This is happening in real life, to real people.

I tend to believe that life exists on a knife’s edge as it is. However, when confronted with the pictures and reports of what some of these people have experienced, I feel that knife getting thinner and thinner.

(What’s the best way to help? I’m not sure yet, but if I can, I will.)

Meanwhile, I get frustrated with my electric kettle because I need to get to work. I need coffee now, and 2 minutes just seems too long to wait.

My car is starting to show its age and recently the automatic door locks have stopped working, which means I now have to reach across the passenger’s seat in order to allow entry for a fellow traveler. Not that I carry passengers in my “work” car often, but it is annoying all the same…

…until I remind myself of what others are dealing with.

So, what am I grateful for?

So much.

I am grateful for the kind and decent human beings of the world who are working to help the people in places like the Congo, Rwanda, and Syria. They are heroes. I am hoping that they can forge a way for peaceful resolutions and avoid further catastrophe.

I am grateful for the place I was born. No country is perfect and I certainly would not contend that mine is, but I have had rights and opportunities opened to me here that I may not have had in other places. I live in a place that allowed me to get an education and give my son a more secure childhood than I had. Sometimes I contemplate chance itself and the fact that I could have been born anywhere, perhaps into great wealth, but most likely into even greater poverty.

It is complete happenstance that I ended up where I am, and it is a privilege to live my life for this reason alone.

beach heart

Courtesy of Pixabay

I am most grateful for the people I have had the honor and privilege of knowing.

My husband: He is an idealist. He is the one who reminds me what the best qualities of human beings are. And he makes me laugh. Considering my relative hermitage, outside of work, he is the one I could be around 24/7.

My son: The kind of care I have for my child is like no other I have felt before. I never thought I could move mountains; I’m still not sure can, but now I’m willing to try.

My mother: Though her life was cut short, her sensibilities continue to inform my daily decision-making. Her compassion inspires me to have love for people everywhere. She used to keep this Maya Angelou quote on her refrigerator (and she lived by it):

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

My father: He is a brilliant man. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but he challenges me to see and appreciate different perspectives. He is sweet and benevolent, in his own way.

My grandparents: The glue of our family, the people who gently and consistently keep tabs on their children and grandchildren. They have raised more children than they asked for, with love, kindness, and grace.

My friends: I only have a few close ones, and they live very different lives from myself, but they are people whom I trust implicitly. I do my best to be worthy of such alliances.

You: I am still flabbergasted that anyone would be interested in what I have to say out here on the web. I am so grateful to all the folks who have read anything here on Cozy and Sage. I am thankful for all the connections that I have made here in the blogging community as well. Thank you for being part of this relatively new and exciting writing journey!

Wishing all peace and warmth; stay cozy!

*This post was inspired by, and written for, The Blessed Project by Susie Lindau. Thanks so much for hosting this wonderful project, Susie! 

5 Tips for Managing a Busy Life

pocket watch

Finding time for a side hustle while maintaining a full-time career can be a huge challenge. Throw in an active family and a few extracurricular activities and life can become a crazy run from morning until hitting the pillow at night. Self-care and free time can quickly become extinct and it can suddenly feel as though every moment of the day is scheduled and accounted for.

This type of lifestyle can feel super organized in the beginning, but because it doesn’t allow any time cushion, even small hiccups can suddenly cause panic. (Not to mention how easily one can become frazzled by the constant movement and the lack of self-care or reflection.) Here are some ideas for how not to overschedule.

  1. When you are doing a new task (i.e. something you’ve never done before), estimate your time…then triple it. Starting a new project will always take extra time, but when you are learning a new skill along the way, such as mastering WordPress or photo editing, even small items can take loads of time to comprehend. Allow yourself enough time so that you can actually learn and fully understand the task at hand; this will save you time in future endeavors of the same type.
  2. When you are doing a task you’ve done before, estimate the time needed, then add some more (especially for creative tasks). Sometimes you just want to get whatever it is done, scheduling appointments, tagging posts, or organizing business files. Other times though, especially in regards to any type of artistic aspirations, you may find yourself wanting to give more to a project. While letting yourself get so lost in your creativity that you expend hours you don’t really have would not be desirable, giving yourself an extra hour or so can lead to a more exceptional product.
  3. Build downtime into your daily schedule. Burning the candle at both metaphorical ends while trying to maintain your sanity are usually incongruous concepts. This may seem obvious, but I think many of us are programmed to pick up our phones and “try to get something done” during any pause in the day. Give yourself a break and some real downtime everyday. Schedule 30 minutes of reading, a long bath, a coffee with a friend, anything that gets you completely away from any type of work. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and able to enjoy your blogging/YouTube/affiliate marketing/etcetera project much more, and you’ll likely be extra productive as well.
  4. Give yourself a cushion. Not for your couch, but for your mind. It’s an unfortunate fact that sometimes things will go wrong. Deadlines will be missed for all kinds of reasons, business related, family related, and the like. It’s important to not attempt to schedule every hour of your hourly planner in case something does happen; make sure there are pockets of time (albeit small) between activities that are just a bit longer than travel time. This will give you moments to stop on the way for ibuprofen, get a snack, or call your child’s pediatrician when you need to, without causing your daily schedule to unravel. Being efficient is great, and so is acknowledging the more unfortunate realities of life.
  5. Have morning and evening routines. It’s been stated over and over how important routine can be in regards to both success and overall health. Having a daily routine for morning and evening self-care, tidying, and/or business related tasks can save so much time. Possessing the ability to perform a necessary chore automatically, rather than having to plan or prepare for it, can also help reserve your mental energies for decision-making during your work day.wristwatch

It’s true that adding downtime and time cushions into one’s schedule may result in a  decrease in the amount of time one is able to spend on their side project within a day(although, hopefully, initiating routines will save some minutes or hours). However, most side hustles take awhile to become successful businesses…sometimes months, but in most cases years. This means that you could be working at both your regular career and your side hustle for a long stint before you actually see any return on your time investment. Allowing yourself to get frazzled early on and give up will not ultimately serve your goal. Perhaps it’s slower, but maintaining your health and sanity during your start-up years means that you can keep plugging away at it for the long haul, avoid burnout, and therefore be able to reap the benefits later.

What are your time-saving tips?

Stay cozy!

A Schedule Change…

lattes

I find this tragically comical to write, as last month I was commenting to a fellow blogger about how I tend to schedule my posts ahead of time. Later last month, my son started school, I contracted pneumonia, and work became a bit more insane than usual. (In case I haven’t stated it, I work in healthcare, and this time of year usually keeps me pretty busy.) Unfortunately, after all of that, my scheduled blog posts have run out, and the pace of life hasn’t allowed me to catch up.

I could just put out very small posts on my regular schedule, though I fear for their quality and the value of their content. I have such respect for my readership (however small) and I wish to, at the very least, maintain the quality of Cozy and Sage. I am so grateful for everyone that has read a blog post or followed my blog! I am still just as passionate about blogging as when I started, and my ambitions for Cozy and Sage have not waned. Although my posting frequency will be lessened, I have hope that perhaps the quality of my blog posts will improve.

I will continue to post at least once a week through the holiday season. I hope to increase my blogging frequency when life settles down a bit and I can create more time to devote to this blogging project that has become…well…let’s say it’s verging on an obsession.

Again, I can’t thank enough all the people who read what I write. I am so grateful and honored that you would be interested!

Wishing everyone health and happiness during this busy time of year.

Stay cozy!