My Week w/o Meat

First off, I survived!!! As did a few cows, pigs, chickens, and/or turkeys ;) Well, I’m sure I had no affect on their population, but I do know that I did, in fact, survive!

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Secondly, I wasn’t all that hungry like I thought I would be! My theory is that I was getting a lot more variety in nutrients so my body wasn’t craving as much nourishment. I will admit that I wasn’t working out quite as much during this week as I usually do, so I’m not sure if that affected my diminished hunger.

Third off, I created some new favorite meals:

1)    Trader Joe’s veggie burger, a thick, grilled slice of red onion, and an avocado spread (guacamole without cilantro, onion, or tomato/salsa), on a piece of whole grain bread with carrots & green beans on side.

2)    Quinoa fried rice: Red onions & carrots cut up small & stir fried in a bit of sesame oil with some crushed garlic (cook until onions are translucent). Add cooked peas &/or edamame, and a couple cups of cooked quinoa. Douse with soy sauce! This is vegetarian & can be gluten free if you choose your soy sauce well. I would add a side of broccoli, too.

Fourth, and most amazing, I didn’t really miss or crave meat that much at all!

Fifth, I attended TWO potlucks in this time & although some of the meat dishes looked tempting, I resisted! Go me! I did bring some quinoa fried rice, which I loaded up on!

Lastly, I think I want to do this on the regular. When I get back to a life with a semi-stable schedule I’d like to do something like go meat-free the first week of the month. I know some people do meatless Mondays or a variation, but I actually enjoyed the whole week.

And no, I will never go full vegetarian. NOT A CHANCE!

My last meal before starting this week was a steak & my first meal of meat after was Sesame Beef at my favorite Chinese restaurant in SoCal: City Wok. So not just meat, but BEEF! Yum! I love meat WAY too much to go vegetarian!

My Week w/o Television

So, I decided to go a week without TV (including Hulu & other formats). For some, this may seem like no big thing, but for me, it’s tough. I live alone & TV is a great way for me to fill the silence. Plus, I love a good story & can easily get wrapped up into the serialized adventures of some of my favorite characters.

 

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Amazingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I planned on reading more, but it’s hard to read while I get things done, like cooking, cleaning, updating my finances, etc… (which is what I do while watching TV) so I put on the Mockingjay audiobook. I “read” the first two audiobooks during long driving sprees while moving & travelling. I was looking for a time to break into the third & final installment of this trilogy before the next movie comes out.

I think the hardest time for me was during my workouts. I like to catch up on TV shows on my phone while trudging away on the treadmill. But thankfully I can also enjoy some revved up jams while sweating away! The time didn’t pass quite as quickly, but it passed all the same!

The weekend was the hardest & I kind of caved & watched some movies. In all fairness, I did say no TV, as in television shows, so a few movies over the course of a weekend is no big thing. I got things I needed to get done done & just wanted to unwind a little bit.

 

I’m sure there will be many more TV-free seasons ahead in life, but for now I’m just proud of myself for completing one week. Go me! ;)

Haiti, Faith, Hands & Feet

In 2011 my friend Callie moved to Haiti, and to raise some money she had an art sale. Some of her visual artist friends donated pieces of artwork. One such piece was a photo with some seagulls flying in the sunset over the ocean. I was drawn to this piece because it reminded me of the album art for Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane. I bought the framed photo & told Callie that I would set it as a reminder for me to pray for her.

On Saturday February 15, 2014 I was lying in bed praying. I saw the photo on my wall & decided to pray for her. While I was praying for her & Haiti I felt the Lord whisper in my ear that I needed to go to Haiti. (X number 1*)

The next day, at church, there was an announcement in the bulletin that they still needed specifically WOMEN to go on the upcoming summer trip to Haiti (X number 2*).

*During the sermon the pastor came to explain how he & his wife felt called to start a church. They were walking in the neighborhood where the church is currently located & considering an option to go be the creative arts pastor at a large church in another city. As they pondered & prayed about where they should be they looked up in the sky they saw two white strips of clouds left by two passing planes that made an X in the sky. My pastor’s wife saw it as a sign & exclaimed “X marks the spot!” They continued to talk & pray about it and when they looked up again there were then three X’s.

I put the bulletin on my table next to where I often sit & work on my computer. I stared at it for a few days before finally emailing the trip leader. She emailed me back a few days later & then a week later we finally talked on the phone. She gave me a lot of information & answered a lot of questions. The date was February 25. She needed to know as soon as possible if I was coming or not, so I told her I would sleep on it & then let her the know the next day.

I was reading my devotional that night called Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith (2011). The days entry was about fears & treasures – so nothing to do with Haiti, but at the end of the 3rd paragraph he wrote, “I’ve seen dads & moms drink away enough money in a couple of years to have built two orphanes in Haiti and educated their kids and grandkids for a couple of decades,” (p. 70). I just new then that was all I needed! (X number 3*).

The next day I confirmed with Cora that there was still time for me to sign-up to go & after she said yes, I paid my deposit and it was set! I will be joining a team of about 10 from my church and another 20 people to go to Jacmel to serve with Hands & Feet in their construction of an orphanage.

SIDE NOTE: Much can be said about God’s timing in this post, but the thing that amazes me the most & puts me in awe of God is that at least 3 years ago (or more) when Scotty Smith was writing his devotional prayer book, God knew that on Feb. 25 of this year I would be wrestling with this decision & this casual, slightly unrelated mention of building orphanages in Haiti was put into the book. This was the 3rd X in the sky. God is awesome!

FINANCES: The trip is not free, and I am not the most financially stable person yet. So if anyone would like to help contribute to my trip, please feel free to email me at heather_rene@me.com & I can provide you with ways to donate (all donations are tax deductible).

Here’s a video from the 2013 trip:

What I learned while Couch Surfing

In 2011 I couch-surfed for nearly 3 months throughout San Diego.
In 2012 I couch-surfed for (technically) 10 months in Los Angeles.

So, for practically a year of my life I was sleeping on borrowed surfaces. Sometimes I had the pleasure of having a bed, other times I was on an air mattress, but for the most part I was on a couch & smack dab in the middle of my friend’s living area.

  1. I learned how to clean up after myself.
    When you are living in the middle of someone’s home, especially in a borrowed space, it is essential that you keep your stuff clean. I developed a nice habit of putting everything back in its proper space quickly. If I got it out, I put it back. I also managed to keep a very organized suitcase. I’m thankful for this habit as I now have my own space & I can keep it tidy.
    Also, I do my dishes, for the most part, right away. While couch surfing, I would tend to do any dishes in the sink, mine plus my host’s. Now I have a hard time going to bed with anything dirty in the sink.
  2. I learned not to keep too many valuables in my car (the hard way).
    I had some electronics I was intending to return in a box on my front passenger seat of my car, an old iPhone that had been reduced to a glorified iPod in my middle console, a few CDs and some other random things in the front of my car. In my back seat I had gear for work, and in my trunk (hatch back) I had my suitcase & a few other random things. I was woken up around 2am to the sound of my car alarm just outside the window of the place I was staying. Thankfully it was a quick smash & grab and they only grabbed stuff they could reach from the front passenger window, but I got lucky. Now I know not to keep valuables in my car!
  3. I learned to show thankfulness.
    Most (not all. I sadly regret) places I stayed I left a thank you note & sometimes flowers or something else. It wasn’t much, just a token of appreciation. I still have a long way to go to being consistent with this, but I’ve started, and that’s half the battle, right? I do have a stack of blank Thank You cards for the holidays which I hope to fill out this evening!
  4. I learned that journaling would have been valuable!
    Yeah, you read that right, “would have been.” Which means I didn’t keep a journal during this process, or a list of where I stayed. I wish I would have. It would be nice to at least have a list, but a journal documenting how I got there, what it was like, etc… would be nice to have to look back on. There were many times where a place to stay came at the very last minute, and those little miracles should have been documented. I doubt I’ll go through an experience quite like that again, but as life progresses, I hope to get better at documenting my life. Perhaps this blog will help?

I’m sure I learned a lot more in this process, but these are the big lessons that stick out to me in this moment of retrospection. Perhaps if I think of more I will post a “part 2” to this post.

“Where will I sleep tomorrow night?”

I asked myself that question many times throughout 2011 & 2012. I couched surfed in San Diego in 2011 from May – July & then again in Los Angeles in 2012 from February – December.

It was a time of great uncertainty. Many times, as I laid my head down on whatever couch, air mattress, or bed I was borrowing that evening I wondered, “Where will I sleep tomorrow night?”

I had a few friends that had said to me, “If you ever are without a place to stay you better come stay here & not in your car,” but I always kept those generous offers on reserve. They were my last resort & I intended to keep them that way. Plus, most of those people I had already stayed with & I didn’t want to over stay my welcome anywhere.

But God always came through! Sometimes, just before I was about to reach out to one of my last resort options, I would get a call saying there was a place for me to stay.  Those calls were like breathing for the first time after holding my breath for as long as possible.

I left LA and found solace & peace of mind while staying with my parents in northern Minnesota. I then went to Nashville for a summer internship. I knew I was going to be there for the summer, but after that it was more uncertainty. (See my post “On Moving & Staying” for more on that journey.)

Once the internship concluded I was left with more uncertainty. I was applying to jobs in NYC, LA, Nashville, Chicago and even one in London! I was open to whatever opportunities were out there, wherever they were, so I could work in my desired field of the music industry.

If you read my last blog entry (mentioned above) you know that, despite not finding a career in my field yet, I know that I need to stay for a while in Nashville. So, I did what any person who needs to stay put for a while does, I signed a lease.

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As of Friday, December 13, 2013, I know exactly where I will lay my head for 13 months (yeah, I singed a 13 month lease – weird, I know). For 396 days I will not have to ask, “Where will I sleep tomorrow night?”

As we all bid farewell to 2013, which, of the past 3 years was the least uncertain, I look forward to having one key ingredient in my life, and that is STABILITY! I have said many times over the past three years that I’ve felt like a potted plant that just wants a garden to grow in for a while. Well, a small one-bedroom apartment, just North of Nipper’s Corner in Nashville, TN is my garden for at least this next season, but I’ll take it!

On moving & staying…

I vividly remember the moment in October of 2012 when I realized I was going to have to leave Los Angeles & Southern California. I had been couch surfing for most of the year & had pretty much hit a financial breaking point. I was in my car on the Highland Blvd exit off the 101 and heading into Hollywood while I was on the phone with my mom & she, once again, mentioned the idea of moving home. Every other time I had laughed off the idea but this time I didn’t. Instead I broke down crying & barely squeaked out the words saying that the idea of moving scared me.

This fear that had been festering deep down finally came to the surface. Why at that moment? I think it’s because I knew it really needed to happen & that it was time to face the reality.

So, what brings up this memory now over a year later? Because it happened again.

After a couple months in Minnesota I was able to head to Nashville for an internship at Curb Records. I only planned on staying the summer & then hopefully finding work back in LA or maybe even NYC. But now as the weather gets colder & I realize that I did not bring some essential seasonal clothing & other items, that I was still here, in Nashville.

While here I have tried to embrace a lot more of the culture than when I lived here from ’02 – ’06. I have attended many festivals, gone to a plethora events & shows, and even been to some art events around town. Through it all, I have realized how much this city has to offer. But as I was embracing all this city had to offer, my mind was always set on it being temporal. I was going to enjoy it while I was here more so than I did the first time around, and then head off to the next stop. I wasn’t embracing it so I could hold on to it, but only so that I could get the most out of what I thought was a short stay.

But due to some recent events I’ve been starting to realize that staying here longer may be a good thing for me, regardless of how much I don’t want it. I’ve been songwriting again & even attended a great workshop that really got things going (look for a separate blog on that) and it just makes so much more sense to, as a songwriter, be in Nashville.  I’ve also been pressured on some other fronts that are pushing me to make decisions quicker than I’d like. Decisions like signing a long-term lease (I have currently been living month to month). Not too mention, the cost of living in much lower in Nashville than any other city with a thriving music business scene, and considering I will have new student loans to pay back soon… yeah…

I have known all these things for quite some time but I’ve been fighting it. I wasn’t laughing the idea of staying off, but lacing up my boxing gloves & punching the idea clear away. But today, the gloves came off & I resigned to the idea decking my clear cut across the face. I didn’t break down & cry, but I did get teary eyed, as I am currently beginning to again (I have a good suspicion that I may have a good cry at bed time).

This moment I just wrote of happened while I was watching the all-too-short documentary about Nashville called For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville. As the doc was wrapping up & the musicians that were interviewed gave their final thoughts about this fine city, I just knew that the city they spoke of was where I’m supposed to be for the foreseeable future. It’s not an easy pill for me to swallow that’s for sure, but it’s mine to take.

For the praying kind, please pray that I find peace in this new (old) city.

Pray that I develop real, deep, lasting friendships (but don’t worry, no one could replace you!).

Pray that I can find some good Chinese food!

Give thanks that a Jamba Juice is opening in December!

And pray that they open a second Trader Joe’s before the current (only) one bursts at the seams!

Pray that I get a “big girl” job in the music industry that can set me in a position to network as well as be salt & light.

Pray for my friends who I have left, that we can maintain solid relationships despite the distance and time difference.