Are You There Pinterest, It’s Me, Olivia

Pinterest is BAE. No, really. In hindsight, I should have invented Pinterest. I really should have. I have loved the art of gathering images, graphics and recipes that call to me at a soul-level (clearly, I feel things deeply) ever since I was a little girl. Thank you, Oprah. No, really. I remember my mom and I watching an episode where Oprah had a guest on talking about vision boards. I don’t even think we’d reached the closing chorus of “whoo-ohh OP-RAHH” before I had my mom by the arm, insisting we race to Staples for some poster board and no less than twelve glue sticks. I can so vividly picture us sprawled out on the kitchen island – magazine clippings everywhere, glue everywhere, and knowing me, some sort of snack everywhere.

My mom and I made our dream boards that night as beef stew and homemade bread baked off in the oven. My Dad would be home from work soon, scarf draped from his neck and brief case in hand – to swing me up onto his shoulders, kiss my Mom, and joyfully insist on hearing about our days “inch by inch”. I remember taking such pride in the images (admittedly, 90% dogs, one tall stack of books, and a horse) and writing bizarre, yet appropriate in a six year old’s mind phrases to go with the words like dream and wow. Quite the visionary. Ha. Regardless, if you knew my family then (or really, at any phase of our lives) you’re probably wondering what on earth more we could’ve wanted for our lives. We had, have, and will always have the greatest gifts of all: each other. Matching blue eyes, blonde hair, two labs, and a gorgeous brick home with a red front door, at the time, nestled atop a hill in beautiful, idyllic Manhasset, New York.

On that board, my mom put an image of a coast line – as a California girl who had been living on the East Coast for nine years, this was her suggestion to the universe (sealed with an inch thick layer of glue stick, thanks to me!) that she’d love for our family to ‘go home’ to the west coast. I put a horse. A dog. A lot of books. I had just enough attention left in me to hear my Mom explain that this board – a dream board – was like our little hints to the universe saying that if possible, we’d love to see these things in our future. I’m 90% sure at that point I went back to the Williams Sonoma Christmas catalog that I’d used for the majority of my board and slapped a few more sugary pictures on there. I remember my Mom put a gorgeous shot of my Dad’s dream car, a picture of us all of smiling (happy and healthy – my parents have always, always emphasized that if we have our health we have everything) and I put a picture of a horse – realistically it was probably a Ralph Lauren photo of a polo player but hey, I was working with what I had. So, you may be asking yourself why on earth I’m telling you this? Well. It’s been 20 years since those dream boards were made, and while I don’t recall every exact thing that I glued on that hot pink board, I do know this. Our family moved back to sunshine-filled California. My Dad got that dream car. I have more books in more corners of every free space than most Barnes and Nobles. We’ve had countless incredible dogs, two horses, an amazing lifetime of happiness and health together, and more dream and wow than I ever could have possibly hoped for. I’m not saying that those dream boards made all of those wonderful, wish-list things happen – I’m not crazy. While I do think Oprah does hold that kind of magical power, I am a bit more realistic than that. I think that the simple act of setting those things as physical – and thus, mental – goals for our futures somehow aligned us to the thought process necessary to achieve those things. Ok, maybe that does sound crazy. All I know is that the power of the universe is real, the power of prayer is real, and that the power of Oprah is real.

All kidding aside, Pinterest for me has always been my way of having an online dream board. I think that is how everyone uses it, when they aren’t using it to pin recipes of cookie stuffed, oreo stuffed brownie bars (hi, pinned it, tried it, it was bomb fyi). While some use it to find outfits they’d like to put together, or inspiration for their front porch I have been obsessively pinning away #goals for my future, our future, every since I got my hands on Pinterest. I should also be clear and say I also planned 99.9 percent of our wedding on Pinterest, so it’s not all goal setting and dream boarding. The other day, I couldn’t sleep. It was about a month and a half ago. I’d been really wrestling with that itch. No, thankfully not an itch that needs to be discussed with a medical professional. The kind of itch that my last blog post went into great detail of. The itch, the pull, the stomach flipity flop that says hey you crazy, it’s time to move on! go go go! run! do your thing girl, do it! now! Yeah, my inner voice is a total badass and essentially a cross between Ina Garten, Beyonce, Brene Brown and Retta from Parks & Rec. I was quieting my mind with some belly breaths, and listing all of the wonderful, seriously amazing, mind blowing-ly cool things that I am grateful for. First and foremost, OUR HEALTH! My mom, my dad, my husband, me…we’re strong, able-bodied and healthy. That is – always has been, always will be – the greatest blessing. Our homes. My home. All 900 square feet of it is so loved, so ours, so us, and so wonderful. Our gardens – overflowing with lavender, thyme, hydrangeas, roses and wildflowers. Our families – that’s really number one, because without them we’d be absolutely no where..just piddly crying messes on the ground. Our friends, our modes of transportation, the food in our bellies, the sound of the ocean….I was getting up there, quite up there, in listing things I was grateful for when I realized I’d not listed my professional accomplishments because…well, lately it felt like I was living out someone else’s career. I knew the work we did, I did, was valuable and incredibly important to thousands of wonderful, deserving, diverse students yet, I knew somewhere in the depths where all truths are housed when our minds aren’t quite ready to process them, I knew it wasn’t right for me. Of course I was grateful for my coworkers, my boss, my beautiful campus, my health benefits, my paycheck…but as my mind did somersaults trying to reframe the work I was doing to feel good, feel important for my own narrative, I just couldn’t quite get there. Sure, I loved feeling like my work mattered but what if the work I was doing wasn’t the work I knew I was destined to do? No no, that’s not right my inner Retta shouted inside. I sat up, straight as a board, and debated turning my bedside light on to get some thinking done. It’s always easier for me to think when I can see what’s in front of me – even physically. Beside me, Keevin snored like a truck driver after a long stretch on the 101. I’m talking it’s impressive that neighbors haven’t called to complain. Beneath my bedside table, Tob’s snores and sighs whistled gently, and all 17 pounds of Stella was nestled in the crook of my legs. I sighed, closed my eyes, and said a silent thank you for moments like this. How lucky I am, to have this kind of love, comfort, and peace.

Fine, no light, but girl get yo phone! Ok, I reached for my phone without moving the lower portion of my body – a startled Stella is a sad Stella. Pinterest always soothed me, and sleep was avoiding me like that one weird guy who you hang out with once then never, not ever hear from again. I waited for the app to load, listened to our neighbor open his 17th Coors Light from his patio, and listened harder for the seal’s. Some nights, when it’s really quiet, we can hear the seal’s barking and those moments always go to the tippy top of my grateful list. Pinterest whirred to life, splashing an ungodly amount of light across the bed. I landed on my If You’re Listening Universe, I’d Like My Future To Look A Little Something Like…board. I shit you not, I have a board labeled just that. I realized I hadn’t look at it in forever. I’d been so busy using Pinterest to plan the wedding of my dreams, I apparently had a one track mind. I opened it up. Dozens on dozens of images of french bulldogs. Check. Her name is Vivian, and she is the naughiest, squishiest, cutest, most personality I’ve ever seen packed in 34 pounds. More scrolling, more hydrangea lined entrance ways of gorgeous homes. More scrolling, more bulldogs, some horses, some odd recipe that clearly wasn’t pinned in the right board. A San Diego shoreline, a snapshot of Orange County, a ring that looked…wait. GURL. YOU LIVING YOUR DREAM LIFE. LITERALLY. I hear you, Retta. Sure as shit, so many of the things I’d pinned years ago had blissfully, wonderfully, thankfully come into my life. That ring was on my finger, those dogs asleep on top of me, that man that made me feel the way those model families smiled in those pictures – well, he was snoring like a chainsaw next to me. That wedding picture – I’d lived out, mere months ago, and it had exceeded my wildest of dreams. I was back living in Orange County, moved from San Diego, and all of those gorgeous, frivolous, very unnecessary kitchen items that I shamelessly pinned way back when, were stacked in our tiny (hey, working on the whole bigger house thing!) kitchen thanks to the insanely generous families who helped us celebrate our marriage. Girl. Look at you GO GIRL. YOU GLOW GLEN COCO. I smiled. See? I may not be feeling like I’m killing it career wise but LOOK at all the blessings I have, look at everything that I’d hoped for, worked for, dreamed of. I clicked my phone off and let the darkness wash over the room. I shuffled under the covers and felt Stella huffily burrow a bit deeper. I told myself to shut up, be thankful for everything I do have, and stop worrying about the whole ‘satisfying career’ thing. Maybe I was just being too dang hard on myself, on my work, and on everything else. Maybe this was good! It was good. It wasn’t great, it didn’t feel great but maybe all the greatness I have everywhere else is all I can ask for. Cool. Eyes closing, sleep coming and…

An hour later. Still no sleep. Girl. Treat yo self. Turn that phone back on. You know you want to. Retta plays no games. I was back on Pinterest. Recipes, yeah, that sounds good. Chicken, chicken, chicken. Smoothies. Oreo fudge. Chocolate waffles covered in nutella. Clearly I have two modes: healthy, fit adult and unchaperoned child at a birthday party. I found myself wandering back to my If You’re Listening Universe board. Scrolling deeper, passed the puppies, the rings, the porches, the wedding…there. It was a picture of a woman with a long, sleek pony tail. She was working on a marble desk with a beautiful arrangement of messy, hot pink peonies in the corner. Her office itself was something straight GOALS, her outfit was on point and yet I knew without even a second glance that I didn’t pin this for outfit inspo. Her desk had stacks of books, notebooks, and a coffee cup. She was leaning over a keyboard – her long fingers poised over the keys. Come to think of it, her nail polish was on point too. Behind her was a framed black and white print with the words: Write It. I remember seeing this image, years and years ago, when I was still in college and thinking that – clear as day – would be my future. More scrolling. More writer-esque images. Old mahogany desks lined with papers and bound books, sleek minimalist shots with hands hovering above a chrome Macbook, and finally even a wall of an office with a 3D, gold hashtag symbol. I had to laugh. I’d been so busy planning every aspect of my future that I’d somehow, hugely, lost sight of the future I’d always wanted to build for myself professionally. For my career. I’d somehow managed to tell myself – and accept this idea – that I had so much goodness, so much great, so much wonderful – that I couldn’t, shouldn’t, and wouldn’t be jeopardizing any of that by chasing the career I wanted desperately. I’d told myself that a stable, well-paying job that had me home in time to make those recipes I pinned and live out those catalog-esque family shots with my husband and dogs was plenty. Who was I to ask for more? Girl, you fool! You’re allowed to hustle! Chase that dream, girl! Who says you can’t have it all? Retta was getting restless. I didn’t want regrets. I knew that I could live the next five years working in my job, making a great living, living this beautiful, blessed, amazing life and find so much happiness in that alone. I knew that some people did just that. But what if I couldn’t? What if I had a calling, a calling that I recognized at five years old, and what if I ignored that calling because I was too afraid to fail? What if I could have all that goodness and come home to all that greatness, and feel fulfilled professionally? Eyes open again. Shit. Could I really ask myself, ask the Universe, ask God, ask ANYONE for all that? Could I pull it off? Girl. I know.

Sure, I could stay where I am. I have an amazing life, a very comfortable, very happy, very fulfilling life. But if not now, when? Next month? Next year? I’ll still be comfortable then, too. But what about in a couple years, when we hopefully have some happy, healthy babies bouncing around? What then? Is that when’d I chase this dream of mine? I don’t dare think for a single second that I’d have any regrets living the rest of my life exactly as it is – I’ve been blessed beyond measure and best believe every single night, I say my THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK prayers. But still. That itch. That nag. That stomach flipity-flop. It’s calling me to do more, be more, try more, see more, write more. I clicked my phone off again.

Girl, you better WERK.

I hear ya, Retta. It’s go time.