11. Ukulele 26 Feb 14 | 0 Comments

My current evening routine when I get home has become:

1. Feed/walk Bella
2. Eat something
3. Quick catch-up on social media
4. Ukulele
5. Ukulele
6. Ukulele
7. Shower
8. Ukulele
9. Ukulele
10. Ukulele

I think it’s paying off since my fingers no longer hurt, my strumming has improved drastically, switching chords is becoming a little less shaky, the few songs I do know I can play faster or slower, the sounds of each chord is becoming more vibrant, and I’m enjoying it more and more and more. What an incredibly fun hobby! It’s funny because I’ve made such huge moves forward in less than a month’s time. When did I even start playing? The beginning of this month and already I’ve got at least three songs tucked away. When I started, I honestly thought it would take me a full year to learn a song. Amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it … and also when you spend hours upon hours playing.

Now that I have that under my belt (and I’ll continue to make the effort to improve), I’m wondering what other new talents I should attempt next. For some reason, juggling has been creeping into my mind. This is something I wanted to learn when I was in high school, and I even attempted to learn. But with lots of things in life, I quickly pushed it aside and here I sit not knowing how to juggle.

I think I’ll make that my next thing to learn. So then I’ll become a graphic designer, with a beagle who has a balancing talent, a ukulele player, and soon-to-become juggler. What a funny little combination of things!

More things to come…
1. Upcoming happy hours and little pop-up get togethers. I’m excited about it all!
2. A new endeavor: hot yoga (Bikram yoga). I’m curious to see how this goes…
3. Spring time. The weather is still going to be chilly (well, between random warm days), but soon enough, it’ll become spring and we can finally welcome some much needed color. It’ll also give me a good excuse to maybe regularly treat myself to some fresh flowers. Nothing seems as happy as fresh flowers, no?

bore. 24 Feb 14 | 0 Comments

If I can make it at least one more month with this blog, it’ll officially become a habit. Goodness this thing is difficult … and I think it’s not very interesting for anyone who reads this.

Hard to be interesting when life is a tad boring…

1. I thought the weather would continually warm up and that the cold is behind us. Looks like I was wrong, as another cold front is coming in the middle of the week. I’m excited! I like cold weather.

2. Wore a skirt today. That’s always an exciting thing to do. We used to tuck our computers away at the end of the day at work, which meant that I never got a chance to wear skirts (for fear of flashing anyone) … now that we no longer do that, it’s nice to have the option to wear skirts again. Today seemed appropriate for it.

3. Seriously, unwinding from a work day with some ukulele playing is simply one of the most therapeutic things for me! I’m currently trying to find a new song to learn, and I’m thinking it might be Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole. (Which, I know, is a little cliché … but I feel like it’s something all uke players should learn, no?)

A.M. Elation 17 Feb 14 | 0 Comments

This morning, I made an effort to get out of bed early and do some yoga. At the end of last year, I had gotten into a pretty good habit of doing a 30-minute yoga routine every morning, but when the holidays hit, that went out the window. It’s been over a month now, and I decided it’s time to jump back into it.

Man, it feels good.

I also managed to squeeze in a quick 5 minute session on my ukulele before dashing out the door, and on my drive to work the funniest feeling came over me. I felt SO RELAXED and incredibly ELATED. Everything felt so light and free. My body felt at ease, but alert. Everything seemed so clear and my mind felt fresh. It was AMAZING. What an interesting way to start your day/week!

1. A good morning start is something never to take for granted. I know most of my mornings feel hurried and frantic. It’s nice to have a morning that feels easy. (And a Monday, no less!)
2. Funny discussions about waffles and waffle makers.
3. My favorite block in downtown is about to open a new coffee shop. That little area is slowly becoming my favorite special place in this city. If not for the fact that I’m actually making an effort to hang out downtown (I would have never thought!), but mostly because I’m beginning to form lots of special memories over there with lots of special people.

My weekend of the ukulele 16 Feb 14 | 0 Comments

So what did I do all weekend long? Pretty much a rotation of the following: sleep, eat, play ukulele. (with a little visit to the dog park tossed in there.)

Can I express how INTO playing the ukulele I am? Pretty dang into it! I now know several chords and … GET THIS. I CAN PLAY THREE SONGS! The first is “The Way I am” by Ingrid Michaelson, the second is “Creep” by Radiohead, and the third is probably what I’m most excited about … The How I Met Your Mother rendition of La Vie en Rose (by Cristin Milioti).

Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time. My fingers feel so raw from pressing against the strings, my hands cramp a bit from contorting to the required chords, and my shoulders are begging for a stretch break … but I’ve become incredibly obsessed with playing over and over and over! What a fun hobby that I’ve picked up. I’m so incredibly thrilled to be learning to play and I CANNOT wait to see what else I learn!

Heart Strings
1. I’ve also started looking up videos people have posted of their ukulele prowess, and it’s thrilling to see how others have progressed in their little ukulele adventures. (Here are a few of my favorites: “Hang on Little Tomato” by this clarinet-ukulele duo, “Roar” by this bubbly 14-year-old, “Creep” by this adorable girl, and Ingrid Michaelson playing her “The Way I Am” on the ukulele (prefaced with a cute story behind the song).)
2. This makes me excited to pick up other little hobbies. I wonder what other crazy ideas will pop into my head this year that I will want to try. Knowing that I have the freedom to pursue various hobbies is such a privilege, and it makes me extremely excited and happy.
3. I have a new-found respect for anyone that plays a stringed instrument. There’s actually a lot of pain behind learning it and from what I’ve read, not a lot of people can make it past that pain. (I understand this … when I was trying to teach myself how to play the guitar many, many years ago, the pain in my fingers was a huge reason why I decided not to continue with it.) Plus, your fingers get incredibly calloused and sore. But once you jump past that initial hurdle of pain and your body starts to get used to it, it’s incredibly fulfilling. Kudos to all who made it past that jump.

Strides! Strides! Strides! 13 Feb 14 | 0 Comments

C, A-minor, F, G7, G

These are chords that I know how to play on the ukulele…. and oh. my. gosh. I can’t believe I’ve managed to learn how to play those three chords in less than a week!! The first day, I could barely manage the F-chord, and now I can easily transition from C to F to G7. C to A to F. C to A to F to G7 to C … and a few other combinations! (The G-chord is currently the hardest for me.) It’s sort of amazing how I’m starting to pick it up a little easier each day. When I got home today, I sat on my bed and just strummed random combinations of these five chords just to practice. It feel SO GOOD to just randomly play. It’s so exciting to see strides!

One week! I wonder how well I’ll be playing in a month. Three months! Six months! A year from now!

1. Today, I presented three sketches to my boss of a website I’ve been working on from the start of this year. Honestly, it’s a project that I was a little afraid to work on because of who the clients are (it’s a legendary firm in the city). But I got to the point in this project that I became confident with what I was presenting and even though I probably should have been nervous, I showed my boss what I had and it felt comfortable. I’ve worked at this firm for a little over seven years and it still hits me in the pit of my stomach to present my sketches, but I’m glad that I can muster the courage to present with confidence. It’s ok to have nerves … as long as your pride-in-your-work outweighs it.
2. I see progress in what’s happening between my crush and I. It started off with me not being able to say hello to him, to working up the courage to have a long conversation with him at a social event, to asking him for very personal advice, to inviting him to my work’s dinner, to feeling more comfortable with him, to … who knows what’s to come. I feel like the way it’s been slowly growing is exactly happening at the right pace and at the right times and at the right amount. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. It gives me butterflies!
3. Even though this blog is a huge challenge to maintain, I’m glad that I’ve still been able to keep up with it. Hoping it’ll get easier and easier to write.

Salad and Snacks. 11 Feb 14 | 0 Comments

I went to Trader Joe’s today to pick up lunch for the rest of the week, plus a few treats. I don’t go there as often as I’d like, so when I do get a chance, I like to pick out a fun snack (or two) to try since they always have a fun selection.

When the cashier was ringing me up, he made an acute observation about my purchases: salads and a bunch of snacks. With a laugh, I said I’m getting the best of both worlds!

Something about that little observation made me think about how metaphoric it is to the way I approach certain things. Mixing the “should do” with the “want to” — a little bit of work, a little bit of play. Balancing things out.

I could probably further dissect that metaphor, but it’s 10:20 pm and I’m anxious to get to bed so …

1. Butter waffle cookies. Light, crisp, vanilla-y, buttery. Gahhhh I could snack on these all day. Trader Joe’s pack of waffle cookies come with a generous amount of cookies … soooo that’ll last me all of one week. ;-)
2. I really do like salads. For months now, it’s mostly been my lunch of choice. Here and there, I’ll maybe get some soup (especially since it’s been so cold here) or maybe pick out some hot treats from the nearby Whole Foods … but salads have been my favorite way to go, as of late. I’m glad I’m slowwwwwlyyyy jumping on the healthy train again. It’s always hard to transition to that from the holidays and it often takes until this time in February to get back on track.
3. Ukulele improvements. Oh my goodness, I now know five chords! And I see some good strides in the way I transition from one chord to the next. IMPROVEMENTS in just a few day’s time! I’m on the right track to figuring out the best way to hold it and how to maneuver my fingers to properly press down the strings without accidentally muting a string that should be open. It’s exciting that my fingers are now starting to get it. It may be time for me to sign up for lessons or maybe look into a serious series of video instructions somewhere. I cannot wait to start to learn how to read chords and then eventually learn how to play a real song! Ohhhh it feel so awesome to play an instrument again!

Fine tuning 09 Feb 14 | 0 Comments

That, my friends, is some of the first in-tune sounds of my ukulele. I cannot express how THRILLED I am to get it in tuned and to hear that fun, happy sound.

Here’s a bit of a confession: I broke one of the ukulele strings during my first hour of owning the thing. Is that not the most embarrassing thing you’d ever hear? I’ve watched several videos showing how to tune a ukulele and the videos made it seem deceivingly simple. And you would think that having several years of playing a clarinet and being a part of a school band would help me easily figure out tuning … oh, how mistaken that notion is. I over-twisted the little winder thingy (ok, looks like I will need to learn the names of the parts of the ukulele) the first string snapped.

Way to go, Kathy. Wayyyy toooo gooooooooo.

The kit I bought luckily came with extra strings, but I haven’t had a chance to restring it until tonight. Again, I watched several videos on how to restring a ukulele (hence, posting about watching tutorials online), this time with the intent to be a little more patient, and careful, with it. Ahh, the difference a little care makes. There’s the lesson, Kathy. Approach things with a little more patience and care, and you won’t end up with a broken string. … but if you do end up with one, at least you got a lesson out of it.

I’ve attempted to learn two chords already by watching more videos online, and while it’s convenient (and free) to learn this way, I think I might do a better job if I sign up for lessons. So, I may look into it. Looks like there are a lot of group lessons all over town, or alternatively, I found someone who does private lessons. We’ll see where I end up going.

I’m excited! My goal is to be able to play one song, gracefully, by the end of the year. Right now, switching from one chord to another is a huge challenge!

In Other News
1. Tonight, my crush had his birthday party and I went … with two pies in hand. Yes, ladies and gents, that was the biggest reason for all the practice pies. I hope they turned out ok. I didn’t try them at the party and left them there in case his guests wanted them. Goodness, I hope they turned out ok … eeep.
2. He has two main parties every year — one for his birthday, one for halloween — maybe I’ve mentioned this already, but he’s invited me to each every year I’ve known him, and every year I never end up going. Of course, things have changed and there I found myself at his party, enjoying crawfish. It’s nice to get a glimpse into his home and meet his friends who aren’t part of our big design circle. He seems to surround himself with really good, friendly, warm people. Also adorable? He invited his parents to his party. His mother is an absolute delight.
3. I was talking about the evolution of this crush to my friend and she mentioned that things just seem to be “rolling along and developing as it should.” It’s kind of interesting how it really has easily progressed along (so often crushes don’t). I’m still not completely sure what his feelings are for me, but I’m enjoying the fact that I’m beginning to ease into this crush a little bit more. When I first realized how I felt, I was a complete shy ball of nerves and barely worked up the guts to casually be able to talk to him. But each time I see him, things start to feel a little more natural, and a little less frightening. (I find it funny that for years how I acted around him was really no big deal to me, and then that sudden rush of feelings hit and I could barely say hello to him at an event. Now, I’m starting to run into him more and more, and am easing back into a good comfort-level with him… this time with a side of butterflies-in-the-stomach. I’m curious to see how, if at all, this continues to evolve.)

12-31-13 ... A note about the site

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