Posts Tagged ‘daily life’

On luck, and how to make it

Once upon a time, I didn’t believe in luck.

To be more precise: I believed in luck — I just felt other people were lucky. Me? All the great blessings in my life — whether in love, work, endeavor or just all things beautiful and free — came from my own ability to work hard, to scrap, to bob and weave like a prizefighter against what life threw at me.

Part of this was some kind of weird internalized Yankee pride in having a solid work ethic, blah blah blah. I can make my own world! I am my own master! Destiny is mine! Life was an alchemy and I can will forth what I want from the ether! It’s so mega-American, too, kind of like Emerson’s credo of self-reliance, but on steroids.

But another, more shadowy aspect of this belief was: nothing blessed would be easy for me. Why? Maybe I didn’t trust it when it was that easy. Maybe I felt it would slip away, as quickly as it came. Maybe I didn’t think I was worthy. Maybe I had also internalized weird fucked-up ideas of karma from all those years of being a little Buddhist, and hearing about how everything in your life was in it as a result of something from your past lives. I don’t know.

The point is, I had this idea that nothing comes easy, that some people are just luckier than others. Some people just have beautiful things fall into their laps and lives like snow on a lovely winter’s mornings. The rest of us have to work really hard for it. I was part of “the rest of us.”

Then, in the middle of a period in my life when I was looking at deep-seated beliefs I held — ones so rooted in there that I didn’t even realize they were beliefs, if you know what I mean — I realized how crazy-making this paradigm of luck, good fortune and life-loveliness was. At the core of this belief is that some people are worthier of things than others, and I am not one of them. That all good things in life are hard to obtain. Did I really live in a world like this? Do I really want to?

I mean, what if I was a goddess and general Bestower of Blessings and was like, “OK, only you and you and you get limitless wonderfulness, but YOU on the other hand — you have to EARN THEM.” I mean, that goddess would be a mega-bitch, right? Who wants to live in a world governed by a harridan like that? Who wants to have that as a core unconscious yet powerful operating belief?

So, I decided to challenge my own belief and evict my stingy inner meanie of the universe. What would it be like to “be lucky”? What does luck really look like? Could I be wrong about myself, and actually be a constant harvester of awesomeness?

I began this “rethinking” project a year ago, although that makes it sound a lot more systematic than it really was. (These kind of things never are for me; they’re sort of thought-shadows that don’t take cogent form but drift along, like a fog or mist, changing the temperature and quality of life imperceptibly.) It was really just a constant sense of questioning, of self-inquiry. I mean, HOW DO YOU DEPROGRAM YOURSELF OF A SHADOWY YET INSIDIOUS BELIEF? It’s a bit like cult de-programming, only on yourself! Only in this case, the cult wasn’t a bunch of weirdos running around in purple tracksuits and black Nikes, but an invisible one of fake stinginess that only existed in my imagination.

I didn’t really have an organized way to go about it, but I knew it had to change inside of me. I’m still in the middle of transforming it, but these are my thoughts on the process so far on changing your perspective from that of a mean Ebeneezer Scrooge of a universe to one that’s on your side and giving you a power-up wherever you go.

Define luck

As it turns out, luck isn’t just a Lotto ticket or winning at the slot machines. (Although, interestingly enough, I have won small sums at Lotto, and my sister did win a few beautiful thousand at a slot machine in Arizona, so I know it is possible.) Luck is a bit like a superpower — you need or want something, you articulate that desire, and lo and behold, the cosmic diner that is the universe dishes it out for you in some form or another. I had to be clear on what luck and good fortune and prosperity looked and felt like before I could begin to be alive to it and cultivate it.

But don’t get attached

Most people, I realized, are really unaware of the blessings in their life because they have an attachment to what something looks like or how it is supposed to happen in life. It’s really that phenomenon of how you think the person of your dreams is tall, thinks a certain way, dresses a certain way and what not — and then you meet someone amazing and he’s not any of these things, but he’s wonderful and good to you and you’re insanely attracted to him. This is why I always like being clear on what things are supposed to feel like, and then get clear on the people and situations in life that create that feeling. Because you never know, and the universe is often a lot smarter than you and will deliver its beauty to you in unexpected ways.

It has to be a true soul desire

You can’t be big-upping your ego; you can’t want something to get even with your ex, or your parents, or to prove to the world how gorgeous you are. It has to be for the care and feeding of the most beautiful part of your soul. Strangely enough, most people don’t know what this is inside of themselves, but once you know — and take actions to keep it precious and thriving — good things build up and tend to happen.

Know the definition of “auspicious”

I LOVE the word “auspicious.” You hear this word a lot in Asian cultures. It basically means: there is a time and a place for everything — when will, conditions and everything else just align, and bowling a cosmic strike is just full of ease and grace. In order for luckiness and good fortune to be your modus operandi, it’s partly your job to be what I call a “conditions whisperer.” Sometimes for overly willful creatures like myself, you have to look at what’s really happening in your life deep down in your heart and realize, You know, my ego wants me to do this now, but my heart really lies here. Or, I’ve got these things lining up in my life — maybe it’s time I pull the trigger on this particular project. Everything has a season. Of course, you can do what you want whenever you like, but sometimes certain things are just easier than others.

You have to meet the universe halfway

Good stuff doesn’t just happen to people sitting around and expecting stuff to happen. You have be get off your duff and lay the groundwork. If you want to meet the sweetheart of your dreams, you have be out in the world, being a sweetheart to other people, projects and endeavors. You need to open the door and clear the path and feather the nest and what not.

Synchronicity is real

I can’t explain it. But you have to keep your eyes open for signs that it’s all aligning, because that’s how you know it’s working.

How to keep your eyes and ears and heart open?

This is super woo-woo, but you have to count your blessings, whether it’s a gratitude list or telling people how much you love them, and why. It’s important to count a lot, and count right: not just the trappings of your beautiful life, like, wow, I live in a beautiful place and wear great clothes and have great opportunities — but the real foundations of grace that make it possible: the fact you have a mother and father in your life, you live in a Western country and enjoy relative prosperity, your laptop freaking works, you have access to clean water, you have a stellar education. It’s all connected. Take nothing for granted, because you never know where the next stream of good fortune will come through.

Be lucky for someone else

This is really just a way of saying good things happen when you do good stuff for other people. I find this to be really true!

It’s actually not luck

Of course, this is really less about “luck” and more about what is commonly called abundance or prosperity, I guess. But I like “luck,” because who doesn’t want to hit the jackpot in all ways big and small? However, thinking you are unlucky — or that other people are lucky — is essentially taking the passive role in creating good things in your life. That is the pits. Pretty much the biggest lesson I learned as an adult is to take 100% responsibility for your life, and believing in “luck” deprives you of that.

So, deep down, I don’t actually believe in “luck.” I believe in beauty and blessings, in the glitter of good fortune. I believe that these can come to you with a modicum of grace and ease. Even when certifiably annoying or genuinely sad stuff is happening, I still think there’s a current of goodness that can run alongside it; you’ll still feel the ickiness, but it doesn’t linger as long or leave you reeling. This is super-woo, but being more alive to the beauty and goodness in life just makes more of it flow. That is the big lesson of my last year, and I am glad to see the fruits of it starting to emerge now.

A good weekend

It was a weekend full of dearest friends, marathon conversations, yummy dinners (chickpea tagine, still transitioning out of raw foods), fun with public art, perfume buying as a treat to myself for finishing the latest draft of my book (Tocca Cleopatra!), brunch at my favorite place to eat in Chicago (yummy omelet with chanterelles, blew the raw right open in this meal), many rounds of drinks at various bars around Logan Square (if anyone cares, the Owl was packed with very attractive people on a Saturday night) and a kind of mini-reunion with film school friends, where we Godarded out at the Whistler and talked movies, buisness, and writing just like old times, albeit with a bit of seasoned perspective.

But one of my favorite moments was when my sister texted me late Saturday night after finishing reading my book and told me she loved it, it made her cry and that I should be proud of myself for creating a beautiful story. I totally teared up. The only other real bookworm in the family, I was a little scared to show her my book because it’s so intimate, you know? It meant a lot to me; I’m such a softie.

It was “a best, best time”, as my niece would say. And it’s nice to be back after a vagabond weekend, back in my own bed, surrounded by books and lavender tea and fashion magazines.


Photo was taken up underneath the Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millenium Park. Do you see me? xo k.

january inventory: raw food, attitude hacks and the pursuit of kapow!

Can you believe it’s January? Thirty-one days into 2012! How was your first month of the year?


I got in the habit near the end of last year of giving myself an informal “theme” for a month. I don’t necessarily sit there and bestow upon myself a theme in any formal way. I sort of just check in, pay attention to what I’m craving and dreaming about, what images and sounds and feelings inspire me, what synchronicities are floating around. And then slowly a month-long intention emerges, an area I want to explore in different ways. This month, what emerged for me was the idea of energy, vitality, spark, physical radiance. Of course, it was January, and there are a million people (or more!) kind of working on the same thing. Who am I to fight the tide? Of course, I have to give myself a fun, goofy word for “theme of the month,” and so I decided about a week into January that my theme was KAPOW!! Like, KAPOW! I’m like a superhero full of KAPOW! I AM KAPOW-Y KAT!

I tried out a few different practices, habits, meals, classes, routines, and activities in pursuit of KAPOW! Some things I deliberately chose, others came about as I was doing one and it led to the other. I wasn’t crazy-strict with myself (what a drag that would be!) but it was easier to keep a lot of these because I knew it was only a month — 30 days, no big deal, right? A few things I did, and my reflections on them:

Tried out raw food. I wasn’t super-strict about it, but I did start incorporating more raw recipes in my diet. I started out by adding one raw meal or snack a day, then shifted into “raw before dinner” and then in this last week I did “all raw, all the time.” I have to say, I know people LOVE raw food and I can see why — it’s incredibly clean to eat so much plant-based food, and there is a strange hum of energy as you get into it. I”m generally good about getting my 5-7 fruits and veggies a week (thanks to all my smoothies!!) but eating raw is like getting 10-15 servings a day of them, and IT IS PRETTY WHOA-INDUCING. I am not going to sustain raw as a lifestyle, though — I did feel like I missed the social aspect of eating, I missed cheese, and I was hungry in a way that I as a Cancerian did not enjoy, i.e. I would get a spike of RAVENOUS at the end of the day that only some raw nut truffles could allay. However, I will do it again in the spring; I feel like it’s a fun, beautiful thing to do as the seasons turn.

Drank a lot more water. This was actually a lot more transformative than I thought. It came about because I was breaking out from the raw food (detoxing, they say) and I read a lot about upping your water consumption to flush out toxins. I thought I was getting enough water, but it ended up, I was about 10-20 oz. short of what they recommend. (Two liters, I believe.) I made myself drink a lot more water, mostly by carrying a giant water bottle all the time, and the difference it made was pretty remarkable in terms of feeling good in my body.

Took some new classes. I’m pretty active, but generally I’m a runner — I like that runner’s high, I like that it’s so efficient, and after the first ten minutes, I really love what I call the “gazelle effect,” when you run and it’s like, “I AM A CREATURE OF NATURE, ALIGNED WITH THE WIND FLOWING OVER THE SAVANNA!! ARTEMIS, HEAR ME WHOOSH!!!” However, I decided to mix it up and take some classes: some kickboxing, some dance classes, some yoga/flow classes, the climbing wall at the gym. I liked the variety and it kept my mind engaged, and the social aspect was nice, too. I’ll keep taking more; I’m in a hip hop class now and it is awesome — I get to fulfill my latent fly-girl fantasies!

Smoothies! I wrote about this earlier, but I really was gung-ho about them in January. I love them; I can’t recommend them enough, honestly. If anything, you’re getting a great hit of vitamins from all the fruits and veg! How can you argue with that?

Slept earlier and better, woke up earlier. Anyone who knows me knows that I was an insomniac/night owl, and good sleep’s always been a struggle with me. I tackled this a few years ago and it made such a huge difference in my life, but it’s easy to fall off the wagon. So I made sure to reinforce habits of shutting off electronics early, lowering the lights, trying to be all mellow and relaxed, all that good stuff. It was a good check, because for me, sleep is my foundation for feeling good about life, and I have to be vigilant about keeping it going

Another thing about getting up earlier: I used the time totally for myself. Sometimes I worked on my book (a bit on that later) but sometimes I also listened to music or a meditation, or just read a book, or wrote in my journal, or did my nails or whatever. ME TIME! Usually I do me-time stuff at the end of the day, but putting it up top was actually a beautiful thing, because it felt like I was taking care of and being generous with myself and making it the most important thing, and it made dealing with time and energy suckers later in the day a lot better — because I didn’t resent them for stealing my me-time, I already had it. It was an unexpected attitude hack, but I’m glad I stumbled on it.

Stretching before sleep. I work so much on a computer that I really have to take care of myself physically, especially in terms of aches and pains. Honestly, one thing I fear for is getting carpal tunnel, because how would I write so quickly if I had it? So I did a little more yoga, a quick, little routine of yoga stretches before sleeping, focusing on neck, shoulder, arm and hip openers. I didn’t get to it all the time, but the nights I did, I slept sooooo well — and I woke up feeling a lot more energized, interestingly. Also: CRAZY-ASS DREAMS HAPPENING on nights that I did this! Definitely related!

Fresh air everyday. If Katland had a personal law, this would be it because even 10-15 minutes of outdoor air a day, or even just a spot of sunshine, makes a huge difference in my energy. Ironically, I was really terrible about it in January — it got soooooo cold. Still, now and then I’d stick my head out the window, take a few deep breaths and then go about my day. It was like a nice hit of energy. I don’t know how I did all those wintery treks last year; now I’m such a wimp about it. What is going on with me?!!

I realize none of these are particularly ground-breaking, but the real challenge of these practices and habits are less about the actions themselves and more the habit-making of them — of doing them often enough to make a lasting impact in your life. I’m glad I used January to tackle spark, radiance and KAPOW! It feels like a good base to build a beautiful year.


Beyond KAPOW! (ha ha), here’s what else I tackled and accomplished and will give myself BIG UPS for this year: mega-savings, consolidated my student loans (ugh, I hate this kind of task but I made myself do it), FINISHED THE LATEST AND LIKELY PENULTIMATE DRAFT OF ZE NOVEL (more on that later! Promise!), cleared out a bunch of clutter, went to the symphony, started researching real estate (eek, I need like a real estate buddy or something, I find the process really confusing, no wonder only married people seem to buy houses), redid this site slightly (look for more changes soon), signed up for some local classes and started on some secret but sparkly long-term projects for the future. (I can’t share EVERYTHING on the Internet, right?!!)

I hope you all had lovely Januaries, and that your 2012 has been beautiful so far!

xo kat

Strange twinge

Last night a storm almost came through at dusk, making for a very eerie sky. The video doesn’t really capture the strange twinge of red in the sky, but for a moment with the cicadas in the background, it felt like a David Lynch film.