Sunday, November 3, 2013

Laura is waiting for you to join imo

Hey Blogger (mobile),
Laura Murphy recently invited you to join imo. Join imo now to chat on popular IM networks, make free calls and discover interesting people and information.
This email was sent by
555 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301.
Don't want anymore invite emails?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Laura is waiting for you to join imo

Hey Blogger (mobile),
Laura Murphy recently invited you to join imo. Join imo now to chat on popular IM networks, make free calls and discover interesting people and information.
This email was sent by
555 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301.
Don't want anymore invite emails?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chat with me on imo!

Hey Blogger (mobile),
Laura Murphy wants to chat with you on imo. Download the free app now to chat, make calls and discover interesting people and content
This email was sent by
555 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301.
Don't want anymore invite emails?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Was It Meant to Read?

Sometimes we stumble across a message or article that seems too perfect to be true. We're feeling stressed, lost or frustrated and the words of someone else's story comes at you at just the right moment and leaves you feeling relieved, reassured and sometimes like you've been put into perspective.

I have been a long time subscriber to the magazine called Self. I discovered it in my early teens; shortly after Seventeen magazine just wasn't doing it for me anymore. I have always enjoyed reading and no matter how broke I am, I've made sure to keep my subscription. I feel like there are still the cliche advertisements and messages; the ones that made me want to give up my dream of being a big time Advertising Exec because I didn't want to feel responsible for thousands of young woman's tarnished self-esteem. Rather, I think the majority of what's in this magazine are good messages. Embrace who you are. Live a healthier life. Chase your dreams and be happy.

Now that I've gone off on a tangent that is more suited for a separate blog post all together, let's get back to the point. I took a much needed 5-minute break at the end of my work day today to read. I decided to catch up on the flagged articles I had in this month's Self magazine (it's my goal to read the articles I've flagged within a week of receiving the mag; then to toss it). There was an article that caught my eye called "Live your dream life". That's all I needed to see to peak my interest. The description of the article says "Sometimes, to be truly happy, you have to follow your heart, no matter what everyone else may think."

I'm not going to post the entire article over again (there's a link to it below). It's a short read and I encourage you to check it out; especially if you are struggling in your creative and/or professional life.

Basically- this woman always knew she wanted to be a writer. Despite her parents driving her to get a "real" job, she pushed and made writing a priority in her life. Although, the need to pay her bills caught her feeling frustrated and taking a job that she later found sucked the soul out of her. In the end, she realized that writing was her passion and that a simple job at the local grocery store was perfect for her. She could work the minimum of 25 hours to receive health benefits and other perks. At the end of the day she could walk away and forget about it...and you guessed it: focus on her writing.

I wondered if this story was meant for my eyes. In fact, I wished I would have read it about a month ago. Since we moved to Key West in September I have been contracting for my previous employer out of the comforts of my now shoe-box home. I love it, but I do miss people. Regardless, it's a temporary opportunity and the end is drawing near. I've been looking for other work and feeling incredibly frustrated. I have several tracks I'd like to focus on, but the dilemma is: they need lots of time and attention to grow into something profitable. Time and attention I don't have. I need to pay my bills. I also need to finish my Associate's degree. These are non-negotiables. But if I take a good 9-5 job, I can't nurture these desires as I wish I could (with 100% of my attention). I've always been looking to climb that ladder. I love a challenge, but love to keep growing in more and more difficult tasks. Ideally, I want a strong IT job that I can continue to grow, learn, and be challenged in. Sadly, I don't think there are any IT jobs out there for me. At least not now.

This article has really put into perspective what I need to do. I need to be writing in a creative outlet. I need to journal. I need to write lyrics and poetry. I need to sing. I need to focus on music. This is at the heart of my soul and it's been neglected for far too long. So I may not feel challenged at work. So I may punch the clock at a job that is far too easy for me. But if it pays my bills and leaves my head clear to feed and discover what is in my heart, so be it. It's been far too long.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Get Out of YOUR Way: Stepping Forward in the Face of Yourself!"-My takeaways

I recently joined the Journaling Lounge at Sanity My main reason for joining was because they have weekly journaling prompts; questions for you to answer. I haven’t journaled regularly in 2 years and I wanted some help to get motivated and prompt me on topics to write about. This website and community is a GREAT resource for those who journal. Carla is an amazing help! I found her on Twitter and began following her. She replies to your tweets, which is a huge plus in my book!

As part of my membership I was invited to attend a virtual retreat on January 21st. The topic was “Get out of YOUR way; Stepping Forward in the face of yourself”. I was incredibly excited to join the call and see what I could learn. I took notes over the entire thing and I wanted to share them with you. It’s no secret that I am a knowledge sponge. I like to pass that knowledge I’ve learned onto others. If it helped me, it can help others! Here’s my takeaway from the retreat!

As we got started, Carla asked for some participation during the call. I immediately felt uncomfortable; journaling is a very private matter to me. In the past I’ve opted to share my journaling with my significant other. My husband respects my privacy and doesn’t care to read my journals. As such, I’m starting to feel thankful that it’s all private, even from my best friend. So…participation requested was nerve wrecking for me! But I agreed that it was best to participate and share when requested. Maybe my input could help someone else on the call.

We started off by talking about some of Carla’s basic life principles: Living life to the fullest. Living your life with love, creative energy and perseverance. Taking your life from surviving the thriving. I really took that last statement to heart. I’ve recently been taking an inventory on my feelings and I’m starting to learn that I let small things affect me much more than I should. I feel happy a lot, but I’m realizing that I have an issue with almost everything. Why? Life is good, isn’t it? It could be far worse, right?

She then spoke of a story called ‘Acres of Diamonds’. A basic summary of this story tells of this farmer who had acres and fields of crop. He wanted to be rich so bad that he sold his entire farm and sought to travel the globe in search of his riches. He searched and searched, but never found his wealth. He searched for so long he eventually became poor and killed himself. The man who purchased his farm had been digging in the fields and found a diamond. After digging and digging he discovered acres of diamonds and he was rich. Ironic story, isn’t it? So I’m thinking of the moral of this story. The diamonds are my happiness. Am I going to search my entire lifetime for happiness, or am I going to look for it with what I have? I bet you can guess my answer J

Stepping Forward in the Face of Yourself

We then looked at what “stepping forward in the face of yourself” means. Often we are our biggest reason for holding back. This could be for a number of different reasons: self-censorship, self-doubt, just plain not feeling like it, etc. Why do we let these things hold us back? We are ultimately in control…so we have the power to change it!

Stepping Forward in the Face of Yourself means to:
-Cheer yourself on
-Celebrate your successes
-Have a blast making successes and celebrating them
-Step into overwhelm, challenge to change things in the face of something greater

Make Goals

One of the things we can do to make this happen is to make goals. The key to accomplishing goals is to state them in a way that is exciting to you. Your goals should inspire you, not drag you down. How can you word your goals so you’ll show up for them?

An example would be:

I need to journal more often. “Journal more often” is not very defined and it sounds like a chore. So I might reword it like this “Investigate thoughts on paper. Unleash my inner conversation.” Etc

You need to make your goals fun, inspiring, desirable to keep them easier to show up for. Use new words or fun labels. Combine things you love in with your goal. Where is the fun factor? A good process for goal-setting:
1) Set goals- make them fun! Make them inspiring!
2) Set structures to support your goals (prepare to step above the voice in your head)
3) Write down your goals and put them where you will see them
every day
4) Check in with yourself often and when YOU need
Where are you going? What’s working? What’s not working? What needs to change?

Some of us may not have a specific goal or isn’t sure what really inspires us. Carla suggested asking yourself some of the following questions to help find this “burning desire”:
-What lifts you up?
-What inspires you?
-What makes you the happiest?
-What is your soul food? What do you do for yourself?

As I was reviewing some old journals of mine I realized that I needed some help with my burning desire. I recruited the help of my closest friends and family for their help. I sent them a little survey that asked the following questions.
-At what point do you remember me at my happiest?
-List some qualities I had at this time
-List some of the things that you know made me happiest or that I enjoyed
-If you could do anything nice to make my day, what would it be?
-If you could see me do anything for myself to make my own day, what would it be?

This may sound silly, but sometimes we’re too involved in our own minds and lives that we can’t separate our inner self with what’s going on around us. I found this exercise incredibly helpful at the time! Ask these questions and review the answers. Are they all common? It’s reflective and helpful! Make a list of your qualities. Make a list of things that make you happiest! Do them again! Some of these might be when we were a child….but it’s okay to enjoy these things as an adult. After all, we need to nurture our inner-child. What better way to do it?

Changing Behaviors-Create Interruption

Do you act on your feelings? Or do you act on honoring your commitments?

In the example above I used my goal to journal more often. Do I journal “more often” to honor my commitment to myself? Or do I journal when I feel like it? Right now, I journal when I feel like it…and that’s why I’ve had a gap for the past 2 years. Honoring your commitment to yourself means keeping those promises regardless of how you feel that day.

Many times this “feeling” of not wanting to honor those commitments comes from your self-talk within. How do you change that nasty negative talk into something positive?
-Your self-talk is loud and convincing at times; plan that it will be. It won’t go away; but you can change how you react to it.
-Minimize the negativity! When this self-talk comes up, say something positive back. Speak to your negativity.
-This negative talk is a broken record; it’s usually the same negativity over and over again. Create new music!
1) Start by noticing the negative self-talk and listen to the conversation
2) Bring humor to it- name your negativity (similar to how Beyonce has named her alter-ego)
3) Practice not responding to it
4) Start questioning it- ask yourself “Is that really true?”
5) Offer a rebuttal-talk back to it!
6) Write it all out- journal!
7) Reframe it-tell yourself something new

Just ask yourself: What evidence am I collecting: why I can’t? or why I can?

Another helpful tactic that Carla taught us was to have pep-talks with yourself. What would your ultimate pep talk include? Write it out! Keep giving yourself pep talks and believe them! Or, you can ask someone to give a pep talk to you. Make sure you tell them what you need to hear.

Setting Yourself Up with Success
Some random reminders and suggestions to keep you moving forward

Give yourself a place to dream! Your dream is not crazy! It’s absolutely achievable!

Use positive affirmations; even when you don’t believe them.

We have a tendency of gravitating towards negativity or drama (aka-the sewage). Get out of the sewage!

What structures keep you in action? What are your no matter whats? (things you must accomplish for the day no-matter what). Pick 3-6 things each day and make sure they get them done.
(see for the planner we get this idea from)

Just remember- hold yourself accountable. Help someone else be accountable! Get out of your head and get into action!

Hear all about Sanity Journals, The Journaling Lounge and Carla here:

Is the glass half empty, or half full?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Journaling: A Creative Adventure for Creativity!

With the recent change in decade (in case you missed it- from 2009 to now 2010) I feel I am need of getting back in touch with my creative side. Since there is so much going on already in my life (recap- recently moved to Key West, working from home, school, trying to lose weight, keeping up with friends and family, trying to start a business and now to add another element?) I decided it was necessary that I find some solution for planning and creative development. I have done plenty of research on this and finally found the perfect combination of solutions. Now let's just hope they all work!

Over the years I’ve developed this obsession with planners. The daily planner setup was appealing, but never seemed to stick. Each system had its own design of the same thing: to-do list, calendar, notes, budget, etc. Where was the right fit for me? When would I find the fun, funky and eclectic-designed planner that was right for me?

A few months ago I started this search once again. I found nothing but the same thing: To-do list, calendar, notes, budget, etc. Sure, some were on bright-colored paper, but nothing jumped out at me as strikingly different. I decided to start researching and gathering resources and building ideas for my own system. Here’s what I found:

My resources:

D*I*Y* Planner
A terrific resource for “planner junkies”; all who have struggled and searched for the perfect planner and found nothing they like. They’ve all given up on buying expensive system after system and decided to take matters into their own hands: the Do It Yourself Planner. Most people have taken parts of different systems and pieced them together to make them work functionally into their lives. I’ve used this site more as an inspiration source than a resource for supplies.

The Creative Entrepreneur
This is a recent book I purchased that was written with those working for themselves in the creative field (think writer, painter, singer, etc). Since I am struggling between a more traditional entrepreneur track (the IT business) vs. a highly competitive and, some would argue, unlikely profession (singing) I decided it was best to fuel both desires by approaching each option with a creative yet functional manner. This book helps those with a less traditional business plan to think visually, set goals and create steps to make them obtainable. This book walks you through setting up a visual journal. It’s a hodge-podge of writing and drawing (or other art form) to think clearly for the creative minded.

The Bubble Planner
This planner was designed for the left-handed. Rather than a daily planner, this method focuses on making goals in all areas of life and creating action plans to make them reality. Additionally it teaches “mind mapping”; which is a more visual way of note-taking and planning.

This system is based off a circular disc binding system. The best way to describe this is spiral notebook, but functional. The discs are replaceable so you can expand them in size as your pages increase. Additionally, the pages are easily and quickly removed to reorganize on a whim. There are similar systems out there (Rollabind) but Levenger was the system that initially caught my eye.

Google and my Android phone
Android for the G1 (and now my Nexus One) syncs up with Google’s servers to bring you the best of Google Mail, Calendars, Contacts and even more. This means I can view, edit and create emails, appointments and contact information while on the go or stationary at my desk. I won’t go into how I discovered this (would you believe Android and I found each other on accident?) but it works for me. Finally! I can set myself an appointment and have default reminders to go off at the specified time frame I choose! That means no matter what appointment I create, I will always be reminded; at my desk or on the go!

Sanity Journals
Being out of the journaling loop for so long I felt I needed some guiding or inspiration. I signed up for this website because it’s free and it emails me once a week to remind me of a new journaling assignment. The assignments, so far, have been open ended questions about how to improve my writing and grow my inner-peace. The reminders are just what I need to get started (until it’s down to a daily science).

With all of that (overwhelming) information, I have pieced together what I hope to be the perfect system for me.

Day to Day/Appointments/Reminders
Set on Google Calendar. The default reminder is set to “bug” me with an email at 1 hour before and a pop-up reminder at 10 minutes prior. When I’m away from my computer, my phone delivers the reminders to me. I’m always in the know when it comes to my own schedule. Additionally, Gmail has a feature allowing you to setup a daily agenda that is sent via email. Every day at 5 am, I get an email that outlines my day and what I have planned. I check emails before I even get out of bed in the morning, so I know what to expect for the day.

A lined post-it note stack fastened to the inside of my journal cover. I can make a new to-do list for each day and toss it when I’m done. I don’t need to keep things like “switch laundry, pay bills, call Honda” in my daily journaling and archives. I’m trying to create separate spaces for different tasks. The current to do list is placed on the next empty page, which I’ll be opening my journal pages to every day, even if I don’t write anything down for the day (though it’s my goal to write something every day).

Journaling/Song Ideas
The journal: The covers (plain black sturdy plastic) were taken from the Bubble Planner I received. The turquoise discs are expanded in size (jumbo) that I purchased from Rollabind. I want a big fat book that I’m able to take with me almost anywhere. The “guts” are filled with notepads from previous planning systems and a few note pages that I designed myself (some with heavy dark lines, some with very faint lines- both designed with my initials in the top corner). The pages with dark heavy lines may never be used and thus replaced with something holding a bit less weight to them. I like the faint line pages I designed because the lines are there to provide me a guide for straight writing, but faint enough that if I wanted to draw they wouldn’t interfere with my design. I plan to organize everything chronologically rather than by subject. This may change…depending on how difficult it is for me to recall previous notes and information.

The binding is on the right – to be left-handed friendly, of course!

Drawing and Releasing My Creative Side
I mentioned above that some of the pages have faint lines so as to not interfere with any doodling or pictures. I haven’t drawn on a regular basis in years. I love to draw and paint (and recently-using Illustrator); I love to create! Images come into my head so many times during the day and I’ve decided to act upon those and make them into reality. Just a few weeks ago I saw a design in the bathroom carpet and took a picture of it. Weird? Yes. But I was inspired and didn’t have time to draw just then, so a snapshot will help me to recall that inspiration.

In the back of my journal I have a zippered pouch filled with various stickers. This was a recommendation from The Creative Entrepreneur; to use any medium around you that is inspiring and helps create your ideas into an image or work of art on the page.

I also have a chunk of loose papers in the back of the journal (right side-below) which are previous notes and entries that I made before I crafted this ensemble. I don’t plan to keep these here; they will soon be placed in the journal or copied in. I believe it won’t be uncommon, however, to find a few pieces of loose articles in the back. Perhaps an article I want to take notes on, a brochure or sticker that I want to artistically incorporate in the journal, etc.

The Other Parts
I’ve also created some other regular use-items that will make up my entire “creative kit”.

The Bubble Planner (right hand side-below) is a great tool for me to focus on goals in every aspect of my life and make steps to put them into action. I plan to review this on a regular basis, yet not daily, so I’ve incorporated it into my kit.

LA Weight Loss Food Journal (left hand side-below)
This is the food plan I am *trying* to follow. It showed me success in 2007 and I’m looking to repeat that success. In order to do so, I know I need to record everything I eat. Putting it in my kit makes it easy to remember this habit on a daily basis.

Crayola Markers for the creative side-again, another suggestion from The Creative Entrepreneur.

Extra Post-It notes for my to-do lists

Pencil and Fine Tip ink pen for a variety of options when it comes to writing or drawing.

Leather Zipper Portfolio
This was taken from a previous Day Timer planner that I bought many years ago. I never used the insides and had a friend gut the binding out of the center. I can fit all of the above in this portfolio and zip it shut. The leather is durable and looks professional. Perfect!

The finished product(s)!

While I get started, today, on my new journal I am realizing that not only did I need to do this to get organized, but the whole process of putting this together and thinking of how to utilize what I had was in of itself a creative outlet for me. I haven’t even gotten started on writing yet, but I already feel so refreshed!

My hope is that my creativity can inspire someone to do something great for themselves! The resources I posted above are fantastic and can help a wide variety of people. Check them out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Missing My Girls

Some of you just read that title and thought "that's your own damn fault for moving 2,000 miles away". Ok...but I am chasing my dreams, feeding my soul and doing what I need for my own happiness. As selfish as that may sound, my friends support me. That's all I can ask for...and how I know they are my real true friends; they encouraged and supported me even though it meant I was going away.

I've been reading up a bunch on writing (journaling and songwriting) to get back in touch with my creative side. During my reading and research I found one blogger's initiative of '365 days of kindness'. This struck me because I know in the past few years I've let stresses hold me back fro my potential self. I always feel great satisfaction and inner-peace by extending kindness to others when they don't expect it. I vow to try this and journal about my attempts to be kind this year. One of those opportunities presented themselves recently!

This past weekend my friends in MN got together for the annual Christmas get-together we all have. I was feeling quite down as time drew near that I couldn't be with them to celebrate. The truth is, I don't see my friends any less than when I lived in MN, but I miss them terribly. For now, Matthew and I are planning to stay here (who knows what the future holds) so it's something I'll have to adjust to. I decided to let them all know I was thinking of them and that I wished I was there with them. I found out where they were going, who's name the reservation was under and called the restaurant up. They were so kind to let me order a few appetizers and send them to the table once the ladies arrived. To me, it wasn't a big deal. After can you expect a nummy snack to replace quality time with the ones you love? But the response I got from them all was so worth it. I received a phone call with lots of giggles and thank yous. I was so happy that I could extend something like that their way. It made my day!

Just so you know, we are all making attempts to stay connected to each other. I talk to a few friends via instant messenger on a regular basis, Skype, phone calls, Facebook...they all help. I'm hoping to have some girls come visit us here in Key West. And I'm doing everything I can to make a trip home in May for a special someone's wedding. I cannot wait to see them again. It is true what they say- absence makes the heart grow fonder.

For now, in the midst of all the IMs, Facebook, Skype calls and emails, anytime I miss my ladies I just crank up a playlist I made for one of our last hang-outs at my place. It's simple, but it brings me back to all the times we were together.

I love you girls!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Google Nexus One: The Super Phone

We heard the rumors. We saw the suspected pictures. We all were dying for January 5, 2010 to be here. Finally- this is the day.

My friend Kurt and I were anxiously counting down the hours for the 1 pm (Eastern) press conference. Kurt works for T-Mobile and was recently informed that they would not be carrying the device; it would only be available through the Google Store. This news left us both confused. We searched site after site for live streaming video. I had several tabs open in Google Chrome pointed to numerous sites that promised the feed. 1:00 came…no video. F5 (refresh)- no video. Finally someone released a statement stating there would be no video feed. So we stumbled upon who was hosting live coverage with automatic refresh on the page. This would suffice.

(you can still view the entire conference details here: all pics in my post are from this transcript)

I’m not here to review the conference, hence the reason I linked the transcript above. I am here, however, to discuss the features and my reaction on them. Without further ado…

They are calling Nexus One a super phone.

(Does anyone else think of a phone with a cape and a fancy G plastered across the front screen? )

And they should be calling it that. I’ve had my G1 for over a year and I’ve grown to love it passionately. In watching some footage of the newest features, it’s clear Google has definitely stepped it up quite a bit for this new 2.1 Éclair release of Android. Here are some of my favorite features of the new release:

-1GHz Snapdragon processor. Wicked fast, so we’re told. The G1 has a 528 MHz processor

-We’re keeping the trackball. Some argue this isn’t a necessity for a touch-screen phone, but I’ll argue to the death. I love my trackball because it’s responsive, sometimes faster and…it keeps my screen much cleaner. I would almost not consider a phone if it didn’t have a trackball (now that I’ve used one for so long).

-It’s thin. As thin as a pencil and as light as a Swiss Army knife.

-Finally! A 3.5mm headphone jack! Now I don’t have to use a pesky adapter and ear buds that never fit my ears! I can use my own!

-5MP camera with, yes finally, LED flash. My biggest gripe about the G1 is the lack of oomph in the camera. I take pictures everywhere I go. Lots of pics are candid shots of my dogs; of course with terrible lighting. I’m hoping this LED flash will improve my pics greatly.

-Everything is voice capable. Yes…now my husband can text message me without taking his hands off the PS3 controller! From Google searches, to Navigation, to text messaging; all you have to do is open up your mouth.

-Live Wallpaper. The image seen here shows water rippling in the background. Touch your finger to the screen and the water ripples around it.

-Google Earth!!! Need I say more?

I could go on and on and on…in fact, I think I’m ordering my Nexus tomorrow (along with one for my husband- he’ll be a first-time Android user). Honestly, how can we resist? As Google puts it “You now have a mini-computer in your pocket”. Who wouldn’t want that? I’ve yet to read about the other rumors that were circulating pre-release (multi-touch, Office and PDF document viewer standard) but there are some apps and functionality that I have apps for on my G1. Now I don’t have to! That frees up internal phone memory for other fun apps. I’ll make sure to keep you posted!

This is almost the phone I’ve been waiting for. The minor drawbacks from being the perfect Android for Laura: No flash player (soon…we hope. Plus- it’s a software release). No qwerty keyboard. That is about it!

I have been waiting and waiting for January 5, 2010, and now that it’s here and I’ve soaked it all in I’m beat and ready for sleep. Off to dream of my soon-to-be new phone.

Get used to purchasing phones directly from the Google Store; my hunch is this will be the new method of shopping for Android. Just check out Google’s Official Blog:

Buy the phone from Google:

And…check out my “I’m in Love with Android” group on Facebook. Anyone can join!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009-The "Best Of" in Laura’s World

I’ve already blogged my accomplishments in 2009 and my resolutions or goals for 2010. Honestly, I’m so excited and in awe that we’re seeing another century turn! Everyone seems to be doing top-lists for the decade so I decided to join in and make my own ‘best of’ lists. Are you ready?

Inspirational Women
I’ve never considered myself a feminist; but I do believe in equal rights and treatment of women. However, I do feel that we’ve advanced so much that we’re doing great! In many industries, women make more income than their male colleagues in like positions. That’s fantastic! Over the past two years I’ve really grown to become more aware of how important It is to be in touch with women in the world and to help other women grow and be the best they can be. These are some of the women that I’ve paid attention to in 2009 that I find inspiring for many different reasons:

Megan Kelly- Fox News correspondent.
I’ve never really liked women news anchors. I don’t know what it is; perhaps it’s the women anchors I have followed were fresh into the field, inexperienced, or just not that great. This year I discovered Megan Kelly on Fox News Channel’s America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer. Why do I like her and find her inspiring?
-She’s in a male dominated field and dominating.
-She’s educated
-She’s witty (a must for a woman, I think)
-She’s a lawyer
-She’s passionate about politics; and a Republican
(Did anyone catch her comeback at the Playboy hate-sex article? If not, I highly recommend you check it out.

Sarah Palin- If you don’t know, you don’t know (sorry- I find her inspiring for a few reasons)
Yes, she speaks with a heavy accent. Yes, she made mistakes in her campaign; what politician doesn’t make mistakes? But the fact is since my interest in politics she is the first woman President elect that I would consider voting for.
-She’s also in a male dominated field (President-elect)
-She’s a governor
-She’s a trooper- for dealing with all the crap-media over the past few years
-She’s a Patriot

Politics is a relatively new interest in my life. Prior to 4 years ago I could care less about politics. I tried to care, and there were some topics I had a natural stance on, but it seemed like too much stress for me. I’m starting to care more and more every day about what happens to our, and in our, country. After all- this is the greatest country in the world, is it not? These two women are Republican, opinioned and passionate; something I think the right lacks in. It’s great to see women with right values who are willing to speak their mind and stand up for what they believe in.

Taylor Swift-Singer/Songwriter
Let’s face it- she’s adorable. I wanted to be in her shoes (when I was that age). She writes her own music. She can sing, very well. She’s a very talented, driven and successful young woman. My favorite story about Taylor Swift is when she tells of going to Nashville-Music Row when she was 11 years-old to hand out demo tapes. She knew she wanted to be famous and knew the basics of what to do to get herself there; and at a very young age.

Lady Gaga
Ah yes. Controversial. You either love her or hate her. I happen to love her. I’ve fought my love of pop music for many years and recently succumbed. My name is Laura Murphy, and I love pop music. It’s the stuff that puts me in a good mood and get’s me dancing. So, why Gaga?
-She’s different. Way different. When was the last time we saw someone with red carpet style like this? So…she wears a bird on her head. Bjork wore a swan dress at the 2001 Oscars. Elton John dressed as Donald Duck on stage. Who cares? It’s entertainment. At least she’s not sporting the same dress as J.Lo and Shakira at the same event (yes, it happened at this year’s VMAs).
-She’s inventive. Google Lady Gaga once- she comes up with lots of her outfit ideas on her own.
-She’s catchy. Doesn’t everyone know the words to Bad Romance by now?
-She worked hard to get where she is; and she’s done most of it herself. Promoting herself, her outfits,
-She has a heart. She sent pizzas to her fans that were waiting overnight at Best Buy to buy The Fame Monster. Who does that? She wrote a song for her father who needed open-heart surgery. Look up the lyrics to Speechless; you’ll tear up.
-She actually does it all- writes, plays piano, dances…and yes she sings *live* on stage.

Music of the Year-Favorite Albums
Some of these weren’t released in 2009, but they were the albums that got the most play on my iPod this year. They are in no particular order.

Will.I.Am-Songs About Girls
I love Will.I.Am’s production. I love everything Black Eyed Peas does…this has the same flavor. Very upbeat. Very danceable. And…there’s a song featuring Snoop!
Favorite track: Get Your Money (please don’t read the lyrics J)

Black Eyed Peas-The E.N.D.
Again-I love everything these guys put out (or just about-there was a song or two on the Elephunk album I never liked). I love how funky their tracks are; I love the old-school sampling. My favorite tracks are the ones when Fergie belts it out.
Favorite track: Out of My Head (favorite line-“I’m gonna hit the bar, get some vodka, some Red Bull…”)

Britney Spears-Circus
Another love-or-hate artist. Lots of people hate her. I’ll be honest: she doesn’t have the best voice. But…her music is pop. This was one of Brit’s best albums. It’s hard to avoid tapping your toes to Womanizer, If U Seek Amy, Circus, Lace and Leather, Phonography and Kill the Lights (all of which, in my opinion, are the best on the album).
Favorite track: Toss between Circus and Lace and Leather
Favorite Line: “If you’re feeling froggy, leap” (from Kill the Lights)

Atmosphere-When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold
The Minnesota-based Ant and Slug have had my hip-hop heart beating ever since I first heard them in 2005. Not only are they from my home-state, they are good. Clever righting, killer beats and tracks. They make you laugh and really think all in one song. This is one of the, if not the, best albums this duo has ever released. They have great versatile style; from chill tracks like “Like the Rest of Us” to the peppy beats of “You” this album has it all. I’ve heartd that Slug’s storytelling on this album is based off fiction, not like some of his previous content. I’m still discovering new lyrics from this album while writing this blog post!
Favorite track: I honestly cannot pick. I love every track on this album for different reasons. Please- don’t make me choose.

Taylor Swift- Fearless
I didn’t like Taylor Swift before this year. Truth is, my kind of country is more old-school with lots more twang than the “pop-country” they play on the radio these days. Stuff like Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, George Strait, Merle Haggard. But something caught my ears this year and I picked up this album. This is the CD that brings me back to my teen years- before I was involved in relationships. Everything revolved around feeling deeply about life. I can relate a lot of the lyrics to my earlier years (especially the song Fifteen).
Favorite track: Fearless

Lady Gaga-The Fame, The Fame (Deluxe Edition), The Fame Monster and The Cherrytree Sessions
The Fame was late 2008, but the rest were actually released in 2009. I put them all on the list because they are all re-releases for The Fame with additional tracks (why do artists do this, by the way)? The album is ¾ good stuff and ¼ okay, so the re-releases with new content was highly-welcomed to my iTunes. Some of my favorites came from the new stuff (Bad Romance, Telephone, Speechless, Starstruck). I could go on forever about these tracks, so I’ll just stop right there.
Favorite track: Monster
Favorite line: “Cuz Im out in the club, and Im sippin that bubb, and youre not gonna reach my telephone!” from Telephone

Lessons Learned
We all learn lessons. For some of us it’s easier than for others. It took me a long time to learn the value of a lesson learned. My parents tried to save me from making mistakes and decisions I would regret. And while I appreciated they’re concerns, I knew I had to make mistakes to learn lessons. It’s how I work. I need to explore and if I fail, lesson learned! Here are some of the lessons I learned in 2009.

If you want something, ask for it
I used to hate it when people would ask, ask, ask. Why do they always ask? But then I realized- if you want something you have to ask. We aren’t mind readers! I’ve learned to ask my husband when I want something from him (a hug, a kiss, some help- he’ll oblige to almost anything I ask of him-because he’s wonderful). I also learned to ask my boss to let me work from home after I moved to Key West. She liked it. She agreed (temporarily). Seriously- did you hear what I said? It was my idea. How would I have ever made that dream come true if I didn’t ask?? After all- I keep telling myself, what is the worst response I could get? Answer: no.

Chase your dreams- no one else will
Again- based off our move. It has been my dream to do something different. I want to see the world. I never thought I could afford vacations…now I realize with a little hard work I can. And that grew into the realization that if I wanted an adventure I had to move towards it. No one was going to hand it to me. We had to work h-a-r-d to get here and yes- we’re enjoying it to the fullest! Now the question is: what’s the next adventure? Only we know! (snickering)

You are the captain of your Destiny
That’s right. You’re a captain. A captain sails the open seas. A captain calls the shots. A captain gets as much rum as he wants and doesn’t have to share (but it’s nice to). So…I’m the captain. The open seas are my life. I call the shots. And I get to drink the rum and share with whom I choose. The time is now to realize that whatever I want…I can have. It won’t be handed to me and it won’t be easy, but the rum will taste that much sweeter.

Being happy is better than being rich
I was making good money when I left Minnesota. I was making really good money. My husband and lived a nice lifestyle. When we decided to move to Key West we knew that would change. However, there are plenty of perks in the life we chose here.
-I don’t have to commute to work; Matthew’s commute is minimal. We live on a 2mix4mi island…the commute is not bad even on the worst days.
-I can swim in the ocean whenever I want.
-There’s something relaxing about enjoying a drink and a cigar on the pier after dark.
-I see my husband more than I would at home.
-Life seems to be more laid back here.
While there are times when I miss MN because of my paycheck, I do have more time for other things in my life. These things that have been missing and now can fill the large void in my heart. Money is satisfying and helps you live a better life, but money also changes people. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly take a massive raise or a lottery check. But for the time being I am content.

Revived and Revisited
When I was a child I would sing to my dad’s tapes. I’ve been singing my whole life. When I became a teenager I realized how much large this passion was. I wanted to be famous. I let that go for awhile and now it’s back. Creativity and singing. Someone told me performing is like crack. They weren’t joking. I’ve never really felt that I crave the attention to be on the stage; I just love to open my mouth and sing. Once I started singing karaoke I realized how much I love it. I can’t wait for my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th return to the stage during our karaoke outings. In my resolutions I’ve aimed to make music a bigger part of my creative life. 2009 helped me re-discover that love and need.

Favorite Discovery

Android. I had heard of the G1 awhile ago. But because it didn’t have a household name tied to it like “Motorola” or “Samsung” I dismissed it. Matthew and I went to look at Blackberries and we looked at a live demo of the G1. I fell in love. I bought it and have loved it ever since. It wasn’t until months after being an owner that I realized how much I love this phone. Now I’m a sponge when it comes to Android. I’ve created my own group on Facebook dedicated to Android and I’m the first person to light up and give lengthy testimonials about my love for it. I cannot wait to see what new developments come for Android in 2010. But 2009 will be the year of the “Droid” for me.

And that’s it. The best of 2009. I’m planning on 2010 to be a huge year for Laura Murphy. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 In Review; 2010 What's Ahead

New Year's resolutions; I think I loved them at one point. Over the years I've come to realize they are a waste of my time. I'd spend the last few weeks of December thinking of all the ways to improve myself...but I would never accomplish them. So this year I've decided: no resolutions, goals only. They might be the same to you but for the sake of accomplishing something in 2010, I'm calling them goals.

Before we get to 2010 and what's ahead, I'd like to recap what I accomplished in 2009. In my 26 years some of the most important lessons I've been taught include how important it is to celebrate your successes. After all what good are goals if you can't enjoy the completion?

2009-In Review

I might surprise everyone here, but the most important accomplishment of 2009 was my marriage. I know what you're thinking "aren't you a newlywed?" Yes. However, marriage is tough. I don't care if you've been married 2 months or 20 years; there are always challenges and lessons to be learned. Matthew and I have endured our first full year of successful marriage. I'm not going to go into all the details, they are private. But just know- this man is the single most important thing in my life and I couldn't imagine life without him. It will always be my top priority to have success, love and laughter in my relationship with him.

In the past school has been a struggle for me. I did manage to maintain a B average upon graduating high school, but shamefully I don't remember much of what I was taught back then. It's no secret, either, that I attempted and quit college 3 times before last year. I decided, with my husband's support, it was time to make a serious attempt at earning some form of education. Perhaps I shocked everyone, but I chose the field of Marketing. Some people expected me to grow my education in technology. While my heart will always have a place for computers, I wanted to pursue something that had a little more flexibility to it. With Marketing I can do anything: IT, design, any kind of business. I wanted something that could apply whether my dreams were to run my own technical support business, pursue music, or stick to a 9-5 kind of gig. Marketing works for everything. Not only have I completed this entire year with 3 semesters, I've managed to maintain a 3.6 GPA in the process. I'd like that to be more like 4.0...but I can't have perfection all the time. I am human after all! Besides, I think the knowledge I take away from school is a far larger accomplishment over a letter on a piece of paper.

In 2009 I have also "realized" how much I love music; and how little I've been doing with it. Ever since I could remember music has been a staple in my life. I spent my childhood years adoring my parents music. When I was 4 I got in trouble for singing Like a Virgin while listening to my walkman at school. In Jr. High I started choir; a class that stuck with me all the way through High School. I learned to sight read music, I learned basic theory, I kept a journal, I took poetry classes, I took vocal and guitar lessons...I was setting myself up for something I adored. My secret fantasy was to become a famous singer until someone very close to me told me how unrealistic and childish my goals were. I gave it up. Just like that. I still loved music and collected CDs, but I no longer held the light in my heart for it. In 2009 I realized I still have that light.

And the biggest and most obvious (you know I couldn't escape this one): Key West. Some thought it was crazy, some were/are jealous, and some just...don't know what to say. Why Key West? There are so many reasons. I came here for my first trip in 2007 with Matthew. I'd been wanting to go; my family visited often and Matthew grew up coming down here numerous times. I was so excited to experience it. I got here and I fell in love. Of course, it helped that I was in love and that my then boyfriend proposed to me just after a gorgeous sunset at Mallory Square. There's just something about this place. It's magic. It's not like living in what I call "the states" (you don't feel like a part of the continental U.S. here. We're over 100 miles from Miami and water surrounds you. It's an island...and we have little comforts from the mainland; basically enough to survive). Matthew and I have discussed this move for over 3 years. It was always kind of something we'd laugh off and say "only if". After we got back from our honeymoon in the Caymans, "only if" turned into "why not?". Let me dispell something here: we may live in paradise, but it took a lot of planning, preparation, work and sacrifice to be here. Everything was a challenge...there's so much to do when you move 2,000 miles away...and you can't always plan for everything (and we certainly tried)! I know it may sound like a great trade off, but because we just moved we miss out on our visits are limited...and perhaps the biggest sacrifice has been our living space. We've basically cut our home into 1/4 of what we had. But in the end it's all been worth it. I believe moving will bring growth and enrichment in our lives. And this was an open-ended move; who knows where we'll be in a few years (here, Minnesota, Montana, the Caymans). The world is our oyster! We are out to explore and enjoy life while we can!

2010: What's Ahead?

I've recently been feeling overwhelmed and this haunting sense of need; the trouble is I couldn't quite pinpoint what this need was. I thought about it and came to some ideas. Then I had this dream...I broke the dream down and this is what I got from it:
-New beginngings
-Seeking individuality and development
-Nourishment of the body or spirit
-The direction of my life (hesitation and reservation about the current direction)
-The need to turn my energy and efforts elsewhere
-The need to stop and enjoy life
-The need to express myself
-Step up towards acheiving my goals
(there were far more but I decided you get the point)
My belief is that this dream was trying to explain that I'm feeling unsure that I can pursue all my goals at once. I'm feeling unorganized, bottled creativity, too much self-inflicted stress and lastly...a large need to take better care of myself. This brings me to my goals.

Goal #1: Be organized! Journal and get stuff OUT!
"Open up your heart and let that hate out!" -Dave Chapelle (in character)
That's right: I bottle stuff up. Who doesn't? The thing's not healthy. I had previously mentioned that I used to keep a journal. I used to write everything down (based on feelings) but it would included creative poems or song ideas. I'd draw or paste artwork into it. Whatever I was feeling went into this journal. Not related, I also used to have a system in how I ran my home. I filed paperwork into folders, I had a budget and balanced my account often, I made calls and sent correspondences in a timely manner. It's time to get back to this. Adding to my stress has been trying to determine a system to accomplish all of this. So, I've done some research and I have a book or three to read, but I have this wonderful idea that I think will help me get organized, get life in order and even help to nourish a little creativity. Most importantly- it will help to get it all out!

-Goal #2: Work on the business!
Yes, I'm in the process of launching my own technical support business here in the Keys. I have a small list of services to start out with, but lots of ideas for growth as my experiences grow and the oppourtunities present themselves. I want to help people with my knowledge. I want to continue to learn...and pass the information along to others. Spread the seeds of knowledge! To get the business up and running I have a long road ahead of me. But I'm going to take it one step at a time. It's a learning experience and I will get there. It is my goal to someday support myself 100% and make enough money to enjoy life. I don't need to be rich (though it would be nice) but enough money to kick back and relax after working hard for it. The American Dream!

Goal #3: Be musical and creative!
I need creativity to survive. I'm a left-handed creative thinking machine. And I've neglected that part of my soul for the past 10 years. Now it's time to get serious and get to it. The journal will help me to get some creativity out. Perhaps the music will be the most challenging. Why? Because I want to sing. In a bar. On Duval St. If someone wants to offer me a deal in the; I'll take it. But ultimately, I want a piece of that stage on a regular basis. I don't care where it is. To get myself there, I have to work on the following skills: piano, mandolin, vocal (warming up, practicing, etc), writing poetry and lyrics, writing music. These are all important steps in making music! I've put this on the back burner for far too's time to work at it and make something of it!

Goal #4: My health
(that looks really crappy- the last goal on the list is my health? why wasn't it #1?)
I'm tired of being unhealthy. I'm tired of being tired. My mother told me when I was born I came out shining like the sunshine. They thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn't crying like most babies. My parents used to tell me stories about how happy I was when I was a baby. When I was a toddler I talked non-stop (I still do, right Matthew?). As a young teen I was a ham- constantly being silly with my brothers or friends. I do some of these things today, but not nearly as much as I should be. I know myself; I am a happy, bubbly, bouncy and lively kind of girl.

When you're young you take health for granted; your parents make a lot of decisions for you, you're blessed with unbelievable energy and metabolism. When you become an adult it's time to roll up your sleeves and get working on your health. I found out the hard way- it doesn't come natural! So over the past few years I've gained and I've lost weight (mostly gained). If you listed to half of what comes out of my mouth you would know that in 2007 I took a stand and got on the weight-loss bandwagon. I lost 30 lbs in 6 months. I felt a-maz-ing! I still had progress to make to get to my goal when I fell off and stopped everything I had been doing. Why? I don't know...why do we crave Big Macs when we know there are 1,000 calories in them?? Ever since then I've been longing for that feeling again. So...I know what I did the last time around to get myself there...and I'm doing it all over again. I'm 3 weeks in and 8 lbs down. I have quite a journey ahead of me, but I'll get there and stay there. I will.

Clear cut- my health goals for 2010 are as follows:
-Portion, calorie and fat control
-Drink lots of water!
-Get lots of rest!
-Exercise; cardio and strength training are my favorites!

Whew...this was a long post! But apparently it needed to come out. I feel relieved. I have no time for's on to do some research to help me with my goals above.

I encourage you to write goals for yourself, big or small. But before you do...celebrate some accomplishments first. It will make the feat seem less challenging :)