How you do anything…

I’m sitting here catching up on The Biggest Loser when I heard something that made me pause the show, grab a pen, and write it down.

how you do

 

I don’t think Dolvett is the original author of this quote, but a little googling didn’t lead me to an original author.  So, cheers to the first guy to say this.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Guys, this is true.  I think I’m such a compartmentalizer, yet this is exactly how it is.  I’ve been reading books on creating personal change and making habits lately and thinking about motivation and will power.  I start and stop a lot of things, I charm people into thinking I’m better than I really am which makes me kind of manipulative, I’m surprised that when I’m genuine and vulnerable, and generally not at all charming, people seem to think I’m neat…  I’m just rambling, I have to think about this phrase.  I just know it resonated with me.

The Biggest Loser was full of gems tonight, this one from my main girl, Jillian.  Jillian is talking to a contestant about this contestant about how she pushes so hard until the last tenth of a mile on the treadmill, the last two reps of a lifting session or the last seconds on a stair climber.  **I do this.  I go strong for 2.8 miles and then think I can’t do something.  Usually I fast forward through the sappy heart to hearts the trainers have with the contestants, but not this time.  This time I recognized that pattern of behavior in me and wanted to hear what advice Jill had.  “You stop because you’re afraid to embrace your potential.”

How you do anything is how you do everything.

In googling that quote I came across a website for a public speaker who used the line in a post on her site.   I was curious about her background and credentials – what makes her qualified to be a speaker.  Sometimes I wonder if I had worked more at getting my own side training/speaking business up and going – could I have made it?  Would I be in demand?  I still have time, for sure, and more experience only helps.  Did I stop short  because I’m afraid to embrace potential?

I’ve been pretty content with this smaller life I feel I’ve settled into…. Ugh, I just used the word “settled”….

I’m not always thinking about the next thing – the “I’ll be happy when….” thing.  Holy  heck, not interested in going down this rabbit hole tonight.

Back on track…  I actually opened the blog because it was part of the Healthy 2014 adventure to blog more often, and also to tell you that I did NOT stop at Steak and Shake for dinner.   I gave myself permission to do it, but then paused and asked myself if it was a healthy choice.  It was not, so I did not.

How you handle anything is how you handle everything.

Also, I’m very consistently using lotion.  Healthy habit for January – check.

Also, my thermostat is set at 60 degrees.  Yes, you heard me.  The Polar Vortex is drifting away from Columbus  now, but for days the heater was running non-stop even to maintain 60.  1. My heater is loud which makes me anxious.  2. That’s expensive, yo.  I turned it to 60 while I was at work today and haven’t gotten around to turning it back up a few degrees (65 is as high as I go at all in the winter – financial health!).

 

25 does not equal 30

Remember when I was updating you on my Whole30 progress…and then how I stopped updating you on my Whole30 progress?

Well, that’s because that’s just what happened…I made it to day 25 and felt amazing.  I was headed back to St. Louis for the weekend and throwing myself a little graduation dinner party.  I got home early on Friday, went for a run in a favorite park, went to Whole Foods and got a Whole30 compliant lunch and then couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do at dinner.  Would I have a glass of wine to celebrate?  Champagne?  Cheese?  Dessert?

The answer to all of the above is yes.

I caved.  Gave myself permission to celebrate at dinner.  And it was just that easy to never get back on the horse.  And I’m back to feeling kind of blech.

There was a warning on the Whole9 Life blog about this.  They refer to it as Day 28 syndrome, isn’t 28 days as good as 30?  They say NO.  They write that 30 days is the commitment you make to yourself.  And when you don’t keep commitments to yourself, you’re telling yourself that it’s okay that others don’t keep their commitments to you.

This is my new half marathon challenge.  That was a commitment I made to Team in Training.  My sense of responsibility is always so much stronger when I’ve made a promise to someone else.  This is a problem, actually.  Starting tomorrow the clock starts on a full Whole30.  I owe it to myself.

 

In other news…how cute is this pic of D and I from a wedding we went to last weekend…

Doug & Sarah photo booth

Not letting go…

wpid-20130531_132228.jpgThis is a picture of a skirt I bought in the year 2000.  I was 20.  I am now 33.  That means I have packed and moved this skirt many, many times.  I bought it when I was interning with Hyatt the summer of 2000.  It came from Urban Outfitters, a store I haven’t visited in years.  I moved it back to college after that summer, back home after college, into my cousin’s house when we were roommates, into Colin’s house, to Louisiana, back to St. Louis, back to Chicago and now I am packing it for Columbus.

I have not worn this skirt since the summer of 2000.

I was in the best shape ever that summer due to all the walking and being a broke intern, so needless to say this skirt doesn’t fit very well (read: at all) right now.  I just gave away three heaping shopping bags of clothing to my friend Angela – things that didn’t fit me any longer.  Things that I was over or had shrunk or never looked right on me anyway.  (Editor’s Note: Few things will motivate you to lose weight like watching your cute, skinny friend try on the clothes that used to fit you.  I kept thinking – damn girl – you’re skinny.  Then I realized that since she was trying on clothes that used to be mine – and fit me – that once upon a time I was that thin.  Dang it.)

I couldn’t give away this skirt.  When I look at it, I see me.  I see this kind of hippie girl who wants to wear skirts with embroidered flowers from Urban Outfitters.  I think this skirt is cool, even though my sister has told me more than once it is not.  I’m not clinging to the past.  I have some clothes that I recognize I’m doing that with…a t-shirt from the summer I played on a softball league through the casino in Louisiana, a t-shirt from an old boyfriend, this dress that I once looked damn good in – those are all things I hold on to for the memory.  This silly embroidered skirt is different – I can remember the one time I wore it.  It wasn’t particularly meaningful.  I picked up a friend at the airport in it.  Maybe it’s just who I want to be.  It’s the same reason I’m holding on to this pair of cream pin stripe pants (that also don’t fit me – damn you stress eating!!) I feel awesome in those pants.  I feel professional and cool.  I’m holding on to them.  They did not go to the friend who fits into my things better than I do.

What a silly post.

I’ve attempting to downsize so much.  I wish someone would come and take so much of my crap away.  But not this skirt.

In other news, packing is going just terribly.  I don’t ever remember packing being this tough.  More than one person has pointed out I have a LOT of stuff.  I suppose I do.  My mom and grandmother came over to help yesterday.  A lot of things are in boxes.  A lot of things are still not.  I’m ready to throw away sooo much stuff.  Also, in what feels like tradition, I have this sinus/head cold thing that’s taken over.  I started with Save-a-Lot during my first ever sinus infection.  Packing while all drowsy and woozy from cold medicine is even less fun.

Ok.  Back to it.

 

A few of my favorite things

Claire said my last post kind of bummed her out.

So, I’m going to share some things I did today that cheer me up.

1. Coming Attractions: I found out that I can get a channel that is all movie previews on my Roku!  Movie previews are sometimes the best part of the movie and I spent about 30 minutes watching summer movie previews.  I had no idea a new Superman movie was coming out this summer.  This is what happens when you stop subscribing to Entertainment Weekly.  Movies I’m excited about are Before Midnight, Gatsby, The English Teacher and the Joss Whedon adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing.  The last adaptation of that movie I saw remains one of my top 5 favorite movies.  It was the reason I wanted to visit Tuscany (and was thrilled beyond belief when I found out I was having dinner in the castle they shot the film at when I was visited years ago!!!).  It’s using the Shakespeare language and Joss at the helm – it’s going to be amazing.  It will be hard to top the amazing cast of the 1993 version (Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel, Robert Sean Leonard, Kate Beckinsale and Keanu) but I am so looking forward to the modern twist on the tale.  It’s such a sharp Shakespeare comedy – very witty.

MAAN

2. I window shop, sort of.  When I’m feeling sad and lonely, I internet window shop.  Amazingly, I don’t buy, I just look.  Today I checked out Kate Spade bags on ebay, vintage sapphire rings from a local jewelry store and apartment hunted.  That last one isn’t really like shopping, but oh well.  With the looming position elimination (I have a few more weeks until I’m out) I’m thinking of making a move – perhaps, Columbus, OH?  So, I look for apartments.

Isn't this stunning?!

Isn’t this stunning?!

3. I work from the coffee shop.  I worked from home today and instead of sitting on my couch all wallow-y, I make myself get up, put actual clothes on and work from downstairs.  And maybe I eat a chocolate chip cookie and get an iced coffee.  Maybe.

4. Music.  I download a new tune.  Today’s pick me up song brought to you by Smash.  The NBC show about a broadway musical (or two) is doomed to cancellation and I am very sad to see it go.  One of the musicals within the show had a really snappy number and I downloaded it this morning.  It’s The Goodbye Song, if you’re interested.

“Right here forever, ever, ever, ever!”

That Katherine McPhee is just gorgeous.

So.  That’s how I pick myself up.  Of course I’ll recover from my awful interview.  I just need a minute.  And some internet window shopping.  And some broadway show tunes.

We do it to ourselves.

I try to not use this blog as a soap box.  It’s all really self involved, really.  I have a few friends that keep up with me through it, and I’ve made a few friends by blogging and it’s all fun and games.

Except today, when it’s going to get a little soap-box-y up in here.  This is the tale of two things that happened today that made me sad for women.  I don’t think anyone would classify me as a crazy feminist.  I want equal rights and all, but I’ve never been a particularly “power to the sisterhood” kind of gal.  I’m more like Ainsley Hayes, from West Wing.  And if you’re not one of my two readers who are Sorkin freaks like I am – here’s a clip to bring you in the loop:

Back to my soap box…

As someone who blogs, it should go without saying that I also read a fair amount of blogs.  I have stumbled across blogs that have inspired me to run, cook something healthy, try a new recipe, try a new lip gloss, look into foster kids, create great date nights, read a new book, travel to a new place and sometimes, most important, make me feel not so alone.  There are a host of blogs written by women about my age going through about the same stuff as me.  And sometimes I read one for a while, I decide I’m over that person, or find them annoying, or disagree with them – and you know what I do then – I stop reading that blog.  I do not call them vicious names.  I was appalled to find this behavior in the comments of one of my regular reads: Carrots ‘n Cake.  The author of that blog is Tina, she’s into Cross Fit big time, has an adorable pug named Murphy, eats a mostly Paleo diet, lives in Boston, has run several races of which I’ve found her recaps very helpful, redecorates rooms in her house occasionally and has a super cute husband named Mal – who also does Cross Fit. This week Tina and her super cute husband are in Ireland on vacation.  She has talked about packing for the trip, her favorite sweater from her last visit there and how excited she is to have a blog free vacation with her husband.  She stated that she had several pre-written posts that would go up all week in her absence, but she was mostly out of touch to enjoy her vacation.  She could not have known that on Monday two bombs would have gone off in her hometown at one of her favorite annual events.  So one of her pre-written, already schedule posts goes up and it’s about shoes or cookies or something.  It doesn’t even matter – the hate comments on her blog have been out of this world.  I’m shocked that people find the need to say such hurtful things.  If you had read Tina’s blog for a second you know that she is a huge supporter of Boston and running.   Why were these commenters so quick to spend their time spewing such awful-ness – ESPECIALLY in the light of what happened.

I’ve often wished I had more readers.  Thought about taking a more active approach to soliciting site views.  Putting myself out there in a bigger social media way.  Taking on food blogging legitimately.  Why would I choose to pursue that after seeing the responses from the “community” today?

It’s been said – and oftentimes to me – that if you can’t improve the silence, don’t say anything at all.  These women who commented just turned on this blogger who is out of the country, probably grieving in her own way, and certainly the news would have put a damper on her time away.  She didn’t cause it, and she can’t fix it, and she’s suffering in her own way not being there to support the city and sport that she loves.  Why do we do this to each other?

The answer is: because we do it to ourselves.

This video has been making the viral rounds and you may have already seen it.  I saw a few friends post the new Dove ad online but had not watched it until this afternoon.  This afternoon I had a quick session with a woman I went to grade school with who is now a professional photographer.  I need new head shots since LinkedIn and websites are the way the world works now in relation to job hunting and she offered me a great price on a quick half hour session.  Taking self photos of myself and the cats with my laptop or digital camera and being asked to look into a camera and smile by a professional are two very different things.  I was anxious and kept making excuses for my big hair (so much humidity today!) and my lack of ability to sit naturally, and so on and so on.  Finally she said -You look great.  You need to watch the video I just posted on Facebook.  So I did…

We do it to ourselves.  I would describe myself as chubby with tiny eyes and big hair.  That my forehead is always pinched because I’m trying to open my eyes as big as I can all the time.  That I like my shoulders but I have an ass that won’t quit – and not in a good way.  My teeth aren’t white enough and my feet are way too big.  Nothing about me is lady like or dainty.  I even walk loudly.  This kind of self talk is so harmful and so much worse as I’m in need of the dose of confidence to get me through this next phase – job hunting comes with plenty of rejection from outside sources.  I need to work on accepting myself.

Immediately following my mini photo shoot I went to get a hair cut, where no less than 4 people told me I have the most amazing hair and they would kill for it.  That they’re jealous of how tall I am.  That I can pull off red hair.

If only we saw us the way others do.  If only we treated ourselves and each other with an ounce of grace and kindness.

** clambers off box**

The End.

The universe is messy

That is what a friend said to me tonight about the last few weeks and I have to agree.

Today was rotten.

The queen of the Mouseketeers died.

M-I-C...See you real soon!  K-E-Y...Why, because we like you!

M-I-C…See you real soon! K-E-Y…Why, because we like you!

Margaret Thatcher died.

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

This next one is strange, but I’m sad the CEO of JCPenney was fired today.  I’ve been following the story of Ron Johnson since he left Apple to turn JCP around and thought some of his strategies would resonate with shoppers.  They didn’t.  JCP has been in a tailspin of lost revenue and confused patrons.  This bums me out.

jcpAnd then, it stuff in my own small world as well.  My best friend Claire had to put her cat down and that is devastating to her and hard for me to console her at all because I don’t know what anyone could say to make me feel better if the situation were reversed.  The day I found out I just burst into tears every time I’d hear one of my own cats purr.

I saw my ex-husbands niece and nephew today.  My ex-brother in law was giving me some software and I stopped by to pick it up and I haven’t seen those kids in years.  As friendly as Ex Hubs and I are, there are still some boundary lines and I would never want to confuse the kids or create more awkward conversations, so I don’t see his family anymore really.  But once I left, I was overwhelmed with how much I’ve missed those kids.  They were my family for a minute too.  And my ex-brother in law and I get along better now than we ever did (not that we didn’t get along, I think I’m just older and less pain in the ass-y).  And I know that I don’t want to have kids, so people think I hate kids, but that’s not true.  I appreciate kids more once they get to the age those two are now – I just need a kid who can have an actual conversation and is potty trained.  The kids told me about camps and running and friends and school and it was just nice.

And lastly, I think the shock of something finally wore off today and I’m feeling it.  My company has been in trouble for a while (Google Supervalu – you’ll see) and those troubles finally reached the banner I work for under that parent company.  Last Tuesday I was told my position is being eliminated as of June 1.  I got laid off.  It’s the 2nd time in as many years that I’ve lost a job.  The thing is – I know it was the right move.  My company was overstaffed at headquarters.  I even wrote a paper about it for grad school.  It wasn’t wrong to eliminate jobs.  We had a hunch it was coming.  I never saw it being my position.  I didn’t love this job, I didn’t love this company, so I’m not devastated that it’s all over.  I’m suffering a wounded ego and today it started to sink in that this is scary all over again.  I have to find something new.  I have to support myself.  I have to do so while finishing my last semester of grad school.

I don’t want to make a hasty decision.  I’ve been thinking about moving out of St. Louis for a while now.  I have a short list of cities that are interesting to me.  Do I just move and then figure things out?  Do I stay in St. Louis where I have a stronger network?  I just don’t want to take another “job”.  I want to take something that feels like a next step.  This whole past year was just a “job”, but it allowed me to concentrate on school so it was okay.  I accepted this stagnant feeling.  I am bursting at the seams now.  I am antsy for what’s next.  I want to feel somewhat settled.  I think that has something to do with why I was overwhelmed after seeing my ex-niece and nephew.  I don’t for a second think I’ve started to hear any kind of “biological clock” but I do want some stability.  I want this family unit of my own.  And for a split second I saw my alternate life with a brother in law and a niece (I have nephews on my side – Ex Hubs had the only niece – and I seriously do not know what to do with boys – but I can be a princess with the best of the 2nd grade girls) and I felt extra lonely.  And jobless.

I’m just having a moment of self pity.  I haven’t really felt this since I got the news last week.  I stayed pretty busy, I concentrated on reading and watching a Hoarders marathon.  (Come to think of it, that may have been the beginning of the self pity taking shape… I may have texted Claire with “How come a hoarder can get a husband and I can’t!?”  Claire responded with 1) Hoarders aren’t picky and I am and 2) Have I seen my spare bedroom because I might actually be a hoarder and I shouldn’t sell myself short.)  It’s what friends are for.

So, thanks for indulging my pity party.  Just a bad day.  Deep down I know losing this job isn’t the end of the world, that it really is an invitation to find a new opportunity.  New city.  New job.  New direction.  I just have to figure out what those things are.

A moment of Zen.

Zen moment: Slipping into your own bathrobe after getting out of your shower after being on the road since last Thursday. Ahhhhh.

Zen moment: Getting the most amazing massage of my life.  The massage therapist told me she could feel my body wanting to get back to center.

Zen moment: Realizing just how clean my laptop screen is now and how much easier it is to see things on it after OOSMD cleaned it for me.

It’s the middle zen moment I’d like to focus on.  I’ve been dealing with this sciatic thing that just won’t die and I thought seeing a good massage therapist might just be the thing I need.  There is this very spiritual (read: hippie dippie) place near me and I made an appointment there.  I had been before and I love when anyone will talk to me about my chakras.  This appointment was awesome.  I know it sounds a little flaky if you don’t buy into the mind/body/spirit connection (which I struggle with at times myself) but I could feel clarity as she was pressing certain parts or working out certain spots.  I really tried to abandon thought and just be present and center myself, if you will.  Which is why I just love what she said after wards, “I could feel your body trying to get back to center.”

That’s how I feel.  Like I’m trying to get back to center.  I wrote about feeling really out of whack in January and February here, and I can’t believe it’s the end of March.  I know I feel better in March, probably largely in part to consistently taking the broken brain drugs.  I still don’t feel together, right?  I just feel like my schedule is running my life, and not like I’m running my schedule.  This isn’t even an interesting or unique problem, I just want to feel like I have my life under control a little bit.

So, after getting home from a few travel days that seemed to have no end (St. Louis got 12 inches of snow – not a travel friendly event – but I’m told it was real pretty) I decided to get some control back straight away.  I always seem to crave a really good workout the day after a grad school weekend.  Tonight, while it would have been easier to come home and veg out, making the excuse that I had been up since 5am to get on various planes to get back home, and then spending all afternoon at work, etc I popped in this workout dvd, grabbed the weighted gloves and started kicking and punching things.  And by things, I mean the air.  AND THEN, I did something I’ve been putting off for months.  (No, not my dishes my smarty pants friends who have seen my apartment and read this.)  I popped in a guided meditation dvd that Claire gave me.  And I spent some time meditating.

Yoga and meditation are always on my list of things To Do... The secret, “One Day I’ll….” to do list.  We all have one.  I’m forever saying “One day I’ll get to a yoga class…”  I should go.  Maybe it would help this sciatic thing.  Here’s the thing – what if I was terrible at meditation?  If I never try, I’d never know I’m bad at it.  Ignorance is bliss.  Let me explain.

For pretty much my entire life I wanted a unicycle.  Was convinced that I had a natural ability to ride a unicycle.  Why did I think this?  Because I was really good at riding a bike with no hands as a kid.  Seriously.  I had all the confidence in the world that I would be a unicycle prodigy.  All I needed to do was get on one.  Then, a couple of years ago, Adam Science bought me a unicycle, in what was one of the coolest Christmas presents ever.  I was then flooded with fear and self doubt.  It was time to put up or shut up.  I would have to get on the unicycle.  I put it off forever.  It was too cold, too rainy, too windy, we needed concrete – nah, we needed grass….  Until one day my sister and brother in law decided they kind of wanted to try it also so we adjusted the seat and tried it out.  And guys, I am NOT a natural at the unicycle.  (Although part of me really just thinks it was because I was wearing jeans.  Who rides a unicycle in jeans?  If I had some yoga pants on, I could totally ride the unicycle.)

I had a point.  After a school weekend, I just wanted to get home and try to get to center.  So, I meditated.  And I wasn’t terrible at it.  I got through it.  It’s probably because I was wearing yoga pants.

Fun things from my camera this month:

I got the sweetest (literally) package from Kelli!  My very talented and small business super woman friend owns a bakery in Little Rock, Arkansas and it is a testament to how much homework I’m doing that I have not spent a Saturday just making a road trip Little Rock, just to get some cupcakes.  Seriously, follow the Sweet Love Bakery on Facebook and once you read the flavors and see the pictures she posts, you’ll want to go with me.  These treats arrived at the perfect time!  I was pressed for time and wasn’t planning on making much of a dessert for a dinner at my house. Everyone loved the choices they got for dessert instead.  My sister was especially over the moon with the cake pops.  You rule, Kelli.

IMG_7764

IMG_7767

IMG_7769

 

IMG_7772

 

I went on a tour of the plant where they make Purell.  My favorite classmate works there and before grad school weekend I stopped in Akron, OH for a tour.  I haven’t been in a lot of factories in my day, but it look a lot like I thought it would.  You know, just like this:

laverne shirleyOkay.  It wasn’t quite like this.  But it did have more people in it than I thought.  Not as many robots.  I’ve really only ever been on the AB Brewery tour which is almost all robots, so it was interesting to see production lines with people.  It smells really good in a factory where they make soap.  There are giant tanks of products.  AND, I got this:

IMG_7794I watched this particular bottle go through the filler, the capper, the labeler and then just before it got boxed, my classmate grabbed it for me.  I saw this bottle from start to finish on the assembly line!  I wanted the workers on that line to autograph it, but I was told that was weird.  What’s weird is how excited I am about this bottle of Purell.  I don’t really use Purell, or hand sanitizer of any kind.  I welcome germs.  I wash my hands, I know about food safety, what are we anti-bacterialing ourselves from?  I’m getting old enough where I say “When we were kids…” a lot more.*  But seriously, I’ve lived a relatively healthy lifestyle so far without frequent application of the stuff.  I will admit, seeing this bottle from infancy does create an emotional tie to it…we’ll see.

* Also with regards to people being a few minutes late (“We didn’t have cell phones when I was a kid!”), kids on vacation (“When I was a kid you had to talk to your siblings and look out the window, not play your handheld games!”) and responsibility in general (“When I was a kid there were consequences!  We should feel remorse for making a bad decision!”)

 

 

 

Sarah vs. the Weekend

Way, way back my virtual pal Kelli wrote a post called Kelli vs. the weekend.  Since then I’ve done a few myself.  They’re alway fun.  She had even made a little button or badge for it.  I wonder where I saved that…

Sarah vs. Pinterest
Oh Pinterest. So many ideas. So little time. While I didn’t get to any of the minor construction projects I hoped to get to (entryway spruce up, magazine rack or anything involving turning an old dresser into a cool tv stand) I DID get an idea on how to rearrange my bedroom furniture!

Source: houzz.com via Sarah on Pinterest

I have had my bedroom furniture in no less than 5 different configurations. I never thought about this one. My bed is on a wall it’s never been on. My couch is at the foot of the bed. The tv is directly in front of both of those things which means it’s like 25 feet away from me when I’m in bed and since my bedroom tv is 11 inches it is pretty hard to see, but I’m mostly in it for the noise. This set up allows me space to work out between the couch and the tv or sit and meditate or think about doing yoga.
Winner: Pinterest wins this one. I’m still overwhelmed by projects, but chances are that if I didn’t get so time sucked into Pinterest I would have more time to do said projects.

Sarah vs. homework
I had a group paper to finish Saturday, an essay test to begin, and a first draft of an individual assignment outlining my company’s HR strategy due today. Also, I want to re read a few chapters of some books for the essay test and the HR assignment. Also, I want to read some chapters for the first time. Also, I want to read all of these supplemental articles that every professor posts.
Winner: Pinterest.
Kidding. A little.
Ok, for real, homework beat me. I thought we could finish that paper by noon and we didn’t submit it until almost 6pm. I think it’s right on, so that’s good news. One of the essay test questions is super open ended and I don’t even know how to begin it. It requires self reflection – which I hate.

Sarah vs. decision making
Friends, I am at a crossroads. I’m not the most patient person and the only strategy I have right now is to WAIT. Wait for school to be over, wait to find out about a job prospect, wait to see if I should move to something familiar or move to anywhere else, wait to settle down, wait to fill out an application to become a foster parent, wait to buy a house, wait to start studying for the SPHR or the PMP certifications…
A year ago I didn’t feel this way. A year ago I said the following sentence to Adam Science, “I love where I live so much and can’t imagine living anywhere else that if the house across the street from me went up for sale, I’d buy it.” Guess what went on the market 3 days ago – the house across the street. Guess who had an open house today? The house across the street. Guess who went? (This game isn’t that mysterious, is it?)
It is a great house. It’s perfect for me and my imaginary foster kid. It doesn’t have enough closet space, but no city house ever will. Other than that – it had everything. But, I can’t buy a house right now because what if I want to move? I can’t buy a house right now because I have a crap ton of student loans about to come due (although I would probably pay less on a mortgage than I do in rent)…
I’m not looking for advice, or an answer. I know that I have to wait. I don’t know what the right answer is yet. But I am confident that when the right answer is ready, it will present itself to me.
Winner: Lavender candles. They’re supposed to have a calming effect. I’ll be buying them in bulk.

If you’re interested – here’s the house I’m crushing on. http://www.circastl.com/listing/3977-hartford

Sarah vs. running
It’s like I’m afraid to do it. I liken it to falling off a horse and being afraid to get back on somehow. I told myself training begins again on March 1. I did no running on March 1. Or 2nd or 3rd for that matter. What’s my damage? What am I scared of?
Winner: My ass. My ass is doing all the gaining in this situation. As in weight.

I am kind of the least put together adult ever. How is it I think I can shape some kind of young mind as a foster parent again? Sheesh.

Okay. In Sarah vs. going to bed, the winner needs to be sleep.

More on the happiness book

“I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously— and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition. Elizabeth’s observation made me wonder about my motivations. Was I searching for spiritual growth and a life more dedicated to transcendent principles— or was my happiness project just an attempt to extend my driven, perfectionist ways to every aspect of my life?”   Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Years ago I finally picked up Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert after owning it for a few weeks and after it seemed the rest of the country had already read it.  And it was exactly what I needed.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin fulfilled the same need.  It was exactly what I needed.  Outside the guidelines and tactics the author took to feel happier, it was some of the research she found on the subject along the way that spoke right to me.  So, in this post I’m mostly going to share some of those passages and talk about why I found them relatable and what I’ll do with them.

You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.

Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

You don’t have to be good at everything.

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.

Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you— and vice versa.

All quotes from: Rubin, Gretchen (2009-12-16). The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. Harper Perennial. Kindle Edition.

Above are some of Ms. Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood.  She has more listed, but these are the ones I liked the most.  Even down to over-the-counter medicines are very effective.  In fact, I’d like to add on to that and say the generic version of OTC medicines are very effective.  I once heard one of my business role models, Gary Loveman, give a speech and he talked about why anyone would pay 3x the amount for Tylenol when the generic was the same thing was beyond him.  If Loveman can buy Wal-ynol, so can I.  

The time to start exercising, stop nagging, and organize our digital photos was when everything was going smoothly. I didn’t want to wait for a crisis to remake my life.

YES.  This point is so good.  You can’t wait for crisis to get prepared.  You can’t let a big, bad event scare you into changing your ways.  Being prepared with happiness and coping mechanisms is emotional insurance.  I’m an impatient person.  I strongly dislike waiting.  Maybe that’s why this one is sticking with me.  I am in a holding pattern for the next few months – waiting for school to be done before I apply for new jobs and potentially move to a new city.  I can do things NOW though that still make me happy AND prepare me to move, if I find that opportunity.  Clearing out my clutter will make a move easier, being organized now will make all the paperwork of a new job or taxes next year easier, etc.  I used to always say I was waiting for the good part of my life to begin.  I said it through college and the early years of working.  No day but today, friends.

Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice. Therefore, career experts argue, you’re better off pursuing a profession that comes easily and that you love, because that’s where you’ll be more eager to practice and thereby earn a competitive advantage…..

…people feel overwhelmed by the question “What’s your passion?” It seems so large and unanswerable that they feel paralyzed. If so, a useful clue to finding a passion to pursue, whether for work or play, is to “Do what you do.” What you enjoyed doing as a ten-year-old, or choose to do on a free Saturday afternoon, is a strong indication of your passion. (One blog reader pointed to an even more basic indicator: “Actually very similar to advice from a physics professor of mine, who said, ‘What do you think about when you’re sitting on the toilet? Because that’s what you *want* to think about.’”) “Do what you do” is helpful because it points you to examining your behavior rather than your self-conception and therefore may be a clearer guide to your preferences.

This point is all over Strength Finders.  We do not change, we just become more of who we already are.  Marcus Buckingham uses an equation to illustrate.  A strength = talent x investment.  You’re best suited to pick something you’re good at and want to spend time doing.  I think I’m down that path.  I would read some of the textbooks I have for school on my own.  I think that’s a good sign.  I genuinely love role playing with managers helping them have more courageous conversations with employees about performance.  And as for training – I was pretty much born to charm and chat with strangers – so that is my calling.  What’s your passion?  

My research had revealed that challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. If you do new things— visit a museum for the first time, learn a new game, travel to a new place, meet new people— you’re more apt to feel happy than people who stick to more familiar activities. This is one of the many paradoxes of happiness: we seek to control our lives, but the unfamiliar and the unexpected are important sources of happiness.

Yay for always learning and growing.  I’m naturally inquisitive.  Maybe this is why I love hearing other people’s stories and I love to travel and am willing to do most anything once.  Wooden roller coasters – never for me, thanks.  She goes on to say this about the topic…

One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition. You become larger. Suddenly you can do yoga or make homemade beer or speak a decent amount of Spanish. Research shows that the more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.

I get this.  I once made a list of all the things I wanted other people to view me as and started working from that list.  I never thought of starting with a list of the things I am, or I would like to be.  I started with how I wanted others to define me.  Is that weird?  For example, I wanted to be someone that people thought smelled good.  You know when you pass someone who just has the perfect perfume or cologne on and it’s noticeable without obnoxious?  I wanted that.  And I tried out perfumes until I found one that I got more compliments on than ever.  It’s my perfume.  I don’t think that’s exactly the point from the book, but I understand the sense of feeling larger by having more attributes.  I’m a runner who can cook and can knit and Zumbas and has tried riding a unicycle, etc.

…studies show that the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy; you must strive to find sources of feeling good. One way to feel good is to make time for play— which researchers define as an activity that’s very satisfying, has no economic significance, doesn’t create social harm, and doesn’t necessarily lead to praise or recognition. Research shows that regularly having fun is a key factor in having a happy life; people who have fun are twenty times as likely to feel happy.

Once again, I say a big yes to this.  I’m silly and I love a good joke and teasing and I love to play and laugh.  I used to ask Adam Science if he would had fun after a dinner or party or event that we had been to and his answer was always no.  To this day I have no idea what that guy found fun.  And it was draining to me.  And I acknowledge one of the Secrets of Adulthood from above – what’s fun for other people may not be fun for you.  I know that fun is different to everyone.  My version of fun might be sillier than others.  My version of fun could just be a knitting circle at a local tea room.  It’s also fun to cook for a crowd and have board game night and go dancing.  I think that will be another list I make.  Things I find fun.

…having strong social bonds is probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness.

No worries here.  I got people.  :)   In fact, just an hour or so ago, my former colleague and friend Angela told me she had finished a recommendation for me on Linked In.  I teared up when I read it.  First of all, it’s lovely.  Second, it makes me so happy that Angela has grown so much from when I first met her.  Third, I don’t just “got people”.  I have  amazing people.  A classmate who IM’d me about forming groups, another friend who made sure to say bye before leaving for Germany for a couple months, a friend texting me to say she got my “just saying hey” card, my sister, my Claire.  These are people I spoke to just today that make me so happy.

I’ll end with this one for now.  She has a few other passages that I highlighted that may get a dedicated post all their own.  It’s clear that I would recommend this book.  One of the readers on her blog made the comment, that by making these resolutions and doing these things now – he always had an answer to the question “What’s new?”  I love that.  I’m saddened by people who answer “nothing” and really mean it with that question.  When I was training for the Rock and Roll half I always had a new running or training story.  I had a grad school story.  Or, I had just read a book or watched a movie that I felt was interesting.  A project like the one she encourages helps us all become more interesting, and therefore leading to one heck of a conversation.  And I know the value of a continued conversation…

One of the biggest surprises of the happiness project was just how hard it was to know myself. I’d always been slightly exasperated by philosophers’ constant emphasis on what seemed to me to be a fairly obvious question, but in the end I realized that I would spend my whole life grappling with the question of how to “Be Gretchen.”

I’m off to think about Being Sarah.

Coming back.

WordPress sends daily emails with writing prompts – discussion questions to get people writing.  I’ve saved a few topics, thinking that if I were ever in the mood to some creative writing, or memoir-style writing, they could be useful.  I’ve not done much more than bookmark them until this one landed in my inbox two weeks ago.

Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence:

“I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

And I immediately knew what I would write about but wasn’t sure I wanted to.  After this past weekend, I think it makes sense to write about it.  To process it for the rest of the world.  To not hide it, maybe.  Whatever – it’s my blog, I don’t have to justify, right?

My ex-husband is my best friend.  Now, I didn’t always see that coming.  If you read this blog and you’ve read this or this and while this one is vague, it was one of the worst nights of my life.

I never wanted to be a bitter divorced woman.  I wanted to make sure that people never heard me bad mouth him, that I always took ownership of my part of our problems and that I treated him and his reputation with respect after we were separated.   And we were doing okay.  After the contention that was naturally there during the actual filing of papers and such, we were on our way to being okay.  Until an “event” happened that literally shook me to my core.  I had never felt so betrayed or so sad or so angry before – and certainly hadn’t felt those ways towards Ex Hubs…until that night.  It was this violent, consuming hatred.  Seriously.  I had nightmares.  (Kind of funny story – I’m not a very violent person, so the best I could ever conceive in waking life was to key his car or egg his house. I never did either.)  Suddenly I didn’t care what I said about him to whom because it seemed he hadn’t protected my reputation, and with it the best parts of our marriage.  I told Ex Hubs we had to sever all ties.  I wanted my contact information deleted from every device he had.

I had this rage-like hate with me for months.  I couldn’t forgive or forget.  It was so bad I finally called in help, found a new therapist and explained the deal to her.  She was so great.  By the end of the second session she helped me forgive, for my own benefit.  She told me I didn’t need to forget it – those aren’t actions that must be tied together.  She made me see that he was in a destructive pattern – whether or not he knew that and he would eventually help himself.  I left feeling free and could start to see the light again.  And I absolutely could not make this up, that afternoon I got a text from Ex Hubs saying something like, “I know I’m not supposed to contact you – but you’re the only person who would get this joke.”  And the joke was funny.  And it was okay.  It was like the universe knew I could handle it.  Seriously, the universe knows things.  My negative energy was gone.

Ex Hubs and I slowly started trading a text message here or there; mostly with a quote from a favorite tv show or news about people we both knew.  When I got fired a few months later, he was the one I called for advice on what to do next and his response was exactly what I needed, “Who the fuck fires you?”  While I was unemployed we’d meet for walks in the park and slowly caught up on the things we were into now and hadn’t been into before – food photography for me – LEGO art for him.  (Seriously, it’s a thing.  Check it out here.)  When he was thinking about quitting his job a couple months later and pursuing new interests, that was a conversation we had while walking.  When I decided I wanted to actually run, that was a conversation we had while walking.  We had always liked the same movies and it was nearing Oscar season so we went to some movies.  It took a long time before we ever talked about “the event” that made me so angry.  But, eventually we did.  And it was honest conversation.  Maybe the most honest one we’ve ever had.  I thought we’d never come back from that one.   But we did.

My friend Alex and I have known each other since high school.  Alex has told me on a few occasions that the reason he and I are still friends is because high school isn’t all we talk about.  We’ve grown together and make the effort to know each other in the present.  Ex Hubs and I were doing that too.  We didn’t only have old married stuff in common any longer.  We were becoming friends in the present.

It makes me really happy.  It makes me know I wasn’t wrong to marry this guy once upon a time.  I mean, he’s family.  My grandparents still ask about him.  This is all stuff I’ve said to him, so I feel okay saying it here – we were just never good at the romantic part of our relationship.  But when it came to finding costumes for Halloween parties, eating a 10 course meal, playing Academy Awards Bingo, making up Mii’s, going to Sonic or playing FRIENDS Scene It – we were on fire.

I just did a paper in grad school on mentorship networks.  I am of the position that no one person can fulfill a traditional mentor position with all the things it needs to be.  Friends can be the same way, right?  Ex Hubs still plays a big role to me – he’s still smart and quirky and funny and has good ideas when I need to talk about grad school stuff and likes the movies I do and recommends ones I’ll like and answers my urgent Excel questions and does simple math for me.  There’s no doubt we know some stuff about each other.  And he may be the only person I’ll ever know who can quote Sports Night like I can.  I remember being so happy the day he validated that it was indeed a great show.  There’s nothing quite like impressing smart people.

So, why did I choose to write this post now?  Well, because when friends and family find out I hang out or talk to my ex often it is almost always followed by the question, “So, do you think you’ll get back together?”  And my flippant answer just to get people to leave me alone about it is always, “Probably not, I don’t really want to make out with him again.”  People who know us well, get it.  My sister Emilie thinks it’s the most normal thing ever.  And she would tell me if it were weird.  It’s been a conversation topic between Out of State Mystery Date (OOSMD) and I as well.  He seems pretty sure that there must still be feelings there if we’re that close.  I don’t know how to explain it.  Other than saying, he’s my best friend.  And after all the stuff that we’ve been through – marriage, moving, divorce, “the event” and the rebuilding – there’s nothing I couldn’t tell him at this point.  It’s a very freeing feeling – we’ve already hurt each other as much as we can in our past – there’s probably nothing we could do or say to each other that would top what we’ve already put each other through – so we’re free to really just be ourselves.  We don’t have to impress each other any longer.  We can just be who we are and we genuinely like each other.  That part is awesome.  I’m not often just myself.

There it is.  The daily prompt I couldn’t stop thinking about.  My ex husband is my best friend.  There is still a place for future husband if that day ever comes.  There’s enough of me to go around. Besides, I can’t imagine Future Husband ever wanting to play Friends Scene It.  I need someone for that in my life.