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: 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.

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.

In the last 96 hours…

I’ve spent some time in 4 states.  (Ok, so 45 minutes in Atlanta during a layover was one of those times.)

I bought myself flowers.

I was so tired I don’t remember most of Monday.

I decided I need to IMMEDIATELY become a foster parent.

I fell in love with Seth MacFarlane.  I am shocked by the amount of haters for his Oscar hosting stint.  He is handsome and charming and talented and he truly has the potential to be the next Billy Crystal – the all time greatest Oscar host.  Was he perfect yet? No.  But he’s got it.  (In more Oscar news, I got 16 out of 24 categories correct on my Oscar ballot.  I broke a cardinal rule of Oscar predictions – the Victorian movie always gets Best Costumes!  It was a rookie mistake.)

I had to break it to someone that Neil Patrick Harris is gay.

I bought 2 new Jonathan Green books (author of The Fault in Our Stars).

I made a list of Pinterest projects I want to start doing.

I started a mini revolution at grad school.


I’ve been kind of a cranky mess since grad school weekend ended this past weekend.  It is both a blessing and a curse that I have such high expectations for the people and opportunities in my life.

Rather than talk about grad school weekend, let me tell you another story about Sarah and her snarky high expectation ways.

Picture it: The day before my college graduation.  I had been chosen as a representative from my major to join other reps from their majors and have lunch with the Dean of my college.  I was stoked.  I took this as a real honor and was really looking forward to talking about the Hotel/Restaurant program and it’s place within the College with the Dean.  (For some strange reason, this major was in the College of Agriculture and not the College of Business, which often led to it being the ugly stepchild and not getting enough funds or recognition.)  I show up to the University restaurant to find some stand in for the Dean.  He had some excuse about the Dean being busy or whatever and the group had some totally superficial conversation with whoever that guy was.  To make matters worse, the Dean strolls in half way through lunch to make his apologies and point out that he needed to take some other people to lunch.  He shakes our hands and then sits down a few tables over with a group of men.

I. was. pissed.  Furious.  It’s one thing to cancel, it’s quite another to cancel on us and then show up with a better date.  I get back to my apartment later that afternoon and send my favorite professor a recap of the lunch, as I had promised to do.  I had a pretty good relationship with that professor and was fairly candid in my opinion of the Dean’s behavior.  I’m pretty sure I used “bullshit” at least once.  I tagged it with, “I was a good student and a great ambassador of this college during my internships.  I deserved to be known by the Dean.”  Or something like that.  I sent it to my professor.  But I couldn’t be done then.  I opened up the email I just sent and decided to forward it to the Dean as well.  It was already late Friday afternoon and I walked at graduation at 11am the next day.  I was counting on him never seeing that email before I graduated and just sent the email on principle.

My mom and aunt get to town that night to help me finish packing my apartment and I tell them the story.  Mom rolls her eyes and tells me she hopes I’ll still graduate tomorrow and not end up on some kind of probation with 12 hours left of undergraduate life.

I’m at graduation and in line and ready to go.  They call my name and I walk across the stage and begin the shaking hand process.  I grab my degree and go to shake the Dean’s hand and he stops me.  On stage.  He starts fumbling into his robe.  Meanwhile, several things are happening at once… My aunt is sure he’s going to pull out some kind of weapon and take me to task, the line is backing up behind me because the person calling the names was clearly not expecting improvisation on the Dean’s part, and I’m nervously looking into the crowd.  Dean pulls out a small wrapped present and says, “I just want you to know, I heard you, Sarah.”  I mumble thank you and keep going.  As I make my way back to my seat several seated classmates ask what the Dean gave me.  I have no idea.  I get to my seat and unwrap this small package and there is a really nice (and I’m not being sarcastic) SIUC keychain.  It’s a really fancy keychain – as fancy as one can be.

That story has kind of an interesting ending.  And it’s been a great story of my life – one I tell at parties.

But, being a malcontent doesn’t always have a happy ending.  (See me getting fired for standing up to HR Director at my last casino job.)  Anyway – sometimes I wish I could just accept stuff.  I wish I didn’t always demand others do their best and then some.  But…I’m not sure I can say that either.  If we don’t hold others to high expectations – what happens to the world?  We settle into a mediocre existence?  I don’t want that.  I may live a small life, but I want it to be extraordinary in it’s own way.


I’m going to return to the angsty week I’m having.  Internal struggle and conflict abound.

I’ll end with the Pinterest products I’m lining up for this weekend.  Happy thoughts…

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

Self awareness is expensive

I had what you might call a breakthough moment at grad school this past weekend.  I feel it’s a lesson I knew rationally but had not internalized until having to face it and put words to it in front of my classmates.

I thought the lesson was as simple as I don’t feel I’ve learned something if I can’t show it on a test.  I was still frustrated by the professor and her approach to the class.  I wanted to explore the text book concepts and walk away more equipped to quote theory and apply models discussed within it. At the end of day 2 she made us take 15 minutes to go someplace by ourselves on campus and just reflect.  I couldn’t even do that well.  I ended up texting Gentleman Friend during this time.  I was talking about what I was thinking, but I’m bad at self reflection.  This is when I came up with I like to demonstrate mastery with a test.

This is not the breakthrough.  I thought it was.  It’s not.

I’m stubborn.  Also, not the breakthrough.  But for the first time I realized that my stubbornness is not always persistance.  I pride myself on being persistent.  I think that’s a good trait.  Turns out, the other side of that coin is stubborn.

After the 15 minute reflection/text a boy period is over we had to go back and do a verbal discussion board.  A classmate asked the professor if instead of us posting our essay like residency weekend wrap ups online to do them verbally in a peace circle.  I take a while to warm up.  I wasn’t quite ready to bear my soul.  I thought I’d keep it top line and talk about vision and asking the next question, which is some thing I admire in my classmate Doug.  He’s good at calmly asking the next question after I think a task is already completed.  Then the peace train begins and there’s opening up and there’s crying and sharing and oh dear.  I compromised.  I did not cry.  Quite frankly, I don’t think I had any thought that deep, but I did reveal a more personal level of awareness.  My peace circle monologue went like this:

We’ve talked a lot about emotional hijacking within the classroom during an activity that has made us frustrated.  I enter the classroom emotionally hijacked.  It’s no secret to anyone that has been sitting around me the last two residency weekends that what I wanted out of the class is not what you (looking at Jane the professor) are going to give me.  I wanted concepts and models from the book to become a more well spoken subject matter expert.  I got divorced a couple of years ago which is tragedy all it’s own, but I took part in some destructive hobbies during that time and I had a friend say to me, “Those activities are a distraction, not the solution.”  I’ll never forget that and I am applying it to what’s happening here now.  Wanting the ‘book learning’ so bad might be the distraction I want so I don’t have to focus on the self awarness/behavior profile/personality assessment malarkey that you want us to focus on.  I can’t take a test on that stuff.  Wanting to is the distraction, and I need to spend time understanding my values and who I am to be a better OD practitioner – that is the solution.”

I was feeling good.  I thought I had a real ray of light creep into my brain.  But I wasn’t done being self aware yet.  I said it even more eloquently, more concise and perhaps more drilled down to the core during our wrap up Sunday afternoon.

“It’s no surprise by now I’m the one who wanted to get the book stuff out of this class.  I’ve learned that sometimes I can be so focused on wanting X, and so mad and closed off when I don’t get it, that I can’t accept what the other person is offering – which could be the rest of the alphabet.”

This was the breakthrough.

I get mad when I don’t get what I want and how I want it.  Which makes me bratty.  I know.  I never thought of it that way.  I thought if people knew me and ‘got’ me they would know what to do for me and how to do it.  And this has created a void – what have I been missing that’s been put out there for me??

Immediately the story of how my ex husband proposed comes to mind.  I am a girl who likes special plans.  I like romance and I want to know there was thought and planning put into special occasions.  I always thought I’d have a grand gesture proposal.  Even if it was ring in the champagne flute at a favorite restaurant.  My ex husband proposed one evening after coming home from work on a random Thursday.  I had brought the mail into our bedroom and started reading some of it wearing my blouse and pearl necklace from work that day, but not my pants.  I had already taken those off and hung them up (or thrown them on a chair, which is far more likely).  I’m sitting on the bed, wearing boring white cotton underwear and a black shirt and chunky pearls when he starts rambling on about something.  And I catch on that it’s important after a minute.  And a minute later I think he’s bought me a watch because I told him that was a really special present my dad always got my mom and I would like one from him as a token of our relationship being very important to him one day.  And then a box much smaller than a watch box is produced and there’s a lovely diamond ring inside.

But I’m a brat.  And what I would come to remember most about this day is that there was no grand gesture.  That there was no sapphires on my ring like I wanted.  That I was wearing gross old white cotton underwear and reading the mail.  What I could never see until right now is that there was a man who couldn’t wait another minute to ask me to marry him.  That he didn’t need a big gesture because he loved me that was big enough.  I clung to being grumpy about my lack of special engagement for a long time.  What a silly, stupid girl I was.  I was being offered so much more in that moment and it could have been such a sweet tale.  I ruined it.  I can be so narrow minded.  I’m just so sorry about this now.

This was a life lesson kind of weekend.  It was the kind of lesson that will make me a better person going forward.  It’s the beginning of wisdom and a sliver of grace.  I just wonder what I missed because I was focused on something so small.  Here’s my promise to the universe: I’m ready to accept what comes my way.  Whatever it may be, and however ordinary it may seem.

Writing Mojo

I have an essay final exam to finish, so I’m warming up my writing muscles.  What to write about…

It’s no secret I was feeling funky last week.  It didn’t exactly fade over the weekend either.

So here’s what I think.  It’s time to reassess some things.

I said 2012 was going to be about three things:

Grad School  I am overwhelmed by grad school still, but in a good way.  I really enjoy the course material.  I’m learning to deal with what will be non stop group work.  I’m trying to understand self directed learning and how to get what I need out of this model of one residency weekend a month and the rest of the program online.

Work  This I’ve got nailed.  It’s apparent I work on a fairly low expectations team.  I came in, I evaluated the 5 week training program, I made several recommendations for changes to the format and 95% of them are being implemented for the group starting today.  This is still a test, I need to see if the recommendations and changes are more effective based on feedback from the participants.  If all goes well, the hard part of my job is over for the foreseeable future.  Run this program.  I don’t have a lot of control over how other aspects of the training department run, and maybe that’s okay. School takes up so much time and I’d like to have a robust personal life, especially with spring and summer fairs and festivals coming up.

Running  Time for reassessing.  I feel pressure to run.  I feel like it’s something I want, but I’m still mentally holding myself back.  I want to put running on the back burner for a while.  Not exercise, just running.  I want to go back to Zumba.  I want to do these strength programs I found in Shape and Women’s Health magazine.  I want to do things I enjoy.  My confidence is pretty shaky these days.  Perhaps it’s being shaken by grad school, opening up to Gentleman Friend, events of last year, or just not loving what I see when I look in a mirror.  I’m the only person who can fix this.  And I want to do it by feeling sexy and having fun.  Zumba always made me feel that way.  I still want to run.  I just want to feel better about it when I do it.  I’m avoiding exercise in general because I’m dreading the act.

Must go write essay.  If I finish in a timely fashion I’ll be back to tell you about my calling… I found it.  Stay tuned…

I will not let _____ get the best of me.

Take your pick…

I will not let FEBRUARY get the best of me.  It was the first full month of grad school, new job, the little bit of social life I have with Gentleman Friend and finding time for a run or two.  Wow, I’m a bad time manager.  I know that there is enough time in the day, I need to get better at using it wisely.

I will not let GROUP PROJECTS get the best of me.  They are not going away.  I have 17 more months of grad school group projects.  Rather than get frustrated with them, I need to figure out how to work more effectively.  The biggest takeaway from this month was a better use of available technology.  Also learned: create timelines up front and routine live check ins either on the phone, Skype, web, etc…  I need to learn to work within the parameters.

I will not let TSA get the best of me.  I fly to Toledo, Ohio once a month for grad school weekends.  The St. Louis airport has 4 security lanes.  One of them has the scanner you stand in and it swirls around you, the other three are regular walk through lanes.  The scanner lane takes 4x as long to get through!  I will not be caught in that trap again.

I will not let GOOGLE MAPS get the best of me.  In both my January and February trips to Ohio I actually flew to Detroit and drive down to Bowling Green for school.  Each time I’ve made the drive Google Maps has encouraged me to take a slight right on 23 N/ 475 N.  Each time this has been wrong.  I see my little blue dot veering off the course of the blue line I’m supposed to be in.  Next time, Google Maps, I’ll stay on 75 S thank you, very much!

Organization Development has a hold on me

Me in my cool new BG hoodie! Official gear of a college student, yes?

Grad school homework is a tad overwhelming.

Come to think of it, grad school is a tad overwhelming.

My first residency weekend was this past weekend.  Three days of class and meeting new people and presentations and so much group work.  There was a fair amount of getting to know you.  I was overcome with this idea that I had to create an identity for myself.  That I needed to be defined as the “__ person.”  You know, the union guy, the weird lady, the bitchy one, the Purell guy, etc…  That I needed to decide who I wanted to be, to portray myself as while I’m there.  Is that odd?  Wouldn’t most people show up and be themselves?  Do I know myself at all?

I am a big fan of the Disc Profile.  It’s a self assessment, similar to the Meyers Briggs.  Disc looks at your behavioral tendencies and how you interact with the world.  The last time I took this assessment I was working for the CVC, happy with my job and looking for answers in my personal life.  I was a solid S.  S for Steady.  I like to be the work horse behind the people with the great ideas.  I like to follow a plan.  I wanted to apply that to grad school.  I didn’t want to be out in front.  I want to absorb and learn.  I haven’t learned anything in a long time.  I didn’t want to have to speak up at every question.  And the good news is, there are plenty of showy people in class.  The high I or high D personalities that like control.  I don’t need to be it.  The professor even spoke about this on the first day – we need to learn, not perform.

I took the assessment last week for my new job (which is going great, by the way!).  You know what it came out?  High I and D.  And it’s not surprising.  When I think of my last work experience, my most recent work at the casino and how that all ended, it’s not surprising that I think of trying to take over, take control of my environment.

I cannot explain how conflicting all of this is for me though.  I am sure this sounds like a wackadoo post to anyone reading.  I can’t put my finger on what’s pulling at me.  But something is.  Who do I want to be?  What do I want to be?  How do I feel I can be most successful in my environment?

Sheesh.  I’m confident reading one of my text books is a better use of my time right now.  I need to post some pictures soon.  I need to cook some stuff soon. Free time is precious these days, friends.

Grad school is supposed to make me more coherent, yes?  Or is this part of the higher education process.  Learning about Organization Development and Change….and myself?

Sheesh I say again.

The New Year is here

I don’t have any resolutions to share.

I am proud of myself for not waiting for this new year to put into place the things I wanted to happen.  I applied and was accepted to grad school when I had no idea how I was going to pay for it.  But thousands of people figure out how to pay for it, right?  I knew I would too.  I didn’t wait for this year to start to begin my longest half marathon training process ever, I ran my first 5K a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t sit around and collect unemployment and wait for a job to fall in my lap.  I took on my random part time jobs where I met new people, learned new things and got out of the house, even though the combined total from those two part time jobs was never more than an unemployment check was.  My friend Claire likes to point out that I was essentially volunteering during this time because I still got partial unemployment during that time.

I have a “word” for 2012.  It’s FOCUS.  I have three big undertakings in 2012, things I began in 2011 and are only going to get more intense:

  1. Disney Princess half marathon training for Feb ’13  (I know – longest training process ever.  I know.)
  2. New job.  As a corporate trainer that has just moved to an entirely new industry (casinos to groceries) I know there is much to learn on top of a very rigorous training schedule.
  3. Grad school.  So much reading!  I’ve always been smart, but I’ve never been an exceptional student.  Creating good study habits is going to be a challenge.

Making time for all of these things in addition to life getting in the way is going to be my challenge.  Therefore, I choose to FOCUS this year.  So, instead of creating a list of lofty goals and books to read and instruments to tackle – I’ll FOCUS on these and see what else happens.

This new year snuck in.  I’ve been sicker this week than I can remember being in a long time.  I’m fortunate to never have sinus or allergy issues.  I’m experiencing my first sinus infection and it is wiping me out.  From a couple of days before New Years Eve until last night I was pretty much bed bound.  I had a few friends over for New Years Eve, but even they were out by 10pm.  I was even driven to purchase and experiment with a Neti Pot for the first time.  I have a few friends who swear by them and I will admit I felt relief after using it.  Also glad I live alone while using it.  Least sexy thing ever, I imagine.

Happy New Year to all of you.  I’m excited to enter this year with intent and purpose.  And a place to share it all.