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Archive for the ‘Getting It Together’ Category

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My Instagram is cute. My house is not always cute. Sometimes, parts of my house look like this. It’s okay…ish. It could be better. I like it when it’s better.

My schedule has changed recently, so things are falling through the cracks. Things that I’m usually pretty good at, like keeping up with my meal planning calendar and laundry. It’s been a long time since the table beside the couch looked like the picture above. I can’t say that I’ve missed that.

I recently lamented to friends that I was disappointed with how my year of wild is going. As someone who is mostly organized but is also a little fond of and prone to chaos, I was looking forward to wild really shaking my year up. A still life of cups and glasses was not the chaos I had in mind. On the surface, wild hasn’t stirred around much. My life is just as un-wild as it ever has been.

Or so it would seem.

One facet of wild that I am particularly interested in cultivating is freedom. Freedom from shoulds. Freedom from lifeless traditions. Freedom from good advice that doesn’t particularly work for me in practice.

In this way, this year has been super wild, and my progress on my resolutions shows it. I am farther along toward my goals this year than I was at this time last year. Who knew that, instead of just saying, “I do what I want!” while still bending over backwards to fulfill obligations that aren’t really mine to fulfill, intentionally embracing saying no in order to cling to what fulfills me would result in getting what I want done?

Everyone, you say? Literally everyone knew that? Okay. That’s fair.

Anyway, I apologize to wild for being disappointed. Although…don’t go anywhere, wild. We’re not done here.

Perhaps it doesn’t look wild to me because I use structure, but I think this is a misunderstanding of the term. Sometimes I expect wild to be loose and flowy, but then I watch an animal stalk its prey (and by animal, I do mean my mom’s barn cats). Wild definitely requires a certain measure of focus for survival.

So this week, I begin testing a new time management structure. I was inspired by Sarah Bessey’s best practices post. The ones that really stick out to me are actually writing when I have made time to write, setting boundaries but writing them in pencil, and fill your well (because if I’m not reading or eating right or staying active, everything else goes awry). I have added a second job writing SEO content, so it makes sense that my schedule could not continue as it was without something important taking the hit. I imagine it will take a few weeks of tweaking, but I’m confident that it will work.

For those who want to put a little structure in their schedule, it’s pretty simple. I started by making a list of priorities. For me, I thought about what I would need in order to consider myself as having my life together. Keep in mind that I am single and childless and that, for the most part, I operate on a pretty low supply of give-a-damns when it comes to other people telling me what my life should be. If this does not describe you, you’re going to have to concentrate a little more to get past the voices that want to shout over you. When you are listing your priorities, your opinion is the one that matters the most.

[Aside – this is not advice to shut out other people altogether. If you are in a committed relationship and you want to remain in it, you might want to list it as a priority. Please don’t ever use “I’m focusing on me right now” as an excuse to be an inattentive asshole. If you want to break up, just break up. Don’t be passive and shady about it. /psa]

After I had my list of priorities, I divided them into daily, weekly, and monthly lists. I listed each one as specific tasks to complete. For example, for my body weight, I need to drink 100 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated, so that’s what I listed as one of my daily health goals. Decide what you can reasonably do, and quantify each goal on your list. Once you have these lists, document them. I keep a goals calendar, but you can keep up with them in whatever way works for you. It helps you chart your progress.

What process do you use to meet goals?

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This shirt has not made an appearance in public yet. But soon.

I joined a gym last week. I’ve been meaning to join for a while. I should have joined back in November or December.

I have been once since I joined. It was super crowded. This is a deterrent for me. I’m just not interested in spending an hour inhaling 200 people’s sweat or awkwardly waiting in line for the adducter machine. I am going to try to go at different times to see if it’s better. I keep telling myself it will be better once the “we’re getting healthy!” resolution bunch decides they like going to the wine bar more than the gym on Monday nights.

[Not that I condone such choices. Okay, I totally condone such choices. Exercise is good. So is the wine at my wine bar, though.]

There are actually quite a few deterrents for me. I don’t have great track record with food and exercise and healthy balance. It’s sometimes difficult for me to recognize if I’m overdoing it (or under-doing it) in the moment. Those realizations usually come after the fact. I’m getting better, but it’s still a struggle.

I am comforted (and also saddened…it’s complicated) to know that I am not alone. In our training last week (interpersonal violence intervention training – more on this later this month), we ate lunch together every day. And every day – with different tables and different people – I had some version of the same conversation:

Person 1: I’m eating this delicious pasta/pizza/bread.

Person 2: It’s sooo good. But sooo bad. *eats hungrily*

Person 1: I know. But it’s okay. I’m going to do an extra hour at the gym/skip dinner/jog to my car/walk my cat.

Person 2: *nods with understanding*

We are grown, highly educated, professional people, and we still felt the need to voice a justification of our food choices and what extremes we’re planning to take to overcome them to our coworkers. We walk into meal situations assuming that people will be judging us for what we are or aren’t eating.

On the one hand, I’m not sure those assumptions are always accurate. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I looked at someone’s plate and thought to myself, “Self, they really shouldn’t be eating that,” or “Self, they should be eating more.” So maybe other people don’t have these thoughts either. If I’m thinking about their food at all, it’s more along the lines of, “Self, that looks delicious. Where can we get some of that?” Or “Gross. Pot pie.” [Which I recognize is a little judgey, but that’s what you get for eating disgusting things. My judgmental thoughts. Which I probably won’t actually voice. Probably.].

On the other hand, we probably feel the need to make these justifications because somewhere – maybe many somewheres – in our experience, judgments have been voiced. Or stared. Most people don’t need any words at all to get those messages across.

I don’t have an answer. I know that I need to make better food choices sometimes, but I also know how much better my food choices in general are now than they were even six months ago. So…progress. I know that I have more energy when I exercise regularly, but I also know that how often I exercise (and really even whether or not I exercise at all) has no factual bearing on my worth and value as a human. I know that what other people think shouldn’t matter and that often they aren’t really thinking about me at all anyway, but I also know that my feelings don’t always sync with that knowledge.

Maybe there’s some balance in there after all.

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Friday Five2

I love structure. I am comfortable with making vague goals, because I know that as soon as I voice them, I already have structures in mind for achieving them that don’t necessarily come through in words. But if, like me, you are interested in improving your reading diversity, choosing products that are both better quality and produced by better business practices, and ridding yourself of all the clutter/debris/extraneous mess that you have stashed in your home, here are a few more structured ways to do that.

  1. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 reading challenge. I like that she has reading for fun and reading for growth challenges. I also love her highly organized tips (including printables) for tracking your reading and that she offers the chance to join an online book club for those who want social support.
  2. Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge is my favorite challenge for finding things to read that I never would have read before. They, too, offer social support via their Facebook group and give you the opportunity to meet in person with people you’ve met via the challenge. Bonus – discount on an order if you finish the challenge!
  3. Inc.com praises ThirdLove bras. I NEED ONE. Also Thinx, which has great ramifications for women in countries where feminine hygiene products aren’t readily available. A lot of people have tried them and sing their praises (even though the HuffPo article says “total disaster,” indicating that the chooser of that title doesn’t understand what the words total and disaster mean), so I’ll spare you my personal recap when I try them. Unless they’re terrible, which I don’t anticipate.
  4. Peter Walsh is doing a 31-day decluttering challenge this month. Each day takes about 10 minutes, so it’s not too late! Go! Go! This is not a drill!
  5. And bonus – for those hoping to up your donations to charities this year, here are some tips from Consumer Reports on how to choose a charity that uses the money in the way they claim to use it.

If you were looking for structure to some of your goals, hope this helps!

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“How do you feel?”

I feel raw enough to want to lash out at the question. But self-awareness holds me back. So I will answer it as if it were a real question.

I feel…not surprised. This is the America all your loud, troublesome, badass activist friends have been telling you we still have. A nation that rewards racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, ableist rhetoric because said nation stubbornly believes that the privileges one enjoys are the privileges that one has earned (and ignores that if that were true, we wouldn’t call them privileges but a paycheck because that’s what those words mean) instead of the privileges one was simply born into. This is privilege in statistical form, and still our country will refuse to see it because it wants to believe the dreamworld its myths have created so much that it will elect a president who has no qualification to do the job because he panders to their delusions of entitlement and calls them truth.

I feel annoyed by people telling me how to feel. Specifically, I feel annoyed by the do-not-despair, God-is-in-control group. Unless I’m unclear on what omnipotence means (that’s false modesty – I’m not unclear), God has been in control since the dawn of time. God has been in control throughout every terrible thing that has ever come to pass and every terrible leader that has made it happen. Every awful and life-altering thing that has ever happened to you or your loved ones? The same God was in control then, and that did not stop those things from happening. Do you see, therefore, how this statement might not be a comfort to those who are afraid or grieving? I hope you do. Anyway, I’m gonna go ahead and have some moments of despair.

[Aside: Jesus and I are fine. He, too, would like you to cut it out with the impotent platitudes. He thinks perhaps this is more of a show up and bring on the wine sort of situation. Maybe we’ll even toss some tables around for good measure.]

I feel like a sore loser, which might be an unfair assessment because this is not a game of spades. This is our lives. We have just told women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA people, people of any religion outside mainstream Christianity, people outside any mainstream constructed by the privileged elite – “Those cards that we stacked against you? We’re just going to keep them stacked. In fact, we’re going to build a wall of cards.” So yeah. I feel sore about that, and I lost a little more hope, so I guess technically the term applies. I don’t want to hear any backlash from Trump supporters on this point, because when Trump bragged he would be a sore loser if he didn’t win, you voted for him anyway, so this is behavior you have already supported, and I am not in the mood to entertain your inconsistency. To the rest of you – I know. This is not my finest hour. I’ll do better. In fact, I’ll work to do a hundred times better, because the ten-times-better-than that I’ve averaged throughout my life so far isn’t enough when you have a vagina. Apparently.

I feel sad that a HRC victory would have only left me feeling relief instead of the joy I would have wanted to feel with the election of our first female president. It would have been a lukewarm victory for me. But I am not lukewarm in my mourning of her loss this morning. My prayers are with the person with her resume who just lost to the person with his resume.

[My prayers will be with him later, but I’m not ready yet. I imagine they will be different, at least at first. God still accepts lamentations, right?]

I feel like less has changed than it feels like has changed. We woke up with the same work left to do this morning that we would have had otherwise; we woke up with the same nation. Progress meets backlash, and that’s how my anxiety is having to frame this right now.

You can pledge to continue the work. Start with this open letter to our nation by 100 women of color leaders. Read and listen voraciously, particularly to people whose background, upbringing, and lives do not look like your own. Particularly to people who have had to work harder than you do to get to the same place.

And more importantly, let’s do better.

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Same cup, new office. I think it looks good here.

This week, I started my new job. It’s a welcome change, and I’ve been allowed to acclimate slowly (which is my very favorite way to acclimate). I even got to choose the office music yesterday (Ingrid Michaelson playlist, so basically we’re listening to the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack. You’re welcome, office mates.). In mid-June, I move to my new home across town. This is also a welcome change, and I have a whole month to move. Change – even good change – stresses me out, but I am making these changes in the least stressful way possible.

This is a kindness and a blessing. There’s a lot of hope around lately.

Because I gotta be me, though, I still have anxious moments. I have gotten clutchy with the purse strings in the last couple of years, so dropping deposits and knowing my rent is going to increase so much *cough*notreallythatmuch*cough* in a couple of months is disconcerting. I couldn’t keep much of anything down and didn’t get much sleep the week that I signed the lease and gave notice that I was moving out from my current apartment. In the midst of immense relief, there still was anxiety. It wanted to be my best friend.

One night as I was watching the light on the ceiling change with the hours, exasperated, I breathed to God, “I’m going to trust you. I’m going to believe you that nothing has been forgotten or overlooked. I’m going to trust me. And I’m going to trust you to back me up.”

This is not the most faithful prayer I’ve ever prayed. It’s not quite the flying leap I used to make when I knew I had not thought the decision through and went ahead and made it anyway. I’ve thought this one through. I know it’s not all faith and hope. It’s mostly common sense and careful planning.

But the hope is important. The hope is what is making it possible to sleep and eat again.

Hope* kicks anxiety’s tail.

Hope is becoming my favorite change of all. I’ve missed it. I’m glad it’s back.

 

*and also the appropriate professional help and possibly meds. Get help when you need it. /public service announcement

 

I’m linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday. Join us?

 

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photo 2 (3)I’ve been talking for what seems like forever about getting a new place to live that better suits me. This year, I listed it as one of my main goals.

Truthfully? I only half-expected to make it a reality. I’ve been talking about wanting it so long and not being able to make it happen that I only half-believed that I’d actually be able to pull it off.

That unbelieving half has to eat her words, because in June, I am moving to a new place! It has two bedrooms (instead of one) and two bathrooms (instead of one). My  books and writing desk get their own room again, and guests won’t be subjected to my hair product arsenal when they need to visit the facilities.

Other happy features include:

  • washer dryer connections in a closet hidden off the kitchen instead of in the living room
  • single-story structure = all the benefits of a ground floor apartment with none of the drawbacks
  • a real neighborhood – no student housing structures
  • closer to my sister, my church, my grocery store, and walking distance from the north branch library with its book sales and bookshop (so I’m expecting the extra few miles to work will actually balance out)
  • city trash and recycling bins – goodbye, dumpster life!

I know my move-in date is well over a month away, but I’m so excited I’ve already started packing books.

 

 

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I’m seeing a duplex tomorrow. Well, one half of it, anyway. I’m going to see if it could be a feasible move to make. It’s across town – closer to church and family, farther from work.

I really want to move. I’ve outgrown my neighborhood and my apartment. I’m pretty sure my neighbors’ dog is partially responsible for my elevated blood pressure.

I’m also just to the point where I can breathe again financially. I’m scared to upset the balance.

Can I make a beautiful life in the place I am? I see little shards of beauty occasionally.  But the big beautiful I have loved before and miss terribly doesn’t really fit there.

Every place I find that’s bigger and still has the amenities that I want (washer/dryer connections, for example) is significantly more expensive. Like…sometimes double. That’s before you add the extra utility cost and extra gas it will take to get to work on a daily basis.

Which would be fine if I had a partner with an equal or greater salary. Even if we could both afford to pay only what I’m paying now, we could easily pay double. We could even make a substantial house payment if we found a place we loved that much.

There are not many areas of life where I would say I NEED a husband. Want one, sure. But need? Don’t be ridiculous.

A husband with a job would certainly come in handy here, though.

People who are single often are treated like we are less mature, less stable, and less adult than we are. This is annoying. Just because marriage or child-rearing was the impetus that flung some people into adulthood doesn’t mean that those of us without those particular circumstances didn’t have equal motivation to mature. There are many, many reasons to grow up. Partners and parents don’t have a corner on the market.

It’s easy to understand, however, how single people could appear as second-class citizens in this world. It’s hard to be seen as a proper adult when you’re still living in an apartment that’s no bigger (smaller, actually) than the one you had in college and is still in a college neighborhood. And it’s hard to afford a bigger place on one income, unless you happen to work in an industry where incomes are higher (I don’t.).

I know the progress I’ve made. I do. It just doesn’t look like progress unless I’m looking closely. I have to really want to see it.

I’m tired of working so hard to see so little.

 

I’m linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday, where we are talking about broken and beautiful things. Join us?

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