Category Archives: Life Changes

Walk it Out – January

So, I’m not exactly starting with the unachievable goal this month. If you read yesterday’s post, you read about my resolution of the month plan for this year. And here’s January’s goal:

Walk the Talk.

The art is courtesy of one of my favorite kids’ authors, Phil Bildner. I can’t take credit for it – but he’s the one who gave me this idea. Basically I’m going to work on practicing what I preach. I’m really good at snarking on people who annoy me. Those little (and sometimes not-so-little) things that people do that really tick me off. Nemeses included. I let it get to me, build up and eventually explode. And you know what? I’m sick of it. Not just sick of those things that people do that get to me, but I’m sick of my reaction. Hence Walk the Talk.

And that means:

  • Making a point NOT to do the pet peeves I gritch about in other people: excessive humble bragging, grammatical errors, publicizing how smart I think I am, etc.
  • Setting an example of my expectations with my kids.
  • If I AM going to complain or call someone else to task about something, I need to make sure my own side of the street is clean first.
  • Working as hard on my thinking as my actions.

The last one is going to be the hardest. I can already tell. Like I’ve said before, I’ve got a strong filter. So not saying negative snarky things is usually pretty easy for me. Until I reach my boiling point, that is. It’s the thinking that I really need to work on. Because, honestly, my head usually defaults to the negative. Sad to say, but it’s true. I remember reading about some kind of therapy a few months ago that involves wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping yourself with it if you catch yourself doing whatever it is that you shouldn’t be doing. Pretty good idea, huh?

I have a feeling I’m gonna need a BIG THICK rubber band! We’ll see if I end up with welts on my wrist before the week is out!

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Filed under Change, Life Changes, negativity, New Year's Resolutions, Parenting, Postive Thinking

Resolved!

So, it’s that time of year again. The time that my list-making, goal-setting Type-A self absolutely loves. The New Year. And that inevitably brings resolutions.

Past resolutions have been hit and miss. I’ve resolved to work out more, to journal every day, to practice my instrument XX hours per day and spend XX hours making reeds, to clear out the clutter and put my crap away, you name it. I’ve resolved it. And for the most part, none of these well-meaning promises ever stick for very long.

Why? Well, honestly, I think it’s because once I start making a list I just can’t stop. A list of one or two really good resolutions usually turns into eight or ten. And for me, that’s just overwhelming. Especially if the resolutions are big ones that require lifestyle changes. I end up spreading my limited icing so thinly over a very large cake that I end up failing in style. Apparently this means I have an issue setting boundaries with myself.

Now, if I were a different kind of mom, things would be different. If I were the kind of SAHM who sits on the couch and eats bonbons – homemade, of course – every day, for example. Now, I’m not knocking all SAHM’s here. The majority of them that I know are hardworking genuinely caring souls who do the best for their families. But come on, be honest. As much as we deny it, we all know at least one of the other kind. The ones who bemoan the day they have to ‘clean up the house because the maid is coming.’ The ones who only got four hours last Tuesday to peruse Epicurious for Martha-Stewart-worthy dinner recipes because little Magnus or Starla had a dentist appointment. The ones who work so hard to fit in the mani-pedi between tennis and yoga. Those moms. My Spouse says I would last about a week before going stir crazy. You know what? Let me try it for a week and let you know if that’s true!! Because I guarantee that I’d have tons of brilliantly productive ideas that would actually see the light of day if that were me. And I’m not just talking about cleaning up for the maid. Things like:

  1. Painting the dining room.
  2. Secretly going through the minions’ rooms and trashing the bags of junk and crap that they don’t even know are under their beds.
  3. Devoting some serious time to a hobby, like writing.
  4. Taking a class – just because. I love to learn and research and I’m usually not bigheaded enough to emote about my savant-worthy abilities.
  5. Clipping coupons that I actually use, instead of tossing them in some random drawer only to discover them months after the expiration date.
  6. Finishing a self help book – and actually using it to help myself.

The list goes on. You get the idea. Instead, you know what happens? I spend my few minutes of rare free time doing one of three things:

  1. Sorting through the list of stuff I really want to do and trying to decide what to do first. Which results in nothing. Zero.
  2. Falling down exhausted and sleeping.
  3. Having a meltdown about all of the things I want to do with my free time but don’t get to do because I was so tired I fell asleep.

Number three is the most popular at my house. I could probably make a hobby of having meltdowns, now that I think about it. Yeah. Sure. That one would be seriously popular with the fam, wouldn’t it?? And to be honest I can’t stand myself when I’m having a meltdown either – so that one’s out.

So where does that leave me? Well, I’ll tell you. My boss actually gave me a Pinstrosity-worthy idea last week that I’m taking to heart.

The Resolution of the Month.

With the idea that it takes three weeks to change a habit plus the conviction that anyone can do something consitently for a month, I’m taking this one and running with it. I’m tackling my to-do list of resolutions one at a time, one month at a time. My biggest challenge here is to tell my overachieving conscience to shut up and deal. One change. One month at a time. I’m having to remember what my mom said about childbirth when I was pregnant – you don’t get extra points for doing it the hard way. So there it is. I’ll post tomorrow about my January resolution.

One problem – the one thing I really want to achieve is an unachievable goal. Could be an issue…

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Filed under boundaries, goals, Life Changes, New Year's Resolutions

Dates, Dates, Dates – and I’m Not Talking Food

Some people are blessed with good memories. I’d like to think of myself as one of those people. But I ain’t got nothing on my spouse. His memory is not only good, it’s freakishly detailed, calendar-oriented, and scarily accurate. Don’t argue with him about what happened in June of 1985. He will win. Every time. I’ve seen it at family gatherings – his mom or dad will mention some memory of when he and his brother were little and it starts. Bro-in-law throws out a date, spouse counters, and it’s on. It’s on like Donkey Kong – and keeps going until my spouse has not only refuted all other opinions, but thrown out five, six or ten pieces of supporting evidence that also occurred in the vicinity of said event on the timeline.

He’s probably some kind of memory-date-savant. Cause for the really important dates he can also give you the time of the event, give or take fifteen minutes or so.

Not so with me. My memory is more photographic, and centered around important events. I can remember my kids’ birthdays, elementary school teachers, anniversary, stuff like that. But my memory is more relative, as in, I can do the math and figure out what year Empire Strikes Back premiered – but don’t have instant recall.

This post is going nowhere. Stick with me, it’s Sunday night and I am slowly meandering to a point. It goes back to my student planners I found in my desk box the other day. And for the one or two of you who will read this, maybe you can help me out.

Memory is subjective, right? Back in high school I had a couple of English teachers who made us learn about all of these different ‘isms’ in literature. Existentialism, transcendentalism, nihilism, etc. etc. I couldn’t tell you what any of them are right now (but I could Google it) – but I remember learning about one philosophy that still freaks me out. The basis being that there is, in fact, no reality. What is real to each one of us is just a figment of our imagination. Very Matrix-like. The point being that no one really knows what happens and that an objective view of any situation is impossible. What I see and experience is totally different from you. Ten points to anyone who can name this philosophy – it’s been bugging me for years.

Back to memory. So in reading through the mundane to-do lists from my life as a music major, there were a few important events scattered here and there. But I wonder – does anyone else remember them? It’s funny how something can seem so life-changing to one person but be completely overlooked by another. Huh. I guess it’s all about subjectivity. I give value to that which I deem important, and forget about the rest. It’s just kind of weird to think that the major stuff has been forgotten. And that moment in a conversation when you ask ‘Do you remember last year, when…?’ and mention something that was really fun/important/memorable. And the response is ‘Not really.’ Awkward. Wonder if everyone has those moments, or it’s just me. I guess it’s my self-centeredness that assumes that other people place the same value on memory as I do.

Life lesson #456. They don’t.

Has anyone else ever thought about this stuff? What if you were the only one that had memories of certain times in your life?

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Filed under Life Changes, Memory, Philosophy

Decluttering…

Wow! I just looked at the blog and realized it’s been over two months since I posted. Not good. Not good at all. What’s the deal? Well, between looking for, finding and training at a new job my time has been seriously strapped. Not to mention that the minions are out of school, so when I get home they tend to occupy the little time left in the day – after which I drop down exhausted. But it’s all good.

So in the interim, my teacher-spouse has become Mr. Mom for the summer. He’s on a mission to declutter the house (specifically his game room, but the enthusiasm is spilling over to the garage, kitchen, etc.) He even moved the boxes that used to contain my desk stuff out into the dining room so that I could go through them. Thoughtful guy. I actually dug through part of one the other day. It was pretty interesting. Those boxes are a holdover from a couple of years ago when I was inspired by Oprah. Yes, one of the few episodes I actually watched. It was called ‘Declutter Your Life.’ After that episode, I went through my stuff with a vengeance. Yes, my name is Amy and I could possibly be considered a borderline hoarder. Is there a 12-step program for that? There should be. So I was interested to see what I had actually kept during my mad sweep to clean up and clear out.

What was left? Lots of pictures – which I will NOT scan onto Facebook, since most of them are from long-past TTBOC days. Big hair, NKOTB clothes and teenage acne. Not public material, but some good memories there. My student ID from my freshman year at UNT. Part of a corsage. Thumb tacks (??!) Wedding invitations from dear friends and some letters from band camp buddies back in the day. Student planners from college. That one was interesting. Now I can access any number of old to-do lists, as well as remember important events should I so desire. What happened on April 11, 1992, for instance? Well, with the flip of a few pages I could give you that information in two shakes. Boxes of stuff that, to the casual observer, would be considered junk but are indelible snapshots of my life. Huh.

In the midst of decluttering, it occurred to me that decluttering my head might be beneficial too. Now THAT’s a major undertaking. There’s WAY too much floating around in there on a normal day, let alone an eventful one. So the other day at lunch (still can’t believe I get a whole HOUR – and most days I don’t know what to do with it) I sat down and wrote a blog entry. Yes, I did. On paper. A really long one. Even typed it up during a slow moment in the Big World of Commercial Real Estate with intentions of just copying and pasting it in here.

And then a minor miracle happened. I reread it. More than once. And I DIDN’T POST IT. That’s a first here. I realized that my post was the equivalent of that time when you really want to say something so you write a letter to someone (your boss, a co-worker, that evil guy who cut you off on the highway) just to say exactly what’s on your mind. What do the ‘experts’ always say about these letters? DON’T MAIL THEM. So I put it away. Yes, I got some pretty good insight from it, but I revised my usual routine of ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ when it comes to my mouth (or in this case, my typing.) I put the filter on  – which is difficult for me – and pondered my thoughts. Yes, Pinky, I was pondering. For a long time. And I remembered the advice of a very wise man: “Identify the issue. Plan a solution. Take action.” Wow. That’s pretty easy to read. Makes sense, too. I planned and I acted. My brain feels much less full. And – insert gasp here – I feel better. Decluttering the mind is a good thing. Now, I’m still waiting to see the end result of ‘taking action,’ but you know what? To me the journey is just as important as the destination.

Go ahead. Declutter something today. That pile of clothes hangers, boxes or the nagging thoughts in the back of your mind. Just do it!

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Filed under family, Life Changes, organization, Personal growth, planning, work

Looking for Passion – What’s that?

Gotcha, didn’t I? With a catchy title, no less! Not to disappoint you, but I’m thinking along a different line than you probably are – life’s work. See, I wrote a couple of weeks ago about sliding doors and life’s crossroads because that’s where I’m currently at. Pondering what I do, how I do it and whether or not to continue it. My. Life’s Work. See, I’m currently unemployed and seriously thinking about a change.

Now what?

A very wise, dear friend who knows me very well had this piece of advice: Do what you love and work will become play.

Sure. OK. No problem, except…

I’m not sure what I love. I envy those of you who have truly found your passion in life. But I’m not sure if I am capable of feeling that deeply, or if I will ever find a true passion. I know people that do. They are the ones who leap out of bed at 5:30 AM and hit the ground running with joy and expectation of what each new day will bring. I’m not one of those. I was more the ‘stay in bed until the last possible moment, then trudge resentfully out the door to get the day finished’ type. Small problem.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been times in my life where I’ve thought I found my true passion. Music was my first. That was my obsession for years. I was simply born to make music. Or so I thought, until I realized two things. First – a well-meaning individual sat me down my last year of college and ever-so-nicely informed me that I would never make as a pro due to my lack of reed making ability (and sweetly suggested that I look for a backup option.) It was a bit late for that. Second – I wanted some measure of stability in my life at that point and simply didn’t have the courage to take the risk of leaping out into the unknown (armed with the well-meant knowledge that I would never make it.) So I quit. Quit playing and tried my hardest to distance myself from everything musical.

At which point I decided to teach. Those who can’t, teach – right? I went to the extreme and for a while thought I was destined to lead multitudes of wide-eyed children down the path to a lifelong love of reading, then elementary music. Such noble aspirations – until met with the realities of TAAS, TAKS, STAAR and No Child Left Behind. Thanks, George W and Rick Perry. OK, I’ll be honest – I can’t blame them (totally) for turning my job into drudgery. But earlier last fall, circumstances (or sliding doors) caused me to take a leave of absence from teaching the masses – and I’ve found that I don’t miss it. At all.

So I am back to square one. What do I love? I love intelligent conversation. I’ve found that my true love is experiencing live music, not necessarily playing it. I love museums, dance, and most of the performing arts (except for outdated musicals. I can’t stand those.) I love being in control. I love feeling like I make a difference to someone, somewhere, each day. I love to write. I love to read. I love research – really, I do. It’s like discovering some unknown artifact to me! But where does this leave me? With a list of things I love and absolutely no idea how to turn them into a satisfying career that fills me with satisfaction and has me bounding out of bed eagerly each day. I really want that.

Part of me looks at the above list and screams ‘Arts Management!’ But I’ve absolutely no idea how to even go about seriously breaking into that field. Another (small) voice in the back of my head weakly suggests ‘Start your own business!’ That sounds great, until the very small logical segment of my brain reminds me that any business starts with a product or service – which I am currently lacking. And the small problem with writing is that people actually have to want to read what you have to say.

Hmmmm…..

So here I am, on this cold rainy day, pondering – what exactly? Life’s passion. What’s yours? How did you find it? What advice do you have for someone like me who is still on the quest for it?

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Filed under Careers, Jobs, Life Changes, Moms

Sliding Doors

Am I the only one who absolutely loves this movie? It’s one of my go-to favorites – at the top of my chick-flick list. One of the DVD’s I pull out on the rare occasions that I find myself alone in the house – sans kids and spouse – and can only fully enjoy in uninterrupted solitude. Why? Apart from the obvious gorgeousness of Gwyneth Paltrow (that haircut!) and the Scottish guy whose name I can never remember, the movie’s premise always makes me think. The idea that every small occurrence or choice that you make can drastically alter your life. Deep stuff. Deep – as in bottomless tar pit full of millenia-old dinosaur fossils deep.

Why am I watching this today? Thinking along these lines now? Because, quite simply, I found myself at a big set of sliding doors today. Gargantuan. Figurative, of course, not literal. One of the biggest in a line of sliding doors in my recent life. I’ll be honest – I made a stupid choice. An unbelievably stupid choice. The type of choice that ‘smart, educated people like me’ shouldn’t and generally don’t make. Ever. But I did. And now I’m at a crossroads. So which way do I go now? Absolutely no idea. None. But the world is bright with opportunity, right? Sure. Of course, now I’m questioning and thinking and overanalyzing everything. Do all working moms feel this way? Moms in general? Minus stupidity, of course. I sure hope so.

The light spot here is that I know God has a plan for me. This is just a bend in that path. My type-A-ness seems to think I should know what lies beyond the bend. But that’s not for me right now. Next on my list: prayer, prayer and more prayer for guidance and direction. So that’s me at the moment. In a nutshell.

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Filed under Life Changes, Moms