Thursday, May 20, 2010

Little Changes

So I've decided that a Good Life is really just a cumulation of good habits.

In my experience with it thus far, Life comes at me in random and unpredictable spurts. There is little rhyme or reason to it from where I sit. A few Sunday School lessons, Holocaust stories, and observations of Middle Schooler's interactions has taught me that what determines whether it ("it" being Life in this case) is a good or bad experience is how you react to it right?

So reactions are pretty important.

Important stuff for me means planning and preparing and rehearsing and rewriting and editing and practicing some more and having your bff review and approve and planning etc.

But I've never really gotten a lot of lead time when big Life moments have come before and I feel, to an extent, that I've blown a few of them because I reacted poorly.

So, in an effort to focus energy on solutions and not problems I've thought:

"OK - I need to react well to everything so that when another Life moment happens I'll see it as just another thing and do well."

"Well" meaning: according to my faith, proportionally to the person and situation, respectfully, without entitlement, and with grace or "like a Lady" for short.

So practicing reactions is stuff you do every day. Then I realized that none of that is a new concept. They're called habits and people have been preaching this for years. Like I said before, I'm slow.

I've realize that I have many different habits. Stress habits, work habits, emotional habits, grooming habits, social habits, mental habits and I found good and bad ones all over the place.

So, therefore if my rhetorical calculations are right; if I change my habits I change my trajectory, or Life. That works for me.

On changing habits: my AP Physics class taught me that nature hates a vacuum. I can't just wake up and let myself think/ say:


Why yes my inner monologue is in caps, especially when it's being declarative (and irrational) and frequently sounds like Anne Shirley........ What? Don't judge me.

So I'm changing habits - going for the jugular if you will.

After listening to my initial reaction I hear my AP Physics teacher, Mr. Davis, say in is most somber voice "Nature hates a vacuum. Whatever is closest get's the job".

So the ripping out of a bad habit typically sucks in a neighboring (and sometimes worse) bad habit. Less effective**.

Sports and Music have taught me that excellence comes from doing the same thing over and over with consistent little corrections. One just doesn't go to water polo camp for two weeks and come back an Olympian***. One can learn a lot there, theory wise, technique wise even, but conditioning and repetitive, accurate, execution is the only thing that will ever make water polo player a good water polo player. Instant change isn't real change. My goal is a serious habit remodel so my initial/Annesque solution won't work. Ever. Hence, good habits are cultivated by practice to gingerly and deliberately replace bad habits. Like Indy at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Arc. Not that I consider my disposition and approach to life a bag of sand - but you know what I mean.

Inconsistency is one of my bad habits. I never to go sleep at the same time or have the same thing for breakfast etc. This quality lends itself to a lot of complications so I'm taking and making opportunities to practice consistence. One of these is also an effort to enrich myself, make best use of my time, and create some continuity to my days. I've started listening to NPR on my way to work. I realize this isn't very news worthy or unique and I'm OK with that. There is power in simplicity.

I love NPR but neither habits or it are NOT the point of this post if you can believe it.

The point is; I've been following the most wonderful series/story and I want everyone I know to share the awesome.

Steve Inskeep from Morning Edition has been making his way along the Grand Trunk Road in India and Pakistan. One 5th of the world's population lives around there and over half of that area's population is under age 25. Seeing how small of a place the world is becoming I've realized and embraced the fact that these people are going to be my contemporaries, are going to change the world, and I am VERY interested to know about them and their lives.

I've just love-loved it. Give it a listen/read and tell me what you think. I'd really love to start a conversation about this.

**The Missionary Guide, or "Gia" as the Spanish types said, had a series of training modules. There was always a feedback section and I suppose in an effort to be positive, whoever wrote them only ever termed something as "Effective" or "Less Effective". It was this random ubiquitous phrase in our little worlds and took on epic meaning. If something was just beyond an epic fail it was "less effective", or as we said in the Spanish program "menos efficaz"

Thursday, May 13, 2010


So I've been thinking lately...

My whole life I've been pretty definitive about things. My friend even described me as a "go getter" the other day. I thanked her but found myself really disagreeing especially in light of my life's pace as of late but with reflection realized, she was right.

I have proven to be a mover and shaker in my own life and to myself many many times. I used to go after the smartest and best looking boys in in the ward, Institute etc and more often than not, got them.

I went after jobs I wanted and got them. I went after the degree that I wanted and huffing and puffing achieved it. I saw some girls playing water polo during my 7 am swim class and just got up and decided to join the team. I pretty much Forest Gumped my way into a marvelous set of situations and a rather beautiful life. I was loved and had fun almost all the time. I realize this was all because in the back of my brain I had a plan. I am a planner. It's what I do. It's how God made me. If a pink rose and an itemized check list flew at each other with some pixie dust and mascara that would be me.

I went on my mission, came home, continued through school but bits and pieces of my plan started to flake and fall off in the wind tunnel that was my life. 25 came and went and I was not married nor with children but I still had Grad school and a fun teaching career to look forward to. Once graduation was a real thing in Dec of 2007 and I started the Grad School hurry-up-and-wait dance I knew it was just a matter of time. But the thin envelope came in April 2008 and if I was at liberty to have shut myself up for days I would have, not just mourning the lost opportunity and validation of grad school but because that was the last shingle of My Plan.

From there on out My Plan (read: life) came crashing down like a Jenga Tower.

* I didn't get into grad school.
* I had one of the worst break ups I've had yet that I really thought was going towards marriage.
* I had to let go of a torch I'd been carrying for a good long while and my sub-conscious back-up plan (marriage wise).
* I got laid off from my job.
* I had to find a new job in our HORRIBLE economy.
* My grandmother passed away
* My sister-in-law almost died and had my nephew 6 weeks early (that's pretty happy though)
* California's Education budget shut down enrollment in 90% of programs I could get into and/or were looking at.

I don't think that I've been the funnest of people to be around this last year and for those of you who have stuck around and still love me - thank you. I'm aware of what a bother I've been. How withdrawn I've let myself become, how moody and distracted I am. I'm sorry. I really really am.

It just hasn't been an easy time. I don't feel sorry for myself. I know there are a WORLD of people out there that have lost homes, lost hope, lost their families, lost health. I know my burden is comparatively light but it's still my little shattered world and these last 6 months I've been starting to pick up the pieces.

I did find employment and am enjoying it a lot.
My nephew remains one of the most adorable earthlings ever
And I've been getting to rebuild.

I've spent a lot of time constructing this life I though I should have and in doing so, I've forgotten a few of things. Namely, who I was and am.

For instance; I'm a self-proclaimed non-crafter. I don't really do cute very well. I'm lame at scrapbooking etc. I've felt unworthy as a female because my quilting skills don't go much beyond tying knots so I just put away the whole scene thinking there were other and better things to do. What I neglected to understand that though I don't need crafts I do need creativity. The majority of my creativity comes out in fixing things; mending socks, hemming pants, organizing drawers and closets. I'm a solutions girl I guess. Hence, when I was cleaning my room (in preparation to move) and doing a Goodwill purge I realized I found a large amount of sewing supplies strewn about and I thought to myself;

Self, you know, you really do like sewing and you're pretty good at it. You're just a really unhealthy perfectionist about it. That's all. Too many things have come easy to you so when something isn't perfect the second or third time you pick up a needle or paint brush you've dismissed it. That's ridiculous. You're human and the sooner you admit that and start working from that vantage point the better. You LIKE sewing and being creative. You've tucked this rather sizable stash of sewing supplies into different corners for the last 3 years. You need to just admit Crafty-proclivity and buy a sewing basket, centralize your efforts, and move on. It's OK.

So that's what I did. With the purchase of my Joanne's Clearance sewing basket I'm admitting my willingness to screw up in the name of progress and give up delusions of infallibility. I'm letting myself be creative again.

Pictures to follow.

This admonition has tree-branched out, in tandem with my impending move, to want to start from scratch.

Like most things, my emotional state is finding root in the physical world. Like, when I look around and start planning the move I find myself wanting to trash everything and start from scratch. Ditch all my clothes, ditch my furniture - everything. Just take my books, shoes and things I love and just piece things back together one by one. Fresh, new, and untainted with the last two years.

This has most acutely come out in the planning of my new living quarters.

I've got all new furniture picked out (mostly because mine is crap) and I've found it all on special or clearance :)

I've made a scaled layout of where it will all go. No.... seriously

and I've started making changes where I could. Principally in new bedding.

My decorating philosophy is find some art you love and make everything work around that. You've all seen the Flora half of Mucha's La Primavera that I love. Here is my framed print

And I've put together this for my sleeping abode

I looked and looked for a duvet cover that would work with Flora and I finally found this one at TARGET! Here's a close up

I could not for the life of me find a bedding set that didn't nauseate me or make me shake my head for the lost aesthetics that is the American Market Place so I knew I was going to have to piece things together on my own and hope the colors worked. I found the sheets and small red pillow cases at Bed Bath & Beyond on a clearance (670 thread count too!) and the Euro shams were another Target find. I had to get them there because they matched the underside of the duvet. :)

I'm pretty happy. I realize I'm turning into my mother, aesthetic-wise. But I think there are worse things. She's pretty classy.

This is only the 5th set of bedding I've ever had. isn't that ridiculous? I remember getting a rainbow comforter when i was about 6. Then when i was 10ish I got a similar one but instead of rainbows it was white with a multi-colored heart pattern grid on it. Then, when I was 16 or so, to thank me for helping her on one of her books, my mother's friend Lael Littke took me shopping for my next set of bedding. I used that till I inherited a California king bed from a wealthy aunt and uncle that were moving and I needed new bedding for that and found this lovely purple and sage green bed set at TJ Maxx by luck and spite. I just finished packing up the last of that set and am ready to move on to my first bed as a real adult. A Lady that is having to carve her way out of the doldrums and through the rest of the world one day at a time.