Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Letting Go

In a box in our office closet is a set of dishes. They’re beautiful dishes, I think – I picked them out myself and used them every day in my single life. They’re plain white, no pattern, just the way I like it. I picked the plain white because it would go with anything, and I'd never have to worry about matching them to my kitchen decor.

When Dave and I moved in together, we had a dispute over which dishes to use. His were from his childhood; white with dark avocado green flowers on the edges. He loves those dishes. To him, they represent countless childhood meals and family time. To me they look a little dated.

I reluctantly boxed up my beautiful white dishes, thinking someday I could convince him that my dishes were prettier and better. I think, somehow, that they represent my freedom as a single person – to make my own choices and spend my own money.

I still want that freedom to be myself, and it’s something that I struggle with in my relationship. Having grown up in a world where women were to be subservient to men, where women weren’t supposed to spend money without permission, where women put themselves dead last on the priority list, I have a hard time thinking of myself as an independent person. I’m a wife, after all, so I’m supposed to squash myself into the wife box, and in addition to cooking and cleaning, make-do and mend, serving him the biggest pieces of cake and chicken and pie, and justifying every spare purchase, and thinking of him before I think of myself.

This is all me – Dave doesn’t expect me to behave this way, and in fact, he gets puzzled when I do. I’m learning that it’s more than okay for me to express my needs; in fact, it's vital to the health of our relationship for me to do that. If I limp along in bad bras or worn-out running shoes while simultaneously telling Dave to buy new socks because his aren’t “squishy” enough anymore, he gets upset with me. His needs aren’t more important than mine just because we’re married now, but I have to remind myself of that.

So what to do with the dishes? They represent freedom, yes. But they also represent fear. Fear that I will lose myself. Fear that we won't be able to agree on something as mundane as dishes. Fear that something will happen to our relationship and I'll need them again one day. In getting rid of the dishes, will I get rid of the fear? I don't know...but I think I need to find out.

Monday, January 31, 2011

January round up

So, how did I do with those January goals? Here we go:


- get to week 2 of C25k (#1) - I did do one day of week 2 of C25k, plus some days of days of week 1 so...not too bad.
- write two blog posts per week; post four pictures (#2) - didn't do this
- work on anti fundamentalist story 2x/week for 15 mins (#6) - didn't do this either
- get feedback from boss re: performance review and salary review(#7 and #8) - didn't do this
- update resume regardless of outcome of perf review (#7 and #8) - nope
- start looking at Craigslist etc for new job? (#7 and #8) - I've poked around a bit; nothing serious
- in Jan, buy 1-2 more bras; continue to hand wash them weekly (#9 and #51) - nope
- come up with family budget with Dave (#10 and #13) - we've been talking and working on our bill paying system, so I'm calling this done for now. It's really an ongoing conversation
- try opening Champagne at least once (#26) - no
- do yoga on off days from C25k (#30) I did more yoga than running this month.
- Knitting/Craft Stuff (#38) – the goal this month is to finish a lot of the almost-done projects that are hanging around.

Anyway:
-blue beret with sock yarn:
-scarf with blue sock yarn

-finish brown/blue blanket - no pics of this; I'm glad I finished it, but it's made of chenille and already looks worn out
-finish crochet blanket - this thing is huge! It covers the top of our queen-sized bed
-finish birds I'm really pleased with how these turned out - such cute Christmas ornaments!


-finish embroidery project

-finish reading Maggie Righetti’s book
- Books/Science - read Female Chauvist Pigs - nope; got sucked into the Steig Larsson books. Which are totally worth it.
- work on filing project 15 mins/ day, 5x week - nope
- type recipes 15 mins/day, 6x week - did work on this a bit; not as much as I hoped to, but something is better than nothing.
So, ok, I didn't do too well on my goals. I think I was a bit overly ambitious, so I'm going to scale it back for next month. Also, it looks like I did a boatload of knitting, but really, I was 80-90% done with the projects I've listed, so it was just about doing the final bits. Which, as any knitter knows, are the hardest for some reason. It's so much more fun to start projects!
February Goals:

-get all recipes in silver bin typed up
-finish filing project
-get orange sweater done (using this pattern)
-get to week three of C25k (and be way more consistent with exercise!)
-write 8 blog posts (0/8)
-follow up with boss on performance review/salary issue
-cook something from Julia Child for V-day
-finish Larsson books
-finish reading and taking notes on this book

That seems much more do able.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trying to Focus

I’ve noticed a strange thing since I’ve been trying to focus on my goals and what I can achieve. I’ve been feeling really scattered - pulled in a thousand different directions. Even when I’m actively working on a goal I’ve set for myself, I’m thinking about all the other goals that aren’t getting done in that particular moment. It can be really overwhelming.

I’m trying to think of ways to calm my brain down. I think I need to do two things - 1. make certain goals habits and 2. try to be in the moment as much as possible. For things like my C25k goal, I don’t really need to think about it - I just need to set aside time to do it and make it a habit. The program is already there; I just need to follow it.

Being in the moment is a little harder. But really, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter if I cross 5 things off my list per day? Or 3? Or 1? No, not really. The reason I have all my lists is so that I’m not wandering aimlessly around every day, wondering what I should work on. Once I’m working on something, I want to be fully present and engaged in what I’m doing. So, I think I just need to slow down, breathe, and focus on whatever it is I’m doing - if that’s brushing up my resume, knitting a sweater, or chatting with my husband. I want to be present in my life, not constantly worrying if I’m doing enough.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Green" goals for 2011

As you can probably tell, I like lists and goals. I’ve been thinking about ways to become more “green” around the house and I’ve come up with yet another list. I’m certainly not to the point of cloth toilet paper and eliminating trash 100%, but small steps toward being less wasteful work for me!

We already do a few things that are considered environmentally friendly. Probably the biggest one is that we moved close to work. My commute is 5 minutes. My husband’s commute is 10 minutes. Before we moved, we were commuting 35 minutes, one way. We did carpool, but it was still a long trip. So, moving to be closer to work has helped reduce our driving time by quite a bit. We also use cloth napkins, and we’re replaced all the bulbs in our apartment that we’re responsible for with CFLs. There are some fixtures that maintenance takes care of, so those bulbs are still standard or fluorescent.

Jan – Started using my klean kanteen, which I love. I didn’t buy plastic water bottles all the time, and I always reused them, but this way I’m set for use at work. I can’t say I’ll never buy a water bottle again, but this is a step in the right direction. I also want to come up with a natural air freshner for our office and master closet – both of which get stuffy and stinky for some reason. Well, I understand the closet getting stinky since we keep our shoes in there!

Feb – Start using our re-usable bags every time we go shopping – groceries, target, etc. Start carrying small bag in my purse for misc purchases and the library.

Mar – Wean off of paper towels; use flannel rags, dishcloths, etc instead.

April- Work on shutting computers off at night; talk to Dave about shutting off/unplugging power strips also. Work on getting as many electronics as I can onto power strips to make unplugging as painless as possible.

May – Start buying produce at the farmer’s market; try to keep this up all summer! Bring my own containers/bags so I don’t need plastic bags – maybe make some cotton drawstring bags for this. Our closest farmer’s market is only open May-Oct, so while I’d love to shop there all year, I just can’t at this point.

June – Make yogurt and chicken or veggie stock; get Ball glass jars for this (maybe at thrift store – but get new lids!!). I found this method for making chicken stock in the crocknpot, which sounds super easy:  http://www.nourishingdays.com/2009/02/make-chicken-stock-in-the-crock-pot/

July – No spend month! Obviously we’ll still pay bills and buy food, but no extra spending for me, not even at the thrift store! This is a good month for me to do a no-spend thing, since it’s one of the few months in which we don’t need to buy birthday presents and such.

August - Experiment with homemade cleaners (vinegar, baking soda, etc)

September – Research ways to reduce junk mail. I know there’s a way to get on a “do not mail” list and I need to work on that.

Oct – Start walking to/from work one day/week, on Fridays. I feel badly using my car for my 1.2 mile commute; however, like a lot of women, I don’t want to deal with the shoe issue! Most of my professional shoes are just not suitable for walking long distances and I don’t want to schlep a second pair to work. My job has the wonderful dress-down Friday, so walking on Fridays will be relatively painless, since I can wear comfy shoes. I will need to pack my lunch and also bring my ipod since the break room gets really loud and annoying at lunch time.

November – Research community recycling options. Our apartment only has a dumpster – not separate recycling containers. Right now, everything just goes into the dumpster, even stuff I know is recyclable. So, I want to see if there are nearby places where we can take our recycling. It will have to be convenient; otherwise I won’t do it.

December – try cloth pads (such as lunapads); if I like them, use them full time. Or, if they aren’t practical for a work day, use them at night when I’m at home. This is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while anyway. When I had a communal washer and dryer I was more hesitant, but now that we have a washer and dryer of our very own, it makes sense to give it a try.

All the time – work on not wasting food, using less soap/shampoo/conditioner/etc, turning lights off in rooms I’m not using, wear slippers and a sweater before automatically turning up the heat (in summer, wear loose cotton dresses before turning on AC), work on planning one meat-free dinner/week.

Even with implementing all these changes we still won’t be perfect environmentalists. But I’m ok with that for now – every little bit helps, right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On writing about the wedding

Life list item #37 was to write a wedding graduate post for APW and submit it. I think at this point, though, I’m ready to remove that item from my list. To me, the wedding was a Big Thing, and such a beautiful memory for me, that I’m not sure I want to open my experience to the outside. Even if it was never published, someone else would read it, and I don’t think I want to be that emotionally vulnerable to someone (or maybe a lot of someones) I’ve never met. I certainly appreciate the women who do write for APW, I just don’t think I want to be one of them.

So, I’m removing that item. I certainly don’t plan to do that will all the items on my list, but it’s good to re-evaluate sometimes and do what’s right for me, lists be damned.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Books Read 2010

Just a list of the books I read over the last year:

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
Bookends by Jane Green
Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent
Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
A Light from Heaven by Jan Karon (via audio book)
Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
I Do But I Don't: Why the Way We Marry Matters by Kamy Wicoff
Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner by Elizabeth George (via audio book)
Why Didn't They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Sitterfield (via audio book)
Vilette by Charlotte Bronte
The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer (via audio book)
The Priest's Madonna by Amy Hasssinger (via audio book)
The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory (via audio book)
The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie
People of the Book by Gwendolyn Brooks (via audi obook)
Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Serpent on the Crown by Elizabeth Peters (via audio book)
Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as On of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (Or Most All) of it Back by Frank Schaeffer
More Blood, More Sweat, and Another Cup of Tea by Tom Reynolds
At Some Disputed Barricade by Anne Perry (via audio book)
The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser
Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir
The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal
About a Boy by Nick Hornby
The Religion by Tim Willocks (via audio book)
The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid (via audio book)
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Lord of the Dead by Tom Holland
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (via audio book)
The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
The Dirt on Clean by Katherine Ashenburg
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (via audio book)
Stuart Little by EB White
The Moonstone Castle Mystery by Carolyn Keene
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (via audio book)
The Codex by Douglas Preston (via audio book)
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
The Lives ofthe Kings and Queens of England edited by Antonia Fraser (via audio book)
The English Assassin by Daniel Silva (via audio book)
Restoring the Goddess: Equal Rites for Modern Women  by Barbara Walker
The Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters (via audio book)
A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

An even 50 books, not bad for the year. I really like listening to audio books while I clean and knit, but my local library is heavy on the mystery/thriller type, so that's why there are so many of those type of books on this list. I probably should make more of an effort to read/listen more widely, but for now, this isn't bad.

I think my favorite of the audio books was The Thirteenth Tale - a Gothic tale with a rich plot and many twists and turns. My favorite "regular" book was Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God. I could really relate to his tale of growing up in fundamentalism. My eyes just about fell out of my head when I read that just at the time my family was idolizing him for converting to Greek Orthodoxy and whatnot, he was holed up in a tiny apartment, miserable and stealing pork chops. A great read, darkly funny, and with a great message.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fresh Starts

I’m feeling the need for more space in my life, for more breathing room. I feel like, since the move in April and the wedding in October and the holidays, I was simply treading water and doing the bare minimum. Which is totally ok, and I’m glad I could let go enough to do that. But, in the meantime, projects spiraled out of control. My desk at home became a nightmare. My desk at work became an even bigger nightmare. I became really good at shoving things into boxes and cupboards and drawers to deal with “later.”

Well, it is now “later.” Even though it’s clich├ęd as a New Year’s ritual, there’s something comforting and soothing about starting a new year with a clean slate – about organizing and packing up and getting rid of and cleaning. Last night I cleaned my desk at home – and it feels like a big, happy sigh when I sit down to it now. It’s not minimalist, by any means, since I’m not a minimalist and I like my creature comforts. But the teetering stacks of paper are gone, along with the old empty envelopes, the piles of computer and camera cables, the old notes, the boxes of thank-you notes. What’s left? Room to breathe.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fog

It’s been cold and foggy in my part of the world. I think I’m the only person I know who actually likes fog – I love the soft blanket of grey in the sky, the way the light looks when it filters through our blinds, the cozy feeling I get imagining that I could spend a day curled up in a quilt, doing my knitting and drinking hot chocolate and listening to a Val McDermid mystery before slowly and lovingly creating a pot of soup. The reality is, of course, that I spend my foggy days working in my cubical, trying to find passion for pushing papers and answering phone calls before going home and heating up leftovers for dinner.

But still, the fog calls to me in a way that sunlight never does. I never get depressed by Winter (possibly because it’s so short here!). Instead, I dread the month of August when one sticky, hot, miserable day follows another and the sun is so bright that even sunglasses don’t cut the glare.

But those days are a long way off, and until then, I will bask in a world of soft greys and whites and think cozy thoughts.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

It seems a bit ridiculous to post real New Year’s Resolutions when I have the big giant list of things to do. So, instead, I’ll be posting monthly goals that will directly relate to items on my life list.

January Goals:

- get to week 2 of C25k (#1)
- write two blog posts per week; post four pictures (#2)
- work on anti fundamentalist story 2x/week for 15 mins (#6)
- get feedback from boss re: performance review and salary review(#7 and #8)
- update resume regardless of outcome of perf review (#7 and #8)
- start looking at Craigslist etc for new job? (#7 and #8)
- in Jan, buy 1-2 more bras; continue to hand wash them weekly (#9 and #51)
- come up with family budget with Dave (#10 and #13)
- try opening Champagne at least once (#26)
- do yoga on off days from C25k (#30)
- Knitting/Craft Stuff (#38) – the goal this month is to finish a lot of the almost-done projects that are hanging around. Hopefully, I’ll take some pictures of them and post those, but with the short days, it’s hard to find time to photograph them in daylight. I’ve discovered through trial-and-error that I take seriously crappy pictures in artificial light. There’s probably something I can do about that, but it would involved reading the camera manual and fiddling with buttons and knobs. And, uh, that scares me. Anyway:
-blue beret with sock yarn
-scarf with blue sock yarn
-finish brown/blue blanket
-finish crochet blanket
-finish birds
-finish embroidery project
-finish reading Maggie Righetti’s book
- Books/Science - read Female Chauvist Pigs
- work on filing project 15 mins/ day, 5x week
- type recipes 15 mins/day, 6x week

Monday, January 3, 2011

Random New Year's Resolutions

1. Do not purchase any new lotion/soap/perfume until I’ve used what I have
2. Do not purchase any new candles until I’ve used what I have.

Notice a pattern???