December 29, 2010

I’m the Sun

So it’s almost New Year’s Day, and this is a blog about the journey of self-improvement...I guess I should just do the resolution entry and get it over with.

If you can’t tell, New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love clear delineations: start points, dead lines, designated boxes, clearly marked folders, closed closet doors...they’re great! We should have cut-off points in our calendar where we call it quits for this year and move along to the next. It keeps things so nicely organized. I know exactly how to file my paperwork thanks to the time system. I take satisfaction in knowing that, if nothing else, my calendars are up to date.

I even don’t feel it’s silly to load certain emotional markers on particular days of the year. If we tried to live one emotional set of parameters all year long we’d...well, we’d fail miserably. Any old day I can be grouchy, make rude jokes about the government, and be morose. However, once a year it’s good to be reminded to tell everybody we love them, to be proud that we’re Americans, to laugh at death and wear ridiculous clothing, and yes, once a year to take a serious inventory of what we could improve about ourselves.

No, the concept of New Year’s resolutions really isn’t offensive to me. It’s just...I’m a naturally independent and stubborn person. Naturally independent and stubborn people generally don’t like the implication that we need to change. We prefer to offer advice rather than take it gracefully. Seeing a lot of news articles about how I should manage my money, manage my weight, manage my time, manage my stress, and manage whatever it is they assume I’m handling poorly as of 2010, makes me want to dig in my heels and say something like, “Manage yourself, buddy,” and metaphorically shake my fist.

I truly believe that, when it comes to change, the only impetus that one can actually rely on is oneself. The best advice in the world doesn’t mean anything until you are ready to listen. And listening to advice is useless until you actually act. I know how to manage my money, weight, time, and all that other stuff. Knowing how to do it isn’t the problem. The doing is crux of the matter. So, it is difficult to jump into the resolution spirit when I’m convinced that it’s me or nothing.

I concede, however, that being naturally independent and stubborn doesn’t mean I couldn’t use a little help. So, this year, perhaps I should to try and be open-minded to the advice givers of the world. Yes, in the end it does come down to me and my decision to act, but a little outside motivation, a few helpful hints, an article or two about keeping resolutions can’t hurt me. No reason to be stubborn for stubborn’s sake. No reason to take common sense advice as a personal attack on my skills at running my life.

This year, I resolve to be a little less resolute on my prior stand on resolutions.

December 10, 2010


December 10 – Wisdom

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

I don’t know if it was my wisest, but it sure was a good one: I moved. I never got 100% comfortable in my last apartment. I had to move out of an apartment I loved into one that was “perfectly fine” due to monetary concerns, and I’m sure that colored my judgment somewhat. My last apartment wasn’t awful, but it was smaller. And darker. And the upstairs neighbors noisier. And the front office lost my packages. And...well, let’s face it, my last place just wasn’t “home, sweet home.”

I moved into a duplex this year. I’m not going to say it’s perfect (because I can think of two problems right off hand), but it is definitely an improvement. It’s big, it’s airy, and it’s just all around homey. It feels like my house and not just the place I’m temporary living to save money. It’s important for a home to be a home and not just a container of your stuff. My place is my little oasis from the rest of the world, and I’m glad to have it.

December 7, 2010

I love your friends, they’re all so arty.

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Erg...this is a stupid prompt...I discovered the TV show “Community” is pretty funny. Their Halloween episodes are high-lair-ree-us. The last one was a take-off on zombie movies...but I don’t think that’s what this prompt is about...

Oh I’ve got one! I discovered this past year. If you don’t know of Etsy, imagine if eBay had been created by artists. It’s an online community where makers-of-stuff can sell said stuff to the buyers-of-stuff. The stuff ranges from simple crafts to fancy art, and it’s all on a user-friendly forum. Two Christmas gifts have already been purchased. Etsy also features blogs and what-not for those who sell. I find it all so fascinating that I daydream of crossing over from a buyer to a seller. If I could just come up with that brilliant idea...

December 6, 2010

The Sweetest Thing

December 6 – Make.

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

I made a Christmas gift this weekend. I won’t go into details about what it is so no surprises will be ruined, but it was a good experience. I thought of this idea a while ago and debated whether the effort would be appreciated by the receiver of the gift. In the end I decided it would be, partly because I think it’s a good idea, but also because I realized that I really wanted to make it. The project is something that I’m good at and enjoy doing for myself, it seemed special to share it with someone else. It took more effort than I thought it would, but I finished it with a great sense of satisfaction. I think the gift receiver, even if they don’t particularly want the gift itself, will appreciate the thought. Making versus straight buying adds something to the experience for both the giver and the getter.

If You Start Me Up

So, I'm trying this out: reverb10

I've been crazy busy recently and have missed writing. I'm hoping this will be a good way to initiate an entry or few. Plus, I love me some self-reflection.

November 24, 2010

On The Road Again

I saw an interview with Willy Nelson where someone asked if he ever played Branson, Missouri. His immediate response was, “No,” and a vigorous shake of his head. He explained that audiences were “different” there. Having visited Branson recently I think I understand Willy’s reaction.

Branson seems to be diametrically opposed to itself. On one hand it is a beautiful part of the world: leaves changing colors, clear skies, streams winding through scenic cliffs. On the other hand, it is home to some of the tackiest buildings in the world: a recreation of Titanic running into an iceberg, King Kong scaling a sky scraper, Andy William’s Moon River Grill. The attitude of Branson also seems a bit contradictory. There was blatant patriotism on display, but several of the most popular attractions are foreign. Small town charm smothered by tourist commercialism. There was a slight tension to the place that is hard to explain.

My Aunt described one of the shows as, “Dolly Parton’s version of Medieval Times.” The fact that such a sentence could exist and make sense...but, seriously, that sort of sums it up. Las Vegas in the woods. But with no booze. Then there are the audiences. Willy is, no doubt, used to laidback beer-drinking good ol’ boys. Branson features a lot of retiree Church groups who splurge on ice tea. I wasn’t miserable in Branson, but I wasn’t quite comfortable there either. Imagine the South without hospitality. Or booze.

Then again, perhaps the contradiction lies within me. I would never say I need alcohol to have a good time, but clearly I missed it. I love tackiness, patriotism, and ice tea—why am I suddenly a snob about them? Perhaps, I just prefer such things to be a little more self-aware. (Not necessarily the ice tea, but...) I like Las Vegas because Las Vegas is proudly tacky. Las Vegas managed to make marble tacky and yet shows it off with élan. Branson has wrapped itself up in Americana so tightly that it seems to have missed the fact that it no longer resembles down-to-Earth America. Even as I criticize, however, I am aware that there were many parts of my Branson trip I thoroughly enjoyed. Below the bizarre exterior, there was quality. The restaurant didn’t have a beer list, but it did have the amazing goodness that is fried green tomatoes. The show might have been in a ridiculous building and have had a ridiculous premise, but it was a good show. The Titanic museum might be in a building made to look like the ship ramming into a papier-mâché iceberg, but it is a worthwhile museum. (Trust me, just get past the front door.) So why the hesitation in saying Branson is great place to visit?

Am I just too cool for Branson? Have I wrapped myself so tightly in my chic liberal merlot-drinking ways that I can’t enjoy something that doesn't fit into my preset notions of enjoyment? I’m choosing to think, no. I had fun, I took pictures, I bought the souvenir magnet. I tried to get as much out of the vacation as I would any other place in the world. I would even go back to Branson—no, really. Now that I’m a little more prepared for what to expect, I would pack my own bottle of wine, and enjoy this different type of kitsch for what it’s worth. Even if Willy and I happen to think other places are a little more worthwhile.

October 7, 2010

Here It Goes Again

I haven’t written an entry in a while, but that’s because I’ve been a busy little bee buzzing away happily. I found my motivation. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, because I’m not sure when it got back or where it’s been (and my motivation isn’t talking). The important point is that it is back and I am enjoying the sensation.

Though I’m not sure I’ve got any insights into the mysteries of motivation, I have realized that a big boost of confidence in one area of your life will spill over into other parts of your life. My job has become challenging again, rather than just being a challenge. There are new and interesting tasks at hand and, so far, I’ve been accomplishing them well. I am meeting the challenge and being appreciated for it. At work! Who would have thought!?

Strangely enough, this has made other little bothersome things in my life seem less bothersome. I’ve already crossed a few “to do’s” off my Should List. I’ve even taken on a new personal project that could become quite complicated, but I’m going for it anyways. Perhaps, I’m just a little heady in the rush of positive emotions. Perhaps, I do thrive on stress and I just wish I was one of those laid-back gals. I’m not sure it matters, I’m just enjoying my motivation while it’s here.

September 16, 2010

Some Grief, Some Joy

I spent Labor Day at my grandparents’ house. For the past few years, various members of the family have met there to enjoy one another’s company. Somewhere along the way, we solved the logistical problems of feeding a large group of people multiple days by deciding that a different branch of the family would cook each night. Last year, the dinner assignments split naturally among my mother and her siblings. This year, we were short an uncle and his branch to prepare food. My mother, half joking, suggested that my cousin and I take up the slack and make dinner one night.

I went for it. After all, I am a wannabe foodie and I knew that my cousin has some wicked entertaining skills—we could totally take on dinner one night! I am proud of my cooking skills. I have had lots of helpful instruction from various people in my life, and have watched a lot of Food Network, but a considerable amount of my skill is the result of me experimenting on myself. While I don’t think I have a natural talent for food creation (I would never be able to come up with a dish on “Chopped”), I know the cooking basics and can work a recipe. I consider my modest cooking abilities to be an accomplishment of practice and study and am always excited by the chance to show off a little.

The problem is, I have stage fright. That’s the best way I can put it. It is very similar to public speaking for me. I can know my topic, I can practice my speech, I can feel confident in myself...until I stand up in front of people. Then, without fail, my stomach back flips, I break a sweat, and my tongue seems much larger than it did before. No matter how prepared I am for a speech, I will always be nervous while giving it. I can have a recipe down, I can have cooked it a hundred times successfully, I can know my kitchen inside and out, but as soon as someone is in the room while I’m cooking I become hugely self-conscious. As soon as someone is about to take a bite of what I’ve cooked, I am convinced it is horrible-tasting poison.

I come from a loving and supporting family. I was in no way heckled while cooking. In fact, both my cousin and aunt were extremely helpful as I eeked and oohed my way through fixing dinner (eeking and oohing being my traditional method of dealing with nerves). My Mom, who I was determined to give the night off, even tagged in for the occasional assist. It was a team dinner, no doubt, but I knew that the main dish was still my choice and my responsibility, and the thought of that nearly gave me hives. I comforted myself with the thought that we could always get pizza delivered, even as my entire family was making affirmative comments. Only after everyone had eaten, after many compliments, after two family members asked for the recipe, could I relax a little bit and believe I hadn’t poisoned my loved ones.

What I find fascinating about all of this is that I feel at the same time both the need to show off my cooking talents and the secret doubt that I’m culinary disaster waiting to happen. I both want to cook for people and am terrified to cook for people simultaneously. I know I will continue to welcome opportunities to prepare meals for others, but history tells me that I’m going to freak out a little every time I do so.

As we were eating the shrimp and pasta dish that I had prepared, my aunt noticed I wasn’t eating very much. (My entire body was clenched as I waited to see if my grandmother would keel over onto her platter.) She told me that when she entertains that she often has “cook’s mouth.” She’s spends so much time and energy making sure everything is perfect for her guests she is unable to enjoy the meal for herself.

The idea of cook’s mouth makes me feel better about my love/hate relationship with cooking for others. Perhaps that duality is just a result of caring so much about the people I’m cooking for. (I really don’t want my grandmother to keel over while eating.) Perhaps, the stage fright is just proof of how invested I am in perfecting my dish. Or, perhaps, I’m just a tad insecure.

Still, I keep cooking. I keep welcoming the opportunities to cook for others. I’ll just have to keep on managing the minor freak outs as well.

August 26, 2010

Doing Pretty Good

I have a sinus infection.

I have been congested and have had headaches, including one that went into migraine, but I thought to myself, “Stupid allergies.” I’ve also been somewhat achy (“Stupid working out.”), and keep going between feeling really hot (“Stupid Texas summer.”) and really cold (“Stupid Texas air conditioning.”). Then I was in tai chi class and was sweating buckets (“Stupid humidity.”), but tried to power through even as I felt weaker and weaker (“Stupid limbs made out of cement.”). At that point, my tai chi instructor walked over and told me to go lay down because I looked like I was about to pass out. When I got home that night, I cooled off, ate something with lots of protein, and generally rested. However, I couldn’t help but notice that I still felt light-headed. The next morning I felt the same.

Finally, I went to the doctor. I told her all about the light-headedness and the nearly passing out. Luckily, my doctor was a better detective than me and she thought to ask questions to find the other pertinent symptoms. After a very thorough examination, which included an EKG, a blood test for anemia, and a head x-ray, I got the diagnosis of a sinus infection.

Rather than feeling relieved that I didn’t have some bizarre light-headed disease, my first reaction was to be embarrassed. I had another sinus infection? Shouldn’t I know what those feel like by now? As I added up all the symptoms it seemed perfectly know, right after somebody pointed it out to me. How could I have not realized it was a sinus infection?!

A few of my friends have been dealing with medical problems lately. I’m at least number four on the list of sinus infections, there have been a couple stomach bugs, and then there were some more serious, long-term issue diagnoses. All these problems run the gamut of corporeal existence, but I noticed a theme as I was discussing them with my various friends.

Embarrassment. Every one of my friends seemed to be embarrassed by the idea that their body was weak in some way. At least two friends used the word shame when discussing their medical condition. There was even a sense of guilt expressed.

It’s not a far leap, I suppose, for women in our society to be embarrassed by a medical hindrance. After all, we tend to spend a lot of time being self-conscious about our appearance. I suppose it all falls under that master category of “physical defect.” I know more than one woman who has trouble taking a compliment—

“Your hair looks nice!”

“I just wore it pulled back today because it’s windy outside.”

—so it’s no wonder then that we react poorly when someone actually confirms that something about our bodies is wrong. It’s as though someone announced out loud the dirty little secret we all know: our bodies aren’t perfect.

Even though this is just the universal human condition, we tend to act like it is some terrible mistake we have made. We immediately analyze our behavior to see how we brought this upon ourselves, how we could have avoided it, how others will treat us if they find out. We find we need to forgive ourselves for something we never chose to have happen to us. We find we have to account to others how this situation could have occurred.

Even for something as dumb as a sinus infection. I can’t tell you how much it bothers me that I haven’t done my laundry because I am exhausted from being sick and taking antibiotics. I feel I need to explain myself to people for the fact that I’ve been sleeping more than housekeeping. I have a good reason, really! Please, don’t judge me too harshly! Certainly, not as harshly as I tend to judge myself.

When I was in the doctor’s office, I received a reminder why I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for uncontrollable physicality. As the doctor reviewed the results from my EKG, she said, “You have a beautiful heartbeat. You work out, don’t you?” I was so surprised that I didn’t have a chance to retort with my usual, “Not as much as I should.” The fact of the matter is that I don’t feel I work out enough because I’m not losing weight. The outside part of me—the part that I’m used to feeling guilty about—seems to be pretty much same. It took an expert to point out that I do exercise regularly and that it is having a very good effect somewhere.

So I remind myself: I’m a healthy, beautiful woman who does not have medical training. It’s okay if I don’t immediately spot potential symptoms of minor illnesses. It’s not only okay, it’s normal, to occasionally be sick and tired. What is important is that I take care of myself as best I can, that I say “thank you” when someone compliments me, and that I give myself time to recover from minor illnesses before doing my laundry.

(Stupid sinus infections.)

August 12, 2010

Keep Pushin’

What is motivation?

I know what inspiration is. I remember what it feels like when a new concept enters my mind. I remember what that excitement feels like. I know what satisfaction is. I know how the certainty of completion feels as it moves in my chest. I know what frustration is. I know how it lives in the back of my throat and behind my eyes. I know how it travels in waves.

But, what is motivation?

A clever, beautiful, strong-willed woman of my acquaintance is successful at family, education, and career. If I was asked to give examples of people who have their stuff together, she’d certainly be at the top of my list. Today she suffered a setback and decried that she had lost all her motivation.

It’s been bothering me ever since. I’m not particularly worried about her as she’s the type of gal that regroups and attacks from the left if the right isn’t working. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s already moved on with a well-itemized action plan to counteract the situation. What she said, however, has stuck with me.

For a long while now I’ve been struggling. “I’m having a problem with my motivation,” has been a great little sound bite for me to describe this sense of personal struggle. Yet, when I heard it come from the mouth of a woman who seems to be so—I don’t know—well-organized at life, suddenly the statement seemed…

Meaningless? Stupid? Overly-dramatic? No. It was an honest moment of frustration and I knew how she felt and I sympathized. I responded with encouragement because I wanted her to get it back. It: that mystical motivation that we apparently all know we need.

But, what is motivation?

If you peruse Merriam-Webster long enough, you will get to motive. It comes from a variation on the Latin verb that means “to move.” Literally, motivation is what makes you move.

I think it’s what’s you have when you don’t have inspiration. I think it’s why you keep moving even when it doesn’t feel wonderful to move. I think it’s what convinces us that if we keep moving, eventually it will feel wonderful, eventually we’ll get inspired again. I think it’s the metaphorical moat that keeps despair from invading.

After an unexpected and negative outcome, my friend told me she didn’t feel like moving. Oh, how I know how that feels. I guess it seemed funny coming from her because she’s not good at sitting still. She’s isn’t the type to stop moving. I guess it bothered me because I worry that I am.

Am I moving or sitting still with a lot of talk?

I suppose it’s like sanity, if you are worried that you are losing it then you must still have some left. So, I have motivation.

Anybody know where I can pick up some of that inspiration stuff?

August 5, 2010

I Say No, No, No

“Does Chinese food sound good?”

You would think I—wannabe foodie, Weight Watchers member, generally picky eater—would easily say “no” when Chinese, in fact, does not sound good that evening. Instead I say something like,


In many ways, I’m a very opinionated person. I wouldn’t call myself picky, but boy am I particular. When I consider how opinionated I am on certain subjects, how willing I am to share my opinions on certain subjects, how much of a smart ass I can be, how easily I can hand out seems strange that I ever have trouble saying “no” when the answer to someone’s question is “no.”

I reason that I don’t not-like Chinese food. Sometimes I even crave Chinese food. So, if my friend wants Chinese food, I can certainly eat it. I can certainly not go with my first choice so my friend can have hers.

I always like to think that when I say “yes” when I’m thinking “no” it’s because I want everyone to be happy. I truly do believe in the golden rule of treating others as you would want to be treated. I think to myself, “What if I wanted Chinese tonight? I would want her to say ‘yes’.”

The truth is, a lot of the reason that I say “yes” when I’m thinking “no” is because I want people to like me. It’s not so much wanting my friend’s happiness, it’s being afraid of my friend’s rejection. That’s a horrible approach to decision making.

For one, and most obvious, something’s going on with my self-esteem when I find myself compulsively yes-ing. There are better ways to gain people’s love and friendship than eating unwanted food. I will not have failed in my ability to interact sociably if I do not go out for Chinese. Two, the idea gives very little credit to my friends. They love me more than my willingness to eat kung-pao chicken. They are not so shallow that they will hang up on me if I say no to Chinese food. Third, I don’t want to be that person. I really do want to make decisions based on people’s happiness, including my own, and not based on my personal fears.

I noticed an upswing in my yes-ing not too long ago. I think I’m afraid certain people in my life are there because of happenstance and not by choice. For example, does so-and-so at work chat with me because she really thinks I’m cool, or because I happen to sit closer to the restrooms than to her manager’s office and, therefore, geographically suited to avoiding work a little bit longer. I think that sort of paranoia is partly due to my natural shyness, and partly due to my ability to be really hard on myself about everything when one or two things aren’t going right.

That’s a lot of psychology to load into a decision on where to eat for dinner. (I hope all of you who have gotten this far in realize that “Chinese food” is a metaphor.)

In response, I’ve been trying out my no’s. (No, not my nose, my no’s.) I turned down going out when I had brought my lunch. I said “no” to driving when I had been driving all day. I said “no” to a favor when I knew I really didn’t want to do it. I told that annoying little voice of doubt that lives in my head to shut up when it questioned all of those decisions. I think no’s are good for me.

One, I’m getting a little of what I want and that makes me happy. Two, none of my friend’s have hung up the phone yet. In fact, if they’ve noticed the no’s, they haven’t let on. Three, I’m a little closer to the completely confident, happy, and trusting person I want to be.

"I'd rather we went out for Thai."

July 15, 2010

A Life of Confessions

Wednesday is my day to write. I try to write everyday to get the practice in but life does get in the way, so Wednesday is my scheduled day to take the time to write despite laundry or phone calls or whatever. It’s a good plan except on days like this Wednesday where I really didn’t know what to write. I have a Last Saturday assignment I could have worked on—meh. I have interesting life events I could have related in humorous anecdotes—yawn. I have a list of writing exercises I found on someone else’s blog that I could have tried—bleah. None of those seemed appealing to me, so I decided to come up with my own writer’s block breakthrough. As you may have noticed, I started using song lyrics as the titles of my entries. So, I decided I’d let my iPod decide what my latest entry would be about. I set it to “shuffle,” pressed “play,” and awaited my fate: “Lazy Flies” by Beck.

Boy the flies have been bad in San Antonio this summer...

That’s no good! What kind of topic is that for a blog entry? Stupid iPod wanting me to write about flies.

Actually, “Lazy Flies” is a really good song. It is a quintessential Beck song—all esoteric lyrics and moody tonal quality with a bit of goofiness to show it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I envy that type of art when the artist is unabashedly weird or different or just doing what he or she wants and hopes the audience will just jump on board. I mean lyrics like:

Lazy flies are hovering about,
the magistrate, he puts on his gloves
and he looks to the clouds,
all pink and disheveled,
there must be some blueprint,
some creed of the devil,
inscribed in our minds...

That’s not exactly rock and roll, now is it? That’s a whole other type of song experience outside of your typical genres. That’s Beck. It’s amazing to me how uniquely Beck, Beck is. It reminds me of a book I just finished reading, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. No ones’ writing is like Fforde’s writing. There is something just so Fforde about Fforde.

It’s too easy to describe his genre as sci-fi/fantasy. Jasper Fforde is more surrealist-satire-cum-sci-fi/fantasy. His books are set in whole other universes and are so weird yet so well done. I love that! I love how petty rules of reality don’t seem to affect his writing, and how he manages to pull off stories that are so very other-worldly.

That’s the sort of writer I want to be. I think about the latest story I’ve been trying to write. They (the great “They” of myth and tale) say to write what you know so my latest story stars an angsty female who’s confused about where to go in life. (Strangely enough.) Well, no wonder I don’t want to sit down and write about that. I have plenty of that all the time, I don’t want to spend my free time on that. I wouldn’t want to read about that, certainly. I want to read about parallel universes where people can only see the color red and they have to watch out for feral swans. Obviously, I don’t want to write about reality, I want to write weird out-there stuff and hope my audience jumps on board.

The problem is, how do you get people to jump on board. Seriously. How did Beck ever get a recording contract? Who read Fforde’s first book and thought, “Yeah, a detective who jumps into Jane Eyre to protect the main character—now that’s a story.” How do you know when your fun absurd writing is fun absurd brilliance and not just silly tripe?

Silly Tripe would be a great name for a band, but I digress. Currently, I’m trying to get published a book of poems about supernatural ravens who fly across cultures and have witty philosophical conversations before they meet God. As of yet, no one has jumped on board. Still, it was more fun writing that than it is writing about real life.

So, maybe my iPod has a point.

June 30, 2010

How Can You Tattoo Your Body

Last week, I celebrated my 31st birthday by getting my second tattoo. I got my first tattoo on my 26th birthday and I liked the symmetry of getting the second one 5 years to the day. I also waited five years because I am very particular about permanent additions to my body. I used that time to find an image that meant something to me and to consider if I really wanted it on my body. The five year gap led to some interesting comments, though, from the older members of my tribe including, “I thought you got over that!”

Admittedly, tattoos hit primo fad stage during my college years. You couldn’t sneeze without hitting a classmate’s tribal armband or a sorority girl’s butterfly. Tattoos became as ubiquitous to youthful rebellion as trash can punch and loud music. Let’s face it, everybody who wanted to assert their individuality was doing it. Add that to the fact that to one generation previous, tattoos were something only a certain type of people (tacky people) had, it’s no wonder that the parents of the world consider tattoos to be an unfortunate trend they hope we’ll get over quickly.

And I suppose many of my age group did. Post-motherhood, a friend no longer finds the lone star above her ass in quite the same shape, nor quite so endearing. Another acquaintance only admits she has a tattoo when directly asked. “I was drunk in Hawaii,” she says as explanation of the three-line drawing of a quarter-sized flower on her ankle. Then there’s the coworker who claims to love her tattoo, but made sure to order special make-up to cover it up so it wouldn’t show as she walked down the aisle at her wedding. Like any good impulsive gesture of youth, tattoos are often treated with good-natured embarrassment. For some, they rank alongside prom pictures that feature mullets: that’s just something that we did once.

But then there are people like me. There are a few of us who didn’t get their tattoos because all the cool kids were getting one, and not all of us regret the decision. (At least, we haven’t gotten around to regretting them yet.) One friend still buys shirts based on whether they show off her artwork. Another, upon seeing my new tattoo, fell to classic tat-envy and went a got another piece that afternoon. As I admired her new sea turtle the following day she told me that her next will probably be a bird. “You don’t expect me to stop at 11 do you,” she laughed. I wonder if I ever hit 11 tattoos if my Mom will stop sounding so shocked over the phone.

I don’t expect to hit 11 tattoos (Mom and others who may frown upon such activities), but I love my tattoos. To me, I’m surprised that it is a surprise to anyone. I love artwork. I’ve studied art, I seek out art, I surround myself with art. I receive frequent comments from anyone who visits my workspace or my home on how much I seem to need to cover everything with art. It just seems like a logical next step to me. If I find something beautiful enough and meaningful enough that I want to carry it with me, why shouldn’t I?

No, it doesn’t hurt that much. Yes, there is a chance of infection but if I’m smart enough to find a good dentist then I’m smart enough to find a good artist. Oh yes, it might be a little tacky but it’s my kind of tacky. No, nobody’s every exploded in a CAT scan. And yes, I might regret it someday. Or, if I don’t ever regret it, I might at least be good-naturedly embarrassed by how I spent my 31st birthday. I might even cover it up when I walk down the aisle someday.

Right now, though, I want to show my tattoos off. I love them. The first is the Chartres labyrinth. I love that its four sections represent the seasons. I love that you have to give up control to walk a labyrinth and just trust that it will take you to the right place. I love the implication that just because you don’t know where you are going doesn’t mean you are lost. I love my new tattoo also. It’s based on a design from Mimbres pottery called “Night.” To me it’s like my own little universe swirling on my back. It’s unique, it’s southwestern, it’s pretty, and it’s mine. Both of them have become enough mine to make part of me. I get to become part of the art I love. Why get over that?

June 4, 2010

It’s All In Your Mind

I read an article on the Weight Watchers® site yesterday that discussed the connection between a cluttered home and putting on a few pounds around a waistline. The upshot was that the two are symptoms of the same problem: a need for instant gratification. We see something we want so we get it. Who cares if we don’t have space for it or don’t really need it. We wants it. (Especially if it has sprinkles.) In the need to feed our instant gratification we clutter our lives with junk and dust collectors and love handles.

Clutter is also the physical evidence of a scatterbrain. I say this, because I am one. Though my powers of concentration are flat out amazing when I have them turned on, they need to be—well—turned on. I have to make myself sit down and focus on a task in order to be able to—well—focus on a task. I listen to music at work so I’ll actually proofread at work rather than just snigger at the conversations the sales reps are having on the other side of cubicle wall. I schedule which nights I do certain chores around the house or they’ll never get done. I have to put time and effort into not being a scatterbrain because, I’m pretty sure, it’s my natural brain setting.

Seriously, I was slightly alarmed one night when the commercial for the treatment of adult ADD featured a woman named Anne. (“Oh crap, what was the first half of that commercial about, because somehow I think it might pertain to me?!”) I have also picked up, thumbed through, and put down dozens of books on feng shui. I always see an entry in those books that says something like, “Put things away. A cluttered home makes for a cluttered mind.” I figure if I ever get the clutter under control, I’ll go back, buy the book, and commence with the rest of the feng shui.

My extra poundage is a very similar story. When I pay attention to what I’m eating, I eat well. When I concentrate on being healthy, I’m a pretty healthy person. When I schedule the damn workouts, I exercise on a regular basis. When I give something my complete focus, I’m generally pretty good at it. So, why do I have trouble focusing? I have a cluttered mind.

No really! There’s a lot I want to do, there’s a lot I don’t want to do, there are a few stories I want to write, there is a lot of trivia to be memorized, there are countless song lyrics learned through osmosis, there are some fears, there are some doubts, there are at least three dirty jokes to be broken out at parties, and there is a whole bunch of other stuff sitting in piles in the metaphorical back room of my head. Much like there are un-hung pictures, piles of scrapbooking supplies, and loose “important” documents cluttering the actual back room of my duplex.

Luckily there is a cure for a cluttered mind, and it is not featured in TV commercials about adult ADD. (“Anne, what do you think? Anne?”) I have tried it and I recommend it to everyone: yoga. True yoga incorporates meditation. If you are just trying yoga-like exercises, or just meditating without any of the physical stuff, that’s fine, but you’re not getting that wonderful double-whammy of a good set followed by a deep meditation. It feels wonderful and it really does minimize the head clutter, which makes it a little easier to tackle the instant gratification-related clutter. I know this to be true because when I practiced yoga regularly I had a more peaceful mind. When I stopped practicing regularly, I had a noisier mind. Now that I’ve returned to regular practice—well—practice is the cure for everything.

May 27, 2010

With a Little Help From My Friends

It’s hard to describe the excitement of having a creative idea and writing it down on paper. It’s somewhat on par with solving a puzzle. This puzzle, though, is invisible and your stomach tells you whether the pieces fit or not. The pieces fly at you fast and you have to put them together before they start to evaporate, which they do, even as you are using them. A lot of times it gets a bit messy, which leads to editing, but that’s a whole other type of board game. Every once and a while, though, the pieces click just right and it’s beautiful—when beautiful is an emotion, that’s good writing.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like that. Recently, writing has been a chore. It’s something I’m supposed to do on a regular basis so I get better at it. You know, like keeping plants or sit-ups. When I consider what to do for the day, writing is not my first inclination. It falls somewhere after do the laundry but before water the plants. (At least, it will always beat sit-ups.)

I hate it when I feel this way. Most of the time I love writing and it is my excuse for not doing chores. I don’t know why sometimes ideas come to me and sometimes I’m blocked. I don’t know when I entered this latest malaise. All I know is sitting down to write this blog entry seemed hard enough without considering that great American novel I’ve been meaning to get to.

So, what’s the cure? It’s the same cure as for everything else: practice. So, I make myself sit down and write the non-puzzle like writing until that great sweep of inspiration hits me again. Hence, writing starts to feel like chore. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 (but without all the fascinating stream of consciousness).

The last time I felt this type of block, wanting to write but nowhere to go, I discussed it with my friend Aedee. She pointed out that we were always writing in college. It’s easy enough to see why: constant exposure to other art forms and philosophies, big gaps of time, and that college student’s self-importance that creates the need to share your specialness with the world (because that’s what the world’s been missing all this time!). There was something else, too. Aedee pointed out to me that we were constantly sharing our work with one another. We had our own small community of writers and it fostered creativity. It gave the boost of encouragement and feedback that is so often missing when you sit down to write alone and you’re not sure it’s worth it. The group atmosphere really did impact the joy of writing. Upon further discussion of the matter with our friend JS, we decided to form a writer’s group. It was informal, to say the least, but it was just enough of a nudge that my writing and, most importantly, my enthusiasm for writing improved. We called it Last Saturday based on the monthly meeting day.

Finding myself in the same writing predicament, but this time with Aedee and JS in Vermont, I enlisted Rae to help me re-form the group. We’ve only had one meeting so far and it was just the two of us, but it was a great meeting. It got me to write, it made me think about writing, and it sparked something. During Last Saturday, I couldn’t help but notice a small inkling of excitement, a slight sense of possibility, like when you click the first two pieces of a puzzle together.

May 19, 2010

Could Play a Guitar

My friend Rae asked me the other day if I was still playing guitar. Apparently I’ve stopped bringing the conversation up every five minutes. Though my adventures as a Guitar Goddess have not been exciting enough to post, they have not ceased. In fact, I consider “Teach Myself Guitar” to be one of my more successful endeavors.

Though I cannot, as of yet, play anything that the world at large would call a “song,” I can hear a difference in the way that I play. I have a respectable six chords to my name (okay, maybe five; I can’t really play C but I know how I’m supposed to be able to play it if I had Gumby-fingers). I’ve moved strumming with chords from the “Impossibly Hard” category to the “I’m Not Too Bad at This” category, and I’m happily chewing through the guitar lessons on

The lessons are structured so that you practice the basics before you get to the real music (crazy, I know). The first couple of lessons feature scales and strumming exercises so that you can learn to move your hands around a guitar. This skill becomes important when you have to change chords mid-word during a song. Right now, my chord exchange time sounds something like this, “Take it ease.......................................................y.” Though the Eagles seem like a laid back sort of band, I’m sure they never intended that audience members would be able to make a cheese sandwich in the time it takes to play half of one of their lyrics. Thus, I practice the scales and strumming patterns daily.

Luckily I enjoy the technique practices. While, yes, they are rote, I do hear a difference in my attempts at playing songs. I’m confident that playing that one scale yet again will someday result in intricately-fingered guitar solos. I’m sure that if I just keep strumming a C chord, eventually it will sound like a C chord (even if my contorted fingers are callused and bleeding).

I like to think of it as the Karate Kid method. I just need to wax on/wax off enough and someday I’ll have crazy ninja guitar skills. Until then I shall play beautiful scale patterns and “take it ease...............................................y.”

April 27, 2010

I’m Just a Kid From the Milky Way

I have added “saw a shuttle launch in person” to my Life List. A Life List is a list of those things that you’ve always wanted to try or do, or places you’ve always wanted to visit. I have also heard it referred to as a Bucket List after the movie of the same name where Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson play two old guys trying to do all the things they’ve always wanted to before they kick the proverbial bucket. There are two parts to the List: things I want to do, and things I’ve done.

I used to refer to crossing things off my Life’s List but then a friend pointed out that this made the list sound static, as if there were only so many things to do, they were set as is, and once they were done the list was over. If there is something that your Life List shouldn’t be, it’s static. Though the List must end at some point (buckets and all that), I much prefer thinking of my Life List as something that will grow and change as long as I continue to do so.

Things do change on the List. “Climb a mountain” has fallen away, I must admit. On the other hand, “eat squid cooked in its own ink” has been added. Then there are the things on the List that you didn’t know were to do’s until they were done. I knew I wanted “go on a whale watching tour” for quite a while before I did it, but I didn’t realize “seeing a roseate spoonbill in the wild” was worth being on the List till it happened. Truth be told, I didn’t even know what a roseate spoonbill was before I saw one. I recommend it as a worthy addition to anyone’s List. It came about for me as part of a larger Life’s List item: “see as many national parks/wildlife refuges/preserves as I possibly can.”

Last year at Thanksgiving my Mom said the classic List-triggering phrase, “I’ve always wanted to...” In this case, the second half of the sentence was “see a space shuttle launch.” I knew instantly that I too wanted to do this. In further conversation we discovered that my Dad also “had always wanted to.” We decided, then and there over turkey, that we would see a shuttle launch in the upcoming year because it was our last chance to see one.

Rule of thumb: a Life’s List item is more easily accomplished with a deadline. (“Go to Australia” has, for instance, has no deadline and has sat there for quite a while.) NASA is retiring the shuttle program and there are only so many flights left to see. So, if your Life’s List includes “see a shuttle launch,” you’ve got till the end of 2010. If your Life’s List does not include “see a shuttle launch” may I humbly suggest you reconsider.

To see the shuttle launch from the Astronaut Hall of Fame, my family and I left our hotel at 11:00 pm. The launch was scheduled for 6:00 am. We were told by the nice lady on the NASA hotline we needed to leave so early so as to beat traffic. The nice lady on the NASA hotline wasn’t kidding around. We were glad we got there when we did as we watched the traffic for seven hours, sitting outside in Florida swampland, waiting for a shuttle to launch. Though a balmy night, we got colder and colder as the dew descended and the breeze blew. The breeze was a disguised blessing, though, as it kept the mosquitoes at bay. Someone said something about the crowd scaring off alligators. I thought this was a joke until I took the official Kennedy Space Center tour and counted five alligators just from the bus. We tried to doze but, sitting in lawn chairs in an ever-growing crowd of excited people, it proved impossible. So we waited, shivered a little, and waited and waited for seven hours. Afterwards we waited in three hours of traffic, without having slept, to get back to the hotel. Why am I telling you all this? So you will believe the truth behind what I’m about to say.

GO SEE A SHUTTLE LAUNCH! It was all totally worth it! Seven hours of waiting for five minutes of adrenaline and it was worth it! It was so awesome! In every sense of the word, it was awesome! If you have the means, please, for me, go see a shuttle launch!

It happened right before dawn so we were staring into the dark. Then came the 30 second (if that) sunrise; except the sun was leaving a trail of smoke behind it and clearly twisting as it went up into the night sky. It’s at this point that the sound caught up with us. Remember, light travels faster than sound so we saw it before we heard it. Imagine the loudest, most window-rattling thunder you have ever heard in your life. Now imagine it at ground level and, instead of rattling windows, it’s rattling your insides. Then silence. Well, then silence except for all the birds going nuts from the crazy loud sound wave that just went by. We could still see the shuttle as it moved into orbit position and gradually became smaller and smaller so that it seemed as though it was becoming another star. As those of us Earth-bound chattered with the sudden influx of adrenaline, the real Sun began to rise in a more graceful manner without the fanfare. As it did, the light caught the twisting rocket trail and illuminated it with all the colors of a sunrise.

It was amazing. I would go again to the next one if it were more fiscally possible. I would go again to the one after that. I would go see every possible one I could until there were no more because it is like nothing else there is and I got to see it. My Life's List includes seeing a shuttle launch.

April 19, 2010

When Everything’s Lost, The Battle is Won

Quite a bit of life has occurred between now and my previous post. On the shortlist, I’ve moved, been to a new part of the world, added a big check to my Life’s List, and broken another mirror before my previous gloomy seven years was up. As usual, when I have lots of things to write about, I’m too busy actually doing those things to write about them. I know I can always write about them retroactively, but do I write about them chronologically, by degree of interest, by importance in the grand scheme? If I went solely by momentary inclination, I have to admit that this would be a very whiny post about how I can’t believe I broke another stupid mirror. (I imagine such a post would be peppered with sound effects such as grrrrrrrr, argh, and harumph.) I have chosen to resist such a post, but I still find myself with a surfeit of topics.

This is a common theme in my life right now. I have a lot to do. Post-move I find myself with a quickly growing to-do list of projects around the house. First of all, I’m fairly certain that absolutely everything needs to be reorganized. Again. Then there are the little fix-its that accompany living in a duplex that I had not experienced in apartment dwelling. This is not a complaint, I like little fix-it projects because they are quickly managed but seem to contribute to my sense calm quickly. Flipping the fan blades so the white side is down rather that the fake wood-grain side still makes me happy and I did that a couple of weeks ago. It’s just that when there are fix-its everywhere and all you want to do is alphabetize your DVDs, it’s hard to know where to begin. (Strangely enough, it never seems to be with the DVDs.)

I have also returned from a vacation where I took lots of pictures and I’m a photo organization nut. I want to organize, remove red eye, print, post, and scrapbook! That takes a lot of time in a house where there are no towel bars. Worse yet, I’m two scrapbooks behind in terms of vacations and my scrapbook supplies may or may not be in the back room closet. Then there are the frames—oh, the frames!—which not only need to be updated and dusted, but actually hung.

You’d think that’d be enough wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, I insist on having a social life. When I could be switching doorknobs this weekend, I’m forced to attend Fiesta events with friends. An opportunity to write a post about Florida will be squandered on a birthday brunch. It’s all so much sometimes. (Imagine a dramatic sigh here.)

Isn’t there something else that I have to do? What is it again? I’m sure there is something that takes up a lot of time. Oh yeah, I have to work. A job sure cramps a gal’s schedule. It’s almost every day, takes like seven to eight hours at a time, and can really wear you out. It’s no wonder I’m not entirely sure what happened to all my washcloths. However, if I want to buy more of them, I have to keep going to that job thingy.

One of my friends (the one with the birthday this weekend, in fact) gave me permission to wait until my birthday in June to host a housewarming party. That was such a relief that I have decided to give myself permission to write about all my exciting life events later. I figure as long as I get the posts in before 2011, I’m good. Until “later,” however, I’m afraid I just don’t have time to write a post.

March 3, 2010

If It Makes You Happy

I had a good day today. Why?


—I was presented with a series of small challenges all day long that required concentration but were still quickly surmounted.

—I did something that made me uncomfortable, but was thanked for it.

—I gave someone the answer she wanted.

—I completed a task with the confidence that I did it well.

—I erred on the side of hope rather than caution.

—Something I’ve been patient about, did pay off.

—One of my bigger problems remains unresolved but I know that I’ve done everything within my power to bring about its resolution.

—I wasn’t able to finish everything I had to do today, so I know I will have something for tomorrow.

—I reconnected with a friend I haven’t seen in a while.

—I organized my to-do list on color-coded sticky notes.

It really doesn’t take that much to sway a day into either the good or bad category. I’m glad that, today at least, I seem to be steadily moving toward good.

February 24, 2010

Homeward Bound

When travelling in Alaska, a park ranger told us that the native tribes used practical place names. For instance, the direct translation of the name of one area was “Place Where it Floods in Spring.” The tribe always knew, then, they shouldn’t camp there in the spring because that is where it flooded when the snow melted. As I find myself looking for a new place to live, I can’t help but appreciate this system. How nice it would have been had that last duplex I looked at been called “White Trashville” rather than “Oak Wood,” I would have saved some gas driving to go look at it.

I don’t have to move. I live in a perfectly nice place. I am hoping, however, that I can find someplace better…maybe someplace a little bigger…maybe someplace without upstairs neighbors…maybe someplace where I can have covered parking…maybe someplace with two windows so I can get a cross-breeze.

It’s amazing the little things that contribute to our sense of happiness. I remember, a few years ago, looking for a new apartment that had its own washer/dryer connection. Oh the wonderment I felt at being able to wash my laundry in my own abode. No more laundromats for me! Such was the basis of my joy at the time. Now, it’s the lure of a second bedroom that causes me to explore the wilds of “Doorway to the Garage is in the Carpeted Master Bedroom” and “View of Auto Parts Store.”

I am the modern American nomad. I can’t afford the house I want, but I might be able to rent someplace a little bit nicer than I have now, so I must look. I must hoard the empty paper boxes at work, I must critically eye my belongings’ lug-worthiness, I must risk one more odd-smelling bathroom. There’s a chance I might fine, “Perfectly Nice Place to Rent While You Save Up For What You Really Want.”

February 3, 2010

You Could Have it so Much Better

I was reading a friend’s blog earlier today. She is in the middle of pursuing what can only be described as a life calling. As she nears the resolution of whether or not this dream of hers will come true she wrote out the question that, no doubt, haunts her throughout this process: what will I do if it doesn’t go the way I want? The simple honesty of this question did not strike me as much as the sentence she wrote immediately after it. She told us, her readers, that the question was only rhetorical and that we shouldn’t respond with answers.

As someone who has received a lot of advice lately, I couldn’t help but empathize most with that second statement. At times, it seems I can’t utter a sentence without someone immediately offering me a suggestion. In complete fairness to my friends, most of the sentences to come out of my mouth lately have been complaints and laments. Such statements are open invitations to the world that I need help, are they not? The fact that my friends are so quick to offer me solutions only shows that I’ve communicated my problems well.

I truly believe this free advice is given to me in love, because I was ready to answer my fellow blogger’s question as soon as I read it with that same sense of love. I know exactly what I would say to her had she not, so helpfully, pointed out that she didn’t actually need a response to her question. In fact, the more I consider the topic of advice giving I am aware that, in happier times, I was the grand champion of advice giving! I couldn’t wait to hand out my oh-so-useful knowledge to anyone who needed it, whether they knew they needed it or not.

Happy people love to give advice. Why shouldn’t they? They want to spread the happy! We all want to lose weight, make money, find a trustworthy contractor, answer the big philosophical questions. We all know this, so, if one of us is successful, we want to share it with the others. Yet, somehow the sharing of our happiness ways transforms into instructions. “I found Jesus!” becomes “He’s right over here!” “Joe does my tile work,” evolves into a “Have you called Joe yet?” “I went back to school,” eventually leads to, “There are plenty of online classes available, you just have to look.” “Weight loss is hard,” sympathy can even turn into the accusatory, “You’ll never use that gym membership, will you?”

In a life naturally filled with ups and downs are we doomed to conversations that are naturally filled with complaints and suggestions? Is your level of happiness defined by what side of the advice you are on? I know I gave people a lot more of my opinions when I had more confidence in my own little space in the world. As I struggle now with doubts and worries and, evil so horrible, boredom, I don’t spread my philosophies so freely. I moan and bitch a lot. I get a lot of advice.

The happy try to spread their joy to the not so happy. What’s wrong with that? As my friend so succinctly stated in her own blog, the advice is not always required. Sometimes the statement of doubt is enough. Sometimes we just need to voice our worries and woes to the world, without comments. Sometimes we just want to be understood, not rescued. I know the obvious, but do you know the frustration?

I had two conversations with two different friends. I told both of them the same thing. My job is unfulfilling. One gave me a list of tasks to fix my problem and ended this list with, “There, I’ve given you your homework assignment.” The other one listened. When I was finished she said, “That sucks.” Both of them love me and said what they said because they care. They both said what they thought I needed to hear. One I walked away from still frustrated and slightly resentful. One I hung up the phone with, feeling better and missing her presence in Texas terribly.

Is one friend better than the other? Of course not, that’s not what I learned. I learned what made me feel better. I’ve been given some wonderful advice in my life and using it has led me to happiness. At this particular moment, though, it didn’t make me feel better. The next time my life is all sunshine and flowers and I’m happy as can be in my little space in the world, I’m going to try and keep some of my oh-so-useful knowledge to myself. I hope I’ve learned to be a better listener.

January 20, 2010

Very Superstitious

A few years ago I broke a mirror. It was May and I was moving and in my packing rush the mirror paid the price. Did I as well? I remember thinking to myself with a slight laugh, “Well, there goes the next seven years.” Then I froze and realized that, as I was 23 at the time, I would be suffering bad luck till I was 30! That seemed like eons of time at that particular moment.

Am I superstitious? Not really. Well…

I read my horoscope everyday. I talk about things as omens. I often say things like, “Well, that just means it’s fate…” I don’t really believe these things though. I mean, not really. I’ve never based a major life decision on which house my moon is in or anything like that.

So, why am I so interested? Why do I know things like you don’t want the ace of swords to come up in your tarot card reading or that if you want to sell a house you should bury St. Francis upside down in your front yard? I suppose I’d like it if these things were true. It’s somewhat comforting to believe that when I bit my friend’s head off this morning it was because of the position of Mars, not that I was too tired to be polite. There is a certain amount of hope that the good luck symbols on my bracelet are strong enough to keep that one particular coworker from finding yet another flaw in our product. It’d be nice if all I had to do to make my life easier was wait for May.

Little superstitions help dull one’s sense of responsibility in other areas as well. I often have trouble making decisions. Whether big or small, it seems every change in my life has to be held for a standard internal debate period. It’s nice when my horoscope reassures me that today’s the day I should confront a loved one, or that this week isn’t the best to establish a new habit. Even as I read the words, though, I know they’re self-fulfilling prophecies. The only days I nod in agreement with my numerology report is when it already agrees with my established agenda. On the days where it in no way meets my expectations I laugh at how silly such things are and go about my way.

It’s like flipping a coin when you have to make a decision. Either it really doesn’t matter and both options are equally good and the coin flip will decide for you; or, as soon as you see which side comes up, you’ll know for sure which way you really wanted it to land based on your reaction. Plus, there’s the added benefit that if everything goes wrong with the choice you make, you can blame the gods of coin flipping.

Do silly little habits make me a better Anne? No, but after a really awful morning it’s nice to know there’s only four months till May.

Neo: “Morpheus, the Oracle said…”

Morpheus: “The Oracle said exactly what you needed to hear.”

January 11, 2010


I was out celebrating New Year’s Eve when my friend Rae asked me, “So, any resolutions?”

Well, no.

I didn’t make a conscious decision not to have resolutions, it just didn’t occur to me. I suppose it is because I didn’t really keep any of the ones I made the previous year. I’m not sure I accomplished anything terribly momentous in 2009. If any word describes 2009 for me, it’s unresolved.

I’m not trying to be dramatic. I have some great memories from the past year, but as I switch calendars I can’t help but notice that all the things that were bothering me at the beginning of 2009 are the same things that are bothering me at the beginning of 2010. My job is still unfulfilling, I still feel like I should be more ambitious, I still feel unhealthy in some of my habits, I still have this nagging doubt that I’m the one that’s getting in my own way.

I’m a big believer that the only one who can change me is me. I’m the only one who kick my own ass into doing something positive. I’m the only one who can kick my own ass and beat myself up and keep me from changing. I know this because I’ve changed myself for the better before. I’ve also talked myself out of a lot of good things due to fear and doubt. It’s a bit frustrating to find myself here again listening to the same internal dialog: I’ve got to do something, but it’s so hard, but I’m unhappy, but it could be worse…

At midnight the bar handed out cups of free champagne to toast the New Year. We all cheered and toasted one another and then swallowed some of the cheapest, nastiest if-you-want-to-call-it-champagne ever. I put my cup down and turned to one of my fellow partygoers, “I resolve to not drink cheap champagne in 2010!” She laughed and said, “Yeah, me too.”

That’s my resolution. I’m going to stop doing the stuff that makes me unhappy, and do stuff that makes me happy. It’d be a nice change.

Happy 2010!