Motivational Monday: Unrealistic Goals

I’m the queen of setting unrealistic goals.

Participate in a triathlon in 3 months when I can barely run a mile? Totally! Lose 20 lbs and get back to my high school weight when my body composition has completely changed? I’m on it! Become fluent in a foreign language in 6 weeks when I don’t even know how to say hello? Why yes, thank you.

Show me your hands if you’re with me, faithful readers.

In spite of all my dislike and objections to AA, they were good for one thing. One day at a time. At first, it was a totally abstract concept to me. One day? Is that like living in the moment? What the hell am I supposed to do with that? It’s literally one day. Twenty four hours. One thousand four hundred forty minutes. Eighty six thousand four hundred seconds. Can I commit to [insert task here] for a 24 hour period? Sure, that doesn’t sound so hard. Considering I’m asleep for 7-8 of those hours, that narrows down the time frame even more.

I set a goal of not eating fried food. Not for the rest of my life, not for the rest of the year, not for the rest of the month, not for the rest of the week. I set a goal of not eating fried food for one day. I was successful. Let’s try it again! I know this is a total “duh” moment for some people, but it was something I’d never really tried in earnest. I’d think “Whatever, I can do way more than a day!”. Nope, sure can’t. I’ve seen it time and time again. I had to rein myself even more. It was tempting to set 5 or 6 daily goals.  That’s setting myself up for failure, too. I picked one goal for one day. I happened to stick to the same goal (cutting out fried food) every day, but whatever works for you. One day you may pick walking continuously for 10 minutes. The next day you might decide to not drink soda. The third day you might pick working on your spiritual practice of choice. As I said in my post week before last, don’t force yourself to do something because you think you should. If it doesn’t speak to you, don’t do it.

It may be a long term goal like improving your health, your spirituality, or your relationships. It could be something you just want to try out. I tried cutting out cussing for a day. Let me tell you, that was a show. Regardless, one (1) goal per one (1) day is the starting point. The success will become motivation in its own right.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: 24 hours. And go!



Of knee jerk reactions and driving

The Internet is like driving. Everyone who drives faster than you is a psycho. Everyone who drives slower than you is a jackass. Everyone with an extreme opinion in either direction is a psycho. Everyone with a lesser opinion, as it were, is a jackass.

Gun laws / control has been popping up on my news feed a lot recently. I’ve already made my views on gun ownership clear. I saw a post referring to the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms, for my non-US readers) with the caption “27 words that have caused untold preventable deaths”. My knee jerk reaction was “jackass”. Then I had an epiphany

Just because it’s a knee jerk reaction doesn’t mean it has to come out of my mouth or be put down in writing. This person put his opinion out for public consumption. However, I don’t have to respond. I don’t have to rattle off a list of other things that fall under the “preventable death” umbrella. He may very well live outside the US where the culture surrounding civilian gun ownership is completely different. Starting a fight on Facebook won’t change his opinion. It’s the old cliche about mud wrestling with pigs. You’ll only get dirty and pig will enjoy it. I chose to leave it alone. I still disagree with him, but it’s not up to me to try and change his mind. In my own experience, I’ll only get more defensive and stubborn when my thoughts are called into question. It’s not because I’m questioning my own beliefs, but 9 times out 10, the approach is emotional rather than logical. That’s the very definition of a knee jerk reaction.

I’m guilty of this across the board. My mouth frequently starts going before my brain can get involved. I’ll pop off and say something I regret before the sentence can finish leaving my mouth. Stop, take a breath, and consider if this is something really worth fighting over. My parents frequently tell me to pick my battles. That moment was a prime example. My brain kicked in and I was able to back off. There are only 2 or 3 things I’m really willing to fight over. Gun laws are not on the list.

It’s so easy to get sucked into pointless disagreements online. The Internet has tons and tons of positive things to offer. It’s up to me to let the petty bullshit go. It’s not worth my time or energy.



Of dancing and dreaming

Y’all, I’m one week away from finding out if one of my biggest dreams is going to come true.

I started dancing when I was 13. One of my dreams was to participate in a summer intensive. Major ballet companies or schools would offer a summer program of varying length and intensity. Because I started at an unusual age, I was too old for the beginner levels. I wasn’t advanced enough to dance with my own age group. Aside from that, these programs were insanely expensive. Most ran well into the $1000 and up range. Due to the circumstances, it just wasn’t in the cards for me.

Fast forward to now. There’s a studio literally 5 minutes away from our apartment. They’re offering a summer intensive in July. It’s 10 days of instruction for 8 hours each day. It’s only $400 which is a STEAL. I have the paid time off available. The only question is one of the other managers. She may have to have knee surgery. If she’s out having surgery, I can’t take those days off. She goes to the doctor next Tuesday and a decision will be made. Until then, we wait.

Dance is a huge part of who I am. I still describe myself as a dancer, even if I barely make a class a week. If I have music on at work, I’m choreographing in my head. I’ll find myself bending at the hip, pointing one leg behind me if I’m leaning over to pick something up. It’s ingrained in me in ways I don’t even notice any more. If I got to do this, it would literally fulfill a dream I’ve had for over 15 years. I choose to believe it will work out. If she does need surgery, it won’t conflict with the program. I’ll probably cry from joy the minute I hit “register”.

Spirituality is a deeply personal thing. Some people pray and attend church services. Some people meditate. Some people light a fire and dance around it during a full moon. My spirituality is connected to dancing. By putting “sit at home on the couch” above “dance”, I’m doing myself a disservice. One studio is on my drive home from work. The other is, as I said, a 5 minute drive. It’s not like I have to go out of my way. I’m not honoring that part of me the way I want to. As the cliche goes, if I want something badly enough, I’ll make time. It’s not like I need to make time in the first place. I rarely have plans after work. “Go home and sit on the couch” is usually top of the list. How is that benefiting me? It’s certainly not allowing me to grow and feel a stronger connection between my brain and my body. I’ll never be dancing Swan Lake at the Met. I can, however, aspire to be the best dancer I can. To reach my Nirvana, if you will.

I believe this will work out. Dreams really can come true.


Motivational Monday: Peer Pressure

Everybody knows about peer pressure when you’re a kid. Smoking, drinking, wearing the right clothes (another reason I’m a big fan of uniforms), or what have you. What no one tells you when you’re fifteen is that doesn’t stop when you grow up. If anything, I’d say it gets worse. It’s just far less obvious.

All of my friends are married. The weddings started in 2009. I was in 3 weddings in 2 months at the end of 2009. The last wedding in our core group was September 2012. Most of the weddings started when we were 23 or 24. Five and six year anniversaries are coming and going. For those keeping score at home, Boy & I will have been together for 4 years in August. The husbands are pretty much universally older than the wives. Boy is 2 years younger than I am. My co-workers raise an eyebrow when I mention I’m not married and definitely not seriously considering children. We haven’t reached the point where we’re ready to take the plunge, jump the broom, stomp the glass, get hitched, or [insert metaphor for getting married here]. We’re still working on the not killing each other while living in a one bedroom apartment step.

The latent pressure is bound to pop up sooner or later. Of course, none of my friends would encourage getting married or having babies before you’re ready. There were a few babies who showed up when Mom and Dad definitely weren’t ready. Now round two is starting. I’ve watched my friends get pressured by their parents because they want grandbabies. If there’s one thing I can say about my parents, and thank them frequently for, is they’ve never once pushed us to get married. They certainly haven’t pushed us to have babies. I know 100% that I’m not ready to be someone’s mother. It bothers me when someone knocks another person’s life choices. You want to have 6 kids? Fantastic! Go for it! You don’t want to have kids? Wonderful! More power to you! You have kids,  but don’t want to get married? Be my guest!

It doesn’t matter if it’s a classmate pushing you to smoke (something) or another adult giving you the side eye when you inform them that you don’t want / aren’t ready to head down the traditional path of getting married and having babies. That’s not their decision. If there’s one thing that Boy has worked into my head, it’s that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I spent far too long forcing myself to fit in. It wasn’t worth it. I look back and wish I had put my foot down. I tried something, didn’t like it, and that was that. Sometimes I still have a hard time standing my ground, especially if it’s someone I love. I’m lucky that the people I love rarely push me in a direction I’m not comfortable with. I may not always agree with their choices, but I will respect them. They may not always agree with mine, but I hope for the same respect in return.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Don’t give in. Even if you feel like the whole world is sitting on you to do something, stick to your guns. You’ll be a hell of a lot happier if you do.


Of the ambiguous “someone else” and contentment

A lot of the blogs I read regularly encourage the readers to aim higher, reach further, and show the world that they’re serious about whatever they’re serious about. For a time, that’s what I needed. I needed someone to (virtually) hold my hand and help me on my way. In the past 6 months, I’ve started to feel disconnected to the messages of these authors. They’re still good writers with clear visions, but I’m not as emotionally attached as I used to be. One thing they do have in common is follow what your gut is saying. After I cover my ears, shut out the noise, and listen to the tiny inner voice, I don’t hear what I thought I would. I don’t hear “travel to Europe as a lady of leisure”. I don’t hear “dress and act like a drag queen”. I don’t hear “expand your horizons by doing things you absolutely hate in an effort to prove something to someone else”. All I hear is quiet.

I’m perfectly content with my life right now. I’m in a relationship with someone I adore and who adores me. I have stable income. I have a fat cat who grudgingly accepts me when her daddy isn’t around. I don’t feel overly left out or out of place with my social group even though most of them have small children while I don’t. I’m not hanging on to past relationships the way I used to. I no longer regret cutting ties with people, places, or ideas that no longer serve me. The hardest ties to cut are the ones where no one got hurt. The relationship has simply run its course. I’ve been having a hard time letting go of the circus world. They’re all awesome people. They really helped me in ways I never expected. Part of me feels overly guilty for walking away. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. Most of the people I started with have since left for one reason or another. One went to grad school and has no free time. Another started pole classes and never looked back. Several moved to different states. I’m not slamming a door and locking it. I can always go back. They’ll be there. They’ll accept me again just like they have in the past. For now, it’s time to let go. Good relationships can offer as many lessons as bad ones.

Once again, I bring up my pants analogy (can you tell how brilliant I think it is?):

You go to the store and see a pair of pants. You try them on and they’re a little bit tight in some places. You really like them, so you buy them thinking that they’ll stretch and fit (not an unreasonable assumption with women’s pants. Amirite ladies?)  After a few wears, they’re still tight in all the wrong places. You finally return them or donate them to a thrift store. You didn’t do anything wrong. The pants didn’t do anything wrong. They just didn’t fit.

I don’t have to force myself into the proverbial pair of pants. It’s okay to sit around and let the ideas come to me. Forcing myself, unless it was for my health or safety, has never worked. I have a good life. I’m happy.

And I still feel like I’m covered in dirty hippie. Blech.


Motivational Monday: Inaugural Edition

For those of us with regular 9-5 office jobs, Mondays can seem like a bit of a downer. I consider Monday the beginning of my week regardless of what the calendar says. I thought I’d kick off the week with a little motivation. And I love alliteration, so here we go!

This week’s topic: Food & Eating

A relationship with food is like a romantic relationship. Both require patience, communication, and not taking everything so seriously. Many women, myself included, have issues with food. Personally, I love food. I love to cook. I love to eat. Top Chef and Chopped are some of my favorite “background noise” shows. On the flip side, I can be very squirrely about my food choices. I’m a picky eater, but don’t much discriminate what I put into my body. I’ll be the first one to admit I fall into the junk food trap when I get home from work. I’m prone toward extreme diets (gluten free, sugar free, vegetarian, etc.) as a method of control. Moderation isn’t a frequently used word in my vocabulary. Now for the big three high points.

1. Patience – Patience is not one of my strong suits. Don’t kick yourself too hard for eating mindlessly noshing on cookies or chips after work. Goals take time. Just like with your partner, you can’t explode over every little mistake. In addition to being hurtful, it’s exhausting. In the time you wasted being mean, you could have gotten back up and figured out how to prevent the same thing happening next time. When if you mess up again, use it as another learning experience. I’m a thousand times harder on myself than anyone else could be. Boy would never, ever say anything as malicious as I say to myself. Each time, be a little kinder to yourself. The greats had to start somewhere.

2. Communication – My brain and my stomach don’t like to talk much. I tend to eat when I’m bored. I’ll finish off a bag of tortilla chips or half a pint of ice cream without a second thought. Before I get to that point, my stomach says “Stop! I’m full! Ow!”. My brain ignores those signals. I’ll be out at a nice restaurant and want to tackle a full 3 or 4 courses because I can. My stomach will only have room for half the main course, but my brain is all “Dessert! We must have dessert!”. My brain wins 95% of the time. I’m trying to learn to listen to my stomach. My brain is still really loud and obnoxious, but I’m much more aware of the cues from my stomach. I hate going to bed with a food baby. My stomach and my brain are both unhappy for totally different reasons. I need to be patient with myself while I learn to switch what cues I listen for. Also, cut down on portion sizes. I’ve started using smaller plates when I eat at home. Not only does it force me to take a smaller portion, it tricks my brain. My brain and stomach are going on their first few dates. As they get to know each other better, they’ll be more comfortable with each other. The brain will give up some of its control to compromise with the stomach.

3. Don’t take it too seriously – What is a solid relationship without some good laughs. I’m sure you’re thinking “How the hell am I going to laugh at myself after I eat twice what I intended to because my brain wanted cheesecake when my stomach was saying no?”. I like to imagine silly scenarios like my brain and stomach sparring. I put them in ridiculous outfits a la Lucha Libre. When they get tired of rolling around on the floor, they stomp off and pout. If imagery isn’t your scene, find something that will make you laugh. Whether it’s some stand up comedy, a movie, or stupid knock knock jokes, have a hearty laugh because you can. This will help with the association that overeating isn’t the end of the world. Just like when you have a fight with your partner, find the humor in the situation. Boy & I frequently have disagreements over spoilers. Silly, right? There’s always something funny to uncover even in the worst fights.

Move On Motivation: Your brain and stomach aren’t going anywhere. If they’re on the same page, everyone is happier.


Of lessons learned and sunburns

Confession time: I didn’t make it through Bonnaroo.

It was a drug festival briefly interrupted by music. I don’t know about you, fair readers, but I hear “music festival” and think that bands will be playing more or less all day. Right? Wrong! We got there Wednesday night and the music didn’t start until Thursday afternoon around 2.  The schedule was sparse at best until Friday late afternoon and early evening. It was the same deal every day. Music would start around 3p and go until 1 or 2 in the morning. What’s wrong with starting acts at 10a? Or even 11a? It was ridiculous to have to kill what amounted to an entire work day before the music even started. Wasn’t that the whole point of this event in the first place? When we were able to see a band, the sound was frequently so bad all we could hear was the bass. I know enough sound engineering to know it doesn’t have to be poor quality. Maybe the band doesn’t want the audience to hear them singing? I understand an outdoor event has different requirements for acoustics. Several of the bands were playing in a “tent” which was a metal structure built like a barn without the doors. The energy of the crowd really sucked. Cake was the perfect example. They were trying to get the crowd amped up and failing miserably. By yesterday afternoon, we said “fuck it”, packed up our stuff, and drove off.

In spite of the fact the music didn’t start until the afternoon, we never got to sleep past 8a. Our neighbors would get up, start blasting music between 730 & 8, then start the day with Miller Lite and bong hits. I’m not an idiot. I knew there would be plenty of smoking of substances, both legal & illegal. I didn’t expect it to be an omnipresent smell. I HATE the smell of pot. I’m all for it being legal. I’m all for people getting as high as they want. Just don’t do it around me because I’ll barf on your shoes. Unless you want me to barf on your shoes, in which case we have a whole different set of issues. I can’t count the number of times we had to get up and move only to be assaulted by the smell 15 minutes later. I’ll have the smell of dirty hippie in my hair for days. This was ignoring the completely they charged to use the showers, the bathrooms were a step below those in Gitmo, the food was mediocre & seriously overpriced, and for all their hooting and honking about how eco-friendly the event was supposed to be, trash was literally strewn all over the ground. How hard is it to throw out your food containers when you have to get up anyway?

There were a few positive notes. We found a new comedian we really like in the form of Brad Williams. We walked well over the 10,000 step a day goal set by the pedometer, and learned a new joke:

What does a hippie say when you try & get him off your couch? Namaste.

I learned that if I want to attend a music festival, I’ll pick one that allows me to come and go as I please. There are plenty of 1 & 2 day events around here. If I’m really looking for new sound, I’ll hit up Pandora or Spotify. It was over $1000 for each of us down the drain, but we know better than to waste that much again.


Of things that make me smile and auto-post

When this posts, I’ll be sitting / standing / lying in a field in Tennessee. Scheduled posts are a wonderful, wonderful thing. Anyway…

It’s been a while since I posted a public gratitude list. After some heavy entries, time to lighten things up a bit.

*My parent friends. I don’t know how the hell they do it. They serve as an excellent reminder that I’m 100% not ready to take on that responsibility. Thanks for the friendly reminder of my own limitations.

*Boy. We’re always laughing at each others’ bad jokes, pratfalls, and there when the other one needs a pep talk, shoulder, or kick in the ass.

*My actual parents. As much as my mom can drive me up the wall and my dad can do no wrong, they’re always there to back me up, respect my choices (read – not pushing me to get married or have babies), and bringing me up to be a happy, healthy, mostly well adjusted adult.

*My job. It affords me a very comfortable lifestyle. And my co-workers are a fringe benefit, too. 😉

*Google Music. Best $10 I spend every month.

*Cat videos. Need I say more?

*Perfume. When one is in need of a little freshening up. Smell is the strongest trigger of memory, after all.

*Being able to drive. I will never, ever take that ability for granted.

*Maxi dresses. For the days I don’t feel like putting in too much effort, but still want to look presentable.

*Peppermint tea. Tasty, comforting, and won’t keep me up all night.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week! Long distance…


Of Disney villains and unwitting allegories

Spoilers ahead for Maleficent:

Boy & I saw Maleficent last weekend. I’ve been pretty excited for it if nothing else for the costuming. As a friend of mine aptly put it, it was essentially  a 90 minute MAC commercial. Overall, I really enjoyed it. Maleficent definitely wins for the best Disney villain. She turns into a dragon. ‘Nuff said. I haven’t seen the animated version in probably 20 years, so I didn’t remember a whole lot of the plot. I love the idea of origin stories. I’ve seen a lot of complaints floating around the Internet that Disney missed the mark by making her all too “nice”.

What Disney managed to do was present an excellent example of recovering from rape trauma. It’s a standard setup. She falls in love with a boy. He says he loves her. Then he drugs her and rips away her identity by cutting off her wings.  He shamelessly exploited her feelings for his own gain. Once the shock wore off, she was out for revenge. Revenge is something that’s a good idea in theory, but a terrible idea in practice. There’s a reason it’s a fatal flaw in just about every work of literature. Instead of empowering someone, it leaves them open to all kinds of poor decision making. They’re so blinded by the motivation to hit their abuser right where it hurts, they don’t notice what’s going on around them. Maleficent set out to exact said revenge by cursing the king’s daughter. For argument’s sake, let’s say the animated version captures her during this point in the recovery cycle.

The animated Maleficent is borderline sociopathic. She’s all for torturing and cursing innocent bystanders with no remorse. Again, this isn’t at all uncommon for survivors. Three years ago, if someone had told me I could dish out whatever punishment I saw fit without any legal consequences, I would have done it. After a little time, I wouldn’t have been able to look myself in the face. I would have allowed myself to stoop to his level. Tempting as though it may be, once the high wears off, you’re left with whatever regret and pain that resulted. In the process of ensuring Aurora stays alive to fulfill the curse, Maleficent begins to see the error of her ways. Aurora’s only fault was being born to a rapist. She watches this little girl grow up only to realize she screwed up by cursing the wrong person. The animated Maleficent didn’t have this kind of empathy and it ended up killing her. This version gave the viewer an alternative. While she sees her mistake and tries to lift the curse before it’s too late, she can’t. Aurora falls into the coma just like Maleficent promised 16 years earlier. This is a very important turning point. In recognizing your humanity and the humanity of your abuser; good, bad, or ugly, it makes the wound a little easier to close. If you continue down the path of revenge and no remorse, it will kill you.

This is also where Disney turned the true love’s kiss trope on its head (Boy says Frozen did it first. Hipster). Maleficent makes her apologies to the comatose Aurora, kisses her on the forehead, and walks away. As she’s walking away, Aurora wakes up. In the final battle when Maleficent gets her wings back, her identity is restored. By this point, the king has totally lost it and it results in his own death. See what I said about revenge, kids? Then, as they say, they lived happily ever after.  She got back the part of herself she lost and kept going. While most of us will never literally get back what we lost, it’s a step.

Well played, Disney. If it wasn’t intentional, I tip my hat anyway. Maybe someday the target audience will realize the parallels. Until then, I’ll be borrowing that epic hat.