Friday, April 26, 2019

Churning up something good!

Friends, it’s Friday! Can we just take a moment to celebrate a few awesome things? First of all, my honey and I got to take a solo trip (without our kids!) to Austin last fall. I attended a conference for work and we he came along for an adventure. It was really our first getaway without the kids since, well, ever!  Also, this shadow across the top of the picture means I didn’t get the perfect picture I hoped for, but it also means the sun was shining! We showed up in Austin during and unusual cold and rainy spell but on our last day in town, it was sunny and warmer. Lastly, butter - amIright?!? It’s amazing.  

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Want what you’ve got

I know it’s cliche to say it’s not about getting what you want, it’s about wanting what you have, but I’m going to say it anyway. You have to remember to keep wanting the things you already have. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we have to keep accumulating things and wealth and status to live the American Dream and keep up with the Joneses. It’s so ingrained in our culture that we live in a perpetual state of never being satisfied. We just keep telling ourselves, “If I can just achieve the next goal, then I’ll be happy.” Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. 

But it’s so important to remember that most of the things you have right now are things you once really wanted. Do not forget that, and better yet, remember to celebrate the fact that you were able to get something you actively worked for. I completed an exercise recently in which the assignment was to make a detailed list of things I want out of life.  The instructions indicated that most people, when they do this, make an entire list of things they don’t have. Instead, strive to have every second or third item on the list be something you already have. 

Normally, when I stumble upon exercises like this, I give them a little thought, maybe start a list in my head, maybe even think, “I should write this down...nah, too much work.”  For whatever reason, this time I wrote it down on paper. I made a list of 25 things I want from life. 12 of them are things I already have (e.g., to be married, to have two kids, to own a bitchin’ bungalow, to have a pet cat, to drive the car I drive, to have an awesome front porch, etc.). Another few other items on the list are things I’m already working toward but haven’t fully achieved yet. The remaining items are things I want but don’t yet know when or how I will get them. 

This idea was a game changer for me. For years and years, I would sit around feeling bad about all the things I wanted that I didn’t have. It never, ever occurred to me that I already had a whole bunch of things I wanted. It also did not occur to me that the mere thought, “I really want X but I don’t have it” feels bad, while “I want X and I’ve got it” feels good. It’s really easy to take the things we do have for granted but I promise it feels so much more satisfying to continue to acknowledge the things in your life that you actively sought and subsequently received. Even if you ultimate decide that you want to replace some of the things on your list, do take a moment to recognize the value the original thing brought to your life (as in, “I was so glad to have lived this apartment that fit into my budget and was conveniently located. Now I’m ready to move into a house.” or maybe even, “this job had its ups and downs but I’m thankful that it helped me identify some characteristics that are important to find in my next job”).

One last thought on this - I want to put it out there that it’s completely possible - and in some cases, advisable -  to change your thoughts on a subject to improve how you feel. I’ll give you an example from my life: last year, I was fortunate enough to replace my old car with a new one. My old car was red, and I loved that about it. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that I wasn’t finding a red version of the car I wanted to buy with the features I was looking for, I ended up purchasing a gray car this time around. It’s a great car and I love so many things about it but it wasn’t long before I was spotting red versions of it on the road and eyeing them longingly. Honestly, it didn’t feel so great to be thinking I should’ve looked harder for a red car while I still owe a boatload of money on a gray car. So, I put an end to it. Here’s how I think about it now: I bought the exact car I was supposed to buy. I love it, I’m lucky to have it, and I’m going to drive it for as long as I can. When I’m done with it, the next car I buy will be red. It’s far more satisfying to be pleased with what I do have than to wish I had something different. 

Now, I realize this example is fine when you have the luxury of choice but plenty of times in life, things come along and slap you upside the head and you don’t get any real say in the matter. I’m not suggesting anybody should go around reminding themselves how glad they are to have been laid off or how wonderful it is that their mom has cancer. But I do know that I have been through a lot of shitty things in life and there are positive things in my life right now that I would not have had but for living through the shitty things. I do think it’s possible to acknowledge the shitty things for the lessons they are teaching or the skills they are building. And I do think it’s possible to want to experience the lows in life so that you get to feel the full effect of the highs, if that makes sense. In the meantime, maybe start with something simpler and build up momentum before moving on to the more existential questions. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Rule 32

If you’ve ever seen Zombieland, you may remember the running list of rules the main character has developed to help him survive the zombie apocalypse (side note: if you haven’t seen this movie, do).  I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest most of the rules are also applicable to surviving everyday life. (Although, to be fair, haven’t we all kind of evolved into iPhone-addicted drudges over the last decade, staring into our tiny screens all the live-long day? We’ve created our own form of Zombieland, but I digress). I’d like to call your attention, for a moment, to Rule 32: Enjoy the Little Things. We should all strive to remember this one. 

One of the little things, for me, is stationery - paper products, journals and the likes. I don’t really know why, I’m just drawn to them. If I’m trying to let my heart be happy, I know a surefire way is to march my butt into the paper aisle of any local establishment peddling such wares. Oddly, though, when I do buy a journal or notebook, I often find myself reluctant to actually use it. It’s so beautiful and pristine without my crap in it - why ruin perfectly crisp paper? Strange, I know. In the end, I usually buy the notebooks, scribble down a few thoughts in them, and then throw them away a few years later when I come across them again and discover they're tainted with a few pages worth of my useless old thoughts. 

In an effort to enjoy the little things and celebrate small victories, though, I am pleased to report that I recently filled an entire journal, beginning to end, for the first time in my life! By and large, it was a gratitude journal, with a few other thoughts interspersed here and there. I don’t know if I’ll ever crack it open again, but if I do, I will find it is filled with over 1,000 things I was grateful for in late 2018/early 2019 - over 1,000 little things I enjoyed. If you’ve ever contemplated keeping a gratitude journal but haven’t gotten around to it (like me, for the past decade). I do highly recommend it. I started writing down 10 things per day that I am grateful for. Coming up with 10 is sometimes a challenge, but it has definitely gotten me into the habit of routinely scanning the world for the little things. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Fix all the things!

Sometimes inspiration strikes and I find myself striving to improve in all areas of my life. I want to be a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, employee, neighbor and citizen. I am going to get thinner, smarter, less indebted, more well-rounded, happier and taller. And at the same time as I’m improving in every way, I am going to learn to love myself as-is. I’ll be the same old me, but with a cleaner house, shinier hair, a discernible muscle (or two!) and a greater sense of clarity and purpose. This really does not seem like too much to ask. 

Now, I do say some of that in jest but as I begin to reflect upon nearly four decades of life, I do actually find myself inspired to improve. But it’s a different kind of inspiration this time, I think.  As it turns out, I might be kind of a cool human being. At least, I think so.  So, now comes the part where I stop treating myself like a big old piece of crap and start shedding layers of bullshit like self-loathing, shame, guilt, self-pity, doubt. Don’t get me wrong, I have always thought I was a pretty decent version of humans, on the balance. But I also always thought that you weren’t allowed to think something good about yourself without thinking at least one bad thing about yourself to balance it out. What the what? How on earth is this a helpful thing we’re taught to believe by our families, our culture, our religions? 

Instead, I’m going to be trying out a new belief. I’ve decided to believe it’s pretty useless to sit around collecting reasons why I suck. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll just be over here, not sucking anymore. And, because I’ll be busy not sucking anymore, I think I’m going to have to dispense with all the ways punish myself for sucking. It’s going to take practice to keep believing this new belief and it might take the next 40 years to unload the bad habits but that’s ok, I don’t think there’s a deadline. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

[tap][tap] Is this thing on?


Kristentatious here, reporting live from 2019!  Hello world; I’m still alive and I’ve made it this far! I occasionally think about how I miss writing and then I promptly do nothing about it. “Maybe I should blow the dust off the old Wit Spot,” I think to myself. So, here I am with a leaf blower. You know me - always busting out the leaf blower when a pair of bellows would work just fine. Have a Monday, you guys. Let’s see where the day takes us!