Tags: daily prompt, Indianapolis women bloggers, Indy Geek Girls
Last week I went to the first Indy Geek Girls workshop at Indy Reads Books. Indy Geek Girls is a group of women bloggers located in and around Indianapolis, Indiana. I hadn’t joined before went to the workshop because I was intimidated by the thought of calling myself a blogger. I mean, I have a blog, yes, but posting is sporadic and without a theme. I’m more of a tweeter, really, y’know? I felt like those who consider themselves bloggers would sneer at the likes of me, a silly amateur with a little space on wordpress.com. But I really want to be a blogger. I want to share my feelings and experiences with whoever wants to know about them because (1) sharing is part of the joy of life for me and (2) I get so much out of other people’s stories that I want to give others the chance to get something out of mine. So I went to the workshop because I viewed it as Step One to being more serious about blogging.
You guys, it was pretty cool. A half dozen ladies were there, including two I knew from social media + my friend Angie. (Little plug for Angie, who I simply adore: Go read Just Like the Number and/or The Risky Kids. Such good stuff.) Everyone was warm and friendly and helpful. I completed the Indy Geek Girls application during the meeting (free wi-fi, y’all) and felt good about it. Now I’m encouraging others to join too. I held the dates for future workshops on my calendar and have already signed up for the next one.
This first meeting was more along the lines of who are you, what do you want out of the workshops, etc. It was casual but clearly thought-out. And toward the end we were given a writing prompt:
Write about a time you found your community, your tribe.
I have been thinking about it all week. Well, to be fair, I have been thinking about the time I found my tribe and coming up with nothing. I have always been part of more than one tribe. In high school I sat with the same two girls at lunch for several years but I was fluid through a number of other groups. My BFF since 7th grade was not one of those two girls (or a girl at all). The kids I rode the subway or bus to and from school with were not those two girls nor were they part of each others’ circles. As I got older I had friends from high school, a few in college (but only one stuck and he was non-traditional), and coworkers from various jobs. Now I pick up acquaintances from various activities I do around the city. I have never cleanly resided in a single clique. So I will write about a time I found my tribe.
Twitter. (And this is when I’m going to stop saying “tribe” because I don’t really in that term.) Twitter is where I find community on a daily basis. In my timeline are people that are good friends of mine (whether or not we have ever met in person) and a variety of other accounts that span the range from tip blogs to comedians to general acquaintances and complete strangers. Sometimes I interact with people who have responded to a tweet that caught my attention even if I have never seen their account before. Sometimes I look through others’ favorites and retweet ones I like. Once I searched tweets to Weight Watchers and responded to the successes and challenges with encouraging words; getting responses saying that my tweets were inspirational was a real rush.
Very few of the people I cared about before I joined Twitter are on Twitter now so I don’t maintain my social circle exclusively there (and I’m not on Facebook so if I keep in touch with you some other way then I really love you) but it is by far the number one way I connect with others. Especially now that I don’t have a workplace environment as a built-in way to socialize, I check in multiple times a day to see what’s going on. I see news links, hear about what people are doing and thinking about, and share my random musings and questions and updates. Checking Twitter is usually the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before going to bed. If I wake up in the middle of the night and don’t have a book handy, or think that turning on the light will wake up Bill, then Twitter is often where I turn.
I have become real-life friends with several people locally that I got to know on Twitter. I found out about the Indy Food Swap via a tweet, got to know Suzanne, and met lots of great women through that event that have become Twitter and real-life friends. I have become legit friends with people that I know exclusively online thanks to Twitter. For example, I think I could spend a weekend with Bria and her kids in Salt Lake City and it wouldn’t even be like we hadn’t met before. And I have a slightly maternal relationship with Paddy, who has all but promised me an invitation to his wedding (although he’s not yet engaged). I have had people lend me their expertise as a favor even though we know each other only through tweets. (Thanks, Doug!) I have done favors for and had “eclectic adventures” (as my friend Pam calls them) with people that are merely acquaintances, having met them only a few times in person although we correspond on Twitter regularly. For example, I drove K to the hospital for tests the third time we met and went on a cemetery tour with Michelle the third time we met. I connect people on Twitter that might not otherwise find one another. Sometimes magic happens and I’m all, BEHOLD THE POWER OF TWITTER; my favorite might be when Scott and Jenna started talking about a silent reading party and yadda yadda yadda everyone at the party is naked.
Anywho, my tweeps are my community. One of them, at least. Indy food swappers are another. Maybe Indy Geek Girls will be another.
It was a complete coincidence that I hand-delivered a letter on February 1, the first day of Letter Writing Month. So, I thought, why not? I always think about spending more time reaching out to people, right? This is the year of #getitdone, right? And so began my month-long journey to send notes to friends and family far and wide.
I don’t think I will chronicle here all of the correspondence that takes place over the coming month. Maybe a few. This one because it’s a sentiment with possible universality.
I have been married twice (divorced once) and both of my mothers-in-law have been good to me. They are nothing alike as women—in many ways quite opposite—and neither has much in common with me. It has occurred to me on many an occasion, particularly when hearing how other women in my family have had mothers-in-law treat them, that I lucked out.
Bill and I were talking about his parents and his mother’s reluctance to new social situations came up. He mentioned that she was shy, which was likely compounded by not really feeling comfortable in her own skin. It’s a shame, really, because she’s very sweet and I think most people would take to her. I added that it didn’t help that she’s been surrounded by people throughout her life that haven’t been very supportive of her. (Yes, I mean my father-in-law most of all.) I have my issues with Jane but none of them are related to her character; she is flawed, as we all are, but she is ultimately good. She deserves to have someone tell her so. A note from a daughter-in-law is not the same as a steadfast partner who is always on one’s side but it is what I have to offer, and it may be a tiny boost to her self-confidence.
Consider this a written hug. I just wanted to tell you that I think you are a wonderful mother-in-law. Some husbands have mothers who are mean, meddling, indifferent, critical, or otherwise undesirable as relatives, but not mine. You are kind, thoughtful, and warm. I appreciate how accepting and supportive you’ve been. Thank you for being so good to me.
I love you—
Do you have a nice mother-in-law? Have you told her?
I have decided to quit the Y.
This was not a decision I came to easily. Joining the Y was one of the best parts of my 2013. As a matter of fact, I thought we might move from an individual to a family membership this year. But I had an experience—yes, one single encounter—that changed my mind. It was with my favorite instructor, which is why the blow was so damaging. I thought we were cool, you know?
I decided to write her a letter. Putting pen to paper seems formal, and maybe elevates the seriousness of the whole thing more than I’d like, but it’s important to me to share my feelings with her. I feel like an asshole for doing it this way because I don’t get to hear her side, which I honestly do value, but I’m afraid. A conversation in which emotions run high can be filled with tension and defensiveness and misunderstandings. We don’t have the space or history to sit down and have a calm chat; we have the lobby of the Y while other people are coming and going and she’s running late to class. I’m afraid that it won’t go well, or won’t feel resolved, and I just don’t want to deal with that.
In addition, even if we had a great discussion that cleared up the whole mess, I recognize that this triggered something in me that goes deep. My immediate emotional response came from a place that stretched back to my childhood. If there are themes to the kinds of behaviors and reactions that really hurt me then one of them is feeling the metaphorical rug being pulled out from under me. Going along happy as can be, assuming that things are fine, and then BOOM the other person is angry without warning? NOT GOOD. And now that I know that’s a possibility, the thought of walking into that situation willingly seems unwise. (And paying to do it? Come on. You know I’m cheap.)
When this happened—the back-and-forth that was the beginning of the end of my time at the Y—I was hungry and tired but also feeling good from the endorphins released after exercise. Class was nearing its end and had been hard and fun. I didn’t react in the moment because I recognized a HALTS situation and knew I needed to process the events later. I went home, had lunch, talked to Bill about it, and slept on it. I came to the decision to not go back a few days later after I was sure this was a move I needed to make.
Following is the letter that I wrote. I have removed a few details try to keep the parties involved less identifiable. If you follow me on Twitter and/or live in Indy then this won’t be a hard case to crack but there’s really no need to care about the who and where. I am sharing it here because I believe being open about one’s feelings does more good than harm, and because I am open to feedback about how to interact with others in a healthy way. I am trying to be the best person that I can be and a social mirror is helpful for that.
Toward the end of last Saturday’s Zumba class we danced to one song that I thought was painfully loud. I’m used to the music being turned up—as a matter of fact, that very day I went in the hall for a drink and a break and spoke to a woman who commented how loud the music was; I told her that it’s part of the fun and that it hides the sound of all of us panting as we push ourselves—but this time it hurt my ears. I tried to get your attention in the mirror to ask that you turn it down but was not successful. I considered going in the hall again but decided to dance through and just say something at the end of the song.
When the song ended I asked if you could turn the music down just a bit. You said, “No. I like my music loud. If you don’t like loud music then maybe this class ain’t for you.” You made eye contact with me for the no but said the rest of it as you turned away. I wasn’t sure if you were joking. You sounded serious but I couldn’t imagine that you were really telling me not to come to class again, or that one bit of feedback meant I didn’t like loud music ever.
I was talking to [another regular classmate] as you readied music for the next song when I heard you say something to someone else along the lines of “Why do people come to class if they’re going to complain about it? I hate that.” I asked you directly if you were talking about me. You turned to look me right in the eye and said, “Yeah.” In the tone of that one word I heard Of course I’m talking about you. None of these other women were foolish enough to ask me to change anything. I felt so small knowing that you were badmouthing me to a classmate in a way that seemed meant for me to hear.
I’m not sure why asking you if we could turn down the Zumba music a bit caused you to react the way you did, or if it was something else I did or said, but it really caught me by surprise. Despite your prior texts effusing what a “true friend” I am, I harbor no illusion that we are actual friends; you are an instructor, I attend your classes, and I am willing to do favors for you. We are acquaintances who have shared a few personal conversations and, I thought, good will. Nevertheless, my feelings were hurt when you spoke to me the way you did. Actually, you spoke at me and about me within earshot in a way that struck me as rude and intentionally hurtful. I have been coming to all three of your weekly classes with regularity for the past year and asking you ONCE to adjust the music elicited such a response? Beyond unprofessional, that was unnecessarily harsh.
I have been thinking about this since it happened, wondering what I could’ve done differently, trying to figure out how to handle it. Maybe I inadvertently did or said something that offended you other than the request about the music? Maybe you were having a particularly hard morning? Should I talk to you about it or just pretend it never happened? It’s just that I can’t shake the glare you gave me when I heard you grumbling about complainers and asked if you were talking about me. It felt so mean. I want to know what part of that encounter I should apologize for so that I can say I’m sorry to you but I’m not willing to be vulnerable enough to find out. For that I am indeed sorry; it makes the nature of this communication inherently one-sided, which would normally not be my preference.
I don’t plan to return to your classes. As a matter of fact, since your classes were my favorite part of membership, I’m leaving the Y altogether. It’s sad, really, because I will miss my cardio classmates, many of the Y employees, and the accepting, restorative nature of working out there. It may seem silly to abandon what has been such a positive part of my life for a year’s time over a single, seemingly isolated incident. The thing is that I’m pretty sensitive to the kind of emotional energy in my environment and I’m afraid that exchange with you will poison my experiences there. I can’t take that chance. Not if I’m going to spend $51/month & plan my family’s dinners around classes.
I will not say anything to the management about why I am leaving. Normally I would, if asked, but I know that you depend on that job and I wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize your standing there. Rest assured that any complaints registered about you or your classes have never been and will never be from me.
I really do wish you the best of luck in life.
Some background, to make sense of the fourth paragraph in particular: The instructor had an unreliable car. A few times I offered her a ride, a few times she asked for a ride, and once I actually gave her a ride to class. Over the course of several weeks, though, we exchanged texts re: whether or not she would need a ride to/from class or somewhere else. We came very close to making plans to going car shopping together. It was within that time period that she wrote “Thanks u really know how 2 b a friend” and “U have truly been a blessing 2 me this wk. So ready 2 truly be there 4 me. Thanks 4 being so authentic.”
I don’t believe that quid pro quo is healthy for a personal relationship. I didn’t expect special treatment in class because I did favors for the instructor outside of class. I did favors for the instructor because it was in my power to help her out and I wanted to. What I expected in class was to be treated in a way that was respectful and up until my last attendance I got even more than that. Class was enjoyable and she was the biggest part of that for me. Maybe that’s what made this incident sting even more.
This whole thing leaves me feeling like a crybaby.
I had been considering disease-modifying treatment again, which means a brain MRI was in order. The last one I had done was in late 2011 and my neurologist didn’t want to start a new course of action without a baseline scan. He prefers I get them done annually but (1) EXPENSIVE and (2) I think it’s excessive if there are no changes to symptoms or treatment.
My most recent exacerbation was different than the previous ones and felt more serious. I had numbness and tingling in my face and along the entire right side of my body—that’s never happened before—and it lasted for a couple months. The severity of the numbness and tingling ebbed and flowed but never went away, even if the only thing I consciously noticed sometimes was a post-dental-visit feeling in my tongue and cheek. Logically I knew the severity was comparable to previous exacerbations in which the (lack of) feeling was in my feet, legs, and maybe hands, but emotionally it hit me much harder. “So close to my eyes!” I kept thinking, “I don’t want to go blind.”
Here is the basic progression of my thoughts for each exacerbation I’ve had:
1. This is unsettling.
2. This isn’t terrible. It could be much worse.
3. I wonder what will happen next.
4. I wonder how bad it will get in the future. Maybe I’ll be paralyzed/blind/deaf/etc.
5. I’m lucky to have a husband who will take care of me.
6. This isn’t terrible. It could be much worse.
7. I’m fine.
I knew that once the exacerbation passed I would forget how utterly freaked out I had been when it started. The neurologist mentioned (not for the first time) that there was an oral therapy on the market that I should consider and that, should I be willing to discuss it, a brain MRI would need to be done. So at the end of last year I set up an appointment in January—might as well start working on the new deductible!—before I could change my mind.
I had a brain MRI done with and without contrast at a medical imaging outpatient center a couple weeks ago. As I understand it, the contrast helps make clear the lesions that are active. Then a staff radiologist interprets the images and writes up a report for the neurologist.
After seeing the report from the radiologist, the neurologist called to tell me that I should consider bringing Bill with me to the appointment; since Bill is my partner and caretaker, he thought we should discuss the treatment options together. The report indicated that there were active lesions on my brain, which could be a sign that the disease was progressing. This was, um, a little unsettling. He hadn’t seen the actual MRI, though, because I had it in my possession on a CD.
Last week I went in to see the neurologist. (Bill didn’t go with me because he had field jobs scheduled for work.) We discussed the treatment options. And then we looked at the images of my brain together. And then I asked a bunch of questions and explained my philosophy on treatment. He said it was a very reasonable, scientific way to look at things. (Duh. My brain isn’t broken.) And then I told him that I’m not starting treatment again because, as best we can tell, things aren’t getting any worse right now.
What we saw in the images looked not as bad as the radiologist’s report had seemed to imply. Some active lesions are to be expected since I’m having relapses. My relapses aren’t getting more frequent. My symptoms aren’t getting more serious* even if they were slightly more troubling this last time. The nature of MS is that it may or may not get worse, the medicine may or may not help, and we can’t really know either way. Oh, and the medicine is REALLY expensive. For all of those reasons I told the neurologist that I’d rather spend the thousands of dollars on a family vacation.
*The active lesions are locations of demyelination in my brain and symptoms show up in the the places where that part of my brain sends signals. So the numbness moving from my feet to my face just meant that the lesion was in a different place this time. (That’s as best as I can explain what I understand to be going on.)
Immediately after the appointment I called Bill to let him know all about it. He’s a worrier, that one, and I wanted to relieve him of that burden ASAP. Soon after that I texted a friend who had lent a supportive ear about the whole affair. Her response: “Woo hoo!!!! Suck on it, MS.” I agree.
Tags: #thinkkit, daily prompt
— Sacha Brady (@zigged) July 22, 2013
Draw a pie chart, graph, or Venn diagram of your year. What you measure, count, collect, or combine is up to you!
I had planned to look at how our spending compared to the recommended Pete the Planner‘s budget breakdown but instead I took a straightforward look at how much we spent on various expenses in 2013. For the record, I’m still interested in seeing the percentages, and maybe I’ll get around to that, but I don’t know if I’ll share the nitty gritty.
Entertainment — We don’t have cable; instead we subscribe to Netflix + have an Amazon Prime membership. (Anna watches shows in her room using her mother’s Hulu Plus membership, too.) We borrow books, movies, and TV series from the library, and Bill downloads the maximum allowable number of songs from Freegal Music using our accounts. Bill frequently winds down by listening to music in iTunes while he surfs the Internet. Going to the cinema is a special treat and usually happens in the morning (for cheaper tickets) and includes popcorn that we share. I attend a number of social and cultural events around town, usually free, and often take Anna. We do enjoy going out to eat as a family but that doesn’t really happen more than once a week anymore. (I have lunch weekly with friends, too, but that’s more to maintain my own emotional stability than to be entertained.)
Cars — We have two vehicles that we own outright, an SUV and a wagon. Having no car payments is SWEET. Bill’s employer provides him with a vehicle for work so only our wagon gets driven regularly.* Anna is with us half the time and her school is a 45-mile round-trip away, which is about two gallons of gas; it’s a significant savings each time Bill can drive her there or pick her up (or both) as part of his work commute. (It saves me A LOT of time, too.) Our cars are approaching 200,000 miles each, though, so maintenance and repairs can be significant at times (e.g., August). The wagon in particular can be pricey when it needs work because it’s Swedish, so parts are expensive and sometimes only available via the dealer.
*I would love to go down to a single car. It doesn’t cost us too much right now to keep the second car, and it provides Bill with a certain amount of comfort to have it, so that won’t even have a chance of happening until one of them dies.
Mobile Calling & Data — Bill’s employer provides him with a work phone. Anna is on her mother’s plan (and is excited to now have an iPhone). That leaves only my smartphone costing us money, although AT&T still gives me the discount I qualified for through my previous employer. I have a modest number of minutes (that I supplement with Talkatone when I need to do extensive calling for work) and grandfathered data and texting plans (200 GB and 200 texts). Occasionally I go over my text limit, which costs a couple extra bucks, but that’s still WAY cheaper than paying for the unlimited plan. And since I use Twitter to make/maintain connections with others, which is crucial for my emotional stability, paying for a data plan is cheaper than therapy.
Internet Access — This makes work and play possible. We’ve had U-verse® high speed Internet for several years now and are pretty happy with it. We upgraded to Max (downstream speeds up to 12 Mbps) from Elite (downstream speeds up to 6 Mbps), which is $5 more per month, but I think I switched during a promo that gave us the upgrade for several months free. It’s still coaxial cable from our house to the nearest U-verse® box, so Bill still sees slower speeds when he’s trying to upload work documents during peak hours, but we never have issues streaming, surfing, etc. I am very happy to not have Comcast.
Electric — The amount of electricity we use fluctuates with the seasons, naturally. I try to manage the temperature in the house during the warmer months as much as possible by using windows and blinds, both because I enjoy fresh air and am cheap. The thermostat is set at about 73°F for cooling (any hotter and there’s no break from the humidity) and 68°F for heating (although I recently changed it to 70°F during the day due to Bill’s continual complaints of being cold). We have a programmable thermostat but with our heat pump it doesn’t make sense to move the settings around too much. The HVAC system is efficient and gets preventive maintenance semi-annually. Most of our bulbs are CFLs. I’m considering installing vacancy sensor switches in the rooms that are mainly occupied by Anna because she doesn’t TURN OFF THE DAMN LIGHTS.
Thanks to IPL’s Budget Billing plan we pay a fixed amount for 11 months of the year and settle up on the twelfth. Since the budget amount is about $20 more than average usage, settling up usually means not owing (or owing much less). This allows us to automate payment of the electric bill using our bank’s bill payment system, which gives us one fewer thing to worry about on a monthly basis.
Water and Sewer — The sewer charges are pretty much fixed. The water charges fluctuate with usage. Two things I’ve noticed since Citizens Energy Group took over Indianapolis Water: (1) The meter is read every month so no more estimated charges. (2) The bill has gone up about $10/month for us.
Food — Groceries are hard to quantify because I do most of our food shopping at a big box store where I also buy household goods. Dining out is hard to quantify because for a few months in 2013 we paid with cash exclusively but most of the time we put it on our credit card + occasionally Bill paid with cash if he had it in his wallet; this is an area in which I have a difficult time getting us to stick to a single system. I’d say overall, between the two of them, we spent $500–800 dollars a month.
Pets — Having the dogs is pricey. Close to $1000/year in food + more than that in daycare and boarding, not to mention trips to the vet. Goocher had his cruciate ligament repaired in the spring, too. (I should’ve made a graph for pet expenses.)
This past year also saw payments for the bathroom renovation, Jamaican vacation, family road trip, Anna’s school expenses, child support to Anna’s mother, some charitable donations, and Christmas gifts for friends, family, and service providers. We saved for our own retirement + Anna’s college education too. Each month we paid the entire balance on on credit cards + a significant overage on our mortgage payment, which means we’re steadily chipping away at the only debt we have.
This coming year will see most of these same expenses + new ones for medical procedures and treatments. Ah, being an adult—remind me again why we wanted to grow up so badly when we were children…?
I remembered seeing who-knows-how-long ago that one could make fire starters from dryer lint in a cardboard egg carton. So I’ve been saving dryer lint semi-consistently for some time now. If you ever saw egg cartons on top of my washing machine, now you know why. Lately I’ve been thinking more about finishing that project (and ceasing to collect dryer lint).
Last night, while looking through a box of candle-related items with the intention of getting rid of them, I came across a partially used jar candle that smelled of Christmas. I realized quickly that (1) it would be perfect for melting because the wax is already in a disposable, heat-tolerant container and (2) it’s a good scent for a fire starter. And just like <snap> the proverbial flame was lit under my ass.
I put the jar in a pot of water on the stove and looked up a method for making the fire starters. Finally those little dental floss samples the dentist sends home after a check-up would come in handy! As the wax melted I started to assemble my little lint packages for dipping.
Bill: “What is that?”
Me: “It’s called ‘Home for the Holidays’.”
Bill: “It smells like cinnamon.”
Me: “I guess that’s what Yankee Candle thinks the holidays smell like.”
Bill: “I guess you can’t have a candle that smells like passive-aggressive bullshit.”
The amount of wax remaining in the jar was sufficient for maybe 20 starters, so I chopped up a new, unscented pillar candle that was in the to-be-donated pile and tossed it into the jar.
Me: “It also smells like pine needles. Maybe that’s the evergreen smell of envy and resentment.”
I made several little lint packages while watching the Antiques Roadshow season premiere as the wax melted. One by one I dropped them into the jar, held them under the hot wax with a bamboo skewer, waited for the air bubbles to stop, and then removed them to the carton lid to cool/dry. A small collection was amassing.
Bill: “Are you going to open your own Etsy shop?”
One package burst open in the hot wax and I had to fish it out with tongs. One fell into the boiling water bath before I dipped it and the wax didn’t adhere to the wet part.
Me: “This would go faster if I had help.”
Bill: “I suppose we could look into hiring someone.”
I thought I had the makings for four dozen but there was an overabundance of lint so I made five before I threw away the remaining clump. I had been working on this for about four hours and it was now time for bed.
I could’ve made more, and probably in less time, if I had simply poured the wax into the cartons stuffed with lint. In the end I’m not sorry I chose this method because it made hardly any mess and I didn’t burn myself, both of which were pleasant surprises. The funny thing is we hardly ever make fires, and certainly none in wet conditions, so five dozen waterproof fire starters is a bit of overkill. Looks like I’m set on gifts for a very particular set of people!
I have been going back and forth on whether I want to post a list of resolutions, mostly because I have been going back and forth on whether I want to make a list of resolutions.
My only 2014 New Years Resolution: Don’t die on the toilet.
— Arlton Lowry (@arlton) December 29, 2013
The last time I consciously resolved to make changes was two years ago and, while I don’t do exactly those things anymore, they have become part of my thought process in one way or another. I’m normally a SMART goals kind of gal but I like the way the specific activities have infiltrated my life in a way that’s more inspired than instructive. Like, I think about how I’m eating too quickly and put my fork down OR take a sip of water OR just, you know, eat more slowly.
1. I’m fortunate for so many reasons, not least of which is that there is very little drama in my life now. My husband is an almost-ideal partner. My step-daughter is outstanding in so many regards. My role as a part-time worker for pay + full-time housewife is much better than working in a corporate environment, where I struggled to fit in for so many years. My husband’s ex-wife and I have a cordial relationship via email now through which we can handle arrangements, discuss parenting decisions, etc. I don’t have toxic people in my social circle or, really, anyone who is less than an emotional boost. I even tweet with people whom I do not know in real life but would consider friends.
I spent many years wrapped up in drama of various sorts for various reasons and when I hear others’ stories, either about their lives or their friends’, I am so thankful to navigate life without the choppy waters of troublesome situations. Well, as much as possible. Life is poised to capsize our boat at its whim, I realize that.
So, without further rambling, here’s a list of what I’d like to see happen in the coming year, in no particular order:
— Get rid of the possessions we own that aren’t helpful (e.g., useful, beautiful, otherwise beneficial to our lives). If I keep this in the front of my mind and get over the I-need-hours-to-accomplish-major-purges attitude, then I can chip away at our clutter a little bit at a time. A few minutes here and a few minutes there will add up to hours in the end (I’m telling myself as much as you). And I’ve already started working the bring-less-into-our-environment angle, so I just need to keep that up.
— Finish partially completed tasks and projects. I have a tendency to get almost all the way done with something, to the point at which the outcome is serviceable, and stop. Our year-old bathroom remodel has crown molding that is primed but not painted + the walls could use a second coat. The quarter round on the first floor’s base molding needs to be caulked and painted…for about 7 years now. I have stacks of prints that need frames and ready-to-hang pieces that aren’t hung. You get the point.
— Do things that are good for my soul. Hang out with Bill. Hang out with Anna. Read 26 books. Go to 2 or 3 cardio classes a week and (maybe) take up strength training again. Have lunch with friends on a weekly basis. Connect with people on Twitter on a daily basis. Share my thoughts and stories on this blog somewhat regularly. Attend cultural events. Volunteer. Those kinds of things.
Ambitious? Not really. SMART? Not at all. Right for me right now? Yep.
Tags: #thinkkit, daily prompt
I thought today’s prompt would be for a list of resolutions. I guess it could be, huh?
What are you looking forward to the most about the next 365 days?
I suppose I could list all of the things that have been spinning around in my head that I’d like to get done, make habits, etc. Those seem like straight-up resolutions, though, and I’d like to go a different way for this. I’d like this to be more dreamy and less practical. More nebulous and less concrete. More fluid and less specific.
I am most looking forward to new experiences. When I think about events that I enjoy and people with whom I’ve had stimulating conversations, so many times it’s something or someone new. There is comfort in knowing the things that bring me joy, yes, but I just adore the excitement of taking in a fresh experience, learning new things, and meeting new people. It gives me a buzz.
I’ll give you three new challenges for next year that I can think of now:
I have been itching to get away from buying gifts (for other adults) for Christmas for a few years now with little to no luck. My father won’t hear of it; he finally stopped sending stuff but he still sends money. A highlight of the holidays for my mother-in-law is the ceremony of opening gifts; not only must gifts be exchanged but preferably a minimum quantity of items to be unwrapped in the presence of others. When I proposed not exchanging gifts with my sister-in-law, she said we didn’t have to buy her anything but she’d still give gifts to us. COME ON, PEOPLE. I made exceptions for Anna and my niece (i.e., of course we’d still get gifts for them) but the adults still won’t agree. Gah. This year I floated the idea of taking a family vacation next year instead of buying gifts between the three of us and Anna was totally into it. Success! So now I am super excited about planning a trip for Bill, Anna, Taylor*, and myself to wrap up 2014.
*Assuming her mother is on board. It’s a safe assumption.
This summer will mark the twentieth anniversary of my graduating high school. I have been asking the head of the alumni committee to see if anyone is planning a reunion and, um, it looks like it might be me. I hadn’t expected that to be the case but no one else seems to be doing it and, struck by an unexpected bout of some serious nostalgia, I think it’s a task I should embrace. There are some wrinkles: I am not on Facebook (which is how so many people seem to keep in touch); I do not live in or near the city in which I graduated (Philly); and I only keep in touch with a tiny percentage of my classmates (3 of 69). I can’t decide if I am excited or terrified by the prospect of leading the charge of a high school reunion but I am definitely happy about potentially seeing so many faces from the past (and their families) in my hometown.
I am declaring 2014 Year of the Purge. I know it might not sound lofty to discuss discarding things but to me it’s a long-held dream. I come from a background of packrats and it has been a hard habit to shake. I mean, I might need these things. These things are practical to save. Right? NOPE. I’ll just stack this stuff and keep it here for a short time, until I find a better place for it. Right? NOPE. I can’t describe the relief I feel when I imagine surroundings that have empty horizontal surfaces. Wide open spaces. (We won’t get into calming colors and free of dog fur. Baby steps.) Coming home from a trip abroad or an anticipated reunion to a tidy, clutter-free home? That’s a new experience I anticipate with glee.
Tags: #thinkkit, daily prompt
What place (event, celebration, etc.) stood out for you this year? Where was it? Who was there? What did it look like? How did it inspire you?
I have participated in the Spirited Chase for the past three years. My friend KT and her nephew Trevor have done it with me each time. This year our friend Scott joined us too. While I have really enjoyed the Chase every year, this year was my hands-down favorite.
My top three highlights are as follows:
#3 — Performing stand-up comedy karaoke at Big Car Service Center. We were each given a comedian’s name on a slip of paper as we walked in. We were called to the stage by that name, at which point we were to tell the joke on the prompter. Since the theme was RISK I told Scott that I was thinking of performing an off-script joke…and then the joke on the prompter was the EXACT SAME JOKE I would’ve chosen. I was disproportionately excited about that.
#2 — Getting to ride a bike around the racing track at Major Taylor Velodrome. I had never ridden a racing bike (or any kind of fixie), and certainly never on a racing track. We weren’t allowed up on the banked section but that didn’t make the experience any less exciting. I went around twice!
#1 — Completing the adventure course at Jameson Camp with a great team. A few of them I had met at other Spirit & Place events + activities about town. It was a serendipitously perfect mix of men and women (plus one boy) who were just the right amount of competitive and flexible, skilled and game to try. We shot arrows, walked on ropes, spotted “birds” with binoculars, rode bikes, and got up in each other’s personal space. We laughed while cheering on the other team members. It was SO MUCH FUN. We came in first, too!
Tags: #thinkkit, daily prompt
Today’s prompt is easy. I already did it!
What’s one step you can take to support a goal you have for 2014?
Michael Anthony Adams, an arts reporter for the Indianapolis Star, issued a challenge for every Hoosier to read 26 books in 2014. That’s one book every two weeks, on average. He gave the challenge a hashtag and all. Lots of people immediately jumped on board.
I want to read 26 (or more) books in 2014! To hold myself accountable I created a page right here on this blog ↑ to track my progress. We’ll see if it works! <fingers crossed>