Neurosis

 

I love watching or just listening to a good TedTalk.  There is just something amazing about sharing ideas and listening to someone making the potentially impossible elegantly simple.  I certainly was not disappointed by the talk that Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs gave on our resistance to recognizing and preforming the ‘hard work’ that makes the ‘brilliant’ ideas possible.  He also talks about two concepts that have stuck with me after watching this talk for the second time.

Anagnorisis – Basically a sudden awareness of who you are.

And

Peripeteia – Essentially a discovery that things have changed from what you thought to basically the opposite.

It’s funny – no ironic – that after listening to this talk and understanding those concepts I suddenly see these two things everywhere.

I used to joke about being neurotic but the reality the definition of neurosis fits me pretty much to a T.  Neurosis is a functional mental illness, marked with anxiety, depression, low self worth among a laundry list of other things.  The more I read, the more I agreed, the more I realized that we are raised to feel think this way.

Recently I took one of those silly survey things that asks you to pick between two statements.  You have to pick one, which ever one you agree with more.  The choices came down to thinks like ‘I think I am better than other people but I would never say it’ or ‘It’s okay to be really nice to people I don’t like when I need something from them’.  Basically you have to choose between being crazy full of yourself almost to a point of narcissism or you have to manipulate others … neither one feels acceptable.

I also sat through a lecture recently that touched on race.  My professor was throwing out the words Whites, Blacks, Asians like it was no big deal and every time she did I cringed just a little.  I was raised to pretend that I don’t see differences.  In school we constantly talked about not treating people differently based on their abilities, their color, their language, you name it – the name of the game became pretending it doesn’t actually exist.    This has been something that has bothered me for a long time.  I feel uncomfortable making eye contact with someone in a wheelchair because I don’t want them to think I am staring or I would hate to offer the help them reach something and have them think I am offering help out of pity.

Seriously, that was an example in customer service training in my first retail job.  If they need help let them ask … but if you were 5′ and trying to reach something an inch out of reach as a 5’5″ person I would offer to help … how is this different.

But being raised in the good ol’ Minnesota nice kinda way I go back to thinking about how wrong I must be.

I have actually been driving myself crazy about this for the past day.

Here is the thing – I am not perfect, you are not perfect and I challenge anyone to show me a living person who is perfect.  Just because I am a fairly privileged white 20 something doesn’t mean I haven’t had life experience.  It doesn’t mean I can’t empathize, and it sure doesn’t mean I walk around with a superiority complex.  Our push for treating everyone the same has actually ensured that all I walk around with is a little guilt for being born as I was … something I have zero control over.

Now I sound like a whiney pity me because being privileged in the ways I have been is so hard kind of girl.

I am not.

I mention these things because these thoughts, feelings, and early lessons on tolerance and diversity have actually hindered my ability to make friends outside of my cultural and socio-economic peers.  I am afraid to make an effort to get to know someone different from myself because I am interested in learning the differences in our cultures and the nuances that come with living in a ‘free culture’ when your heritage dictates arranged marriage.  I am afraid to talk about my families Christmas traditions for fear I will offend someone.  Heck, I had a conversation with a co-worker the other day about cats.  She has cats – I don’t like them.  I mentioned my husband sometimes mentions getting one but cats kind of creep me out.  And as it was coming out of my mouth all I could think was shut up, shut up, shut up you are about to offend.  Good thing the ladies are work with are a little less sensitive than the rest of us and are smart self-confident women who know not everyone likes the same things.

If we could all be just a little more aware of the things we get wrong and a little more gracious about everyone being different and if we could wrap our arms lovingly around one another when one of us needs help through a hard time what would we be capable of?

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Introducing Paris

Paris – Homeward Bound adoption photo

Last month we had to say goodbye to our yellow lab Lucy.  It was not an easy process.

If you are not dog people it might not make sense that we really wanted to add a dog to our family – not to replace Lucy, but to fill a little bit of the gap that was left in our house without her.  I wasn’t truly convinced we would get an other dog – no more dog hair, no more cleaning up the yard, no vet bills … there are a lot of reasons not to have a dog.  But I started to quickly miss the quite companionship, the unconditional love, someone to talk to when I was home alone so I didn’t feel as crazy, and of course a level of protection that just having a dog offers.

We started to research and look for a dog earlier this month.  But I was still having a hard time committing to a new dog.  I had narrowed it down to what I was looking for and had a breed in mind.  I started looking around and wouldn’t you know that three days ago I happened upon a picture of this sweet little dog who just so happened to seem like the perfect fit for our family.  I had to see her.  So Saturday we drove out to see her … and home she came.  This is the second time that my family has done an adoption with Homeward Bound and the process is so easy and, so far, we couldn’t be happier with the dogs that have been placed with us.

The last 24 hours she has been a joy to have in our home.  She is already learning simple commands like sit, she is starting to understand the concept of housebreaking, and she loves to be with the family.

Minimizing challenge

Have you ever heard a minimalist challenge you to ‘just get rid of one thing everyday for 30 days’?  Maybe the issued the challenge to you personally, maybe as part of a talk or post you heard/read.  It’s out there.  It is often that these people are claiming doing this will set you free.  That offloading some of your stuff will make your life happier.

In the process of cleaning up our water damaged basement and putting it back together I have found that storage is something VERY important to me.  It got me thinking about this type of challenge.  I am not prepared to commit fully like the guy who packed all of his possessions in a box and dug for and unpacked any needed item.  Anything left in the boxes after x number of days was donated.

I am also not prepared to do the progressive downsizing challenge of ‘get ride of one thing on the first day, two things on the second, three on the third … and so on for 30 days’.

But the idea the things, and for my purposes tasks, can be reduced and result in giving me back some of my time is an interesting one.  And I think it will serve the purpose of both reduced cost (no more storage to buy) and be more environmentally friendly.  And with some of the things I get rid of, I will be able to donate and enrich another’s life.

So today is technically my day 4

Day 1 I got rid of a bath toy storage item that just didn’t hack it any more and the baby bath tub we had been storing toys in that had just seen better days

Day 2 I got rid of an item of clothing

Day 3 I sort of cheated.  I sent my hand mixer over to my mom and dad’s … we pretty much never use it in our house and have a stand mixer but I know where it is should I ever find I need it.

Today – depending on time – I am going to try and find any books we own that can be downloaded for free on my Kindle and  get rid of the physical copies, get rid of anything we won’t read and pack up all of our Wii accessories and games since our system is dead and we don’t plan to replace it … going for extra credit today.

Stages of Change

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Have you ever hear the stages of change theory?  That there are several ‘stages’ of change?  That you kind of almost progress though these stages on your way to making a lifestyle change?  We talk about this theory a fair amount in my Kin program – it is almost always used for our purposes in the context of making lifestyles changes to include more healthy behaviors.

There is this starting stage that is called precontemplation that I really like to call denial.  Basically you don’t ‘the issue’ as an issue and have no interest in making change.  Often we talk about this in terms of diet and exercise.  ‘Other people tell me I should be exercising because it’s good for me but I just don’t think it is important.’

Next we have contemplation – basically seeing the light.  ‘Maybe I should try this exercise thing out.’  Having recently been in the midst of these early stage for far too long I can tell you that this is where I tried to figure out if it was really worth it, how would I fit it in, how much or how little could I get away with.

Next is a commitment to action.  Just like it sounds except mine came in the form of degree requirements.  I needed a heart rate monitor for a class and I decided to get basically a Mercedes of GPSs.  Extravagance with extra bells and whistles but is sure isn’t a Porsche.  It also reminded me that most of the classes I have remaining are physical activity courses with very active people – it was in fact time to lace up those running shoes.  Groupon added the final push by having a Groupon for a chocolate 5k run.  By signing up, and pairing something I love (chocolate) with something I am not so in love with (running), I made a commitment and made it a little less daunting – I mean I get chocolate at the end :).

Next is action – which I have finally made it to this weekend.  After writing about lacing my running shoes back up, I went from commitment right back to contemplation … maybe running just isn’t for me.  Yesterday for the first time in probably close to (maybe even more than) a year I went for a run 100% on my own.  It turned into more of a run/walk but hey you have to start somewhere.  I met my family at a cafe about a mile and a half from our house for breakfast.

I remembered all of the things I HATE about running.  Those little aches and pains, the heavy breathing, the tightness that can set into your muscles after sitting.  But I remembered the things I like about being a runner – pushing the limits, fighting the mental battle that is reaching a new distance or a new time, the calm and clarity that comes when you stop, and the accomplishment you feel at the end of your course.  This morning with sore and tired legs, I took my daughter with me in her jogging stroller to run up to the gas station half a mile from our home.  We spent a little time together and picked up our regular doughnuts and coffee before turning around and running back.  That mile was a lot more work (not only was I pushing extra weight but the stroller had a slightly flat tire) but already somehow seemed easier and more enjoyable.

The theory goes on to include the maintenance stage and in some models the termination stage.  When we talk about these things it is always presented in a linear progression.  This and then this and then this, with the goal of reaching maintenance or termination depending on what you are following but they all agree in the end that this isn’t linear.  You can jump from one to the other, you can skip steps and you can bounce back and forth between them.

I think I will keep living in the ‘action’ stage – maintenance is misleading and may cause me to ‘loosen up’ but choosing to take action is always in my control and relies a little more heavily on me.

A few of my favorite things – 10 best things about Fall

 

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This morning the crisp air and serious lack of light at my normal wake up time was very disappointing.  I just wanted to crawl into bed and stay put.  The 2 day headache didn’t help either.  It wasn’t until the end of the day that I realized it’s fall!

My favorite time of the year .

My daughter has pretty much out grown all of her warm clothing forcing me (I know boo-hoo) to spend a little time today shopping for some adorable winter trends for my sassy little lady.  Sandwiched between Gymboree and Carter’s is a little Bath and Body Shop store front.  And what do you know, they had their candle display up.

Ordinarily I would just walk by, especially since there wasn’t a sale.  But lately I have been stressed and feeling just a little less than fantastic – so I thought I would buy one … just one.  I walked out with 5 three wick candles, 2 mini candles, 2 hand lotions, and a body spray.  It ended my disappointment over Summer in about 2 seconds and reminded me of all the things I love about cooler temps.

Here are my favorite things about fall

  1. crisp fall nights by the fire – who doesn’t love the smell and worth of a fire.  Surround it with good friends, a good drink or two, and some marshmallows and you would be hard pressed to find a better way to pass an evening.
  2. ‘fall’ drinks – whatever your favorite coffee shop, I am sure they have you covered with a selection of pumpkin and or carmel drinks.  Don’t worry, they are soon to be followed with peppermint and eggnog drinks as Fall turns into the cold bitter Winter.
  3. Apples – anything apple.  Orchards, hot cider, Oreos … okay I could take or leave those but you get it.
  4. Candles – the warmth, the fragrance, the dancing flames, the lingering smell of sulfur after striking a match
  5. Soups, crockpot meals, and chili – need I say more?
  6. Colors – the color of the leaves as the days get colder is unreal and vibrant.  There is something just magical.
  7. Cold nights – no need for the A/C, sleeping temps are just perfect
  8. Chunky infinity scarves – there is something comforting and stylish about a scarf.  And the chunkier the better
  9. Of course there are all the holidays and fun decorations.  Oranges, yellows, reds slowly transition into reds, greens and whites.  Three solid months of fun home decor – I couldn’t be a happier camper.  Especially that first night when I can sit and sip hot chocolate and watch fresh snow make the world appear new and fresh and clean again.
  10. And then of course there is the celebrations – not just holidays with family and friends but October marks another year of life and love with my husband, the anniversary of my daughter’s birth, and of course the traditional family time at Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s.

I don’t love the bitter cold but I can’t wait to start burning my cinnamon, apple, pumpkin, and earthy candles while my house turns cozy.  And as the bitter cold sets in the smell of pine and wood will replace the apple and pumpkin.

The Facebook Black Hole/Intentional Living Goal 3

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Today is one of those days where Facebook has sucked me in with it’s suggestions of people I may know.

You have been there right?

Every click leads you to someone else that you once knew.

I have found something surprising through this black hole Facebook encourages.

I always thought I was slightly unique in the sense that I married a man I started dating in high school … I mean most high school friends loose touch right?  Apparently not – several people I went to high school or even middle school with have ended up married and starting families.

Does this matter?  No, not at all but as the 10 year anniversary of our graduation approaches I have started to wonder just a little about all the things that happened in high school, the friends I made or didn’t make and what I maybe misunderstood about life that caused this to happen.  Especially as I have started to realize that many of the people who were friends in high school made lasting friendships.

When I was in high school I always thought that the friends I made then were really rather temporary.  I had always heard that you made life long friends in college – not high school.  And frankly I didn’t have the personality to really be out there and make those friends.  I am, after all, an introvert at heart.

I also really bought into the idea of everyone having a ‘place’ in the social hierarchy of high school and desperately wanted to avoid that drama … so I kept my head down.  I ended up being a little bit ‘lost’ in the shuffle and didn’t really identify with a particular group/type of people.  I talked to pretty much anyone but only had a few solid friends … and probably only one lasting friendship that has lasted 20+ years.

Here is the funny thing – with most of the people that I ‘didn’t like’ in high school, I can’t for the life of me remember why.  With 99% of the people I never actually had a bad ‘encounter’ or a negative ‘experience’.  And frankly, I knew very few of them enough to be able to say that we had/have nothing in common.

So it comes down to a question of why was I so closed off – and are those behaviors that have endured over the years?  And potentially more important, how do I stop that?

This week starts a new week and a new intentional living goal.  I have already started working on ‘strategic relationships’ at work.  This week I am making it a goal to 1.) foster a relationship in my personal life and 2.) take a risk and put an effort into foster a new relationship.

Dog hunt

We truly miss our Lucy.  She was just an amazing member of our family.  But in her absence we have noticed how empty our home is without her.  Since we clearly can’t have her back, it is time for us to start thinking about giving a home to a new 4-legged family member.  I am not 100% sure how you do this since Lucy came to us sort of by circumstance.  So I am looking to you for help. 

Here is what we loved about Lucy:

  • she liked to be with the family
  • she could walk next to us off leash with minimal concern
  • she was fairly quite – barking was minimal and unusual
  • she could play or lay around as long as she was with her people
  • everyone loved her, even non dog people.  She was just a sweet and loving girl

Here is what we didn’t so much love:

  • Lucy got into the trash every chance she got 
  • she sometimes ate things she shouldn’t – curtains, clothes, pillows, colored pencils, the list really goes on and on and on
  • She shed a TON.  She has been gone for just over 2 weeks now and we are still cleaning up Lucy hair.

So I have been giving some thought to what we are looking for:

Must haves (or no haves):

  • be great with kids/families
  • limited to no drool … sorry but slobbery St. Bernard’s are really only cute at a distance due to this less than awesome trait
  • Smart/easy to train – I’d like to potentially do a therapy certification.
  • Loyal 
  • Med to large breed
  • can handle running

Like to have:

  • Minimal shedding, not a deal breaker but who would say no to less sweeping?
  • good with other animals – we don’t have any others and really probably don’t plan to but we do have family and neighbors with dogs.
  • spayed/neutered – just one less thing to have to do later.

I have been thinking of maybe getting a puppy for our little girl for her second birthday.  We are not set on a puppy but would like a younger dog to have with our family for several years to come.  We also don’t have our heart set on a purebred or a mixed breed dog and we are not opposed to rescuing another dog.  

I have been looking into a Rottweiler, which we would likely get from a puppy.  They are beautiful dogs, they are loyal and loving to their family, they are smart, and really like to be part of the family.  On the down side they do have a bad rap.  They are large, muscular dogs and could cause serious harm should they ever attack, partially why we would get a puppy – so we could raise and influence those behaviors from the start and assert our roles as the alpha members of the family. I also know that on a whole this breed tends to be suspicious of new people and territorial of their home and protective of their family.  So if you have experience/tips I would love to hear them.

If we do get a puppy for our daughter’s birthday we are about 1 month out so tools, tips, and resources for finding the right breed for our family and agencies/groups you would recommend for adopting or purchasing the newest member of our family would be so greatly appreciated.