More Life Advice

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My job doesn’t suck (I actually really like my job), but damn this installment of Ask Polly offers some good advice. Sometimes, though, I am immobilized when I think about the Future of My Career and What I Want From Life. By that I mean I have to crawl into bed and stay there for a little while because I am so overwhelmed by what’s happening in my brain. Is that normal? Just another routine aspect of being in your 20s perhaps?

Today I’m grateful for: that wistful feeling you get in mid-August because summer is slipping through your fingers and how it makes you savor that buttery, salty piece of corn on the cob.

Book Club Do’s and Don’ts

Community, Uncategorized

Today I Googled “How to start a book club” (because that’s the first step of anything these days, right?) and I got some interesting advice.

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Click for source.

Things you should do:

Pick a time and place (my apartment, I suppose).

Decide what kind of books you’ll read (short fiction and essays).

Figure out you’ll develop discussion questions (maybe everyone brings one thing they want to discuss?).

Decide on whether there will be food (to which I say, duh there will be food).

What you shouldn’t do: Read members favorites because it might lead to hurt feelings “like inviting people into your living room to critique your decor. Ouch. Best to stay on neutral territory.”

What? Is this really something to worry about? I thought a book club sounded like a great way learn about your friends by reading stuff they love. Sorry, Internet, I might not take all your advice on this one.

What do you think? Also, please share any good, short reads.

August Goals: Community

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This month’s theme is friendship and community. Even though I’m an introvert (I enjoy going to the movie theater alone, for goodness sake), I’ve also come to the conclusion that having a strong community profoundly affects my happiness and sense of well-being. I’ve been blessed with some amazing friends and family members, but I don’t want to take those relationships for granted. I want to cultivate them. I want to remind myself of how grateful I am to have these folks in my life. I want to broaden my community, as well.

With that in mind, here are my goals for the month:

1. Start a short-fiction book club. I’ve been wanting to do this for a year, but never got the gumption to do it. The time is now.

2. Write letters to my long-distance friends because sometimes snail mail is better than Facebook.

3. Find a way to get more involved at church by taking a class or volunteering on work days or something.

I’m getting a late start this month, but I want to at least make significant steps towards these goals. I’ll keep you updated if you keep me accountable.

Also, realistically, I don’t think I’ll be posting every day. It was a lofty goal, but life keeps getting the way. I’ll update every Tuesday and Thursday for sure, plus any random tidbits that I can’t help sharing.

Life Advice from George Saunders

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More and more I find that it’s hard to tease gratitude apart from having a kind and open heart. Gratitude and kindness are two different things, but often they go hand in hand. I think it has something to do with the fact that when I’m grateful for what I have, it’s easier to let go of the anxiety that distracts me from tuning in to other people and their struggles.

That’s why this commencement speech by George Saunders struck a chord when I read it today.

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

His advice is so simple: be kinder. It’s almost trite. But coming from Saunders, it’s not. I’m slowly working my way through the Tenth of December, his most recent collection of short stories. I can’t quite articulate how his writing wrecks me and uplifts me at the same time. He dives deep into the ugly parts of human nature, but the tender parts too. And in this speech, he acknowledges that being kind is hard. We are naturally selfish people. But the bumps and bruises of life make us kinder, over time, and anything we can do to speed up that process is effort well placed.

Saunders is, of course, much more eloquent than I am, so I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Feeling Grateful in the Middle of a Sh** Week

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1. I’m grateful that my car died in the driveway, instead of doing something wacky and breaking down in the middle of traffic.

2. Even though my health insurance coverage leaves some things to be desired (hello high deductible plan) I’m still very grateful that I have it because you really never know when you’re going to need it.

3. Even though my job has been a little monotonous lately, I’m grateful it’s not always that way.

4. I may be PMS’ing (great timing, universe), but The Camp Gyno video from HelloFlo made me laugh so hard today:

5. I’m grateful I’ve learned that, on some nights, it really is okay to just throw in the towel and get in bed early.

Once again, a hectic weekend prevented me from running my usual errands. After going to the gym and eating dinner (thank God David cooks often and well) we had to run out to the grocery store. Pulling into the Food Lion parking lot at 8:30, I was feeling pretty grumpy and overtired. But then I remembered what it was like to work an 8-hour shift on a cash register until 9 or 10 o’clock at night and I was profoundly grateful that I was able to just pop in and out of the store. And I made sure that I smiled and didn’t act impatient around the cashier.

Today I’m grateful for: my job. It offers me work I’m interested in, living wage, and health insurance. And I don’t have old men hitting on me all the time (that happens a lot to female cashiers).

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Vegan Accomplishments (Plus, What Next?)

Food, Uncategorized, Wellness

Project part-time veganism is starting to gel — yesterday I put only vegan ingredients in my Chipotle burrito bowl (I gazed a little wistfully at the cheese, it’s true, but it was still a tasty lunch). Now, I’m eating a tofu spinach scramble as I write this. Tofu! I feel proud of myself. I also feel like a limp noodle because lifting weights after a week off is hard. But I think these things have helped me settle in again after the severe disappointment of coming back from vacation.

Only six days left in the wellness challenge. But I’ve already accomplished the real goal: set up healthy routines. I intend to keep on exercising and eating better, even after this month is over. I feel good. I’m grateful for that, and I’m excited for the next thing.

What is next? I’m still brainstorming, but I’ve been having lots of conversations lately about community and friendship. I’m beginning to realize that having a community of folks to rely on, bounce ideas of off, commiserate and celebrate with is just vital. On so many levels. And it requires attention and care to build that. But how do I tackle that? How do you maintain your friendships? How should I set goals?

Today I’m thankful for: the new water bottle that I finally broke down and bought. So worth it to have one that doesn’t leak.

Finding a Groove

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Woah. The gym is hard after a week off. Still trying to get my mind up to speed, as well as my body. It’s not going well so far. Maybe I’ll have something more inspiring to share tomorrow. In the meantime, any ideas for my next challenge in August?

Today I’m thankful for: Water. Water, water, water. Especially after kickboxing class.

Scenes from Vacation

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Re-entry into the normal routine was rough today. For the past four days, this was the view I enjoyed with my morning coffee. My hubby and I spent four magical days at a friend’s lake house with some of our favorite people in the whole world and I wish I was still there.

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The weather was perfect the entire time.

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There was swimming.

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And reading. (Hubby is very engrossed in this book.)

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And fishing lessons. Alas, we didn’t catch anything.

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Sunset boat rides.

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So lovely.

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Not sure what was so amusing … but we had a good time.

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These two. My bestie and her boo.

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My soul mate friend. Seriously. Now that we live hundreds of miles apart, I savor the times when we are together.

I was melancholy all day today because I miss this place and these friends already. Plus, the AC was broken when we got home. What a welcome. But I am so, so grateful for the time we spent on the lake swimming, drinking, eating, talking, relaxing … I feel better, more myself. I’m thankful to have these people in my life, and for the time we were able to spend together. These are memories I’ll treasure.

P.S. Find my friend Abbey’s blog at The Book Borrower. She’s a super writer and has great book recommendations to boot. I think we spent roughly half our time together talking about cool stuff we’ve read, writing, journalism, etc. One of the many reasons we are bosom buddies.

Wellness Challenge, Week Two in Review

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Goal #1: Workout 3-4 times a week.

Killed it this week. Not only did I fit in FOUR workouts instead of three, I did my own push press/burpee/kettleball swing routine all by myself (i.e. for the first time without my trainer). The hardest part is focusing on my workout and not people watching/feeling self conscious that people are watching me. I’m working on it.

Goal #2: Pack and eat healthy snacks.

Total fail … probably because I didn’t do a very good job grocery shopping this week. But I did finish VB6 and am eager to try some of the recipes.

Goal #3: Eat all the CSA veggies.

Another fail, because I didn’t get my box this week. I guess I’ll just try again next week.*

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*We’ll see if that pans out, though, because I’m going on vacation for most of next week. My hubby and I are going to hang out at lakehouse with some good friends. We intend to relax do as little as possible. Also, there is no Internet at the lake. I count that as a perk, so you won’t be hearing from me much next week. But I’ll try to keep the momentum going when I return.

TGIF. Have a great weekend, y’all.