Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanks Giving

I want corny holiday celebrations.

I admit it. Guilty. I raise my hand. Me. Yup. I want corny holiday celebrations. I want my holidays like I've seen them on the movies (kinda). I want to celebrate holidays with all the little kitch that comes with them. I want to dress up on Halloween, I want to hand out treats and tell all the little ghost and ghouls how scary they are. I want to put up lights and listen to Christmas music. I want to have pujas whenever there is any excuse to have one in our home. And I want to be grateful on Thanksgiving.

A and I headed over to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner and something just didn't feel right to me. I couldn't figure it out, but attributed it to our arrival about 30 minutes later than the rest of the group, though still well before the scheduled dinner hour. Since the food was ready, people were already seated and serving themselves when we arrived. Maybe we'd missed something. After dinner, we talked and laughed in smaller groups and rubbed our stuffed bellies until it was time to leave for our movie. After the movie, home to bed.

I kept thinking something didn't seem right...maybe I'd forgotten something? Yes, I had. I'd forgotten the point of the day: to be grateful. After my conversation with my mom, no one else talked about what they were grateful for or asked what anyone else was grateful for - at least not in my hearing. In retrospect, among the irreverant group of our dining companions, a listing of the simple things I am grateful for might seem out of place, but I think the large meal eaten without grace, a moment of silence or a sharing of thanks was more uncomfortable.

A and I talked about how we really wanted to have spent the holiday, casually among a small group of close friends or family, with a reasonable meal and games afterwards. I think among that group, for whom I am grateful, I wouldn't feel the need to say my thanks as feeding and entertaining them would be a more physical expression of my gratitude. On the other hand, I also think I would feel safer and happier to share my gratitude with such loved ones. Either way, I think I would like to make a point of verbalizing everything I'm grateful for at least once a year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Ask-Back

I talked to my mom for an hour today. I asked her what she was grateful for. She told me many things. And then she asked me what I was grateful for. In addition to the things I could list, such as my family, passing my board exam, finishing my masters degree, living with the love of my life and having my own business, I realized that I was grateful to be asked.

It's a little piece of etiquette advise that I would like to share with the world...maybe etiquette is not the right word...maybe it's more of a form of social contracting. When someone asks you a question, it seems right to ask back. It's actually funny because sometimes I ask "how are you?" more than once because it's such a habit to reflect that question. That one is a pretty standard ask-back, but I think asking-back should be the rule in general, because it provides an opportunity for intimacy and compassionate sharing.

I have been frustrated by not being asked back a question I asked several times - I wanted to tell someone my own answer to the question I asked them. That wasn't why I asked, I was genuinely interested in their answer and I listened to their answer, but it felt like it was only half a conversation somehow when I didn't get to tell my part, too.

So try asking back. Start with me. I'll love it. If I ask you a question that can be reflected back, shoot it back to me. See what happens. You just might like it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Prioritizing Other People's Priorities

It's funny that I just realized this, but today at work, I realized that my job is to prioritize tasks that are all priorities for other people. I've been getting a lot of jobs/requests/tasks that are labeled urgent, priority and even emergency. Well, no one has fallen. No one is injured. No lives are at stake. A delay would not result in injury or lives being placed in jeopardy. Emergency, really?

But I'm good at this - I can collect all these tasks and look at them a bit more objectively than anyone of the immediate players and figure out which thing really needs doing right now and which can be done later.

At my other job, my business, I may not be quite as good at this because I am too immediately involved. My To-Do list is as likely to include and prioritize balancing my personal checkbook as drafting an important and needed policy. Maybe this is why people hire business coaches and other external consultants to help them streamline and get their priorities in line. Additionally, I think if I could prioritize the business when I'm at the business and balancing my checkbook when I'm home, I would also appreciate the boundary between work and home a little better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanks Mom

Dear Mom,

Thanks for always being great about the myriad of dietary choices and fads I've subscribed to over the years. Thanks for being willing to make vegetarian versions of classic dishes so that I could enjoy them with the family. And most of all, thanks for not ever making me feel like a freak or the butt of jokes, but instead for helping me always feel valued as an important part of our family.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Something to Report

From my To-Do list on Sunday, I have accomplished a few things:
  • mail ear seeds to brother
  • mail donation to alma matter
  • study for board exams
  • collect gas receipts from car
and most importantly: rock board exams!
Yes, I passed my exam today. One more to take in two weeks. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I like to think I'm not into material things and pretty anti-consumerist in general, but now I know that I am just as susceptible as other people. My coworker got this tea pot for our office and I WANT IT NOW! I've been fighting myself to stay away from Target where it can be purchased for a mere $39.99.

Yes, I said $39.99.

For a kettle that heats water.

When I have a stove and a glass tea kettle. [Those who do not know the glass tea kettle story, it's basically this: I had a glass teapot, I love it, it broke. I mourned it. I found a new one.] I want it, but I'm trying to resist. At least until Black Friday. And that I know and use that term says a lot about how consumerist I have actually become.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

90-10 Take Two

Writing about 90-10'ing reminds me of another way I use this ratio. I really love this one.
It's about how you use things in your life, like say, a room in your house or an item/object. Think of the guest room in your house. Think of how often it is occupied by a guest. What is the percentage of time in a given week, month or year that this room is occupied by a guest? Unless you're the hostest with the mostest, probably less than 10% of the time. So what happens the other 90%?!

I like to plan, organize and arrange things for the 90% of use they will get rather than the 10%. Things can always be adjusted for the 10% times, but I don't want to be adjusting every day when I'm doing my 90%. Here's a few examples:
  • In my kitchen, I have a set of white bowls that I use nearly every day. These live on the counter because I'm going to reach for them often enough that I don't even want to have to open a cupboard.
  • The guest room at my house is LOVELY. I love looking at it and am excited to have hosted our first guest in it. Can't wait to do it again. But in the meantime, I store my coats in that closet; keep an iron and ironing board handy and accessible, but not in my way; have a place to hang delicates to dry; and store my extra health and beauty supplies. I go in that room almost every day for something.
  • My dog's food sits in a canister on the counter because he eats twice every day. Way more important to have the dog food accessible than flour which I might use once a month.
  • File folders - I have a file cabinet in a closet deep in my house where I keep old tax files, medical records and old class notes. I have a filing crate next to my desk for insurance claims in progress, bills and other misc I may have to access any given day.

As A and I make decisions about our life, I'm constantly saying, "well, that'll happen 10% of the time, but what about the other 90%?" And generally, this serves me well. Think about it - try it.

Monday, November 10, 2008


First, I have to say that I LOVE that Blogspot has a "create" button instead of a "post" button. I feel more creative already just hitting that button and I'm jazzed to remember that I am a creative being. So, after a brief aside, I'm going to create a clean work space, some dog food, dinner and a clean body. But first, my aside:

A wise friend that I frequently quote here told me that the difference in how men and women communicate can be described by the rule of 90-10:
Men will be 10% sure they are correct about something and speak as though they
are 90% (100%) sure of it; women will be 90% sure of something and speak
as though they are 10% sure.

It wasn't actually men I was pandering to today but women who thought they knew something. Now, I'm not judging them for not knowing, but I don't like that they assume that I don't know. Actually, I do know and yes, vegetables are a great source of soluble fiber. I also don't like that they might be spreading what they don't know around. I find there are 2 ways to go in the face of gross misinformation: a) provide correct information or another way of viewing things or b) let it go. Today I did a little of both. It's just so much easier to share information with someone when they are willing to admit that they aren't exactly sure or that their facts may be wrong. The challenge is to set aside my own feelings in the matter and offer information that may or may not be accepted.

I find that female pattern 90-10'ing give me a lot of benefits:
1. I can admit that I don't know everything - what a relief!
2. I can ask questions that I think I already know the answer to and learn something!
3. I don't roll over other people, aggravate them or patronize them. I get to treat everyone as my teacher.
4. I get to offer information to people rather than tell them.

Male pattern 90-10'ing is rarely as useful. The times I do it the most are the times I think I'm supposed to know the answers to the questions I'm being asked. I become less authentic and less open to learning new things. The opportunity for me and my audience to learn is lost as I stretch what I know to cover the gap or make something up. Yes, if the other party allows that the confidence with which I answer them (a keystone of the male pattern 90-10) means that what I'm saying is true, my pride is assuaged - oh good, I don't have to admit I don't know or that what I just said was actually wrong, but is that worth it? It also just caters to my perfectionist tendencies that I'd like to jettison.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nothing to Report

Nothing to report on jury duty. Was not selected for trial, very boring, should have gone to work afterwards. Needing a little organization to my thoughts for the week ahead:

Work related:

  • create sliding scale policy
  • create seasonal health talk
  • call patient back
  • call verizon

  • mail ear seeds to brother
  • mail donation to alma matter
  • study for board exams
  • rock board exams
  • call verizon
  • collect gas receipts from car
  • consider re-writing 101 goals
  • find notebook for art project

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Letting Go...

Some of my musings on why I'm letting some of the 101 goals go...funny in that when I write down my reasons that I don't think I'll do them, I notice that letting go of my have-to mentality makes me feel a little more like doing them.

7: Write my masters thesis. Because of a new Masters program that I am eligible to transfer into, I may not finish this. And frankly, if I can throw money at this problem and make it go away, I'm happy to do it in this instance.

4. Get names/artists for the currently un-labeled music – do I need that much organization?!

14. Sell or donate crafting supplies not in use – I like having them around so I can create whenever I want.

20. Do deep breathing exercises every night for 1 week – I’m just not into this. It's like I think I can force a new healthy habit on myself. Since I'm all about life evolving organically, I don't think I should force myself into this.

30. Get caught up on filing and data entry – what does “caught up” mean? I’ve felt caught up several times and still have a stack. I think I need to define goals like this one a little more clearly.

35. Consult with an adoption counselor – I’m content for this to happen in it’s own time and take it off the list with a deadline.

45. Take ceramics/pottery class – I’d like to do this someday when it feels organic.

51. Plant Tiger Lily's bulbs – ditto.

52. Buy a book on Lily's or orchids – I’d rather take a book from the library one spring when I feel like planting things.

59. Hike 2x per week for 2 months – I just don’t like hiking that much. I'd rather be swimming or boating.

83. Get a fish or bird – Chibo’s enough companion animal for me and learning about what it takes to get fish for aquariums makes me dislike them a bit.

90. Make a recommended reading list for professional development – I don’t want to take the time to make a list, I just want to keep reading.

96. Fast for 24 hours – If I find a viable spiritual reason within my own practice, I’ll do this, but otherwise, I just added this because it sounded challenging.

Friday, November 7, 2008

101 Goals

Due to various reasons, I'm not feeling as connected to my 101 goals project as I had been. I do not think now is the time for some goals (like my trip to Italy); I stopped caring about other goals (like buying a book on lilies or orchids); some goals weren't worded specifically enough for me to feel like focusing on them any longer (like "finish filing"); and there are several that I feel like I completed even though I couldn't document them. The following is my modified list of goals for the next 418 days:

2. Finish putting my hard copies of photos and scraps into albums - I'm also scanning in photos, but that is a long term project
10. Finish my mom's afghan
12. Drink no soda for 1 month (excluding soda water)
23. Teach a QiGong class
27. Go outrigger paddling again
28. Go for an overnight backpacking trip
29. Go backpacking for more than one night
31. Take another obedience class with Chibo
34. Consult with a dermatologist
38. Reduce by 1/2 my primary credit card – need to adjust this and consider where I started
43. Take guitar lesson/class
44. Take dance class
48. Eat no processed food for 1 week
49. Plant an herb garden (or at least 4 kinds in pots)
50. Plant a vegetable garden
54. Crochet something to wear
56. Spend an important anniversary with mom
60. Visit Pete and Sara in DC/NY
65. Make a supplement list and take consistently for 2 weeks
66. Go 1 day without swearing
67. Set aside an afternoon 1x per month for 3 months to send birthday greetings and other mail
69. Find a good calcium supplement and add to regular supplement list
70. Put videos onto DVD
71. Learn to sharpen dad's knives
72. Renew SCUBA certification and go diving!
73. Learn 3 prayers
74. Memorize 1 poem
75. Floss nightly for 2 weeks
80. Go to the zoo
81. Have a day of gracious living - tell people about the concept
85. Go to my 10 year college reunion - scheduled 10/2009
86. Find out if Math/Science Center is still running and contact the director
87. Tune up sewing machine
88. Take a sewing class
92. Go to AANP and/or NWNPC conferences
93. Drink 8 glasses of water daily for 1 month
95. Take the train to Seattle
97. Have a cocktail party - make a new drink for friends!
100. Go to Olympic National Forest

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Civic Duty Week

In addition to voting this week, I am also serving jury dury tomorrow.

Pontification in an Obama-Nation

Ferris Bueler said that -isms, in general, are a bag thing, but I think -ations can also fall into this category. Hearing a lot of pontification (to speak or express opinions in a pompous or dogmatic way) today and would like to refer people to the following: "No We Can't, White Folks" and "No We Can't, Black Folks." I love The Root.

Spoke with my mom early in the evening yesterday before the polls were closing. She asked me, almost shyly, if she could ask who I voted for. I had been avoiding asking her and my brothers who they voted for, assuming we would disagree and not wanting to create further tension in the family, but it turns out that mom and I agreed on this one. The two brothers who made it to the polls cancelled one another out and surprised me on their choices.

A and I were glued to the television watching the results come in and when the icon saying "Elected: President Barack Obama" came on the screen, we couldn't believe it - it was too fast. There were still so many states unaccounted for and he had already won! It was amazing. I watched the people celebrating in the streets, crying and shouting while A went upstairs and talked to his family and Martin. Martin voted McCain and called to congratulate A that his candidate won. A smartly replied that we will all benefit from Obama's presidency. A said to remember what we were doing that day because it is an historic occasion, the election of the first African American president of the United States.

There is some part of me that is also very inspired that president-elect Obama is not only African-American, but biracial. It's not that he has a white parent, but just that part of me that relates to that on some level, being in an inter-racial, inter-cultural relationship. In a word, I guess it's because, Barack's masala, too.

I feel so touched, inspired, proud, relieved and happy today. I feel like we've all been waiting to exhale and finally I can feel the tightness in my chest start to release. I'm looking forward to the next four to eight years. Oh yes, I said it, eight years. God bless Barack.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fingers Crossed

Each election feels slightly more important than the last and I feel more involved, but this election seems crucial. I'm not making the college threats of relocating to another country if this election doesn't go the direction I'd like it to as I am more firmly rooted in my community than that, but my heart does catch at the thought.

On the other hand, I voted for hope and I voted for change. Even if the election doesn't provide the strong catalyst for change that I hope it will, I must have hope and stimulate change where and how I can. I haven't listened to many speeches, but Senator Barack Obama's debate response in which he described how America needs real leadership and what that means moved me and struck me.

I have heard the call. Now, fingers crossed that the majority of Americans have also heard.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Two Years and Counting...

A and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary yesterday. Two years together and so much has changed. He's a much different person than the man I started dating. I have to imagine that I'm also a very different person.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Things That Haven't Happened...Yet?

I totally lost it yesterday. No costume, no make up, no candy (okay, I did eat one 'fun pack' of M and M's) and no parties. I got myself worked up in such a state that I spent much of the evening in tears and sent A to party alone. Alone at home with Chibo, I didn't even answer the door when our outside lights turned back on (on timer) and we got some late Trick-or-Treaters.

What the heck? Why? What was so upsetting? I don't know, but I know it started much earlier in the day as I could feel anxiety rising while I was still about my business before I even headed home to get dressed. I was speaking to a friend in the car on the way home and I told her that I was aware that I was manifesting this bad time with all the dread I was feeling. She pointed out that I was upset about things that haven't even happened yet. That is interesting.

I was upset about things that haven't even happened yet.

Not only had they not happened, but it was possible they wouldn't happen. It was entirely possible that the things I had envisioned or thought of either consciously or unconsciously would not ever happen, let alone having not even happened yet. But I was just as upset, sad, angry and anxious as if they had already happened. I already felt berated, beat up, left out, less than, ugly, unwitty and taken for granted when in fact, I had every reason to feel supported, cherished, included, valued, respected and fun.

By staying home, I certainly prevented the worst of my projected unpleasantness, the things that hadn't happened yet, from happening. If I lived alone and had no partner, this wouldn't have been a problem for anyone else - maybe friends would miss me, but when I saw them again as my normal contented self, they would be none the wiser and no feelings would have been hurt by my responding to things that haven't happened yet. But I live with A and he was hoping to spend a fun evening together. Though I'm sure he had fun, he was very disappointed that I didn't go and then he started wondering about things that haven't happened yet, such as my future refusals to go to parties, because of the various reasons I gave to try to explain my disquiet.

This, I think, is the gift of Buddhist practice - being in the moment, you don't hold on to the past or project the future. Things that haven't happened yet have no bearing on the moment. I need practice with this, because every day my decisions and emotions are influenced by things that haven't happened yet. The more I consider this, the clearer it becomes that these things have a strong influence in my life - I can become a weeping mess over the death of a loved one that hasn't happened yet within moments, I prepare for confrontations that I imagine happening that never materialize and I get myself in these anxious states because of imagined slights, attacks, disrespects and situations that leave me feeling powerless.

Besides practicing being in the moment, I think an important next step is to examine the pieces of these imagined things that haven't happened yet and see why they would be so upsetting to me and how I could develop myself so that they aren't. That sounds a bit like preparing myself for confrontations that never materialize, a practice I'm already more than familiar enough with, but what I mean is something different. What I mean is to figure out what I feel that allows me to project these imagined scenarios, such as feeling powerless or disrespected, and determine if there are social skills to develop or conversations to have to ensure I'm feeling in control of my own destiny or respected in the present moment. Because these imagined scenarios can really only reflect the reality going on right now.

And right now, I'm feeling determined to be more clear about why I do or do not want to do things, to respect my own desires to be in certain environments and to allow myself the freedom of entering situations without manifesting my own pre-meditated resentments and negativities.