Saturday, January 31, 2009

Now What?

So I've been putting off changing my work schedule for a long time.

Originally, I was going to drop a day at my part time job so that I would have 2 days off per week. Not two consecutive days, not a weekend, but 2 days. The eventual plan was to have 2 consecutive days off and then to eventually scoot those days around so that they would be Saturday and Sunday so that A and I could have weekends off together.

My fear of "not enough" gave me a great compromise solution of dropping two hours for a few weeks then four hours for a while until I felt comfortable dropping another two hours on a different day and then maybe ditching a whole day...the thought behind this being that maybe those two hours were somehow going to make the difference and allow my "main" job to start being lucrative so that I wouldn't feel the financial difference.

Not only will two hours on Sunday probably not make the difference in my main job, but it probably won't make the difference in my personal life, either. On the other hand, dropping an entire day at this time (which my part time job would LOVE because they are trying to stick to a tight labor budget), would result in my personal budget losing its balance.

So I'm back where I started uncertain of what to do. A couple of scenarios this week really highlighted that something needs to change, but what?

Scenario 1: A and I discussed the possibility of moving elsewhere, specifically out of state and out of the country. We talked about what that would mean for us financially as individuals and as a couple. Part of that solution would involve me working on my career more than on a day job and that was extremely exciting to me. In addition to the excitement of adventure with moving somewhere else, I buzzed at the thought of getting to spend 40 hours per week involved only in developing my business.

Scenario 2: In the middle of working my normal 6 day work week, I realized that I was going in on my day off for a networking event for the clinic. As I mused aloud about switching my day off, my business partner rallied me into agreeing to come in on my normal day and my off day. He didn't boss me, he didn't guilt me, he just, well, rallied me. And then I was sick on my day off and couldn't go to the networking event. Go figure - my body knows that even God needed rest on the 7th day and made me rest.

What I've learned:
1. I'd love to work on my business as a full-time job. I really think that I could get some things going if that were an option in the present moment.

2. I'm bored - I don't really want to move, but I'm jumping at the idea because it's something new and different. I crave ADVENTURE!

3. I need more than 1 day off per week. I know I didn't just get sick because I was going to work an extra day, but I also think that working 48-60 hours per week is definitely predisposing me to getting sick. And contributing to my boredom and my lack of investment in my business.

4. I need to develop a plan for financial security that allows me to have more time to work on my business and more time for recreation. Maybe that means a different part time job (that pays more)? Maybe that means a second part time job (that pays more) and cutting my hours at this part time job?

Or maybe I need to revisit my namesake and manifest more prosperity into my life so that I can cut my hours a day at a time per my original plan.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crushed Tomatoes

What would you do if you were sentances to 15 years in prison? What would I do?

I have no idea.

I'm not sure I would survive 1 year in prison let alone 15 years. I don't know what prison is really like - I can only guess by what they show on TV, what ex-prisoners say on NPR and, oh yeah, by the stories my brothers tell me. Yes, my brothers have been to prison. 2 of 3. The third has some experience in jail, but has not been to prison...yet? I found out today that my youngest brother is likely to go back to prison for as long as 15 years. My heart feels like no more than a mess of crushed tomatoes in my chest.

There is relief that he will be off the streets - unable to hurt our mother, his wife, his children and any innocent bystanders. But I'm also not sure that America's prison system is doing anything more than that to help him or others like him. Years ago, he learned to shoot heroin while imprisoned and that is what has ahold of him now. I don't absolve my brother of his crimes - I hold him responsible for the choices he's made - but I also recognize that heroin has one of the highest addiction rates, that there are few effective and easily accessible therapies for such an addiction and that life as an ex-con predisposes one to relapse.

It's not so easy to just say that people make bad choices.

I don't want to infringe on any other person's right to a good night of sleep, but in addition to an ocean of grief at this latest familial tragedy, I'm also ANGRY. I'm angry that people can just brush off problems of addiction as other peoples' problems. I'm angry that doctors, compassionate people, can say, "we have done all we can, now it's up to them to make a better choice" as they drop their patients off at the homeless shelter where they will be surrounded by other addicts and may not be able to access social services. I'm angry that my little brother is going to prison where he may be beaten or raped.

And I feel guilty. That I'm over here at a safe distance, 2,200 miles away from my family, never having my home searched by the FBI, never having a fist raised to me, never being robbed by my own family, never having to comfort the children of an addict when they don't have enough to eat or when they're afraid because they don't know who is safe. I am relieved and I am guilty, because

There, but for the grace of God, go you or I.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weird Habits of the Obsessive Compulsive

Everybody has a little OCD in them - A liked the kitchen counters wiped down regularly, my mom washes her hands a lot and I...gulp...shave fabrics. Yes, I shave fabrics. You know those little fuzz busters you get for clothes? Well, when I first moved here, my male roommate had one. His girlfriend and I made fun of him unmercifully, but it's true that his sweaters always looked very nice.

Fast forward a few years later - some friends of mine did a really cool thing for my birthday - they all chipped in to give me some money and took me to the outlet mall where I was set loose to buy some things I'd always wanted. What do you know but that I bought my first fuzz buster. I loved it - I used it all the time and discovered that not only was it good for sweaters, but sometimes dress pants "pill," socks occasionally need a shave and that nothing is nicer than shaved sheets - okay, probably really expensive sheets never need a shave, but I like my sheets and they are oh so much softer after I shave all those little pills off.

That first buster died or the batteries died in it - I'll never know who went first (there was a big mess in the battery compartment), but after the move, I discovered that it was no longer working and it took me months to find a new one. Never you mind that that was in part because someone, who shall remain nameless (A), told me that Fred Meyer didn't carry them. Fred Meyer does carry them, though to my surprise, I could not find one at Target. What the heck, Target?

So, I'm reunited with my love of busting fuzz and believe me, it's very satisfying. I've already cleaned up most of my wardrobe and started on the bed the other night. Unfortunately, A was in the bed and told me to get myself and my wackadoo appliance OUT! Well, my side of the bed is done at any rate and the sheets feel oh so smooth. :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

When "Good for you" is Good Enough

Ugh. My tongue is on fire! There is one spot in particular that is really sore - I think a huge chunk of raw garlic landed there during my lunch and it's killing me.

I often get hot food or soup from the deli while I'm working at the market, but I am occasionally able to talk myself into eating salad from the salad bar, despite my aversion to salad during the cold months. (Taco salad being the exception - I will eat taco salad with special chipotle salsa anywhere, any time, any season.) Whenever I get a salad, I usually add a good sized scoop of garlic and another of ginger - I figure it gets mixed into the dressing. These are energetically hot foods, so they help balance the cold of the raw salad ingredients and they are also antibiotic and immune boosting, so bonus, bonus.

Except that they are burning my mouth today! This happens more often than not that I add too much and hurt myself trying to make my salads EVEN BETTER for me than a salad typically is. So, I say today that sometimes "good for you" is good enough.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pre-Clutter Clearing

So, I have always been thrifty. Frugal. But never cheap...okay, maybe sometimes cheap, but I would say that is the exception rather than the rule. Lately, having graduated and started my career and living with my partner in a lovely home, I'm starting to WANT things. It started last June when we went to a wedding - we bought the couple a really lovely wooden salad bowl that I would have loved to have for our house (though I realize in retrospect that I would probably have used it as rarely as I use the leaf shaped monkey-pod wood salad bowl I already have). It continued as we shopped through the holiday season - kitchen and tableware are my weak point and the holidays bring out all kinds of beauties. We did get a nice red tablecloth after Christmas that I love to look at, but avoided other purchases.

However, as I've been going through magazines for my vision board, I've fallen in love with a few items that I think are a deal, but really can't justify buying. So, I'm posting them here - it's 1/2 wish list and 1/2 for me to come back later and smile when I realize, like with the salad bowl above, how I didn't really need them in the first place. If I come back later and still really want them, maybe I'll buy.

I'm a sucker for certain materials - okay, pretty much all materials, but I really love glass, wood and white ceramic - and these wooden bowls really did it for me - they look shallow enough to use like a plate, but regular enough shaped to use every day. Not sure how cleaning wood dishes goes, but I have wooden spoons. Can't be too different, right?
($3 each,

And these mugs, I just love for the ease of having people over for coffee. I imagine them at a cabin or cottage, but I would love to be able to trade in all my mismatched cups for a cute stand of cups like this. (Cappuccino $29, Kenneth Wingard)

Yes, I'm a sucker for a pretty picture, but hey, I didn't buy yet!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Freaking Out

It's easy to make blanket statements, it's easy to make assumptions, and it's easy to freak out. That doesn't make it any fun. And just because someone else is wrong doesn't make you right. It's been a weird week and yesterday, my day off, spent with A and his sister and brother in law, was the weirdest. I just got into a huge funk. There are reasons and I certainly wanted, sought and received collusion about those reasons, but in the end, none of that matters.

What matters to me is that I made myself miserable, made other people uncomfortable, worried my partner, worried myself and didn't know how to get out of the downward spiral that had started the night before. At one point, when I started traveling on that spiral staircase, I remembered my word and I breathed deeply and whispered "dance" into all the hidden corners of my mind and "dance" into all the fearful places of my heart and it really helped. But I didn't remember or didn't do that every time and the funk set in.

Now that I've had some time alone and a good night's sleep, I almost can't remember the funk ... almost ... and that says a lot about what I need to do to take care of myself. I think taking an "It's just what I do" attitude about my needs is essential - I need some time alone, I need a clear plan for the day, I need enough sleep and I need expressions of love and appreciation. I also think I would do well to cultivate some flexibility and humor in situations over which I don't really need to have control or the RIGHT answers. And I think I need a complaining bracelet to help me stop being such a negative Nancy all the time! [You move the bracelet to your other wrist every time you complain - it helps you notice all the complaints you're making.]

On the other hand, I also think I need to explore the issues that came up that have some validity, like power differentials, my relationship with money, how I want to be treated by my partner, how to ask for what I want or need, cultural differences and what I want for my home. Though the timing was off and the funk was uncomfortable, it's a good reminder to keep traveling on the path.

Friday, January 9, 2009

BEST. Pizza. EVER.

I LOVE pizza. Several years ago, my friend's sister moved to our town for about 6 months. When it was time for her to move, we offered to take her out for a good-bye dinner and she said, "Okay, if it's anything but pizza - that's all you guys eat!" After I graduated from medical school, my mom wanted to take me out for a nice dinner and instead of going somewhere high-end, I chose to go out for a really good pizza. (Mom understands though, she still talks about how good that pizza was!)

So pizza really does it for me and lately the most pizza I've been eating is the Papa Murphy's Veggie Delite. It's an inexpensive and easily accessible thin crust, garlic sauce pizza loaded with veggies and it's delicious. A and I probably do this at least twice a month for dinner and we've started getting creative. It started by adding a little oregano, nothing too unique. Some green peppers. Then salt and pepper - my mom swears by this and she's right - a little s&p go a long way! Then we added nutritional yeast and we thought we'd hit nirvana.

Last night we took it further and I could almost have died happy. After an experience with some bad chicken, A and I are going more fully veggie so we're clearing all the meat out of our house - I donated some canned tuna and chicken broth to friends and we're using up the frozen and smoked salmon we have. Last night, it was smoked salmon - yes, on the pizza. It was so good. We added everything we had added above and it was DELICIOUS! Amazing. So good. Probably the best pizza I've ever had. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Oh yeah, and the salad wasn't so bad either: mixed greens, sliced fennel, pine nuts, yellow pepper and pomegranate with a vinaigrette dressing. Mmm...fresh pom!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

A said I should go to work early more often. By the time he got home, I had:
  • moved the truck into a better position in the driveway
  • taken out the garbage and recycling
  • hauled the garbage and recycling to the curb
  • moved 6 (!) boxes upstairs
  • unpacked/rearranged those boxes
  • cleaned up the dog messes in the yard
All this after going into work an hour earlier than usual and staying late. I'm very proud of myself. A wanted to go out, but instead we're getting pizza and a movie to watch at home. I'm already in my sweats, so I've got no problem with that. Date night tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

4 Months Later

After living with A for over 4 months, I'm happy to report that I'm almost done unpacking! I took the morning off work to do this and feel very rewarded for my efforts.

Because I love preparing food and am used to my own tools, there were several boxes with kitchen items in them that were 1/2 unpacked, even open in the garage. I managed to unpack all of those, so now everything I need should be at my fingertips. I am missing at least one favorite item, but I'm hoping it will turn up where I least expect it! There are still two bins with kitchen items, but they are rarely used baking items, extra glasses and summer appliances. Oh yes, I have seasonal appliances - snow cone maker and ice cream maker - don't laugh or I won't share!

Another 1/2 unpacked box that had become a catch all in the garage contained the afghan my mom made me, my pageant gown, my pillow (A already had 2 memory foam pillows), a couple of bags and some bathroom supplies - pretty misc and probably why I never unpacked it - it was nice to get those things in and out of the elements.

I have a bunch of bins left to haul upstairs and plan to do that tonight. Mostly crafting and sewing supplies, CD cases and misc. I've been pretty brutal with my personal clutter clearing all week, so I'm hoping to apply that here as well and donate a bunch of that stuff. After that, it's just putting things back in the bins that will be stored in the attic and donating all the stuff I don't want to keep. Easy, right? I hope so! After all, I've lived without most of this stuff for 4 months!

I did go ahead and make a run to Goodwill today and donated several items of clothing, a dog bag, a craft bag, a backpack, shoes, towels, a framed print that I inherited years ago and was showing it's age, 10+ steak knives (vegetarians need good kitchen knives, but not really steak knives!) and some other misc. This is in addition to all the magazines and paper I recycled this week after clipping through them at the Word Share.

I'm feeling pretty clean now - perhaps not as clean and unburdened as my friend who just had a colonic hydrotherapy session, but clean. And motivated. And decisive. And I can thank the folks at Google Labs for a lot of this, because I found the Google task list yesterday and that seems to have helped me screw my head on straight again.

So, now it's back to work until 6 when I get to work on planning community guitar lessons!

Monday, January 5, 2009

We're fools, anyway...

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we may as well dance.
--Japanese proverb

I was very excited to choose a word for 2009 and to share the idea with friends. I ended up inviting several of my women friends to a "Word Share" event last night and had a great time despite a few party snags. I used to host events a lot when I lived with E - we started the great game night trend in our group and always had parties for the holidays. Then we moved into our worst construction nightmare and it was all downhill from there - at any rate, my skills are a little rusty, so I forgot to send out my confirmation/reminder email until the day of the event and freaked out the night before about the food. I had planned to do a raw dinner and the problem was that I wanted to make too much.

My friend had offered to co-host the event at her house, which was perfect since she lives closer to the other guests and her husband was out of town, so I toted over my magazines (for vision boarding), my raw food ingredients and my hopes. I wasn't let down. The four of us that participated had a nice evening together - I managed to make a pretty yummy raw food dinner (sweet potato soup, salad, zucchini hummus with crudites and crackers [the only cooked item!] and apple crisp for dessert) that was enjoyed by all, we all shared our words and how they was meaningful to us, my co-host got white stones for those of us who hadn't made it to Unity Church [the white stone ceremony entails choosing a word and writing it on a sacred white stone from Jerusalem] and we finished three vision boards.

Once I allowed for an "imperfect" event, I really enjoyed the event and would probably say it came out perfectly.

Oh yeah! My word is DANCE. I had gone through several different words, some of which I thought were good for me (like cod liver oil!) and some of which scared me, when I realized that I wanted a word that was fun and active - like active joy. I hadn't figured out the word when I started putting together a wish list for 2009 and every item on the list was dance related - dance lessons, tickets to contemporary dance performances, dancing shoes, etc. It couldn't have been any more clear if it had cha cha'd over my toes!

I'm happy to have remembered this fun and active word and look forward to remembering it in times of stress as well as times of joy. One of my 'tests' for the words I tried on was to imagine myself breathing that word in a confrontational situation where I would usually respond with anger. A few words, like PEACE and CHOOSE, seemed to help, but didn't put a smile on my face like DANCE does. I think remembering that every interaction is a dance and that I have my part to play will really help.

My friends chose the words MINDFUL, SHINE and POWERFUL CLARITY and I wish them the best of those words!