Tag Archives: acknowledgment

challenge issued and accepted!

i can’t believe it’s been nearly two years since i wrote here. several of you have encouraged me to get back to blogging, and i’ve been feeling it again myself; what a happy coincidence!

it’s perfectly fitting that my last entry was just before i started my new job. and here i am, almost two years in to the same gig, and more in love with it than even i expected.

what this does, though, this sense of contentment–is that i have less of a need to self-medicate through writing. when things are wonderful in my world, i write less. plain and simple. tortured artist is a slight exaggeration, but i understand that mentality more than i used to, how people can flourish creatively through adversity.

i think of plenty of things i’d like to write about all the time, both good and bad. but whereas before, during the first six years of blogging, i was unchallenged and unfulfilled at work which led to a well of creativity that i just HAD TO GET OUT, i am so fulfilled these days that i just haven’t carved out the time to write. beyond what i do at work, anyway.

so i’m challenging myself to write more. write it all. write even when i don’t feel like i have to write. just write for writing’s sake. and there are still plenty of places in my world that could benefit from some thought and attention.

gauntlet thrown. challenge accepted. hold me accountable, won’t you?


chapter one

i’m a week and a half away from starting my new gig. so many things flooding through me – excitement! fear! sadness! anticipation! elation! it’s been a long time since starting a new job. i’m taking my own “be where you are” advice and just rolling with it, emotions and sentiments changing like the wind. one thing i know without a doubt: i’ve been lucky to work with truly amazing and exceptional souls, and i’ll miss them so much. especially my mentor, whom i’ve adored more than any previous professional, and who’s had so much to do with my growth and development and overall READINESS to take on this new challenge.

looking forward to the next chapter.


love list

oh, goodness. today is just one of those DAYS and it deserves to be recognized.

i’ve only been up for two hours, but it’s been amazing.

  • sunlight streaming through bedroom window when i woke.
  • fluffiest pup in the world curled up like a bean right next to me.
  • rumpling her further for a few minutes while she stretches, snouts & paws.
  • put on my favorite new outfit: tunic sweatshirt, leggings, big socks & uggs.
  • fireplace cranking it out when i got downstairs.
  • that fresh fall scent sneaking in when i let loo out.
  • coffee – peet’s french – a big pot.
  • two mugs full, leisurely.
  • packer game on espn gamecast, phone chirping me score alerts.
  • inspiration hits – asked loo if she wanted a walk; she responded enthusiastically.
  • stunning, gorgeous, cool fall day – colorful leaves, crispy breeze, shiny loo-fluff rippling, big doggie grin, waterfront beauty, ominous clouds moving in, racing ahead of the rain.
  • another cup of coffee? sure.
  • decided to poach eggs. excellent decision. perched on crispy toasted english muffin, salt & pepp.
  • day ain’t even done.


threadbare 2: the threadbarest

the big, huge, official closet cleanout has begun. my spare bedroom holds boxes and bags of clothes ready to be donated to working wardrobe. i’m down 45 pounds as of today. all good things, right? so why does it feel so strange?

when i set out last year on this journey to lose weight, i definitely had goals. 10-ish pounds still to go, in fact. but what i hadn’t really accounted for, beyond the danced-around thought of how fun/cool it’d be to fit in smaller size clothes, was what that really meant. i’m not a packrat, and i’m certainly not overly sentimental (at least that i’ll admit to). so at least in theory, i shouldn’t have a problem with letting go of these clothes.

but some of them? some of them were really hard to put in that donate pile. the amazing tweed slacks that i had tailored just for me, and which i probably only fit in four times? gone. all of my cute little blazer-jacket-throw-it-on-over-a-cami-and-call-it-good(s)? gone. the camis themselves, for that matter – ciao! most of my cashmere, my beloved chartreuse things, the items from my love affair with j. crew, all gone.

i’m getting what i wanted – i’m downsizing, literally and figuratively. i get to start fresh, rebuild. but this has been a really interesting, unexpected, introspective experience.

what i hadn’t counted on was looking like a schlub for most of the past year. bumming around in ill-fitting clothes, because i couldn’t go down a size yet, but i didn’t quite fit in the previous one. trepidation over buying replacements, some financial and some knowing (hoping?) that they’d only last a few weeks. a sense of waste, getting rid of some unworn items, and some which were only worn a couple times. but then also a sense of happiness – donating some really nice, good-condition professional clothes to a great organization that helps women look and feel their professional best. and because of that schlubbing around in old or ill-fitting stuff? i better understand the importance of that.

i’m a very lucky, grateful girl. i’m getting what i wanted in more ways than one. and i’m appreciative of it – every pound, every size dropped. but this other, unforeseen side was a real surprise.

the dark side of the closet.


their turn to speak

fight club is arguably one of the most brilliant movies of all time. i loved it so much, i wrote a narrative theory paper on it in college. the best part of the research process was getting to watch the movie over and over and memorizing pretty much the entire script.

today i was reflecting on this particular quote:

“when people think you’re dying, they really, really listen to you…instead of just–”

“–instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?”

thankfully, i can’t currently attest to the first part of the quote – i’m not dying. (though as jack would argue, in the tibetan-philosophy, sylvia-plath-sense-of-the-word i know we’re all–we’re all dying, right?). but i feel like i might have just a tiny handful of people in my world who really, really listen – instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.

maybe it’s because i talk too much. i’m not exactly shy, and i tend to say what’s on my mind. i’m sure it gets repetitive sometimes. that’s what happens when there are ongoing pieces of your world that aren’t changing, right? things stay the same – and if you’re a talker, you keep talking about it. i totally understand where that gets tiresome.

but it’s more than just that. you ever throw out something that happened in your day and before you even finish the thought, your listener interjects with “oh i know, that’s like this time that…”? so you kind of give up and swallow your thought-that’s-now-an-afterthought. when it happens once or twice, it’s no big deal – or even if it’s an ongoing-but-occasional trait in a friend. but when it becomes the norm, you start shutting down instead of sharing. the message you’re getting over and over is that your world isn’t important, that they don’t care about your contribution to the conversation. you’re simply a prompter. a platform for their thoughts, their feelings, their experiences.

i like to give the benefit of the doubt and think that maybe we’re just wired to want to relate and to share experiences. and sometimes we get so caught up in that notion that we unintentionally hijack the whole thought train.

but the older i get, the more irritated i get by conversation hijackers. so then i get hyper-conscious about my own behavior - i’ll kick my own ass whenever i catch myself hijacking. but i also find myself giving up much, much faster when the hijacking happens to me, and that makes me sad.

i care deeply about my friends. i want to know about their experiences. i want to ask them questions and explore how they feel, see what they think.

but sometimes, you hope they return the favor.


arrogant bastard

he wasn’t the first person to call me arrogant, and he wouldn’t be the last.

it popped into my head today, years later, causing me to delve into some serious self-analysis. how do we define arrogance? what makes somebody arrogant? and do i really do that thing?

i think i’m pretty self-aware. i can easily rattle off some of my worst qualities to you: i’m selfish; i procrastinate; i’m kind of sloppy; i’m a worry-wart; i have hypochondriacal tendencies; i’m commitment-phobic; i really struggle with change. plus, in my personal life (though for some reason, not at all professionally), i’m virtually incapable of making a decision; i have been known to spend 30 minutes in a shampoo aisle trying to choose a brand.

but surely, self-awareness isn’t only knowing the worst parts of yourself. isn’t there something to be said for knowing the good stuff, too? everyone has things they excel at. everyone has a particular bag of tricks that they bring to the table.

the first accusation of arrogance that i really remember came during a rocky relationship. he practically spit the word at me; there was definite intent to wound. and while it didn’t exactly hurt me, it did make me think. the accusation came after a particularly heated disagreement (of which there were many) which ended with me saying something about being smart, having a good head on my shoulders, and being able to make up my own mind. he accused me of being arrogant because i thought i was smart.

i guess that deserves a little bit of background: the truth is, i’m smart. i do have a good head on my shoulders, and i feel lucky for it. i feel lucky that i have parents who encouraged me and bought me books and read to me since i was small, who sent me to good schools and supported my goals. i embraced reading and school and extra work – i studied hard, took honors classes, went to a great college.

i tried to clarify with him. “so let me get this straight: it doesn’t matter that my whole life, people have labeled me as smart. i’ve been raised to believe that i have a good head on my shoulders, and for the most part i’ve proved it. but for me to simply acknowledge it makes me arrogant?”

yep. that’s exactly what he thought.

i hadn’t bragged about anything. i wasn’t prideful about it. i didn’t say i was smarter than anyone else, him included. there was no sense of measuring myself against someone. it was simply me, observing a quality about myself.

another time, after a discussion with a coworker about proofreading: he said it was arrogant of me to say that i’m good at spelling and never use spell check.

but i am good at spelling! it’s actually a measurable thing!! why is it arrogant to know that about myself after years of having demonstrated it?

it seems like simply acknowledging any positive quality about yourself makes you arrogant. and that’s so disappointing. if that’s really the world we live in, how fundamentally sad and small of us. it seems like the world and the workplace and everywhere in between would be so much more positive if people were allowed or (gasp!) encouraged to recognize some of their positive qualities.

there’s a huge difference between that recognition and being a braggart or taking credit for things you shouldn’t. there’s a huge difference between knowing some of your better qualities, and that knowledge making you think you’re better than others. i’m not perfect, and i’ve totally been guilty of that at times. do i think i have a better sense of humor because i love things like arrested development and the league, rather than two and a half men or everybody loves raymond? sooooooo guilty. and i’m sure there are other places where i toe over that fine line between self-awareness and arrogance.

but it’s disheartening to think that you can’t ever say anything positive about yourself. does that mean we’re all doomed to this half-life place of waiting/wishing/hoping someone will say something good about you, because you’re too afraid to ever acknowledge it yourself? does this mean we all live in this space where self-deprecation, false modesty and fishing for compliments is the norm?

even if no one else will ever understand it, i’m happy that i am in a place where i know that there are good things about myself. it took me a while to feel comfortable in that place, and ending that rocky relationship was the biggest step toward self-awareness and happiness that i’ve ever taken. not because he was such a bad guy, but because i realized that the things he didn’t like about me were things i really valued about myself.

if that makes me an arrogant bastard, so be it. there’s a beer for that.


ghosts of christmas past

the other day at work, we were chatting about our favorite christmas songs. although i’m as secular and irreverent as it gets, i love me some christmas music. i have a whole christmas playlist that i add/delete from my ipod on a seasonal basis because it takes up a fair amount of space.

anyway, my favorite christmas song is “have yourself a merry little christmas.” whenever i mention that, the typical response is “oh. that’s kind of a sad song.” and i agree – it is a little melancholy, which is what i really love about it.

the holidays aren’t just fun and games and presents and glitter. i think there’s a lot of emotion wrapped up there too, and some of it is sad. i can’t be alone in this – otherwise, how would we have these wistful and wishful christmas songs?

i think a lot about what christmas was like growing up. my brother and i were very lucky kids. we always had wonderful christmases. our parents did things like the family-christmas-tree-getting excursion (very griswald, i know!). we’d head up to arlington for a day of hay rides, cider, and choosing our very own tree to chop down (we usually chose a douglas fir). we did an annual day at a food bank where we helped assemble christmas food baskets for people in need. my parents helped us put out the eggnog and cookies every christmas eve, and never laughed at my insisting we include carrots and apples for the reindeer. snug and freshly pajama’d, we’d read “’twas the night before christmas” before bed, and we’d wake to a bunch of presents under the tree. stockings first, then breakfast, then prezzies.

i think a lot about christmases spent with my first serious boyfriend and his family. they always welcomed me over to share in their christmas eve festivities. i remember little things like how they always opened all their presents on christmas eve (which i found equal parts horrifying and hilarious), and then on christmas day they’d open all their stocking presents which were always stuffed inside of paper grocery bags instead of actual stockings. then they’d go to a movie (horror of horrors!) and have turkey, having done a honeybaked ham on thanksgiving (so backward! so adorable!). despite our differences, i loved being a part of their festivities and being exposed to something so different from what i did with my family. i bought his parents beautiful ornaments every year. sometimes i wonder if they still use them.

for me, the holiday sadness comes with having most of that magic and sparkle and ritual left in the past. it’s nothing anybody does intentionally – it’s just growing up. i do my own tree now, very different from my mom’s – it’s more dr. seuss than classic christmas. i put up stockings for vindaloo and me, and because i am completely that crazy dog lady, i only fill her stocking after she’s already gone to bed. i’m delighted by how she heads immediately for it in the morning, sniffing out whatever new toys and goodies hide inside.

slowly but surely, i’m creating my own christmas rituals. they’ll never be what they were when i was a child, but they have meaning all the same.

the sadness is part of it for me. listening to “have yourself a merry little christmas” and reflecting on christmases past, looking at my tree or wrapping presents for my nephews and nieces…it’s one of those moments where happiness and sadness meet in the middle. if i hadn’t been such a lucky child, if we hadn’t had such loving parents and solid christmas traditions of our own, i might not feel the sadness at all. but really, without the sadness, how do you truly know how to measure your happiness?


mylestones

it’s dawning on me more and more these days that i really am on the road less traveled. getting older, it’s really no shock. you hit that age where you’re attending three or four weddings a year. a year or two later, the weddings may have slowed down, but the couples whose weddings you attended start welcoming their first kid. and another year or two after that, many of those families are welcoming their second or more.

i hate to have to refer to sex and the city, but i always reflect on that episode wherein carrie’s shoes are stolen at a remove-your-shoes baby shower, and her friend guilts her over replacing them because of how ridiculous an expense they are. she reflects on how much time, energy and money she’s spent on her friends and the celebrations of their milestones.

but if you never get engaged, you never have an engagement party full of presents and well wishes. if you never get married, you never have that one day where you’re the center of it all at a huge party with a gift registry and everyone celebrating you. if you never have kids, you never have friends and family surrounding you, showering you with gifts and love and attention.

it’s not about the time, energy or money. i love my friends and my family and i am honored to celebrate them and their lives. it’s just that if you don’t follow the typical path, you don’t celebrate the typical milestones. you go along, kind of uncelebrated.

i’ve decided i’m not cool with that. i’m not going to go register for a single pair of manolo blahniks or anything. but i am creating mylestones –my milestones– where i will stop comparing myself and my life and my choices to everyone else’s self and life and choices. i will celebrate these things that are meaningful to me and really take the time to honor them. some of them won’t be unique, and others will share them, and that’s ok – they can still be mylestones.

some of them? they’ve already come and gone.
falling in love for the first time
getting into a great university
traveling to the galapagos islands, a dream of mine since i was 9
graduating college
getting my first job and apartment
moving
moving again
moving another time
picking up the pieces and starting over
getting my first big promotion
traveling to europe
getting a puppy – my dream girl who i love more than anything, who i waited for and who must’ve been waiting for me

future mylestones? who knows – they might include:
graduate school
more world travels
starting a business
making good investments
hitting my goal weight
finishing my novel
hell, starting my novel
buying a house

maybe someday i will even add one or two of those traditional milestones. if i don’t, i’m ok with that. i’m not saying i need celebrations and gift registries and all of those traditional things. but what i do need is to spend more time reflecting on and acknowledging the achievements i have made. i would also like to be better about reflecting on the mylestones of my friends, those who are in a more similar space to me and may not be receiving those traditional acknowledgments and celebrations either.

sometimes it’s hard to feel so different – it can feel very lonely and sometimes downright wrong, even if you willingly choose your choices.

even if no one else considers my mylestones to be milestones, i aim to be better about recognizing them and making them more than just another passing moment on this road less traveled.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers