So, at the weekly worship service today, we had what we call a Mingle after the traditional 3-hour block. I've not attended a family ward in many many years, but in a Singles ward this means there is some sort of sustenance provided for ward members every 3-4 weeks with the idea that we will sit together and build ward comradery and in the case of Singles wards, talk to someone of the opposite sex with whom we would like to consider for eternal matrimony. Nothing says forever like a pasta line or potato bar, am I right?
Today we had such a Mingle and the food provided fluctuates from legitimate meals to dessert or snacky type selections. Cinnamon Rolls, HUGE Cinnamon Rolls, and hot chocolate was on the menu today. Now listen, I'm not one to complain about my Ward preparing and providing free food, in fact I encourage it! But I also am aware that the Holidays amongst other life things over the last 3 months has not been kind to my physical appearance, that is to say, I'm one chubby bunny.
So having even half the cinnamon roll and cup of hot chocolate with accompanying marshmallows I did wasn't the most thought out decision if I truly I'm trying to get back on the "feel better about my self and at least pretend like you care" wagon. To further this sense of sugar-guilt, a wardy I was sitting by felt compelled to tell me there is some Ward Activity in the works that will involve hot springs. And if it involves hot springs, it will involve... oh dear heaven above... wearing a swim suit. Wearing a swim suit among many other singles wearing a swim suit who all have the same goal in mind - to become NOT single in 2013.
The. Pressure. Is. On.
Mid-March, apparently, is the time frame I'm working under. It's time to get serious about getting dead sexy. What? Lets not beat around the bush - sure I look "meh" in some jeans and baggy sweatshirt now - but THOSE days are about to end (thank heavens, we've been living in a icy hell), and soon it will be time to show what your mama gave ya! At least... some of what mama gave ya. And mama didn't give no love-handles and saddle bags. Mmm hmmm. No sir.
Thus, starting TOMORROW it's time to get serious. It's not that I haven't been going to the gym and making an attempt to eat better - but those efforts have been half-butted (what? Remember how I'm not swearing anymore? This is what's left - butted). No more of THAT! If I'm not going to faint, puke, or DIE... then I am not working hard enough. Tomorrow begins my first attempt at fainting or puking... I'll leave the dying for when I finally can buy a pass for Bikram Yoga. Dear Tax Return, chop chop. I've got a deadline.
So if they're any secrets, thoughts, advice, or suggestions you have that would make me truly commit to becoming the next Jillian Michaels, don't hesitate to share!
So though I've become a blogging failure in general, I can at least say I maintain general bloggery consistency with posting on those occasions which all good bloggers post, like Thankful lists on Thanksgiving, some pictures of a Summer Vacation that makes me look more exciting than I am, Birthday reflections/laments, and New Year's Resolutions. When the universe hands you a blogging idea - you can't just say no - not to the Universe at any rate. I mean, it's the UNIVERSE. Plus, since I don't blog about recipes or food stuffs, post millions of pictures of my kids no one else cares about, marital anything (ya know, cause I'm SINGLE), or DIY's, you could say I'm not even a "real" blogger anyway. Just someone who checks in once in awhile. Perhaps one day I'll go nuts and invite my super best girlfriends to a DIY picture frames for those millions of oober unique kid pictures featuring just their legs or the top of their head with a big red balloon or their first doodie in the big kids toilet and we'll eat "and they're good for you!" mini-kale brownies of which I will document from egg carton to my "totally found this plate at a garage sale and then spent only 6 hours stenciling vintage birds and branches on its surface", complete with recipe and open mouthed pictures of my super best girlfriends eating them with surprise and excitement. Doodie.
But... I digress... New Year's Resolutions! I actually have some. And they're actually legitimate. So that's pretty big in and of itself. After my stark realization that my brain/soul/happiness suck was attached to a very negative environment, suddenly what once seemed to take too much energy and enthusiasm (like New Years Resolutions... and life) actually seem appealing, nay EXCITING! So let's begin with the recap... and go from there.
2012 Resolution Recap - or Wow, there was something seriously wrong with me.
1. Come-up with more creative titles for my lists - Sure! Check! I can't believe this was my #1 Resolution for 2012. Doesn't bode well - does it? The depression deepens... 2. Stop calling my Internet friend(s) morons...Well, you may have to be the judge of that Internet friends... but I'm pretty sure I kept my moron calling to my real friends. So... check! 3. Run that *&!%$!! half marathon or stop setting it as a goal - Okay so... like I signed up and like... didn't do it. BUT! I DID do a Sprint Triathlon so I think this is a half check because uh... Triathlons are hard! 4. Grow my hair out to my shoulders but keep the bangs... something rather Zooey DeChanel-esque - Oh it's getting there. I know I should give you photo-proof - but I look like crap right now PLUS my hair is a in a pony tail. You hear that?!?! Pony tail! Yay. 5. Set better goals for self-improvement than "growing my hair out" - That's about to happen! Super CHECK! 6. Travel to a few more places I've never been. - CHECK! So this goal was actually not depressing and I actually accomplished it! Good for me! I ventured to Washington D.C, New York, and North Carolina. In fact, as per the goal, I'd never been to New York in my life and ended up going twice in 6 months! Good for me! CHECK! 7. Work on that novel. And I mean really work on that novel.Fail. But to be fair, clearly I was pretty depressed. Which means creativity suck. Which means it wasn't my fault. You hear me? Sob! I did get a book entitled 642 things to write about to get the juices flowing though. So perhaps I'll start using it! Eh? EH? I'm getting ahead of myself. 8. Make the Summer of 2012 the most campingest, outdoorsy, non-schooled summer I've ever experienced! - I'm pretty sure I didn't go camping once. No not once. Alas.
9. End Lazy Period and do stuff - Eventually yes - this happened I'd say.The Lazy Period sort of overlapped into the Dark Period which generally has the same lack of motivation effect - but I did start working out more. So... half check.
10. Come on, get happy. By happy I mean content. By content I mean grateful. And by grateful I mean humble. - I'd say this one probably goes on the "life-long" goal list. So... work in progress this one. But hopefully I'm closer today than I was yesterday. The clear pattern with the above list and accomplishments... oh... I mean "accomplishments" is that I wasn't in any way trying to significantly and realistically progress in anyway. I think what that list innately conveys is "just maintain... just make it through... just push on" which lets be honest - that happens sometimes. Sometimes, all our faculties are focused on maintaining for awhile. And that's okay. Some progression isn't entirely quantifiable... but it does happen and those years are the best worst years of our lives. HOW-ever it's nice when the maintenance part is taking care of its own a little bit and you can look beyond just treading water to actually moving towards something. Taking some significant strokes if you will. So, regardless of the Resolution list to follow - I'm happy just to be excited about trying harder instead of just survival. 2013 is already a win! Duh.
Resolutions 2013 - or Raising the Bar
As lists go - I like them. I make them. I refer to them. I encourage others to do the same. I've now started categorizing my lists to further enable my OCD tendencies. Which, by the way, seem to be taking root a lot stronger. Old age.
Spiritual - because if this isn't in line, first in line, and aligned (see what I did there? So smart), then nothing else will be.
Attend the LDS Temple twice a month. This I can do. This is #1! Much better than "think of better names for my lists." Eye roll.
Make time for a Spiritual thought, message, or scripture study in the MORNING. There was one year where I was really good at this - and then - as tends to happen with all really good things - I fell out of the habit. Reflecting on that year, it was an incredibly busy and could've been a very stressful year as a wee Undergrad - but it wasn't. I made it. And I tell you it's because I made time for God in the mornings. So let it be written! So let it be done.
Stop Swearing. HA! What? Listen, I'm not saying swearing is some horrible sinful act... but I realize I just shouldn't do it... as a word-smithy particularly. I can think of better things to say! I quote "Profanity is the act of a feeble mind trying to express itself forcibly..." David O. McKay. I will replace such words with ones like "Egad!" or "Holy Bananas!" Or "Drat!" but never, NEVER will you hear "fetch" come out of my mouth unless it is in reference to Gretchen Weiners. Just because I don't want to swear doesn't mean I'm some BYU Zoobie fool yelling out fetch and doing that stupid wrist snap thing they do. Noooooooo thank ya.
Be Still. I've very much learned this year to let go, and let God. It's a hard one for me because I always like to be planning and moving and pushing forward with some concrete plan or adventure or idea. But sometimes, we should just do ourselves a favor and be still... let things go... let things happen. I'm working on this.
Pay off my University of Utah student loan - this will be done by March!
Pay off my car - July!!
Gulp... siiiigh... reduce... sniff... clothes shopping. :( I can't talk about it. It just... needs to be done.
Eat better - so original! Specifically - I can only eat "out" two times a week and I'm really kicking the sugar to the curb. It's bad for you. So bad.
Train for.. are you ready? Here it comes... The Salt Lake City Half Marathon! No listen, I'm doing it. April 20th. Look for me. Cause I'll be there!! Also - if someone wants to run it with me - I won't say no. In fact, I'll say "YES PLEASE!"
Train for the San Rafael Triathlon AND - beat that swim. Because I almost died in the swim - it beat me - but this year... I WILL beat it. Supplemental - I will beat my time by a full 5 minutes! Oh hey step up Boss!
Sign up for Bikram Yoga. I'm excited about this'un! I've really needed something that helps me "center" myself, focus my thoughts, and I also wanted to do something I was really bad at. I am REALLY bad at Yoga. As the self-proclaimed least flexible person alive (or dead - a corpse is more flexible than I am) - this is TOUGH! It's double tough in a 120 degree room... but for some reason I really love it. So when the old tax return rolls in - there will be a sum set aside for Bikram Yoga. Namaste.
Personal Goals - because somethings can fit everywhere and no where
I want to do this - http://kaiizen.org/ Do you want to do this? If you want to do this - tell me and we'll do it. Together. I'd like India or Thailand - but will accept any.
Exercise greater mercy - give people the benefit of the doubt. Always.
Find small ways to help people around me with small things.
Never make anyone feel small. Ever.
Take the GRE... so I can...
Begin applying for PhD programs for Fall 2014. Yep - I just threw that out there. It's time... already... hyperventilate.
And there you have it! I mean, if anything this year's resolutions are by far and away more ambitious and in every way more optimistic then that pathetic piddle I posted last year. Right? Right!!!?
2012. What a year, eh? Meh. I guess as years go - At first glance I wouldn't say it was particularly stand out sort of year. I went a few new places, but nothing to earth-shattering. However, upon closer inspection, I've discovered I've learned something very valuable this year. You might even say I've learned something about myself that will likely change my life henceforth. Isn't that exciting? Sure it is. Don't we all want to look back on what is past and see that we have moved forward from where we were? Changed somehow, ideally for the better? If you don't then you're either perfect in every way already (i.e. only Jesus can say that - so now you're a liar!) OR, a huge loser. So if you're Jesus, a liar, or a huge loser, this post may not hit home for you. Okay, Jesus probably gets it cause ya know... that's what He does, He "gets" things... but the other two groups - back to your video games and Manga comics! Go on, then.
What lessons did I learn this year? Well, several fold - but it all surrounds something called happiness. Or, to put a finer point on it, choosing happiness.
I learned this year that I'm not invincible... even if I'm choosing to be invincible... I can't be. I'm still human and therefore not only flawed in a myriad of ways, but also boasting a good amount of mortal weakness as well. That's probably why we love hero's - they rise above the "natural man" and do extraordinary things. They give us hope in our own potential. Of course, each of us struggle with things that perhaps someone else doesn't. Thus the need for patience and kindness towards each other - because don't we want others to be patient with our weaknesses? Oh that golden rule - always swooping in and making its point! And here's another point - because I'm not invincible, I have to choose my happiness. Chew on THAT gem while I explain myself...
Here is how I'm not invincible and thus, must choose my happiness:
1. An overall positive environment is essential to my living a good life
2. It's okay to choose my friends
1. I used to think I could handle any sort of situation because I've always been a very rational/logical person. I used to think I didn't let emotions get the better of me nor would I give up on anything just because it was "hard." There's pride for you. I've never dropped a class or given up or quit because the pressure was mounting. A very "do your worst, for I shall do mine!" sort of mentality. How very heroic - or so I thought. I thought giving up on anything was a weakness - and I wanted to be strong! Committed! See things through no matter what the odds! I would've gotten that ring to Mordor! Won the Hunger Games (or die... cause that's uh.. the rules)! Survived the Zombie Apocalypse! This seems like a good thing - doesn't it? Well, turns out, sometimes strength is knowing when to let things go - to know when it's time to choose a different route, to weigh your options and go down a path less traveled.
Strength is choosing your happiness by sometimes choosing to walk away. After all, happiness IS a choice, right? It's something we can choose to feel despite the circumstances around us. Easier. Said. Than. Done. But that doesn't make it any less true. Thus, my realizing I require an overall positive environment to live a good life. Positive environment can be defined in a lot of ways - physical environment, mental environments, spiritual environments, etc. When I say positive environment - I mean the aura, "vibe", overall "feel" of my physical surroundings need to be more positive than negative for me to truly thrive. I think most of us are like this - I just didn't think I was one of those. It's intrinsic and extrinsic. It's knowing the only person you can control is yourself. It's realizing that as much as you resist being effected by those around you - it wears you down. At least, I found out that despite my best intrinsic efforts - I was wearing down... slowly and steadily... wearing down. I found out that though I was trying my best to intrinsically "choose" happiness in a very negative environment, I was starting to slip. My surroundings were unearthing my intrinsic limits... turns out there actually was only so much I could take. I wasn't invincible after all... and was beginning to very acutely feel it. I was letting the vapors of gloom seep into my soul.
This environment was effecting every faucet of my life. What's crazy, is I didn't realize it until I was finally removed from that environment - plucked out of shadow and into the light. In this negative environment, I didn't want to participate in anything that I used to enjoy - I was always too exhausted to even stomach the idea of going for a run or being creative in any capacity or writing (see blog disappearance), discovering new hobbies or even summoning the energy to plan a nice relaxing weekend away. Everything around me was heavy - and I was having a hard time lifting anything "extra" beyond getting up and going through the steps each day. All my strength was laser focused on being patient... patient patient patient... controlled... and conquering the "natural man" of not giving up. I was battling my own weakness - my own lack of capacity to be surrounded by misery and choose happiness. I will tell you, most days I won that battle, but it didn't leave much left for anything else. Misery loves company - and I was beginning to be it's weekly lunch date.
In the end, the seams started to break, the rafters were buckling, and something needed to give... or I was going to join the ranks of Prozac dependents! Oh sunshine pills - cast thy rose colored glasses over my toiling soul! (Andrea original. Take that Shakespeare)
And then... give it did... but not in the nervous break down sort of way. I was mercifully removed from that environment and wouldn't you know it? Suddenly, I wanted to... well.. don't take this in some morbid "red flag" way... but I wanted to LIVE again! Not trudge through, but I suddenly got the energy to do those things I enjoyed doing and what's more, I even started setting meaningful goals again! Rather than seeing a goal as yet another burden I didn't have the energy for, I saw it as something exciting and attainable! The past month has been one of the brightest spots of my year! I had NO idea how deeply that negative environment was truly effecting me physically, mentally, emotionally, and physically until I was suddenly beyond it and saw a bright sun shining onto my world. It is bittersweet to be taken right to the very edge of your capacity... and even a little beyond it... and be saved by the tender understanding of an all-knowing God. And I tell you Internet, that's exactly what happened to me!
I also learned, there are things that you can't change - situations that just "are" - but having had this experience - I learned that I can choose how to contribute in the most positive way - to opt in or opt out of situations or scenarios that effect the little individual circle I'm standing in. Choosing to with hold rather than react.
Which leads to...
2. It's okay to choose my friends
I always feel I've had a proclivity to become friends with anyone - and in fact- felt it was my Christian duty to be friends with one and all - no matter who they are, how they live, and what they choose. However, I've learned this year that I do not need to be blood-binding friends with everyone - that I don't need to automatically add every enjoyable conversationalist to my inner circle of comrades to let them know that I see them as my fellow-human. No, there is a separate internal "safe space" that I am not required to let everyone into. My Christian duty is to be kind, patient, charitable, generous, tolerant, a good example, sisterly, and all those other positive attributes that emulate the Christ in Christian, but I don't have to be every one's best friend - and I don't have to give up what's most important to me to accommodate less important things. I simply can't be every one's best friend and maintain my positive environment - or maintain the highest standard of who I know I am. Some influences and relationships, because of human weakness and capacity, just can not be - they can not go on. I've learned this several times this year in sometimes very painful ways. It's a tricky thing - human existence - but I think I'm starting to grasp a few things surrounding my little piece of existence.
I've also learned to prioritize my relationships: God, family (i.e. spouse when that happens), and good friends. That's how it lines up for me - so if family or friends are getting in the way of my relationship with God, then they must be cut loose. If friends or even other family members are getting in the way - or to put it more softly - negatively effecting my relationship with my spouse (you see the optimism already? It's almost PRESENT tense! Woah.), then they must be adjusted, distanced, and unfortunately if necessary, cut loose. I hope that doesn't sound too harsh. It's definitely a very difficult situation to navigate and many times, a sorrowful decision to cut someone loose because the relationship is not jiving with what's most important to me. I CAN choose happiness in the "have to deal with this for awhile situations" - but I also have a choice to put myself into certain situations and in relationships that would effect the balance of happiness in my life. Now that I know I'm not invincible - I can make more informed choices. You can only walk with someone so far, before you have to stop and let them carry on alone. I guess that's why God is God, because He is the only one that can walk with you the whole way.
2012 was a tough year -but a good sort of tough. No one wishes hard things to happen, but WHEN they do, you can be certain that you'll eventually look back and understand why it was how it was. I feel those kind of years are some of the greatest gifts life gives us. No year is a waste if you can say you're a little better than you were the year before.
So long, 2012! May I remember the lessons you've taught me and may 2013 be one of those really smooth sailing sort of years filled with sunshine and roses! And... dates. Good dates... ;) That lead to engagement and marriage. HURRAY!