Tag Archives: Motivation

Sibling Surprises

I’m a middle child. I have an older sister, whom I adore, and a younger brother. My brother and I are about as close as it is possible to be when your brother is 19. When I’m home, we bond over Mario on the Wii (a more accurate description would be my brother plays Mario, and I die. Constantly), and the occasional quick conversation in between his World of Warcraft League of Legends** games. He supports my acting usually from afar, and comes to the shows that are important. Sometimes. Our conversations usually consist of me asking if he’s gotten a girlfriend yet, and him asking if I’m on Broadway. It’s a nice, healthy sibling relationship.

I went home to visit last weekend. My mom was super excited about some program on her phone that allows her to listen to any song she wants instantly. So, of course, after dinner, a pretty intense game of “Name that song/band” began, with my mom as dj. My dad, sister, and brother-in-law sat around the table, trying to figure out which 80’s band was blaring from the speakers, while my brother sat in the living room, immersed in his computer game. After a little while, my mom put on Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. This song has a special place in my heart. I sang an a capella version of it with some friends to end my College Senior Recital. Out of nowhere, my brother piped up from the other room: “I really liked when you did this song, K.” My whole family turned to me in shock. I choked out a surprised “Thank you,” and threw myself back in the game. Tears tickled the corners of my eyes.

…sometimes, the things that mean the most come from the most unlikely of people.

 

 

**My brother, who apparently reads my blog (go figure), would like it to be known that he does NOT play World of Warcraft. I apologize profusely for the mistake, bro. It will never happen again, I swear.

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The Curious Case of the Lap Top and the Yoga Mat

I like research. Not the I-had-no-choice-as-to-my-research-topic-and-now-I’m-reading-a-book-about-the-Donner-party-and-I’m-squeamish type of research (true story: thanks Mr Mozden). I’m talking about looking up how to julienne a cucumber in the middle of cooking dinner research. Or  which type of jeans would look best with your body research. Or, my most recent endeavor, how to bend yourself into a pretzel research.

It all started when my parents bought my brother a nautilus system for his birthday. Now, I’ve used one of those before, but this thing is HUGE. With lots of  protruding metal bars and huge circular weights that you have to load on yourself. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the war I would inevitably wage with this thing.

And the war was short. It won. Hands down. After 20 minutes of staring at it in slight confusion, I opted to start looking into yoga. Relaxing and a good workout.  And without all of the scary equipment. I’ve gone to a few different yoga classes, but never really had the time to make it a regular thing; so why not do it myself? Let the research begin.

I spent two days just looking through different poses, tips, sequences and stretches, hoping it would all get absorbed into my brain before I hit the mat. On that third day, I knew it was time. And so, armed with a yoga mat, a bottle of water and my laptop, I descended the stairs to my basement, traversed through my cat’s lair (really, though. It’s his spot. And if you don’t acknowledge it, you’re a goner), and found my way to the exercise room. About a half hour later, I’d attempted one pose, and then, afraid that I was doing it wrong and would somehow pull every muscle in my body, I stopped, opened up my laptop and began to look up again exactly how to do it the right way.

This carried on for another forty-five minutes before I collapsed onto the mat, a ball of frustration and tension (so much for yoga being relaxing). As I reached for my laptop to look up cool down techniques, I was hit with a strange thought- maybe researching something while you’re doing it is a bad way to go about things. Maybe it’s just a clever way of procrastinating. Maybe your laptop is what’s holding you back from succeeding in holding the warrior pose longer than 10 seconds. Maybe…

…I should probably look that up.

Operation Track is a Go.

I am not a runner. Not by anyone’s standards. Igor from “Young Frankenstein” could easily beat me in a race. After he had a few Jager Bombs. And twisted his ankle.

I am also not a patient person, especially when it comes to myself. If I think I should be able to do something, then I should be able to do it by the end of the day. Gradually building up to things, making reasonable short term goals to climb towards long-term ones…these concepts do not work well with my general state of being.

And yet, I have always been fascinated by running. The passion this sport ignites in people is incredibly seductive, especially when you’ve never experienced it. It’s also one of those things that you have to start slowly and work at continuously, gradually pushing yourself past your original limitations, onward… clearly, this was made for me.

Regardless of my obvious short-comings in the world of running, this fascination has led me to my most recent endeavor. Let’s call it Operation Don’t Look Like an Asshole on the Track- or Operation Track, for short. Recently, I was introduced to a 6-week running plan for new runners. And since I know nothing about how to do this (if you have ever had the misfortune to see me run, you understand how true that statement is), I thought perhaps it would be best to turn to someone who knows what they’re talking about before I end up on crutches. Or just out of breath and no closer to being able to run two miles in one go.

I wish I could say I was writing this at the conclusion of week one, and boy do I love it, how could I have waited so long to start, yada yada yada. Nope. Day 1. And it’s just as wheeze-inducing as it’s always been. But this time, there’s a determination that I have never experienced with running, a need to prove to myself that I can do this. I am capable of doing this. And so, as much as I would love to wake up a runner tomorrow, or just stick with pilates and call it a day, I’m going to commit to this. It’s something I can control, hold myself accountable for, and feel good about doing. I mean, the last time I started something that covered all of those, I started writing a blog. Pretty good motivation, if you ask me.

So, any tips for new runners?

The Smaller Things In Life (or how I outsmarted the universe, and how it got me back)

I have, for the majority of my life, been known as a variety of things. Looking back, I’ve started to notice a pattern:

-Perfectionist

-Stress-wad

-Uptight

-Anxious

-Twitchy…

My College House Shirt. “Twitch?” Yep, that’s my nickname.

…you see my point. In fact, my fourth grade teacher gave me the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” for an end-of-the-year gift. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an insane stress-case who doesn’t know how to loosen up and have a good time- I just save my stressing for afterwards in situations like that.

I have never been good at letting things go, putting things out of my mind, or redirecting my thoughts when they are hell-bent on worrying about how I’ll be able to [fill in the blank here with problem that is at least three years away]. I’ve never had the ability to change that. Then, this past weekend, the universe stepped in and made it abundantly clear that I must, must, change my ways.

1. Saturday morning, I awake at 7:00 AM, on my day off, to go to breakfast with my sister and her friend. And, due to a series of random and unfortunate events, end up paying. This is fine, I don’t mind footing the bill at all. A minor thing, truly.

2. Go downstairs to take care of my 16-year old cat, who has decided to mark, vomit, or otherwise make himself known on every inch of my basement floor during the night. Surrender myself to an hour of clean-up. Psh, oh well. You can’t really blame the cat. I mean he’s sixteen years old. The fact that he’s still traversing this earth should be enough.

3. Decide to clean my car out. Finally. Start sorting through all of the random junk, and find the Valentine’s Day CD I made for my ex (Don’t judge me. It’s a thoughtful, budget-friendly gift. And it has awesome music on it.) Ooookay then. It’s fine. Everything is fine. So-ho-hooo over that, anyway. The sun is shining, I’m alive, and I just found a really good mix CD.

4. Get asked out via text message by a close friend. Have to kindly decline. There is no silver lining to that one- now I just feel like an asshole.

5. After insisting that I wash my car myself (instead of taking it to the $5 car wash down the street, as my parents suggested to me. All afternoon.), and spending the better part of the afternoon making it shine, a random and overpowering gust of wind suddenly rises out of fucking nowhere and blows pine needles and other debris all over my still-wet, white car. It sticks. Well, i mean, gotta laugh at that, right? What a horrible, heinous, hilarious coincidence…right? RIGHT?!

6. Decide to make mac & cheese for dinner (I mean, I am trying to eat healthier these days). Finish the pasta and realize that there is no milk in the house.

Now, here is the point where my entire day comes crashing down on my head. All of the tiny, small annoyances begin to add up, swirling about in my brain until I begin sobbing over my plain, just-cooked and quickly drying-out noodles, begging the universe to explain to me what in the hell the lesson is, so I can just learn it already and go about with my life! Okay, not one of my more glamourous moments, I admit. But as I walked to the corner store on my street, racking my brain for what I was missing from all of this (because there had to be some sort of lesson), I remembered that gift from my 4th grade teacher. And I realized that all day, I had been letting all of these little, insignificant annoyances kill my mood. I had let these fleeting moments of anger or sadness or stress affect the rest of my day. And that was really…well…stupid. And I started to laugh. Right there, on the sidewalk. Full blown, maniacal belly-laughter. And I got honked at. A few times. But I didn’t care! Because I had unraveled the mysteries of the universe. I once again had control of my destiny. I was the master of my own life.

And, later, as I ate my mac & cheese, still feeling smug about the whole outsmarting the universe thing, I lost on a scratch ticket. Well…can’t win them all, right? RIGHT?!

Frodo and the Oven

Every time I’m in a bookstore, I always try to find a minute to peruse the self-help selection, specifically for the titles. Rows and rows of clever little quips about how to not “sweat the small stuff,” promising a more happy, healthy lifestyle, one that is devoid of stress and anger. What a happy little bubble of hope.

I’m not knocking self-help books. I think they’re great. I’ve just learned, over my many years on this earth (hah), that a stress-free life is as elusive as a laser pointer light is to a cat. Chase it for as long as you want, you’re never gonna catch it. So, while I’ve certainly tried my fair share of deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and happiness journals, I have found two things that work exceptionally well when life becomes an overwhelming, suffocating mess: watching epic movies and baking cupcakes.

This is where I found myself yesterday. After the past week of job hunting, last minute wedding details for my sister’s upcoming nuptials (still haven’t written that maid of honor speech. Two weeks. No worries.), re-acclimating to home, and talking to my ex for the first time since the break up ( maybe more on that at a later date), I fell back on that tried and true ritual.

Let me explain. First, why epic movies? And what exactly do I mean when I say “epic movies?” I’m talking specifically about any movie where the protagonist is dealing with larger than life situations- superhero movies tend to work really well. As do fantasy adventure films. This time, it was Lord of the Rings. For some reason, watching Frodo Baggins deal with the fact that he has to find a way to destroy the ring of power, all while fighting off pretty much every other creature in Middle Earth AND his own desire for the ring makes my little issues seem entirely manageable. Pleasant, even.

As for baking cupcakes, I discovered this trick senior year of high school. I remember specifically the day it clicked for me. I was waiting for my honors trigonometry study group to come over, and decided to pass the time by making snacks for what promised to be a thoroughly miserable evening. I had never made a cake from scratch before, so I thought, “Why not?” It was not the best thing I’ve ever tasted, but it lit a fire. After that, I turned to baking whenever everything else seemed like too much to handle. Something about following the instructions, deviating a little when inspiration kicks in, and having something perfectly delicious and sinful come out of it all is incredibly appealing. Especially with cupcakes, where you get 12 chances to make them look amazing (I love decorating. That whole saying about eating with your eyes before you eat with your mouth? Totally true). Yesterday, it was homemade chocolate cupcakes with mint marshmallow frosting.

These were so good! Maybe I’m eating one as I write this…

After all was said and done, the combination did the trick. I felt perfectly at peace with the universe, ready to deal with everything it put in my path, AND I got to eat these incredibly tasty cupcakes while finishing the movie. Self-help books ain’t got nothin’ on that.

The Exciting Life of the Post-Graduate (or how I killed my childhood)

Well, I did it. I graduated from college. Finally. Onwards and upwards into the world of the post-graduate. The job holder. The apartment renting, career-driven city girl. This, this is what I have been working towards for four years. This is what got me through the all-nighters, the crazed study sessions and frenzied paper-writing parties. The promise that, after it was all over, a world of possibilities waited. Along with copious amounts of hard work, disappointments, adjustments and student loans, of course, but still (optimism is key).

So far, this strange new world has consisted of the “Once Upon a Time” season finale, educating my dad in what I can and can’t eat as a pescetarian, temp agencies, and unpacking. Lots and lots of unpacking.

One might think that since I’m only moving home for a little over three months, the unpacking would be simple. Child’s play, even. One might even be so naive to assume that it would be done within the first few hours of arriving at home. One, in that case, would be horribly, disastrously wrong. Day three of being home is half over, and still, there are piles of boxes, duffle bags and suitcases that haven’t even been touched. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Of course, I claim full responsibility for this. It was my idea to simultaneously unpack and sort through everything my parents had stored for me while I was at college. This was to make packing for the city easier. All it’s done so far is cause me to be trapped for three hours, surrounded by knick-knacks, jewelry I haven’t worn since I was 7, and clothing I forgot I had.

As I sat on the floor of my hallway last night, fighting my dogs for access to the small piles of random items I had tried to organize, something started to come over me- I felt it creep up from the very tips of my toes, claiming more and more of my attention the longer I stared at the piles- shit. I was getting sentimental.

I couldn’t help it. Here was my childhood, just lying on the floor in front of me. Things I would never wear or use again, but that had played a starring role in my elementary and middle school days. And here I was, unceremoniously throwing it out. What an asshole.

I gritted my teeth and continued the destruction of my childhood, throwing out jelly bracelets, notes from the 6th grade, and butterfly clips, trying not to let myself connect those things to any sort of memories. And then, something hit me. A new feeling. One that kicked sentimentality in the face. Freedom. This was freeing. I was making room for new things, new adventures. New memories. I started smiling as I chucked a pile of mismatched earrings into a nearby garbage bag. Really, this was just step one in my journey to New York. Screw sentimentality. I’m a college graduate with everything in front of her. Celebration and de-cluttering are really the only viable options.

Whistle While You…what’s that word again?

I’ll admit it. I am currently procrastinating. This would not be a problem if it was the first day I had been putting things off.  Nope.  It’s been a solid week of no work for this chick. Felt great, too, until  around 7:30 this morning. And yet, here I sit, typing out a new blog. My one defense is that it’s on a completely relevant topic: procrastination.

We’ve all done it. Whether we’re trying to avoid schoolwork, shopping for that incredibly finicky friend’s birthday, or applying for jobs, it’s an epidemic. I usually explain it away by saying, “Well, I work better under pressure,” and this might be true. However, here’s when I know I’m getting really desperate for procrastination activities:

1. I actually want to work on my survival job resume. This is a welcome task, something to celebrate.

2.  I call home for the seventh time that day, and my mother suggests that I “go play outside with the other kids.”

3.  Every single edible thing in reach is in danger. And I’ve just eaten lunch. For the second time. In an hour.

4. I tell my roommate that I’m going to the gym by myself on a Saturday, and I’m not joking.

5. I think it’s high time I pull out those bank statements and receipts and balance my checkbook. And, hey! While I’m at it, why not draw up a little financial plan for the next five years?

6. I run out of Prairie Home Companions to listen to, and start writing my own.

Yes, it’s beginning to look like the end of my procrastination is drawing near. Or it did. Until I got this text, actually, while I was writing this: Water Balloon Fight. 4:30. Damn. My homework plans foiled again. Well, at least I’m succeeding at one thing,  right? I mean, no one can say, after this week, that I can’t avoid work as well as the next college senior. And this skill is just bound to come in handy, time and again.