Getting Unstuck

I have been feeling very stuck…again…still. I find myself returning to the same pattern, getting sucked in to work and letting it take over my energy and my time. It is not like I do something I am wildly passionate about. If I was consumed by creating something awesome or saving the world in some way or anything that made me feel more fulfilled, that would be one thing. Most of the projects I have worked on the past year have gotten canceled or taken over by someone else or fizzled out due to reorganizations. I have spent a lot of weekends in the past year working on things that end up going nowhere.  And even if they went somewhere, I am not so sure I would care about where they went. What the heck am I doing?

I don’t really love what I do. But if I weren’t doing what I do now, what would I do? What do I really love to do?

I love solving problems. I love helping people. I love feeling connected to other people. I love feeling a sense of accomplishment.

I often think about going back to teaching or going to work for a start-up. I have thought about taking a year off to “figure it all out” because I am just so tired. I have thought about becoming a yoga teacher. Just the other day, I wondered if I would like to be a writer.

But the reality is, all of these things are part of the life that I have now. Over the past five years, I have managed to incorporate glimmers of all of these things in to my life, on top of a job that allows me to solve problems every day (lots of them!) I make a choice to spend more time on some things and less time on others. I have options. I have more options than most people do!

So why do I make the choice to spend most of my time working at a job that I don’t love?

I am a perfectionist and I want to make everyone happy. I always get the highest ratings on my performance evaluations and I am always the rock star. Because I am good at what I do, my boss counts on me to get things done and constantly gives me more work. Then I have to work harder to be perfect, and I do. This is who I am and who I have always been, ever since I was a little girl. I am addicted to being perfect. Work is the place I am best at being perfect so I spend most of my time there.

I met a woman about ten years ago who said she was a recovering perfectionist. I remember thinking she must not have REALLY been a perfectionist, because I real perfectionist would not be able to just stop being perfect. She just THOUGHT she was a perfectionist.

Well, if I don’t figure out how to be a recovering perfectionist, I will never never be truly happy.

I have said a million times “I am going to work less”, “I am going to go to Yoga”, “I am going to meditate”, “I am going to read more”, “I am going to get out of the house more” etc. I have written these things many times on my blog and my poor friends and family have listened to it over and over.

What I have to start saying to myself is…

  • I am going to let my boss down today, because I need to make more room for things that make me happy.
  • I am going to let this issue go, even though I could spend a few more hours to fix it, because I need to save my energy for meeting new people, finding a relationship, and staying connected to people that I care about.
  • I am going to take my vacation time and stop working weekends because free trips to Hawaii and luxurious gifts that I don’t need are not worth all of the other things I give up during the rest of the year.
  • I am going to delegate this task and accept the way it gets done, or it will not get done at all, because giving back to the world is more important to me than this spreadsheet being perfectly formatted.

I may seem like a slight shift, but I think it is significant. I have to keep the end goal in mind because producing lower quality work and not making people happy all the time will be VERY hard for me. Seriously, it’s an addiction. If I don’t constantly remind myself of what I will get in return, I won’t be able to do it. I’ve never been able to do it. But I will keep trying!

There are many people at my company who make just as much money as I do and work a lot less than I do. (almost everyone at my company works a lot less than I do.) I can keep my job, do less, pay my mortgage, and make more room for what is important to me.

When I make more room for what is important to me and more space in my head to think then maybe I can find my way to a job that I do love. Or maybe I will love my job more when it is not eating me alive.

September always feels like the start of a new year to me. It is also the Jewish new year (and I am half Jewish) so I wish myself L’Shanah Tovah as I embark on my quest to become a recovering perfectionist (in addition to a recovering TVaholic, of course.)  Here’s to this the slight shift in approach and continued perseverance leading to an amazing outcome!

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I Can’t Stop Playing Dots

I have managed to avoid Angy Birds, Words With Friends, and Tiny Tower (something my brother in law tried to suck me in to). There were some small recent dabbles with Bubble Burst and Ms. Pac Man (a free app download from Starbucks) but in general, I have avoided video games for over 20 years.

Last weekend, I was on the train to visit my Mom in DC, diligently reading the NY Times on my Ipad to expand my knowledge of the world. I stumbled across a short article about this new game called Dots that more than 3 million people have downloaded. I like to be in the know with the latest happenings, so I downloaded it. One hour later, I was hooked. I was obsessed with trying to make squares out of small little dots on a beautiful white background.

Some dude named Heisenberg has a high score of 799. My highest is 299. Who the hell is Heisenberg and how did he get so many points?  What don’t I know about the colored dots? Why can’t I make more squares?

I purchased additional super powers with points (I wasted the free ones trying to figure out what they do), but I don’t want to use them.  I don’t think I am good enough to use them in the absolute best way possible, so I am saving them. It is also the “delayed gratification” / “hoarder” part of my personality. I hate to use things up!

I am now one of those people who pulls out their phone on a 5 minute train ride. Each Dots game only lasts 60 seconds so you can easily play one or two rounds and (probably) not miss your stop.

I am totally screwed. Don’t download it. Whatever you do….

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

de-evolution-of-man-shirtI have devolved. I spent the past three weeks just working and watching television. Literally. That’s it. To my defense, I did have the longest cold in the history of the world, but it is way to easy for me to slip in to the work/TV thing. It’s my sweet spot.

I was reminded of some words of wisdom on an episode of The Following last week “Nothing changes if nothing changes”. So true.

Here’s what’s changing. I am hopping over to Hawaii for a few days for some fun in the sun with my sister/BFF and about 2,000 people that I work with.  The “people I work with” part I could do without but that is the part that makes the trip 100% free, so I can suck it up.

I decided I should put in more effort to wrangling up some dates for when I return. Unfortunately, the “2,000 people that I work with” will most likely be married or with dates. I’m not expecting any romance in Hawaii, although I will have my super fun wing woman with me should any hot surfer dudes be lurking about.

The online date wrangling seemed preferable to “finding events to attend where there might be men.” I had a fabulous conversation with my therapist this week about why I have decided that I will not meet a man at a JCC Shabbat dinner even though, in reality I have absolutely no idea if this is true. I end up countering with “I’m really not that Jewish anyway” to put an end to it. (I’m really not. I just happened to be on the JCC email list. Well, I am a little bit Jewish and I occasionally consider exploring that, which is why I am on the email list.) It doesn’t have to be the JCC, I can find a reason why I won’t meet a man at pretty much any event. We have had this conversation at least 100 times.

To put an end to this endless loop of a conversation that I keep paying my therapist to have with me  (and because “nothing changes if nothing changes”), I took my new profile back out for a spin today and sent some more emails. I got two responses IMMEDIATELY. Could it be my new profile?

I am currently (while I write this post) engaging in a conversation with one of these guys. He is a teacher. Teachers are cool. We will see where this goes.

In addition to the bevy of dates I will be going on when I get back from Hawaii, I will also be heading back to yoga. I found my favorite teacher who stopped teaching at my studio and will either haul my but to midtown to take classes with her or hire her for private sessions. Life should include yoga. Period.

I might also need a TVcation. Now that Downton Abbey Season 3  has wrapped, and after I watch The Bachelor season finale (I am betting on Ashley by the way), can’t I live without TV for a week?  I did get that word of wisdom from The Following. That was helpful. I would have to find something a lot better to do than seeing what Olivia Pope and The Gallaghers are up to. I do live in the greatest city in the world, but it’s so easy to spend all of your time alone in the Big Apple. I could write a book about it. Or a blog…oh, wait. I do! No wait, I will be going on so many dates that I won’t even be thinking about television. Booyah!

Listening

ListenI just got back from my New Year’s Eve yoga class. In the opening class monologue, our teacher asked us to listen.  She said that the end of one year and the beginning of the next is a good time to listen to your self and pay attention to what you hear.

I’m listening. It’s been a really long year, but is was rich and full. I was having a hard time thinking about what to write before class, but I can hear it now. Yoga is awesome.

I worked hard this year, like I always do. This year, I worked so hard that my company is sending me on an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii for my birthday with a guest of my choice (I chose my fabulous sister and the birthday timing is just a wonderful coincidence). Not bad.

I didn’t just work hard, I played pretty hard too, in the way that a mature successful 43 year old with her shit together plays, anyway.

I took not one, but TWO vacations this year. I traveled across the world to the exotic island of Bali and survived mosquitoes, overcame surfing injuries, and perfected my side arm plank. Then I took an even more amazing trip closer to home where I exercised my little heart out, discovered all kinds of new healthy foods that I have incorporated in to my life (kale chips are cooking right now!), and made some new friends.

I rekindled an old flame and got entangled in something complicated that led to some of the best and worst moments I have had in a long time. The ups were up and the downs were down, but I can say that I lived and loved in 2012, and that is what it is all about, right?

I had  lots of great moments with family and friends up and down the east coast from Maine to Albany to Philly. I welcomed my third niece who is as cute as button and the wonders of technology (and my photo happy sister and brother-in-law) allow me to continuously view photos of her every day.

On the inside, I continue to move in the right direction along the spectrum of inner peace. It is not something anyone else can see, but I feel it. I feel it in the moments that used to drive me completely insane that I can now shrug off and (mostly) laugh about. I feel it every time I lace up my running shoes or haul my but across town to do yoga. I feel it when I tell my younger friends that I will do dinner but will head home before the  show because I don’t like indie rock bands or staying up really late, and I don’t have to! I feel it when I get a little sad and realize it’s been a while since I felt that way and when it doesn’t last as long as it used to.

I am pretty glad that I went to yoga tonight and spent some time “listening” back on my year. Thanks Brynn, the yoga teacher.

I am going to close with the list of resolutions I made for myself when I kicked off my fall Happiness Project (remember that?). These will go with me in to 2013 and beyond. They hang on my fridge I try to live them every day. I don’t always succeed but I have #8 so it’s cool.

  1. Do Stuff
  2. Talk to strangers
  3. Fake it till you make it
  4. Be open
  5. Look for what is interesting in people
  6. Do one thing at a time
  7. Practice gratitude
  8. Go easy on yourself
  9. Embrace your courage
  10. Be positive
  11. Live in the moment
  12. Spend time with people you love
  13. Breathe

Vampire Brain

Here is what has been going through my head since I got back from Christmas with the fam and started my last 6 days of “vacation”:

“I have to finish all of that work I didn’t get to before Christmas…no, I have to rest and rebuild my energy for the crazy 2013 ahead…no, I can’t relax with all of this work hanging over my head…..I have to get back on OK Cupid and find love…is it really worth my time to come up with witty banter to write to men who don’t reply?….I really wanted to read The 4-Hour Work Week on my vacation to figure out how to “work smarter” …I can’t read The 4-Hour Work Week until I get some work done..I really wish I hadn’t downloaded Bubble Bust to my IPad at by brother’s house….I really want to see Lincoln, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the Hobbit, but I like to go to the movies in the morning when it is not crowded and that is when I do my best thinking…I should get up really early, do some work, then go to the movies…no, I should sleep in, this is vacation!…I should blog more..but there is not enough time I can’t get focused to write anything interesting….”

Welcome to my brain….

This brain banter reminds of the vampire book I am reading called The Twelve (second in a trilogy that started with The Passage.) The government experiments with a virus to try to create super-soldiers and ends up creating twelve vampires from the criminals they were testing on. These are not the sexy, fashion forward vampires from True Blood or The Vampire Diaries. These are creepy monsters that kill most of the humans on the planet. They also create new vampires. The vampires created by the original twelve become part of a “tribe” that has no knowledge of who they are and have one thought, the vision of the murder or rape committed by their maker, that plays over and over in their head.

It’s kind of weird that my brain banter reminds me of these mindless, creepy vampires, right? I can’t explain it, except that the brain banter is annoying. Luckily, not as annoying as having a rape or murder repeating over and over in your mind. One of the many things I have to be grateful for.

I have clearly found some time for reading. (It is vacation!) The Twelve is long and hard to follow, especially on a Kindle where you can’t easily flip back to remind yourself of who is who and where you are in time (it jumps back and forth in time). You also have to remember what happened in The Passage which I mostly don’t because I read it three years ago, but I think I finally have it figured out and it is getting really good. I recommend it.

I have also made time for running, yoga, and meditation to maintain some balance and calm. It helps.

The (seemingly) cute, cool OK Cupid guy who said he wanted to chat, never called. I am not surprised. I have sent a couple more emails that have not been responded to. Good times. I carry on. (I have not emailed my rejectors for feedback. I am fairly certain I will not get a reply and decided I might just come off as creepy. I think I will just play it cool, like its no big deal. Which it isn’t.)

I am caught up on e-mails, the bills are paid, my excess cash is invested, my retirement funds are re-allocated, I reached level 11 of Bubble Bust, I watched The Gray (because James Badge Dale is in it and you know I love him. Spoiler alert: he dies in the first 30 minutes. The movie is not worth it.) and I still have a nice long to do list. I did manage to get out a blog post and I think I can officially say that I am more productive than a creepy vampire!

The Disappearance of my Favorite Things

Don’t you hate it when something you love just disappears? You go to the store to the same spot where you get your favorite thing every week and its not there! You might be able to miraculously find it somewhere else for a short while and then it disappears from there too!

This is the story of the disappearance of a few of my favorite things this year.

It all started when I went to order a new pair of my favorite flip flops, the Sanuk Payday. This is a beautiful and super comfy flip flop that I picked up in Florida many years ago. Notice the slight rise in the heel and the wider shape at the front of the foot. When you have “Fred Flinstone” feet like I do (beautiful but a little wide in the ball of the foot), you need a perfectly shaped flip flop like the Sanuk Payday. I have two ratty pairs that I wear regularly, but when I went to buy a fresh pair this summer, they were nowhere to be found, except in size 11. (If you are a size 11, scoop up one of the last pairs left!) I ordered various other Sanuk styles from Zappos this year, and kept one pair, but I don’t love it. My feet are sad. At least it’s boot season now so I will be distracted until next spring.

Earlier this summer, I went to refresh my green tea collection and found my absolute favorite green tea missing from the shelf! Yogi Mint Garden Green Tea is a perfect mix of green tea and spearmint and peppermint. I discovered it when I got back from Morocco and it made me feel like I was still there when I drank it. I have been stalking that shelf in Whole Foods for months. It hasn’t come back. I have searched internet. Out of stock. I have a semi-decent replacement with the Yogi Energy Green Tea but it is not exactly the same. I miss Mint Garden. There must be something better out there and I will find it! I live in NYC.  There must be a little Morocco here somewhere.

My most recent traumatic disappearance is Zico Pomberry flavor. This is my special post-run treat. I only drink it as a reward for getting on my shoes and hitting the pavement (and occasionally after Yoga.) Love love love the Pomberry flavor. I started a subscription on Amazon to have a case delivered every month and then, one day, my subscription was discontinued. Uh oh! I couldn’t find the Pomberry flavor at my local grocery store but I could still get it at Whole Foods 1/2 mile away.  Every Saturday I lugged home as many bottles as I could carry. Last week, they ran out at Whole Foods! In a state of panic, I decided to write to Zico. They wrote me back.

“We regret to inform you that ZICO Pomberry has been discontinued.  We know this is disappointing.  Many factors go into the decision to stop selling a particular product.  Typically, it is a matter of consumer demand.  If there is not enough consumer interest in a particular product, retailers will stop carrying it.  At this time, there are no plans to re-launch our Pomberry flavor.”

Sadness. If only I had known that the Zico Pomberry was at risk, I could have started an online campaign! I can’t stand Mango or Chocolate. I am stuck with Natural Zico which is not so bad, but it’s no Pomberry. Sigh. I hope it does not impact my running.

Last, but not least, special mention for one of my favorite things that disappeared off the shelves in New York City over 15 years ago, Frito Lay Bean Dip. It is still sold in other places, just not in NYC. I used to carry it home with me from Chicago when I flew back and forth every week for work (which required checking a bag which is a huge sacrifice for a frequent flier!) and now I hoard it when I go to the burbs. I grew up on Doritos and Frito Lay Bean Dip and I ate them together as a meal (with sour cream, of course) once a month for most of my adult life. I have gotten a bit healthier of late but I do still enjoy this delicious dinner option from time to time.

 

So that’s it, an ode to my favorite things that have disappeared. What favorites have you lost recently?

Happiness Project: Fall 2012

I am not a big fan of the summer.  This one in particular, was kind of a drag for me. One thing I love about myself, though, is that when I am not feeling super happy, I make a plan to fix it. And sometimes I actually follow through!

I did spend most of my staycation running errands, exercising, and generally avoiding thinking about or making a plan to improve my overall happiness. I was feeling relaxed, but still not super happy. Then, on Friday, I had an amazing yoga class and got in to a headstand for the first time all by myself.  It was like a miracle. (Unlike this woman, I was against a wall. I don’t want to mislead you. Baby steps.) When I came down, I said to myself “This is a sign from the universe! If I can do this, I can be happier!”

I spent Saturday completely focused on making a plan, which always involves (1) research (2) a lot of thinking (3) lists.

I started the day with the first of my September meditations. Yup, I am trying it again. Three mornings in a row, I have knocked out 10 whole minutes of meditation. I will do this for at least 10 minutes EVERY day in September. It takes 21 days to form a habit, right? Meditation is supposed to make you happy. Bring it on.

Next up I read The Happiness Project. I have been avoiding reading this book forever. I didn’t think I would learn anything that I didn’t already know, but I did get some inspiration. Gretchen Rubin likes to research, think a lot, and make lists!  We could be buds.

Here were a few takeaways I got from The Happiness Project:

  • I already do a lot of stuff that happy people are supposed to do: exercise, get lots of sleep, eat well, and keep your apartment uncluttered. I really rock in these areas.
  • I don’t have a husband or children so I skimmed those chapters and tried to file away information that I may use in the future. I definitely don’t have to worry about nagging my husband or yelling at my kids less. Another thing to be happy about!
  • Many people apparently struggle with figuring out their real passions and being OK with what THEY think is fun versus what other people think is fun. Nice to know. Gretchen said that if she looks forward to something, then it is something that is fun for her. Now, this can get a little bit confusing when you are kind of afraid of things and have an enormous capability to talk yourself out of doing stuff that you might actually enjoy.  I will keep this philosophy in mind, but I might have to try some stuff that I am not looking forward too. If I discover I never like these things, then I can stop (if I ever get started).
  • I got a great tip to set my computer password to a mantra that will inspire me to love my happiest life. It would be a security breach to tell you what it is, but I did it!
  • For some reason, I keep thinking about how Gretchen tried to start a toy blue bird collection to improve her overall happiness. (She tried a lot of stuff!) I wonder if I would find true bliss if I stepped my collection of toy frogs?
  • I also learned that “the most reliable predictor of not being lonely for men and women, is the amount of contact with women.  Time spent with men does not make a difference.” Hmm..this is interesting.
  • Gretchen made resolutions and tracked her performance on a list. This is right up my alley.  She also has a toolbox on her website that anyone can use to track their own resolutions. Now she just needs an app! I have decided to use Remember The Milk to track my progress because I track everything there, I love it, and I can “check things off” on all of my electronic devices.

I had a lot more thoughts and a couple of lists that I will reveal as September unfolds. Happiness Project: Fall 2012 has begun! Nothing like getting back on the wagon of personal growth. I feel better already!