The Last Duck

I have been pondering my 2011 Goal Setting exercise and here is the deal.  In 2010, I got a lot of ducks in a row.   Health is good.  Finances are in order.   Job situation looks good (although that could change lets assume that duck is aligned at the moment.)  Started lots of good stuff in 2010: more Yoga, meditation, less TV, more reading, volunteer work, non-profit connections, and some slow cooking!

There is really only one duck that need serious attention in 2011.  The dating/relationship duck.  Instead of making a list of nice-to-have goals, I am going to put all of my focus on finding a human being (specifically, a man) that I want to share my life with.  I am very grateful that all of the other ducks are accounted for at this time, which means I have no more excuses.

People say “just live your life and love will come.”  Not the way I live my life.  I am a horrible dater.  And when I say horrible, I mean I avoid it at all costs. I am just not good at putting myself out there.  Human connection can be disappointing.  (My TiVo, on the other hand, rarely lets me down.)

My conscious mind knows that human connection can also be fabulous and fun but the subconscious is much more powerful and mine is typically focused on the potential negative outcomes. As a result, when I am out and about with strangers, I send off a vibe of “don’t talk to me because I don’t feel like dealing with the fact that human connection is often disappointing” (although I would like to think it appears to the masses that I am just too cool.)

For those who don’t know me, I assure you, I am socially ept.  I have lots of friends and I am not a hermit.  I am attractive, smart, funny (and usually more modest.)  I just get in my own way when it comes to finding love.

This is the big enchilada.  The final fear that needs to be conquered (well not probably not the final fear, but it’s a big one.)  How the heck am I going to do it?

a) I have to keep making a concerted effort to get out there.  And “out there” has to be places where people that I might connect with will actually be.  I have not quite figured out where single, intelligent late 30s/early 40s men who don’t drink excessively and share my compassion for the world are hanging out, but I will keep looking.

b) When I am out there, I have to change my vibe to “I really want to meet you and I am so fabulous that you definitely want to meet me.”

c) Just the vibe probably won’t cut it.  I guess I have to take the initiative to actually speak to people.

I have been saying these things for years.  I edge myself out every once in a while and then find a million excuses to my head back in the turtle shell.  I am going to put all of my energy in to it this time and I just believe that the universe will send me something good in return.  I will do things I have done before but try to bring this new vibe in to the mix.  I will try new stuff and most importantly, try really hard not to avoid the stuff that scares the be-jesus out of me.

Hopefully, this time next year (or sooner would be nice), I will be talking about how I conquered this last duck.  And you will probably get updates along the way.

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Pulling the Plug

What I did not mention yesterday (in my post about getting out and doing scary stuff) was that while I was writing that post, I was supposed to be headed to the airport for a business trip to Istanbul.  Here is why that did not happen.

I woke up yesterday with what felt like, the beginning of a cold.  I had been feeling run down for days and has a very busy week. I am a wimp about being sick, I am a wimp about travel, and there was almost no business reason for me to take this trip.  (It was a boondoggle with a full day of sightseeing planned and only two scheduled meetings. And did I mention it is a 10 hour flight and you have to wear suits to the office there)  I made the mistake of Googling “flying with a cold” and found lots of evidence that supported my desire not make the trip.

I was well aware that my anxiety about going to a new country could have been feeding my symptoms, but the thought of my ear drums exploding on the plane, developing a sinus infection in an emerging country, and potentially spending 5 days holed up at the Istanbul Marriott trying to order chicken soup and orange juice from room service, consumed my brain.  I also thought about all of the things I could do with the two full travel days and jet lag adjustment time I would get back!  (I am the master of excuses) I decided to cancel the trip and stay grounded in NYC.  Then I wrote the hypocritical Fraidy Cat blog post and hoped that I would get really sick to validate my decision.

Imagine my disappointment when I woke up this morning with only mildly annoying sinus symptoms and not a full blown cold.  Of course, things might have been worse if I had hauled myself to the airport and gotten on the plane instead of blogging, and catching up on In Treatment (which was awesome by the way!)  But overall, I felt like I screwed up and failed my first Fraidy Cat test.  I should have just rallied and gone to Istanbul to see the Blue Mosque.

I had a very productive day today, but I am still feeling like I have to turn this lemon in to lemonade.  I had an idea a couple of weeks ago that if I could refrain from watching TV for a WHOLE WEEK, I could get a lot accomplished.  The sheer boredom could drive me to break right out of my shell and do stuff I would not normally do  (or drive me to drink.)

I think the only way to recover from this wimpy decision is to take on the one week television ban THIS WEEK.   This is a particularly bad week since I have nothing on my social calendar (because I was supposed to be in Turkey) and there are some big TV finales this week (The Walking Dead, In Treatment, Boardwalk Empire) but the punishment fits the crime.  I am feeling slightly panicked at the thought of it, but as soon as I hit “Publish,” it is set in stone and I am committed to it.  Sunday – Saturday.  No TV OR MOVIES.  Reading, thinking, exercising,  listening to music or NPR, interacting with other human beings.  (Going out the movies would be OK)

Wish me luck and I will keep you posted!

Reflecting on my 2010 Goals

I was reading a post last week on one of my favorite new blogs (Christa in New York) about 2011 planing.  My first thought was “Is she crazy? It is WAY to early for 2011 planning!” but it did get me thinking about the 2010 goals I set earlier this year.

I drafted these 2010 goals last March, when I was recovering from some serious health issues and had just landed a less stressful job with less travel. (The actual document is displayed to the right)

I went for the whole enchilada.  I started with a personal mission statement, drafted some longer term (5 year) objectives, and then set some S-M-A-R-T goals for 2010.  S-M-A-R-T goals are one of the few things I remember from b-school (but not that well because I had to Google them to remember exactly what the letters stand for)  Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.

As we review these 2010 goals together, you will see that I failed in achieving half of them, but I am still pretty pleased with what I have accomplished.

Mission Statement: To enhance my overall happiness by making my life bigger. – this could be written more eloquently, but you get the gist.

Objectives (5 year time line):

  1. Find a life partnernot even close (I have been on 1 date in 2010)
  2. Be a momnot even close (not doing this without #1)
  3. Spend time on charitable workmaking progress!
  4. Learn more about the worldI will have two international trips under my belt by the end of the year.  I have read the NY Times on my new Iphone app more in the past 6 months than in the past 6 years and I have learned  a lot about blogs!  Making progress!
  5. Quiet my mindbarely making progress.
  6. Rebuild and sustain my physical health (i.e. exercise)Rebuild post surgery and 6 months of hellish health issues SUCCESS!
  7. Reduce my consumption of processed food I think I only had Doritos for dinner a couple of times since March and I have switched from Mini Oreos to Annie’s All Natural Bunny Graham Friends.  SUCCESS!  (This objective will get the boot in 2011. I eat better than 95% of the population of the United States.  I have bigger fish to fry.)

2010 S-M-A-R-T Goals

  1. Spend at least 3 nights/week out of the house pretty sure this is a FAIL! (More like 1-2 nights/week.  I am a homebody, so this is a tough nut to crack, but necessary for objective #1.)
  2. Reduce dedicated television watching to 10 hours/weekSUCCESS!
  3. Work out at least 4 days/week technically FAIL (BUT I work out 2-3 days/week and walk a lot.  If my pants are tight, I work out more.  This works for me.)
  4. Attend a beginner meditation training courseSUCCESS!
  5. Spend time every day meditating (After completing the training course)Ummm…FAIL (two days last week, twice over the summer, and I have downloaded a meditation book to my Kindle that I have not read yet)
  6. Read 1 book/month FAIL (But I have read one book almost every other month and I now have this cool Kindle that I still have not used, except to download books)
  7. Run 1 10K in 2010 FAIL (I really just wanted to get back in shape, which I did.   As long as I get my but on the treadmill a couple of times a week and force myself to stay there for 30 minutes, I am happy.)
  8. Become a board member of a non-profit (when I find one I like)I went to some board recruitment fairs but have not found anything I am really passionate about yet.  This should clearly be a long term objective
  9. Become a Student Sponsor Partner SUCCESS!!
  10. Do not work on weekends unless specifically asked SUCCESS!! This may sound like a crazy thing to need for a goal, but in 2009 I worked almost every weekend.   It sucked.
  11. Cook at least one meal from scratch every week (salad does not count)FAIL!! I really don’t like to cook and I live in NYC and have a well paying job.  This was a silly goal.
  12. Take at least one vacation in 2010 (away from NYC)SUCCESS!!

So the way I see it, the fact that I actually drafted TWELVE 2010 goals on paper makes me automatically kind of awesome.  I actually achieved 5 of the 12 goals and half-achieved a couple more.  Most of the rest are not necessary for my overall happiness.  I do feel happier than I did when I set these goals and my life feels bigger (and not just because I talk about it on the internet!)  But there is clearly still some work needed on the most important objectives where I have made zero progress.  I will leave you in suspense for a while but look forward to a long 2011 goal setting post before the end of the year!

Mindfulness Take 1

The plan was to start meditating today.  I did it, but it was wimpy. I lounged in bed and extra 15 minutes listening to NPR.  (They were talking about Prince William so I had to listen!) Then, I decided I had to shower first to wake me up a bit.  I was not sure if I should sit before I decided what to wear or after I had my work clothes on. (I decided to put on some comfy meditation gear.) I found myself really wanting to get to work because the sooner I get in, the sooner I can leave (I am the opposite of a procrastinator. I am all about delayed gratification,) but I had committed to this so I decided I would just try to sit for 5 minutes.

I turned on my cute little Iphone meditation timer that gongs at start of your session and at the end (nothing like a gadget to motivate you to clear your mind.)  The five minutes flew by pretty quickly, but my mind did not stop for a minute.  What is that noise upstairs?  Should I be doing this now, or when I get home later?  What will I write about this in my blog? What should I wear to work today?  Oh, right, focus on your breathing.  Are my breaths deep enough?  I am not very comfortable, maybe I should get one of those meditation pillows to make it official.

And so on, and so forth.

That was day 1.  Tomorrow, I will try 10 minutes.

I Forgot to Start Meditating Today

Last week I had a revelation that there is absolutely no reason for me to start work at 7:30am.  Why in the world am I getting such an early start?  (1) I am still in the habit from my old job where the only quiet time I had was before everyone else got to work.  This no longer applies, because now I work in almost complete isolation, all day (2) once a week I have therapy at 7am and I am too lazy to change my alarm clock for that one day a week.

As I was fretting about changing my sleep schedule to spend less time working, it occurred to me that I could still get up at the same time, but instead of rushing to the office (or futzing on the computer on work from home days) I could use this time to meditate!  I attended 2 of the 4 training classes I signed up for this summer, but never kicked off the actual meditating. This great meditation plan completely escaped my mind this morning, however.

Before I even took a sip of my coffee today, I leaned the wrong way on my not so sturdy desk (which is essentially a counter top delicately perched on two tripod stands) and it came crashing to the floor spilling everything (including my coffee) everywhere.  I am sure my downstairs neighbors were very happy to be woken up that way.

Miraculously, the coffee didn’t spill on anything important and nothing actually broke.  I had everything cleaned up with a new cup of coffee by 8am feeling grateful but a little frazzled.  The last thing on my mind was the meditation plan.

Tomorrow is early therapy day so meditation is not happening, but it is “on like Donkey Kong” for Wednesday.

My First Attempt in 2010 to Save the World

I have an infection in my head (aka a sinus infection.)  For those who have never had an infection in your head,  I can assure you it is as un-fun as it sounds.  It has also derailed the many non TV-related activities I was planning to participate in and blog about this week.  (Sadness)  The only activity I did manage to make it to was horribly disappointing, but let me tell you about it.

There is a non-profit I have been stalking for about year and a half.   This organization (which will go unnamed for now) teaches teenagers basic financial literacy skills.  Although I work in the technology industry, I dabbled with the idea of becoming a financial planner a few years ago and used to teach middle school and miss teaching and working with kids.  This organization is aligned with my interests and seems like the perfect way for me to “give back” and make my world bigger while keeping my day job that satisfies my need for financial security.

I have had my eye on this non-profit’s web site for a while but nothing ever fit in my schedule.  Finally, the stars aligned and there was a volunteer opportunity that I could attend!  I had some weird email exchanges with the executive director that indicated a lack of organization and clarity, but I maintained a positive attitude.  It was decided that I could not volunteer until I was oriented/trained, which may or may not be until after this opportunity passes but there was an orientation (that might include training?) on September 30th.  It wasn’t really clear, but I maintained a positive attitude! On Thursday, I managed to get myself and my throbbing head up to midtown to attend the long awaited orientation session.

It was the worst orientation I have ever attended (and there was no training.)  She flipped through some handouts quickly.  Maybe it was the infection in my head, but I could not even follow which page she was on.  She seemed to skip the most important things.   I have no idea when the group started, how many volunteers that have, how active they are, what types of events are coming up, what volunteering would be like, and what they expectations are of the volunteers. (Crazy right?)   It turns out that this orientation was specifically for a mentoring program she wanted to start (that she had never mentioned to me and was not the opportunity we discussed.)  Not only did she not cover the basics, it was very clear that she really had not worked out the details for how this mentoring program will really work.  There was a lot of  “we will see what the group wants to do.”  Yeah, that will work well with teenagers and a group of complete strangers that walked in off the street.   I am not touching that mentoring program with a 10 foot pole (also because I have already committed to mentor a high school student for the next four years with another group that, so far, seems way more organized and I don’t want to double mentor right out of the gate.)

She ended the scheduled 2 hour orientation after 40 minutes.  I finally had to stop asking questions because I was bordering on obnoxious,  she was not getting it, and my head was really throbbing.  It was established that the next step (for people that wanted to mentor or I assume teach in other mysterious capacities that were not discussed) was training and she would let us know when that would be…”maybe around the same time next month.”  I left despondent and discouraged (I think those words mean the same thing but I really wanted to make my point!)   I don’t know what will happen next but I am not giving up on my quest to save the world. Maybe I will get trained, maybe I won’t.  Maybe I will run out of the training session and never go back or maybe I will stage a coup and take over the whole non-profit.  Regardless, I will keep you posted.

Sniffles and Small Accomplishments

This week’s adventures included Puffs Plus by day, NyQuil by night, and way too much television.  A nice summer cold kept me cooped up in my apartment all week. I practically cleaned out my TiVo.  Least seasons episodes of Medium, The Mentalist,  Haven ( which does not normally keep my attention but perfect for a stuffy head) and  Real Housewives of New Jersey ( After part two of the RHNJ reunion, no more Real Housewives.  I swear!)  Completely blew my 10 hours out of the water, but  I did pull off some minor accomplishments this week while fighting the mucus.

Scariest moment of the season!!!!

(1) Wrapped up Season 4 of Dexter – definitely the best season yet  (spoilers to follow.)  So happy Laguerta and Batista ended up together (I called it!).  Nice plot twist with the reporter being Trinity’s daughter.  Did not see that coming!  Frustrating to watch Trinity continue to get away because Dexter HAD to kill him, but true to character and the ending was perfect.  Sad, but perfect.  So perfect, I signed up for Showtime so I can see Season 5 real time.  I am already stressed out about how I am going to stick to 10 hours with the new fall season so this was a BIG decision, but when they told me it was CHEAPER to change to an HBO/Showtime package for 1 year than keep just HBO, I knew the universe was telling me to go for it.

(2) Finished “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Loved it.  Does take a while to get in to, but once you are in, it is a great page turner.  Been a while since I have read a great page turner .  I was not a fan of what I call the “outer mystery” (The financial scandal the book starts and ends with.)   I guess it was used to get Blomkvist to the “inner mystery” which was much more interesting and unfortunately ended with almost 100 pages left and then we were taken back to the financial scandal I had little interest in.   I skimmed those last chapters.  I was worried that I had lost my ability read for more than 10 minutes at a time since I am convinced my constant connection to my phone has changed my brain chemistry.  I now know that I CAN do it.  Not sure when I will do it again.  I did buy “The Girl Who Played With Fire”  the next day, but the fall TV season is coming AND I am planning to get OUT of the house more this fall.  Calendar is already filling up!

We watched Ana Ivanovic practicing yesterday. Notice her cute outfit!

(3) Attended my first US Open – I am not a big fan of watching any sports.  I wanted to check out this event people are always talking about and am quite glad I did.  It was a beautiful day.  I was finally feeling better and was very happy to be outside soaking up the Vitamin D.  The fans are much more pleasant to be around than baseball fans, which is to be expected from a sport played and watched by the upper and middle class.  Maybe I should start playing tennis so I can get those awesome arms I have always wanted.  (And wear those cute outfits).   I of course had to find out what was up with the love, 15, 30, 40 thing.  Fascinating that no one who has ever explained it to me ever has any idea why the scoring works the way it does.  Wikipedia satisfied my curiosity by giving some good potential origins for something that seemed completely random.  (If interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_score)

Still figuring out what this content should be…how much do I write?  What do I share?  Do I wait to have entertaining, amusing thoughts?  Do I write about TV or other things?  Who is reading?  Who cares?  What distinguishes blog entry vs diary entry?  Since the intent is really to be an outlet of personal expression, I guess I can do whatever I want!  That is liberating.