Tag Archives: goals

February: Storytelling

I am a storyteller.

I suppose that’s part of why I started this blog, to share the stories of my life, of the things that happen to me, and of the interesting happenings that occur when you’re not paying attention. I tell stories all the time – to friends and family, in small talk, to co-workers and acquaintances. Essentially everything I say is a story; it’s a side effect of being an introvert, I think, that small talk does not come easily, so everything I say is part of a bigger story, or an experience I’ve had. But stories are hard, and take time to develop, and can’t be jotted down in a few spare minutes here and there. They are molded and shaped and whittled until they can be repeated and passed on and shared.

This past Christmas I found myself telling a story. I was frantically finishing the gifts for my nieces and nephews while the rest of the family played board games. Sewing and cutting and gluing at my own little table in the corner of the kitchen, here come two little heads, up from the back room where they were supposed to be “watching a movie or falling asleep.” My niece and nephew, three-year-old twins, certainly didn’t want to be left out of the merriment upstairs.

Now, I so throughly dislike surprises that the fact that the twins had effectively spoiled their Christmas surprise did not bother me in the least. But having three-year-old twins at a table with scissors and glue and needles and thread, that was a trick. So I told them a story.

Outdoor Chapel

A real story, one that has been passed down, that I learned as a child. A story from summer camp in the Adirondack mountains. When the mountain thunderstorms stymied our evening outdoor games, we would trek back to our cabins, gather pillows and stuffed animals and blankets, and hunker down on the chapel floor, fire crackling, as staff and counselors wove tales of “a long, long time ago” and “far, far away.”

Chapel at Night

I loved these stories, but more than that, I loved the story telling. That you could stand in front of a rapt audience of 10-year-olds, repeating tales that required nothing but your words, your actions, and their imagination. Especially now, in a landscape saturated with technology and media, to capture attention with the spoken word, to weave a tale, to spark the imagination – what a wonderful thing.

The story I told my niece and nephew was by far my favorite. It’s a story of the innocence of childhood, of treating things simply and not over-thinking. It is about a very large bubble that visits a kingdom and traps the king inside. All the knights in the kingdom can’t free the king, but the day is saved by a little child. It was told by the great storyteller Jay O’Callahan on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood many years ago. And though I never saw that episode, I’ve heard the story many times and it has stuck with me.

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This little adventure reminded me how much I love storytelling. It reminded me about the power of the spoken tale, the beauty of imagining a story for yourself, and the immediacy of telling a story. The story is told once, then it drifts off into time, perhaps to be told again and again, but never again to be exactly the same.

So I started searching for other stories. I’m not sure I’m ready to craft my own, but perhaps I will add to my repertoire – so that the next time little not-sleepy heads pop over the side of my work table, I can take them to a new kingdom – one I haven’t told them about yet. And the stories can go on.

Most of the photos in this post are of the camp that is inextricably linked to stories in my mind. And the Christmas cacti were successful, despite their being revealed before their time.

Most of the photos in this post are of the camp that is inextricably linked to these stories in my mind. And the Christmas cacti were successful, despite their being revealed before their time.

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January – Goals and Resolutions

New Year's Decorations

New Year’s Decorations

Ahhh, January. The month of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of plans and goals and motivation. Of post-holiday depression, of dark mornings, of bleak weather (yes, even in Arizona). It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

We’re a whole month into the new year, and I’ve had plenty of time to think about how successful I was on my resolutions for last year (surprisingly successful!) and what I want to do with the year ahead of me.

Last year was about the little things – the minor elements of daily life that tend to pile on top of each other to put me in a foul mood. With a few little adjustments, I started chipping away and the things that stressed me out the most. I took a test, tried to be on time to work (which worked out until the time changed), flossed my teeth (sometimes – I guess, slightly more than usual), started running, and compiled and began reading a very long book list. And then, as with everything else in life, huge gigantic upheaval entered and I was worried that all my work was for naught.

Arizona mountains in December

Arizona mountains in December

Turned out that was totally false. As far as helping me achieve my goals, moving has been one of the best things that’s happened in a long time. Of course, I’ve always loved moving. Yes, it’s hard. It continues to be hard every single day. But talk about new beginnings! I wrote a little about how moving has changed very basic things about my habits. Since getting our stuff back and moving into a new place, those habits have changed again, and not necessarily for the better. But I have the unique chance to re-organize my life, basically from scratch.

I have big plans for 2013. This year is about the big things, the goals that will pay off in the long term, but will take some work today.

In 2013 I’m going to:

  • take all my architecture tests. And hopefully pass them all, too, but let’s set reasonable goals, OK?
  • get an architecture job
  • move to a long-term house
  • continue my reading project: my goal is 52 books this year, 30 from my classics list. so far I’ve read 2 – both from the list!
  • grow a garden and start composting again
Snow covered tree in Cincinnati

Snow covered tree in Cincinnati

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Goals & Resolutions

Way back in January, I wrote about resolutions and monthly goals.  I tried really hard for a while (January, February, some of March?) to always be working toward a goal, then to add another the next month.  But changing your habits is hard!  Fortunately for me I had a major life event that up-ended every part of my life.  A great time to make new habits!

In a Fresh Air episode from March, Terry Gross talked to Charles Duhigg, the author of  The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.  Several of the points in that interview were really interesting, like how it’s easier to break a habit in a new environment.  And so I took this chance (and the extra time I have) to make some new habits, many that I had been trying to convince myself to do for a long time.  The most interesting thing, I think, is that on our trips back to Cincinnati, I so quickly fell out of my new patterns and into my old, especially since we were staying in our house with our familiar stuff and patterns around us.

Most exciting to me are the little things – I added a bunch of things to my bed-time routine.  When before I would brush my teeth, squint at myself in the mirror, and flop into bed, I now wash my face, floss my teeth, brush my teeth, and put scar cream on my knees!  Because I really would like those scars to fade, pleasethankyou.

Also, I’ve started running pretty steadily.  It’s super hot, so most of my running is done indoors on the treadmill.  It’s kind of miserable, but between the 8 TVs and my NPR podcasts, I manage to not get too bored.  Plus, the treadmills are at an actual gym, so I’ve been lifting weights too!  I love to lift but I refuse to pay for a gym membership when I can just run outside FOR FREE.  So this treat won’t last forever.  Right now it comes with our apartment, and our next apartment, so I have at least 6 more months available to me.

Mountains

But when I do run outside, there are mountains to run toward in every direction.

Finally, I’ve been reading a TON.  I’m on my 17th book since we moved!  It’s been great to get back into reading, and I mostly read in the evenings so I hope it will be something I continue to do.

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Updating

In just over a month, I will have been at this crazy blogging project for a whole year.  And Nate and I will have been married for two!  And what a crazy year it has been.  I’ll leave the recap for the actual birthday.

I finally told Facebook that I had quit my job and moved to Tucson.  I should probably tell LinkedIn at some point, too, so that maybe I can start connecting with people in this area.  I rarely use Facebook anymore, so it didn’t seem that important to me, but I figured I should update it anyway.  So, while I was at it, I made a few blog changes.  I’ve been meaning to make changes for a while but never got around to it.  After a full month of living in Tucson with no job, I’ve caught up on almost all of the miscellaneous business-y things that come with moving, and I’m able to tackle some projects for me.  Which is why I’ve (sort of) been writing more, something which I plan to continue doing.  Yay!

I’ve also updated the pages – the blogs I read and the social media sites where you can find me.  I can’t promise to be witty or entertaining, but you read my blog so you know that!

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Monday comes so quickly

I didn’t get a single thing off my ever-growing to-do list accomplished this weekend.  I had high hopes of making curtains for our house, writing blog posts (ahem), and unpacking a box or two.  Instead I spent most of Saturday actively procrastinating, then hurried around on Sunday to get laundry and shopping done before (or perhaps during) the Super Bowl.  

But that didn’t stop this from being a highly productive Monday!  After some hard work last week, I got my tardiness down from 9 minutes last Monday to 2 minutes on Friday.  And this morning, not only was I only 3 minutes late for work, I also managed to pack my lunch (which I had made Sunday night, but hadn’t packed up yet) and throw (literally) dinner in the crock pot.  Success!  Then, when I got home, I went for a run!  What?  Who does that?  

Now, the running part will probably not become part of my daily routine for a while (it’s not on the resolution docket until April).  But I’m glad that with a little extra effort, I am chipping away at my tardiness.  

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A Resolution Run

Remember that run I didn’t intend to run?  Yeah.  Turns out my ability to not fulfill my expectations extends to doing things I didn’t think I was going to, in a positive way.

A few days before New Year’s, my Mom emailed me “Is there anyone from your house running on NYE?”

There are only two people in my house, and I’m pretty well known for not running, but my mother, ever the optimist, asked anyway.

And I surprised her by saying we’d both run.

Nate & Saretta

We both ran!

So, while many people were dressing up to go to a New Year’s Eve party, I joined my family in dressing for a 5K.

A Family Affair

A Family Affair

It was the biggest race I’ve run since high school, and it was my first chipped race (which I was SUPER excited about).  The weather was pleasant (OK, cold, but it was January, so not-frigid equals pleasant) and there were people lining the race path cheering and blowing party horns and wishing us a Happy New Year.

Chip

My first chipped race!

I wouldn’t say it was my fastest race ever, but I hit my goal at a solid 10-min mile (including that .1 mile at the end) and finished the race without walking.

The Watch

The Purple Watch, Race #2

My Dad and sisters finished the race approximately as I was crossing the 2-mile mark, and they circled back to cheer at the end.

The Boys

The Boys

And my Mom, ever the enthusiastic cheer-er, yelled and shouted and whooped and cheered as I came down the last stretch.  Just like she always does.

Happy Mom

Happy Mom

After the race, my sisters came over to Nate and my house to ring in the New Year.  It was 11:45 before everyone was showered and changed, made-up with hair and nails done, to have our own little party.

Plaques

Pre-race surprises! My Dad and sisters got a surprise before the race: plaques from previous races that they earned but never picked up!

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Resolutions: February

I took a test last week.  The second architecture test I probably failed.  Of course, they don’t tell you right away.  You have to wait six weeks or so to find out, then six months to take it again.  I even studied!  And, OH, it was not easy.  Trying to find trigonometry in my brain that hasn’t done math since High School.  It was painful.  I’m lucky because Nate is good at math, so he helped me re-learn when I was stumped.  But I’m not very hopeful about the final outcome of the test.  I felt completely lost taking it.

Onward!  To February.  The January goal has been completed, however shabbily, and away we go.  On this first day of February, I would like to officially state my February goal:

To be on-time to work.

I’d be proud of making it to work on time ONCE this month.  But I will set my sights higher and perhaps by the time March gets here, I will have cemented a positive habit.

I don’t know when I got 5-10 minutes behind in my life, but it must have been very early on and I have not been able to catch up since.  This was constantly a problem as a child, when my whole family would be sitting in the car and my Dad would yell inside that they were leaving whether I was in the car or not.  They did pull away once, although it was well after I had graduated from college, so I could certainly fend for my self if I hadn’t caught the van as it reached the end of the driveway.

I’ve tried all sorts of things:

  • setting my clock a few minutes faster
  • shortening my morning routine
  • doubling (tripling, quadrupling) the time I think it will take me to get somewhere/get something done

to no avail.  When I do happen to get out of the house on time or early, THERE IS ALWAYS A WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY.  Only when I am going to work, but still.  At least then I’m only the usual amount late, not extra late because of traffic.

So this month I am going to be on time to work.  My goal is for 3 or more days each week, and I already count Tuesdays out because I have a “morning commitment.”  So that only gives me one day a week of wiggle room, which is a good start.  I don’t believe in “cold turkey” anyway.

This will take some work.

First, I will need to go to bed on time every night.  I’m an old lady, I go to bed at 10PM.  If I don’t I am grump(ier than usual, which is already pretty grumpy) in the morning.  If I am grumpy in the morning, I stand in the shower and growl at the water instead of taking a shower.  I don’t like showering.  It’s both my first and second least favorite parts of the morning.  Getting wet is my first-least-favorite part, getting out of the shower is my second-least-favorite part.  Both are my least favorites because they are COLD.  And I do not like to be cold.

Second, I will need to make coffee BEFORE I dry my hair and do my make-up.  If I wait until after, I will most likely run out of time and not make coffee, but decide that I should stop and get coffee before I get to work, which actually saves me no time at all.  And it costs money.  Not much, but still more than making coffee at home.

Third, I must remember that I don’t have extra time in the morning.  Those dishes that I think I can put away right-this-second before-I-run-out-the-door?  I can’t.  It will make me late, and besides, Nate will put them away when he gets home, right?  I want to check my email?  It can wait until work.  Should I touch-up my toenail polish?  NO, I should go to work, no one sees my toes anyway.

So, off to work I go.  On time.

They say that if you can do something seven times in a row, it becomes a habit.  I hope that by the end of the month, being on-time to work (and then everywhere else) will have become a habit.

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Tea #3

Tea and Studying

Tea and Studying

This is how more of my days should look – getting very comfortable with that very large book.  It’s tough to study; there are so many other things I’d rather be doing.  But, it must be done.  So what better way than to brew a pot of tea and hunker down on a dark and dreary day.

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New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions.  It seems silly to me to promise to do a whole bunch of stuff at once, right after you’ve spent the past month running around to holiday events and all you really want to do is nap on the couch, preferably with a cappuccino, a romance novel, and a really fluffy blanket.  Besides, January mornings are not conducive to dragging oneself out of bed, into the freezing morning to the gym.

So this post isn’t really about New Year’s resolutions, per se, but more about goals and hopes for a new year.  It is a very convenient starting point, after all.

After my mini-freak-out a few months ago, I started a list of things I would like change/do that would make me feel more fulfilled and less like I was staring up at a giant cliff, and everyone else was having a party at the top.  It turned out to be a really long list, and was overwhelming by itself.  But I thought it couldn’t hurt to try to chip away at some of those goals.  Then I bought a house.  Yeah, because somehow that was going to make my life less stressful?  Not sure about the logic there, but here I am, a month and a half later, starting a new year in a new house, with new challenges and new opportunities to make changes and improvements in my life.

My plan is to phase in a new change every month or so.  My goals range from “floss teeth every day” to “be on time to work” to “sketch,” so I have a variety of activities and difficulties ahead of me.  Some will be easier than others, some will (is it bad or realistic if I acknowledge this already?) never fully happen.  But I think there is value in trying, in laying out a plan and setting goals and time frames, and telling other people to be held accountable.  I am going to start by putting aside time each day to study for my Architecture exams.  I have one coming up in late January, and I will not pass if I don’t put the time in to study.  It’s not a very fun goal, to do or to write about, but I will be SO happy when I pass a test, I’m sure it will be worth it!

New Year’s Resolutions can be scary!  They are so authoritative, and, even though it’s pretty much a given that very few resolutions are kept, it always feels like such a failure to flounder after only a week or two.  I’m hoping that the incremental approach will be more affective, and that maybe I will actually be able to take little steps toward a slightly saner life!

Have a very Happy New Year, with hope for bright futures and enthusiasm to make them happen!  Stay safe, and I’ll see you in 2012!

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I can wear the watch!

A while ago, I wrote about how much I would like to start running again and how I had purchased a new running watch that I wasn’t allowed to wear until I ran a race.

race watch

My watch, with my niece's brightly-colored feet in the background

On a chilly October morning, Nate and I (along with most of his family) dragged ourselves out of bed far too early, pulled on our running shoes, and ran a 5K.

Nate in Car

On the way to the race

It wasn’t quite as terrible as I thought it was going to be, but I’m definitely not going to run the 5K on New Year’s Eve with my family!

Saretta with Prize

My Prize Water Bottle!

I even got second place in my age group for women!  It was a very small race.  I think I came in over 30 minutes.  My time was bad enough that I don’t remember, and, as you can see from the watch photo, I didn’t save my time.

But I’m glad I ran it.  I knew I could, even though I hadn’t run for several weeks.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to run the whole way, or that I would pull one of my famous puking-down-the-chute tricks.  It was cold an I hadn’t warmed up; I couldn’t feel my legs both the first and last miles.  But I made it!  I ran the whole way and I know that I could do it again.

I won’t be running until it gets warmer out.  I made a deal with myself that if I was “runner” enough by autumn, I could buy some winter running clothes.  I didn’t make the cut, so I didn’t spend the money.  I’m spending winter working on other things in my life, and I hope to start running again next spring!

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