Monday, January 31, 2011


Well then.

I clearly did not do well on my goals for last week. I only had two blog posts, and managed to do some cleaning in our room, but neglected the rest of the items. HOWEVER, I only watched House during the week, and watched one episode of Perfect Couples and two episodes of the Office on Sunday. BIG improvement! And, as a bonus, I read more. :)

So, for this week:

1) E-mail Kate by end of today (Monday)
2) Drink more water (at least 5 cups a day)
3) Vaccuum our room by end of day Wednesday
4) Do response questions by tonight and Wednesday night (respectively)
5) Do 5 page paper by end of Friday
6) Do 4 page paper by end of Sunday
7) Do 3 blog posts: 1 by Tuesday, 2 by Friday, and 3 by Sunday night
8) Go to 1 SERF class: boxing Tues or Wed night, or Powerflow on Fri.

Looks pretty reasonable... I will update next week on how I did. For now, I'm off to drink some water and get reading for class!

Friday, January 28, 2011


I read a really interesting article the other day, relating to couples and how they compromise. The article was written by a marriage counselor, and she repeatedly stressed how confused people are about the notion of compromise, particularly in romantic relationships. For example, she pointed out that most couples think that they should always aim to meet in the middle, yet this method doesn't help much when both individuals want vastly different things. (For example, wanting a baby v. not wanting a baby-- you can't have half a baby. Even  relocating gets tricky-- when one spouse is offered an amazing job in California, and the other is offered an amazing job in Georgia, living in Texas isn't much of a compromise.) Nor does it help in an every-day situation when one person wants to go out for dinner, and the other wants to stay home. If person A wants to go out to get away from home, chores, and maybe even the kids, person B's suggestion that they can order in won't seem like much of a compromise to person A.

I could relate-- there have been plenty of times when J and I wanted to do something different, but together, and usually, instead of picking one or the other, we do both. While in theory this means that we both always get what we want, it comes at the expense of our time (often entire weekends). Even though we're usually happy with how the weekend went, we're still left with a dearth of free time to do things we actually want to do.

The article suggested "taking turns" at choosing what to do for a particular night/weekend. However, this would likely often be complicated by the fact that usually our weekends get planned on the fly, and we don't always know when particular friends will be in town. Not that we have to spend all weekend together-- in fact, we do best when we spend a significant portion of the weekend doing different things-- but the vast majority of the time, if I want to spend a Friday or Saturday night with J, one of his friends will want to make plans with him for that exact same time. I have one of two stock reactions: to tell him to go have fun, that I'll hang out with him the next day, or to get mad that he never picks to hang out with me without some guilt-tripping on my part.

Invariably, there's an argument at some point in which I argue that he never chooses me... and he takes that to mean that I was being untruthful when I told him to go have fun. Which isn't true-- if there's anything I can't do, it's pretending that I'm fine with something when I'm not. My face has a tendency to betray even my most slight annoyances, so I truly can't lie and say that I'm okay with something, if in fact I'm annoyed or pissed. Instead, what's much more likely to happen is that I am just fine with him leaving (sometimes I even prefer it), but then become mad when he goes out again the next night, and when I try to hang out with him the following day, he gets mad that he doesn't have time to do all the reading/working out/sleeping that he wants to do.

Ultimately, it seems that most of these arguments comes down to the fact that he sets aside time for everything else in his life (work, working out, doing the dishes, reading, sleeping, friends, the occasional TV show), but doesn't think it necessary to set aside time to spend with me (since I'm usually home when he is). What that usually ends up meaning is that I try to hang out with/ talk to him while he's doing other things, which results in him getting less done than he wanted and feeling frustrated, and me feeling like he doesn't ever have time for me.

Since I read the article on compromise, I've been trying to think of a way to compromise in this particular situation-- and I invariably get stuck.On the one hand, my saying that I don't mind that he's doing a bunch of reading/working out/etc. doesn't mean that I'm okay with having no time set aside for me. (Yet I can see how it could appear that way.) On the other hand, I've trained myself to try and be flexible (read: compromising) so much so that I don't always know how to not try and compromise, even when I realize later that the particular compromise didn't make me happy at all. These facts, coupled with the fact that we've apparently been doing the whole compromising thing wrong all these years, means that it's gotten hard to see the difference between being a doormat and being a steamroller.

In the end, all I want is balance. I want to work, I want to have my own time to read/write/work on schoolwork/etc., I want to spend time with my friends, and I want to spend time with J. It doesn't seem like it should be this hard to get all that sorted out, yet I'm staring at a wall.
Any suggestions? Should this issue (having J set aside time for me) even be up for compromise? How can we make sure to spend some time together while keeping the rest of our lives going? Can there be a good balance when we both work (and he works a lot of hours) and there's only a little time left for the rest of our lives? I'd love to hear some suggestions!

Monday, January 24, 2011

easing away from the television

Over the past couple of years, I've developed quite the love-hate relationship with my TV. While I enjoy watching hours of reality TV and other nonsense shows, I definitely use it to avoid doing anything really productive. Instead of reading for class, cleaning up the apartment, or writing, I would get sucked into Law and Order marathon, and later go to bed feeling unaccomplished and unproductive.

When I started college, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my undergraduate years. I had assumed (for most of high school) that I would ultimately go to law school, yet didn't have a clear idea of how to get there. In addition, when I got to college, I no longer had someone pushing me to do my work. [I now realize that I had never needed to motivate myself-- my parents always made sure that we did our work, and I never learned to think for myself.] Therefore, I spent very little time on school and learning, instead choosing to socialize, or, more often during the week, watch TV. Only recently (within the past year) have I begun to fully understand that there will always be "fun" things standing in the way of working on schoolwork, long-term projects, or even household work. While a night of drinking with friends certainly produces some fun memories, it doesn't make all my other responsibilities go away. And the existence of thousands of things to watch via Netflix does not negate the pressing need to do my other work.

Growing up, we watched very little TV, and by the time I was in high school, I always felt as though I was missing out on all the fun seemingly everyone else was having. When friends asked if I saw the latest episode of "Friends" or "Grey's Anatomy," I invariably had to answer "no," and often felt left out. Thus, by my freshman year of college, I was starved to finally be part of the conversation. I watched lots of TV, and the habit become worse as the years went on. Even when J and I moved in together in late 2009, and we didn't have cable, I would watch TV for hours, even if I didn't particularly enjoy what was on. With the advent of Hulu, and now Netflix, there was no need to watch what was on-- I could pick how I wanted to be entertained.

Now, it is time to move on. While there are certainly hundreds of shows that I could potentially find entertaining, I don't have anything to show for all the time I've spent in front of the television. And that's unlikely to change. As much as I love the "Real Housewives" franchise with all of its drama and theatrics, I certainly don't think that watching those shows makes my life better. [If anything, it makes me negative. How can most of those women be okay with acting so childish and inappropriate? Shouldn't they be showing the world that they are doing something with their lives, instead of perpetuating the notions that women can't be taken seriously?] Also not particularly helpful? My semi-obessive need to watch all the Law and Order SVU episodes. All it does is make me paranoid... who needs that? Ha!

Not that I want to quit entirely. J and I love watching "House," and "Modern Family," and we'll likely continue to bond over new episodes. But for now, I'll plan on only watching TV while I'm working out. If nothing else, I'll at least have a trimmer body to show for my time staring at the tube.

goals for this week

I will be working on setting long-term goals, but for tonight, I'd like to focus on this week:

1) Go to one class at the SERF. It will be good to do something new/fun, and the leaders for those groups are always peppy and motivating. 
2) Read for class, both Tuesday and Thursday. I am ashamed to say that in all the years of college, I have never completed all the reading for my classes in any given semester. I have one last chance, and I can do it!
3) Clean up our room-- whenever we clean, there is a tendency to "forget" to clean in there. I would like to organize and re-distribute my clothes, since there is no need for them to be all over the floor. I will also make the bed twice this week... though I don't really see a point in always making the bed, having it all nice does make the rest of the room seem neater. 
4) Write a blog post for at least four days this week (through Sunday night). [Note that I didn't mandate a blog-entry every day... there's hope for me yet!]
5) Write five thank-you letters for the wedding. This is something that has been hanging over my head for four months, and it's time to clear out the mental clutter and move on. Plus I genuinely have great appreciation to express in these letters... I think it's important to let people know that we are grateful for having them in our lives.
6) Respond to Kate! 

I am excited. Little by little, I can actually move forward!!!

for better

I've wanted to start a new blog for a while-- I found in past years that keeping track of my life online helps to keep me motivated. I am on the verge of (finally) finishing college, and I wanted to enumerate and quantify my goals for the rest of the year.

Yet, even the task of coming up with a name for my blog seemed like it was too much. I wanted an original, non-cliche title-- something that invokes interest, not yawns, yet something that seemed less high school and self-absorbed than whatever I would have come up with 10 years ago. I firmly believe that how you start something shapes how successful you can ultimately become, but this often renders me incapable of starting, much less finishing some grand plan. Thus, I decided to walk away from the naming issue for the night, and tried going to bed. However, while getting my pjs on, something caught my eye. J had left a copy of Tara Parker-Pope's For Better on the bookcase, and I thought the title would function perfectly as a starting point for my blog. If nothing else, I want to dedicate this year (the rest of 2011) to accepting that I don't have to do things perfectly, just better (than I've done throughout the past couple of years). [Though Parker-Pope's book focuses on "the science of a good marriage," I am aiming to apply the notion to the rest of my life, not just my relationship.]

For years, I've been trying to work out more, read more, fight less, eat less, smile more, laugh more, stress less, and do more. However, my goals invariably turned impossible: year after year, I would start a work-out plan that demanded I transition from not doing anything to working out 6 days a week, an hour a day. Most of my other goals have suffered the same fate-- in an attempt to see results quickly, I would over-schedule and under-perform, leaving me frustrated and unable to make any long-term changes. I would like to end this awful cycle. I fully believe that I can make real, substantial changes in my life, if I can practice being more patient, and actually internalize the fact that things will never go perfectly. 

I was reading a Yahoo article the other day about people who have lost a substantial amount of weight, and (most importantly) have kept it off for a long time. Though most of the information was nothing new, there was one piece of advice about getting off-track that stuck with me. The woman called it the "flat tire analogy": when you get a flat tire, you fix it and move on-- you don't poke holes in the rest of your tires. I think this analogy is perfect for how I am currently running my life-- the vast majority of times when I encounter difficulty or failure, I give up entirely, rather than learning from my mistake and moving on. 

It is time for me to move on: I am ready to fail at many things, so that I may become successful in a few. :) It's time to be better (not perfect).