Friday, January 6, 2012


My biggest takeaway from yogic philosophy is that we are all connected to one another; we share inherent similarities despite our many surface differences. I find peace and optimism in that, and try to incorporate it into my daily life.

But what do you do when you encounter someone whose personality seems to share absolutely nothing with yours? How can you find the connection when someone is actively challenging your notion that any sort of connection exists? This happened to me recently, and sent me spinning into the negative. I don't like feeling belittled; no one does. It's so easy to use your own negative reaction as a tool to harm the other person back--and eye for an eye, as always.

I can't do that. It just continues to undo any ties that bind us. I'm not going to agree with everyone. I'm not going to get along with everyone. And inevitably, I will cross paths with people who will challenge my beliefs. But I can turn back to what yoga teaches: non-attachment. Do your duty, do your dharma but forgo any attachment to the outcome.

Furthermore, Patanjali gives us our four keys for the four locks of people in this world: friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight for the virtuous, and disregard for the wicked. These four keys keep our minds calm, peaceful, and help us to remember that none of us is perfect.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Running Princesses

Sorry to be gone for nine months. My bad. Now that I no longer have a wedding to plan, I hope to be a little more consistent.

That's right! I am an old married lady now, for a whole 32 days. Kyle and I have absolutely relished not having to plan a wedding anymore. We have our lives to worry about again! Hooray! Oh, and for the record: we had an awesome wedding. Everything was perfect; we couldn't have asked for a better day. Now we just sit back with our new kitchen gadgets and dinnerware and wait for all of the photos to arrive....

In relishing this long-absent freedom, I have decided to try something a little bit bold and scary: I registered for my first half marathon this week. And not just any half marathon, no! The Disney Princess Half Marathon. Awwww yeeeah. Kyle's parents pleasantly surprised us with a trip to Disneyworld in February, and we decided to go the same weekend as the half marathon. It's something I've thought about doing for a long time, and now it seems the stars have aligned. Plus, when you finish, they give you a tiara. Suffice to say that I am psyched, though a little wary of training for a 13.1 mile event in the coldest months of Michigan's winter. But that's what gyms are for, right? And I may as well put that Y membership to good use.

So get ready, dear reader(s), because I am puttin' on the running shoes and will likely bring you along for the ride. I've already enlisted the help of some friends who have completed marathons/half marathons, and I hope to find a partner in crime to train with me, maybe even remotely. (Kyle's not really into running, and he can't participate in the marathon I signed up for 'cause it's ladies only. But no worries, he's going to make some baller posters to keep me motivated.) I've also been checking out Hal Higdon, an extremely experienced runner, writer, and trainer, and someone who manages to put all of the advice/nutrition/planning out there in very easy to understand terms. It seems that support is the greatest asset someone can have in training for something like this, and I can't think of a better world than the blogosphere to broadcast my journey to. Plus, you guys don't actually have to DO any of the running. Really, it's a win-win.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words of Wisdom

Today, I celebrate 21 whole days of being engaged. I've made lots of decisions: locked down a venue, a date, my side of the bridal party, and we're closing in on a color theme. I have my wedding binder perfectly constructed and filled with lots of inspiration for the reception and outfits. There are eight tabs in there, each with their own purpose: vendor contracts, bridal style, groomsmen & bridesmaids, budget, food, etc.

I realize now that I should probably start a new tab in the binder. I'll call it "What to expect," and write down all the, er, "lovely" trinkets of advice for the brides that will come after me. Because every time someone notices a little sparkler on your finger, they are ready not only to congratulate you, but to give you their two cents. Here are some of my favorites to date:

1. "Oh, that's so...cute!"
2. "September of THIS year? Wow--that's so fast!"
3. "How old are you?"
4. "His name is Carl, right? Ellen and Carl--that sounds lovely."

I'm sure the comments will continue to stack up as time moves along. Honestly, I can take them, but I've just been a little bit taken aback by how many people find nine months to be an insignificant amount of time to be engaged. I try to explain: "Well, Kyle and I want to get married in the fall, but we didn't want to wait two years, so we settled on this fall," only to be met with a furrowed brow and reluctant nod. Thanks for inspiring confidence, there.

I have a lot of opinions about marriage. During college, as a tool for survival, I essentially blocked any possible dream about getting married before 30, let alone even finding a stable boyfriend. Ideals of accomplishments, travel, independence--that's what I clung to. When it came to others, I'll be frank: I was judgmental. Getting married before 25? You must be straight outta your mind. Why not go out and learn more about yourself first? Experience what you won't be able to experience after you're married! I saw marriage as some sort of giant door--one that, once closed, locked out a slew of possibilities.

So imagine my surprise now. To find someone who is not only exceptionally normal, but shares in my goals--the same ones I thought impossible after that proverbial door closed. I think the cosmos wanted me to realize how unnecessary my judgment was by placing me precisely in the shoes of those I judged. And that's what I needed: to be forced to face my own judgments and realize that they are based in nothing but stubbornness; in a tool I needed at one time but is no longer necessary to keep in my toolbox.

It's not a clean and dry process. There are days when I wonder if the people who are so concerned about a September wedding date are right--maybe it is too soon. And when I read about other people's weddings in magazines, I can't help but notice that the majority of the couples are in their late 20s or early 30s. But what are we waiting for? Maybe it's a little bit of a leap of faith, but I think that's good for me. Being grounded is important, but I don't want to be so grounded that I get stuck.

Did I go all mushy on you there? Sorry.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What A Difference 9 Months Makes

No, no babies. Just a lot of change. The hair is shorter, the weather is colder, and I suddenly find myself on the early morning horizon of two years post-college. Wow.

And while that certainly takes up much of my mental energy, what with all the "where do we go from heres" floating around, I now have something to direct all of my energy toward: a wedding.

That's right! I'm engaged. I always loved the term. "Engaged to be married." Sorry, fellas, I have another "engagement." Better luck next time! But honestly, it is a beautiful thing. Christmas Eve Day and photo booths will forever have an even more sacred place in my heart than they already did. And I now take the first few (somewhat reluctant) steps down the wedding planning path, opening pages of magazines and scouring hundreds of images to find the perfect everything. I remember Kyle once asking me how much there could possibly be to plan a wedding, and not being able to come up with a very robust retort. If he asked me that question now, I think I would scare him away. There is a ton! No wonder people stay engaged for over a year: they need that time to find the right flowers and invitations and chair covers and dozens of other minute details that will undoubtedly drive me crazy. But we have instead decided to brave the wedding planning madness in a mere 8 and a half months. already alerted me to the some 30 things I needed to check off my "to do" list that were already greatly overdue. Thanks! That'll settle the nerves.

Kyle reminded me tonight that a wedding isn't about a wedding; it's about being married. The day will come and it will go, but whether or not the flowers die or the reds don't match or I fall into the cake, the next morning we'll wake up and be married. And that's pretty exciting. That's what matters most.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Low-Fat Cheese and Scraped Knees

Low-fat cheese is so massively disappointing. Nothing scares you off from eating healthy like something that melts into a fine crust onto your tortilla chips and requires overnight soaking to get off of your plate. Last night, I came home in a hunger tizzy, having worked an 8-hour day at the lab plus 6 hours at my new part time job serving at a restaurant downtown. I piled some chips on a plate, sprinkled some low-fat cheese on the top, popped it in the microwave, and 45 seconds later, voila: tortilla chips trapped under a fine tent of cheese glue. Not what I had hoped for, as you can probably imagine. Considering it was 11:30 at night and I hadn't eaten in 7 hours, however, I could've cared less. But it seemed a fitting end to what had been at the very least a clumsy 36 hours.

I've never been what you might call a "pristine lady." My shirt is typically wrinkled to some degree, my hair is constantly in a state of rebellion against my straightener, and at any given time I have a number of bruises all over my limbs from various unintended meetings with corners (current bruise count: 5). At my serving job last night, this lack of grace seemed particularly noticeable. All of the other women who work there seem to have a level of poise and/or girlishness that I simply did not adopt along my path to womanhood. So last night, as I fumbled with the trays and tripped down the steps as I prepared to close the patio (which resulted in what is now bruise #5), I couldn't help but feel a bit like a black sheep.

There has been some drop in my level of self-assuredness in these 11 months since graduating. I never felt fearless in college by any means, but I did feel like the cocoon of support I had around me kept me from caring about what other people thought and allowed me to develop the overall idea of who I was. Ideas put into practice always waiver, however, and I now feel that this post-college chapter is the truest testament to turning ideas into action: not just knowing what it takes to fly, but actually flying. It's all up to me now, foibles and all, and it seems sometimes to be more difficult to accept my own idiosyncrasies as I'm flying than the flying itself.

So I do what I always do: try to brush it off. Remind myself that no one is perfect, and where one person has poise, they may lack something else. But it's been tough, I can't lie. I don't think it's necessarily something that goes away, but like anything else you have personal qualms with (nose, hips, arms, whatever), is something you grow to accept over time as simply a part of who you are.

Hopefully "who I am" doesn't involve spilling hot coffee and/or a Nutella banana crepe onto someone's lap....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Life Lessons from a Real World Neophyte

I've been living the "real world" life for four, going on five months now, and I'm happy to report I've come away with some wisdom (you proud?). As a means to cushion the transition, I was happy to find a job in the academic world, surrounded by college students on the one hand but logging 40 hours a week and applying for benefits and a retirement plan on the other. The best of both worlds, I suppose you'd say.

Well, recently, I've felt the crotchety old lady in me rising. She may be wiser, but man is she way more easily annoyed by everyone else. I'm trying to keep her under control, but even my body is physically manifesting her, with necessary earlier bedtimes and early onset Carpal Tunnel. (True story. Ergonomics are important!)

Having not known any of this in advance, I thought I'd do my real world-bound peers a favor and divulge some musings I've had, so that they could come into the workforce well armed and prepared to beat that crotchety old lady down...figuratively speaking, of course.

1. The first couple of months after you start your job, you'll probably be more exhausted than you've ever been, and yes, that includes the semester where you didn't sleep because you were writing your thesis on Freud and the Implications of his Philosophies in 21st Century Zambia. Working 9-5, 8-5, 9-7, whatever, is a totally different schedule than college folk are used to. Be prepared for a transition, and don't be too upset when the clock hits 11 PM and you are well on your way to dreamland. It's a good thing.
2. The fastest way to lose your money? Spending it on eating out. Not having a meal plan can be a shock to some, so it's important to understand that while your job may come with health care, it does not come with a fixed number of meal points. Cook your own meals, take your own lunch to work with you. Yes, they make adult looking lunch boxes. Invest in one. You will literally save hundreds of dollars in a matter of months.
3. Piggybacking on #2: Learn to cook. It's not hard, and it doesn't require many tools. Get a frying pan, a sauce pan, and some spatulas. Voila. You're halfway to being as good as Rachel Ray.
4. When you're looking for an apartment, inquire about the neighbors. This is something I highly regret not doing, as above me I have an ongoing opera lasting from about 10 AM til 9 PM 24/7, brought to you by that one guy who apparently has NO practice space outside of his apartment, and below me I have some other guy who loves techno and Armageddon and really wants everyone to know about it. Asking about the neighbors is as important as asking about rent and utilities.
5. This one is primarily for the ladies: Leggings are not pants. This may be the most crucial lesson you can learn. Honestly, I don't even know why it's allowed in college. What happened to sweatpants? Have leggings, Ugg boots and North Face fleeces become the new lazy girl uniform? Kill it, please. No one needs to be that well acquainted with your butt, and I don't care how thin you are.
6. Learn to love Happy Hours. Just because you've entered the working world and fear becoming a trench coat-wearing, briefcase-toting robot doesn't mean you can't still have a good time, and without having to spend a ton of money. It may also behoove you to learn to enjoy drinks that a) don't come with a juice bottle chaser or b) aren't available in 30 racks for $10.
7. Consult your parents, mentors, whomever, about insurance stuff. When you go to your first orientation and learn about every single insurance plan you can sign up for, your head will want to explode. It's a lot of terminology (terminology that you most likely will not understand, nor be told about) and a lot of information, so don't just blindly check boxes and sign by the X's. Talk to someone. And no, just because it's cheap does not mean it's the best.
8. Become very comfortable with the fact that you will most likely not be able to maintain the lifestyle you were living in college. This means financially, socially, physically, etc. And I would also stress that it's not a bad thing; it's just a change. Humans are incredibly adaptable creatures. Being able to buy generic instead of name brand is small potatoes compared to what we've had to deal with evolutionarily.
9. Finding friends will not be an easy feat, unless you're moving to a city where most of your college friends are also moving. Unlike college, opportunities aren't as readily thrown at you. You have to seek things out on your own, which may require a level of courage and risk that seem unfamiliar, and perhaps even silly. But making small changes can have a big impact: Join a gym and sign up for a class. Find adult education classes at the local community college. Befriend the people in the office next to yours. Becoming a hermit is an all too scary reality. Don't let it happen to you just because you don't want to put yourself out there.
10. Stay strong in your convictions. It's easy as a new member of the work force to lose perspective, or get caught up in micromanaging, or be pissed that your boss doesn't let you do anything. Whatever it is, you may sometimes feel your optimism fading, or the idealism from college slipping through your fingers. These things are fantastically great allies to you. Don't let everyone else's negativity seep into you.
11. While you will mourn the fact that college is a beautiful, once in a lifetime event, you will also (hopefully) realize that life outside of college has just as many opportunities to do awesome things. You might just have to look a little harder.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ya Burnt

Hours without hot water: 12
Cold showers taken: 1
Aggressive feelings toward landlord/water heaters: Rising

Stay tuned.