Current Focuses (foci?)

What I’m focusing on in order to keep my mind occupied…

  • using myfitnesspal (app and online) as a food diary and exercise log, focusing on eating healthily and going to the gym or incorporating fitness where I can
  • educating myself on personal finance and keeping a strict budget, budget plan, and monitoring investments and overall financial portfolio
  • getting up to speed on “once upon a time”
  • maintaining routines, which for me includes book club, game night with grilling, and sunday errands
  • vacations and travel…dad coming to town, going to surprise him for his birthday, going to mexico for a week, going to boston for thanksgiving
  • staying organized in all facets of life
  • reading more, of all kinds – magazines, news, blogs/RSS, books
  • looking up classes to take with people – cooking for one friend, intellectual for the boyfriend, and artsy for another friend
  • getting my car up to date, including the GM recall, maintenance/preventative care, cleaning, etc.

If you have suggestions on things I can make into routines or make routine in my life, or things I could do to take my mind off things (preferably that are not food oriented and are inexpensive, and ideally, that can be done in 1-2 hours).

Book Review: How to be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps)

Yes, this is a book. Find How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy on Amazon.

First off, I was bound to like this book at least a little because the author is also the author of Indexed, one of my favorite daily weblog reads. I’m a data nerd, if you couldn’t tell. I literally have a pinterest board dedicated to infographics.

If you ever doubted I’m quirky, the fact that I read a book on being interesting should give me away. A kinky friend had tweeted about it, so I picked up a copy. As other online reviewers note, I wish I’d grabbed a physical copy instead of a digital one, because the graphics would make great coffee table conversation starters.

Overall, easy read, a lot of pointing out the obvious. Important to note – interesting doesn’t mean things will be good or go your way. I felt that in some of the advice, in that following the recommendations likely would take you on an interesting journey, but one with many ups and downs. Not that that is a bad thing, but still.

Things I bookmarked:

  • Reclaim your spare moments.
  • What’s known to you is often a mystery to others.
  • Don’t wait for invitations when you can host.
  • If it is unappetizing: Do not eat, date, or sign up for it. If the mere thought of it is depressing: Do not major in it, sit through it, or devote your life to it. If it is not important to you: Do not do it only because it is important to someone else.
  • Irony gets in the way of experience. Drop the pretense, and you’ll have room to carry the day.
  • You have treasured people, places, and things. They are precious and powerful. Fight for them. Don’t just let them lounge in the back of your mind.
  • You are not wrong to be unique. You are not incorrect because you are different. You should not be sorry for being interesting.
  • If you want to matter, you have to climb all the way into the mess that is before you.
  • If you’re arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people avoid.
  • Your greatest accomplishments, no matter how impressive you think them to be, are someone else’s worst nightmare.
  • Don’t feel terrible for wanting something. Save the guilt for never giving yourself the chance to try.
  • The more you absorb, the more you can exude.
  • Avoid people who make you feel crappy. Don’t return their calls or take their antagonistic bait. The only way to win their game is to quit playing along. Besides, no one is fascinated by your constant irritation.
  • Most people, even the nasty ones, are doing the best they can.

Motivational, right? All are things I regularly try to remind myself of when dating and interacting with folks. Sometimes, when people come to me for advice, I think I shove some of these down their throat inadvertently.

Fear and Letting Go

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. –H. P. Lovecraft

I went on vacation a week ago with a good friend. We drove South and hit the beach, Orlando (Harry Potter world!), and some port cities on the return trip. It was great – I got a pedicure and a massage.  I read a few books, learned about some new music, and bought some fun souvenirs. I bonded with my friend a great deal. I got to swim and play in the ocean. I also got a much-needed break from life.

It was a bit of awkward timing, though, since I had just had a huge week. I briefed the most senior staff in our agency, and got pretty good feedback (gratifying). I also learned I’d be running my next project, managing a more senior person, and would not be getting a salary or position increase. I also had gone on a couple of dates with someone that went pretty well. A lot has been happening, essentially.

I realized on vacation that I’ve been buried by fear lately. I’ve never been one to outwardly succumb to fear. If I have been afraid, it’s manifested in low expectations and losing myself in activities.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. –Dale Carnegie

I’ve been afraid, though. Afraid of running this next project and having to navigate uncertain waters. Afraid of leading my team into the warzone, of managing someone older and more experienced than me (and arguably more qualified), of not doing something correctly. I’ve been afraid of being in a serious, long-term relationship. (And I hope I haven’t self-sacrificed past opportunities because of some hidden fear.) I’m afraid of power exchange as a concrete part of a relationship.

Fear doesn’t become me. I was reading the “Secrets to your twenties” book, and it just sort of reinforced that fear is good. Fear means I’m alive. Fear means I’m challenging myself. Fear is an opportunity – an opportunity to grow, be stronger, improve myself, and learn. Moreover, fear is natural – it’s the response to uncertainty.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, though:

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

I’d resigned myself to doing just that. I got a few kicks in the ass and supportive comments, and they’re right. I know what I’m doing. I’m good at my job. I can handle challenges. It doesn’t matter that they don’t want to pay me appropriately, it’s still a good opportunity. In the dating world, D/s is flexible, and as long as the communication is there, it doesn’t have to mean losing myself. Long term relationships don’t have to mean losing my independence or my life. Really, if it’s a good fit, the person can blend into my life.

Today, I found out I will get the salary and position promotion when I start my next project. Turns out, the higher ups like me more than the lady who spoke to me first does. Basically, I’m now more motivated, which is good. I need to embrace the things that scare me. The dating thing may not work out for other reasons, or it will – who knows, but at least I’m not scared of it anymore.

A last quote I liked about fear:

Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will. –James Stephens

 

Quotes to Remember

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” -Socrates

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt

“Your journey has molded you for the greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you’ve encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” Asha Tyson

Thanks Andrew Sullivan – Vivian Gornick reviews a recent book by Lawrence Friedman on famed psychiatrist Erich Fromm. The way Fromm thought about love:

In the Art of Loving Fromm argued that the phrase “falling in love” was a dangerous misnomer. We did not fall into anything; what we did, once attraction had allowed a relationship to form, was recognize ourselves in the other and then—through affection, respect, and responsibility—work hard to teach ourselves how to honor that recognition. “Once one had discovered how to listen to, appreciate, and indeed love oneself,” Friedman paraphrases The Art of Loving, “it would be possible to love somebody else . . . to fathom the loved one’s inner core as one listened to one’s own core.” In short, the dynamic would induce an emotional generosity that allowed each of us to be ourselves in honor of the other. Once one had achieved this admittedly ideal state, Fromm declared, as he did in every single book he wrote, one could extend that love to all mankind.

Random Collection of Inspirational Things

“Do not chase people. Be you and do your own thing and work hard. The right people who belong in your life will come to you, and stay.” – WuTang

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.” – Charles Bukowski

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful.” -Mark Victor Hansen

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” -Lao Tzu

“Have you ever dated somebody who is evil? Life is about friendships. So when you start dating someone evil, and your friends are like ‘I don’t know about that person,’ and you say, ‘You don’t know them like I know them.’ That’s what you say, right? ‘You don’t know them like I do.’ And it’s like, ‘Look at that burning building, I think I’m gonna run into it.’ And your friend says, ‘No, you’ll die.’ And you say, ‘But I’m cold.’” – Matt Nathanson

Helen Croydon, The Telegraph, September 20, 2012 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9553083/Slut-Selfish-Sad-No-just-a-single-woman.html)

I’ve spent most of my life single. I’ve had a few long-term relationships and far more than my fair share of short-term ones, but I’ve always felt a greater zest for life when navigating the world alone. My energy, my sense of adventure, my ambition, my friends, my fitness, my career, my joie de vivre all seem to thrive when single. I have loved men ferociously, but a little part of me wilts when I belong to someone else.

But Why You’re Not Married …Yet, a candid relationships guide published last week, suggests the reason a single woman doesn’t have a ring on her finger is because she is either a bitch, shallow, a slut, crazy, selfish, a mess, hates herself, a liar, acting like “a dude” (author Tracey McMillan is American and has been married three times) or thinks she is a goddess. There is a chapter devoted to each reason.

Food for Thought

“If you’re feeling frightened about what comes next, don’t. Embrace the uncertainty. Allow it to lead you places. Be brave as it challenges you to exercise both your heart and your mind as you create your own path towards happiness. Don’t waste time with regret. Spin wildly into your next action. Enjoy the present – each moment as it comes – because you’ll never get another one quite like it. And if you should ever look up and find yourself lost, simply take a breath and start over. Retrace your steps and go back to the purest place in your heart, where your hope lives. You’ll find your way again.”

– Julia Brown (via growing-up-indie)