Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

When I was a kid (and sometimes not a kid) I always thought the saying was "the PINK elephant in the room". I don't know where on earth I got that, but there it is. So every time I hear or use that expression, I think of a pink elephant standing in the room where he (she?) is impossible to miss. And yet, as the saying goes, it's there, but nobody is talking about. They talk around it, behind it, through it, and every which way but ABOUT it. They do not address the enormous (pun intended) presence right there in the room. 

There is an elephant in the room now. It is staring at me and everyone around me. As per usual, nobody pays attention and in fact, pretends it's not there. I think about bringing it up and just being direct by saying we need to address this, get it out in the open, and move past it. Let it go out to where all happy elephants are. But I'm somehow afraid to point out this creature even though it's obviously there. Why am I afraid? Conflict is uncomfortable. Also, this elephant was hashed out in many conversations months ago. In essence, it shouldn't be here. But it's here because it's time to start the process that brought this elephant into being in the first place. Confused? Good. So am I. 

Long story short, someone proclaimed a new way of doing things. Rules, regulations, procedures were all set out in writing and everyone knew (or thought they knew) what would happen. Unfortunately, the plans went out the window and the entire process went awry. Nobody said anything until the deed was done and we were standing among the rubble that was left behind. There were hurt feelings, raging emotions, and lives were forever changed. This may sound dramatic, and maybe it is, but for those of us on the inside, it really did change us. I was changed--and maybe for the better. I became more aware of how things go when you do not stay honest. I became acutely aware of how it feels to wonder if someone you respected for so long and so deeply, really respected me. Lots of emotions flew around and I addressed them because frankly, although elephants are cool, they don't belong in my room.

I thought, after hashing things out, that we'd move on and it would be over. But it's not. At least I don't feel that way. It's that same time of year with that same anticipation of what's going to happen this time. Actions always speak louder than words, so I wait for the actions to happen. I'm not patient and nothing has even begun to unfold as of yet. Of course, I worry that is has indeed unfolded and I am left out for fear of my reaction. 

I honor direct, honest, clear, transparent, and real communication. My expectations are not always met and I'm disappointed when the world seems to function with a different set of rules than I have. Or if it functions with no rules at all. As I've said over and over, I'm just a Type A personality trying to make her way in this crazy world.

And on top of it all, I wonder if anyone reads this blog?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Type A to the MAX/Burning bridges

Ok, I am a self-professed, admittedly, unabashed, type A person. I live in a world of people who are not all like I am. It is difficult to navigate my way through this world sometimes. I need order. I need everything tied up in a bright purple bow and neatly put together wayyyyyyyy in advance. I don't like when things fall apart. I know...the best laid plans. Whatever. I'm not very tolerant of that. I'm also not tolerant of selective memories, selective hearing, and just plain shady behavior. When we have a deal, we have a deal. I hold up my end and you hold up yours. When you can't hold it up, just tell me. While I may be disappointed, I won't be angry. What WILL make me angry is when you don't hold up your end but you FAIL TO TELL ME ABOUT IT and then you simply avoid me. you have now burned your bridges. Chances are, at some point, you will need my help. I will have to consider whether or not I am able to give that help. I will not be enthused about going out of my way for you anymore. You have shattered my type A world and I don't like that. More importantly, you have shattered my trust. I trust nobody. Trust is extremely hard to earn and even harder to get back. I wish I could say I don't care, but sadly, I do. I care that I tried to please you and did everything you said, while you stabbed me in the back when I wasn't looking. I care that you put me in a predicament that I almost couldn't get out of because I had held up my end of the bargain. 
It galls me that I spend energy hating you. But I do. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

The other side of purple part 6

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Routines and other musings of almost OCD person

Routines are a thing people either seem to shun, run in disgust or live by, embrace, and sort of (ok, really) cannot live without. I would fall into the latter category. Routines make me feel safe. Routines make me feel grounded. I thrive on structure and predictability. I do not like surprises nor do I welcome unplanned anything. If only the world worked that way. Sigh.

Speaking of routines, I've recently found a routine for the most mundane of life's requirements: Cleaning. I like a clean and organized home. With my busy life and tiny apartment, it seemed an insurmountable endeavor to get and keep my home clutter free and therefore giving me less of a chance of breaking out in hives due to the anxiety of being surrounded by everything I own and probably should have tossed years ago. One day I came to a realization after watching a series of YouTube videos on home organization and cleaning. I don't know why I never made the connection before, but-- ROUTINES!!! YES!!! I had found the proverbial holy grail. Routines. to start? I divided my tiny apartment into "zones" or "areas". I gave each zone a day of the week. My apartment is about the size of a postage stamp (the small ones, not the fancy ones you get for breast cancer and other cool causes) so I figured out I had 5 zones. Kitchen, Dining area (aka office), living room, bedroom, and bathroom/back hall(all one zone). Excellent. 

In my neat little list, I fit the 5 zones into five days of the week--Monday through Friday. Each day, I would tackle one area and only one area. My goal was to clean that area, clear out clutter (donate, toss) and make sure the things I kept were things I actually use. The first week was exciting as I saw the immediate change in each part of my apartment. I finished the week victorious and had extra time on the weekend to do laundry, errands, and even have FUN. Week 2 came and I found the task less daunting already. Each area had recently been cleaned and cleared of clutter, so this time I was able to clean more quickly and as I went through again, the clutter was less. I even dared to open closets and clear them out! I did, however, keep finding things that I really didn't need and tossed them or gave them away immediately. Liberating! (Tid bit of wisdom(?): I have never once missed an item I've tossed or given away when clearing out clutter--if you don't even remember you owned it, you won't remember you had it after it's gone. I promise. It's like magic) :)  Once I established the routine, I felt comfortable and settled. Each week, I deleted things from my life and found I really felt better. I also found that I didn't have to dedicate an entire day or even weekend to clean my apartment. I could actually accomplish what I wanted in less than an hour. Much less.

Then I hit another roadblock. What about the fact that I use some areas every day? For instance, the kitchen. I do not have a dishwasher, so there's no hiding the dishes even when they are drying in the dish rack beside the sink. I noticed that with my cleaner, neater kitchen, that dishes sitting in the drying rack appeared like clutter! I couldn't stand it. So, I made some other rules for myself. Every night before bed, all dishes must be washed AND put away. I cannot tell you what a fabulous feeling it is to walk into my clean kitchen in the morning and not have to dig out old coffee grinds and clean out the coffee maker just to make my morning coffee that I so desperately need to be human. At first, I thought, well damn...this means I have to clean not only the "zone of the day" but now I have to clean other parts as well. Before I got all freaked out and descended into my all or nothing thinking, I realized, that no, this was not "cleaning" per se, it was keeping things organized. And by doing that, I could actually clean the next day in another zone without the vast array of messy leftovers from the night before staring me down in the kitchen.

My other rule of thumb is to take a lap around the apartment (this takes about 3 seconds--remember I told you the size of my place) and put away shoes I'm notorious for leaving strewn about, and jackets hanging on chairs, water bottles, and other small things that I've used during the day. Seriously, these are the best spent few seconds of the day before I retire to my pile of pillows and fall asleep.

So far, I've succeeded in keeping a much cleaner and more organized space. My biggest challenge is my workspace since I work at home part time and don't have a dedicated office. I haven't found *quite* the right solution for storing all of my work supplies and the papers and such, but I'm getting there. I do know, I'm lucky because I have such a small space that I can fit the zones into one day a week and I have the time with my flexible schedule, to get it done in between working. Not sure how it would be if I had that bigger place I sometimes long for with 2 bedrooms, 2 and a half bathrooms and an office and a job that took me out of the home for more hours than mine does.

It's a start. And speaking of starting--that's always the first step. Just start! Make a plan and go for it!

Everyone's different and what works for me, may not work for you, but I hope this gave you a little insight into how to make something most of us don't want to do, into a doable task every day.

Until next time, have a happy structured day!

The other side of purple part 5

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Time Management 101 ( or 5000)

Time management has always been something I strived to perfect. I probably do better than I know or give myself credit for, but I'm always trying to make the most of my time and be the most efficient I can be both at work and at home.

Tips that have helped me:

Make a "to do" list and get it "to done". Make this list in order of priority--that is the most important and pressing items on top and the less pressing, but still want/need to get them done at the bottom. If I have a lot on my list, I can sometimes look at it and see if some things can be done simultaneously. For instance, if I have laundry to do, I can put the laundry in the washer and during the 37 minutes it takes to wash, I can vacuum, pay bills, or accomplish whatever small tasks on my list that will fit into that time. By the time the laundry goes into the dryer, I have already accomplished more than a few things on my list! Same goes for drying laundry. Think to yourself, what can I do during the time the laundry is drying? You have approximately 45-50 minutes which is more than enough time to tackle a "zone" which I described in my last blog entry. So the point is, think about the things on your list and how long they will take. Think about things you can while something is "going" such as laundry. This will not only save you time, but allow you to cross off things much more quickly! And we all know crossing off things on a list is so satisfying. :)

Doing errands:

Think about where you are going and what direction each place is from where you're starting--either work or home. Say you need gas in the car, money from the bank, and groceries. Well, maybe the gas station is on the way to the bank, so stop there first and then proceed to the bank. (unless you need the money first in which case, bank first). Groceries tend to be perishable so you don't want them sitting in your car, so I say this is the last stop before going back home. Try and group your errands by the area they are in and how long they will take. For all tasks no matter what category they fall into, I like to do the small things first, get them out of the way, and then tackle the big stuff.


If you have a work schedule, how do your other personal chores fit in? Where can you find time to do these during the day? Make an appointment with yourself and put it on your calendar--whether that be on your phone or a paper calendar. Put in 5pm bank. 5:15 grocery store. You're more likely to get it done at that time if you see it on your calendar rather than just telling yourself you can put it off until tomorrow. Which brings me to my next point...

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Enough said.

Living an organized life is not rocket science but it does take some planning. Once you get into the habit or ROUTINE :) of planning your life like this, you will find you actually have MORE time for the fun things you want to do. And by fun, I mean relaxing on the couch watching your favorite trashy TV show if that's what you like.

Remember, everything takes time and just starting is the first step. Just start. You'll find your way sooner than you think. I'm the most impatient person on the planet so I know the statement about "everything takes time" can be infuriating and cause one to throw in the towel in frustration, but don't. It's totally worth the wait. And if you're like me, you will curse along the way and wish things would just happen faster. That's ok too.

The other side of purple part 4

Friday, June 24, 2016

Always have a plan (advice from a choral director)

Always have a plan. That's what my choral director said when there's a trouble spot in the music and you need to figure out how you're going to conquer it. In music, your plan may include counting, solf├Ęge, or a special way of remembering the interval (perfect fourth is "here comes the bride") or finding your entrance note is played in the piano just before you sing...or whatever. I didn't think until recently, that this tidbit of rehearsal advice really applies to all aspects of life. Always have a plan.

So I was thinking about my finances and the budget that I've attempted on many occasions to create. Never once have I managed to complete the budget before getting overwhelmed and filled with anxiety (numbers are not my thing and seeing my actual net worth or lack thereof, gives me hives) So I finally realized, I don't need a budget as much as I need a PLAN. In words. I wrote down my plans for saving money, my plans for paying off that credit card (note to self and others: you may be poor in grad school but NEVER NEVER think you can live off a credit card "just for a while" until you get back on your feet. By the time you're back on your feet, you'll still be paying off that sucker. SIGH) Lesson learned. Anyway, back to the plan. I found that writing out a financial plan in words, really helped me look at it more as "to do" list and not as a budget with too many numbers and humiliating evidence that I am up to my eyeballs in debt and even with my increased salary, still fall within the poor category. #BayArea #needasugardaddy #needtowinthelottery (need to PLAY)

Now to follow said plan... that's the hard part. But I can do this. I've conquered clutter in my home and now I can conquer clutter in my finances. Or something like that.

The other Side of Purple Part 3

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Other Side of Purple--little known things about me

Opposite of purple on the color wheel is yellow. My favorite flowers are sunflowers. Fields of sunflowers gazing at the sun (especially if they happen to be growing in Tuscany) melt my heart. There is something about the way they look longingly (and all in the same direction--organized, clean...) at the sky that is just mindblowingly awesome. So yes, I like something that is not purple!

Another fun fact about me is that I happen like giraffes. They, too, are not purple. WHAT? They have wonderfully artistic markings and their lanky bodies combined with their goofy but oh so lovable expressions, make them awesome. I don't need a reason. Giraffes rock.

My favorite movie is "Under the Tuscan Sun" and I've always thought about running away to Italy and never coming home. How much irony does THAT bring up given my last two entries with "don't like surprises" and "always have a plan"? But in my defense, I would definitely plan my trip to Italy during which I'd become a permanent resident. Because I can't be THAT spontaneous. Still, I fantasize about life among the Italians (forgetting the corruption and the insanity of the slowest response to anything that needs to be fixed, repaired, replaced, or....done). The hill-towns of Toscana call my name in a voice that I can't describe. The only other time I heard it was briefly in Argentina when I looked up at the Southern Sky. It could have been the malbec or it could have been my absolute obsession with the stars, moon, and all that the night sky brings with it. Or maybe it was a combination of both. At any rate, I do love to travel and see the world even if I need everything planned out and organized along the way. 

Along with my dreams of running away to Italy, comes the language, the food, the people--all so beautiful and musical. Music fills my life at all times and Italian rolls off the tongue like no other in song. Did I mention I'm a singer? Yes...which leads me to the next little known fact about me. I love poetry. LOVE IT. One of the best things about being a singer is being able to delve into interesting, thought-provoking, devastatingly beautiful turns of phrase that cannot be expressed in a better way than through poetry and music combined. Pablo Neruda, Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, Wilfred Owen, Emily Dickinson, and a vast array of others who tug at my heart strings and help me look inside myself at places I didn't know existed. Composers who bring these poets' words to life...Kirstina Rasmussen, Morten Lauridsen, Brian Holmes, and so many others, just complete the circle of the power of poetry and music. Each on its own, really is the other when you consider it. Poetry is music. Music is poetry. It's sometimes purple, but it's always beautiful and said in a way impossible in any other mode of expression.

I'll end it there and leave you to ponder the wonders of life.

The other Side of Purple Part 2

Monday, June 27, 2016

Time flies!

As I look ever the last year, I realize at this time 2 years ago,  I was contemplating how to change my life. I was at somewhat of a crossroads and was trying to figure out where to go from there. I loved my jobs but I was burned out and longed for more...or at least different. I had been pondering this thought for a awhile and couldn't name it, so I kept googling different things until I found it! I was, at first elated, but then being resistant to change and having major fear of the unknown, I second guessed myself. In the end, I (literally) dragged myself to an information session that would later change my life. Ok, I sound like an infomercial, but I promise you, it's nothing like that. Or maybe it is, but you can decide when you're finished reading. 

I drove to the train station, parked my car and took the short train ride to the info session. I sat in a big room with many other people and listened to the presentation about classes in the certificate program which would possibly lead me on another path in my career-not a total change, but a slight veer to the left from where I was at that moment. I was ready. Financially, it was reckless, but I figured learning is never wasted and I went for it. I took the classes and about 8 months later, received my PURPLE certificate in the mail! I was beyond happy. (not just because it was purple). 

With this new knowledge and the confidence it brought me, I was ready for that next step. Suffice it to say, I came upon a job that looked "perfect". I doubted myself, and passed to the next job posting. I ended up coming upon this job post in lots of my searches and figured it was some sort of sign. Just apply, I thought. What have you got to lose? So I wrote up a cover letter, spruced up my resume, and went to my summer job. Later that afternoon, I was granted an interview for as soon as possible. I was in shock. I reread the email a thousand times. Just to be sure. :)

I remember the interview clearly. I was nervous and clammy and was trying to cover one of my frequent skin rashes with a scarf. Mind you, it was SUMMER, so finding a scarf that didn't make me look like I thought it was December in New England, was a challenge. But I did it. And I got the job! I have to say I never looked back (well maybe once) and after a year in this job, I can easily say it was worth it. I took a major chance and this employer took a major chance on a rookie like me. I think in the end we are all grateful. It has been an amazing journey and I can't imagine being in any other place but this one.

Never be afraid to take a chance. You never know what joy it could bring. This from someone who fears change more than the deletion of purple from the rainbow.

A candle doesn't lose its flame by lighting up another. 

Somehow that makes me think of this experience.

From the other side of purple

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Having A Fat Body As Opposed to "Being" Fat

I've always thought "I'm fat". For years and years, I was given the message that I AM FAT. Fat started to become how I identified myself."I'm fat", I would say. But wait a "fat" my whole identity? Sometimes society makes us feel as if it is. The (small but) rational part of my brain realizes, that there is a difference between "having fat" and "being fat". While I may have a fat body, I am not simply fat. I am purple, I am intelligent, curious, musical, funny (or so say my friends), and have varied interests. I am a reader, a writer, a singer, a teacher, a lover of all things purple and Italian. I am so many things. But I'm not fat. I HAVE a fat body, yes. 

Trying to erase that notion from my mind is not an easy task. I mean, with society as it is and those broken records playing over and over in my head, it's hard to quiet the noise of "I AM FAT" and hear all the other things I am.

I do admit that with my all or nothing mentality, I do feel that all people see is a fat girl and even if they don't, they should. I want to lose 60 pounds, but it isn't going to happen. At least not today.
I've gained and lost probably 3 times that over my lifetime. One things remained the entire time--I was always much more than whatever my body looked like. I wish I had known that before now.

No picture needed except whatever is in your imagination.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Up in a tree? Fell off a cliff? Drive into a fence?

Well, the world has gone crazy (as if it weren't already). People walking around with the noses in the cell phones searching for a cartoon. Seriously? And "they" say this is good because it's getting people out of the house and exercising. WHAT?! So people need a gimmick to get outside and move around? And meanwhile, they're out there walking into poles, falling off cliffs, driving into fences, and getting stuck in trees. Yes, those are all true stories. Look them up. I'm losing my faith in humanity. All this mixed with the turmoil in the world, the crazy political scene, and endless hate all over the place, makes me want to crawl under my covers and hope it all goes away. Can I buy a ticket to the moon? Or somewhere further where there may be intelligent life. 

I have never in my life felt such a mix of horrified, terrified, sad, angry, and anxious. I'm hoping for a happy ending, but I'm not holding my breath. 

In other news, I love sunflowers especially when they are in endless fields. I also love giraffes and cats (although I'm allergic--to cats, not giraffes.) I love purple. And I wonder where my 2 other blogs are out in this world. Crazy.