2012: My Middle Name is (not) Zen (yet)

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I’m not really a New Year’s resolution person. I am hard on myself when I don’t live up to my own arbitrary expectations. This year, however, I’m trying to be a little more relaxed about things, as I mentioned in the 2011 recap. So I’ll make some some 2012 goals and if I don’t make them all, it’s cool. The world won’t end.

1. Zen Maura

When I tell the story about how Will sent me a text message I wasn’t meant to receive on our second date, I always say that while I was pacing in the bathroom of Morimoto, “Zen Maura” realized the text message wasn’t meant for me. What I mean by this is that I didn’t act on my first (dozen) knee-jerk reactions. The result? Nearly 2 years later I’m crazy in love with a guy who accidentally sent me a racy text message. What if I had just walked out? I can’t imagine my life without Will in it. Zen Maura had it right.

This goal also means that I want to stop with my potty-mouth-Tourettes. I have a bad habit of saying “G*d damn it” when I drop something, break a nail, get wrapped up in dog leashes or over cook frozen ravioli. (Okay, maybe that last one is understandable. Who over cooks frozen ravioli?!) I want to stop doing this. One of the most important lesson I learned in 2011 was that happiness takes effort; it takes a positive attitude. Not uttering a stream of curse words when I stub a toe is part of that positive attitude. Additionally, I have a new niece and will be in the classroom with a bunch of impressionable teenagers. I want to set a good example, and a person who uses curse words all the time is not who I want to be or portray.

2. Read more books.

I’ve always been a reader and I never watched much television until I started a corporate job. I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted after a long day in the office and I chose plopping down in front of the TV instead of reading. I really want to read more this year and read more good books. Since I can get classics for free on Kindle, I will try to read at least six classics over the year and 4 non-fiction books. These are totally arbitrary numbers, but they wouldn’t be goals if I didn’t put numbers to them.

3. Prioritize my health.

This includes going to the gym, eating whole foods, flossing and drinking more water. Self explanatory. I am ambivalent about trying to run a half-marathon. I’m going to leave it up in the air for now.

4. Prioritize my family.

I need to visit Grandmom more and call her on the phone. I will also call my parents and siblings regularly. When my brother goes to Navy boot camp in March, I’ll write him letters. I love sending letters! I will do it more.

5. Do it now.

My mom calls me her “get it done kid,” but in truth I procrastinate about things I don’t want to do. I read somewhere once that you shouldn’t put off a task that takes less than 5 minutes. This year I’m going to do just that — especially opening mail, wiping up the bathroom sink, making the bed and folding laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. I’ll save “putting the laundry away immediately” for 2013. I’m only human.

6. Give back.

I have no idea what I’ll be doing this summer. I hopefully will be able to teach summer school, but if not, I’m going to volunteer. I don’t know what yet (probably in the area of literacy). If I find I have the time when doing my student-teaching and taking my seminar class, I’ll look into it this spring, but I’m guessing I’ll have my plate full.

So that’s it. They’re not crazy, not too specific. It’s more about a state of mind. Again, happiness takes effort, and these goals are part of my effort to be happy.

Here’s to a happy 2012,

Zen Maura

2011

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I know I’ve done this wrap-up before, but I honestly don’t even want to look at those answers. I have some big goals for 2012, and one of them is to write more. I’m excited for this year. I’m going to be 33 in August and I feel like 33 is going to be good.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

I did a lot in 2011, but the most important thing I did was decide to let go of old hurts. It didn’t happen in the  beginning of the year, and it wasn’t truly a conscious decision, but by the end of this year it happened. , I am a much happier, much more laid back person. I smile more. I feel more like myself than I have in years.

I also cut off all of my hair. And I QUIT THE LAW. By this summer I will be a certified English teacher.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t usually make resolutions because when I don’t accomplish my over-achieving goals, I feel like a failure. This year I am going to try and balance some concrete goals with moderation and forgiveness. I will exercise and read more books, but if by the end of 2012 I don’t have 50 books read and can’t do 10 push-ups, I will be okay with that, too.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sister! My niece Emma is absolutely adorable and Eirin and Mike are the most wonderful parents.  I am so excited for them. Will’s sister also gave birth to an adorable baby, Jackson, and he is the light of everyone’s life. I wish we got to see them more.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

I went back to Mexico in November. I love Mexico.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you didn’t have in 2011?

I would like to have more time to myself in 2012. Working and going to school made this a very hectic year. I’d like to spend more time exercising, cooking good food, reading and being with my family and friends.

7. What dates from 2011 will be etched upon your memory, and why?

September 28 — the day I became an auntie to Emma.

December 16 — the last day I practiced law.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

My biggest achievement of this year was following through on my goals of going to school for education and leaving the law. I’ve been saying “one more year and I’ll quit” since I started practicing full-time in 2004. In 2011, I went to school for teaching English and quit being a lawyer. It was both a hard and an easy decision to make. It was a hard year, but I’m so excited for what the future holds for me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I did not spend enough time with my grandmother. I know I was busy, and it was hard to go to school, work and do all of the domestic chores of life, but I should have made it a priority. I will in 2012. We’re having lunch on Wednesday!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I feel like I am always at the doctor’s office. I pinched a nerve and had shingles in the beginning of the year,  but I don’t think I had anything major this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I paid for my tuition without taking out additional student loans and I paid off my car. I also paid down some other student loans. This year was mainly about saving, but I did buy an iPad2. I’m only human.

I also adopted (and paid a hefty adoption fee for) my new puppy, Ollie. He’s awesome.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My wonderful boyfriend, Will. This year was made so much easier by having such a supportive person by my side. I don’t even have the words to express how grateful I am to have him in my life.

Also my parents, who watched my two dogs a lot during November and December.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The Penn State scandal is obviously something that appalled and depressed me. I don’t understand the inaction of so many people. I also am pretty appalled by the politicians who signed the “no new/higher taxes” pact, the inability of Washington to come to a compromise on the debt ceiling, the dishonesty of media, and the unfathomable things said by Republican party candidates for President.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Tuition, paying off the balance of my car loan, repaying some law school loans.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I was really, really, really excited to quit my job as a lawyer. I was also really, really, really excited to do my observations in a variety of classrooms this year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

What is that LMFAO song? Yeah, I heard that a lot. Also “Forget You,” by Cee Lo Green, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, and everything on the Ke$ha Animal album. Oh, and Anna Nalick. I listened to her a lot. I’ve never said I have good taste in music.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier: new career, new puppy, new niece.

About the same, maybe a few pounds thinner.

Richer: in preparation for being an unpaid student teacher, I saved a lot. The rest of my life I will probably be answering “poorer,” and I’m totally okay with that. Not that I’d turn down a winning lottery ticket.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

As I mentioned, I wish I spent more time with my Grandmom. I also wish I spent more time exercising and reading.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Drinking.  Wine is delicious, but I need to stop treating it like a food group.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

We drove to Michigan and had a wonderful visit with Will’s family. It was so lovely to see his family, cuddle with his nephew and get materials for some new projects.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

As cheesy as it sounds, I fall in love with Will more and more each day. I also fell in love with my new puppy, Ollie. He’s such a fun addition to our family. And, of course, my adorable niece, Emma.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I really enjoyed Breaking Bad and am looking forward to the next season coming out on DVD. I also watched The Daily Show almost every day. I guess that is it for TV, although it seems like I spend an awful lot of time with my butt glued to the couch.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don’t think so. I think I did have a lot of hate this time last year, but I’m trying to not let things get to me.

24. What was the best book you read?

I really loved the first three books of The Game of Thrones, I am struggling through book five. I liked Cutting for Stone and I devoured all of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I liked The Discovery of Witches very much.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I started listening to Anna Nalick and now that is my Pandora station every night before bed. I also bought the Lady Gaga albums and the Ke$ha album, which I listen to all the time in my car. They’re my driving music. Finally, I downloaded the Maroon Five album “Songs About Jane,” which I received for free on the street in NYC in 2004, but never got into before this year.

26. What did you want and get?

To be a “recovering lawyer,” a new puppy, and an AWESOME student teaching placement. I’M SO EXCITED.

27. What did you want and not get?

I wish I still had an iPhone, but that is the only material possession I wanted and didn’t get. I applied for a teaching job I didn’t get, and that was difficult, but I now know that I will be a better teacher after student teaching.

28. What was your favorite film of 2011?

I liked the foreign versions of the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. I didn’t watch a lot of movies. Horrible Bosses was very funny.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 32 in August. I don’t remember what I did. I went to work. Will took me to Garces Trading Company that weekend, I think.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I don’t think anything. Maybe world travel or winning the lottery.

Oh wait. An iPhone. I hate my Android, but it’s free.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2011?

I cut off all my hair. That was crazy-daring of me. I’m not really a cut-off-all-your-hair-on-a-whim kind of girl. My style is unfortunately very Corporate Lawyer, but I got rid of a bunch of clothes that didn’t work for me anymore and I’m trying to be a bit more daring.

Also, scarves.

32. What kept you sane?

Seriously? The app on my phone that counted down the days until I quit. As far as people go, Will tries the best he can to keep me sane, but I’m incurably crazy. Also, my sister, Sheila, is a wonderful advisor.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Education policy and literacy are my biggest political pet peeves. Penn State, debt ceiling, health insurance are particular to 2011. And the Occupy Wall Street movement.

34. Who did you miss?

Sir, my grandfather. My friend Andrea, who lives in Brooklyn. My sisters.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

I met a great girl towards the end of the year and I think (hope) we’ll be good friends. Ollie is my favorite new four-legged friend, and I met a lovely little girl named Emma.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

I can do it, even when I think I can’t. Quitting the law does not mean I’m a failed lawyer. Letting go is easier than you think it will be. Being happy takes effort. Pinterest is addicting.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Roll your eyes if you must, but “my mama told me when I was young, we are all born superstars.”

(Perfectly) Imperfect

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I love reading this kind of post! I first read it on Lisa’s blog, and then went to Ashley’s originating post.

 The gist is that there was a Simple Mom article (here) about how the internet is a place where people can ‘fess up about their mistakes and shortcomings, making us all feel a little better about not being perfect. But Ashley saw it slightly different. She writes that,

 almost equally often, I read blogs where everything is so impossibly perfect and put together and fairytale-like. Where the kids are all well-groomed and well-behaved, the mom is stylish and successful, the blog full of perfectly photographed fall decor tutorials and gorgeous cupcakes…and you just wonder how they do it all.

 Here’s how I do it all: I DON’T.

She wrote a list of things she doesn’t do, the things that make her (perfectly) imperfect. I am also very imperfect and occasionally intimidated by the perfection I see on the internet. Here is my confession:

  •  I start projects and don’t finish them. Sewing machine? Used once.
  • I don’t iron. Until recently I didn’t even own one and I haven’t used the one I bought.
  • I don’t brush my dogs’ teeth or brush their coats. I feel horrible about it but tooth brushing is a pain in the ass and I don’t have an outdoor area to brush my horribly hairy dog.
  • I’m a stacker. I have stacks and stacks of mail, books, lists and other crap that never gets put away.
  • I don’t fold the laundry until I need the laundry basket again, which can be over a week later.
  • I’m a sporadic exerciser. I did Pure Barre for 6 weeks and loved it, but my new gym is not open and I can’t afford PB anymore, so I do nothing. It has been 5 weeks since I did more than a couple of push-ups.
  • My apartment gets very dusty and I seldom dust. I hate it.
  • I throw away too much food. The CSA was a disaster. I will be generous and say I cooked and ate 75% of what we got. The rest went in the garbage.

 Wow. I wish that made me feel better, but actually I feel like a terrible person. Oh wait, one more.

  •  I take everything too personally.

 That’s better. So ‘fess up! How are you (perfectly) imperfect?

Friday Bullets!

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  • This week has been endless. Somehow I’m both surprised it’s already November and wishing that the holidays were already behind us. The next eight weeks are going to be a whirlwind.
  • I adopted a new puppy! I mentioned it on facebook and twitter, but Oliver (Ollie) is such a cutie and a pretty good boy. He is still being potty trained and learning to walk on a leash, but I think he’ll be happy with us and we love him already.
  • Ollie does the funniest thing — he grins! He does this weird smile with all of his teeth sticking out when he’s exicited. It’s hysterical and a little odd looking.

  • This is what he looks like. He’s a 7 month old, 7 pound Chihuahua (and probably part Dachshund). He has really long Chihuahua legs but a Dachshund face. He jumps baby gates but will not jump on or off the couch.
  • Matty is getting used to having a little brother around. He’s getting lots of extra attention and lots of treats. Over all, he is very patient with the puppy and shares his toys and food. Unless it’s people food, then you better watch out, Ollie.
  • I got my hair cut again. I love it. I can’t ever imagine having long hair again because it is just! so! easy!
  • I still need to figure out the winter hat situation, though. I just want one to appear in my closet with no effort, shopping or trying-on necessary.
  • We’ve had a bunch of family events lately and another one this weekend. I can’t wait to see baby Emma again! She’s so cute!
  • My sister is running the Philadelphia Marathon in two weeks. I am so insanely proud of her.
  • I would like today to be over now. I have a date with my couch and two adorable dogs.
  • I’m going to be in Cancun for Thanksgiving in 3 weeks. Over/under on whether I pack up my summer clothes and get out my winter clothes before then? Probably not gonna happen.

How’s that for the most boring post of all time? What’s new with you?

Inner Peace — Outer Messy

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List of things I should have done this weekend:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Cleaning
  • Taking out fall/winter wardrobe
  • Packing away spring/summer clothes
  • Washing clothes for Cancun (5 weeks to go!)
  • Homework
  • Exercising
  • Watching my sister run her first half marathon

List of things I did this weekend:

  • Watched Michigan lose to Michigan State
  • Answered many random and sometimes personal questions from the random dude sitting next to us when watching the Michigan game. It was like the 3rd degree.
  • Watched the Tigers lose to the Rangers
  • Watched the Eagles beat the Redskins (finally a Win!)
  • Watched 5 episodes of Breaking Bad (so good!)
  • Slept

Just another regret-filled Monday. I’m pretty sure ignoring all the things you’re supposed to do to keep life moving is not what this means, but I’ll take it:

At least the weekend was kinda relaxing. What about you? Did you have a good weekend?

Next

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I’m sitting here, trying to recover from a panic attack. Over something I have absolutely zero control over. My shoulders are up around my ears and my jaw hurts from clenching it. The feeling that I am going to ralph all over my desk is subsiding. My fist in my chest, around my lungs, is slowly releasing its grip.

I don’t know why I let this happen. Or maybe that’s the problem, that I think I can control it. All of it; any of it.

I opened up a new tab on my browser to come here, because I’ve read some great bloggers today that make me feel like it’s okay to share. And this is what I saw:

It’s hard to read and I don’t feel like futzing with it. It says,

what do you want to do next?

This sentence reminds me of two things. First, as I have probably mentioned before, math is not my strong suit. In college I had to take pre-cal for dummies (two semesters). During the final exam in my second semester, I had a panic attack. I couldn’t remember anything. I thought I was going to fail. My professor saw me struggling. He saw me in every class, sitting in the second row, down in front, copying notes. He probably knew I went to every help session and review. I tried as hard as I could. But I was struggling. Losing it in the final exam. He stood behind me and asked me as I did the questions, step by step, one by one, “what do you do next?” I finished the exam. I passed the class. Because I had someone behind me. Because I had someone who told me I could do it.

I have that with Will. And I am so lucky.

The second thing this question made me think was: I know the answer to this question. And I’m almost there. It’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and not tripping over the finish line.

I know where I’m going, and I have someone (a lot of someones, but Will especially) behind me.

It will all be okay. I will be okay.