Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Perfect Sunday

I wrote about Blue Monday earlier this week, but I’ve been prompted to move to Sunday. One of the Daily Post topics this week asked readers to describe their idea for a perfect Sunday. I like thinking about perfect days, so here it goes.

Naturally, it would begin with brunch. A wondrous meal because it does not involve getting out of bed early like its more ambitious sibling, breakfast. And on a perfect Sunday, I would definitely not use an alarm clock. Also since it’s perfect, I’m in Austin. Or at least they have opened a Kerbey Lane in Dallas.

Following brunch, I spend the afternoon at a coffee shop reading my book, clearing out the Google Reader and blogging.

After the coffee shop and possibly some loafing on the couch with the past week’s DVR lineup, I meet up with the family for our regular Sunday night dinners. I use the word “dinner” loosely seeing as we eat at about 5 p.m. due to young children and old(er) grandparents with a bedtime.

This is not my family. We're not quite so L.L. Bean.

Finally, I head home and JB comes over. Because I’m already starving again and because it’s a perfect Sunday, we have one last adventure before the work week commences — frozen yogurt. Our strategy: sample all the sugary delicious flavors, but only load your cup up with the no sugar added kinds. I can usually refrain from the candy toppings and stick to granola and yogurt chips. A perfect way to wind down!

And so it ends, my perfect Sunday. But the good news? This isn’t a fantasy day, this is my normal Sunday! There are exceptions of course. At least a couple of Sundays per month, I am showering a friend for a bridal or baby milestone. And this Sunday, for example, I will be taking my nephew to Chuck E. Cheese’s for his birthday. *Waiting for panic attack to pass* Ok, I’m back.

But for the most part, ensuring there is some part of “perfect” in the Sunday is essential for starting the week off balanced and refreshed.

So the obvious question to you — what makes your Sunday perfect? And perhaps the not as obvious — how do you NOT lose a child at Chuck E. Cheese’s?

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Happy Blue Monday!

There is some debate about the exact date (last Monday or this Monday) but many people believe that today is Blue Monday — otherwise known as the most depressing day of the year.

Articles abound online contesting this day’s descriptor. Apparently there is actually a proposed scientific equation “proving” that this day is the most melancholy of all, but I’m not sure I buy any of that. The point is that the different factors that make up this theory do exist and they can be depressing. They are:

  • Cold weather and the kidnapping of the sun
  • Holiday weight has not magically disappeared
  • Holiday debt has not magically disappeared
  • New Year’s resolutions are on a break, if not completely broken

I don’t think you can make a mathematical formula out of all this, but if those four things applied to you, then I can see how it could be a crappy day. It is a Monday after all, the day isn’t typically so awesome to begin with.

So if you’re feeling a little down (or if you weren’t before, but now you are because I brought all these converging factors to light), I thought I would share what I plan to do after work on this Monday night (besides watch The Bachelor of course) that always lifts me from a depressed mood: read.

I hate cold weather and I’m ready for it to go away, but it does make for great reading time. I am having one of those “I can’t wait to get home so I can read” experiences right now with my current book, The Passage. It’s not my typical genre, but I’m hooked.

The Passage book cover

It’s also my first book on my new Kindle. I always thought I was a “serious reader” which meant I would miss things like turning pages, having the book on a shelf and so on. I realize now I said all those things just to sound intellectual because I absolutely do not. My friend likes her e-reader so she can hold her baby and read. I like it so I can hold my wine glass and read.

Clearly sitting stationary and drinking wine is not going to do wonders for shedding holiday pounds. Nor is buying books to feed your reading habit going to alleviate your holiday debt. And unless your New Year’s resolution was to “read more”, it probably doesn’t much affect that area either. You also might hate reading, which is totally cool.

I guess what I am really trying to say is — there’s no use feeling depressed about all this. Each year, we get through these challenges. Soon enough we will be complaining about the heat; weight and credit cards eventually settle; and we all still have a lot of time to accomplish in 2011 whatever it is we want to accomplish. So if you only went to the gym through January 6, no one is judging you!

Hope everyone has a fantastic Blue Monday and the week only gets better!

What helps lift your mood? And selfishly, any good book recommendations?

In Defense of the Women on “The Bachelor”

Oh yes, I went there.

I know I might alienate all two of my male readers with this post, but I felt that after 15 seasons (please save humanity), someone had to come to the rescue of these beautiful, yet forlorn, ladies who have embarked on the journey of a lifetime to find love.

Hahahahaha! No they didn’t! After 15 seasons, I don’t think any of the women go on this show seriously hoping to find a husband. And I don’t think they go on the show looking for fame either. They go for the experience. If they happen to find love or fame as a result, groovy. And what an experience — get flown around the world with a hot guy (personality not included) going on dates involving helicopter rides and private concerts. We have all done far less exciting, yet equally ridiculous, things in the name of experience!

Who doesn't want one? It's so pretty.

I’m even writing to defend the ones who really want The Bachelor to be their soul mate. Yes, I have to fast forward through some ridiculous declarations of “walls coming down” but then again, haven’t we all told some potential romantic partner that we are “guarded”?

A few other reasons that, at the end of the day, the women on The Bachelor aren’t that different from you and me. And that includes you.

  • It is clearly exaggerated for TV, but I always start to scoff when a rejected bachelorette who knew the dude for 1 week is weeping to the camera. But then I think — have I never had these insane thoughts when dating? One random bad date and it makes perfect sense (in your head) that because you couldn’t form a connection over Starbucks with the son of the best friend of a woman in your mom’s Bridge group that you will now, most definitely, be alone for the rest of your life. Please pass the Kleenex.
  • We give them a hard time for saying they are falling in love after three dates. Again, that’s an extreme reaction (somewhat brought on I’m sure by the aforementioned helicopter rides and private concerts), but come on… are you telling me after three great dates with someone you have never wondered to yourself, “could it be?” I know I did with JB.
  • Who wouldn’t want to hang with the Dallas boy, Chris Harrison? He has the good sense not to show up very often, but he still rocks. I love reading his blog on Tuesday mornings about the latest episode.
  • I will not defend their clothes. If you have to keep lifting up your prom-inspired strapless dress to prevent a censor bar from the network across your chest, don’t wear it.

Clearly, 90% of what happens on this show is the theater of the absurd. I am not denying that. But perhaps, it is just representative of, um, our own craziness (male or female). Whether you’re dating, marrying, or breaking up, we’re always having to balance our emotions when it comes to relationships. And sometimes, when we don’t get a rose, we have to just be okay with taking a moment and saying our goodbyes.

Can we agree that we have all been these women (with better dresses) at some point in our romantic trajectory? We just had the good sense not to do it on TV!

Passion: Can’t It Just Be A Fruit?

I’m calling an intervention on the word “passion.”

Everywhere you look or read, someone is trying to help you find your passion so that you can, at last, feel HAPPINESS and FULFILLMENT and JOY about work and love and life and…

… and oh my gosh… it has to stop.

Before I go any further, let me acknowledge that my profession is one of the biggest culprits of this passion conspiracy. I have said it many times myself as I am helping an eager college student determine the career path that is right for him/her. Perhaps I forget about my true feelings of the word because it is easy to get caught up in its fairytale.

I look into the hopeful 19-year-old’s eyes, full of anticipation (and fear) for this thing that adults refer to as the “real world” (as opposed to the fake one), and I want to tell him/her all about finding a job where you can’t wait to get up in the morning and you come home every day feeling accomplished and fulfilled. And before I know it, I’ve blurted out the “P” word.  It’s like the episode of Friends where Chandler can’t keep himself from telling a date who he is no longer interested in that he will call her.

What I’m really trying to say to my students (and to myself) is to pay attention to when you feel ENERGIZED.  When I choose where and how to spend my professional and personal time, I try to keep this in mind. When I switched careers from public relations to career counseling, it wasn’t because at some point I realized I had a passion for helping college students. It was that I realized I felt the most energy at work any time I got to work with our college interns, give them advice, or help them do their job better. Am I passionate about blogging? I wouldn’t use that word, but I know when I hit the “publish” button, I have a sense of excitement and fulfillment — so I continue to do it in my spare time.

Perhaps it’s just a matter of semantics. Some call it passion, some call it energy, some call it interest — and I guess it doesn’t really matter. But figuring out where you are energized just sounds so much more attainable to me than finding a passion. In fact, it’s actually very easy:

Do stuff. If you like something, do it more. Find different ways and different places to do it. If it’s Saturday morning and the thought of doing it pales in comparison to sleeping in and eating a Greek omelette (*lost in daydream of doing this*), do that instead. It doesn’t mean that “it” isn’t still something that energizes you.

That’s the problem with the “passion” talk — it evokes a vision of someone who loves executing his/her passion at any given moment and never tires of it. Even the activities I love to do most in the world, I don’t always want to do. Why can’t we just watch a Law and Order: SVU marathon instead sometimes and be okay with that?

Maybe you have a job or hobby that you consider your passion (however you define it), and that is great! But for me, I seek balance by doing something that energizes me while also understanding, I don’t have to want to do it all the time. So next time when you read a blog or article about “finding your passion”, try to substitute the word “energy” instead and let me know how it sounds.

Now that's passion!

So what do you think? Am I off the mark — do we need passion or is it a fairytale? What energizes you?

My Brain is Exploding!

Do you ever have days where you feel like a sponge and you can’t get enough of reading online articles or combing through your RSS feeds or Google Reader? Well, I’ve had one of those weeks (only during my lunch hours, of course).

One of the prompts this week in the WordPress Post a Day Challenge that I’m participating in asked the question: How do you stay focused? Instead, I’d like to share some of the reading that has kept me utterly unfocused this week (only during my lunch hours, of course).

1. Despite the spelling, there is most definitely “me” in relationships! This New York Times article discussed various studies positing that happy marriages and partnerships are not necessarily based on putting the relationship first, but making sure your own needs for “self-expansion” — using the relationship to “accumulate knowledge and experiences” — are being met. The more self-expansion, the more satisfied partners are, the longer-lasting the relationship is.

I was thinking “heck yeah” to myself as I read this. It makes perfect sense. But then I slowly entered a bit of a tailspin. I feel very expanded in my current relationship. (Wait, what? Well, you know what I mean.) But what am I contributing to the expansion of my partner besides insisting we eat frozen yogurt 3 times per week? What do I add to his “knowledge and experiences?” Anytime I start going down this road, it always ends with my biggest insecurity — I CAN’T COOK! Which in my head means that I can’t take care of someone, and down the rabbit hole I go. While I might have started over-thinking the article (Me? Over-think? Impossible!), I do believe it’s important to do a little self-analysis in this realm from time-to-time. Do our relationships enrich our lives? De we enrich the lives of those around us?

2. Switching to the professional side of life, I found this article titled “Why Work Doesn’t Work” extremely interesting in its list of the 10 flaws of the modern workplace that make our offices sometimes the least effective location to get work done.  Can I get a non-denominational “Amen” to No. 2 (distractions)? Oh, and No. 6 for sure (too many meetings). Maybe not No. 8 so much (face-to-face collaboration is unnecessary). I’m too extroverted to fully get behind that. But all this, for me, really comes down to my fantasy world where I office out of my happy place a couple of days per week.

Would you like to meet about our upcoming meeting?

3. Speaking of office productivity, this little gem of a slideshow should be set aside for a really slow day or at home because it’s too good to skim. It’s from communications firm J. Walter Thompson and takes you through 100 trends to watch for in 2011. From technology to celebrities to food to locations, it is an insightful look at what could be ahead, especially if you are trying to sell something. For those who know me well, I think it’s easy to see why No. 61 is what I’m most excited about!

4. Finally, I love this Daily Writing Tips blog because it brings me back to basics when it comes to writing and enlightens me, like in this post about acronyms. Did you know that many abbreviations that we call acronyms (i.e. FBI) are actually initialisms? Everything I ever believed in is a lie.

Perhaps some of these articles were interesting to you as well. I think a healthy dose of information input is vital — we do need to expand after all!  So what did you read this week? What’s in your Google Reader?

PS: If you don’t want to go through the slideshow, I’ll share No. 61: NKOTBSB. If you don’t know that initialism, then I’m afraid I can’t help you.

No, It’s Not Spam…

It’s just me posting. Every week. For a year. Officially.

I’ve been mulling over if I wanted to take WordPress up on its “Post a Week” challenge for 2011. You can read more about it in this CNN article if you’re interested. In its truest form, it is actually a “Post a Day” challenge, but luckily they have the weekly option for slackers who are easily overwhelmed busy people like myself.

When I started this blog, my goal was to post once a week, and so far, I have been consistent in doing so. But my blogging tenure has only been two months. Two months where I have been off work frequently. Two months where I have been so excited with the novelty of blogging and sharing my thoughts with my close friends and family the world!

It is likely — or rather, 100% certain — that over time, I could get lazy. So this challenge is a way for me to stay accountable. Blogging is very important to me because it has helped me remember how much I love writing, how happy it makes me, and how much I need it in my life (it’s almost as if I should have been a journalism major or something!). This challenge will hopefully make sure I don’t forget all this when, say, a “Top Chef” marathon sounds more appealing than writing.

To help all us bloggers out, WordPress is providing daily prompts for content. Sometimes I will use these, sometimes it will just be my own musings that come from who-knows-where.

Thanks to everyone for your support so far of my little blog — I like all of you even better than I like writing! 🙂

New Year Jitters

I was a little greedy and took an extra day off work this holiday break. My colleagues are back in the trenches today, but I knew that I wouldn’t be ready to come back so I attempted to prolong the inevitable return with an additional day.

I’m not sure it was the best idea.

Sure, I’m finishing up some errands, sitting at a coffee shop working on my blog, and when I’m done, I’m going home to DO NOTHING but catch up on my DVR (something I have yet to do this break). It all sounds perfectly relaxing, no?

But instead, the day has an anxiety cloud hanging over it. I’ve had such a wonderful holiday break, but I feel now like there is a countdown clock in my head to 6 a.m. tomorrow and its “tic-toc” sound is quite loud. Let me be clear, I have a great job that I enjoy and I work with wonderful people — this has nothing to do with job satisfaction and for that, I’m grateful. I think it is just about having a break. The novelty of a lifestyle that is so different from your normal routine. I’m worried that going back to reality will mean the end of these peaceful feelings.

But I have control over this, right? So I’m going to look back (via my less-than-spectacular photography skills) on a few fond memories of the break and how I can maintain these good vibrations when normalcy comes a-knocking tomorrow.

What I was feeling: Warmth and coziness in the picturesque holiday setting of Ohio.

How to keep it going: Well, I’m not doing a snow dance. I prefer to only visit the cold. But spending time with JB’s family was comforting and my own family is all within 10 minutes of where I live. It’s easy to take this proximity for granted. Perhaps a little more time spent with all of them in 2011 is in order.

What I was feeling: I mentioned in an earlier post how I look back on my college days and remember them as the least stressful times of my life. While I received some very honest feedback from that blog leading me to believe that perhaps I have extra-strength rose-colored glasses, when I had the chance on New Year’s Day to cheer on my alma mater in my hometown at the TicketCity Bowl, it was exhilarating to sing the fight song, see the band, and feel the purple pride among the crowd. We didn’t win, but it didn’t matter.

How to keep it going: I guess I could donate to my school. *pondering this* Ok, I’ve thought of something else. The real happiness of this day was the camaraderie among the Wildcat fans — even more so given how outnumbered we were playing a Texas school with 55,000 local alumni as opposed to our 2,000. And I do believe we cheered louder. Consequently, I would like to be a more active member (or at least a member) in the local alumni association this coming year. Being around people with whom you share a common thread — whether it’s a school, a love of movies, or the sick desire to do something crazy like run a marathon — can be a great way for adding some new activities to your routine.



What I was feeling: I’d like to end this look back with pizza. But not just any pizza, Chicago-style Lou Malnati’s pizza, as displayed above by JB and his oven mitt. We (but not so much of me) cooked this up, along with some black-eyed peas for good luck, after the bowl game. Besides feeling satiated in a way only cheese can do, I felt so excited that we had nothing to do but eat this pizza and watch that other team in purple make Texas proud. Falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 p.m. also didn’t hurt.

How to keep it going: Should be pretty simple, if I can only remember that it’s not necessary to schedule something every weekend night.  I feel selfish and guilty when I don’t make plans with friends, like I’m wasting an opportunity to catch up and develop those relationships. But man, that pizza at home tasted GOOD!

I could continue with this stroll, but I can’t believe how long this post has become. Besides, I think I’m ready. The “tic-toc” sound has lowered. The to-do list is completely checked and the Google Reader is empty. My mind should be prepared to enter back into reality.

Or maybe I need just one more day…

Have you taken the plunge and headed back to work? Did you survive? Assuming you did, what’s on deck for 2011?