Category Archives: Balance

Hello From The Other Side

blog

Hey there. If you are reading this, then I’d like to congratulate you on staying faithful to the same email address for at least the last three years. That’s committment.

And it outlasted my relationship with this little corner of the Internet. I have a new corner, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

This summer I took an online writing course, my most formal attempt at cultivating my writing. One of the assignments was to write the chapters of our lives, past and future. After some eye-rolling, I ended up really enjoying this exercise and the self-reflection it inspired.

Most chapters were about major life transitions, but I titled one “Balance Overload” to mark the couple of years I was blogging regularly. It’s not because this blog changed my life radically or anything like that. But it reconnected me with my love of writing and expression, and that is a pretty huge thing in my world.

And then life — in its beautiful, ephemeral and distracting way — popped up, as it is wont to do. JB and I had just married when I wrote my last post at Balance Overload. And now, almost three years later, I sit here typing in between going in to snuggle a sick 18-month-old little boy, while his twin brother sleeps in the adjacent crib, miraculously undisturbed by his sibling’s cries.

As parenting ushered in my most significant transition yet, I felt my head once again full of ideas and thoughts that I wanted to express externally. But I believed it needed a brand new cyber home. I have often said that parenting is kind of like starting your life over, learning everything from scratch and with a completely new perspective. And while I didn’t want to necessarily write a parenting or “mommy” blog, I felt I needed a new space for these thoughts that are still from Caryn of Balance Overload, but seen through different lenses.

So after a lot of procrastination and stall tactics, I started a new blog called Journey to Napa. As I explain, the name represents my road to retirement (from work, in-the-trenches parenting, etc.). Obviously my retirement of any kind is a long time away (*knock on wood* everyone is healthy and all of those prayers up to the universe). But I wanted to have a broad palette to write about life. I have a few posts up and it’s a little all over the place (a lot seems to be about writing), but I hope to narrow in on topics as I go.

Even if you no longer have any clue who I am or why you ever entered your email address at this site, I want to thank you for following this little blog that fueled me in big ways to nurture my creative side. I have re-read many of my posts these last couple of weeks and I’ve especially enjoyed revisiting the conversations we had in the comments. I would be so honored to continue this dialogue (and learning about any new perspectives you have gained) at my new home.

What Makes A Great Professor?

Well folks, it’s been an amazing summer, but as the bell tolls for August 24 today, the literal and figurative honeymoon is over.

With the advent of the back-to-school season and the signs of life on campus, it has become very real that in, um, three days, I am teaching a college class for the first time. Call me Professor JB! (But actually don’t, because I don’t have a Ph.D. and people are really weird about that “professor” title).

But however you name it, someone has deemed me acceptable to welcome new freshmen into college life and stare into their “when will it end?” eyes every Tuesday morning for an hour. This will be one of my biggest professional challenges in my career and I want to do it right.

I’m not striving to be the coolest teacher in the building. Or the most inspiring one who gets mentioned as changing their lives when these students win their Nobel prizes or whatever grand award that business people get (ohmygosh, how am I teaching a business class??).

Basically, I don’t need to be the Dumbledore of the university. Though that would be awesome. Especially if I was a wizard and had wizardry. And a pensieve so I could go back in time. And do business teachers read Harry Potter?! THIS IS WHY I GET CONCERNED!

But anyway, I do want to provide value to my students through this one-hour class. I want to challenge them to work with their peers, contribute to a class discussion and connect with the personal goals they want to achieve while in school and beyond… you know, all those college-y things. While doing this, I want the students to walk away from this class feeling like they have built a strong (or at least middleweight) foundation for their business education and their college success. My biggest fear is that their evaluations at the end of the semester will read: “The instructor was nice and tried hard, but I didn’t really learn anything.”

Honestly, that one line of text that has yet to be written by anyone keeps me up at night!

So here is where I need your help friends and readers! Besides knowing the course material (which I figure I still have a whole weekend to learn, right?), what made your favorite college professor so powerful? What did they do to make an impact on you in class? Any tips are so appreciated!

If you’re a student, teacher, parent, or just have to start driving through school zones again, happy back to school!

UPDATE: I asked my friend’s 11-year-old nephew today what he believes makes a great teacher and this was his response: They are nice, patient, and don’t just call on the people who always raise their hands, but get the whole class involved. I thought it was so sweet and insightful, so I wanted to share. I appreciate everyone’s feedback!

Finding Your Inner Font

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I have nothing to do.

As with most people, I don’t experience this total lack of time commitment often. I have already gone to the gym, watched the Olympic gold medal trampoline competition (bouncy!), and written my daily goal of wedding thank-you notes (two, because I need an instant feeling of accomplishment). Although it’s beckoning to me, if I watch our recording of Bachelor Pad before JB gets home from golf, our brief marriage might be in jeopardy. And running errands just doesn’t sound appealing since it’s 212 degrees outside.

So I sit, with no excuses left to avoid confronting my writer’s block of the past months. Since getting married, I had hoped that I could re-focus all of the time and energy that went into wedding planning back to my blog. I have felt so inspired to write, with ideas running through my head at all times and the unfinished drafts of posts to prove it. I kept starting, but quickly lost the motivation to finish, unimpressed with anything I had written and all of it sounding like I was trying too hard to be witty or deep or both.

But after much soul-searching and reflection, in this afternoon of idleness, I think I finally identified what has been holding me back: FONT. SELECTION.

The idea of writing yet another post in Times New Roman was how I imagine an Olympic swimmer feels when they get out of the pool and see reporter Andrea Kremer waiting for them. Please, not you again! And while I can’t upgrade broadcasters, I can upgrade WordPress themes.

You noticed, right? Look again. Yeah, baby! I think we can all agree that the Balance Overload experience has been revolutionized for blogger and reader alike. (I also updated my “About Me” page, which has been another source of discontent for a while.)

You might be thinking that all of this focusing on the aesthetic aspect of my blog is really yet another distraction to evade the deeper question of what do I really want to accomplish with this site? What is my voice and what do I want to say?

And to that, I respond…. look at this new photo collage site I learned about from Leah’s Thoughts! It’s a great distraction enhancement for blogging! And it’s a great to excuse to showcase wedding pictures. I thought it only fair since all of you have followed me on this wedding journey. (Yeah, I know, who am I fooling, it’s totally for my own amusement.)

Wedding photos courtesy of Tim Hord Photography and printed with permission from JB

while he’s napping.

Look, I know I just wrote a whole blog post about changing my font and then gratuitously threw in wedding pictures. And if you read it and thought to yourself “WTH is she doing wasting my time with this crap, some of us actually have things to do this afternoon”, then please know, I appreciate it. It is said when you have writer’s block that you just have to write. About anything. Get the juices flowing again. So this is my attempt. I’m hoping my font change is just a signal of a new start in blogging.

PS: My new upgrade also allows me to change the color scheme of my blog. If my writer’s block continues, things could get all-out crazy.

How do you handle a lack of motivation, whether in writing or anything else?

It’s Time To Get Hitched!

When I first blogged about getting engaged, I promised Balance Overload wouldn’t become a wedding blog. Luckily, we had nothing to worry about since it just ceased being a blog altogether!

But such is life. And regular blog postings or not, the wedding week has arrived! When JB and I got engaged back in July, it was hard to imagine that an actual event (and yes, most importantly, a marriage) would happen at the end of the planning. It seemed so far away. And it was.

At the time of engagement, I had just started my new job. I worried about not finding the community I had at my former employer or making friends. Now it’s wedding time, and last week 14 of my colleagues showed up for a surprise lunch/shower thrown for me and JB. I couldn’t even get words out I was so touched.

A few other updates from wedding planning. First, the exercise. All was going great. My arms even had these things in them that my personal trainer called “muscles.” And then my trainer left for a new opportunity. I was worried this would deter me, but by that time I had learned enough from her to feel comfortable doing the workouts (to a lesser degree no doubt) on my own. I have also become quite the Zumba-holic. When I first started Zumba, I resented the women who knew all the routines. Between hip rolls and shimmy shakes, I told them (silently, in my head) that if I had the time, I could know all the routines too. Losers.

It turns out, I am such a loser! I can barely brush my teeth without busting out some Zumba moves. There are unfortunate consequences of this, such as almost liking Pitbull songs, but in Zumba, I have found a cardio workout that gets me excited to go to the gym. Combined with a day of weights, I am confident in continuing this plan even when there is no wedding dress as an incentive.

Oh, and the contact lenses? Yeah, they aren’t happening. I tried. Sort of. Once. And it was just too much. So I dropped it. I’m going naked on my eyes down the aisle. I will see JB clearly once I’m up there with him and it’s probably better for my nerves to not be able to make out all the faces anyway. Once the reception starts, the glasses will be back on. I might even clean them for the big day! Much like my decision to not fake tan, the glasses, like my pale fair skin, are who I am.

And that brings us to right now. JB assures me that for someone who has a tendency to freak out under stress, I’ve been a relatively calm bride. But this last week has definitely been full of emotion. And despite my claims of not being that stressed, my body has certainly tried to prove me otherwise.

I went to the doctor last week for an ache in my side that has persisted for the last couple of weeks. As the doctor poked around on my belly, he stopped in his tracks and told me to listen. He tapped my stomach and said it sounded like he was beating a drum. And then he called it “impressive.” Blushing, I was getting ready to thank him and tell him that it’s simply a combination of eating right mixed with crunches and some oblique twists when he said, “You are full of gas.” Oh. So I guess you don’t want to hear about the Roman Chair lifts I’ve been doing?

(I also foolishly let them draw blood despite knowing my body’s reaction of bruising to this. Hopefully JB’s family and friends will be thrilled to know he’s found a nice little heroin addict to settle down with).

But overall, it was my body’s way of telling me to chill out. So that’s what I have been trying to do. The ribbons are on the programs, the tables are assigned, and the lists have been checked over and over again. As JB and I said to each other on the way to dinner this weekend, it’s time to enjoy and make every moment of this week count. As everyone reminds us, it will be over in a flash.

I can’t thank all of our friends and family enough for their support this last year. JB and I know the real meaning of this weekend is to start our life together and we’re super excited for that and everything, but in the meantime, LET’S PARTY!!

Wedding Gut

When it comes to my gut, I’ve never really listened to it that closely. I mean, there’s the gut that tells me that even though I ate the equivalent of two entrees at the Indian restaurant (plus naan) I still have room for frozen yogurt. I listen to that one.

But that other gut, the one that deals with instincts over appetite, we don’t really communicate. I’ve never considered myself “intuitive.” Wedding planning has changed that.

I have a lot to be thankful for, including being able to plan a wedding where I can explore options and try to create the day I have always dreamed about, thanks to the generosity of my parents.

But what I have noticed is that my “dream” wedding is, in reality, very different from what I had once thought it would be like.

Take location. “Every hotel ballroom looks the same.” That was a popular refrain of mine during the days/months/years of planning my hypothetical wedding. Once wedding planning became no longer just for the “One Day” Pinterest board, it was time to secure my hip, non-hotel downtown location.

“What do you mean that price doesn’t include linens?” This — and similar variations — became my new refrain. Downtown just wasn’t working. We were *this close* to signing at my dream downtown venue when JB and I went to Ohio to visit his family. As I showed his parents and others the location, it just felt… wrong. It was beautiful and what I had always envisioned, but quite frankly, it was going to be a pain in the ass. Not to mention, in the wallet. I called my parents on my way home from the airport and it turned out they were feeling the same way, though were tying to make it work for my dream and all. I think we all felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

Resigned to looking at hotels, my sister visited one in a Dallas suburb that puts other suburbs to shame with how much of a suburb it is. But it was PERFECT! The date, the price, the ease for our guests, the staff.  The skyline views aren’t there, and honestly, the ballroom is a hotel ballroom, but it has always felt right.

From the very first decision, the tone was set for wedding planning — just about everything I’ve chosen from dress to invitations has been different than what I thought I wanted — and for a new way of thinking. In that one decision, and after 34 years, I think it finally hit me: When you have that nagging feeling (good or bad) and you listen to it, you feel contentment, peace, and confidence with your decisions. When you ignore it, you maintain anxiety and unease. Not very complicated, obviously, but I have spent my whole life basically disregarding it. I have become more attentive to this gut and what it’s telling me at work, with friends, and just life in general (though sometimes still ignoring it because I’m stubborn like that).

And when it comes to wedding planning, I guess it’s the same gut feeling you get when you know you are with the person you want to marry. And in the end, that’s the only gut that really matters.

In what situations do you rely on gut feeling?

Gym Rules

File this under the “I wish I had written it” category: Jason Gay from the Wall Street Journal’s “funny because it’s true” 27 rules for being successful for all the New Year gym warriors.

Now, I am still relatively new to the fitness world and I am probably guilty of breaking several of these rules. At any minute I could make the decision to stay in bed instead of working out on a Saturday morning, and the next thing I know I haven’t seen the inside of the gym in six months and my membership fee is now just a monthly donation to the Jewish Community Center.

But this article is great no matter where you fall on the gym spectrum. If you don’t have the time or inclination to read it, below are some of my favorites of his “rules.”

4. No one in the history of gyms has ever lost a pound while reading “The New Yorker” and slowly pedaling a recumbent bicycle. No one.

8. There’s also the Strange Guy Who is Always at the Gym. Just when you think he isn’t here today…there he is, lurking by the barbells.

11. Gyms have two types of members: Members who wipe down the machines after using them, and the worst people in the universe.

12. Nope, that’s not a “recovery energy bar with antioxidant dark chocolate.” That’s a chocolate bar.

14. You can take 10 Minute Abs, 20 Minute Abs, and 30 Minute Abs. There is also Stop Eating Pizza and Eating Sheet Cake Abs—but that’s super tough!

19. If a gym class is going to be effective, it’s hard. If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, you’re at brunch.

27. There is no secret. Exercise and lay off the fries. The end.

I would like to add my own as well: Either join the Zumba class or walk on by. Peering into the class while a bunch of Jewish women between the ages of 30- to 75-years-old (it’s the JCC people!) are doing their best Shakira is creepy.

Onlookers aside, Zumba has been a great way for me to balance my personal training sessions and other resistance/weights-focused workouts with some fun cardio. I’m not a runner and more than 10 minutes on the elliptical machine has me bored to sweat tears.

As anyone who has done Zumba will tell you, don’t worry if you’re slow to pick up the choreography. Zumba is all about staying in motion. More often than not, I’m on the wrong foot, the wrong hip, or even the wrong song. But it doesn’t matter. I’m still moving. I’m sweaty at the end of it and I barely notice an hour has gone by.

But whatever it is you choose to do to get in shape, just remember rule No. 22 from the article: Fancy gyms can be seductive, but once you get past the modern couches and fresh flowers and the water with lemon slices, you’re basically paying for a boutique hotel with B.O.

What are your fitness goals for the new year? Any gym rules you think should be added to the list?

And Now, A Poem…

Winter Break is coming to an end
The reality of work is just around the bend
My job is great
There is nothing to hate
But end-of-vacation blues are hard to mend.

This break has been calm and serene
Sometimes it’s nice to not be seen
There was sleep and travel
And watching the Cowboys unravel
And all the fuzzy things the holidays mean.

Still trying to finish a book
Kindle broke, should probably get a Nook
I wanted to read three
I guess it wasn’t meant to be
Because vacation goes by like a quick-glance look.

January is cold, but it isn’t all gloom
Since our favorite TV shows will finally resume
Midseason programming is usually trash
But I’m counting the seconds to NBC’s Smash
And football will thankfully be over soon!

There’s one thing I don’t get into much
New Year’s goals, I don’t have a bunch
My resolution is the same
As I always proclaim
Start brushing my teeth at work after lunch.

So on we go to 2012
Best wishes for all to be happy and well
May it be wonderfully fitting
For, I don’t know, a June wedding
And maybe just a little less Adele.

The End.

Happy New Year readers! Thanks for all your blog love and support. May going back to work tomorrow, if you haven’t already, not totally suck.