action · emotions · stagnation

More than a teaspoon

9.2.18    “Don’t you understand how Cho’s feeling at the moment?” [Hermione] asked.
    “No,” said Ron and Harry together.
    Hermione sighed and laid down her quill.
    “Well, obviously, she’s feeling very sad, because of Cedric dying.  Then I expect she’s feeling confused because she liked Cedric and now she likes Harry, and she can’t work out who she likes best.  Then she’ll be feeling guilty, thinking it’s an insult to Cedric’s memory to be kissing Harry at all, and she’ll be worrying about what everyone else might say about her if she starts going out with Harry.  And she probably can’t work out what her feelings toward Harry are anyway, because he was the one who was with Cedric when Cedric died, so that’s all very mixed up and painful.  Oh, and she’s afraid she’s going to be thrown off the Ravenclaw Quidditch team because she’s been flying so badly.”
    A slightly stunned silence greeted the end of this speech, then Ron said, “One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.”
    “Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have,” said Hermione nastily, picking up her her quill again. 

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Among the feelings I’m experiencing today are:

  • excitement about my burgeoning journalism club at school
  • distress at how school-eaten doughnuts aren’t shedding like they used to
  • sorrow at missing my ex
  • determination to not get sucked back into a relationship that was clearly not working
  • resentful that my family expects me to travel Back East for the holidays each year
  • anticipation about getting my small-plane pilot’s license
  • concern over my NJ best friend’s health
  • expectancy for my meeting with my financial advisor
  • chagrin over not sending my brother a timely birthday card
  • hope/hopelessness over these dating apps
  • inspiration toward acquiring updated home decor
  • self-reproach over avoiding my personal writing
  • gratitude and awe in continuing to establish a career path I love
  • curiosity/sadness about who to invite to the opera series I’d bought when I was with J. 

Clearly, I have no problem holding multiple emotions at once!  But before I languish in overwhelm or analyzation, I’m going to get up and cook those 15 pounds of vegetables I purchased yesterday.  Knowing my emotions is awareness; analyzing them is useless.

Out of my head, and into my body.  Go. 

 

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action · goals · honesty

If Wishes Were Horses…

8.21.18.jpgIn some reading or other, I learned about the difference between Wishes, Dreams, and Goals.  As I remember it:

  • Wishes are desires you aren’t willing to work toward.
  • Dreams are desires you aren’t sure how to work toward.
  • Goals are desires you’ve made a plan to work toward.

Writing the other day that I wish I had a lifted seat (ham-hocks!!!) made me reflect that it’s actually a Dream of mine, not a Wish.  I am willing to work toward it, I’m just not entirely sure how to attain it.

Which makes me reflect further that, in truth, I do know how to attain it… I’m just not willing to work for it, so it is a Wish after all.  Ha!

So, where the rubber meets the road is where I have to be honest about my true willingness to achieve what I want.  Surrrre, a hot ass would be AWESOME!  Buuut, did you know what nearly all the literature and friend advice says?: Do squats.  Ugh.  How boring.  And so, it goes from Dream (doing research) back into Wish (Meh, too hard).

Where it hasn’t gone — and here’s where I’m beginning to suspect the magic is — is into Goals.  Into becoming true and actionable, with action steps, and deadlines, and dates Goals.

Okay okay, so maybe a lifted seat doesn’t get your relatable meter running, but maybe “Earn my small plane pilot’s license” or “Record the score for my musical lyrics” or “Earn a Second Bachelor’s Degree in Physics.”

Whatever floats your boat.

Goals are on my mind today because my Weekly Goals Group call is this afternoon and our question for this week is, “What are your Goals?”  Eek.  It’s a little more specific than that (what are the major areas of your life and what are your goals in each for the next 1, 5, 10, 20 years), but when we read aloud the question of the week last time, all of us ladies on the line laughed out loud, absolute hilarity ensured for over a minute.

As if the idea of nailing the whirling dervish of our wishes and dreams down onto the page was as ridiculous as hunting unicorns and pixies.

Oh, how we laughed, too, sheepish and blushing, because this is the spot we avoid. Don’t make me look!  Like a sore tooth, we just chew on the other side; we make due not using our all, we pretend that this is a normal state of being.  And we laugh at the idiocy of the suggestion to face the aching tooth.

Goals necessitate that a person must be specific about what they desire, and then nail it to a calendar, or routine, or practice.  A goal is not a fairy; a goal is one unavoidable action at a time.  A goal is a partnership that holds you accountable so you can’t kick your desires down the pages of a calendar.

A goal is so real and, therefore, so vulnerable.  (Hence the hilarity giggles.)

A goal being a real thing means it’s subject to struggle and injury.  But it is also capable of growth.

Wishes and Dreams do not grow.  They are the things of childhood fancy.

A Goal is a Grown-Up tool—and a dance partner—and it begs and invites you to dance with it, every f*ing day.  Ugh.

action · avoidance · progress

Eating Frogs.

4.21.18

(I was sick yesterday, so this is Friday’s blog!)  

With the last meditation challenge complete, I’m re-listening to the 21-day audio meditation Manifesting True Success from Oprah and Deepak.  Yesterday’s was focused on “T” in the acronym SMART: Time.

On the phone with my new goals group this past Sunday, I told them that, while my larger goal is to write a book (details emerging), my relationship with Time must needs be my other focal point for our 6 months together.

“I cram,” I told the ladies.  In the last goals group, I would do all the writing the hour before the call and felt like I didn’t get out of the group all I might have.  Perhaps by writing a little throughout the week, I could have more time to reflect and therefore more time to evolve.

And, wouldn’t you know, the meditation this week was, “Timing for Success.”

I really liked the reference Deepak made to this categorizing of our daily lives:

  • Sleep time: Getting a full night’s restful sleep
  • Physical time: Time to move and let my body be active
  • Focus time: Being alone for a while to concentrate on what matters to me
  • Time in: Time for meditation, prayer, self-reflection
  • Time out: Time to simply be here, and rest into existence (How do you like that phrase?!)
  • Play time: Time to have fun and enjoy myself
  • Connecting time: Intimate private time between me and those I care about.

What strikes me immediately, and pointed out by my therapist many months ago, is that I make little time for Play.  What happens in that structure is that I avoid or procrastinate Focus time (and Physical time) because I feel deprived:

If I haven’t done anything fun or creative, I have less in the well.  If I have less in the well, large tasks become insurmountable.  And so the cycle continues.

“Fun leads to productivity” seems like a strange concept, but for the deprivation addict that I am/have been, it’s key.  Because the reverse is true, too: “Productivity leads to fun.”  If I don’t put off what must be done, then I don’t feel guilty doing something fun.

When I feel guilty, I procrastinate even my fun!  It’s a terrible cycle.  So I have to shift to feeding all the parts of my day, and therefore myself.  If I want to focus more, I have to play more.  If I want to play more, I actually have to focus!

“Eat the frog first,” as they say.

With the new goals group, I hope to have a bit more accountability for my time—for my play time and therefore my accomplishy time.

action · goals · real estate

One Foot, Two Foot

4.9.18

On Saturday, I attended the First-Time Home Buyer’s workshop put on by the San Francisco housing department.  It’s one of the 2 pre-requisites to becoming eligible for their Below-Market Rate (BMR) units, and in the workshop I learned a number of tools, was dizzied by “math in public,” and was familiar with a number of concepts.  But the most important thing I learned was: I do not want to buy a house! . . .

What I realized sitting in that workshop was that buying a BMR (or winning their lottery once I’m in the pool) would keep me in a relatively small box.  I’d be required to live in that unit… forever.  Or if don’t want forever, then I sell but I won’t make a profit because it’s kept at a BMR rate for the next person.

All this to say, I’d be locked in to the life that I have now, when I have no idea what my life may be later.  That condo on Lake Street that brought me into this whole process altogether?  Well, it’s a 1 bedroom.  If I marry and have 2 kids, as I do intend to do, well, that won’t work at all.  In fact, it’s against the program’s rules to have more than 2 people living in it.

It’s a great option if my life were to stay the same size for 30 years.  But my hope and intention is that it will become much, much bigger.  And so this option is likely not the right one for me.  I don’t mind paying the $900/month rent that I have right now (yes, that’s insanely cheap for Bay Area standards, yet perhaps insanely costly by others’) and continuing to save up my money.

Because what I realized is that while I don’t want to buy a BMR, and I don’t want to buy a single-family home, I do want to buy income-producing properties.  I want to own a unit I can rent out, I want someone else to pay down my mortgage, I want to amass some land, some wealth, and realistically I cannot do that if I put every penny of my savings into the “American Dream.”

Forgive me if this blog is dry to you (don’t worry, there’s a HEAP of emo, relationship, back-in-an-“it’s complicated”-phase update to be written), but I do think it’s important to honor that my vision is changing.  My intentions are changing.  I’m honing in more specifically on what I want in life, and how on earth all the hard work I do every day can support that.

I do not want to blindly go through life, aimless, without goals or actions to support them.  I want my days to support my life, not drip from it.  In order to achieve that, I must learn, I must sit in 6-hour workshops and understand what a “cap rate” is.  I must invent my path.  And part of that is sharing with you the minutiae of real estate acquisition;)

 

action · inspiration · self-care

That’s Better!

3.28.18

Not usually one for a “day in the life” blog, but it seems essential following yesterday’s declaration of time limiting my literary indulgences.  So what did I do yesterday with all my “new-found” time?!

Firstly, on the drive to work, I did listen to The Success Principles… but only after I tried to listen to NPR, to music, (dontwanna dontwanna… oh wow, this is really inspiring).  And so it was.  The author, Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, was describing the “principle” of delegating anything that is not in our “core genius” or core competencies.  (I immediately texted my girl friend to ask for the number of her house cleaner!)

At work, during my break, I went outside where it was sunny and hot and I could watch my soon-to-be-graduated 8th graders play basketball while making gangly attempts at flirting with one another;)

On the drive home, my copy of The Year of Yes had expired, so I went into podcasts to see what Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations had for me — and they had Lin-Manuel Miranda.  *swoon!!*  I think his interview has been the most authentic of those I’ve heard, and I was thrilled to listen as I slogged through the traffic home, where we were all set upon by an awful accident that increased my 45-minute commute to 1.5 hours… BUT!  After Lin-Manuel, I began the Stephen Colbert interview and by the time I parked out front of my house, it was still sunny, warm, and light out.

Drop off my bags, change into stretchy pants and sneakers, douse on some sunscreen — and text a girl friend.  I arrived home to the pair of tickets I’d ordered to SF Symphony’s pipe organ recital — THE THING HAS OVER 8,000 PIPES!!!  I’m enamored of pipe organs and would go and diddle around on the one at Mills College when I was studying there.  The one in SF is grand, gorgeous, and I had a gift certificate, so I bought two hopeful tickets without an idea of who might accompany me.

Yesterday, I finally had a brainwave (with all my extra, non-dragon-eaten braincells) to connect with a girlfriend from Mills whose been active in a group of medieval songsters.  Yeah, that sounds like the right person.

So off into the sunshine I went, for an hour and a half!  I walked the cemetery/park I used to run, and talked with a heron and an oak tree and some sparrows.  I jogged the downhill and leapt into the running/flying part I love so much.  It was light out, warm, and easy.  I remembered how much I love to run/fly.

On the walk back, I texted with another girl friend and on arriving home went straight to the couch to read.  Physics.

I’d ordered a college text in January when I thought I’d be able to attend College of Marin’s physics class, but it turns out I need the prerequisite that’s only offered in the fall.  (The math-based prerequisite.)  But!  One step at a time.  So I lay on the couch, reading the dry humor of a physics professor for an hour, watching the time tick towards 8pm when I could finally open the 5th book of the Game of Thrones.

But there was still time to spare… I couldn’t open it til 8:00… what to do??

Well, I could floss?  Okay.  I could do those dishes in the sink?  Okay.  Ah, and here’s my Mills singing girlfriend agreeing to accompany me in May.  And now it’s 8:01!

Perfect.  Truly, perfect.

 

abundance · action · possibility

A bigger database.

3.21.18

I’ve heard it said while languishing in scarcity-mind: G-d has a bigger database than you.

And this is good, because frequently it’s hard to imagine a life bigger, more full, more “optioned” than the one I invent from my brain.  In particular at present, I’ve been having a brain-expanding (exploding?) moment around property, homeownership.

Perhaps if you’re like me, you’ve considered that owning a home is something for people who have saved a ton of money, who have worked in high-earning fields, or who have family to help them out.  I’ve certainly thought this way.  I’ve made homeownership to mean “something for other people.”  People who are lucky (and in my darker moments, ungrateful) enough to have family to support them (ingrates).  People who earn copious amounts of money that I never imagine I’ll attain.  People who’ve scrimped and saved, while I’ve rubbed two pennies together, hoping for a nickel to pop out.

But.  G-d’s database is bigger than mine.  I don’t know everything.  (Luckily, cuz then I’d die!)  For example, I didn’t know that my paltry-for-the-Bay-Area salary means I qualify for affordable housing opportunities.

Like this one-bedroom condo on Lake Street in San Francisco.

This all came to pass because of an email describing a program I don’t even qualify for.  At work, my boss forwarded an email from the County Education Office heralding a program for teachers to get assistance in the downpayment on a house.  Galvanized by this idea, I emailed the company and they replied that it’s a program only for public school educators, not for a private school teacher like me.

But between the moments of excitement and deflation, I went to their website and used their calculator to discover that with my (paltry) salary and their loan terms, I could afford a house costing $350,000.  So I went onto Redfin, typed that number into the search features in San Francisco, … and found the most wonderful home.

Wait a second, even teeny tiny condos on Lake Street go for $600,000 — what is this?  Well, it’s an Affordable Housing unit where the prices are held artificially low for people, like me, to have a chance.

This led to a flurry of activity.  I discovered yesterday that to qualify to be considered for this property, I have to complete a housing education class, I have to apply to the program, I have to talk to one of their loan officers, and then I have to wait in the lottery to win the place or any place in their program.

Huh.  Okay.  …  Well, I can sign up for an education class.  I can apply to a program, talk to a loan officer, and carry on with my life while my number may or may not come up.  In other words — I can do this.  I can do this.

Absolutely zilch may come of it—it is a lottery after all—but you can’t win a lottery unless you buy a ticket.

And furthermore, the remarkable idea that a person “like me” could own a home in this crazy messed up market makes my little heart flutter with possibility.

 

action · clarity · fear

What’s the Hurdle?

run 2.20

As a Middle School teacher, I get the vast privilege of leading a cohort of students to see things differently, try on new ideas, and form new (hopefully positive) habits.

A few weeks back for their journal prompt, I instructed each class to draw 3 columns, the last of which to remain blank that day.  In the first column, they were to write any tasks or accomplishments that they’d been procrastinating on but that they wanted (or needed) to do.  In the second column, they were to write allll the reasons (real or imagined) why they could not complete these tasks.  The next day, they’d brainstorm with their classmates on how to get over the hurdle.

I gave them my own present example at the time:  Not completing my “Synonym Wall.”  In the classroom, I have taped colored slips of paper with “Bad” or “Said” or “A Lot” inside a “No” symbol, and then surrounded each with a plethora of alternatives for students to use.

But I stalled out.  I began this project in August(!) before the students arrived, and I still had “Nice” and “Good” to go.  Okay, so that’s column 1: Finish the Synonym Wall.  What’s column 2?  What are my hurdles?  Well…:  I was using these fancy scallop-edged scissors to cut out the synonyms, and the scissors are ill-effective and hurt my hand when cutting the strips.  I had been using a system of color coding each word group, and I wanted blue paper for “Good,” but I didn’t have any blue.  I was also using a colored-marker pattern I wanted to repeat, but that was feeling cumbersome and complicated.  Finally, now that it’s been so long, who cares whether it gets done; are the students even using it?

Hurdles for me can be MINOR(!!) inconveniences, like “the scissors hurt my hand,” or larger fears like, “My work makes no difference.”  Yet, whatever the hurdle is, I cannot overcome it if I do not identify it.  So, even though writing all these hurdles down made me feel a little silly and immature to see that I can be stymied by such gossamer blockades, I knew it would lead me to column 3.

“What the hell are you gonna do about it?”

In fact, that very afternoon, after having modeling this process to all 4 of my class sections—pointing to the Synonym Wall, reading the hurdles aloud, and considering again and again the hilarity of such stalled action—I went downstairs to a coworker’s materials closet and fetched whatever colored paper was available, grabbed any freaking Sharpie I had and a pair of OMG-so-non-hurty normal, straight-cut scissors, and COMPLETED the Synonym Wall!

The next morning when I modeled column 3 for my students, I was able to write down each of the above in “Overcoming the Hurdle.”  One Overcome I also got to write was, “I think the Synonym Wall is important, whether the students use it or not.”  And: “The perfect is the enemy of the done.”

I rewrote this last one on a sign that now hangs above the whiteboard. (In whatever color and on whatever color I had available!)

Every day, I could write a list of Tasks I Procrastinate, Hurdles, and Overcomings.  And maybe I should.  Because each of the remaining hurdles on that list 4 weeks ago have now too been vaulted.