Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Suggested Reading

The first quarter of this year has been a bit of a mess for me in several different ways, but I am working to get my feet back under me. I fell into a deep, nasty depression that went on and on. Luckily, I wised up and went to talk to a counselor and my doctor. I am doing quite a bit better now.

In all the chaos, I lost track of the thing I am trying to do this year. Remember my One Big Resolution? Yeah, I'd pretty much forgotten it, too, and I certainly haven't been doing it. Listen to faith. It's taken on a new dimension for me since I went back to it: when I have a choice between trusting myself and my values or doubting them, I need to trust them. I need to trust myself. I need to trust that I hold certain values and beliefs because those things are who and what I am, and I know those things to be right and good for me.

Doubt comes easier to me than faith, but faith works better.

In my attempt to get myself back on the tracks, I have decided to go back and re-read some things that I have found helpful and inspirational in the past. One of those things is Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live by Martha Beck, which is a book about finding out what exactly it is that you want or need, and redirecting you life in that direction. I have found that figuring out what I really want is the hard part of getting it. The rest is just doing the work. And the tone of this book is cheerful and encouraging, which is just what I need these days.

Another book I've gone back to is This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True by M.J. Ryan. It contains specific strategies for actually following through on the things that you want to do. A lot of the ideas may seem kind of obvious, but a lot of us aren't all that great at doing the obvious, and a little reminder can help sometimes.

A final bit of re-reading I've been doing lately is Luke 6. Yep. From the Bible. I realize that a lot of people aren't Christian or aren't religious in any way, so this is not in any way a general recommendation for everyone. What I will recommend, however, is to find something to read that speaks to the kind of person you want to be, whether that's something religious, philosophical, fictional, or from a newspaper advice column. If you're going to read anyway, it might as well be something that reminds you of the best you that you can be.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Six Month Resolutions

I find resolving to do any specific thing over the course of a whole year pretty daunting. For a good number of years-- many more years than I've been making those Big Resolutions-- I've been in the habit of making birthday resolutions in January and then evaluating how that worked out and making new resolutions again in July.

My birthday is coming up soon, so I've been thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next 6 months. I need to try to keep it reasonable, since I'll be working, going to school, and raising kids while I am at it. Just surviving the next 6 months may be my big accomplishment in July. That said, here's what I've got:

  • Write a little bit every day. It's three days into 2013 and I've taken a few minutes of each day to rant to myself write over on I'd like to do more and better writing than that, but that's my minimum. I am taking Intro to Creative Writing this semester, so I'll count whatever I write for class in this resolution too. 
  • Use the gym on campus every week, at least once, during the semester. I am paying a mandatory fee for it, so I might as well get in there. I'd like to aim for every day that I am on campus, but if I get to the end of the semester and I've done once a week, I'll be happy.
  • Eat more good food. You know, fruits, vegetables, all that. I usually have a better time of things if I plan to have an added positive habit over the corresponding negative habit (e.g., eat less junk food). 
  • Severely limit Facebook. Yeah, it is a way for me to keep in touch with people. It's also a huge time sink, and that's exactly what I don't need in my life. Anyway, I am insecure enough for three people without so much negativity. I really don't need that. I don't want to give it up entirely because it is one of the primary ways that people contact me. I plan to make my second identity into my primary identity-- fewer friends, and fewer additional activities like groups and games-- and then a quick check for messages in the morning and evening should do it.
  • Show up in church on Sundays. No excuses, unless I am out of the state, or very nearly dead. That's two hours on a Sunday morning that is a break from the absolute chaos that characterizes every other hour of my life, it might help my spiritual development, and it is nice to go somewhere once a week where people are genuinely happy to see me. (I love my parish.)
  • Find another job. I know I am helping people, but I am burning out. There is something to be said for a do-it-and-forget-it job, especially when I already have a full and somewhat stressful life before adding in work. 
I need to work on my general chaos reduction, too, but that's a little vague. I could write 6 more resolutions about that alone. I think that's something I am going to have to tackle a little bit at a time, every day, starting with something small. Really, the resolutions I have listed there will actually help quite a lot with making me feel better, which should help reduce the craziness factor too.

We'll see how I am doing in July. I hope to report back here before then. It would be nice to post more than once a year. Maybe that falls under the category of "write more."

Monday, December 31, 2012


It's the last day of 2012. It has been over a year since my last post, which was about my resolution(s) for this year.

2012 was a good year. I did a pretty good job of following through on my One Big Resolution ("Finish what you start"), at least as far as the big things in life. I moved back to Johnstown, got a job here, and attended my first semester at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ) . I finished out the semester with good grades, and I am looking forward to starting the next one soon. My follow-through on school and work was excellent this year. I am still not all that great at getting all the way through the dishes or the laundry, but I am working on that.

So, what's the One Big Resolution for 2013, my motto and mantra for the year? My first thought was to go with something like "First things first," or "Prioritize!" I was all set to declare one of those the winner even just a couple of hours ago, but I have decided to go with, "Listen to faith."

"Listen to faith" isn't necessarily a religious thing, although I am a somewhat religious person, so those connotations are welcome as well. What I mean is that when I have the choice between being hopeful and believing that things will go right, and believing the voice in my head that says that I am always wrong and nothing ever goes right, I am going to listen to the former and have a little faith-- in myself, in the people who love me, and in God. Things go wrong, but what my life has taught me is that things work out in the end. It's just remembering that things go right again that can be so hard.

I still need to prioritize and organize, for my own sanity, but those are standard-issue small resolutions. Holding on to what's important when the going gets tough, that's a big one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My One (Real) Resolution

The year is almost over, and I will be setting my resolutions for 2012 soon. I have two different types of resolutions. The first is a wishlist of things I'd like to do, the usual "lose weight and play more tennis" resolutions that everyone makes and breaks. The other sort is more of a theme for the year and beyond-- one single thing I can focus on in everything I do to make my life better in the long run.

This will be the third year I've set this second kind of resolution. My previous themes were "Feel the fear; do it anyway," and "Embrace the adventure." These were life-changers for me. Fear kept me from doing so many things for so long, and I found that fighting the fear took all the energy and focus away from the thing I wanted to do. I started doing a lot more things when I decided to let the fear be and concentrate on the doing. And "embracing the adventure" was my pledge to myself to go beyond facing my fear to accept the opportunities and challenges that life put right in front of me. The rewards of living adventurously have been more than I could have imagined when I first decided I wanted to try it.

My theme this year is simple and practical: "Finish what you start."  So easy to say, so hard to do. I have faith that I'll make progress; I take this kind of resolution far more seriously than the other sort. My previous year themes became mantras that kept me going in the right direction when the going got tough, and I am sure I'll be repeating "finish what you start, finish what you start" under my breath all year whenever I have a hard time taking the next step or start to leave something half-done. By this time next year, it will just be the way I do things.

My other resolutions?  I'd like to dust off my rusty Spanish, finish projects I've already started, and officially convert to Orthodoxy. Oh, and I might actually do the blogging I resolved to do last year. Maybe.

Friday, September 9, 2011


(This has been re-posted from another blog of mine. There have been minor changes to it.)

I left my husband in July. I think I have grounds for placing the date of our separation a full month before I actually left because that's when I declared my intentions and we started living apart in the same house. That was a difficult month.

There are a lot of reasons why I've decided to end the marriage, but there's no point in getting into it here. Sometimes it is just time for things to be over.

I've been living with my mother and in her other house (back and forth) since July 22. I started a new job in the last two days of August. I could complain that it took me a whole month to land a part-time job, but I know a lot of people are out there looking and finding nothing at all. I am just used to finding employment pretty quickly when I am seriously looking for it-- usually within two weeks-- so it was longer than I'd generally expect.

I like my new job as a caregiver for elderly people. I don't necessarily think it is something I want to do forever, but I like the one regular client I've got, and I've been able to pick up a few more shifts here and there. Tomorrow I will work a 6 hour shift, filling in for a call-out, and Monday I pick up a new, regularly scheduled gig-- twice a month to take laundry to the cleaners for someone.

I've had to adjust to not being the household matriarch. I've had to adjust to living in very tight quarters with my 2 daughters. I've had to adjust my plans for the immediate future. I'm adjusting ok, but it has been a bumpy ride.

There have been some very good things that have come along in the last few months too. I'm in love, for one thing. It's a long-distance relationship, but we seem to be handling that well, and it won't be that way forever. I've also lost some weight and started feeling better about myself.

Some days are better than others. As time goes on, I am having more days that grateful for what I've got and happy with my new life.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


In childbirth, the last stage of active labor is called transition. It is the hardest part of labor for many women. It certainly was for me. I panicked. I begged for them to just let me go home. I wailed pitifully when they wouldn't let me leave. But soon enough it was over and forgotten, as I found myself face-to-face with the newest member of my family.

And so now I am in a transitional stage in life. Everything is changing very rapidly for me. I know I am doing the right thing, but it's still hard to cast aside efforts and plans that just aren't going to work anymore. I can only have faith that I can get through this hard part and move on to something better.

I am almost there. Just a little longer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I have failed completely to keep this up to date, but I have been getting on with things while I haven't been writing. I've applied and been accepted to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, majoring in Biology. They sent me a letter today that says they're accepting 39 transfer credits. (14 in languages, 10 in math, 6 in history, and 3 each of English, philosophy, and computer literacy.)

School is finally over, so things are starting to settle down a little bit here. The last month of school is always hectic, with field trips and end-of-the-year activities. I am glad it is over with for a little while.

I wish I had more to say right now, but I am afraid this is as good as it is going to get today.