Thursday, June 26, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MANDA MOO!!

It's hard to believe that my little sister turned 22 today. Not long ago (or so it seems), we spent our days jumping on the trampoline, swimming in grandma's pool, playing in the snow with Kelsey and fighting over the front seat.

But now she's all grown up. In some ways, she's wise beyond her years - more mature and emotionally intelligent than many of her elders. I think her maturity is rooted in a strong sense of self and desire to do good. Life has thrown many obstacles in her path, and she's overcome most of them, always wanting to exceed people's expectations and prove them wrong.

Although I don't often tell her, she's a source of inspiration for me. She has no idea that I've kept a copy of the newspaper article she wrote in my journal for the last five years. Aptly titled, "Being happy with who I am," her story is about acceptance and learning to love yourself in spite of any shortcomings. Manda writes "Overall, my limitations have made me who I am. They have improved me, not defeated me. I am happy with the person I turned out to be." She shares this outlook with everyone - encouraging anyone who will listen to think positively and appreciate what they have.

When I'm feeling sad, I can always count on one of her goofball stories to crack me up. When I'm angry, she always listens. When I'm confused, she offers advice. And most importantly, when I'm happy, she always shares my excitement as if it were her own - cheering, laughing and sometimes even jumping up and down to celebrate whatever good news I have. Virtually all of her friends and family members rely on Manda to be that person they can count on. That's why she has so many close relationships.

So, Moo, I hope your birthday is fantastic. Everyone deserves a day to be appreciated and celebrated - especially you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday blues

This morning, the high-pitched beeping of my alarm abruptly yanked me out of deep sleep like a splash of ice water. Shaking slightly from the startling 6 a.m. wake-up call, my mind still felt clouded by sleepiness. I wanted to pull the covers over my head and continue dreaming about my Spanish-speaking dog Esteban. Instead, I had to drag myself from bed and get ready for work.

Even though I'm ready for the day to be over, I can't really complain because my weekend was fabulous. On Friday, I left the office and all my work behind at exactly 5:30 p.m. I raced home because I was anxious for the weekend to start and looking forward to sharing it with my mom. Here's a quick recap.
  • Risotto fritters, Guinnes and half a cobb salad
  • One cosmo and one gruner vetliner to complement a long night of mother-daughter bonding
  • An early morning run through the park while the sun was just waking up
  • A giant crepe exploding with brie cheese, apples and grapes
  • Sexy new capris and belt from Anthropologie
  • Mid-afternoon tapas on Newbury street that included sautéed artichokes, marinated mushrooms, empanadas, goat cheese with tomato sauce and basil and a pitcher of sangria.
  • Watching a momma sparrow feed her baby, who was just learning to fly
  • Browsing through Saks, imagining how different our lives with be if we paid $795 for a shirt
  • Milky way frozen yogurt in a waffle cone covered in chocolate and coconut
  • Early-evening coffees and a half-hour of people watching to re-energize
  • Being thankful we didn't lose the car in the garage and mistake it for being stolen (like last time)
  • A relaxing Sunday of reading, takeout and catching up with old friends

Monday, June 16, 2008

Forgiving is easy. Now I want to forget

It takes a lot to make me angry. I don't like feeling mad, and so it's almost impossible for me to hold a grudge (no matter how hard I try). But even though I'm quick to forgive, it's sometimes hard for me to forget.

Why is it that we always remember the bad the times we were hurt and the times we felt sad? The low times in my life have burned vivid memories into my brain that can't be erased. Maybe it's an innate mechanism meant to protect us from making the same painful mistakes in the future. If you can remember what caused you pain, then maybe you can prevent it from happening again.

This reminds me of something I learned in sociobiology. There is a type of red berry that makes a species of birds violently ill. Traumatized by the experience, the bird never eats a single red berry ever again. Through negative reinforcement, the bird learns how to avoid future cases of food poisoning. But, what the bird doesn't realize is that he also misses out on all the other delicious, non-poisonous red berries.

So, it makes me wonder if remembering the bad means you stop taking taking risks. Maybe that's why some people stop plunging into the unknown and start carefully weighing the pros and cons before taking the first steps. When your heart and brain pull you in opposite directions, it's a sad day when you no longer let your heart win.

Even though I think it's important to learn from your mistakes and hardships, part of me wants to forget all the times I felt sad, hurt and betrayed. I don't want to worry about making mistakes that will hurt me later. I want to my life in the moment with a full heart.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ready for change


As you know, I started working in the office last week. It's just one small change that marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in my life, and I'm ready. I decided to make a list of things I want to accomplish/change starting right now.

Cook more. I like good, healthy food, but I'm pretty lazy when it comes to cooking. Even though my TV is virtually locked on the Food Network, I rarely spend more than 15 minutes in the kitchen preparing a meal. Armed with two new cookbooks and a basil plant, I aim to change that.

Take the GREs. This is a big goal for me. I don't usually do well on standardized tests, and I'm kind of terrified of the GREs. I have all the study materials I need. Now, all I have to do is get focused, stay motivated and finally take them.

Participate in a road race. This one has been on my list for a while, and I'm ready to finally cross it off. I'm gradually starting to accept the fact that I'm horribly slow, and I'll never be a great runner. I just want to do it for the sake of doing it. Plus, once I register, I'll be forced to get into shape and push myself to the limit. Even if I'm in the back of the pack, I think I'd be happy just to cross the finish line.

Write more blogs. Initially, I planned on writing a new blog every weekday. So far, I've been struggling to write one a week. While I really enjoy writing, it's been hard to find the time the last few weeks. Now that I have the Internet in my apartment, I plan on posting more often.

Be less logical. Being logical has its benefits, but sometimes I let my logical side prevent me from doing/getting what I want. I tend to focus on making the "right" decision, when I should really try to figure out what's best for me. I've decided I need to let myself think more from my heart than my brain.

Work less. Over the last year or so, I've let myself become a bit of a work-aholic. Working from home blurred the line between work and home. But since I've been in the office, I still find myself working extra hours and answering e-mails from my home computer. Not anymore. This morning I decided to make some boundaries. Once I leave the office, I will leave all my work behind. Today I punched out at exactly 5:30 p.m.

Get a passport. I am going to get my very first passport this summer...at least that's my goal. I know, it's hard to believe that a 25-year-old wouldn't have a passport by now, but I'm ready to change that. I haven't gone on a real vacation in very long time, and I want my next trip to be memorable. I want to visit somewhere new and very different from home. I'm not exactly sure where I want to go, but I do know it will require a passport.

Wow, this list is pretty ambitious. Even if I don't accomplish them right away, at least I've finally gotten them down on paper.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Big-day Monday


This morning I bought my very first CharlieCard T-pass and quickly found my place in the middle of a crowded subway car.

To my left, a middle-aged man tried to catch a few extra minutes of sleep in between stops. To my right, a skinny twenty-something stared blankly at the daily Metro. Most people looked tired, grumpy and even a little disheveled - all symptoms pointing to a serious case of the Mondays.

Normally, I would fit right in, but not today. Even though I was on my way to work, about to start what will undoubtedly be a long and grueling week, I was rather excited. Today was my first day working in the office in almost a year and a half. That's right, I'm actually happy to no longer be working from home.

I know, you must think I'm crazy. Doesn't everyone wish they could work from home? Yes, it does have some pretty nice perks. You get to make your own hours and work in pajamas. You can go to the gym in the middle of the day. You can sleep in when you're tired, and no one cares if you don't do your hair and makeup.

But you miss out on a lot of the good stuff. After a hard day at work, you can't go out with your coworkers for a drink to unwind. For some reason, a virtual hug or :) smiley face just doesn't have the same affect.

The main reason I don't want to fill out another 1099 tax form though is that there's no separation of work and home. When your home computer is also your work computer, two worlds collide, making it difficult to achieve a healthy balance.

So, as I stood on the T this morning, crammed against strangers, struggling not to fall over and spill my coffee on someone, I remembered what it felt like to be a part of this bustling, fast-paced city – and it feels good.