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Getting my life in order

I want to make some long-term changes before the fall semester begins, and the craziness that is the school year happens all over again.  I don’t want to spend 9 months counting down to summer, just to find that I am still incredibly stressed out.  I want to enjoy the now!

On the advice of a stranger (one with extensive training, but a stranger nonetheless), I’ve decided to cut back.  I’ve known for months that I’ve needed to, and PB has also been prodding me.  Hell, my own mother has been hounding me for years that I do too much and I just need to slow down.  And yet, it felt different coming from a stranger.  Like, if she came to this same conclusion, then man, I really need to make a change.  Ridiculous, I know, but I guess it’s what I had to hear (for the third time, from a stranger).

I started by making a list of promises to myself.  I made it pretty and hung it up by my desk.  I won’t share it here because it’s too personal, but I based it off of this work/life balance to-do list.  It includes statements such as “I will schedule time for scholarship during the year and will not feel guilty about work that does not get completed in this time frame,” “I will not hold myself to ideal standards,” and “I will put my family and my happiness above work.”  It also includes a lot of specific promises.  Now that I have a plan, I already feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I even have a contingency plan for what I will cut back on first (and second and third) should work start to get overwhelming.

Then, I decided to try out the Daily Habit Tracker from Daisy Cottage Designs.  I’m only two days in, but I’m hooked on coloring in those little squares!  Compared to the year-long list of promises that I started with, this is a list of small things that I would like to do on a daily/weekly basis.  From eating fruit to prepping my classes to blogging, these are things that I would like to do regularly but that aren’t a big deal if I don’t do every day.  If you plan to only do the task less than once a day, you can put a dot in the squares for the days that you want to accomplish that task.  If I do the habit, I get to fill in a little colored square (fun!) and if I don’t, then I don’t (sad).  But it’s completely low-stakes.  And it’s a way to celebrate all those little things I do every day that otherwise might go unnoticed.  By acknowledging my successes, I can feel like I’m not sucking at being an adult (even if I’ve just started going back to yoga, and it’s once a week vs. 3 times/week pre-LB).

By acknowledging my successes, I can feel like I’m not sucking at being an adult…

Next up, I’d like to try making SMART goals and bullet journaling.  I first heard about SMART goals in a professional development seminar last semester.  The idea is that you want long (and short) term goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.  For example, a poor goal would be “I want to be fluent in Italian.”  SMART goals would be: I will practice italian in Babbel/DuoLingo six times a week.  I will write a blog post/journal entry in italian once a month.  I will find a tutor or start a language learning coffee club this month.  The goals should be small steps where you can actually tell if you’ve completed it, and you give yourself a deadline.  I particularly like the printables on the My Love for Words blog.  You have to sign up for their emails, but then you get the link really quickly.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about bullet journaling recently but it was Crystal Russom’s post at The Little Things that convinced me I should give it a try!  As someone who frequently makes to-do lists and then leaves a few items on there for weeks, it sounds like bullet journaling will help me stay organized without stressing me out even more.  I like that the symbols also help you to find little notes that you wrote to yourself last week, and that each day/week you can reevaluate whether the items left to do should be moved to a different list.  (Maybe broken down and turned into SMART goals?)

Do you use any of these techniques?  How do they work for you?

La mia fine di settimana

Sono nervosa.  Questo è il mio primo posto in italiano.  Studiavo l’italiano per tredici anni, di tanto intanto (off and on).  Però quando io provo a parlare l’italiano, non posso pensare!  Anche ora, sto facendo una volta difficile.  Fiduciosamente (hopefully), la pratica mi aiuterà!

Questa fine di settimana scorsa:

  • La mia famiglia ed io siamo andati ad una festiva di mango.  Purtroppo, ci non era molti mango.  Tuttavia, ho bevuto l’acqua fresca della noce di cocco (coconut), diritto dal cocco!
  • Ho infornato fatto in casa (homemade) dei pancake e dei cracker per LB.  (Is this really how you say “pancakes” and “crackers” in Italian?)
  • Mio marito ha cucina pesce per me per cena, e c’èra delizioso!
  • Ho cominciato a aggiustare (fix/mend) una trapunta (quilt) che l’ho aveva per molti anni.

Finché c’è vita, c’è speranza.

Hope springs eternal.

(lit. As long as there’s life, there’s hope.)

Taken from the Living Language Italian Daily Calendar.

For the record…

Jennifer Aniston wrote an article for Huffington Post yesterday called For The Record that really resonated with me.  That might be surprising, because I am happily married with a child, but I didn’t do those things to be complete.  She writes “we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone.”  I had a plan from pretty early on (16 or 17 years old) about how I would live a complete and happy life, and it wasn’t based on finding a mate and starting a family.

We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone.  -Jennifer Aniston

I knew that I would travel, that I would try to have new and diverse experiences each year, and that I would pursue a career that would allow me to study mathematics the rest of my life.  Did I want to find someone to share that time with?  Sure.  Actually I really wanted to, although I know not everyone feels that way.  In my opinion, having a best friend is more important than a passionate lover, and when you get both in one package, that’s the best of all!

But I digress.  My point is that even though I really wanted to find my “soul mate” and thought I might possibly want to have kids one day, I didn’t plan my whole life around it.  I was going to have a good, full life no matter what, god damn it!  Maybe because I’m a mathematician, but it seemed like finding someone that one would be a great fit with for even a year, enough less five or fifty years, was highly unlikely.  It’s silly now looking back because I met PB when I was 18 years old, but I had also finished three years of university (yes, I graduated young, let’s move on) and there hadn’t been a single person I had been interested in more than just a small crush.  I had never been in love and I was starting to think that maybe I would never be in love.

I used to say I would never consider marriage until I was at least 30 (it seemed so old at the time!).  It was because I wanted to travel the world and I thought all fun stopped when you got married and settled down.  (Of course, the traveling has slowed since LB appeared… see Wanderlust with a toddler.)  I even told PB this about a week before he proposed (I was 19).  Thankfully, he still asked and I said yes (mostly).  We were young, and we got married young (21 and 25 years old).  But it’s worked out for us.  I could claim that we knew each other really well and ourselves too, and we lived together for a couple years first, and while that’s all true, I think we just got lucky.  We’ve changed over the last 9 years since we started dating, but we’ve both changed in ways that have made us more compatible.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for Jennifer to live her life with Paparazzi following her everywhere.  For decades.  She’s been my favorite actress since Friends (the greatest show of all time), but I know that doesn’t give me the right to have access to all the parts of her private life.  I’d rather she enjoy her private life; she seems like an awesome person!  I’m glad that she seems happy right now.  Not many people (myself included) would be strong enough to withstand that onslaught for so long, and still be able to feel good about themselves, their friends/partner, and their bodies.

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This is how I pictured her expression while writing the article. 🙂

Quello che davvero muove la nostra vita è la felicità.

The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

-Dalai Lama

Benvenuto!

I’m not sure what I’m doing here.  I don’t totally know why I started a blog, except that I wanted an outlet.  More than an outlet, I wanted a place to celebrate la vita bella, and this seemed much more fun than a journal!  Reflection is an important part of learning, about myself and about the world, but I find it difficult to convince myself to dedicate time to it each day, even just for five minutes.

Wait…what am I doing here?  What are you doing here?!  Let’s be clear.  This blog is for me, not you.  If you want to read it, I’m okay with that; otherwise I’d be somewhat of a ridiculous person for posting it on the interwebs.  But don’t expect any sort of theme.  I can’t promise you anything.  The purpose of the blog is to get myself to write, even just a little, and to create something that makes me happy.

Sometimes that means I’ll write about my family, but nothing too personal.  (See “not being a ridiculous person” above.)  Sometimes I’ll write about food or travel, both passions of mine.  Sometimes I’ll write about math, because I teach math and it’s a beautiful thing.  (Bet I caught you off guard with that one.)  And sometimes I’ll write in Italian, not because I speak Italian but because I want to.  And I need more practice.

Wait, I can promise you something!  I will use correct grammar and spelling, except for too many commas and occasionally starting sentences with “and”.  (See above.)  Well, nobody’s perfect.

I think that’s a good start.  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself.  Maybe.  We’ll see. 🙂

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I considered this picture for the header, but it didn’t crop too well.  (Roma, Italia. 2010)

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