Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Seems like I can't take 20 minutes for myself these days.

Can't wait until May 13th: Graduation and the start of a two-week break from school.

Hope I can make it til then.

Between work and school I have exactly one weekend day to myself in the next MONTH. And that's Easter Sunday. Which will be busy.

Meanwhile my stress eating is giving me a lovely spare tire and fat arms.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Creativity: Who's Who

Assignment: Take each decade of your life, 0 to 100, and picture what you're doing.

0-10: Trying to find my identity as the fifth of five girls and the older sister of an attention-seeking baby brother. I find success with my quick wit, which is sometimes mistaken for a sassy mouth. I spend a lot of time trying to be like my older sisters but spending the majority of my time with my younger brother.

10-20: I discover boys and have a string of little relationships. I excel in school and music. I make friends with the nice kids in the honors class and usually do not get along with the popular girls. I care less and less about this fact. I start dating a guy named Tony.

20-30: I attend college, move out for the first time and move to Florida for a summer to test my independence. It goes pretty well, but I move home to be close to friends and family. I get my first job as a newspaper reporter and spend my days barking at people on the phone. I enter my second career in public relations. I marry Tony. I get my master's degree.

30-40: Tony and I start a family, either by having kids of our own or adopting. We go through the joys and pains of parenthood. We move to California so Tony can pursue his movie-writing career. I continue to work as I enjoy the interaction of an office and co-workers. I miss my family in Arizona, but we visit often. We visit Paris for the first time. I love it.

40-50: Tony makes it big in his career and I don't need to work anymore. I spend my days working on my book, "The Force of Personality," and continuing to raise kids. This might include carting them around to various activities like horseback riding, piano lessons and French lessons. We take our family to a different exotic locale each year to give them the joy of traveling and the education of culture. Our parents are aging. We feel obligated to move back to Arizona to be closer to family.

50-60: With kids in college or near-adulthood, Tony and I spend our days looking for new projects in which to invest our money and creativity. We spend time with friends and take long weekends up the coast. We still travel, but spend more time in our favorite places rather than trying new ones. We buy a boat and learn how to navigate the shores of the Pacific Coast.

60-70: We become grandparents and discover a new world. We surrender our own free time to spend it all with them, hoping to become the ideal grandparents. Tony takes them on tours of the library and his studio, introducing them to little treasures and wonders he has collected over the years. I teach the kids to bake and dance in the kitchen. We play board games with the family and offer to host slumber parties.

70-80: Age begins to catch up with us, and we decide to slow our pace a little. We move to a smaller home, allowing one of our children or grandchildren to manage our larger place. We make friends in our neighborhood and try to stay in good health with long walks and bike rides. We still enjoy visits from family.

80-90: Tony and I spend most of our time together alone. We reminisce about old times, wish our families would call and talk about what life will be like in the future. I spend time reading a journaling, hoping my posterity would want to read about my life or know something about me. We hire someone to cook and clean for us. Tony hates the intrusion.

90-100: Technology has surpassed our wildest dreams, and we read the news each day on a gadget that hasn't even been imagined at this moment. We wonder at all the new things that come about. We look for pictures of our great-grandchildren in the mail. Or e-mail. Or whatever it is in 2080. We talk about what it would be like to die. We tell each other "I'll miss you." We are happy.

Creativity: Something unpleasant

Something unpleasant I have to do: mop the floor

Three ways to make it enjoyable:
- Turn on a different genre of music for each room. Country for the bathroom. Rock for the living room. Britney for the kitchen.

- Set a timer for 10 minutes. When it rings, take a break and do something fun.

- Buy a new mop or bucket, or try a new technique to make it novel.

I tried the first method. Danced my heart out. Didn't even notice that the floor happened to get clean at the same time.

My Creativity Journal

The following posts are from a journal I've been expected to keep for my creativity class. I sort of use my blog as a journal, so I figured I would just post them and not worry that other people are reading (or worry that no one is reading this blog!).

Creativity Journal Entry 6: The joy

The joy of baking.

So one of the activities that has suffered since I've been in school is baking on the weekends. I love to look up new recipes or buy new cookbooks and experiment with the results.

Luckily, I've been able to sneak in a few items between classes or homework, including mini peach pies, chocolate hazelnut cupcakes, lemon curd cake, pumpkin trifle, sour cream apple pie, chorizo stuffing and mocha brownies.

The nice thing about my kitchen is that I can't watch TV when I bake. I usually just turn on NPR's Saturday radio shows and start mixing it up.

Other things I like about baking is that I use my hands. I'm not very skilled at building things, and I'm not much of an artist, so homespun projects don't always turn out so well. But baking seems to go pretty well most of the time, thanks to the clear instructions of the recipe I'm following.

Baking also gives me immediate results. I get to taste everything along the way, and I get to try it as soon as it's done. I don't always get everything right, but this is one of the few activities I do where I don't really mind if I fail.

And finally, the wonderful thing about baking as a hobby is that you have something fun to share with your friends. My coworkers are more than willing to try the extras (because I always make too much) and my family is always impressed by the final product.

Baking for me is a creative activity. I love that it allows me to try new things, get outside of my head or my email for a while, and spread a little cheer to my friends.

Once school is out, I really look forward to taking some actual classes to refine my skills. My first choice will be cake decorating :)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Creativity: Things I love to do

Actvitiy Last year Last week To do in next week
Read x x
Sleep x x
Shop x

Movies x
Camp x

Rocky Point trip

Spin x
Download songs x x
Go out to breakfast x
See nieces and nephews x

Watch Dexter x

Bake x
Repaint furniture x

Plan DIY projects x

Drive in the car x x x
Attend Sunday dinner with my family x
Paint my toenails x

Sit by the pool

Play on Facebook x x
Financial planning x

Dance party x

Friday, April 01, 2011

Creativity Journal Entry 5: Pink bubbles

Surrendering to sleep

One of the major inhibitors to my creativity, and energy for life in general, is not getting enough sleep. And for me, enough sleep means at least 7 hours a night. I relish my sleep like it's going out of style. And I get extremely crabby if it gets disrupted.

Usually I have something or someone to blame when I don't get enough sleep. But if I'm honest with myself, I am usually the reason for my problem.

When I can't sleep, it's usually because my mind won't turn off. I start thinking about a project at school or work. I start to get really worried about it, like I'm going to forget to do it. Like if I don't think and stress and kill myself over it right at that second, something terrible is going to happen.

So one night, when my mind was cruising at 80 mph, I was reminded of the phrase we learned from The National Geographic video: "When I weave, I weave." It was a directive to live in the moment and stop multitasking. I realized that trying to think and trying to sleep was not only multitasking, but it was impossible to do both at the same time.

So I started to use "When I sleep, I sleep" as a mantra. I repeated it to myself over and over, and tried to use it as a barrier to any rogue thoughts that threatened to interrupt. I thought it worked pretty well.

Another tactic I have used to shoo away stressful thoughts is to imagine these worries as bubbles. Every errant thought is placed inside a bubble, and I watch it float away. And once it's gone, it doesn't come back. Sometimes the bubbles are gray. Or pink. But they all float away once I fill them with my distractions.

Creativity Journal Entry 4: Surrender

Maybe I shouldn't have surrendered so soon.

When I was leaving work the other day, I was rear-ended by a doctor who works at the same hospital. We were both trying to exit the parking lot, and there was a long line of people trying to leave behind us.

At first I was shocked. It felt strange, like I didn't know what really happened. When I got out of the car, I met him at my bumper. He was still on the phone. He was starting to look at my bumper, and I could hear him muttering to himself about how there probably wasn't too much damage. He mumbled something to me about "leaving insurance out of this" and "I'll just take care of this myself."

In a hurry to get home, I did everything wrong. I thought it would be easier if I left the cops/security guards out of this one, and since he didn't want to involve insurance, I just agreed to take his business card and get on my way home. I thought I was just surrendering. Going with the flow. Stopping all the mental striving.

As it turns out, that was a bad idea. I should have gotten the name of a witness. I should have demanded his insurance information. I should have at least called security. Because when I tried to call and get his insurance information later, he was completely rude and refused to give me the information I needed. I was going to have to do everything his way.

It perturbs me when I can see people taking advantage of me. He was trying to intimidate me, and it was working. And as much as my years as a reporter might have prepared me to work with difficult people, I still don't respond well to nasty people. It was basically the reason I stopped being a reporter. But I didn't think I had lost my edge so quickly.

What this experience did was teach me that surrendering doesn't necessarily mean surrendering your rights. When I thought I was being agreeable, I was actually being a pushover. It made me want to explore ways for me to be more assertive. The bad part is that I thought I was assertive.