Because it’s the New Year….

It’s the start of a new year. Generally, it’s a time for reflection and time for change. Everywhere you look and listen; people are talking about resolutions for the New Year. It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon. First off, why do people typically wait until now to try to implement large changes in their life? If something is that important to become a regular habit or goal, why not start it when you first imagine and/or decide you want to do it? Second, so many people are focused on changing themselves – to get fit, to eat better, to get organized, etc. If you’ve been living your life effectively and healthily, why the sudden desire to change? Regardless, it is always encouraging when people strive to better themselves. And if people decide they need the change of the calendar year, who I am to judge. Besides, this year I’m participating in that past time as well.

I’ve made many of my own resolutions and goals to work towards in 2011. I have high hopes for 2011, and not just for me – for everyone in my life. But, I am not delusional. I know I need to work to achieve my goals. I need to actively plan and participate in many actions to be a better me. But, three days into the New Year and I have a plan. I bought multiple calendars (paper zombies anyone?) and I’ve made implementation plans.

  1. I intend to eat healthier and get back to my regular gym schedule. My clothes are too tight for comfort and I know I can do better. I’ve made a commitment to myself to be the fittest, healthiest person I can before I turn 30. That gives me six months to do things right. Lucky (or unlucky) for me, my little sister’s wedding in also in June, which means both my parents are also on a mission to look better for all those photographs documenting the important occasion.
  2. I intend to focus on and pursue my artistic nature. I intend to create regularly. Whether its paintings, writings (Hello Blog!), or something else. I’m going to spend time every week working on some sort of project. And lucky for me, I have already committed to creating a painting for a good friend (He’s given me quite a large wall in his home to decorate.)
  3. I intend to further my education in the creative web realm. I’ve (finally) decided on a specific program from a specific institution. I’ve got all the information and a date set to talk to an advisor/employee at the institution about my intentions. Now, if I can just register for a class before they fill up, I’ll be set.
  4. I intend to continue to make time for all of my friends. I want to foster and further strengthen my relationships with people around me. They’ve helped me so much. I want to make sure I continue to be a part of their lives to be able to help them in their times of need – good and bad. After a conversation with another good friend, this also entails more vocal conversations supplementing electronic communications.

I’m sure there is probably more I’ve thought about and/or will continue to strive for this year (did anyone say “romantic potentials”?). But as it, these four goals are extremely important to me as they represent who I am and who I want to be. I spent a lot of time getting to know myself in the past couple years (apparently so did the ever fabulous Felicia Day). It’s now time to put that knowledge to good use and pursue my passions.

So, here’s to 2011 and all the effort it will take to truly be successful with my ambitions. And good luck to all of you with yours!

‘Tis the Season

It’s the holiday season and all the creative people of the world are making use of their talents.  I’ve come across pictures of things that are beautiful, quirky and/or funny.  I just wanted to share these things with you.

This made me laugh.

via Brian from Shoebox

And this made me want to take apart the computers that are driving me crazy.

Laughing Squid: Reddit user avatarr’s friend made this really cool Computer Component Christmas Wreath for her IT department. via reddit

This made me remember all the frustrating times I spent trying to untangle mobiles after they’d been stored.  How complicated do you think this one would be?

via Laughing Squid via Megan Reardon (Not Martha)
This is yet another reason to be careful about posts in the world of social media:
Navidad Twitter by Chistes via Gizmodo via laughing Squid

And from the absolutely hilarious guys over at Funny or Die, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as David Bowie and Bing Crosby.  Need I say more? Enjoy!

[funnyordie id=6f62088f27 width=512 height=328]

Scheduling Recreation?

For some strange reason, when I moved back to California last year, I had this strange idea that I’d end up bored and not have much to do.  Talk about delusional! I’m not sure where that thought even came from considering the fact I was moving back home to where many friends and all my family lived.  Spending time with those people could conceivably consume all my time.  In any case, lately*, I’ve started to realize I’m so busy I feel like I need to schedule recreation times.

Photo by RoroweI’ll be the first to admit, part of my problem comes from the fact I have so many different wide-ranging interests which I’d like to devote time towards.  I love to read, watch movies and TV, play Xbox , Wii, and computer games, World of Warcraft**.  I need time to explore my many artistic endeavors: painting, drawing, crafting, and more.  I spend lots of time keeping up with internet/gaming/technology culture.  And then of course there are the plans I make with many different friends (brunch, happy hour, movies, dinners, etc.) and the family gatherings and dinners.  It’s no wonder I haven’t really devoted much time and/or effort into trying to date.

Photo by Futurilla I’ve started to feel the need to schedule my different recreational interests just to make sure I get a chance to partake in all of them.  After all, let’s think about this from a purely mathematical aspect.  There are 24 hours in the day (168 in the week).  I am typically a much happier person when I have at least 8 hours sleep (usually it’s more like 9, but for the sake of argument in this exercise I’ll use conservative estimates).  I spend 8.5 hours at work and an hour to an hour and a half driving to and from work Monday through Friday.  Then of course there is the hour long ritual (potentially longer than an hour depending on where I’m going and what I have to do, but again – conservative estimates) every morning of getting ready (for either work or play).  While I’ve been lazy of late, a normal week would also include at least four visits to the gym (sometimes 5 or 6).  My gym trips can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how stressed and/or motivated I am.  For argument’s sake (conservative side), let’s include four 1-hour trips to the gym in one week.  Let’s also remember, there’s dinner and the nightly ritual of getting ready to go to bed (you know; brushing teeth, flossing, etc ).  Let’s factor in an hour daily for all that.  So, where are we?

Sun. Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat.
Sleep 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
Getting Ready 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Work Travel 1 1 1 1 1
Work 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.5
Gym 1 1 1 1
Nightly Rituals 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Totals: 10 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.5 19.5 10

According to my calculations, all the normal, weekly, required activities utilize 121.5 hours of the week (that’s almost three-quarters, 72.3% to be exact).  And as you can see in the table above, the hours in the work week are almost entirely consumed.  And this is with conservative estimates and not even factoring in things like folding and putting away clothes, doing dishes, running errands, grocery shopping and other random tasks.

According to my rough estimations, I have 46.5 hours to devote to recreation.  I love being able to spend time with my friends and family.  But that time is usually spent participating in activities that typically don’t incorporate a lot of the things I’d like to be spending time doing (playing video games, reading, and creating art – or internet communications like this blog).  I haven’t even gotten in to the fact that I have fairly regular gigs house-sitting and have started to volunteer occasionally for the Crocker Art Museum.  Not to mention, I’d like to start taking classes to further pursue some of my interests.  I feel like I need to start designating specific nights for specific activities (Monday is for Xbox, Tuesday is for art, Wednesday is for television/movies, etc).

The problem with this scheme is that suddenly my “free-time” is now scheduled and defined.  I would only have specific days and times available for friends and family. And what happens when I get particularly involved in a project? Do I just have to leave it until the next scheduled time? Or do I start re-arranging? And what about when I discover new interests? How am I supposed to fit those into the schedule? I’m reminded of a tweet from Veronica Belmont.  She said “My schedule is starting to feel like a really intense game of Jenga. One block gets moved wrong, and the whole thing falls apart.”

So, is recreation still recreation if it’s scheduled?  I guess it depends on your definition of recreation.  Dictionary.com defines recreation “refreshment by means of some pastime, agreeable exercise, or the like; a pastime, diversion, exercise, or other resource affording relaxation and enjoyment; or the act of creating anew.” And another defines recreation as “activity done for enjoyment when one is not working; the action or process of creating something again.”  Scheduling my recreation does not make the activity less enjoyable (theoretically at least), so that seems to mean its okay.  But what about the other definition?

Nowadays, when most people think of recreation (either the word or as an activity), they are not focusing on the idea of re-creating.  I, myself, had forgotten about this other meaning.  It wasn’t until I happened to catch an episode of Joan of Arcadia (entitled “Recreation” no less) that I was reminded.  In this episode Joan is told by God to have a party.  Towards to end of the episode God reminds Joan of this other meaning of the word recreation.  The following are excerpts from that conversation:


Well, let’s break the word down, shall we? Re-create. To create…again. Begin again. To start over. People need to do that. Work is fine, but… every now and then, you’ve gotta take a break and re-create.
Remember, recreation isn’t about relaxing. It’s about re-defining
Whatever’s become undefined.

At this point, I want to say that all of my recreation, scheduled or otherwise, is trying to help me re-define (or perhaps better define) who I am.  And maybe by scheduling it, I can focus my time and decide where to devote more energy too.

Or I’ll just get frustrated because I love everything.  Maybe if I stop sleeping….?

* This realization did begin to materialize a few months before the holiday season, but admittedly the “problems” have become even more pronounced. And I say “problems”, because let’s face it having lots of friends and things to do that make you happy is a happy problem.
**Yes, I know WoW is a computer game, but considering the time sink it can be, I felt it deserved its own mention.  And as a side note, I’ll be MIA for awhile because of Cataclysm!

Seasons of Love

Those who know me know that I’m usually pretty good at sending out holiday cards (which contain a self-indulgent letter briefing others about more than they probably wanted to know about my life in the last year) within the last month of the calendar year.  Those who are usually recipients also know that last year, those cards were conspicuously absent.  I do apologize for not contributing to clutter of your holiday mail (and for not supporting those dedicated postal carriers).  However, I do have a good reason.  In the words of my sister, I was “a bit of a zombie.”  And truthfully, I was too embarrassed to write the letter. I really wasn’t in shape to do much of anything, let alone write a letter detailing what at the time I perceived to be my failure.  Oh, how many things can change in just one year!

So, what happened then to keep me from writing? Well, I had moved to Rhode Island to continue to develop my relationship with a man I loved with all my heart.  I struggled in Rhode Island without my family and closest friends.  I wrestled with the job I had accepted.  But I was happy in love.  And the challenges I faced in Rhode Island led me to focus my energies in new ways.  I was also allowed to explore new avenues and opportunities at my job and discovered a passion for web design and social media.  This in turn encouraged me to begin taking art classes at the amazing Rhode Island School of Design.  I also decided to resume belly dancing under the tutelage of the beautifully graceful Kanina.  My life in Rhode Island was improving.  I was cultivating relationships outside of my romantic relationship and pursuing long-dormant passions.  Things were looking up.

Unfortunately, I was spending so much time trying to make myself happier, I didn’t see that my partner was becoming unhappy.  And out of the blue (to me, but isn’t that always how it happens for one half?), he ended it.  I was devastated.  You can insert practically every break-up cliché here – not eating, not sleeping, constant crying, and whatever else.  I decided I couldn’t stay in Rhode Island.  I had moved out of love for him and without him I had nothing there, or so I thought.  Despite the terrible economy and high unemployment rates, I decided to quit my job and move back to California.  I had no plan other than to get out of the state.  The funny thing about the break-up – it made me realize how much support and friendship I actually had in Rhode Island.  I had felt so lost without my family and old friends, I didn’t think about the ones I made in Rhode Island.  But those people – the girls in my dance class, the guys in my mask making class, all my coworkers, and even the people in my World of Warcraft guild (yes I’m a nerd, but more on that in another post) – were so supportive.  I owe a lot to those people and thank them with all my heart.  And I miss them terribly.  They helped me survive the month in Rhode Island between the break-up and my move back to California.  Seasons of Love

(FYI – It is possible to make all the arrangements and completely pick-up and move across the country within one month – with a little help from my friends.)

So, I came back to California just before Thanksgiving last year and proceeded to behave like a zombie.  I had no job. My car and belongings were in route across the country.  And I was depressed.  But, I was home.  I had friends and family that surrounded me and forced me to smile and to laugh.  And gradually I began to regain life.  The healing process was sped up dramatically due to the amazing friendship which sprung from a chance encounter at a work conference.  He was/is amazing and because of him I found myself (again).  Seasons of Love

I started the year in Tahoe with an email inviting me to interview for a job.  Within two months of being home, I was employed again.  I’ve managed to find a job working on challenging issues and with amazing people.  It’s hard for me to believe I’ve almost been there for a year already.  I’ve made some really great new friends that help work fly.  Seasons of Love

So, let’s see, what else has happened this year?  Somehow, I seem to have fallen into my own little house-sitting business.  It seems every other week or so I find myself at someone’s house caring for their pets.  Other than the constant packing and unpacking, it works out nicely.  I love animals and this way I get to meet and spend time with a lot of great ones.  What else? In this year I’ve been to Vegas twice, San Francisco and Santa Cruz a few times.  I’ve started volunteering at the Crocker Art Museum.  My baby sister got engaged to an amazing man.  And two good friends married each other in a beautiful wedding on Halloween.  I felt amazingly grateful to be a part of that wedding as the maid of honor and felt so beautiful and confident – such a far cry from where I had been a year ago.  And my dad danced!  And now here I am looking forward to a December full of events, parties, and all kinds of activities with the amazing people who helped me remember who I am and why I’m fabulous.  Seasons of Love

And so this year, as I look back on where I’ve been and all I’ve done, I can think of no better way to measure a year in the life. (You’ve probably figured it out, right?)  Measure in love! I think Jonathon Larson said it so brilliantly (which is probably why I tear up every time I here the song “Seasons of Love”).

“In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure a year in the life? Measure in love.”   So, as the year ends, “Let’s celebrate. Remember a year in the life of friends. Remember the love! Seasons of love!”

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Gym People

For the record, like most people, I too have a love-hate relationship with the gym.  I hate the gym for the obvious reasons – the reminder of how weak my muscles are, how quickly I start wheezing for air, and how much weight I should lose.  But I love the gym.  Yes, the gym can provide a great endorphin rush and make me feel great, but that’s not why I love it. I love the gym because it’s got great people watching. It’s always entertaining watching the different people – the distinct gym personalities.  You know what I’m talking about, right? I’m thinking I should start a gym personality game. Maybe a bingo card?

There are the guys that have huge ripped upper bodies and itty bitty legs.

Come on now, balance it out baby! You look like you’re going to tip over. Legs are equally deserving of your attention.

There’s the perfectly coiffed and made-up woman.

Are you really planning on working out? If so, how do you plan on not sweating? Bonus points if the chick is chatting away on a cell phone.

What about the chatty Cathy (or Kevin)? You can do your cardio and several different weight machines and these people are still standing there talking and haven’t lifted a thing.  (Shall we include the poor sap that’s trying to perform a set of reps while the chatter box is talking to them?)

There’s the teenagers that think they’re too cool (but then what teenager doesn’t). You’ve got the grunters, the sweaters, the smelly people.  There’s the older people who look like they will break but are actually doing decent cardio and/or weights – you go grandma and grandpa! There’s the people lip syncing and moving their head and/or body to whatever music is guiding their workout.

Then there are the tattoos.  I also love looking at tattoos. There’s always people with really good ones and lots of people with really bad ones.  Maybe instead of bingo we need a game with a point system.  Then you can get different amounts of points for the different tattoos; like 10 points for each astrological tattoo you see; 50 points when you see Asian characters; 100 points for a tramp stamp and so on.

I’m sure I’ve missed many other common gym personalities.  Keep in mind that many of these personalities are not mutually exclusive.  Imagine a bad tattoo on the bulging arms of man with skinny legs who’s sweaty, smelly, and grunting.

For the record, I’m one of the dancing/grooving fools lip syncing my tunes.  Once I’ve created and perfected my new gym playlist, I’ll share what I’m grooving to with you.  But now, I’ve got to ask, what gym personality are you?