Be Beth.

Be Beth. Why acknowledging what you like to do is a key part of growing up. Or… why I shouldn’t make resolutions to drink more.

Advertisements

happiness projectc overI am re-reading Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘The Happiness Project’ for the third time cover-to-cover.  I am always struck by her artful blend of practical and theoretical wisdom, all the while championing check charts, clean closets, and community.  It’s no wonder that I feel we’re similar.  Also, like Gretchen, I hate shopping, love YA literature, and take notes for no obvious reason.

Yet another way we’re similar is the wish to have other interests.  As she puts it, “Just because something was fun for someone else, didn’t mean it was fun for me… I love the idea of playing chess, going to a lecture on international markets, doing crossword puzzles, getting a pedicure, eating dinner at a hot new restaurant, or having season tickets to the Knicks. (115)”  Yet, she ultimately decides that a major Secret of Adulthood is “Be Gretchen,” to “acknowledge to myself what I enjoyed, not what I wish I enjoyed (116).”

Why am I reflecting on this now?

My 30th birthday is in six weeks and I’m trying to neatly package up the 30 by 30 list in (recycled) wrapping paper with a bow on top. If all goes as I hope, I will finish 19 of the items (possibly 22).  (Don’t forget I had to discard 2 items after multiple failed attempts) Yet, two of the items are staring me in the face, really simple items.  If I cared about them, these would have been knocked these off the list in the first 2 days of the project, and I would have been knocked out from the liquor content.

Learn to make 5 drink recipes by memory.

Learn four new functions on my camera (you know, to complement my full knowledge of how to use the auto function).

Yet, I’m sitting here at night, after my son is in bed with my full cup of… coffee, and adhering the last piece of tape to the box with my busted camera, ready to be sent to New York for repairs.

paintnight

My list of things I wish I enjoyed: attending rock concerts, going to paint nights, salsa and swing dancing, drinking alcohol, and taking pictures.

I hate admitting I’m totally apathetic about doing these things!  I feel strange for saying that, because everyone I know really loves and is passionate about them!

In fact, I have spent years coming up with sophisticated reasons for why I don’t like drinking, or taking pictures, not to mention the other 3.   Most people don’t even think about taking pictures, they just do it.   I’ve been known to say things like “I’m not that visually oriented.”  Yet, I’m as prone as anyone to oversaturate on pinterest and get all geeked up over a good infographic.  But, pull out my phone? Remember to bring my d-SLR with me?  Yeah, right.

As for alcohol, while I genuinely dislike most beers without fruit in them, I do enjoy a good mixed drink. I did learn how to make a Dark and Stormy, and it’s very similar cousin, the Moscow Mule.  However, I quickly lost interest in tasting various rums (another hobby I wish I had) or mastering the Margarita and perfecting a Cosmopolitan.  I’d rather just drink coffee. Or seltzer. Or hot chocolate. Even better, I’d rather eat dessert or any sweet food.  Weeks can go by, and I don’t drink alcohol, or even think about it.

Winter break Books

What additional items on the 30 before 30 list would have reflected a more genuine attempt to “Be Beth?”

My list doesn’t have any reading goals!  This absence is like a car with no engine.  Reading is a core aspect of who I am, and without adding it, I didn’t get very far, or acknowledge that a lot of my goals assumed I’d be reading.  It would be as if Lena Dunham decided to make a 30 by 30 list for herself this year, and yet didn’t set any writing goals.

Creating reading goals seemed like a cop-out, I was going to read whether I put it on the list of not!  However, it also ignored what it means to “Be Beth.”  This is definitely an example of poor self-knowledge, which is a key part of becoming an adult.  Case in point, my progress toward making mixed drinks included buying a book for to learn how to do it.

Lesson learned!  In the future, maybe when it comes to making that 5-year family plan, I’ll acknowledge who I really am.

Now… maybe I should just focus on making 5 mocktails from memory?

My Favorite Movies

Nothing to do in snowstorms but make lists of favorite movies. Oh yeah, and shovel.

Yellow Movie Posters

Remember college?  It seemed soooo important to have a list of favorite movies, bands, and books on the tip of your tongue.  As though, you might come across a potential best friend, and only your mutual appreciation for Bright Eyes would cement the relationship.  If you asked me what my favorites were, I knew them faster than my social security number. It was delicious to fill out profiles online, prove my erudition, or reveal guilty pleasures.  Since those days though, I don’t put as much stock in favorites, and it seems like filling out profiles is passe.

In the space when I was going to grad school and parenting a toddler, it seemed like there wasn’t enough time for 2 hour movies, only 30 minute TV shows.

But, in the midst of another epic blizzard for Boston, there has been some time to think about my favorite movies.

So long old favorites.

  • Empire Records
  • The Emperor’s New Groove
  • Fight Club
  • 10 Things I Hate about You
  • I heart Huckabees
  • Garden State

These are my new favorites.

  • Lars and the Real Girl
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Short Term 12
  • Starbuck
  • She’s out of my League
  • Looper

And this is my favorite commentary on movie posters. I‘m a sucker for big independent films.

30 Before 30 Update -Christmas Style

Christmas Update on my 30 by 30 project. What’s done, what’s in progress, and what have I given the boot from the list.

ChristmasCardImage

Hi to all my Christmas Card readers! I wanted to be sure you got the full update on my 30 before 30 progress… but I realize (alas!) that none of you want to a 2 page Christmas letter.  I get it, don’t worry.

If you didn’t realize I was doing this project here’s where I first blogged about it.  If you click here you’ll find the last update I wrote in October.  April 3 is fast approaching to finish, but I’ll probably give myself until April 30th to complete the items.  One of my personal life philosophies is that “Getting there is half the fun.”  This is probably because I owned this suitcase as a kid.

care bears suitcse

Also because learning (and setting goals) in my personal life is something I consider it’s own reward.  I particularly like this quote in Warren Bennis’ book On becoming a Leader –

“Learning is experienced as a personal transformation.  A person does not gather learnings as possessions, but rather becomes a new person.  To learn is not to have, it is to be.” [emphasis mine]

Executive Summary. If you read nothing else, here’s what you need to know.

  • 9 Goals finished.
  • 8 Goals actively in progress
  • 2 Goals dropped due to obstacles.

Progress Report since October 3.

Goals I finished.

Although I originally planned to run the entire North Shore Trail Series (as both a New Years Resolution and part of this 30 by 30 list) some important things came up on the way.  For example, my brother-in-law’s wedding in Indiana, my final day of spring semester classes, and leading a board level retreat at church – an activity I consider to be one of my top accomplishments this year. The final race of the series was October – where I ran Ravenswood, in Gloucester MA.  I love that race, it’s beautiful.  Trail racing is also as hard as I remembered from HS cross country, and I’m not surprised that this year I racest my slowest pace times, despite actively logging more miles than last year.  There were other factors involved too, I’m sure.  Here’s the final NSTS point counts.

Floss Daily – I cracked down on my lax tooth care habits in November/December and worked hard on flossing every day.  How did I make this happen?  I started brushing my teeth with Ethan every night.  This is one of my favorite things about kids – they keep you real.  How could I not floss when Ethan wanted to as well?!  Attaching the new habit you want to do to an old habit is a proven method for making things stick.  After making this every part of my day, it’s pretty much routine now.

Goals Actively in Progress/ Half Finished

Meeting up with an old HS friend. Actively working on this… but scheduling old friends into your new routines is hard too.  Hoping to meeting up with plenty of old friends during Christmas break.

The Economics Course.   I completed the first 3 weeks of this Macroeconomics course… but then our internet was a little bit out of our control for about 5 weeks.  I couldn’t stream video.  When it finally got put to rights, I’ll be honest, I spent a week and a half catching up on my favorite TV Shows (Once, The Mindy Project, and New Girl) rather than learning more about the classical economists, supply side economics, and budget deficits.  The class wraps up this week… and there’s not way I’ll finished 9 weeks of material in the next 3 days.  We’ll see where this goal goes.

Recognize Influencers.  I ran into a woman I used to work with who really influenced how I build teams, achieve cohesive groups, and think about what it means to be inclusive.  We didn’t always see eye-to-eye when we worked, but she strongly influenced how I work with others and how I view leadership and success.  It was really great to let her know this, as well as apologize for some of my less than stellar behaviors. Two more to go!

Goals I dropped/ Am Skeptical I’ll finish.

Mentoring. I signed up to mentor a freshman at SSU this fall… but my student dropped the program and I was left without a mentee.  I’d still like to do this, but it looks like formal mentoring isn’t in the cards for me yet.

Graphic Design/Photo Editing. Depending on how I count this one, I’m either done… or it’s probably not going to happen. I has a really fun time over the summer reading more about graphic design theory.  This fall I spent an enjoyable evening completing this Skillshare Course in Lettering, and even produced this sign!  But, lately, I haven’t had very much interest in manipulating images.

Hand lettered Psalm SignReflective Summary

I could still probably pull off 25/30 of these goals… especially if I put more effort into the long term ones.  I spend a totally disproportional time job hunting compared with achieving any other goal.  However, this goal is also the most important to me.  Figuring out what to do with this blog/blogging future, then clarifying our family’s five year plan fall right under that.  The other goals are pretty peripheral… even if rock climbing would be really fun.

Summer Reading Roundup, Fall Reading Ideas

An apple tree definitely signals back to school - which equals more reading... right? Except no school for me!
An apple tree definitely signals back to school – which equals more reading… right? Except – no school for me! I’m done my MS degree!

Remember when I said I was going to read maybe half of that summer reading list? I read about a third.

But holy cow the ones I read were amazing!

(Except for Babbit. That wasn’t that great.)

I highly recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  I’m planning on giving it as a gift for Christmas for some special people.  Who knew psychology and economics had so much in common… not me – but now I do. This book is almost dauntingly big, but you can read it 10 page chapter by 10 page chapter as a nightly devotional.

I’ve been reading Metamorpha with my husband, and it’s allowed for some really great conversations about how Christianity is a journey, not a destination, or a past gate we walked through when we were “saved” so many years ago.  I’m loving Kyle Strobel’s overarching framework of a trifecta of worldview informers who help Christians through life: the Bible, good community, and the Holy Spirit.

I re-read the entirety of Lev Grossman’s trilogy – including the final book The Magician’s Land which kicked ass by tying up all the loose ends and being satisfyingly well written. Yep, I recommend all three – and my awesome Librarian friend Anna reviewed the book here.

I just finished Aubrey Daniel’s classic Bringing out the Best in People, which is the popular version of his textbook Performance Management, which I mistakenly thought I wanted to read. I didn’t really feel like reading a textbook. Really. Daniel’s is a huge proponent of positive reinforcement, with reinforcement being used in the psychological sense.  The book makes a lot of sense for both managers, teachers, and parents to read.  It wasn’t exactly scintillating – but I gleaned some important lessons.

The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen was powerful, but oh so sad.  I read it on the plane to and from my brother-in-laws wedding – which helped to not make it as sad as it could have been.  Otherwise it’s the type of book that will depress you for weeks.  The basic premise is that unless violence is alleviated in third world countries with serious justice systems and police accountability there will be no relief from poverty no matter how much money is thrown at the problem.  The stories are really heartbreaking.

Off-the-list reading this summer I really enjoyed included:

  • The Sparrow and sequel Children of God by Mary Doria Russell.  Super thought provoking fiction grappling with the concept of theodicy.
  • Drive by Daniel Pink.  Looks at the idea of motivation and what motivates us.  This is written in the spirit of most pop nonfiction books (think “Blink”).  The book was fascinating with it’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – but what was more fascinating was reading the online venom between Aubrey Daniels and Daniel Pink. Ha.

As always, my “To Read” list on Goodreads is enormous and I’ll never finish it.

But… I’ll try and read these books this fall (significant summer overlap since I reallllllly did want to read the first 4), and hopefully a few others off of it.

  • Big Data at Work – Davenport.
  • Reasons and Rationalizations – Agyris.
  • Cradle to Cradle – McDonaugh.
  • Disunity in Christ – C. Cleveland.
  • The Meaning of Sex: Christian Ethics in a Moral Life – D. Hollinger
  • Kristin Lavransdotter Trilogy – S. Undset.
  • Good Work – H. Gardner.

30 by 30 Update

I am 127 days into my 30 before 30 List.  Of those 30, I’ve done one item, and I’m in the middle of 8.

I’ve also decided to face reality that (as usual) I live in the ‘unreality’ known as the land of “bite off more than you can chew.”  To be honest, it’s actually kind of nice living here, when you look back and see all that you were able to accomplish by just believing you should be getting more done. More on the pressures of overachieving another day. Ha.

As written 3 of my goals are totally impossible, and honestly, 2 are ultimately out of my control.  I’ll have to edit this list if I want to be serious about it. Do I?

Why am I doing a 30 before 30 list?

I’m doing this project because…

it’s what bloggers do! In my mind that’s a legitimate reason.  Even though over the last two years I’ve stopped blogging more than two to four times a month, some part of me still identifies with the title “blogger.”  I’ve come to realize most bloggers identify as list-writers more strongly than the general public. Bloggers make lists and do them.

to stretch myself. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams on that list.  Getting a job is somewhat out of my control – but the individual components of it, like writing cover letters, networking, practicing interviewing, and actually applying to jobs aren’t.

to affirm that experiences matter.  Experiences and knowledge are more important than things.  That’s why my list is heavy with items I want to do with friends, or that cause me to recollect fondly on the things that I’ve done in the past.

So, yes. I’m still working on this list – even though I had to edit some of the items to make them a reality.

Also I’m updating my progress on the facebook page for this blog more often than I do here.

30by30 updates

 

Summer Reading!

Summer Reading

It’s always fun for me to put together a summer reading list of things I think I should read.  I usually choose nonfiction books that will bring me new insight into myself or my topics of interest (sustainability, psychology, christianity) and some fiction books I’ve heard a lot about in reviews or through friends.

Typically what actually happens though, is that I just read what I feel like reading, and don’t usually finish my list. Here was my reading list from the winter – I read 5 out of 11.  Here is my reading list from summer 2012 – I read 7 out of 15.   I better aim high because past experience seems to indicate I’ll read about 50% of this list.

Fiction

  • A Fine Balance – Mistry Rohinton
  • NW – Zadie Smith
  • Babbit – Sinclair Lewis
  • Wind up Bird Chronicles – H. Murakami (I’m loving Murakami, one of my new favorite authors I believe).
  • Eleanor & Park – R. Rainbow
  • The Magicians Land – L. Grossman.  (Third book in the Magicians series… and I’m really excited for it.)

Non-Fiction

  • Thinking Fast and Slow – D. Kahneman (already reading this one, and I highly recommend it).
  • Change Agent – Os Hillman
  • Performance Management – Aubrey Daniels
  • The Wisdom of Crowds – Surowiecki (You’d be surprised how often you hear about “crowdsourcing.”  This book is about some of the psychology of that.)
  • Big Data at Work – Davenport
  • Reasons and Rationalizations – C. Agyris (or any book by him)
  • Micromotives and Macrobehavior – Thomas C. Schelling
  • Cradle to Cradle – W. McDonough
  • Deep & Wide – Andy Stanley
  • Disunity in Christ – C. Cleveland (*Christena writes a fabulous blog about social psychology and christianity. you should check it out.)
  • Metamorpha – K. Strobel
  • The Locust Effect – G. Haugen.

I update my reading progress on Goodreads often – If you use that site, I’d love to be friends with you and see what you read.

goodreads logo

 

PS:  In other REALLY exciting news – I’m 92% done with my MS degree at Salem State, and therefore might have some more time for blogging in the future!  OR…  I might just read ALL the books and work on my 30 before 30 list.  We’ll see.

30 Before 30 List

Birthday Cake!
Birthday Cake!

Here is my 30 before 30 list.

Tackling Nagging “Adult” things.

  1. Finish Master’s Degree.
  2. Join a Professional Association.
  3. Buy a suit.
  4. Go to a conference.
  5. Get a job.
  6. Save 2 months of living expenses.
  7. Floss daily.

Go on (local) Adventures.

  1. Go on a weekend Road Trip.
  2. Run 6/9 Races of the North Shore Trail Series.
  3. Try yoga paddleboarding.
  4. Go to the Boston Harbor Islands .
  5. Eat at the Top of the Hub.

Continue to be a Navel Gazer.

  1. Go on a retreat to L’Abri.
  2. Make a wedding photo album.
  3. Update the 5 Year plan for our family.
  4. Send thank-you letters to three people who have had a big influence in my life.
  5. Start a new Blog.
  6. Write my 20’s in a long form essay.

Keep Learning.

  1. Take a cooking (or art) class.
  2. Go to a wine tasting.
  3. Try a new fitness style (adult gymnastics? TRX?).
  4. Take an Economics 101 MOOC.
  5. Learn Graphic Design Basics.
  6. Write a book proposal – or – Submit a story to Relevant/ Her.meneutics.
  7. Learn how to do 4 new functions on my camera (eg: white balance).

Get (even more) Social.

  1. Learn how to make 5 drink recipes from memory.
  2. Reconnect with a few high school friends.
  3. Become a Mentor.
  4. Host a story-telling party.
  5. Organize a group camping trip.

Some thoughts on the process –

It was both easier and harder to make this list than I thought.

Easier because…On the one hand, I feel as though the last five years taught me a lot of the types of lessons people vow to fix when they turn 30 (for example to get more organized or have better time management skills.  Not that I’m perfect, obviously).  And… I don’t feel my biological clock ticking because having an unplanned kid means at least I got that accomplished early.  I didn’t struggle with trying to pick which bad habit to fix – it was easy.  I do need to floss every day, and I’m currently terrible at it.

On the other hand… I wish I had the money to put international travel on the list, or take a lot more costly classes and experiences (sky diving – yeah, I would have tried that).  I don’t need more money to be happy, I am happy, but… it would have made for a more adventuresome list and I’m very envious of those that are travelling a lot more than I am.

And now… I plan to print the list off and stick it in my study space so I can work on it over the next year.