12:25: All Is Love Who do you love unconditionally? Who loves you unconditionally? Who do you love despite their flaws? All is love. (#)
Peanut. But she’s pretty simple.
I’ve observed in myself that a lot of things that would have really bothered me just a few years ago I find amusing or totally not bothersome now. Which is not at all to say that Missy does a bunch of irksome things that no longer irk me. She doesn’t. Whatever combo of me maturing and our relationship being what it is means I’m often delighted by her (still!), I can depend on her, I can be completely honest with her, I trust her, and she makes me want to be all those same things for her.
12/24: Try What is one thing (activity, food, career, event, travel, etc.) that you’d like to try in 2012? Why haven’t you tried it yet? What makes 2012 the year to try it? (#)
A 30-day hot yoga challenge.
I haven’t yet just out of fear. I’m afraid I won’t physically be able to handle it. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make time. I’m afraid I’ll choose not to make time and then be disappointed in myself.
What I wanted was to do it “officially” by declaring my intention at a single studio, doing all 30 classes at that one studio, and having people ooh/ahh over my challenge. Which is totally the wrong reason to do it. But support is nice, too. The kicker is the less convenient of the two studios I go to is the more supportive environment.
As soon as I mentioned to a couple people at the less-convenient more-supportive studio that I was thinking about doing it, the advice flowed in. The enthusiasm was contagious! They utterly believe I can do it and they said so, so I began to really believe I could do it. In fact, I asked one woman as she was heading out after class one day and she literally dropped her bags, sat down on the floor with me, and proceeded to talk for five minutes straight about it. I mentioned this to Missy and she agreed to trek out there on the weekend with me.
I put it out there and nothing but positive signs came back.
So here we go.
12/23: Today Is All You Have It’s true, today is all you have, so why not make the most of it? Describe your perfect day, one that you’ve had this year or one that you’d like to have next year. What makes it perfect for you? (#)
My perfect day involves morning coffee, time outside in brilliant weather, Peanut doing something cute, a heartfelt conversation with Missy, delicious food, yoga, a meaningful connection with a non-Missy friend, and perhaps a tiny breakthrough or revelation of some sort.
I get most of these things most days anyway.
12/22: Identify the Problem Today’s prompt is borrowed from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project.
Identify the problem. That is, when you’re annoyed, angered, or frustrated, ask yourself, “What exactly is the problem here?”
Today, take a few minutes to ponder that one little, nagging issue that, if solved or eliminated, would make your life better. Perhaps, getting up five minutes earlier would make your life easier. Maybe smiling at that one coworker that drives you crazy would ease the tension. What small change in your life would or could make a big difference? (#)
A daily meditation practice.
I’ve seen it have a positive impact on enough people to believe in the benefits. Despite talking about it for a good *mumble* years now, I haven’t made it happen. It won’t necessarily fix any particular problems, but it sure can make a whole lot of things – big and small – better. Can’t go wrong.
12/21: Embrace What guilty pleasure have you embraced this year? What have you just accepted as something you enjoy and stopped denying it? What do you enjoy that would surprise people that know you? If you’re still fighting your guilty pleasure, tell us what it is. Come clean. You’ll feel a lot better. (#)
My eating habits are significantly improved from what they used to be, say, ten years ago. That said, I’ve been told what kinds of food I should really avoid and I don’t always do a great job making choices accordingly. I still eat too much wheat and corn. I still sometimes choose dairy. I still eat more fruit and less veggies than I should.
But we shop the fancy grocery store and the co-op. We shop the perimeter. I buy organic produce. I buy humanely raised meat. We’ve shifted from protein/veggie/starch dinners to protein/veggie/veggie dinners. When we eat at home, we almost always have salad.
But I don’t feel badly about eating out for lunch every day. (I might start to on a cost basis, but not on a food quality basis.) I’ve perfectly honed my Chipotle ordering. I eat a lot of grocery store sushi. I order sandwiches at my favorite deli without cheese and with fruit on the side instead of chips or pasta salad.
In fact I was just saying to Missy that we don’t go out and have fancy dinner often enough. There are plenty of fantastic places to have a really nice dinner in Minneapolis and we just don’t do that very often.
My credit card billing period just ended, so I reviewed the statement. Aside from a few airline charges and periodic gas station visits, the vast majority of our charges are food. We go to the grocery store pretty much every other day.
So, yeah, I like to eat.
12/20: Elevator Speech If you had 30-90 seconds to describe yourself (give an elevator speech), how would you sum up who you are? Today’s prompt would make a great video if you have the capabilities.
I sometimes feel like my story is too short. My twitter bio is essentially my life in hashtags.
partner, queer, brown, engineer, singer, yogi, occasional runner, arts lover, web nerd, #LosLynx fan
Lately I’ve been pondering what happens when that “engineer” word goes away. I’ll still have the qualities that I think of when I label myself with that term, but I won’t have the official job title (and I hope to never have it again). What do you do when a long-standing part of your self-identity goes away? It might be easier to answer that if I knew what I was replacing it with. I don’t. I imagine it’ll be like how I said “I’m from Michigan but I live in Minnesota” for a good seven years before I switched to “I’m from Minnesota.”
Back to the list. None of those are inaccurate. But… none of them are aspirational. Aspiration and exploration are important parts of who I am right now. At the risk of using words that are slightly inaccurate, maybe I need to employ a sankalpa and re-craft my “I am” statement to include things I
want hope expect to be.
Let’s try this:
Hi, I’m Erica.
I love hot yoga. It’s great exercise and I’m learning about yoga as a way of life. It took me six whole months to figure out what “moving meditation” means but I got it! I’m exploring my personal values and finding a way to use my powers for good not for evil.
That’s still not right. At all. But I’m over this topic, so let’s leave it at that.
12/19: Then and Now What was your life like a decade ago? How has your life changed since then? If you’re not feeling wordy today, why not show us some then and now portraits of yourself? (#)
Ten years ago, in 2001…
I was twenty-three years old.
I was working at the job that I moved to Minnesota for. My first Real Job. I’m now finishing up at my second Real Job that I’ve been in for 8 years.
September 11 had just happened and a month later I flew to the UK for a week-long vacation. I haven’t been off-continent since then (I’m not counting the Caribbean as off-continent).
Right after I returned from that vacation I broke up with a girl (whom I wasn’t technically dating in the first place) in a really immature way. We eventually re-connected, but it was never the same after that. I haven’t talked to her in years.
I already had a good chunk of debt that was payoffable but that I wasn’t paying off. This problem got way worse before it got better. I went to a financial counselor and was thinking about bankruptcy but she helped me pull it together, mainly by working out payment plans with my credit card companies, which was huge. Now I’m good on that front.
My Jeep Grand Cherokee was still new. I frickin’ loved that car. I wouldn’t get another SUV but I still miss it. I kind of want to test drive one, just to enjoy that experience again.
I thought I was hot shit. On my way. I thoroughly enjoyed life for another year, and then in the fall of 2002 I moved back in with my folks and was unemployed for a year after that.
I was struggling with coming out and being out. That struggle was largely internal, not driven by any external factors. After the Year of Unemployment and one more year of bunking with a friend for cheap way out in the suburbs, I randomly moved in with some gay folk and that made a huge difference. Then I joined a choir with more gay folk. And I just grew up along the way. Now I’m good on that front. Not only am I personally completely comfortable being out, I’m advocating for gay rights in formal ways.
Now is definitely better than Then.
12/17: Traditions This is the time of year when families are upholding decades old traditions and working to create new ones. It doesn’t matter what you celebrate (or don’t) … please share with us your December traditions: how they got started, why you continue them, and why they are special to you. (#)
Missy’s family has its traditions. My family has its traditions. We don’t have any holiday traditions of our own because we spend holidays with one or the other family. I’m okay with that. I don’t see a need to create a holiday tradition just for the sake of having one. We have other traditions but I’m anti-December-holiday tradition just because there’s so much emphasis on December holiday traditions which implies that there is a “right” way to do things.
Although I wouldn’t mind instituting a tradition of spending xmas or the week thereafter somewhere warm. We should at least try it once. Cancun’s easy to get to from here…
12/17: Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (#)
As I’ve spent a lot of this year enjoying the fruits of prior years’ labor, I’ve been especially appreciative of being in a position of financial stability.
We haven’t had to choose between any necessities. We’ve pretty much been able to do whatever we want this year. We comfortably accommodated several trips, did some work on our house, did some work on our cars, birthday and holiday shopping, charitable giving, socked away cash in our emergency fund, and ate whatever we wanted whenever.
I try really hard not to attach a judgment to this. I try really hard not to stress about what could happen in the future. I note that it’s better than it has been in the past and I’m just enjoying what we have now.
I express gratitude for this by thinking about it every single time I buy something, check a balance, or make a payment and saying a quiet thanks. Every time.
12/16: Ordinary Extraordinary [snipped for inanity] Sometimes the most ordinary, mundane things can turn into extraordinary moments. What was one of your most extraordinary ordinary moments this year? (#)
I’ve really enjoyed taking Peanut to the Minnehaha Park off-leash dog park. It’s wonderful for a hike, even if you don’t have a dog. It’s right on the Mississippi River. It’s forested. There are small bits of “civilization” like a giant stone oven and a broken wagon wheel in random places. I’m still finding new trails to explore. I’ve got a series of photos I’ve taken as the seasons have turned (which I haven’t posted yet anywhere). One of the things I love about Minneapolis is that you have park land like this where you can’t tell you’re in the middle of the city. Beautiful.