Saturday, March 6, 2010

So the ball dropped....

We had such high hopes for this blog when we started it, but sadly we both dropped the ball. Our families, jobs and other life happenings just got in the way. If anyone is still reading this, we do want to try again....keep you posted on the details....

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kindred Spirits

I think Elizabeth Gilbert is a kindred spirit. This is the second time I have enjoyed reading about her travels in Eat, Pray, Love and I feel as if I should take off to Italy and join her. Well, in theory at least. I mean, she is obviously not still there and I cannot take off to Italy. It is just not financially or situationally feasible. That said, it is not that I wouldn’t love to travel that, but that is not the point.

I feel like I am at a point in my life where I must figure things out yet again. The economy is in the tank, we are broke and I am working at a job that pays nothing.
So I have been asking myself the following questions:
• What do I want to change? How can it happen?
• Where do I want to be professionally?
• What are my goals?

For now I am going to focus on one question, my profession. I feel like I have struggled with it for some time. Always, when I was younger, I remember thinking that I wanted to be a teacher. However, when I got older my goals shifted a bit. I really wanted to be a writer. And I did it for a while. First at a magazine, and then I freelanced. And you know what? I hated it.

It didn’t make any sense to me then and it doesn’t now. I love to write. I love to read. I love books, magazines, newspapers - everything with the written word intrigues me. So why did I hate writing for a paycheck?

It hit me today. I wasn’t writing about anything that I actually cared about. As a result of this epiphany here is my next self imposed assignment: change that. Find something I love to write about and do it as often as I’d like. Maybe it will be a new job, or maybe I will start a book….I don’t know. The point is that I am going to start somewhere. I’ll let you know where it takes me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mars versus Venus

Last night I encountered a major opportunity to put my "not talking" lessons to use. My husband and I got into an argument. It wasn't anything major, yet it was enough to piss us both off. The details of the original issue aren't important and are fuzzy in my mind at best. But it is funny how one issue can lead to all the old problems being brought back up. It got to the point where neither of us could remember what we were arguing about.

As men and women do, my husband and I hear things differently. Sometimes I think it is a big joke that God played on women, pairing men and women together. Men just think differently than we do. I take something the wrong way and get hurt, and it seems like my husband just does not care. He gets distant, and I get mad.
The distance just elevates my anger. It pushes my buttons. As a result, I cannot stop talking and asking questions. These actions push his buttons and he pulls even farther away. It is a frustrating and annoying circle. And we have always seemed to be stuck.

At the end last night, I ended up going for a walk, alone and angry. (Side note: This did of course take my mind off the walking alone issue and at least something good came out of the argument). About a half hour after getting home we finally both got over it and let it go. It may sound silly but that is major progress for us. I have to admit that I am not good at letting things go when I'm hurt or mad. In the moment of my frustration, the advice this book has given me is the last thing on my mind. But I will keep trying and reading, only good can come of it. I think.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Need Additional Directions

I have decided that my road map to self help needs to change. While the books that we are following are good, I just don’t feel that they are all that I need. In an effort to find the rest of what I need, and the direction that my self help quest should go I am re-reading an old favorite. Eat, Pray, Love. If you haven’t heard of it you should. It is empowering.

I will get back to some daily assignments, but I had to add this book to the venture as well. And my next assignment is going to be self imposed: Find a balance. I need to figure out how to be a full time worker, a mom and a wife. Millions of women do it every day, but I am struggling. Does anyone have any advice?


Monday, January 25, 2010

Assignment: Learn from men and walk away from a dirty kitchen

I am usually obsessive about how my kitchen looks, so I knew that this assignment would be exceedingly difficult for me. My husband and two children eat constantly, and I feel like everything is always a mess. I seriously may have OCD, and not just when it comes to the kitchen. If I walk by any part of my house and see any tiny crumb, stain or other mess I will drop what I am doing to clean the entire area. The funny this is that even with my slight obsession; my house is still not as spotless as you would think. Maybe it is the uphill battle I am fighting due to having a thriving family.
I have tried to channel my obsessive cleanliness constructively, and it has paid off in way of a good business. I have found that I am able to relieve a lot of my compulsions by cleaning offices and vacant houses for a living. The pay is good and best of all I get to make sure that every place that I leave is clean from top to bottom.

Back to my assignment for the day: walking away from a dirty kitchen. I have failed this miserably. I tried, I really did. I left dishes in the sink and on the counter. I tried to ignore them. But honestly this lasted all of maybe 20 minutes. I guess that is good for me. I cleaned and organized it all and continued to do so promptly upon every mess for the remainder of the day. So all in all, I get a big F for this part of my day. I would like to say that I will continue to work on being more laid back with a messy house, but if I am going to be honest I will just admit to keeping the crazy that I have had for most of my life. Besides I think I would miss this freak part of me, everyone has their own form of crazy but not everyone admits to it. It is my "freak flag" and I am proud to fly it!

On another note, I did walk all by myself again today, and it is getting easier and I am starting to love it. So maybe I don't get an "F" for my whole day after all.

My Personal Juggling Act

I dropped the ball. I was supposed to write a blog post yesterday, and I did not. I would like to extend a public apology to my sister: I am sorry Nicole. Here is my excuse……I just didn’t feel well, and I was having personal issues about starting work full time.

That’s right folks, you heard me, I am working full time at a preschool/daycare. Thank goodness it is only temporary. The job is fine really; it is just a long day. Maybe I need to add a new element to my list of skills that I need to focus on during self help - trying to juggle my time.

Me=Mom, Wife, Teacher, Daughter. How do I fit in all of my roles and still have time for me and what I want?
Self help entry to follow…..Thanks for listening!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Supporting the Girls

My assignment for the last 48 hours was to invest in a supportive and uplifting bra. Supposedly, a great bra will make you feel thinner. To find out I drove myself down to the local Kohl’s to check out the selection. My budget was tight, a mere $15, and there was a lot to choose from. After too long in the dressing room, I was finally able to find a cute color and a comfortable fit.

So, before I tell you what I thought this needs to be said: I did not think a great bra would make a large difference. Boy was I wrong! This bra has given me confidence, a great look and most importantly….support! I love this bra! I wish I could go back to the store and buy six more! I guess I need to save my money.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just for Me!

I cannot seem to grasp this book’s concept of not talking to my spouse, and trust me I have been trying. The husband and I got into a disagreement recently, nothing huge but it was notable enough for me to want to just keep on talking and talking about us and my feelings. After all, if I don't tell him how I am feeling how will he know? He can’t read my mind, and he needs to know when I think he has been a jerk and should apologize.

These are the same thoughts that rush through my mind after, or even during, every disagreement. Lately, I have turned to my chosen self help book for answers. And here is what I have learned……..My husband might be right more often than I give him credit for.
What an eye opener! I swear this book was written about my marriage. I feel like he doesn't want to try and doesn't care about me, and my husband apparently feels like I am never happy and that I want him to be more like a girl. We end up blaming each other.

I really want this book to help us learn how to get back the connection we had when we were first together. We actually communicated back then. Maybe it was because we had no issues and everything was new. I’m not sure. However, what I do know is that I really do miss how we were. And talking will not help us to get there. I am learning I need to try to stop verbalizing so much of my frustration or disappointment with my husband. It really makes him feel like a failure and that is not my intention at all!

On a side note: I have been trying to go for a walk everyday to get in better shape and relieve stress. Problem is that I no longer have dogs and it is too cold to push the baby in the stroller. So that leaves me walking alone. All alone. I feel incredibly ridiculous walking alone; however, my pants are starting to fit better so I am motivated. Now only if I can get passed the habit of fidgeting with my phone or Ipod every time a car passes trying to make it look like I have a purpose and am not just walking aimlessly all alone. I am making progress and it feels good to work on these things. So much to improve and so little time! ---Nicole

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness are More Difficult than You Might Think

As you might remember, I had two simple assignments in the last two days: commit a random act of kindness, and get some fresh air. The fresh air assignment wasn’t difficult, thank goodness, as the weather has been nice lately.

Nice weather in January in the Pacific Northwest, I know it’s weird. But it’s true! This week I have gone for a few walks with my daughter in the afternoon, AND I have taken my Preschool class outside during the day. It has been so nice, and I definitely think my mood has improved.

Despite my success with getting fresh air, the random act of kindness was a bit more difficult. People actually discouraged me from being nice! I tried to let an elderly couple go in front of me at the grocery store, and they just declined and looked at me like I was crazy. Later, I offered my free coffee drink coupon to a friend, and she thought I was offering charity. She was offended. After a day of trying to be extra nice, I found myself to be extra sad. Maybe there is an art to committing a random act of kindness? Am I missing something? ---Erika

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Learning from Men??

Here was my assignment for the day, it was under the topic of what women can learn from men: Look in the mirror and REALLY tell yourself you look fantastic.

My husband regularly praises himself, so I figured I should be able to as well. Apparently, self-praise is something that men are great at and most women are not. At any rate, I tried it today. I instantly felt silly, but the feeling did eventually pass. And when it did, I actually did feel a bit better about myself.

Especially considering I had on my tight jeans, with a little bit of hangover - and no it wasn’t an alcohol related hangover. Don't get me wrong, I do occasionally have those good days where I think I look hot. You know the type of days, when everything just looks right. It just wasn’t one of those days today.

Though the confidence boost was a positive thing, I may have gotten carried away. I made an arrogant joke to my husband. He often does this to me, so I didn’t think much of it. Turns out he doesn't do so well with it coming from me.

Oh, well. It is not like it is my personality type to be egocentric; I just got a bit carried away. That aside, I have decided to continue the mirror practice. It can't hurt right? And it makes me feel good, even in my chub-hugging jeans. --Nicole

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Always Keep my Skirt Down….

Sometimes I think snail mail is the slowest service on the planet. My books finally arrived today. I am going to start my quest for self improvement with, How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World. Tomorrow will be day one for me, but tonight I did sneak a peek at chapter one: Keep Your Chin Up and Your Skirt Down.

The first sentence of the chapter really caught my eye and my interest, “Self-Respect is one of the greatest assets a girl can posses…” This is such a true statement. And there are so many females out there today that don’t even know what that statement means.

Here is what on the agenda for tomorrow, day one:

• Get out - Try to get fresh air everyday
• Give it Away - Commit a random act of kindness

Those two tasks seem easy enough, but I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Right on the Money!

Day 1 - Nicole

I cracked open my book late last night. The first paragraph immediately caught my attention:
"If you were to say to the man in your life, ‘Honey, we need to talk about our relationship’, what do you think would happen?”

What followed was what could have been a transcript of many conversations I have had with my husband, body language and everything. I was shocked. Not that I didn’t believe what I had read about the book prior to purchase, but it really did say that talking about a relationship could be a bad thing! Not talking is a concept I cannot even imagine

My husband, on the other hand, actually seems to be looking forward to this new approach. Not that I am surprised. I have already tried to implement some of the early “not talking” concepts into our routine.

We spent the whole day together, and I have resisted the urge to talk about us or to ask him what he is thinking. There are relationship issues that are obviously still on my mind, but I suppose that will get better, right? All I know so far is that I am determined to improve myself and my relationship.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

And the decisions are OVER!

We have finally picked all three books! Here is the info on book number three….

The book: How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World
Author: Jordan Christy

The reader: Erika

As a lifelong fan of Audrey Hepburn, I was immediately intrigued by the title of this book. While the background of the writer is a bit unconventional for the self help genre, I love the ideas. The book is supposed to, “show(s) young women how to find their own glamorous style, professional success, and love with class and grace.” It sounds just what I am looking for in a self help book.

I would have loved to run out to the store and buy it, but to be honest, the only extra cash I had was in PayPal. It is supposed to arrive in the mail tomorrow. I hope it is worth the wait.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Focusing on Marriage....

The book: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It
Author:Patricia Love

The reader: Nicole

I must have looked at the description of every marriage self help book out there, but I have finally decided on this one. I want this little experiment to focus partly on my marriage because it seems like my husband and I just don’t communicate well. I am a talker and he, well….he is just not. I am trying not to have enormously high hopes for this book, but I do hope it will help. Maybe I will learn not to talk so much and just do…..or maybe I will learn some other great form of communication? I have no idea, but I do know this: I would like to avoid uttering any of the following phrases to my other half.

• Can we talk?
• We need to talk.
• Why didn’t we talk about that first?
• You should have told me.

The list goes on and on. I am sure you get my point. There is bound to be a long road ahead for me in this process, but I am willing to make the effort. I’ll keep you posted….

Friday, January 15, 2010

1,000 Ways to be a Slightly Better Woman

I think we have settled on our main book. Drum roll please… is: 1,000 Ways to be a Slightly Better Woman by Pamela Redmond Satran. It is supposed to include tips for women on how to be "happier enough." If you want more information, check out this podcast.

For books two and three, we are still on the fence. Hopefully a decision will be made soon, as we are running over two weeks behind schedule….

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time to Decide....

It might be worth mentioning that the original plan was to begin this blog, and the 365 days of self help, on January 1st. However, like most New Year’s ideas or resolutions it was put on the back burner. We had too much to think, stress and worry about during the holidays. And to be honest, it took us a while to focus. That said, I think we may have finally narrowed down our long list of prospective books. And that task brings us closer to a start date.

It can’t be that surprising that we have not picked any books yet. Is it? Stress and worry have both blocked our progress. In the last few days, we must have spent hours on the phone and text messaging about book ideas. We both worried that we wouldn’t like a book or it wouldn’t work.

Today, after a great deal of wasted time, we came to a conclusion. We will just go to a bookstore and pick the first books that we find ourselves interested in reading, can’t leave any time for second guessing.
Okay, so I know there is a large chance that you might be laughing at us right now. However, we can do it. We can ignore the impulse to over think, over react, stress, worry and basically be ourselves. At least for five minutes. We have to, or this little experiment will never work.

Here’s the plan, there will be three books. One book that we, both sisters, will follow together and one additional book for each of us to follow alone. Tips will come in threes, there will be three tips per time period, whether that is a day or longer really depends on the tip. After attempting to follow the suggestions from the books we will each post about our experiences here on our lovely blog. And hopefully something great will come out of it all or at least something good. We are trying to stay optimistic.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Books, books and more books....

One long afternoon and what seems like millions of books later, we have our loot to sell! Later this week we will trek down to the used book store and see what we can get. Hopefully, it will be enough money to buy some insightful and fun self help books that will lead us in the right direction. Someone has to know what that direction is, right? Cause either of us have a clue.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And so it began....

We are simply two among the millions of American women that are underinsured, and we fit into a familiar profile: female, barely thirty with husbands, kids and jobs. We work, we nurture, but above all we worry. We obsess. In fact, we are troublesome siblings who were biologically pre-disposed to feelings of anxiety. For years we have wondered aloud about our viable options for treatment. Counseling? Happy pills? Drinking?

After some contemplation we have realized that these options are not going to work for either of us. We have the same type of medical insurance, and it is a thin plastic shield over our existence. Counseling and prescription pills, while we do not doubt their helpfulness, are about as obtainable as a trip around the world. And let’s face it, alcohol costs too much money, and we worry about the effects on our health. Out of options, we are turning to self help. That is right, we said self help. Why not? It can’t be that hard. After all, we are capable and intelligent women.

Here’s the plan: A full year of self help. 365 days of tips that we both follow and write about here, on our blog. We are hoping that a blog will keep us in check, honest and that we motivate each other. The first step: Our parents have a few boxes of books from our childhood. This week we are going to go through the books and find some to sell to a used book store. It is there where we will find our path. A few select books to guide us on our search for spiritual, physical and psychiatric assistance. We are hoping to grow as individuals, mothers and wives. I guess we’ll see what happens.