Forced Anticipation (Part 1)

Recently at work I was asked to be part of a group that will discuss and analyze how we each accomplish short-term vs. long-term tasks. This has nothing to do with the actual tasks themselves, but focuses on how we organize our day/week/month in order to reach our goals. I joined the group, mostly because when I’m asked if I want to do something at work I say “absolutely, I do” (via Jim Halpert), but also because I find the subject interesting.

Emphasizing the how not the what, and its relationship to the short and long term future.

When I went home after the group’s first meeting, I couldn’t stop thinking about how my personal life would look through this lens. Two things happened when I started to pit my long-term against my short-term life. I immediately organized my family’s calendar onto a shared Google calendar, so that I do not have to solely rely on memory and an erasable white board. I’m confident that being able to access my calendar beyond the walls of my kitchen is going to change my life, and I already feel great about it.

But beyond calendars and schedules I got to thinking about how I think about my life in the short and long-term perspective, and the immeasurable consequences that view has on my feelings about the future. How we tend to get excited about big events next week, next month, or next year; when life is really made up of the day to day.

As an exaggerated example, at 31 years old I’m already excited to reach retirement age and live in some sort of maintained community with my friends, reliving our glory days. I have a long-term goal of retirement and I’m excited about it. Working tomorrow will ultimately help me achieve that goal, but am I excited about it? No, not really. Will I even live to see retirement age? I have no idea, but I sure am looking forward to it. Will I live to see tomorrow? Probably, but I’m not exactly excited for it. It doesn’t make any sense.

Why am I looking forward to the long-term, instead of the short-term? It makes my short-term seem lackluster in comparison, and it really isn’t. My life is great.

Thinking too much about thinking started to hurt my brain (seriously Nikki, do something more with your life), so I decided to stop the nonsense and simplify it. I decided to once again force anticipation into my life, just for shits and giggles. Two times each day, once before going to bed and once at lunchtime, I’m going to make a mental note of something that I’m looking forward to in the next 12 (or so) hours. I’m going to do this for one week with two limitations; it cannot be about food (obviously I’m always excited for my next meal) and it cannot be about the kid. She already takes up 95% of my brain and we’re in a standoff over the last 5%.

Wish me luck!

 

Random Thoughts

It is the first week of December and the holiday season is upon us. Life is already very busy with seasonal events but it is dark all the time. It feels like it’s time to gain 5 pounds and habitually sit under a blanket. I have nothing to share except random thoughts in holiday colors. They keep me entertained on a daily basis. (Both the thoughts and the colors).

  • A co-worker of mine has the most text-book sounding sneeze I have ever heard. It is literally the perfect Ahh-Choo”. I am simultaneously annoyed and jealous every time he sneezes.
  • I have developed an underlying fear that when my car stereo is connected to my phone via blue tooth I can not only hear the music playing from my phone, but the world can also hear what is happening in my car. Like we’re all under surveillance and Big Brother is secretly watching and recording us. What if this turns out to be true!? What would my lifetime driving demo sound like? My husband’s would most definitely sound like this as he regularly tells other drivers where they can stick it. What would yours sound like? At the very least mine would include some pretty sick versions of Patiently Waiting, I know that much.
  • When you want only 1 piece of toast, why does it matter which side of the toaster you put the bread in? I sometimes use the wrong side on purpose. I’m like “take that toaster, I feel like being a bad ass today”. I’m happy to report that the end of the world is not waiting for us on the wrong side of the toaster.
  • Going to busy restaurants always puts me through a series of mental ups and downs. Every time I see food being carried in the direction of my table I assume it is mine. Tray of food spotted = HAPPY!” Tray of food gets carried past my table = NOT HAPPY!” This scenario occurs even if I haven’t been waiting long for my food, it’s ridiculous.
  • I like to change the words to songs and seamlessly insert my own name into lyrics. You can’t just go all willy-nilly though, it really has to be the right fit. “Oh Nikki (You’re so fine etc.,)” instead of “Mickey”. This example is a bit too generic and obvious for my tastes, but you get the point. I do this quite often and I sometimes use other people’s names too, if it feels right. When I get caught trying to sneak the word “nikki” into a song my husband shakes his head and says “you’re such a dork”. Yes, I am. That’s the point.
  • Sometimes the worst part of my day is the last 10 seconds of Chopped. The countdown makes me super nervous.

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To end on an encouraging note, we have until the 21st (only a little over 2 weeks away!) until the hours of daylight start to get longer again!

Giving Thanks

To be completely honest ‘reasons to be thankful’ posts, specifically on Thanksgiving, cause me to roll my eyes and scroll faster through whatever it is that I am reading. I don’t mean to offend anyone, it is a personal pet peeve I think. The word, thankful. It assumes that we are actually thanking someone or something for what we have in our lives. As if these things have been gifted to us and we should therefore feel indebted and grateful.

It’s not my intention to open up a can of worms here, so I won’t go further into that subject. Creating controversy is not exactly my cup of tea. We’re all entitled to believe what we want to believe.

But being obligated to feel thankful on a specific day defeats the purpose. I’m not a fan of designating one day, 11 full months into the year, as the time to start noticing and appreciating life. But I don’t feel ungrateful. When I post a pointless picture of the meal I’m about to eat, that’s me taking the time to appreciate that food. Every time I hug someone hi or bye, or send them a meaningless text, that is me feeling lucky to have that person in my life. When I write about something ridiculous from my commute, that is me being thankful to have that car, that job, that home to drive to. I really do feel fortunate for all of this. That is what this is all about.

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But I also know it is entirely possible to create our own fortunes, and misfortunes, through our own perspectives. Being determined to look at life sunny side up is not easy, sometimes it is really hard. But I’ve certainly learned that when I look for good things, I see more good things. And vice versa. I’ve also learned that what I choose to dwell on is my decision.

I of course realize that some things in life are entirely out of our control, and that life can be very unfair. But other times, whether it’s the good, the bad, or the ugly, we have no one to blame (or thank) but ourselves.

So while I do appreciate all the good things in life; my family, my friends, my happiness, I will not be going out of my way to feel more thankful for them this week than any other week. On Thursday I will be grateful for four consecutive days off, for the two full Thanksgiving meals I get to eat (which I’ll instagram of course). For a little football. For the comfort of family traditions, and for the official start of my beloved holiday season.

And for gravy. I will always be thankful for gravy.

Toast Day

This morning started out like many other mornings. I found it difficult to wake up when the alarm went off, and groggily decided it was a good idea to keep sleeping until I had only the exact amount of time needed to get ready for work. Scientifically calculated down to the last second, in conjunction with knowing that my alarm clock was set ahead of real time by five minutes (no one knows why), just in case.

Remembering that Tom had told me last night when he got home late that he hurt his ankle playing volleyball, I woke him up before leaving to check on him. That is when things started to go downhill. He could not bend it, put any weight on it, and screamed bloody murder when I tried to help him put a sock on his foot. (I’m not gonna lie, this part made me laugh a little bit). After testing it out a little more it was clear that he was in legitimate pain, and that I would be taking over the AM dog parenting responsibilities, plus handling garbage day responsibilities. These tasks had not been factored into my calculations. Even with the extra five minutes that exist outside of alarm clock world, I would be late for work. But that’s fine, not a big deal.

After making a plan to check in on the ankle around lunchtime, I said goodbye to Tom, and Guinness and I both hungrily ran downstairs just as we always do. Discovering we were out of dog food and had only one cup left, versus the normally allotted two, I rummaged through our resources and topped Guin off with some treats and two end-of-the-loaf crusts. I would go to Wegs later, the dog was ecstatic that it was bread day, and we were good to go. Ready to exit the house in no time flat. I threw my purse and keys into the car, let Guinness take care of business on his own while I took the garbage cans and recycling to the curb, let him back in the house, and felt very proud of myself for being so practical and efficient. I would be late, but the morning had almost been salvaged at this point.

When trying to get back into my car to finally leave for work, my car door would not open. To give a short backstory, this wasn’t completely out of the blue. The latch on my driver’s door has been acting up lately. But I had just opened the same door to set my purse in the car and it was fine. This morning was the first time the door had officially refused to open. I stood there for a second, tried the door a few more times, and weighed my options. Knowing that Tom was not in any condition to help, and I was already late, I walked around, got into the passenger’s side, and crawled over to my seat. Not ideal but still, in the grand scheme of things, not really a big deal.

I was on the road. It was raining, and Rochester drivers always struggle mightily with this extremely common weather condition. So after wading my way through stop and go traffic on 490 (that’s the 490 for any Buffalo readers), I was finally on 590 and up to cruising speed. I was about to crank up the music and put my sunglasses on. This exact moment, when I was going 65mph down the highway feeling cool, is when my driver side door decided to open. Completely unprovoked, the door pops open with gusto and starts flapping around in the wind. Kind of a big deal.

After receiving some alarming looks from other drivers and quickly realizing that sharing their sense of panic was not going to be beneficial to the situation, I leaned out, grabbed the handle, and held the door closed for the remainder of my trip. Without realizing it my brain decided it was not worth stopping alongside the highway in the rain, when I probably wasn’t going to be able to fix the door on my own anyway. So I kept driving. One hand on the wheel, the other keeping the door closed, all while trying to keep my anxiety prone self from spiraling out of control, and silently cursing Screenvision for relocating our office so far down 390.

By the time I crossed the threshold into my office I felt exhausted. I was stressed, tired, disappointed in myself for being late, worried about Tom’s ankle, and my own hand/arm was sore from holding my door closed with a death grip. To top it off I was starving and would not be eating my usual toast for breakfast as I had inadvertently, and literally, given away my last piece of bread. I needed coffee badly, so I went into the kitchen and found this waiting for me.

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Imagine my surprise as I realized that while I was speeding down the highway with one door open, one of my co-workers had been setting up a toast bar for all of us to enjoy. Complete with topping options and a giant ‘toast’ sign. I obviously went right into his office to thank him, but I don’t think he actually knows that he made my day.

I know I have a lot of problems to solve throughout the rest of my day. Ankles, doors, dog food and a general grocery deficiency all await me. But right now, as I’m reveling in my fourth-piece-of-cinnamon-and-sugar-toast glory, I couldn’t be happier.

Hunger Management

I have a confession. I’m a big fan of Combos, the snack food. Specifically pepperoni pizza cracker combos are my favorite but, in a pinch, any flavor will do. I realize they are the worst kind of junk food. Filled with mysterious ingredients that are terrible for me, and have no nutritional value whatsoever. But I just don’t care.

Last week, as I was blissfully enjoying what amounted to be almost an entire bag (yes, in one sitting), curiosity forced me to turn the bag over to read exactly what I was eating. This caught my eye instead.

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Hunger management snack? I love it. Not because it’s really all that comical or witty, but because it hits home. I frequently find myself in a position where I have to be someone else’s hunger manager and, let me tell you, it is not an easy job. It’s mostly a product of my surroundings, like my happiness, but I’d like to think that I’m good at it too. Professional hunger manager, I wish it was a marketable skill.  My new resume could read “experienced at preventing and negotiating dicey situations in which a normally even-tempered person or persons can rapidly become unpredictable, angry, and even hostile.” Hangry.

It’s a simple, self-explanatory, word. And I’ll admit that I’m the number one offender of overusing it. But it’s only because it makes me laugh. We all know it when we see it, and it can happen to anyone. Tom, if you’re reading this, I’m not purposely throwing you under the bus. Well maybe I am a little, but take comfort in the fact that it’s not just you. Apparently there are entire research studies dedicated to the subject. The National Science Foundation spent money on this.

For whatever reason, I find the entire concept extremely entertaining, so I dug a little deeper. Then I found THISwhich really made me laugh. And, as you know by now, I want you to laugh too so here I am, sharing.

Kudos to the Combos/Mars marketing team that wrote this little blurb on the back of the bag for a job well done. They made me smile. It is also a successful distraction tactic, because I never did get around to reading that ingredient list. But let’s face it, there will be a next time.