Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 4: January 21st-27th...when's my vacation?!

It's sometimes hard to focus on the here and now, when I have vacations to Vegas and Hawai'i in my not-near-enough future to think about. I would so much rather spend my time researching hotels, flights, and the best restaurants than researching emotion regulation, anxiety, substance use, assessments, trauma, treatment, measures, or practicum sites. That is the life of a grad student I suppose, and you'd think this far into my program I'd have realized that by now and come to terms with it. Not to mention, I just came back from "vacation", and I'm already complaining? I also think I should be thankful I have the opportunity to take these vacations (although, Hawai'i is actually school related) and it is quite nice to have something pleasurable to look forward to, even if the first one is 100 days away (yes...I have a countdown going).

The week before last, I attempted 10 articles for my dissertation and  I fell short, however, I still read more than I was reading before. Then this last week I attempted the same, and still fell short...BUT... I read more than the week before. I am still short of 10 articles per week, although, I am making progress each week to where hopefully this next week I can set out to read 10 and actually achieve it.

My 5 things:

1. I attempted a mindfulness exercise.  Mindfulness is a practice that in recent years has been impacting the field of psychology and has shown to be effective with a number of different populations and for a number of different disorders. So the research is pointing to it, my colleagues and professors are pointing to it, and I .... well, honestly it just feels awkward and weird to me. My own psychologist attempted it with me in therapy and I flat out told her "listen, that stuff just isn't for me" and put an end to it right then and there. While this is all well and good, because it's not for everyone, I can't help but feel like my clients may be missing out on an additive to therapy that could be really beneficial for them because their therapist (ME!) finds it awkward and silly. It also bothers me that I have such an aversion toward it. There are other therapies and techniques that I don't use or have yet to use but I don't find myself loathing them like I do mindfulness. So I told myself I'd try it, and I will need to try it more than once as it will take time. And guess what? It wasn't totally horrible, although it did still feel awkward and silly, I survived it and am willing to do it again. So... we shall see how that goes, but... baby steps.

2. Went on a bike ride for the first time in about a month! It wasn't a huge one, only about 7 miles but it felt good to be outside and on my bike. I went with J and our friend Ray and we went on a trail that I've been on before in the town I used to live in down in the south bay. It was beautiful and sunny, although incredibly windy and cold! Hoping we don't wait another month for the next ride!

3. For Christmas J and I got binoculars and a bird book from my dad and stepmom. We've been really excited to use them but haven't found the time to go an explore and bird watch. We brought the binoculars with us on the bike ride and ended up spotting a couple birds of prey and nature in action that resulted in a pretty graphic scene of a dead goose and some very territorial predators. The binoculars worked so well and made it much more enjoyable. Plus, Ray is an avid photographer so he was able to get some really great, unique shots of the birds as well. Win-win all around. 

4. J and I finished up the Harry Potter series last night. I forgot how much I loved those stories and how well the movies did with them. I mean, any book-to-the-big-screen is going to have parts lefts out, slight alterations, and of course the movie is never, ever as good as the book. I would have to say though, that the Harry Potter movies did a pretty swell job overall, considering they're condensing 500+ page books into only 2 and a half hours. Now I just really, really want to go to Harry Potter world in Orlando!!!

5. J and I played a board game last night: Life-Twists and Turns! It's not the original game of Life that only gives you two options: have a family or have a career (misogynistic much?) but this version you have 4 options and you can do any combinations of them you want (you mean, I don't only have to pop out babies or get a real job?!). Board games are so awesome, and we rarely make time for them but we really, really should. J just proposed the idea of "game night" twice a week and I suggested instead of forcing it, we just play them when we feel like it. We'll see how that all goes. We only have a few anyway (Life, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Sex and the City Trivia) so we might need to invest in some more soon.

I'm finding that now, even only in week 4, it is getting a bit easier to identify and execute beneficial things  that I can do for myself. I think I'm still just scratching the surface with some of them but, it's a process.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 3: Jan 21st-27th.... and SUCCESSES!

This Monday's been a little different as J didn't go into the woodshop as per usual and stayed home instead. There was definitely a pull away from work-related responsibilities and a later start than usual but I still managed to work out this morning, get a lot of work accomplished for school/dissertation and dinner for tomorrow night in the crock-pot (although tonight's dinner is still semi-undecided as of yet, but it's not yet 5pm).
Although, I am writing here later than I'd planned and also forgot to do it, but am fitting it in just before I allow myself the pleasure of time with J on the couch.

As for this past week's list of 5 things:

1. I had a really good conversation with my mom on the phone. I'm finally at the point in life where I've come to terms with the fact that my mother is but a mere mortal who has made mistakes and done things wrong in life and I've forgiven her for not being the super-hero subhuman I once expected her to be. We're finally at a point where we are able to connect, as friends. Being able to have these conversations with her where I know we're both being real, where I'm not worried about "what my mom will think" or about her "overreacting", where I'm treating her like an equal and not above or below me is really something special. Not every woman gets to this point with their mother, and not everyone has a mother such as mine that this type of relationship is even possible. I know I'm very lucky.

2. J had never seen any of the Harry Potter movies (can you believe it!?!?) and me being the fanatic that I am about them, was thrilled when he expressed a willingness (or more so just did not completely object to) the idea of watching all 8 of the movies with me. We started the series this weekend and actually got through movies 1-4 in the past week. I love being able to indulge in something that I'm so enthralled with and even more so, to be able to share it with someone I love and have them actually enjoying it too!

3. Got a pedicure yesterday. It was actually a treat for J's birthday, but I of course reap the benefits as well :) So relaxing!

4. I tried a new recipe last night for J's birthday dinner. Stromboli, his favorite. I've never attempted it and ended up free stylin' the recipe to suit what I had on hand and my preferences and it ended up a HUGE success! It's hard to surprise him with a "home cooked dinner" or special "birthday dessert" since he gets home cooked meals almost every night of the week. This recipe showed me that I've still got lots of successes up my sleeve.

5. I made a goal for myself for my work on my dissertation to read 10 articles per week. Ok, so it wasn't so much a personal goal as my research adviser told me "You should be reading 10-15 articles per week" and I was like "Say whaaaaaaaa?!?!?!? That's impossible!" So after some sulking and anger about that fact, I decided it just needed to get done. So I started out reading at least 1 article per day (some days 2) in order to meet the goal(ahem...requirement) of at least 10 articles per week. And low and behold, I am accomplishing it!

Oh and one more thing. Last Wednesday, after almost a week of the painful waiting and watching other people bask in the APA glory I got the notification that I got accepted!!! I am going to APA in Hawaii in August to present a poster! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! This goal I set out when I first began graduate school in 2010 has become a REALITY!! :D
I don't know how on earth I'll pay for it, but we'll worry about that later. For now, I'm allowing myself to just be proud of my accomplishment :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 2: Jan 7th-13th and the waiting, the annoying waiting

I am beginning to love Mondays.
Who would have thought? The most despised day of the week by most would evolve into one of my favorites.
The thing is, I have a grueling schedule throughout the week. It is just go-go-go from 4am to some times as late as 9pm. It's filled with traffic, commuting, lectures, presentations, due dates, clients, more commuting, reading, supervision, deadlines, time frames, did I mention commuting? So it's easy Tue-Fri to feel like I am so far behind on absolutely everything and find it difficult to really clear my head and combat my responsibilities with a calm mind. The weekend allows for some of that, but even then I'm with my boyfriend much of the time and I would way rather spend time with him doing enjoyable things that studying/reading/school work/prepping for clients.
So here is where Monday comes in. While the rest of the world is going to work, I am home for the day. I plan out ahead of time what all needs to be accomplished on this day:
  • work out
  • Various school/dissertation responsibilities
  • Cooking for tonight and prepping/cooking for tomorrow when I don't get home until 9pm
  • Time for writing
  • A shower at some point and other various things
We've worked it out that J and I work out together Mon and Wed in the morning. We each have our own little routine we came up with ourselves (some variation of push-up/dips/sit-ups,etc). Then he goes to work, leaving me the house to myself. I fluctuate between school work, meal prepping, and breaks so as to never get burnt out doing either for too long. Mondays, unlike most days, I feel like I can actually breathe. I feel like I actually have some control over the whens, wheres, and whys of what I'm doing.

Now onto my list of 5 things:

1. Baked cookies....and brownies. I got to bake twice throughout this week. It helps that J is in love with my baking and is always game for me to bake anything so it's really killing 2 birds with 1 spoon ;)

2. Worked out the first time in a long while. As I said, J and I have started working out in the AM on some days doing our customized to fit us routines.
5 push-ups
10 sit-ups
5 squats
5 dips
10 calf-raisers
10 lunges
20 crunches
(Repeat: total 3 times)
Then eventually, each week I will add 2 reps to each exercise.

It's amazing because even when I first came up with it I thought "meh... this is probably too easy for me and won't give me much of a work out" but then you have to remember that these numbers are actually x3 because you go through the routine 3 times. Plus, after the first day of doing it last week I couldn't walk right for days my legs were so sore! So, I'd say I gave myself a pretty good challenging start. I also made the mistake of not stretching before or after... so I learned my lesson there!

3. Used my crock-pot for the first time ever! I got this crock-pot probably back in about '05. I never used it, then I moved back in with my mom shortly before moving away to Hawaii which resulted in the thing being stashed away at my moms (who lord knows did not touch the thing) until this past Christmas break when we unexpectedly were driving back and I said "Oooh I have room to bring my crock-pot!" and was determined to make use of it, finally. Thank goodness it actually still worked, and it worked well. The meal was a success and I currently have tomorrow's dinner of creamy chicken chili cooking in there as I type. Yes.. I'm so on top of everything that I'm cooking tomorrow's dinner at 3 in the afternoon the day before. (except that whole "being on top of everything" will be completed destroyed as my 4am alarm goes off tomorrow morning, so just let me have it for now!)

4. Last night we went to see Craig Carothers play in Berkeley. This is a January tour he's done, apparently for about 10 years now with Don Henry and Steve Seskin. I surprised J with the show last year when he was playing in Santa Clara the weekend of J's birthday that he happened to be visiting me down in CA from Portland. It was perfect. Needless to say, when we found out he was playing less than 10 miles away in Berkeley, we knew we were going. It was, as always, a wonderful experience. We really need to make more time for events such as this, because it really is enjoyable for both of us.

5. This past week I booked our hotel for a trip to Vegas we're planning with my best friend and her boyfriend. Granted, the trip itself is not until May but planning for a vacation is quite enjoyable. Especially when you're able to get such a good deal, with the help of my dad and his timeshare he has there, we were able to get a great deal for our stay. May is both mine and my best friend's birthday month. This year (2013) Also marks 20 years of friendship with her. 20 years!! Other than those I'm related to, I have not had such a close, consistent relationship with anyone else in my life. So there are lots of reasons to celebrate and Vegas is just a wonderful place to do it! Not to mention, J has never been! So that will be exciting as well.

This past week has also been pretty frustrating for me. APA is the annual conference for psychology, it's a pretty big deal and it's especially important for me because it's in Hawaii this year. I haven't been back since I moved back to the mainland in '10. I've made it a mission of mine to submit/get accepted to APA '13 since I started grad school. Submission deadline for APA conference was Nov 15th. THe conference is not until August, so I assumed we'd be hearing back around March or so. All the sudden starting on Thursday, my Facebook wall is filled with a number of different people from my program posting "I got accepted to APA!" and "APA here I come" and other various celebratory comments about how excited they were about getting accepted. I started checking my email frantically, about 37 times a day, waiting to hear back. and nothing. Not a word.
I know I will hear back either way, whether I've been accepted or rejected, so the lack of hearing anything is not a bad sign necessarily. It is, however, excruciatingly annoying and frustrating.
Despite the progress I've made with having patience and not focusing on what I cannot control.. I still, really, really hate waiting...especially while everyone else seems to be rejoicing.
So I continue to play the waiting game.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week 1: Jan 1st-6th

I must admit, trying to do 5 things per week to benefit myself proved to be rather difficult.
Much harder than I originally anticipated. I'm sure it will become easier to do and pick out beneficial things as time progresses, but this week's items are not anything to write home about. I guess another lesson this will teach me is what types of things are actually beneficial for me and which feel more like a chore...or better yet: those that may feel like a chore, but are actually quite beneficial. Needless to say, I think this will be a great challenge for myself.
After I wrote about my New Year's Resolution and discussed it with my boyfriend, he decided he wanted to document progress for his resolutions as well so it's nice to know we're sort of doing this together, albeit in much different ways.

Week 1:
1. Actually took a "sick day" that I mean I didn't feel well, like a sickness had come over me and instead of ignoring my body's signals, I stayed home, slept a lot, laid on the couch and watched movies with lots of fluids. This resulted in waking up Sunday feeling better (Not totally cured,  but much better).
2. Finished a year long project off my Pinterest that I began Jan 1st, 2012.  The project was a diary/calender/log of daily doings.
This project is ongoing, but I will admit the first year was the most difficult because each card had to be made and written out with the date, and then the entry for 2012 needed to be entered. Also the acquisition of all the postcard dividers needed to happen. I actually ordered some vintage ones off ebay that actually have messages from the 50's and 60's from various parts of the U.S. which I thought added my own personal addition to the project. Although, the last postcard is actually a blank one of Oakland I purchased a few months back in my city.

So this week, I finally got around to finishing up the last few days in December that I'd fallen behind on because of all the holiday/family/buying a car/driving back happenings that caused me to be just too busy to finish in December. Now I'm up-to-date with these and it is already proving worthwhile and interesting to look at the current day and see what I was doing on that day, the previous year.

3. Went to First Fridays in Oakland. It's an art/community event, many cities parttake in their own versions of this but I realized we've been living in Oakland now for a little over 5 months and yet we've never gone to our own city's First Friday event, or any events in our city really. There are so many events and opportunities within minutes of our front door and yet we've experienced so very little of them.

4. During my hour commute home from work on Friday, I plugged in my old I-pod and rocked out to a variety of guilty pleasure tunes I have on there that I completely forgot existed. I love singing in my car, loudly and ALONE so as not to be judged on my lack of talent.

5. I wrote my cousin Kass a letter, snail-mail style. She does not partake in any social-networking, is not a fan of phone calls, and only so much can be said via text. I proposed the idea a few months back that she and I write good old fashion letters and she wrote me in November and I've yet to get around to writing her so I sat down yesterday and wrote out as much as my hand could bare (which proved to be fairly little since I haven't handwritten a letter in awhile). She and I were so close growing up, we did practically everything together. Throughout our late teen years and early 20's various things tore us apart, then brought us back together. We're in such different places in our lives now: I'm out here in a big city in CA going to graduate school with as much freedom as that allows and she is back in a small town in WA, married with a baby on the way, a toddler running around her house and a religion I can't agree with that has resulted in the biggest separation of the two of us. I love her with all my heart, and I love her children as though they are a part of me so the connection with her, however the universe allows is incredibly important to me.

All in all, this week has shown me that beneficial things for me come in all sorts of ways and I need to take the time throughout my week to not only actively engage in things that will benefit my mind/body/soul/heart... but also to take the time to notice those things I may already be doing and how these things benefit my mood and well being. I think part of it is that we so often are already taking part in beneficial activities, but aren't taking the time to acknowledge to positive impact these things can have on us if we let them.
 Week 1 complete, now on to Week 2. This should be interesting as this is the first week of a new quarter in school, my busiest and possibly most difficult yet!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 New Years Resolution (and the new addition of Lucille!)

2013 has arrived, whether we are ready for it or not, it is here!
Today was my 1st day back at work (and by work, I of course mean my practicum at the methadone clinic) after a 10 day vacation that ended in getting about 2 hours of sleep after ringing in the new year and waking up at 4am to make the 11 hour drive back down to the Bay Area.
Why were we driving you ask and not flying back as originally planned...
Because I got a new car! Well, not new by any is a 1995 just like the good ol' Jetta but, unlike the Jetta, this vehicle is actually in good, solid, working condition!
"Lucille" American's favorite redhead <3
This here is Lucille, named after, of course, America's favorite redhead and my personal idol for as long as I can remember: Lucille Ball. I figured it was only fitting, J and I were discussing names and he suggested just "Red" or "Big Red" and I thought no, this here is an older, classy broad... and her name should suggest just that and then it hit me! Lucille <3.
J and I had been discussing getting me a new car because the Jetta, as loveable as he's been, is on his way out, he's a dying bloke who just wants me to give it a rest. We've been through a lot, September marked our 10 year anniversary and that is really saying something. Not many people own cars for 10 years anymore, seems people are so often upgrading or switching make or models of cars for newer, bigger, better and those old tried and true get passed on after only a few short years. Riley, however, (that's the Jetta's cousin and I named our cars 10 years ago 'Riley and Chloe' after characters from one of the Olsen Twins' shows)....Chloe was given up many years ago, but Riley has been with me through oh so much.
Needless to say, we found ol' Lucille up in Portland while visiting family and decided she was too good to pass up, canceled our flights home (thank goodness we were flying Southwest where you can cancel and that $ just goes toward your next flight!) and we made the 11 hour drive back down on New Years Day.
Now, we haven't decided what to do with the Jetta. We've debated attempting to seel the heap o' junk, but really that wouldn't get us much money what with all the problems and "quirks" as I like to call them. There's also the possibility of just parting it out, but that seems a shame since he is still running, although barely... not to mention the idea of just stripping it all apart almost breaks my heart just thinking about it. The other option, which I am kind of keen on, is just keeping it as a back-up or secondary vehicle. It can't hurt right? Although, it hurts my wallet a little insuring 2 cars, but in the grand scheme of things, it just seems smart to have a second vehicle, which J can always drive if need be.

So anyway, all my excitement about the new car made me totally get side tracked and forget why I was posting. NEW YEARS!
 Last year's resolution:
My new years resolution for 2012 is to focus on what I can do, what I'm capable of and what I am able to work toward. Focusing on the cans instead of dwelling on the cannots. 

In terms of this resolution, I'd say that overall, I did a pretty fine job of this in 2012. I am so quick to get discouraged and give up because of negative feedback or a bad review or just my own insecurities but in 2012 I managed to endure quite a bit of criticism, let downs, disappointments, and more criticism (especially where research is concerned!) and despite all of that, I still managed to get done what I needed to, achieve more than I thought I was capable of, and do this with a fair amount of professionalism and poise (although I am not above crying in the bathroom or having a mini meltdown at home). I think this was such an awesome resolution for me to challenge myself with because it is something I really struggle with, and continue to struggle with, although I feel like after a year of actively keeping it a goal, I think I've improved a great deal, although more improvement is always something to strive for. 

In terms of 2013, I've decided my resolution will be more output focused with a measurable goal for myself. With that said:
My new year's resolution for 2013 is to do 5 things to benefit myself each week and document these 5 things. 
These things can be anything from enjoyable activities, bettering my career path, physical activities, alone time, special outings with others, whatever will be beneficial for me and my soul. In 2011 I made a resolution to work toward finding a balance between school and self/others time in order to be a better balanced person overall. This resolution for 2013 is stemming partly from this aspect, but also because so often I get wrapped up in what I'm doing with school or responsibilities that I forget to enjoy life. Although I've done a good job at attempting to have that balance, I feel like in the end stress is still winning and where does that leave me? Exhausted, drained, and irritable. 
This resolution for 2013 is unique in the way that I am holding myself accountable for keeping up with and documenting these 5 beneficial things, and where will I be documenting these? Why... right here! I spent much of 2012 complaining how I wasn't writing anymore and how frustrated I was that I couldn't seem to make time for that, for something I enjoy. So here it is in writing. 
That means, that there will need to be at least 52 postings for 2013 if I am documenting things once a week and that way, I am killing a few birds with one stone. Woo!
So here is to a new year, one likely filled with excitement, disappointment, stress, pressure, upsets, and surprises. More importantly, here is to finding more joy through out all 52 weeks of 2013!