Goals and Priorities

It’s that time of year again, where I aggregate all the interesting (or not) things from the year, think about what this year meant to me, and make some goals for the next.

I haven’t even started the 2017 Year In Review post yet, so my brain is still kind of in The Now instead of in retrospective mode, but I’ve been thinking about things I want to focus on in 2018.

But there’s too many.

I want to read more — fiction and magazines, mainly.
I want to make recipes from my collection of cookbooks — some of which I’ve never cracked open.
I want to meditate daily, and get sweaty from exercise at least once a week.
I want to watch more movies — mainly older ones that I keep meaning to watch.
I want to interact with my friends and acquaintances more often, and more meaningfully.
I want to write more, and blog more long-form posts (like this one).

That’s not even touching on the more mundane stuff, like getting my weight back on a downward slope, or paying my revolving credit balance back down to zero, or taming my backlogged to-do list(s), or catching up on getting prints into my photo albums.

I’m longing for that feeling of having things under control (which I totally don’t have right now), so I’m trying to figure out how to get myself the biggest head-start on that feeling, for the optimal snowball effect.

I’m over 40 years old. Aren’t I supposed to have myself figured out by now?

Love Languages

I had occasion recently to be thinking about the different ways people express affection for each other — their “love language,” if you’re referring specifically to significant others, but I think it applies to some degree to all friendly and loving relationships.

I’d heard of this concept of a “love language” theory some years back, but hadn’t really looked into it until now, when I found myself wondering: what is MY love language? How do I express affection for someone? How do I show them how much they matter?

Once I looked up the Wikipedia article (rather than actually reading the book by Gary Chapman), I pegged my style immediately — and some of my friends’, too.

1. Gift Giving
2. Quality Time
3. Words of Affirmation
4. Acts of Service/Devotion
5. Physical Touch

My one friend is primarily a giver of gifts (to friends, at least; I don’t need to know about her romantic M.O.) and secondarily one who does acts of service. My other friend skews toward words of affirmation. I’m definitely quality time and physical touch (there’s lots of hugging in our house), and I feel like my husband is, too, which works out well.

When I think about it, it makes sense to me why I feel the need to host gatherings at our house: Come spend time with me, so I can show you that you matter to me. I don’t host parties because I think I make awesome party food and have superfun games — I don’t. I provide an excuse for us all to get together at the same time, because we’re all grown adults with jobs and lives and schedules that may or may not be conducive to hanging out with friends one-on-one (especially if they live in another city).

My gift-giving friend pointed out last week that I don’t need to be exactly like her, especially when it comes to ways of showing affection or friendship. At that point, though, I hadn’t realized that quality time counted as a way to show someone you care. I thought maybe I was just taking my friends and husband for granted by not doing special things or giving gifts or whatnot. I thought of quality time as a basic part of having friendship or affection for someone, not so much as a way of showing that affection.

It explains the disconnect I had with friends when I was younger, too. Specifically, with the one friend from church who used to give me rides everywhere right after she got her driver’s license. I appreciated it, but I also thought that we were just hanging out together because we were friends. Imagine my surprise when I found out through the grapevine that she felt like I’d been taking advantage of her, since I didn’t explicitly thank her for the rides very often. That experience made me more aware of my interactions with my friends… but also more self-conscious of those interactions.

On the physical touch side of things: Aaron and I were in a parent-teacher conference a couple weeks back, where we were discussing our son’s current behavior and emotional maturity as opposed to, say, six months ago. One of the questions revolved around whether we were affectionate at home, and I was unsure how to respond. Isn’t everyone affectionate at home? Doesn’t everyone hug hello and goodbye, snuggle just because, give goodnight kisses, and dole out I love yous like water?

Actually, no. Everyone doesn’t. So, yes, we do have an affectionate home life.

(Turns out that Connor’s individuality and independence grows out of his feeling of safety and stability at home — but that’s a story for another day.)

I’m not sure if this newfound theory of love languages is going to make me second-guess my relationships with others or make them stronger. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Six Years and a Lifetime Ago

Just for fun, I launch up the Timehop app pretty much daily, just to see what I posted to social media on this day in years past. Today, as I was scrolling through photos of my son, tweets about weight loss and running, and photos of snow, I swiped to see this face staring back at me, with the one-word caption, “Worried.”


It was a feeling I remembered well. It was the day I learned I was pregnant. (more…)

Throwback Thursday: Meta Edition

I know that I’m kind of a dinosaur for still having a personal blog. It’s my thing, though, even if it doesn’t get read as much as it did, say, ten years ago.

I found myself paging through my archives today, and I discovered a few interesting things that happened in years past around the autumn equinox.

Fourteen years ago today was when my blog officially began! I’d updated my own personal site with tidbits here and there, but September 22, 2002 was the first “real” blog entry.

Around that time, I was taking the cab to my job in the Sky Bank Lockbox department, where I would typically work a 12-hour day on Monday, an 8-hour day or less on Tuesday, then clock about nine to ten hours a day for the rest of the week. I had just graduated college the December prior, and was really, really missing the old college vibe (especially since the cab drove me past campus every morning on the way to work).

The Black Swamp Crew, 2002

On September 7th, a couple of weeks before I started this blog, a bunch of us walked from the Schnuth abode to the Black Swamp Arts Festival in BG. That’s me at the bottom left, and Aaron is in the blue shirt behind me.


Make New Friends But Keep The Old?

Friend (noun):

 1a : one attached to another by affection or esteem
 b : acquaintance
 2a : one that is not hostile
 b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group
 3: one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
 4: a favored companion
 5 capitalized : a member of a Christian sect that stresses Inner Light, rejects sacraments and an ordained ministry, and opposes war —called also Quaker

I’ve been struggling for quite a while now with what truly sets a person apart as a friend.

I’ve had friends at various stages of my life, and they’ve filled various needs I had at the time — someone to be there, someone to accept me for who I am, someone to be the devil’s advocate, someone to complain with, someone to discuss deep thoughts with, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to push me out of my comfort zone, someone to remind me not to take life so seriously.

So, what happens when the thing that bound us together is no longer one of my needs in life?

Do we stay friends because of mutual life experience? Once a friend, always a friend (unless something drives us apart, like a major shift in philosophy)? Does someone get mentally demoted to “acquaintance,” but never formally told that we’re just not as close as we used to be?

Add It To Your Someday List

I was already in a weird mood. Kind of down, for no good reason.

As I sat at my desk, overhearing my boss’s boss on a conference call, I found my mind wandering, so I pulled him up on LinkedIn — I was curious what he’d done before he started working at our company.

I never found out — he didn’t have that much job history listed on his LinkedIn profile — but I did find that he has his own side gig.

Music and portrait photography.

And he’s good at it, too.

He’s got that kind of photographic style that I wish I had: clean and sharp, with deep depth of field and just enough post-processing to make the portrait pop. (I can never get the shutter speed fast enough in combination with a stopped-down aperture, especially with portraits. I never get the lighting just right. That’s why I shoot wide open and let the depth of field set off my subject instead. It’s become my style and my crutch.)

His day job is Assistant Vice President, Director of Technical Services.

He has enough oomph on the side to freelance portrait photography and get gigs photographing live bands. He also is a musician himself, although I’m not sure how much gigging he does outside of church.

Learning this about my boss’s boss didn’t really improve my mood.