Optimisim, You Say?

"Optimism? It's a mania for insisting everything is great when, really, we're all wretched." - Candide

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Confession: I Don't Think I Need to Blog to Try to Be Positive Anymore

Today's a rest day.  I worked 9-5 but got home after 8.  Tomorrow is a 3-sport day and I already have water bottles prepped and in the fridge!  Wish me luck.  I've got a lot of things going on, so I'm sure things will be happening like crazy and I may need to swap workouts from time to time.  (Today I inserted my own rest day after 4 back-to-back tough days and long days at work.)
Just 8 months ago, I didn't know how I was handling just working and going to school.  Some days, I don't know how I'm doing what I am, and how all of this good stuff has fallen into my lap.  I'm not complaining, but it sure does amaze me.
I mean, for all intents and purposes, I should be a terrible failure.
I had this conversation with a friend of mine today who knows my story as good as, or better than, anyone on the interwebs.  He, too, faces dozens of obstacles.  So he knows, perhaps better than anyone here, that every day there are any number of reasons when I could easily, logically, understandably, give up.  I could be dejected, discouraged, negative, or bitter - and no one would really blame me. 
As anyone who reads my other blog knows, I've been there recently enough to know how it feels, why it feels that way, and how difficult it is to overcome.
But that's also how I know that it is a CHOICE.  And it's also how I know this: no matter what you do, no matter what you are, no matter what you are up against, choosing to be positive about it will ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS, make you feel better.  You could have no job, home, money, or friends - but, if you find something that makes you smile in life (something to reach for, the tiniest thing to believe in) - your quality of life will improve.  And the better you feel, even marginally, the better you WILL feel going forward.  Positivity and negativity feed on each other exponentially.
I'm not talking about being a Pollyanna.  You won't help yourself by blindly believing that millions will fall from the sky into your bank account while you sit on your ass watching soap operas.  And no, being positive won't instantly make everything in your life perfect.  But what it will do is increase your resiliency - your ability to bounce BACK from the bad/disappointing/frustrating/sad.  This is not just me talking out my arse, here - scholarly sources suggest a significant correlation between positive affect and resiliency.
Having it all didn't get me to where I could improve at triathlons and get TA jobs and find an employer that left me alone; neither did losing it all.  You know what got me there? Me belief that trying to make things better eventually WOULD, even in the tiniest way, make things better. 
It was easy to be positive when I had it all.  It is NOT easy to be positive now. 
But that's what makes it all the more satisfying when I succeed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Every now and then, I have a string of days filled with so many expectations, plans, obligations and deadlines that I eventually have a mini-breakdown trying to figure out how to deal with it all.


I think of this particular occurrence as The Stressfest.


It went down like this: last night I got out of work at 9 and, by the time I ate and started looking at assignments, it was midnight.  There were still 7 loads of laundry on my bed, the B kindly made dinner but the kitchen was still messy, various rooms in the house needed tidying and I hadn’t gotten anything graded.  I had to be up at 7 to get ready for work, and then after work I was planning my workout. Now, I LOVE my 8:30 - 5:30 day at work.  It gives me a chance to work out at night.  Then B informed me that he had booked us for dinner at 6, so I had no option of working out after work. 


And I’ve already had 2 rest days this week, so I was ready to rumble.  This unexpected dinner plan meant I had to get up at 5am to work out.  Ok on race day; not so much on a night when I don’t get to bed until after 12.


I set my alarm for 5; sleep through it; can’t find any of my clothes because they’re all on the bed; realize I have only 2 pair of pants to my name (1 that doesn’t really fit and 1 that has a broken zipper); the shoes I pick are a little too big, but I never gave them away because they’re just so cute I couldn’t bear to do it, but I forget every time I go to wear them; I come home at lunch to change and burst into tears.


A couple hours later, an unsuspecting coworker who always sends out great quotes forwarded me an email with this familiar Thoreau verse in it:


“I have learned that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,

and endeavors to live the life he has imagined,

he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

–Henry David Thoreau


Well, sh1t.  That’s exactly what the crap I’m doing. 


I’m not saying that this completely relieves the burden, but it sure does help.  And that won’t come without some hard work.  Some days I’m going to be tired and have too much to do.  Some days things will Just Have to Wait.


But I’m definitely endeavoring to live the life I have imagined.  So how about we change The Stressfest to The Successfest?


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confession: I Finally Believe That Hard Work and Faith DO, Eventually, Pay Off

I feel like I’m living in a dream. I can’t believe I’m actually doing work at THREE different colleges. Working in academia, especially doing research and teaching, is my lifelong dream. If you’d told me I’d have been doing ALL THREE, after everything that’s gone down, AND this soon after receiving my BA, I’d have laughed at you. I am so, so, so, so, SO immensely grateful for all that’s transpired for the past few years, even the bad.

I don’t know what higher power you believe in, or if you believe in one at all, but I am firmly, eternally convinced that there is some order to the universe. (Please ask me to return to this entry when I get down in the future J ) There are a lot of lessons I’ve learned only through experience; all the advice in the world didn’t make a difference until I just struggled through it.

One of those lessons is that we all have drama. Some of us are more quiet about it; others take a BALLS OUT approach. Either way, I’ve learned that the more you dwell on your drama/demons, the more power you give them over your life.

People always used to tell me to just acknowledge them and move on; I never knew how to do that. The approach that makes the most sense to me is this: talk with a few select people about your troubles, issues, drama, demons, problems, etc. (Your therapist, your spouse, your parents, your mentor – whoever is the best at opening your eyes and enabling you to see past them). Find yourself a solution. If there is no solution, find yourself some acceptance.


And by DROP it, I MEAN DROP IT. Don’t blog about it. Don’t Facebook about it. Don’t text about it )except to aforementioned spouse/parent/mentor). I don’t care WHAT you have to do, once you have found as much of a solution as you can find, do ANYTHING but FOCUS on it. Instead, find something else really absorbing and healthy to focus on. It will move you forward AND it will provide you with enough perspective to recover from it . . . eventually.

Eckhart Tolle put it best . . .

Wherever you are, be there totally.

If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy,

you have three options:

remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.

Monday, August 23, 2010

When I grow up

There's a Pussycat Dolls song that goes (pp), "when I grow up, I wanna be famous,  I wanna be a star, I wanna have groupies..."

I'm not saying all that, but I do know that what I want to be "when I grow up" hasn't changed all that much.  I've always wanted my PhD. And I've always wanted to combine my hobbies with my work.

Before my health shenanigans, I was sure I'd get involved in triathlon and coach someday.  Afterwards,  I realized that wasn't so feasible.  It's almost as if the gods slapped me in the middle of industrial psychology right around that time in order to show me something I was really capable of doing, and well.

But research and teaching positions are both hard to come by unless you're a full-time student.  So I never thought I'd make it happen. And competition for a spot at the PhD program I'm eyeing is stiff.

This fall I will begin my post-bach research and teaching in industrial psychology, and my aim is to score higher on the GRE and do two things: 1)earn entrance into a PhD program and 2)combine my loves for education, org development, sports, and research. 

It all seems So exciting and So real.

Just like this weekend's race, you never know what you're capable of until you try.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

“Did you miss me?”


When I was a kid, I remember my mom coming back from errands and asking my dad this question.  The answer (“Were you gone?”) is what I’m sure you’re asking yourself, because I know you weren’t even aware I was missing.  But wow . . . I stopped blogging for what seems like a second, and almost a month has gone by.  So I feel like I need to do a little catch-up.


Let’s start with the big stuff: the pap test results were confirmed – no malignancy.  The chances of another cancer were so small, but it’s good to be positive before celebrating.  Turned out to be odd cells with weird nuclei, which apparently happens sometimes.  Next, I got a new job.  (YAY!)  I made myself a deal that, if I ever feel like blogging about this one, I start looking for something else IMMEDIATELY.  In other words, if a job that’s not your career takes over your personal life to the point where you have to rant about it openly, even when you’re not there, you need a new one.  Also, I’m starting some research this week – I’m helping with a driving study for one of the local colleges.  I need the experience for grad school so that someday I DON’T have to blog about my job (that is, unless I’m running a study on blogging.)


I’m going through this phase right now where I’m trying to figure out what’s best for me.  I know there’s no perfect job, relationship, car, etc . . . but it would be nice to feel a little more confident that there was one that was at least the BEST for ME, even at the time.  I think this goes back to making too many value judgments . . . I just need to let it go and let it be, right?


Thinking of doing a mock tri this weekend . . . otherwise real race NEXT WEEKEND! Baby taper . . . this is just a B race.  Have to sign up for the A still (before it sells out, I hope.)


That’s all I got for today.