Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Lesson: Corporate America Sucks, But People in general are cool

It snowed last night in the DC area. And everyone freaked out like usual.

Go ahead and make fun of us, all you wintry Midwesterners. We freak because we don't get snow that often and we don't know how to deal with it. That's my excuse.

On top of our usual disorganization when it comes to handling snow, the snow came fast and heavy during rush hour. It was snowing buckets by 4pm. Yes, buckets.

I worked yesterday and at 4pm when the snow started, my manager reassured me that I would be able to get home later that night "no problem." He left within the hour before the accumulation got to be significant, driving his extremely large SUV/truck thing (I know nothing about cars.... but I do know that his car can definitely take on the snow).

My car is not an SUV or a truck and doesn't have 4 wheel drive. In fact, it's basically a sports car. So it's low to the ground and light as a feather. Oh and it's over 10 years old.

We didn't get the OK from the higher ups to close up the restaurant until almost 8pm. I finished cleaning the bar and waiting for a few guests to finish up and leave.

The road directly in front of the restaurant was decently plowed.

Hmmm, I can totally make it home. I thought. Just sloooow driving, Kelly.

WRONG ! As soon as I pulled out onto the main road - aka a road that hadn't been plowed by a private contractor - it was a nightmare!

Slow and steady. I repeated, even when the car next to me fish-tailed dangerously close as we stopped at a red light.

I was inching my way down the road when I suddenly saw a back up of cars. As I got closer I see that there IS A FLAMING CAR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.

While the sight of flames coming out of the snow is rather impressive, I decided it was time to turn around. In attempting to make a u-turn, I got stuck in a pile of snow. Of course. Just my luck.

Eventually a truck pulls up and two men jump out and run around my car. As they start to push I hear them yelling, Go go go! This was rescue #1.

A little ways down the road. I get stuck again. This time a guy walking down the street comes over with some advice (aka stop spinning your tires, crazy lady). And then he pushed me out. Rescue #2.

As I tried turning into the parking garage by my work (yup, headed back to square 1), guess what?!? I got STUCK, AGAIN! Another truck pulls up and offers to tow me into the parking garage. That's right, he hooked up some rope and pulled me across the intersection. As he unhooked the line, I asked him if this is what he always does when it snows - ya know, rescue people. He said, "Yes. It gives me an excuse to play with my big truck." You are a superhero, my friend. Rescue #3.

I got back to my restaurant as my (other) manager was leaving.

Whatcha gonna do, Kelly? He asks.

I don't know. I can't get home.

That sucks! See ya! Oh yes, my company truly cares about their employees.

Luckily the Chinese restaurant next door was still open. So I sat with the other stranded people, wondering if I was going to end up sleeping on the floor next to the bar (There ARE worse things, right?).

But then I called Z. and as soon as he heard the sound of defeat in my voice, he found a solution (you know men and their need to fix things). His 'rents live close to my job and they also have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, hurrah! 20 minutes later my ride shows up. Rescue #4.

So the two things I learned from this snowy experience:

1. Corporate America Sucks. I work for a corporate restaurant. And like any corporation, they care about one thing: MONEY. Keeping the restaurant open just in case the snow isn't that bad seems like a good money-making decision. However, it also put my life at risk and left me in a tough situation. What if I hadn't been so lucky? I could be in my car in a snow pile along the side of the road. Or sleeping on the floor of a Chinese restaurant. Or trying to walk through deep snow in my restaurant work shoes to get to my (not within reasonable walking distance) mom's house. Sometimes profit is NOT worth it.

2. But People in General are cool. Thank you to all my superheroes! Gracias to the latinos with the truck who quickly pushed me out of the snow. Thanks to the random dude walking through a snow storm who basically told me to stop driving like a dumbass and pushed me out of yet another snow trap. And the crazy truck guy who towed me to safety (I'm sure he had a grand ol' time rescuing others just like me). And to Z's 'rents! Who not only rescued me from the Chinese restaurant, they also fed me, gave me a glass of wine, a bed to sleep in and a ride back to my car in the morning!

Oh and guess what? It's supposed to snow more tomorrow....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eat Pray Love: The Book vs The Movie

I finally broke down and rented "Eat Pray Love." I had read the book a few months back and really enjoyed it, but I was nervous that the movie would ruin the story that I had loved.

It didn't ruin it. BUT it was only a shadow of everything the book was for me. When dealing with a person's journey to self-discovery, it is supremely difficult to show all the reflection and self-realization accomplished along the way. And that is the whole beauty of the story!

The highlights: Julia Roberts was surprisingly good playing the role of Elizabeth Gilbert. The scenery of each country visited was gorgeous and inspiring. The basic essence of the story remained intact

The problems: Too many noticeable changes for "the sake of the movie." Trying to subtly show the changes happening within the character (I really felt like they needed a narration to help clarify the self-reflection). Too much emphasis on the love story at the end --- the story is about the WHOLE journey, not just to find a hunky Brazilian man in Bali.

So the way I feel about the book/movie comparison remains the same..... the book wins.

More about TKP (the kelly project) in the next post.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Month 1: Clarity and Simplicity

For this month, my focus will be on clarity and simplicity.

When I first started considering this project, I felt myself getting overwhelmed with the amount of things I wanted to accomplish all at once. I wanted each month to build on the previous month's focus. But I began to realize that all my focuses intertwined! Which is good! Not bad! Stop stressing, Kelly!

So in order to make my project and my life more manageable, I chose clarity and simplicity for the first month. Now, what does this mean.

- Sleep routine: Sticking with some previous posts, I will continue trying to get better rest. This doesn't necessarily mean more. Just better. I will stick to a "Go to bed" routine and a "wake routine." And stop staying up late to watch Adult Swim with Z.

Get up earlier - give yourself a time of stillness. Use it to cultivate awareness. *

- Reduce clutter: I definitely don't need to throw out half of my closet like Gretchen Rubin did. But I do need to organize myself. I always use the excuse of "I'm too busy" when I see my dining room table covered in CRAP. I obviously need to MAKE the time to reduce clutter because - let's be honest - clutter sucks. Physical clutter creates mental clutter. I always feel flustered and that I can't get things done when my house is a wreck.

Let small chores serve as stop signs for you: Breathe, relax, and experience peace. *

- Minimize Anger: This will be ongoing, I'm sure. But step one is to get my temper under control. But that is such a broad idea too! I must first identify when I am angry and what triggered that anger. To take a PAUSE and reflect on this will help identify the problem but also prevent me from diving striahgt into anger. I must remember to greet anger with serenity and understanding.

When confronted by an angry person, simply observe his unhappiness and breathe in. Breathing out, try to understand and empathize. *

Establishing a sleep routine will simplify my schedule and reduce stress around what should be a restful time.

Minimizing clutter will simplify my personal space and create a more manageable place to work. Without clutter, I will be able to clearly focus on what I need to do.

Reducing anger will help me focus on clarity of LIFE. Anger creates fuzzy-ness and distraction from positivity and growth (cue Darth Vader's breathing...).

Three simple things. To ease my way into more changes to come.

*All three quotations are from Self-Meditation: 3,299 mantras, tips, quotes, and koans for peace and serenity. By barbara ann kipfer.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One Word

In addition to a book, Gretchen Rubin also keeps up a blog about the Happiness Project to further inspire people to make life resolutions.

Her post yesterday was about picking one word to set the tone for the year.

My word is: LEARN.

I feel this word fits well with It's not about how much you know, it's about your willingness to learn.

But it's not simply about the type of learning that takes place in a classroom or with text books. I want to be more open to new experiences, to listen more, and observe and be in the moment. All of these things will support learning. Learning more about the world and people around me as well as myself.

What word would you pick for yourself in 2011?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Kelly Project

A while back, I got around to reading Eat, Pray, Love (By Elizabeth Gilbert) and I really enjoyed it. (No I'm not planning on running off to Italy, India, or Indonesia). I decided I wanted to find more books about peoples' personal soul-searching journeys for my own personal inspiration.

The next book I picked up was The Happiness Project (By Gretchen Rubin). This story of one woman's quest to be happier over the course of year did not involve traveling around the world. Instead it focused on finding the happiest version of oneself in everyday life.

I appreciate both books and methods of self-discovery - and I would not say that one is better than the other. Both have inspired me equally.

Unfortunately, I'm not in the position to run off and travel around the world (yet.... ). So I've decided to give Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness Project" a try. (She is quite encouraging when it comes to others starting their own versions of the project. And I love the fact that she acknowledges that everyone's Happiness Project is different.) I'm calling this "The Kelly Project" though (how deliciously self-centered!). I plan on using aspects of Rubin's project, as well as take inspiration from Gilbert's journey and find more stories to help motivate me in my attempt to be... well, Kelly.

I love Rubin's 12 Commandments. So I will start with my Commandments (some I have borrowed from Rubin or others, some are my own):

Do it now.
Greet anger with understanding and serenity.
Get out of my cave and cast a net into the ocean.
Act the way I want to feel.
Make mistakes.
Help is everywhere.
Minimize clutter.
Soak it in.
Be silly, be light.
Be Kelly.

Rubin also has a list called "Secrets of Adulthood." I have yet to really think about this in terms of my life. BUT I do have a very important personal statement that I have kept in my mind for a long time.

First, the back story. My final year of undergrad, I had the fortune to take a Graduate level class. My mentor in the Department of Anthropology happened to be the Director of Graduate Studies as well and she felt that I would benefit from one of her Grad classes (the topic of the class was Immigration... Of course). I loved the class and the discussions with these "older" people. But sometimes I felt very small around these Grad students with their more "adult lives" and their "real jobs." One day during a class discussion I made a statement - just one simple sentence - and I knew that I had never felt more sure of anything I had ever said before. This sentence hung in the air for a moment and I could see it sinking into the minds of my classmates and my mentor. "I think you've really hit on something important there, Kelly" my professor said. And it was extremely important. After class, I wrote the sentence down on a scrap of paper and hung it on a bulletin board in my room. I kept that scrap for a long time and read the sentence over and over.

The scrap of paper is long gone (lost in my multiple moves around the world), but that one single sentence remains clear in my mind:

It's not about how much you know, it's about your willingness to learn.

So simple. So true. And yet it's something I struggle with everyday. Why is it that as adults, we all want to pretend to be experts about everything? Like if we admit that we don't know something that it makes us LESS of an adult? This is truly idiotic. And yet, I fall into that trap constantly.

Well, no more. This is my year of learning. Of admitting there is SO much I don't know. Of asking people to explain new things. Of just living MORE.

And with that. Cheers!

(Oh yeah, and it's my Birthday today. Perfect time to start this project).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rocky Start

So I made two goals for myself recently. The first was to change my sleeping habits so I can wake up easier. The second was to control my anger in various ways.

As they say: Easier said (or Blogged) than done.

Major setback #1: During a stressful bartending shift on Friday, I took out some of my frustration by snapping at some of my co-workers. This was obviously not well received. I had TWO anger-charged confrontations with those co-workers. Afterward, even though I felt partially justified for my outbursts, I also felt BAD. I had disrupted my working environment in a negative way instead of trying to encourage people positively.

Major setback #2: As a result of my awful Friday shift, I self-medicated with Jagermeister. This of course made me stay up later than I should've and sleep later in an attempt to avoid a hangover.

Major setback #3: I randomly got into a huge fight with an important person in my life. I let my anger get to me and I fed the fire. I definitely did not greet anger with serenity and understanding. In fact, I made myself so angry that I had to leave the place and conversation all together. This almost ruined the rest of my day completely with bad energy. Fortunately, I was later given an unexpected opportunity to repair the damage. All is well.

Major setback #4: I have neglected creating a good nighttime ritual to get ready for bed. And so, I fell asleep with my contacts in last night and woke with crusty eyes early this morning. I immediately removed my contacts. Seeing that one eye was extremely irritated and red, I decided sleeping more was the best way to solve this. But waking up late today didn't solve anything. It just made me feel lazy. And my eye is still bloodshot which means I will have to wear my glasses today. Bummer.

Now that I have a clearer understanding of the hurdles I must overcome, maybe I can make real headway on my resolutions. Yes?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Angry Redhead Syndrome

My "Wake Up, Kelly" Project hit a few bumps this weekend due to work ... and the necessary liquid therapy after work (should probably address this "cocktails to reduce stress" issue I seem to have... hm..). But I got it back on track this morning. Last night I went to sleep at 12:30 and woke today at 9:00 am....

I know. That isn't most peoples' definitions of going to sleep early or waking up early. However, I'm still a bartender and I work all PM shifts. I normally don't leave work until after 12:30. And when you're up until 2 am, waking up earlier than 9 is not easy.

So with my sleep habits changing, I've decided to add a new personal goal for myself.

First let me say. I'm a redhead. And I (obviously) have a temper. I definitely fit this stereotype completely. I have a short-fuse. And it can be a problem.

Part of this I have adopted willingly as "just a part of my personality." I can sometimes tone down my angry snaps into witty sarcasm --- which most people seem to appreciate... once they get used to it.

I also tend to come across much like an ice cube or maybe a porcupine when people first meet me. I can't even count how many times I have heard "You know, when we first met I didn't really like you. But now that I know you better, you're really awesome!" I see this as a good thing. I mean, come on. It's better than the opposite! "We clicked right away when I met you! But now I can't stand the person that I have gotten to know..."

I've also been told that I have an "angry resting face." This means that the way my face naturally is when I'm feeling neutral is.... um.... ANGRY! I have people constantly ask, "Kelly! What's wrong/" To which I reply, "Nothing. Why?" They follow up with "oh! You just look angry or upset!"

I also have "the look" (as my friends refer to it). "The look" is a death stare of icy pissed-offness. I have perfected this glare over the years and I can put it on without even being angry (just for fun.... no joke I actually get, "Hey Kelly, do the look!") And I'm almost proud of this look that scares the shit out of most people.

Despite my good humor about being an angry redhead ... I don't like playing this role at all. I will admit, having an angry outburst gives a rush of energy ... it's almost exhilirating! But it is always followed by a crash. An overwhelming feeling of guilt. Because I honestly don't like making people feel bad.

I don't know if I can really change peoples' intitial impressions of me. I'm not a friendly, out-going, meet-new-people type in general. On the other hand though... I am a bartender. So everyday I talk to complete strangers and I'm generally friendly and warm and engaged in whatever insane topic they wish to talk about. Of course, that is a bit like acting and I don't want to "fake it" in real life. But the fact of the matter is that I am capable of being warm right off the bat. (Of course if you try talking to me for 30 minutes straight about your love of organ music, I will bring out the bluntness and tell you I don't care).

When I'm in a good mood and smiling, it scares people who know me well. Since my "normal face" isn't a happy one. I think if I made an effort to act happier then I can change my "normal face" --- at least a little. And with acting happier, I would be happier and LESS ANGRY! Bingo!

As for "the look." As entertaining as it can be (and fun to try out on my future children - mwahaha), I need to learn how to control it. So in the moments that I am actually angry, it doesn't just show itself without my even knowing it.

So my goal is this: Greet anger with serenity and understanding. Whether the anger is from myself or from someone else. I will not feed the fire until it grows into blind rage.

Any anger control advice would be appreciated!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Wake up, Kelly!

I will admit it: lately I have been supremely LAZY. I've been sleeping more than is necessary (or healthy, I believe) and yet I'm still exhausted. I keep putting off errands that need to be done. I'm not even doing the activities that I normally enjoy!

And I'm beginning to become frantic about my birthday and MY "New Year" . Stress and anxiety over the new year is not a good way to start out. Where is that good energy that I am searching for?

Today I made an important (and obvious) discovery. I was pulled out of my normal routine of sleeping disgustingly late (some might call it luxurious... but honestly, it's just embarrassing) by my boyfriend, Z. He was running late for work and asked me for a ride (his car is out of commission so he usually walks to work). I painfully pulled myself out of bed, completely groggy and wishing for another few hours of sleeping. However, as soon as I was outside in the light of day and moving ... I was perfectly fine! How incredible!

You see, I had gotten into the bad habit of: A) Sleeping late B) staying in my PJs while I drank coffee and did nothing productive (justified as "waking up") C) Made excuses to myself about not accomplishing ANYTHING by saying "this is me time. I need this."

Pure BULLSHIT. I was making myself more tired and more lazy and generally more unhappy.

So I need a new morning routine. Getting in the habit of waking up early will take some effort and practice. But apparently all I need to get going it a shower and some sunlight (like I've always said, I am like a plant).

I know I will always indulge in my morning coffee. but this should not be an excuse to do nothing. Drinking coffee does not take an hour. And even if I do manage to stretch it out for that long, there is no reason I can't be taking care of other things at the same time. (Note to self: practice not spilling coffee so often. This will help).

And so this is step one in preparation for my new year..... WAKE UP!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My January Limbo

News Flash! Apparently the thing to do for New Years is make these things called resolutions! They are always positive and well intentioned, but they rarely survive the first month of the year.

I don't make New Years resolutions. I enjoy my New Years Eve and my New Years Day hangover without feeling like I need to make big changes in my life come January 1st.

You see, I have the wonderful gift of being born in the month of January. So the time between New Years and my birthday is my limbo time. It is a time to digest the previous year and meditate on what is important in my life. (It is no surprise that the vast majority of break ups in my dating history have occurred between New Years and January 19th.)

I can be as lazy as I want, drink whole bottles of wine every (other!) night and indulge in fancy cooking adventures that I would normally claim I don't have time for. All the while I mentally prepare of the upcoming year --- which obviously truly begins on my birthday (because I'm that self-centered. Yup. :o) ).

Don't misunderstand though. I don't really plan ahead that far. I usually grasp hold to one thing that I KNOW I want to do in the future and won't let go. These things usually don't make much sense (example: randomly moving to Chile to teach English. Not really a great career move, but totally satisfying). So I rarely make yearly goals or any such things. It's more like emotional and mental centering. I feel as if my energy is good then my whole life will go in the right direction (no matter how random).

So I am in limbo right now. Enjoying a glass of wine (Chilean Carmenere) and planning for my next cooking masterpiece. Centering my mind and reassessing my emotional needs.

So cheers! and Happy New Year!

Oh and no, I'm not planning on any break-ups during my limbo this year. I want to keep him for my next chapter. :o)