31 January 2010

The More Clothes I Have, the More Laundry I Have to Do.

And doing the laundry is one of my least favorite chores.

"We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."

I didn't realize what that quote meant until sometime in college. Although I hate Thoreau, he does have a point with this one. At work, I see all these big, million dollar houses, on the water, beautiful views, a few thousand square feet of hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling pocketing, sliding, glass doors that, when open, create a seamless room with the outdoors. The lawns in the area are so amazing that the neighborhood association gives out an annual award to the most beautiful lawn. Homeowners literally hire landscape architects to design these things. It's amazing. When I'm at these houses, showing them, at a photo shoot, or just dropping off a contract for a client, I want to live in them so badly. As I move from one room to another, I smell the fresh air. The air on the water down here is always fresh and clean feeling. I want so badly to live like that. I imagine lining the room-sized closets with clothes and shows. I imagine cooking in the double stacked ovens. I imagine watching the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico every night.

But there is an ugly side behind those scenes. It is in caring for the houses.

I once overheard my boss telling someone that if they weren't interested in repainting their house every few years, not to live on the water. The salt does such damage to the paint. But also, those pocketing sliders will need to be washed, all those square feet will have to be swept, vacuumed, dusted, washed. All those light bulbs will need changing. Both those ovens will need cleaning. The pool will need chlorinating, the boat will need maintenance and repairing. What I am learning to see is that to have five bathrooms, one must clean five bathrooms. Even if I decide to hire someone to clean my house, I need to find a service I like and trust, and I need to make sure they get paid on time.

I don't want to look back on my life when I'm 75 and think about all the times I cleaned my windows. Or paid bills. I want to remember the camping trips, the Saturday kayaking, the Sunday hikes. I want to remember playing tennis with my kids in the local park, family trips to the zoo. I want to play Euchre with my family, I want to read really great books, and I want crochet family heirlooms. I don't care if I've seen the latest season of The Real World or if I know what happened at the VMAs.

If I don't care about TV, why do I watch it so much? I will never be the person I want to be if I don't start now. I will never be adventurous if I don't go out this weekend. I don't want to look back in five years and realize that I'm essentially the same person. I don't want to be who I am now forever, I'm not satisfied yet.

I think one of the best ways to achieve a goal, at least for me anyway, is to picture myself already there. It is better to tell myself, "I want to be outdoorsy and learn to kayak" instead of saying, "I do not want to sit on this couch all day."

20 January 2010

Summer work

Matt is making his summer plan preparations. Plan A is a legal internship with the Blackstone Fellows, a branch of the Alliance Defense Fund that works to ensure a free and just society in a religious context. It is very similar to what he learns at Ave in terms of the moral foundations of the law, but would also offer him other resources and networking contacts. He finished the long questionnaire and submitted his 4 essays. His transcripts are on their way and 2/3 letters of recommendation have arrived. He is following up on the 3rd tonight, although the last we heard, it was good to go. The fellowship is offered to 100 students yearly.

Plan B is to work as a research assistant under the guidance of one of his favorite professors a few days a week and find something local for the rest of the days.

We are really, really hoping he gets a Legal Fellowship, although, at the same time, I am dreading it. Why? Allow me to explain how the fellowship is structured.

The first two weeks, he will be stationed in Phoenix, AZ (2,300 miles away). Then he will be placed "in the field" for six weeks. He will be allowed to pick three areas in order of preference and they will do the best they can. Apparently Orlando is a common Florida destination (3-4 hours away). Then he's back to AZ for a few weeks. They are very accommodating for families, but I can't leave my job for the entire summer. I'm fully dreading it. I'm brainstorming plans in the event that he gets placed in Orlando. Oi. We'll know about the Blackstone by late February; one month away.

18 January 2010

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is an interesting question, one that smart people will advise you to consider to help you live your life as opposed to wasting it. Where do you want to live? Where do you want your career to be? Where do you want to be in your relationships, with your family? What words do you want to describe you?

At any moment in your life, I think this question is particularly important. From the angle of school, it is necessary to consider so that it can guide class choice and fuel hard work. I was reading an article about goal setting and it especially struck me that I have to start now if I want to get there. At no point in time will life get less stressful or less busy. I do not want to be who I am now in five years. Matt and I sat down to talk about where we want to be in five years and a more vague list of things we want to have accomplished by the time we are in our 80s. I feel a lot more focused since talked and wrote our ideas down.

Also, a little while back, I wrote out a personal mission statement. I listed four adjectives that I wanted to describe me. Then I listed two words that define my adjective and gave a sentence on how to achieve it. For example, I want to be sweet. I want people to think of me and think, "wow, she is a very sweet girl." Anyway, this is what my mission reads for that adjective: "In order to be sweet, I must be friendly and considerate. I need to go an extra mile to ease someone else's journey." Matt and I are working on a family mission statement, but have only gone so far as to brainstorm.

In combining my mission statement with my vision of myself in five years, I really feel like I can be that person who I want to be.

15 January 2010

First Semester Grades

Rumor has it that Ave is different in that Matt has his grades back before the end of the academic year. But his does. Well, 4 out of 5 grades. He's a head of the curve in all of them. We're pretty stoked. I'm very proud of him. I wish we had the money to go out to a nice dinner to celebrate, but that's just not in the cards.

He had six classes last semester (no exam in one of them). All six of those continue on this semester, and he also has another class tacked on (it requires 1000 pages of reading by semester's end). So now he's up to 7 classes, the reading is overwhelming, plus he has year-long finals at the end. It is going to be a stressful semester, especially since the first year is always the worst. We pray every morning and I will do what I can to support him. I wish there was more I could do.

Although I'm doing even less this semester than last. We decided that he would probably feel better about himself if he helped out around the house, so we divided the chores. Now he vacuums, cleans the cat pan, and dusts once a week and has dish duty Fri-Sun. I'm excited to liberate myself of some of the chores and I hope that it does help him feel better about himself.

13 January 2010

A Good Kind of Pain

You know that hungry feeling you get when you first start a diet? The gnawing, wearing pains in your stomach? At first, the pain is awful and you have to tell yourself over and over again why you're suffering? But then, after a few weeks, the aches dull, and your stomach disappears, and you feel better and better. Then, you're busy one day and you forget to eat lunch, then at 3:00 you suddenly feel that empty pang again, but this time it feels good. Oh so good because you know that feeling is you conquering your body, conquering your fat, conquering your demons. It feels good because you know you've beat it before, and hell yeah, you'll beat it again.

That's how I feel about the mound of to-dos piling up at work. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm working unless I've got 10 things going on at once. I have to remind myself that 5 is enough, but sometimes that struggle of too many things, too many deadlines, too many people talking to me feels good. Oh so good because I know that at the end of the day, I'll have a huge completed list, and hell yeah, I work hard for my money.

That's how I feel now that Matt is back in school. The chores are mine, the errands are mine, I have to spend the evenings in near silence so that he can read, I have to take care of the cats, take care of the apartment, take care of everything. And even though it's hard, even though it's a struggle, after a while, I start to enjoy digging my heels in and knowing that we're surviving because of me.

It feels good because at the end of the struggle, you know you've truly earned the reward.