Overcoming a Slump

I don’t think it’s unusual that every few months I fall into a small rut.

The problems feel as if they’re piling, stress tacks itself on to the struggles and sometimes it seems impossible to be your usual self.

When I hit that state about 3 weeks ago, I wracked my mind to figure out why now? What was the catalyst? Sure things weren’t easy. But they were seemingly small matters:

A library book I’d desperately wanted in the one section of the library that was under construction for a month. An extra day spent on the perfect cover letter, only for the job to close before I could submit. My boss put on temporary reassignment right after acquiring a ton of new projects. Veins growing in my eyes, prompting $200 in eye drops and rendering me unsure when I could wear contacts again. A sense of insecurity in my glasses. A feeling of loneliness prompted by the long work hours of my guy. Oh, and the spider found in my bed.

As I tried to trace the reasoning behind my pity party I realized that my mood didn’t start because my struggles existed; my upset mood was a result of my inability to solve the problems immediately.

Because I am not the strongest Type A planner who needs things to follow order. I am an adapter, I thrive in thinking up a Plan B, C, or D when crisis strikes. My strongest trait is my ability to expect change, embrace it, think on my feet and move on like nothing happened.

And I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember – from the day my parents announced they were divorcing ten years ago to when my house caught on fire at 3 in the morning junior year of high school when I also had 17 friends staying over from out of town and the expectation of hosting a New Years party two days away. Or let’s not forget the whole process of applying to study abroad junior year of college – from six weeks before departure when I was notified I didn’t have housing, right up to the week before depature when I got my wisdom teeth out and realized my passport and visa had gone AWOL with UPS. Always adapting. Always okay.

So, when things started unraveling this last time, I was unafraid to face any issues head on. But..that didn’t happen. Everything needed time and patience. And with my inability to steer the situation, I dragged further into feelings of defeat and doubt.

But then my little Blackberry – who has been with me for one-and-a-half years (a record) – stopped charging two weeks ago. The USB was broken. And while I had sentimental pangs for my phone, I recognized the situation. This was an opportunity for redemption. Phone issues, I can handle.

So, I made my mental list of options and visited my friend’s store where he fixes phones for a living, borrowed a temporary phone to charge my battery, finally found a provider location with a manager who was happy to send a replacement and just in case – got ready to blast a help message onto Facebook.

Somewhere inbetween taking control of my phone situation and reuniting with some friends in a public, social setting over that weekend (golf theme – perfect for my glasses), I got my groove back. And my confidence meant that suddenly all those tough still-left-to-be-solved situations didn’t seem that far off either.

I really wanted my point of this post to highlight the message of fixing your own problem to fix your mood. But I realize, the message is much deeper than exercising control. This was a great reminder of the importance of a positive attitude, no matter what you can and can’t control. For every funk, there is positivity to be found to kick away the doubt.

You get the idea.

My favorite lesson.

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“Sorry, I have a boyfriend.”

I am guilty of this.

You make a new friend of the opposite gender or maybe strike up a simple conversation at a networking event or giggle with a table-mate at a wedding or reconnect via Facebook chat with an old high school friend. And they ask you for your number and if you’d like to go on a date. And you say, “Oh sorry, I have a boyfriend.”

But lately, I’m finding this statement fully loaded and bothering.

Technically, have we been saying that all that stands between us and a potential hookup is our current commitment?

IS that all that stands between us and a potential hook up?

(Source)

I’ve recently upped my weekly dosage of Dan Savage as I’ve transitioned his podcasts into my workout routine background music. This has led me to pursue a bit more about his personal life, specifically, his take on monogamy; that monogamy is harder than we allude to and that our society values being with one partner over honesty, trust, communication and an established relationship.

So you know, I’m all about monogamy. I feel miffed if my guy tells me he ducked out of a night a little early because some girls were overly flirtatious. I want to be mentioned! Why didn’t he remind them about me?

But I think Savage has some valid points. It’s not too far fetched to assume that being in a relationship and being committed aren’t strongly correlated.

My friend expressed something very similar the other day when a guy wouldn’t stop texting her.  “Isn’t it clear I’m not interested?” she shared, “I told him I have a boyfriend!”

Maybe it’s not clear. Maybe that’s not enough.

Gossip, news outlets and even history share that celebrities and politicians falter into infidelity everyday. And I have witnessed plenty of people who wouldn’t care if the person they pursue has someone else at home.

So what’s the best way for me to paint a picture of an honest, trusting, communicative and also monogamous relationship? One I’d rather choose over anything else?

How you turn someone down?

  • Leave out the chance for future reconnections:  “Thank you but no, I’m not interested.” Is that rude?
  • Focus on the reason behind your relationship: “Oh sorry, I have a boyfriend who l am very in love with/ satisfied by/ consumes most of my time and thoughts.” Is all that necessary?
  • Make an active statement: “Oh sorry, I’m dating someone.” No possessives necessary?
  • Realize that 80% of the population will respond to the usual cultural norm:“Oh sorry, I have a boyfriend.” Fine?

Thoughts? 


Book Review: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

When I finally settled down with The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain on Friday evening, I was not expecting to finish the book within 24 hours and certainly didn’t expect to pull an all-nighter in the process.

But sure enough, the book captured my attention. And so I read. From 6 to 6:30 pm on Friday. And from 11 pm to 7 am. And finally, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m Saturday.

NOTE: This book review is designed for others who have read the book. For complete background information on the story, you can view Chamberlain’s website.

Needless to say, I dove right into the story. And although I found the plot and characters enthralling, I think my pace was slightly induced by my anticipation of flashbacks for the story. When CeeCee began and Eve later took over, I was not expecting such linear storytelling. Though, ultimately, I think it worked.

Chamberlain writes in her bio that her books “explore the complexities of human relationships – between mean and women, brothers and sisters, parents and children.”  As someone who shares a similar interest in the realm of relationships, this book satisfied my need for characters written with depth and development. I thought each character was not only properly explored, but also given a great range of emotions and growth.

I think the book is well suited for anyone looking for a griping plot mixed with pages of character development. It’s also worth a discussion on morals, crime, media attention, etc. But that’s a whole other shabang. For now, I’ll leave you with my positives and negatives of the novel.

The Positives:

  • I loved the way Chamberlain’s writing embodied the maturity of each character in their tone and voice. Even though the novel was written in third person, I could feel the growth of the characters as the story continued. So, for example, at the end of the book, when Eve is trying to explain CeeCee’s actions, I could barely remember why CeeCee acted how she did. Her world had melted away as Eve grew and matured.
  • Similarly, did anyone else find resemblance between Corinne’s opening chapter and CeeCee’s beginning chapters? The way they mused about their respective lovers were so similar –  both so caught up, blind and naive in love. You could tell Chamberlain wanted us to see the cracks in Corinne and Ken’s relationship right off the bat. (ex: When she talked about sex with him, you could feel he was in control of the relationship. And the telltale “you won’t need me anymore” line at the beginning was also a warning sign.)
  • Frankly, I wanted to hug my mom after finishing the book. Chamberlain’s mother-daughter relationship motif I really kept everything stringing together. I’m not sure if any of the relationships were very realistic, but they definitely took an emotional toll on the readers (or me!).
  • CeeCee’s mom’s letters. “nuff said. So beautiful. And the perfect tone setter.
  • I very rarely enjoy the endings of books – but this one left me very satisfied. I think Chamberlain gave us full closure (I would have hated it if Eve never visited Tim in jail) and I closed the book feeling like there was much positivity left for all the characters in the book. (And I love a happy ending!)

The Negatives:

  • The part that lagged most for me (although it also lagged at a few points where Cory was growing up) were the court room and law proceeding scenes. It would be irresponsible for Chamberlain to have told the story sans media or law drama, but those parts kind of stole the romanticism of the story for me. Thankfully, I don’t think they were too intrusive and didn’t last too long.
  • CeeCee’s fear and naivety left me uneasy a few times while I was reading. If I hadn’t read it all in one sitting, I think I would have been a tad anxious in between reads.
  • Cory also frustrated me a few times. I just didn’t find her actions like those of a 28-year-old woman. I still cheered her on through the end, even with her unlikeablity, because some of her reactions were very realistic.
  • I’m a bit curious about the historical correctness of Tim’s kidnapping attempt. Were politicians “unwilling to negotiate with terrorist” even in the 70’s?
  • I really don’t enjoy reading about character’s at their lowest points and the last fourth of the book really portrayed Cory and Eve at their worst. Nervous, unthinking / callous, crude. I understand it was necessary to the story and at least moved forward to a happy ending.

Honestly, I don’t have too many bad things to say about this book! I really enjoyed reading and finishing it!

It may not have been my favorite book, ever – that’s reserved for The Book Thief – but it will certainly stick with me as one to recommend.

I’m also long forward to hearing how others reacted to this book. If you read it, do you agree with my criticism or praises? If you are here from Julie’s March Book Club, is there an aspect you think I forget to mention in my review?

On loving Love and Relationships

I’m almost surprised how much has not changed in my life in the last year. Or, if we want to be real here, since graduating college.

I’m in the same job.

Same living situation.

Going out to the same places.

Hanging with the same friends.

Living in mainly the same haircut and wardrobe.

(Which is mostly without complaint, so we’re clear.)

But I know I’ve grown in the last two years. And it’s clear to me that my changes – even largely reflected within my blog content  – have come from one very strong dimension of my life: relationships.

By this, I mean more than just my realization that I should be treated well or that I can have a real, communicative romantic relationship [ala the infamous blog post on Discovering Grown-up Relationships, later followed up with an essay for Facets Magazine (page 25 – 27 of their February/ March issue).]

No – what I think brought my 20’s and post-college life into maturation was the new token of transparency I found across my peers. It was establishing new forms of trust and communication with those around me and seeing strangers post honest blog posts about their relationships. It was reading psychology articles about maintaining love in a marriage and the chemistry behind why we love. It was when my friends finally started sharing the stuff behind-closed-doors; stuff that I complained about, too, but thought made me crazy.

And transparency was just the catalyst. I’m no longer afraid to touch on any aspect that goes into love and relationships because they’re all important and real and I hate that we cover them up. Sex. Arguing. Compromise. Growth. Sex, again. Break ups. Marriage. Doubt.

I understand the need for privacy – especially across certain mediums – but finding a new level of comfort with discussing these matters has filled my life with a whole new passion. Sharing has brought me closer with people I never could have imagined and has brought on several realizations about myself.

I am finding a new hobby in my desire to learn about the reasoning, psychology and chemistry behind love.

I hope to not imply that I am extra nosey or invested in other’s private lives, but simply: I think I am finding a passion and potential career prospect in love and relationships much the same way as others dedicate their lives to learning and helping others with nutrition or fitness.

(Maybe that’s why I own 15 different relationship books just for fun, or spend hours reading a bloggers “how we met ” story and comments, or offer to listen to my friend complain about their boyfriend for the 14th time, or secretly look up a master’s or PhD programs in marriage and family counseling so I can do more research on the subject.)

Maybe I’m crazy…

But, just tell me your story.