Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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finally 2017 (a look ahead)

Don’t think I’m late to the party on this one, I am aware that it has been 2017 for many weeks now. (Despite the fact that I recently wrote 2002 as the date.) That’s neither here nor there. What is here and there is the fact that I took an impromptu blogging break – as is wont to happen from time to time. Which is why I’m just now getting to posting about my upcoming year. Last year I looked ahead and focused on these three questions:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What will I improve upon?
  3. How will I specifically work to make these improvements?

In order to answer the first question I’ll take a look back on 2016, a nice way to do that is my reverse bucket list. Not familiar with the concept? Just click that link back there (reverse bucket list) to see my take on it. All in all 2016 was pretty bad ass.  Continue reading


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book of january: the opposite of loneliness

I remember going to see Marina in a play. My cousin had invited me along, and when we drove up to the blue paneled colonial that housed the theatre I didn’t know what to expect. We were in grade school, and my only previous conception of children in plays was the school produced fifth grade play.  Though I myself did not categorize myself as a child at the time.

It was dark when we arrived, after what seemed like an eternal car ride. The sort of car ride that once illuminated by adulthood is one that could not have taken more than five minutes to span the distance from my cousin’s house to the theatre, door to door. It must have been my anticipation pulling on time, extending it.

At the time I only knew Marina through my cousin, but seeing her on stage I was both awe-struck and inspired. Much the way I am now, after reading her book. My child self went home after seeing Marina completely determined to participate in a play and simultaneously terrified at the prospect. That is how I would describe my experience reading Marina’s book. Inspiring and terrifying.

The Opposite of Loneliness

In my own mind I fancy myself a writer of sorts. I would love to write a book, but put no actual practice to these thoughts. Marina’s book inspires me to write, to put finger to key and create. Though this thought is also terrifying: it is a daunting task. Many of the similarities between Marina and me are also unnerving. The ending of her really hit home for me. Not to give anything away, but I was shocked by the similarities between Marina and me. We are, and though I wouldn’t use the word terrified, I would use the word concerned, about the future of the human race and what that means. While she focuses on the permanence of the written work I focus on the permanence of genetics, and that is where we differ.

With further thought, I realize it may not be surprising that we share much in common. I’m beginning to realize that growing up in the same home town does expose one to many of the same things. Her life is not so unlike my own. I applaud Marina’s work, and the work of her  parents getting her book out into the world.

If you haven’t already read this book, do so.

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2016 looking forward

As you know, I didn’t do any resolutions in 2015. Whether or not that was intentional or not is up for debate. Along with celebrating my accomplishments in 2015 I’d like to take the time now, at the beginning of this year, to do a retrospective.

I got the idea from Nate Green who runs a fun little blog over here. The idea is to focus on three questions:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not working?
  3. How can I fix what’s not working for a better result?

 

With this in mind I’ll be focusing on my personal life in the following points.

I’ll take another look back over 2015 to figure out what is working:

  • I have a good idea of where I want to be going in 2016 and have laid the ground work in 2015 to get there
  • I’ve taken responsibility for my own health and happiness and work daily at these two things
  • I’ve had the chance to travel, and taken advantage of that chance

Now on to what’s not working. Personally, I choose to focus less on the negative and more on the positive, so I’m going to take this question to be instead what I hope to improve and/or what I’d like to be better at.

  • Strengthen the current relationships in my life
  • Refocus my eating habits
  • Continue to rehab my shoulder mindfully with appropriate increases in difficulty

So, how can I fix what’s not working for a better result?

  • Strengthening the current relationships in my life: My first thought on this one is less phone time. Phone  world is fun and entertaining but also a huge time suck. I’m going to research apps that track phone usage and will give a reminder/alert once I’ve reached a certain amount of phone time for that day.
  • Refocus my eating habits: Though I have yet to write my final posts about PN I’m going to use what I learned there and continue to improve my nutrition. First thoughts on this is more vegetables in my life. Mid PN journey I was eating vegetables at every meal consistently, I want to get back there and beyond.
  • Continue to rehab my shoulder mindfully with appropriate increases in difficulty: I’m going to print out my rehab schedule (up until now I’ve used a version on my phone). After each completed session I’m going to cross off the workout. I did this one summer and saw huge increases in my consistency, and consistency is key for rehab. (And any lasting change).

Nate recommends that you write for 15-30 minutes on the three questions found at the top of this post. I say write for as long as you like, until you feel you are done. Though this exercise probably isn’t meant to take hours on end, so keep that in mind.

I’ve also tried to give concrete actions that I can take in order to work towards my new goals/improve what’s not working as well. If you check out my answers to the third question you’ll notice three things that I can do (basically immediately) to get the ball rolling. To reiterate:

  1. Download phone time tracking app
  2. Buy vegetables for my fridge/freezer
  3. Print rehab schedule


What’s in store for the future? One thing is for sure, more sneak attacks!


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a first foray into party planning

Almost exactly six months ago Evelina and I invited a small group of our friends and family to celebrate our love. Our wedding day was a beautiful August day. The ceremony was outdoors on the banks of a lake, and the breeze floated over the water during our “I dos”. The day was filled with love, good conversation, food, drink and dancing. It flew by, but in the moment seemed to last forever.

A wedding takes a lot of planning. Dresses, flowers, invitations, location, food, to only name a few. This is the first party I’ve ever planned, the first party I’ve planned with Evelina, and I think we pulled it off spectacularly. A big thank you to everyone who was able to attend for making our day unforgettable.

wedding photo

“Love me always darlin’, for I’ll be lovin’ you.”

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24. save money

Number 24 on my 25 before 25 list is to save money. As you may remember, last January I talked about saving money. I had realized that a lot of people I know had included saving money on their list of resolutions, so I took some helpful hints that intelligent people have shared with me and posted them here.

Now let’s see how good I am at following my own advice. If you recall the three tips, boiled down, are:

  1. Cut up all your credit cards.
  2. Minimize shopping.
  3. Create a budget and stick to it.

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If we take a look at the first one, cut up all your credit cards, since January 2013 I have actually done the opposite. Before 2013 I did not have a credit card. My excuse is that I am trying to build credit. My past experiences with credit cards have taught me to be careful with them, so I try to keep this in mind. It’s one of those reward credit cards that I also try to justify having seeing as it is a great rewards card. We’ll see if I keep the card throughout 2014.

Moving on to number two, minimize shopping. This one I have been more or less successful with. More successful with when I have less money, and less successful with when I have more money. If I want to reach my savings goals by the time I turn 25 I will have to focus on saving more when I have more money, rather than spending more.

Number three, create a budget, I have done since I wrote the first post. Sticking to it is a different story. I have stuck to my budget for the past 5 months though, so at least I’m moving in the right direction.

money money money

In the coming months I’m going to refocus on my own advice. Follow it a little more. Let’s see how that goes. I wish I disliked spending money in the way that Ishmael dislikes spending money. Things would be easier then.

“The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us.”               – Herman Mellvile

As long as we put child birth aside, I wish I agreed more with him. It’s probably a good idea to model one’s choices after Ishmael’s opinions, right?

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i have a plan

Time to dust off the tools.

Time to dust off the tools.

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I have a plan. A plan for the future.

The future of my painting. As mentioned in my 25 before 25 list, and my New Year’s resolutions, I want to paint a painting. I haven’t painted for a long time, and this summer Evelina bought me canvases for my birthday. It’s really just a matter of time.

The plan started out in my head with an idea, which I slowly developed, after lots of pondering. Pondering is a key first step in painting. Now I’m ready to make it a reality. But first I’m going to draw my painting. A little.

Let me explain. I’m going to sketch onto the canvas the basic idea of what I want my painting to be. I’ve managed to bring my easel and paints across the vast Atlantic, so my tools are waiting. I already know what my painting will be called. But that’s going to remain a secret a while longer.

Stay tuned for pictures.

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not dieting/starting again/stopping/then starting again

This probably sounds like a cliché, or an all too often told story. About people who try different fad diets, only to eventually fail at them, to then try some other diet that’s big right now.

That’s not what I’m here to talk about. And, honestly, without sounding to preachy or as if I’m trying to sell you something, I think I’ve found a few things that work when it comes to dieting.

Side bar: I am seriously not going to try to sell you anything. Seriously. I have no money to gain here. It is also probably important to emphasize that I am not in the field of health and nutrition. I have no background education in the matter. I told you all about how I’m a pre-school teacher. What I can say is that if we listened to the pre-schoolers we’d eat a whole lot of candy and cookies. That stuff is tasty! But, I do try to limit the advice I take from 5 and 6 year olds. (Though at times they are truly inspiring.) I’m rambling, the point here is don’t by anything from me, and take my advice with a grain of salt. Do your own research, and find out what works for you.

PN plate

found here

That being said, I think I’ll say it again. I really do not think there is anything better when it comes to “dieting” than doing your own research and finding what works for you. I want to put dieting in bunny quotes because what I do I don’t actually feel is dieting. Yes I am changing my diet. But ideally I am changing my diet for good. For the forseeable future. My personal goal, when I say I want to get fit (and yes I believe a big part of that is through making conscious decisions about one’s diet), is to find a diet that works for me and the lifestyle I want to lead, forever.

THAT being said, I’m here today to tell you a little about what I have found works for me, and my own personal experience with changing the way I eat (more commonly known as dieting).

Start slowly. I’ve read a million articles online about diets that are guaranteed to work, and just follow these easy 10 steps to a healthier you! (It was a million, I counted.) The problem is, it is almost never that I find all the “steps” in all the different “processes” to be simple. I find the biggest problem with dieting is failing at it. That’s why I choose my own steps. In order for this post to stay at a readable length I’m going to list my top three pieces of advice, or first three steps I took when trying to change my diet.

  1. Make it easy for yourself. I believe that successfully completing your goals sets you up for future success. Therefore, when beginning a new project (any project really) I start as small as possible. Miniscule. I make that first step seem like the easiest thing in the world, that I can definitely accomplish. Then comes the important part, that once I do accomplish my easy first step, I go on and make another step in the right direction. (But again, a very, ridiculously, awesomely easy step.)
    For example: If I want to eat less sugar, first I’ll take a look at what my sugar in take is currently. Let’s say I eat a good amount of sugar every day and want to reduce that. So I’ll first just look at one meal. Every morning I put two tea spoons of sugar in my tea. My super easy step then could be to only add one teaspoon of sugar. I think I can manage that with 100% success, so that’s what I choose to change.
  2. Keep track of what you’re doing. There are a bunch of apps out there, or you can go the old write-it-down-with-pen-and-paper rout. Whatever you do, keep track of what you’re doing and how you feel. If you keep track you will be able to easier tell what is working, and what isn’t. (Hint: this can even be one of your first small changes – make it easy for yourself!)
  3. Be allowed to cheat. They say (by they I mean the internet) that your “diet” will be successful if you follow it 90% of the time. That’s pretty sweet I think. If you eat 6 meals a day for 7 days a week that means you eat 42 meals in a week. That means you only have to follow your diet for about 37 meals. That’s 5 meals/week that you get to eat whatever you want. (Within reason and portion size.) I’m fairly sure if you eat seven pizzas for four meals a week you won’t be getting any fitter, regardless of what you eat the other 37 times.

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How do I know that these steps work? Like I said, I’ve read approximately 1 million articles online regarding changing the way one eats. In the internet wonderland I have found these ideas, and I have tested them myself to see what works best for me.

yummy fruit

found here

To be honest, it hasn’t been a perfect run, as the title of this post would suggest. I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Dropped the ball. Let it slide. Whichever idiom you like. That’s why I find it important to have my three steps. When it starts going less well, I can take it back to the basics. Back to what I know works. (And keep track of what hasn’t work, and maybe even ponder why it hasn’t worked.)

I tried to keep this short and sweet, but certainly have more to say on the topic.

Stay tuned.

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