Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Rocking Life



I’ve seen an inordinate amount of blog posts recently about hints and steps to optimize your life. This ranges from the “Most Perfect t Morning Routine Ever in 167 Easy Minutes” to “How to be a 50s Housewife in 27 Easy Daily Steps” to “How to Kick All the Ass at Work All the Time and Still Have Time for a Massage.” Needless to say, they overwhelm me, make me feel a smidge inferior, and end with me eating peanut butter by the spoonful. I’m really glad to know there are successful people out there, and I do hope those articles help people. I decided to make my own, possibly more realistic “How To” complete with examples.
  
My 10 Steps to a Successful Day:

11 .       Start on the Right Foot
Real Life Example: bargain with yourself in the mornings. How I execute this tricky step: I open my bleary eyes, look at the time on my phone, and then start a serious of calculations involving minutes until I have to leave, minutes per task that has to be completed, and other such factors and an epic internal debate to shame any scholar, and make mental health professionals question how many people live in my head.

“All right. If you don’t do your makeup, you can have seven and a half more minutes of sleep.”

“Pft. Please. Like that will convince me to get up.”

“Okay… if you drink coffee at the office instead of making it at home, you can stare blankly at the back wall of the shower for four minutes and 23 seconds. “

“Nope. Can’t make me.”

“How about if you wear the same thing you wore yesterday, with a spritz of Fabreeze, you can hold your dogs for three more minutes.”

“LALALALA. I can’t hear you.”

“FINE! Just get up and brush your teeth and you can watch a half episode of Buffy.”

“I just have to brush my teeth? That’s all I have to do today? Fine, deal.”

22.       Follow Through
Real Life Example: stare blankly at the back of the shower. Obviously, you must up hold whatever bargaining chips were utilized to complete step 1, else you will have no power the next day. I find this a particularly useful approach, because it’s basically like still being asleep with the added bonus of feeling like you are making progress.

33.       Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
Real Life Example: stare blankly at your refrigerator. Give up. Go to Starbucks. We all know balanced nutrition is a must for a successful life, and that packing your own food is always the better approach. I figure, A for effort really goes a long way for breakfast; additionally, coffee and nutritionally valueless sugar free syrup make a nice compromise to a home cooked meal.

44.       Execute a Daily Plan
 Real Life Example: bumble your way from task to task. My typical day involves at least three different work hats, at three different locations. I like to keep expectations nice and low, so making a screaming entrance and equally chaotic exit is essential. Try and forget important things as well, whether it be paperwork or tasks you were supposed to complete.  

55.       Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Real Life Example: be willing to sell your soul for a nap. It is important to know your heart’s desire and to work towards your goals.

66.       Utilize Your Commute
Real Life Example: Stare blankly at traffic. Finding that perfect balance is always the goal – this is a nice way to keep you morning and afternoons centered on the same theme.

77.       Practice Gratitude
Real Life Example: be so grateful to be home that you stay on the floor for 30 minutes. This example really only applies if you are an introvert. As I am the poster child for Introverts United, Separately and from our Own Homes, this step is crucial. You often have periods of time that you are not using to full potential. I encourage you to really look for those so you can fill them with tasks that are life giving, like lying on the floor crippled by the overwhelming feelings of angst of being around people all day and delight at being by yourself at home. The occasional groan pulled from your soul is encouraged.

88.       Cultivate Communication
Real Life Example: complain about all the things. It is important in our busyness to find time for the important relationships in our lives. I like to whine about everything in a big onslaught to my husband as soon as we are both home. Bonus if you are also whining via text message to other people. This is rounded out nicely if you end it with a half-hearted argument about what’s for dinner at the end.    

99.       Stay on Top of Chores
Real Life Example: rewash that load of laundry for the third time, since you aren’t sure if the last attempt was this week or the previous. ‘Nuff said.  

110.   Meditate on Your Day

Real Life Example: feel deep existential angst about your failings during the day, come up with elaborate plan how tomorrow will be different, go to sleep knowing it will totally work this time. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I'm Not a Hot Mess, I'm a Mess Mess

First, and most importantly, if you're a Coloradan go here and read this, it's an important and necessary ballot initiative that people should learn about (and in my opinion, support)

 http://denver.cbslocal.com/2016/06/01/governor-hickenlooper-colorado-constitution-changes/

Any who, on to the meat of my story.

9 times out of 10 I am a hot mess. Or as I like to say, minus the hot, with extra mess. So... a mess mess.

Last Wednesday was no exception - I was in rare form. At my (very new) part time job, a chunk of our staff works remotely so every few months we have an on sight staff meeting. The day before the staff meeting, we got our agenda for the next day and a note that said casual dress was fine.

The agenda was: breakfast, rally for a ballot initiative, staff meeting, Rockies game. Got it. Rockies game and casual dress, that means Rockies' t-shirt. Check.

I show up at breakfast in beach capris, pig tails, and this shirt:


I look around and notice everyone else looks much more presentable and businessey.

Hm. I misunderstood casual. Awkward. That's all right, now I know for next time. 

Embarrassment level: 1.5 (for a girl who had to negotiate the fire department, police department, and a 300 person company during a gas leak while dressed in a 6ft banana suit, this is small potatoes)

After breakfast we load up to go to the rally.

Now. I hear rally... I think pom poms, signs, hot dogs, maybe a few high fives.

Nope. Not even close.

This was more... important politicians, news cameras, maybe a few firm hand shakes.

As we walk in to the Aurora City Hall, I notice I am now beyond misunderstanding about casual to woefully under-dressed for an important event.

Embarrassment level: 3.5 (banana suit fire drill aside, important, well-dressed people in echoy marble halls filled with flags up the ante)

Well, I'm uncomfortable. That's okay, I'll just hide here in the back.

As I'm doing my best to blend in with a sea of pant suits, in my neon purple shirt, I'm told that I need to go up front with the other staff members. Nope. No. Hard pass.

Apparently hard pass is not as strong as I think, because moments later I'm at the front of the hall, behind the podium. In front of the camera. Behind the mayor of Aurora, a senator, and other people whose shoes are so reflective I can see my own distorted face.

Embarrassment level: 5.5 (cameras. 'Nuff said)

I'm telling my co-worker that I'm rapidly descending in to the "I can't move" level of embarrassment, when someone walks by saying: "the Governor will be here in five."

Sure.

Suuuuuure.

Sure.

Embarrassment level: 7 (Sure)

So. Me. Purple shirt. Purple shirt that says "Purple Mondays." It's Wednesday. Cameras. Fancy marble hall. The Governor.

Sure.

So I do what any high functioning, level headed person would do. I hide behind tall people. Successfully, might I add.


And then take a derp selfie to document all of this.


Don't worry. This is my fancy derp face, you can tell from my double chin.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I've Heard it Both Ways

I've been watching the show Psych. And by watching I mean completely, unhealthily binging. Like all the time. I love it. One of the continuous bits is the plethora of jobs the main character has had. I was thinking to myself - haha, silly Shawn Spencer, no one has had that many jobs. Wait. I have. 

I've had many, many a job - partially since I started working right when I turned 16 and partially because I spent many a moon being a lost little ship.

I've decided to list the various life lessons I learned at some of my past places of employment.

My very first job was at a DRY CLEANERS:

- Humans are disgusting. Like, grosser than you could ever imagine. Like, clumps of downstairs hair in zippers gross. Shudder. Some things never leave you. 

I then moved on to work in the three year-old class room at a DAYCARE:

- If you can get 30 three year-olds into swimsuits and their 30 different sunscreens on, there's little that will intimidate you going forward in life. The saying should not be"herding cats" but "herding a gaggle of three year-olds hopped up on sugar and excited for swim time all greased up with sunscreen."

My first job in college was as a TELEMARKETER:

- This job sucks just as much on the making side as the receiving side. "THANKS FOR YOUR TIME AHOLE!" is an appropriate expression for a variety of settings. 

Spent a summer as a file clerk at a TRASH COMPANY: 

- The variety of trash related problems in the world are shocking. And the passion people feel about these trash related problems is much, much larger than you'd guess. Don't take not having trash problems for granted.

Another summer as a PERSONAL ASSISTANT:

- Me woken up at 6am: "Snergfhhh. Yup." Her: "I need a car charger for my phone in the next thirty minutes." Me: "Gah. Where are you? What kind of phone." Her: "Home. It's orange." Click. Yup. Devil Wears Prada is a real thing, but with less fashion and more confusion. If you speak with enough authority, apparently people will just do things for you.

Another summer as a DOG WALKER:

- I am not equipped for anything outside of man to man coverage when it comes for caring for things that are alive. Like dogs. They smell incompetence. 

I proceeded to spend most of my college years at a BURGER PLACE:

- I know how many 2 oz condiment cups it takes to empty a Crown Royal bottle between three people. I also know you shouldn't let three young adults be in charge of or left alone at an establishment.

Also in college I was a YOUTH INTERN:

- Despite the above life lesson, they let me work with impressionable young people... and I have never learned so much or felt so hopeful for the future as I did in that job.

My first job out of college was as an executive assistant at a NON-PROFIT THRIFT STORE:

- I actually learned a lot at this job, largely because my desk (and who I reported to) was between two married people who had a ... volatile... way of relating to each other. I learned how to hum loudly and lose myself in Farmville. Also, people are capable of much more than we give them credit for and organizations that strive to help people who are shunted by society are to be commended... regardless of how loud the executive assistant has to hum to not go bananas. 

My next job was as a HR ASSISTANT: 

- With great power comes great responsibility. Oh. The secrets you find out. The power. THE POWER. It was too much. Fade to black.

After we moved to Denver I started working at an OB/GYN:



- You CAN make this face for a year straight.

I then moved to NEUROLOGY:

- There are not many places or people where I don't feel like sass is appropriate - all sass all the time. However, neurosurgeons are the exception to this (and I include sassing rocket scientists in this statement). It's hard to argue with someone who operates on brains - successfully. However, McDreamy is a big, fat false advertisement. 

During grad school I worked at an INSURANCE COMPANY:

- Working with some of your best friends is a hootenanny. Working in a male dominated field, not so much. Making it rain every time proving all the sexists wrong, brings us back up to hootenanny level.   
I am now a THERAPIST (among other things):

- People are crazy. I'm crazy. We're all crazy. Isn't it glorious? 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Obviously, You're Single

An open letter to the man I met last week.

When you stated to me, "well, you're obviously single" and gestured up and down my body a la Hiccup's father from How to Train Your Dragon, you joined an illustrious group of people.

The lady at the grocery store who pulled me aside to ask, "do you need help picking out vegetables since you don't usually buy them?"

The doctor who stated, "you'd be so beautiful if you could just lose thirty pounds."

The dietitian that said, "it's a good thing your husband does not mind fat chicks."

As I sat across from you trying not to cry, because by George I have my pride if nothing else, many thoughts and feelings crossed my mind.

There's so much I could say that is empowering and truthful. I'm not attractive despite being overweight, I'm hot as hell. Period. I could site a plethora of empowering, body positive thoughts and mantras. I love myself. You don't get to take that away from me. I could tell you all about my supermodel eyebrows or my baby doll skin; that I don't just feel attractive a lot of the time, I am attractive.

I could wax poetic about how there's nothing wrong with my husband for thinking I'm spectacular,
even though, yes, I'm fat. Gasp! He loves me anyway! He'd choose me over any other woman, every time - the horror! Sorry. I descended into sarcasm there for a bit. Yes. My husband is an Adonis, the total package. He's handsome, successful, intelligent, humorous, and caring. And he's crazy for me. He thinks I'm the total package. Not despite my weight. Period.

We could journey down the long road that is a frustrating mixture of nature and nurture that has lead me to this hefty predicament: my slow metabolism, my poor coping skills, various cognitive distortions that have created an unhealthy dependency on food, America. There could be an explanation of if there was an easy fix (just stop it! stop eating!), I'd do it, damn it. I do worry about my health. I do care about my future. I'm not dumb.

I could bear my soul and tell you how I cry in dressing rooms because I hate seeing myself in those three way mirrors with the lighting from Satan himself. That I hate myself when I lay down to go to sleep, if I have eaten something that does not have 100 percent nutritional value. How I explore the infinite ways life could be better if I was just skinnier. The fear I live in to see pity or disgust in peoples' eyes, or worse, comments like the one you made. To know they are justified and it is true, my weight is shockingly noticeable.    

I could say all of that, or none of it. It does not matter. There is nothing I can say that will change the snap judgment you made about me, based on my weight. The fact that in your eyes my value was summed up and discarded in lieu of my rotund appearance.

There's not really a point to this letter. You can't take back what you said. I can't deny how it cut me to the core, how it stirred up so many things inside of me. What I can do is put some of it in writing. For you, and others, to see weight is not a simple issue. It is not simple how I "got" this way. There is no simple solution. It's not simple if I even want a solution. There is no simple way to sum up how it impacts me.

All of that said, you sir, are an asshole. Unlike my body and image issues, that's pretty straight forward. I hope you get a permanent paper cut and have to juice lemons the rest of your life.

Best Regards,

Anna Kristine  

Monday, February 29, 2016

I Work Out! Wait... I Meant... I Work Nights!

I have not blogged in a loooooong time. I mean months. That's like a millennia in internet time (I'm not sure of the exact conversion, so give or take a few years or hundred.)

There's a lot of reasons. I have had mono. I was looking for a full time counseling job. I got a full time counseling job. I was training for said job. I have been in the throes of a general existential crisis since graduating in December.

And, as of this week, I am working nights. Over the weekends. It's the prime-o shift, e'rybody wants it.

Needless to say, for someone who would pick sleep over anything short of meeting the Queen of England (and even then, is there tea and scones involved? If I'm not being fed, what's the point), this has been a tough week. Tough enough that I thought to myself, "self, what can you do to make this easier? You should blog, you love blogging! It's okay that you have nothing to say. You haven't slept much in five days, so everything you have to say will be hilarious. To you."

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am writing this at 3 o'clock in the morning. Also,  I just sat for five minutes staring at my computer trying to think of the phrase "spirit of full disclosure."

 Onward, to the point of this. Or as close as we will get to one.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED FROM WORKING THE NIGHT SHIFT! (For four days)

The title is a work in progress.

1. It's the worst. I am trying really hard to be positive, but there's no way around the fact that working from midnight to 8am sucks. I could wax poetic about the ways I hate it, but it's fairly straight forward - working while everyone else sleeps, and sleeping while everyone else works and plays is no fun. If you haven't done the graveyard shift, you should probably throw yourself a five second dance party. Right now. We'll wait. If you have, and you love it and it's the best thing to happen to you, all I can say is I'm glad but that makes all of my internal emotions feel this way:



2. I suddenly runneth over for analogies about what I feel like. Things I've compared myself to: a mole person, a troll, a vampire, a barnacle, a slug, those animals that get all squinty and sad in the sun...

True story, I just realized the animal I was talking about was a mole. Thus the phrase mole person. That I used in the same sentence. And didn't put two and two together.

Also, I googled pictures of moles, and guys, they're the worst. So scary, I can't even bring myself to post a picture. Shudder. So we'll settle for this artistic rendition.
3. I think I'm brilliant and witty at 4 in the morning. It's like when you wake up from a dream thinking, "oh my goodness, of course I should open a cupcake shop with JJ Watt. Why have I never thought of this brilliant idea before?!" About a half hour ago I thought to myself, "yes! I finally figured it out! The plot to my best selling novel!" I won't bore with you the details, but it made as much sense as my recruiting from the Texans to open a bakery.

4. I'm glad to be doing it. Despite all of the negative (which is plentiful), I'm glad that there are 24 hour a day resources for people who feel hopeless and alone. I plan on writing a whole post on this topic, when I'm not feeling like I am detached from my body, but know if you are hurting that you are not alone ever. There's someone you can talk to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I know this because I'm lit-rally sitting here waiting for calls. And the sunrise. And for my sanity to return.

Image result for lifeline number



Monday, November 2, 2015

The Antidote to Bullies is Wicked and Doctor Who

Something weird is a foot in my life – I am being bullied. This might sound odd, considering I am almost 30 years old. It’s especially strange because I am one of the lucky few who escaped school age without being bullied.

I understand Glinda on a deep level - glitter and ruffles included. 

Thus, it has been a weird few weeks/months. I have dealt with some overt, mean-spirited comments from a person, particularly about my intelligence and impact on people. These have basically been that I am dumb and annoying, in a nut shell. Completely separate, I have been told I don’t provide value to an organization. Also separate, it’s been communicated that while I am funny and entertaining, I do not provide much beyond that.

OUCH.

Pft.

Rude.

Ouch. I want to joke my way through this, but it has hurt pretty bad. I feel a little like a kicked puppy. I was crying to my husband about it and I asked, “what have I done to make people think I am such a joke?”

And that’s exactly how I feel. I love making people laugh, but not at the cost of my worth. I am not a joke. I am competent and bright and good at what I do. The people who matter in my life know this and speak life in to me. I am lucky that I have an iron clad support system (some who have sworn vengeance through interpretative dance). I realized, however, that not everyone has that, and they completely believe the bullies and the negative comments, and think they do not matter.

And that sucks, because everyone matters. EVERYONE MATTERS. YOU MATTER.

We can be so mean. So many get their value from stepping on others. No matter how many times you’ve been stepped on, or been the stepper, you matter. Everyone is made in the image of God. Everyone has purpose, gifting, heartbreak. You have impacted lives and made a mark on this world, even if you cannot see it. YOU MATTER. We all matter.

It can be hard to believe this, especially when you are hearing differently from mean people. If I’ve learned anything in this season is that bullies know no age or stage of life. It sucks. It hurts real bad, I’m learning that firsthand. But I refuse to let that change how I view my value. Sometimes the anger burns and the tears sting. They can crawl under your skin. You have to be active to push them back out. Don’t let them win. You are not a joke. I am not a joke. YOU MATTER.


This post has been more repetitive than I  meant, but that's what I want to communicate. No one is expendable. No one is disposable. No one is pointless. No matter what the bullies think or say.

People wonder why I love Doctor Who so much. Primarily, it’s because the Doctor gets this concept – take it away Matt Smith!    


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Marriage is the Worst. And the Best.

I was watching Inside Out the other night for the first time. Oh, the feels. THE FEELS. Literally, figuratively, metaphorically, grammatically. ALL THE FEELS. If you haven't seen it, do it. Right now. If it doesn't move you, I'm 97.9% sure you are a gargoyle. You should see someone about that. I could write a whole book on the lessons and beauty of that movie. But, I'll spare you. One small piece I was struck by while watching, in the tide of emotions, was Riley's imaginary boyfriend. It caught my attention, because, yeah, that was totally a thing when I was eleven.

Heck, it's been a thing my whole life. There's never been a time I didn't love boys and the idea of marriage. Not having a family (no pretend babies in my childhood), but a husband. My first boyfriend was in kindergarten and we would blow kisses to each other from our nap towels. Alas, my first love wasn't meant to be.

In elementary school it was boys with cool hair and who were good at kickball. In middle school it was boys who were rebels and smoked cigarettes behind the school. In high school it was mature older guys who had accents and a job. You work at KFC? That'ts the dream!

And, so on. I dated, I had serious relationships, I feel in "love," and through it all I dreamed of being married. I dreamed about getting flowers everyday and being showered with compliments. I dreamed of starlight picnics and cuddling on the couch. Marriage was going to be the epitome of my life, it was THE DREAM (it did evolve at some point past the guy having a job at a chicken fast food restaurant).

And then, when I was 21, I met John. He was tall and handsome, hard-working, and very funny. We started dating, and then we got engaged, and then got married 6 years ago. There were fairy tale moments (I'll write a post sometime about our engagement story, and you will weep from the beauty of it. WEEP, I tell you) and still are. But.... there's been a lot of shit, too.

I always joke that John and I have not taken the rainbow and butterflies approach to marriage, rather the clawing tooth and nail to make it work approach.

There have been struggles from day one. I remember early in our marriage fighting about something. Whatever the topic was it ended with me saying, "fine, just go." John turned to leave. And I threw a role of paper towels. At his head.

He's hurt my feelings. I've used my words as weapons. We've ignored each other's needs. We've isolated from each other. There's been yelling and tears. The paper towels were not the last thing I threw. It has been ugly. Sometimes REAL ugly.

Eleven year-old me would be horrified.

But.

Oh, the lovely but.

It's all been worth it. Cue the cheeeeeeeese!

Every morning John gets up to let the dogs out (did I mention he's good looking, and a saint?) and when he comes back he shoves into my side of the bed, wraps around me, and steals all my stored up warmth.

He worries about my feelings when I've backed my car into his, not worrying about the unnecessary damage I've done.

He follows me around Comic Con, regardless of what insane outfit I'm wearing.

He tells me not to give up when I feel defeated, reminding me of my giftings and success. His encouragement has, at times, propelled me through grad school when I have had nothing left to give.

Why am I writing all this? Partially so everyone can know how great my husband is, because he does not toot his own horn. I encourage through writing and words, so this is a way for me to show love.

There's the obvious point that marriage probably won't look like you thought it would. And for sure not what you thought it would be as a child.

But, the main point is, no one can tell you what marriage should look like. Some people are able to work solely on butterflies and rainbows in their marriage. Some people fight fiercely, and love equally so. Some people have crap communication but show love in other ways. There's no one way to define intimacy. Priorities are different. Growth is different. Pain is different.

Marriage is hard enough figuring it out between two people - we don't need to make it harder by incorporating other people's views of what is right. Basically, you do you.

Marriage is not at all what I expected it would be. It's not what I was told it would be. There is not a rubric I'm grading it on. Marriage, for me, is the unique, wonderful relationship between me and John. It's constantly evolving, it's high and low, it's painful and healing, it reveals God to me and the ugliness of being human. It's our story, in all its complexity and simplicity.