May 8, 2012

Problems // Solutions

As you could probably tell, my last few posts were pretty down and full of emotion. It's been one heck of a spring around here; so many drastic and tragic events have occurred in my neck of the woods. Despite dealing with many roller coasters, I have been making grand attempts at carving more regular time out for me and for fun. What I did was take a good solid look at the elements in my life that I considered "problems." These aren't basic needs problems as I am extremely fortunate to be employed and have a husband that is also employed. These are "problems" (notice the quotes) that were really effecting my mood and outlook on life. Maybe you'll be able to relate?

Problem: Feeling Disconnected from Myself
Last year I began to study Buddhism on my own (with the help of Cory). Not necessarily practice Buddhism, but just study it. I was encouraged to read this book by my great friend Whitney and it really opened a door of wonder for me. Cory and I even went to a Buddhist festival and attended meditation training by a Buddhist monk! I really tried to embrace the idea of being in the moment and understanding the purpose and root behind what I was feeling and why I was feeling it. Although I wasn't very great at meditation and I didn't know much, I definitely wanted to keep learning. Unfortunately, as the school year began and my responsibilities caught up with me, I longingly stared at my meditation and practice books from behind the stacks of papers I needed to grade.

Solution: Making (and taking!) the Time to Study
I picked up a new text from my favorite Buddhist writer, Thic Nhat Hanh. He has written many, many books about meditation, Buddhism, and finding your spirit within. I knew he was the guy I was missing. So, I treated myself to a copy of You Are Here because it seemed like the perfect transition piece to get me back into myself. I need to focus more in the moment and less in the past and the future. I've been giving myself the last 20-45 minutes of my day to lay in bed and read this book by myself. No one to distract me (not even Ralphie) while I read.

Problem: Feeling Disconnected from Friends
I'll be the first to admit, I have less than a handful of close friends that live close to me (within a 45 min drive). Some of this is my fault--for letting previous friendships deteriorate, but some of it was also by choice--eliminating the stress of fake friendships. Either way, whenever I'm feeling low, I always somehow come back around to feeling like I don't have much of a social life. It bums me out BIG time. B.I.G. time!

Solution: Make Your Own Social Life
I had a sudden realization that I wasn't putting forth much effort. So, I decided to give effort a chance and meet up with a friend who was experiencing a bad breakup and bad week in general. We had dinner at Outback (the first time I had been there since 2010--no lie) and caught up with each other. It was nice being able to console her during this sad time, but also just be able to talk. I need to make weekly dates or bi-weekly dates with friends. Sometimes scheduling in advance is the only way it will work--but at least it will work! I also took the time to contact a few far-away friends and hold pretty lengthy phone calls with them. Not because I felt guilty, but because it felt nice. Some of my friends that live the farthest away are the ones that truly know me best. Also, when we had friends spontaneously crash at our place Saturday night (after I was overcome by a cold) I stuck it through and hung out until they went to sleep, instead of going to sleep to nurse my cold. I felt the rewards of just being a friend and hanging out instead of the next-day regret.

Problem: Not Getting Quality Time with Cory
I had to face it: Cory and I are busy people. We both have 4 preps this semester, we both are Yearbook advisers, and we're both pretty high maintenance when it comes to what we expect from ourselves at work. While my work day ends at 4, I'm often at school until 4:30, if not later. Cory's work day doesn't even end until 4:30, so he's often at school much later than that. We try to carpool to and from work, but sometimes it doesn't provide that good, old fashioned quality time I'm lusting after.

Solution: Weekend Morning Dates
On one of our very first dates, Cory took me to this amazing hole-in-the-wall pretzel shop that makes homemade bagels for breakfast sandwiches. That one experience pretty much changed my life and my standard for a delicious breakfast. Now, if we were to eat these breakfast sandwiches every weekend, we might become rotund, but every once in a while doesn't hurt at all. Two weekends ago I woke up on Sunday and decided it was the perfect day to grab breakfast at our favorite downtown spot. We had a nice, leasurely breakfast and enjoyed spending the extra face time with one another. This past weekend, knowing Cory was going to have to go into school for a few hours to work on his yearbook, I volunteered to go along with him to help. Even though we were working, it was nice to be in a creative environment where we could bounce ideas off one another. It seems like we're both fresh and focused in the morning, which means we have better conversations and more energy for one another. I hope we keep up this record of weekend morning dates, because I really enjoy them!

Problem: Not Getting Out There
A lot of times I feel like I'm stuck in the same exact schedule. Wake up, go to work, work, come home, cook dinner, do chores, sleep. It's boring! I need more evening activities to keep me feeling fresh and focused. I have been taking a weekly class for Differentiated Instruction (offered by the Maryland Department of Education) and have been really enjoying it, but I became worried about how monotonous my weeks would begin to look as soon as I finish the class.

Solution: Make Plans to Get Out of the House!
This past weekend we made plans to attend Cory's school's production of Beauty and the Beast (which was over-the-top and amazing as one might expect from an arts school). We had made plans in advance to go with both sets of our parents and Cory's sister. I'm so glad we made these plans because I had the best time attending dinner with them and also seeing this incredible show. I've been pushing Cory to go get froyo with me on a more regular basis, or run errands after work. Anything to get us off the couch and around people. Sometimes the smallest of things can really change your mood. Also, like I mentioned in this post, I bought us season passes to a concert series in Richmond, VA that I am extremely excited about.

As you can tell, I'm working on it. Slowly, but surely, I'm trying to take hold of what is bothering me and fix it the best way I know how. I'm always trying to better myself and my quality of life, so I'm hoping if I keep looking at my current situation as small problems that have solutions, then I can really focus on bettering myself one day at a time.

How do you problem solve various elements in your life that are causing dissatisfaction? Is your technique similar? I'd love to talk about it in the comments!

Happy Tuesday to you!

1 comment:

  1. I'm like you Liz. I tend to grab a book after a difficult experience and try to figure out what it is that is bothering me then tackle it in a positive way! I have read his Miracle of Mindfulness.
    PS- if you wanna join us thursday let me know (reconnect w/friends!!!)