Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad Boys

Some days everything falls into place perfectly.

It is illegal to sell or purchase fireworks in New York State. In Pennsylvania, however, it is not. Over the summer my husband took my son to a Lacrosse tournament in Philadelphia. Guess what they came home with.

When they came home from the tournament, my son tried to discretely bring into the house, and into his bedroom, something concealed in a large plastic garbage bag. When I asked him what was in the bag he wouldn’t make eye contact with me and just said it was nothing. Of course I immediately assumed it was a present for me and he was simply hiding it in his bedroom.

A few weeks later I learned they had bought fireworks while at the Philly Lacrosse tournament and had every intention of setting off those fireworks during a birthday sleepover with two of my son’s friends. I strongly stated my objections to my husband but they fell on deaf ears.

The morning of the birthday sleepover, my husband took our son and his two friends to a local water park for the day. Chance would have it that my daughter was invited to a sleepover as well and so I had a rare day to myself. The weather was beautiful that day – sunny, warm, not too humid – and I was enjoying working outside. My quiet afternoon was suddenly interrupted with loud sirens going off! These sirens sounded like the air-raid sirens you hear in WWII movies. After about a minute the sirens stopped and a loud announcement was heard: “This is an emergency. Ithaca College campus is under a state of emergency. Please go to a designated shelter immediately and stay inside until further notice.” The sirens would then resume – with both sirens and announcement repeated several times before stopping. Ithaca College is about two miles from my house – and I later heard from friends that the sirens and announcement were heard up to 5 miles away. This emergency notice was repeated at least 2 more times until early evening.

My husband and the boys got home about 9:30 that evening. The four of them immediately grabbed the fireworks and headed out to a nearby field. We live in the city – but on the outskirts so we are in walking proximity to a lot of open fields and wooded areas.

I heard one, two, three sets of loud bangs as the ‘boys’ had their fun. After the fourth firework went off – guess what? A loud air-raid like siren went off for about a minute. Then a loud announcement was heard. Of course, if you happened to be in the act of setting off fireworks in a state where such an activity is ILLEGAL then you might be so scared and running home so quickly that you might not have heard what the announcement actually was. So an announcement stating an end to a campus emergency might sound like something entirely different - it might sound like the police with a bull horn coming after you. And when more sirens went off you would probably start running even faster.

Within minutes the ‘boys’ came bursting in the front door. Did I hear those sirens? Did I see any police? Any patrol car lights? How could the police have known so quickly? Did I think that the neighbors may have called them?

Oh what a sweet moment.

They told me that they were so startled at first that they simply ran and left my son’s backpack (which has his name in it) and all the fireworks behind. My son rushed back to grab them. Then his friend realized he left his jacket (with his name in it) behind and rushed back to grab it. What a slap-stick comedy skit it must have looked like. I was so enjoying this.

The next day my husband reads to me from the paper that there was a state of emergency on Ithaca College campus and that was why the sirens went off. Really, I said?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I have issues. I keep putting off posting because it's been a while and then I have to think of the perfect post to start back up again but keep putting that off and in the mean time - well - time just keeps going by. So. No segue. Tomorrow I start again. Just like that. I'm also looking for a good therapist to help me with my procrastination and perfectionist issues. Any recommendations?

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Bigger Picture

It’s been a while. I took on an overload of classes last semester and it ended up consuming all of my time. I would equate the extra courses to picking up a 20 hour part-time job on top of a 40 hour full-time job. Why did I do this? I’m struggling to answer this question.

I have a very difficult time maintaining balance in my life. I tend to embrace one thing and pursue it single mindedly – to the exclusion of other things. In an attempt to prevent myself from these single minded pursuits, one of my last posts before I disappeared was a list of daily goals – all of which were designed to help me strike a balance between work, family/friends, and me.

It is just like me to recognize what I need to work on, make lists of where I need improvement, make schedules to factor in time, and then go about doing everything possible to ensure that it doesn’t happen. Hence the list of daily goals and then taking on such a work load that there was no way I would be able to actually DO any of those daily goals.

Then I started making a list of resolutions for this New Year – and realized I was making the same old resolutions all over again. Yes – I did accomplish some from last year – and I don’t want to ignore those accomplishments. I did do three triathlons – which kept me exercising. I managed to maintain my weight loss – but I hit a plateau and did not lose any more weight this past year. I did not eat very healthy. I did not take care of my health - nor my personal or my spiritual growth. I feel as if I just let my relationships coast this past year. And all this came to a head last fall by taking on so much at work that it prevented me from having to do anything but – well - work.

Once I realized my resolutions were repetitions of years gone by, I started taking a good long look at myself. I THOUGHT I already did this two years ago with my whole “I’m turning 50 and the next 50 I’m turning my whole life around” rhetoric. I think that I hit a plateau not just in my weight loss but also with my own personal growth and how that extends outward in my professional, social, and family life.

As I’m reflecting on my struggle to maintain balance and realizing I’m not really making the kinds of changes I want to in my life – I’m hit with a huge realization. I’m an Avoider. I create situations where I have to “this” (“this” being something I HAVE to do) before I can do “that” (“that” being something I might really WANT to do or would ENJOY doing). I’m not afraid to take risks; I’m not afraid of learning or experiencing new things; I’m not afraid of failure. This avoidance behavior prevents me from maintaining any kind of healthy balance in my life. I understand this intellectually – but I need to work on the reality of it.

Then two seemingly unrelated events occur as I’m struggling with my resolutions. The first was when talking to a friend about a course she teaches about the cognitive behaviors of different cultures. The focus of the course is on how Asians and Westerners (us Americans) think differently. We think differently I asked her? How do we think differently? And I was fascinated with the answer she gave me. So much so that I ordered her text book to read for myself. It’s called “The Geography of Thought” by Richard E. Nisbett. I didn’t even get through the introduction before I saw some parallels to my struggles with balance in my life. I never look at the whole picture! I look at problem areas as if it were an isolated issue to be “fixed” and devote all my focus to that area. I need to start taking a holistic approach to the whole issue of balance in my life.

The second event is in regard to my husband deciding to lose weight. Diets are very difficult to sustain with our lifestyle. So he decided to try counting calories as a means to lose weight rather than try a diet. His intent was not to deny any certain foods but to just watch how much he ate. He found a website that tracks your weight loss with a graph – and calculates a daily average weight based upon your actual weight from day to day. The philosophy behind this is to show overall weight loss over time. Since your weight might fluctuate up or down from one day to the next – the chart is a visual demonstration that over time you are indeed showing steady progress in losing weight. I read everything the author wrote about this approach on his website and realized this was putting into practice what I started reading about in the book “The Geography of Thought.” Again – looking at the bigger picture. What a concept!

These two events have changed my whole approach to my next 50 years. I’m going to try a more holistic approach and look at the “bigger picture” in all aspects of my life. I’m examining my avoidance tendencies and trying to determine why I have them and how to eliminate them. I have much to work out. My first step is to rework all my resolutions – but with a very different focus now.

And once I get my house clean I’ll be ready to get started on the New Year!