Photo from last summer, Indiana Dunes
I would like to begin by giving original SuperIma Leigh Ann mad props for the amount of organization she puts into planning her family's meals. As you recall, Leigh Ann recently moved, and she posted a picture on Facebook when she got her menu boards put up in her kitchen. Like me, a lot of Leigh Ann's friends were impressed that she would even have menu boards. I do try to plan meals on paper each week, although half the time my plans get shot to hell because (a) Bill works late, or (b) I am lazy and we have something like cereal for dinner. Oh, and notice I said I try to plan meals on paper each week. Lately the planning has really only been about three days at a time, if that. With Weight Watchers' new "free fruit" dictum (free in the sense that it's 0 points, not free money-wise), I go through so much fruit that I have to go to the store at least twice a week anyway, so I just pick up stuff for meals each time I go. And those meals have rotated between: (1) breakfast for dinner (or "brinner"), (2) tacos, and (3) hot dogs. Occasionally spaghetti.
Anyway, I'm on a tangent. My point is, Leigh Ann is sometimes hard on herself (coughpotcallingthekettleblackcough), but I just want to compliment her on her organization in family meal-planning and budgeting. I know she wrote a very self-deprecating post about the meal-planning, but seriously, she plans two months in advance, and the rotating list of menu items, which she seemed to imply were limited and repetitive, is like 5 times longer than the list of dishes in my dinner repertoire.
Also, another blog friend, Andrea, wrote a post awhile back about her impressive meal-planning efforts, so she deserves a shout-out, too. And I must give a shout-out to my real-life friend Sarah's impressive level of meal-planning and general organization in grocery-shopping and life in general, which makes me feel inadequate by comparison.
Moving on to the check-in:
Last week I began by talking about my recent realization that a huge part of the massive, all-consuming guilt I feel boils down to the fact that I feel like I should want more out of life. Now, in many ways I actually do want more out of life, and in and of itself the desire to get more out of life has the potential to be a very positive thing. But all this positive energy gets squelched by feelings of guilt and inadequacy, because I feel like I should be doing more, and achieving more, and So-and-So is doing so much better than I am at this, and Such-and-Such is better at that, even though she has X kids and Y professional responsibility and Z important side task.
(And yes, I know that previous italicized sentence made no sense from a mathematical standpoint, because X was a variable that stood for an actual number, whereas Y and Z were really just letters that served as placeholders for some kind of text. I just thought I would point that out, because I think at least somebody might be having a problem with that sentence. Though I feel I have competent math skills, writing is my stronger suit. In fact, last night I had a dream in which it was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I made the decision not to take A.P. Calculus. If only I had made that decision in real life, I would have saved my 17-year-old self a lot of grief. Okay, end of tangent--the literary kind, not the geometrical tangent.)
Anyway, my point is that the desire to get more out of life is generally a very positive desire, but the feeling that you should want more out of life will bring on all kinds of negative guilt that will overshadow any positive emotions you may have previously had. Generally speaking, the word should kind of has the power to take a big fat crap on any good feelings you may be having. (Crazy Camp had a saying, "Don't should all over yourself," so I guess that's why the word should conjures up scatological analogies for me.)
So, now freed from (some of) the guilt of should, I had a very good week. I started to realize that even though I tend to feel like a schlub who just takes up space on the planet, I'm actually building a lot of meaningful life experiences.
Let me use a specific example to illustrate my point about the value of life experiences. As I previously mentioned, I was asked this past week to be an emcee at a coffeehouse hosted by a local grassroots group called Generations for Peace. Now, first of all, the only reason that people associate me with emcee-ing is that I stuck my neck out and auditioned to be an emcee for a community theater show this past winter. And that community theater show opened up all kinds of new opportunities for me, too, because I got to write the script and try my hand at stand-up comedy, and now I have another writing/emcee gig for a show this summer, and the opportunity to write a script for a murder mystery show this upcoming fall/winter. Those are all really awesome experiences that led to other awesome experiences.
And anyway, my point was that my latest awesome experience was getting to emcee at the Generations for Peace coffeehouse. At first I was bewildered as to what I could possibly say at a coffeehouse for a group that I am not a member of. But a member of the group emailed me some information about Generations for Peace, and about one of their frequent partners, the American Friends Service Committee. And I was like, American Friends Service Committee? I know them from when I was in high school and participated in a group that helped plan events for kids in the city. The American Friends Service Committee sponsored a lot of the events. And also, I was pretty familiar with pro-peace activism because I grew up attending Unitarian Church.
So you see, life experiences.
And this week I was able to focus on all the really positive and varied life experiences I'm having, between my gigs in the community and my writing endeavors. I worked extra-super hard on my article for Technorati, and that foray into legitimate journalism really gave my brain a much-needed workout. Plus the local cancer support center called and asked if I'd like to take a weekly shift working at their thrift store, and there's nothing like charity work to make you feel like a productive member of the community.
Anyway, that was a really long check-in, but the bottom line is that I had a positive week. As you'll recall, my specific goals were:
- Take 5 minutes to straighten up my immediate area, in the name of simplicity: I think I did a pretty good job on this one, although of course there were plenty of times where I just set up my laptop and parked myself amid a sea of squalor and Cheerios. But the kitchen was cleaner than usual this week, at least.
- Spend 30 minutes outdoors, weather permitting: I loved this goal! Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we went to a different park each day. Thursday we sat in the yard. Friday I was super busy and didn't make my 30 minutes, but I made up for it on Saturday with an epic-long bike ride where Nathan and I got kind of lost, which is overall not a good experience with a whiny four-year-old. (The dumb thing is that I got lost once before in that same area, back when I was walking with Nathan in the stroller.)
- Finish two fluffy, light books: FAIL. I am only halfway through the first one.
Oh, and today we're going to the beach! I know I have other chores I could be doing, like sweeping up that general crud that seems to grow so easily on the kitchen floor, but I need to stare at a large body of water, dammit.
I really liked my goals last week, so I think I'm going to have the same goals next week. Which I know is kind of a cop-out, but there should be no guilt in the SuperIma goals, right? That's the point, isn't it?
I would like to conclude by thanking Leigh Ann for setting up this blog carnival, because it's the one time each week where I can really sit down and reflect, which is actually one of my favorite things to do. And Andrea has been inspired by Leigh Ann as well, because last week she wrote a goals post, too. I will never cease to be amazed by the power of the Internet to bring us all together.
Have a good week, everyone!