Valentines Day

Valentines Day is actually my favorite holiday.

I know it’s made up. I know it’s this commercialized mess. I know it puts unnecessary pressure on couples and partners. I know.

But I also really like to talk about love, in all it’s forms. And I like flowers and candy and the color red.

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The unruly little one is me.

When I think about love, D isn’t actually the first thing that comes to my mind. My family is (he gets grouped in with them). I believe that the love of the family, whatever family may look like for an individual, is the place where strength comes from, and is the central root that connects us to society in an unbreakable way.

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My friends come next. If family roots us in our community, our friends are the trunk of the tree – the steady base that lets our branches move outward, with love and careful reflection.

It’s been tricky to be in a new state with a new culture. It makes it hard to make friends, especially when most of the town grew up together. I’ve lucked out with a core group of great people who keep me grounded.

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After that, I think about romance. It tends to fall toward the bottom of my priority list, and lately I’ve been trying to do a better job of changing that. Even though I don’t think it’s the most important part of being in a relationship, I do still think it’s important.

At one point in my life, my mother told me that the most romantic thing about my father is that he knows her 2:30pm coffee is taken differently than her morning coffee. I’ve been trying to think about ways that I show care, and spaces where care is absent and bump it up.

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I hope that this Valentine’s Day gets to be about all the varied forms of love for you.

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Three Months Later

It’s been a little over three months since I had my gallbladder removed.

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I keep trying to find the right words to describe the difference between now and before. I can’t find them. Or, I can’t find them well.

My abdomen feels better. My circulation (maybe?) feel better. I’m not sluggish and sad like I was. But…

I still don’t really understand what’s going to make me sick.

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Cauliflower bites

It seems like it would be easy to say “stick with fruits, veggies and lean meats.” And it is. Except onions hurt. And apples. And sometimes kiwis but not always. And honestly, sometimes I just really want to eat some goldfish crackers. Or a bagel. Or some coffee.

So I eat them. And pay for it for a few days.

Some days, I bloat enough to be two sizes larger than usual.

Some days, the idea of figuring something out to eat is too complicated so I just don’t.

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Other days, I’m floored with the idea that my body has lost two organs (gallbladder and appendix) and still functions!

What modern medical marvel! What incredible feat of human evolution and engineering! How lucky am I to have a body at all!

Other days, I realize it’s been four days since I last got sick or put on jeans that didn’t fit.

Other days, I find a way to stay centered on gratitude for what I have, rather than what I lost.

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If you’re getting ready for this to be done, or if you just had it done: it’s just like everything else in life. It’s what you make it. It’s differently complicated. It will make you re-examine your relationship with your body on a regular basis and nobody will really understand what you’ve felt or are feeling except other people who did this.

It will be fine, if you can find the good in it. If you can keep yourself from getting bogged down by all the not-fine of it. And eventually, your life will level out again and you’ll get used to the four little scars on your belly.

You may even grow to like them, because they mean feeling so much better.

How to Organize Your College to-do List

I talked a little bit in this post about the things that are keeping me sane while working full time and going to grad school.

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This guy is definitely high on the list

I made reference to the moderately flexible schedule that I’ve come up with for my classes, given what a usual day look likes.

For some context: I work full time at the university that I attend, which is a 30 – 90 minute drive from home, depending on the weather. I am a part-time graduate student, studying Adult and Higher Education, taking two classes on campus, which is a 20 – 60 minute drive from work.

The time piece is relevant here, I think. When you consider that I usually get home around 5:40pm and try to be in bed by 10pm, I really have four hours to, not only do homework, but also have my life during the week.

Start with the Syllabi

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Duh, right? It’s the plural that’s important. I learned this in undergrad when I took six classes a semester while working close to full-time. I grab up all my syllabi and start to write out due dates, in order. There’s a lot of flipping back and forth between them, so it’s helpful to have a large area to do this.

I only write down my major projects/papers/assignments. It will keep this part a lot cleaner.

Make Notes as You Go

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As I write out the assignments, I think about the timeline. For example, I have an Adult Learner Interview part-way into the semester, so I need to conduct the interview with enough time to actually write the paper.

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I keep doing this, and try to figure out if there’s more than one step involved. For example, on March 26, I have to write a Summary of an Adult Learning Site. So I need to visit the site at least two weeks in advance, which means I need to contact sites before that to ensure I can awkwardly sit in the corner while adults learn and I take notes on how they learn. #thisisgradschool #iloveit

In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to color code assignments or classes. I may try that next semester.

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At the end, it looks something like this (aka organized chaos). Then, I take a look at the syllabi again and start to think about my life. If I have class Monday and Wednesday night, I actually need to be done with my readings by Saturday, if I want to have an actual day off.

So I write it all together, with due dates on the side, categorized by week:

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I just keep going until I’ve written out each week of the semester. I end up with something like this, except longer:

Then, I do a quick double check and slowly enter all of it into my planner, on a large sticky note:

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The left side is school stuff and the right side is home stuff.

If you read my post about a day in my life, you know that currently D and I are trying to figure out how to best shorten the list on the right side. There’s just certain things that aren’t his to take on, or don’t feel right for him to take on given where we’re at in our relationship, and we want to be careful about doing things for each other that aren’t in line with where we are.

That’s it though. Rather than assigning days, I just try to get as much done as I can Monday – Thursday so that I can have a simple weekend. I’ve found that dedicating Tuesday and the Wednesdays that I don’t physically have to go to class to doing homework means that if I get a surprise visitor or just don’t feel like doing homework during the week I’m not dead on Sunday from the amount I have to do.

Total time to complete: about an hour and a half.

How to Prioritize a Household To Do List

Maybe it’s just me, but my house doesn’t “happen” in as systematic of a way as the rest of my life. Work and school, I make these little lists with empty boxes near them so that I can check them off as I go. My house gets tidied and fixed up when the wind blows in the right direction and the sun is out.

So I made a list. I went through photos of my house and I made a list of everything that I wanted to get done and now I have that list:

  • Find a new home for reusable bags
  • Move work space off the kitchen table
  • Reupholster dining room chairs
  • Figure out the couch situation
  • Get a rug
  • Refinish the coffee table
  • Turn the desk into an actual, workable space
  • Upgrade the trunk
  • Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
  • Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  • Find a new home for donations
  • Revamp online selling system
  • Talk to sisters about the coffee table
  • D – wtf is with this beanbag chair??
  • Reorganize the bathroom closet
  • Lower that one super high shower shelf
  • Bedroom Art
  • Learn to hang up clothes
  • Arrange bedside table
  • Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
  • Return bed frame to my mom

This is overwhelming & I need to make some sense of it.

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Sort It Out

The way I see it, these can be broken up into the following categories:

  • Conversations
    • Talk to sisters about the coffee table
    • D – wtf is with this beanbag chair??
  • Costs Money / Craft Project
    • Reupholster dining room chairs
    • Figure out the couch situation
    • Get a rug
    • Refinish the coffee table
    • Upgrade the trunk
    • Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
    • Window treatment for sliding glass doors
    • Bedroom Art
  • Domino Effect
    • Move work space off the kitchen table
    • Turn desk into actual, workable space
  • Habit-forming
    • Revamp online selling system
    • Learn to hang up clothes
  • Other
    • Find a new home for reusable bags
    • Find a new home for donations
    • Reorganize the bathroom closet
    • Lower that one super high shower shelf
    • Arrange bedside table
    • Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
    • Return bed frame to my mom

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Think about ease

Whenever I have a long list of things, whether it’s at home, school or work, I try to put the simple little things close to the top of the list so that I a) actually feel like I’m getting things done and b) I can clear some brain-space to figure out other things.

For me, the Conversations and Other category are usually where I start. So, when I look at these nine things:

  • Talk to sisters about the coffee table
  • D – wtf is with this beanbag chair??
  • Find a new home for reusable bags
  • Find a new home for donations
  • Reorganize the bathroom closet
  • Lower that one super high shower shelf
  • Arrange bedside table
  • Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
  • Return bed frame to my mom

it starts to get easy to see what should happen first. My family has a Facebook page, so I can easily just post a thing in there about the coffee table. D and I talk every day. I already think I know where the reusable bags should go and I’ll see my mom this weekend so I can return the bed frame to her.

  1. Talk to sisters about the coffee table
  2. D – wtf is with this bean bag chair??
  3. Find a new home for reusable bags
  4. Return bed frame to my mom

So then I think about time and effort. I think I already have hooks, the bedside table I can start now and keep working on, and the bathroom closet is really more of a purging project than anything else.

5. Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
6. Arrange bedside table
7. Reorganize bathroom closet

That leaves me with the donations and the shower shelf. I’ll set them over to the side for now.

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Be Realistic

The last three categories require a different kind of thinking. There’s budgeting of both money and time involved in that. So I know that I need to figure out the desk/kitchen table situation, but it can live at the bottom of the list because, to me, that’s a project, not an easy one, two, three process. I think the same is true about the Habit Forming category.

That leaves me with the Costs / Money piece. Let’s look at those again, with cost attached:

  • Reupholster dining room chairs – $175
  • Figure out the couch situation – $100
  • Get a rug – $45
  • Refinish the coffee table – $20
  • Upgrade the trunk – $40
  • Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s – $50
  • Window treatment for sliding glass doors – ???
  • Bedroom Art – ???

I think there’s two ways to go about things that have money tied to them: you can start with the things that cost the most/least and go down/up in price. OR, you can let price be a factor and think about time and impact.

I prefer the time/impact route more, myself.

I don’t have buckets of money (clearly I’m not willing to spend more than $100 on a couch and honestly, that’s stretching it), but I do know that if I care enough about something I’ll tuck my money away until I can have it. So I ask myself these questions:

What will take the least amount of time?
What will have the biggest impact?
What is annoying me the most?
What do I care about the least?

Anything that gets listed under the first three questions goes to the top of the list and then I sort by price. I end up with this:

  1. Figure out the couch situation
  2. Get a rug
  3. Refinish coffee table
  4. Bedroom Art
  5. Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
  6. Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  7. Upgrade the trunk
  8. Reupholster dining room chairs

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Mash your Lists

Alright. So now we have some different lists going on, with different time frames and different amounts of money.

ertificate of Completion

So, now I’ll look at my schedule and blend them together based on homework, work, paychecks, free time, all those pieces.

Here’s the end result:

Finallyfoundmy newhome!

You may have noticed that the hanging up the clothes is no longer on the list. This is something I will just have to learn over time. I only listed the prices for the first couple of projects because I’ve found that when I create a full household  budget I start to think “Yeah, I’m never going to have that much money,” and I give up and can’t do it anymore.

So that’s it. That’s my confusing process for arranging these things.

Now, I’ll  put them all into my planner and pluck away at them!