I Expect….

Out of all the expectations in the world, I think the worst are what we expect of ourselves. We expect to be smart and savvy. Do well at school, succeed at work or career. Be beautiful and stylish. Get married and have children. Be the greatest parents in the history of parenting. Just look at social media: pinterest is successful because of our need to have picture perfect lives. Facebook and Instagram allow us to peak at other lives, causing us all to have….expectations of ourselves.

We all do it to a certain degree- we want a nicely appointed room to entertain people in, or serve a gorgeous dinner, throw a themed party. We want things to be just so. No matter unrealistic our expectations get. No matter how secure we are, the Jones family is right over there with there perfect green grass….

I like to think that I am somewhat level headed. I don’t really covet thy neighbors goods (though Diane carved up a chicken on her blog yesterday and I was a little envious of how she took it apart) If I really want to do something, I generally get it done: I have my lists and plans and bucket lists, and I try to keep it real.

Great.

But I’m still having my weight issues.

See, this is where my Facebook envy comes in. I don’t look enviously at the lives of others. Facebook has this annoying habit of showing us “Remember” pictures.

Oh how I hate to see pictures of me from seven years ago.

Up until I was 50 I was a not thin but not heavy person. I was reasonably content with how I looked and how I felt about how I looked.

I don’t look like that anymore.

I am not happy that I don’t look like that anymore.

Menopause didn’t give me hot flashes, or moodiness, or the majority of the symptoms that go along with it. But…it slowed down my reasonably fast metabolism to that of a sloth…

And the weight came on….

I exercise daily. In fact, I am presently in my gym shorts and tank top and will be hitting the gym after I hit publish. (sidenote- I often read blogs on the elliptical, so if a response is ever total gibberish you know it’s because I can’t step and type- Claudette has taken to warning me if any post might make me trip….)

So yes: gym- check.

I walk everywhere and exceed the 10,000 step thing. I take the stairs. Blah blah blah.

I eat just like I did before.

Ha.

That’s the problem: I love food. I love cooking. I love trying new things. I continue to do all these things because I love them. Alas, they don’t love my body. Food mocks me now, like a bad ex boyfriend showing all his pictures on Facebook…

My love of food has collided with my love of weighing less.

I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to break up with food.

I have unreasonable expectations of my post menopause body. I expect it to do all the same things it did before, and because it doesn’t I get mad. I am mad at my metabolism for letting me down. I am mad at food for being so yummy. I am mad at cooking because it’s so much fun.

I need to get my expectations in line with one of these things. I just don’t know which one it will be.

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The Relationship Post Mortem

I spoke of my friend yesterday, and how she doesn’t love the relationship that her daughter is in. The update is, the boyfriend broke up with the girlfriend on Monday (coincidently right after his graduation weekend)

You would think my friend would be relieved, which she is, sort of. Of course her first thought was – “I wish I knew why he broke up with her.” (of course my first nasty thought was – maybe his Mother didn’t like her- I know- I’m bad)

So here’s the question for today:

Do we really want to know why someone ended a relationship?

There are millions of reasons why two people break up. My sister once ended a relationship because she didn’t like the way he brushed his tongue. Some are tangible, logical reasons: they drink too much, they live too far away, they don’t treat me well. We can put a name to these: there is one specific thing that makes the relationship not good. But what about when there is no “big” reason?

Ok- the boyfriend broke up with the girlfriend. What if the reason is seemingly silly, like the tongue brushing thing. Do you need to know that a guy thinks you have some little quirk that is harmless but a problem for them? What if a woman thinks you have a hobby that is silly? What’s the point of knowing? Are you going to change?

See- that’s my thought: Is knowing why someone broke up with you beneficial? Are you going to stop the behavior they don’t like, or start doing something that they do like? Or in general- will it be a catalyst to some sort of change? Will it make you think about yourself more clearly? Or will it make you feel bad about who you are?

In theory, I guess there’s something to closure. I broke up with you because of A, B, C, F and G. Thank you next. But how much time are you going to spend dissecting the reasons? Are you going to question why you behave that way? Are you going to overanalyze your characteristics to the point you question everything you do? Are you going to beg the other person to come back because you vow to change?

Do you need to change because someone doesn’t want to continue dating you?

We also have my favorite answer to why I’m breaking up with you:

It’s not you, it’s me.

Is there a worse line in the history of stories we tell one another?

What does that even mean? It’s not you, it’s me. Why would you ever say that to anyone? Is that an actual reason to stop dating someone? I’d rather someone not tell me a reason than to say that tired, tired, lame excuse. Don’t insult my intelligence.

Of course, there is one step lower than INYIM: ghosting. When did it become acceptable behavior to just stop communicating with someone? And I don’t mean after one date- I mean people that have been in a relationship and then just cease communication. Did people start ghosting to get out of explaining why they no longer want to date someone? Did the relationship post mortem expectation become so intense that people feel it’s easier and better to just walk away?

I know I threw a lot at you today. But what are your post break up expectations?

 

 

Really?

I was talking to a friend the other day- the incident she was talking about and the ensuing discussions have been tossing around in my mind for awhile. I still don’t know how I’m going to express my ideas today, so bear with me. I know there will be a point eventually.

My friends 19 year old college daughter was dating a guy she knew in High School. They didn’t date in hs, but were “best friends” ( I italicize this because that is probably going to be a whole other blog). While they were at two separate colleges in two separate states that are reasonably far apart for a college student they decided to begin dating.

The dating began a few months ago- with girl A going to visit boy B. Fine. He then asked her to come back for his frat formal in April and then again for his graduation in May. Let’s start out with how much grief this caused my friend. She did not understand why her daughter was going to either of these events. I looked at her: why wouldn’t a guy want his girlfriend to be at these events? And why wouldn’t the girl want to go?

Well, it turned out this was all a red herring. She didn’t care about the events. She just doesn’t like the guy. Apparently he’s a history major (the shame and the horror) and he’s not going to go to law school (NOOOO) and his parents are questionable. They make too much money and go to the Caribbean too much. (Can you imagine New Yorkers wanting to go to the tropics? For shame) And the big thing was – “he doesn’t have ambition. He’s not a go getter like my daughter.” Side note- perfectly nice girl, lots of adjectives to describe her but go getter is not one I would add to the list. And then the kicker: “How will he support my daughter?”

See- she was already thinking they’d get married. Because, you know, they were dating for three months in college.  And that is surely exactly what every 19 and 21 year old are thinking. (sidenote- my friend married her first real boyfriend from college- unsuccessfully I might add)

so…

Are we allowed to have expectations of who our children date? Are we allowed to have expectations of how those relationships will play out? Outside of abusive relationships, do we have the right to tell out children who they can and can not date?

My Husband is Jewish and I am Catholic. I think both sets of parents would have preferred that we married within our actual faiths. They didn’t say anything directly, but there have been some passive aggressive references from my Mother in Law over the years. Trust me: she is not thrilled that we put Christmas decorations up. I know this because she actually said “Why are there Christmas things up?” She has commented about how we eat ham on Easter (from the woman who lives on bacon, but all of a sudden its bad to eat pork….) I am pretty positive she is not happy about my daughter attending a Catholic college….

My MIL expected her son to marry a Jewish girl. Is this wrong?

My friend expects her daughter to marry the first guy she’s in a relationship? Wrong?

My friend expects her daughter to marry someone who will make a lot of money. Is this wrong?

What can and should we expect from the pairings our children make?

Pragmatist/Pessimist

We’re pulling out dictionary.com today:

Pragmatist: A person who is oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, thought, etc.; a practical person

Pessimist: a person who habitually sees or anticipates the worst or is disposed to be gloomy

My Husband often calls me a pessimist. He will come up with some idea and I will give him a not so rosy response. He calls me a downer- that I have an intense need to see the negative in things and spoil all the fun.

Ok- there’s that way to look at it.

Then there’s my more positive view: I am merely pointing out the pitfalls and adding a rational alternative. I call it pragmatist.

So what’s the difference? Maybe it’s my delivery. When he proposes something, I’m betting I make a face. I’m betting that my eyes tell the whole story. Now while my face gives me away, I’m probably not entirely off base. If I’m being pragmatic, there’s probably a reason. If my Husband wants to take his Father someplace, and my husband has very grandiose ideas about his “I haven’t changed in 65 years” Father, who only eats chicken parm and devil dogs- I’m going to make a face and say “Really? You think? Indian fusion is the way to go? Where we need to sit on mats on the floor? And there will be sitar music that your Dad will attempt to whistle over?” Am I being pessimistic?

There’s an oft mentioned idea- past behavior predicts future behavior (I’m not sure who said it originally). Am I a pessimist because I believe this line of thought? Or am I just being realistic? I tend to think that if a person has behaved a certain way in the past, their behavior will continue into the future- the chance that they’re changed their pattern is minimal.

Now I’m talking repeated patterns. When someone continually acts in a certain way, there must be a real catalyst to change. I saw the documentary “Free Solo” (great btw). It’s about an extreme climber who in this particular case climbs El Capitan without any harnesses or ropes or such- just him and the rock. He loves this lifestyle. When I saw his girlfriend in the doc, my best guess is she doesn’t love his work. I’d be willing to bet a coffee that she would rather he quit his day job- in fact, I’d go as far to say she’s waiting out his “hobby” so they can get onto other things. Am I a pessimist or a pragmatist when I say I don’t see their relationship lasting because she is optimistically hoping that he is going to take an interest in decorating his house, when he was pretty content living out of his van eating his food out of a frying pan with the cooking spatula as his utensil?

So what’s your view? Do you see the world through rose colored glasses, or clear lenses, or blackout shades? Do you tend to point out the logical and the illogical of plans? Or do you jump onto anything with a can do attitude? Or is it a mix?

I tend to think that I’m a good mixture of things: I take part in opportunities that come my way, but I do carefully consider the pros and cons. If I say no to something, it’s not because I’m a spoilsport, it’s because I’ve weighed the options and thought about it and outweighed the good and the bad and probably calculated the odds of different scenarios happening- Just call me Doctor Strange before he gives Thanos the stone. (Analysts mind again- I can’t help but analyze everything in my path)

I think I’m pragmatic.

The questions I want you to think about today:

  1. What is a pessimist
  2. What is an optimist
  3. What is a pragmatist
  4. Do you think people can be a mix
  5. Do you think one way is better than another
  6. What do you think of the Avengers, Dr. Strange in particular

Discuss

Here’s My Expectation

You know my daughters going to college, right?

Ok Ok- this is not about my daughter and her journey. But it does talk about the path we had to take.

In Manhattan, we don’t have zoned schools- Kids apply to High School. As there are different types of students, there are different types of high schools. My daughters is selective, meaning middle school grades and tests count, and is also considered college prep- the entire curriculum is based upon getting into a four year college. So basically, it’s a school of smart driven kids, backed by smart driven parents.

Oh the parents.

The parents enter this school with delusions of grandeur. Every parent assumes that there kid is going to a “sweatshirt” school- a school so recognizable that pretty much everyone has heard of it, and is sure to remark ‘Oh- that’s a good school” (whether or not they actually know anything about it)

You’ve heard me talk about how hard these sweatshirt schools are to get into, the majority being an acceptance rate of 30% or below. And you heard me talk about how many colleges my daughter and her classmates got rejected from. (FYI- the salutatorian from my daughters school is going to her “likely” school because she was rejected from everything else- so what does a 99GPA and a 35 on the ACT get you anyway?)

I know a Mom who has a son at my daughters school. The son is smart with decent grades and decent ACT score. He does his homework and he goes to class, but he puts in less than medium effort into anything. He did the minimum hours of community service required, and has no extras. None. So when his Mother went to the meeting with the college counselor, the counselor told him he should really consider early decision, and really be careful of what schools he chose, because you know, you need to be realistic. This scared the Mother so her son did indeed apply to a school ED, and was accepted. Done deal.

Now let me say that he got into a really good school- top hundred no matter what survey you look at. Kids get jobs and into graduate school after finishing there. Solid school.

The Mother is not happy. I mean she is really pissy about the school he is going to. Her EXPECTATION is that her son is way better than this school. The reality is that this school is exactly where he belongs- and honestly- he’s lucky he got into it.

Here’s the thing about expectations: they need to have some logical basis. Yes- her son is smart. He had a nice average. But in the world of competitive academics, that’s not enough. You need to stand out.

Everyone thinks their child is the best thing in the world. That’s the way it’s supposed to be: in your heart you are supposed to think that there is no one better than your kid. But in your head….well..in your head you have to know exactly how your kids compares to everyone else so that you can help them achieve their best life. You need to figure out what you can do to help your child succeed at whatever is important to them. This is not the time for blinders and excuses.

This Mom does tend to make excuses for why her son doesn’t do things. It’s so hard to find a volunteer job, how can the teacher expect that of someone, etc. In your head you can’t keep making excuses for your kid. You have to accept the personality that they have and work with it to bring out their high points. You can’t expect them to be something they’re not.

Parental attitude also matters. Now that all the kids have accepted spots in colleges, the paperwork begins. First up: orientation. Many colleges are now adopting pre-orientation programs. They have different areas of interest: some are leadership based, or do community service or just do some sort of survival thing in the woods. They’re done to give kids the opportunity to meet some of their classmates before official orientation. Some of these programs cost money. My Daughter is going to try to do one (her college makes you apply to them) This particular Mom doesn’t want her son to do it because it’s a “scam” to get money. Now, I have a different version of “scam”. I think a “scam” is where you pay for something but get nothing in return. I think of the pre-orientation as an opportunity. And we don’t turn down opportunities in this house. These programs are a chance to learn about something you might not know about. She has told her son that these things are a waste. How does she expect her son to be a doer when she has blocked that path for him?

You can’t make excuses and complain about things that others are doing and still expect your kid to compete with the others. If you’re in a tower building contest and one person has fifty bricks and good quality cement, and you have five bricks and spit, how can you expect to compete?

When you have expectations of your child with regards to schooling, you have to make sure your expectations are reasonable. The main goal is helping your child reach their best life, no matter what path that is. Don’t expect your kid to be something they’re not. That’s only going to breed unhappiness.

 

Highlights 5/19

Sometimes you have monumental highlights that are incredible, and sometimes you can be just as excited about something small.

The Big Highlight- One of my friends daughters graduated from Medical School on Friday. To say that I am thrilled and excited for this amazing young woman is an understatement. She has worked her tail off for this since she was twelve years old. Just awesome.

The little- A new mini Target opened up recently in my neighborhood- they sell organic milk with the easy open top at a reasonable price. Yay.

Theme this week: Expectations

Gratitude Saturday May 18

This has been a busy, yet wonderful, couple of weeks.

I am most grateful for pineapple. I recently read that pineapple has some property that helps relieve you of sinus congestion. So as I had a stuffy nose and post nasal drip thing going on, I went out and got pineapple (which happened to be super delicious) and I felt a little better. Not sure of the science behind it, but it was tasty. Obviously, also grateful to growers pf pineapple and those who are able to deliver it to my not so tropical locale.

The most calming thing I did this week was to leave my house fifteen minutes early so I could get to a park and read outside on a beautiful day before I had an appointment. Fifteen minutes was just enough time for me not to feel rushed leaving, yet still give me a little time in the sun.

Out With A Bang

In September 2007, my Daughter began First Grade.

In September 2007, The Big Bang Theory debuted on CBS.

I’m kind of like Tater- I always look at the May upfronts and read the summaries of the new shows going to air. I remember reading the synopsis of BBT- pretty girl moves next door to smart nerds. I remember thinking- sure- that will work. add in lots of snide thoughts…

Guess what?

It worked.

This tale of four quirky (let’s face it- they were all quirky) guys and aspiring actress quickly became one of my favorite shows. As well as a favorite of my Daughters. During elementary school years we would look forward to Thursday 8pm- and when middle and high school rolled around, we would decide as a family when we would watch it as my own study nerd no longer had the time to watch TV during the week.

We found the humor clever and understated- the physical reactions of all the actors hilarious. It was one of the most perfect ensemble shows ever- each character had their own individual traits, yet they all blended together so well. It was actually nice to see smart characters on TV- characters that studied and did things with an intellectual, or fandom bend. It made my daughter feel OK about being studious and liking the Marvel universe.

A few years into the show, we met two new female characters- both scientists. How great was it to see a show that valued women in science? Even though my daughter is not going into the field of science, she was a finalist for three years running in the Middle School Science fair. She had A+ grades in science all throughout her career. But to see a show highlighting female scientists? Where do we ever see that? Especially as Mayim Bialik has an actual PhD? Bravo. A TV show with female character who were amazing. Characters that my daughter could relate to.

But let’s not underestimate Penny. Our cat is named Penny btw… Penny may not have been a college graduate or been as intellectual as the others, but boy did she have a mensa level emotional IQ. She knows and understands people, how to behave in certain situations. Clearly in the arc of the show, the character of Penny taught the guys way more than they taught her. My kid can be a little bit like the guys often were: clueless to social situations. (Ok- we all know I don’t have the greatest people skills either…) There was a lot of value to the “dumb blonde”. This was a character that my daughter could learn from too.

“Big Bang Theory” is the show of my daughters youth. She will remember this show forever- she will recite lines and have favorite scenes. I will remember sitting with her watching the show- every week for twelve years. We never watched an episode without each other- it’s not that we couldn’t: we wanted to share those moments together.

On Thursday May 16, “The Big Bang Theory” aired its final episode.

On Thursday May 16, my daughter took the AP Comparative Government test, the last major test of her high school career. Though she has two projects and about twelve days of class left, essentially high school ended yesterday.

My daughter and I passed the tissue box to one another last night.

It all started with a big bang.

And ended with a few tears.

Ticket For One please

A few months ago I wrote about doing things by yourself as opposed to doing things in a group.  My position was that it is perfectly fine to want to be alone sometimes and you really didn’t need anyone to accompany you anywhere. Some people really didn’t want to do certain things by themselves, dinner and travel being the most popular “group” activities. As I’ve both traveled and eaten alone, I felt pretty confident in saying that I would be comfortable being by myself at any event if I so chose.

And then I went to a museum exhibit with a friend.

Oddly, I had gotten a ticket for this exhibit solo. Then my friend S texted- “want to hang on Wednesday” and I said “You know- going to The Shed at 11- come with?” And a solo outing became an afternoon for two.

As we stared at this very bizarre exhibit that neither of us really understood what we were looking at or what the artist was thinking, my friend S remarked: “I found your blog about being by yourself very interesting.” S is a great person in a group, but she truly values her alone time. She is independent and really just does what she wants when she wants and is as content by herself as she is with her Husband. She is fearless in just doing what she wants, whether or not she has someone to go with.

So imagine my surprise when she said: “I don’t think I could go to a big concert by myself. There’s just something about that experience that I think you need to be with someone.”

I couldn’t believe there was something she wouldn’t do by herself.

And then I thought about myself.

I’ve been to plays alone: both on and off Broadway. Movies, obviously- I probably go to as many alone as I do with others. I’ve been to classical and jazz and ethnic music concerts by myself: at libraries and parks for free as well as paid venues like Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. But what about something at Madison Square Garden?

Would I see U2 by myself?

Doubtful.

Highly doubtful.

And there it was- the chink in my armor. I am probably never going to see Beyoncé dance live without someone by my side. I will not be screaming BRUUUCE when “Born to Run” is played if I’m by myself.

No lone rock concerts for me.

So what is it about this form of music that makes me want to be with friends?

Obviously I listen to this music by myself. I shower sing to them. I put them on when I’m working out. So what is it about the live rock concert experience that makes me want to share?

What marks an experience that makes it better when shared with a friend?  Why are there certain things that are just “better” when done as a group?

A New Plan (ner)

It’s been awhile since I wrote about planners…

A few years ago I bought what is known as an academic planner- It went from August of one year to July at the next: obviously it left me mid year without a planner. So I did what every organizing nut does: I went on the hunt for the perfect planner. And I found it.

Last year I introduced you to my Plum Paper customizable planner. It was perfect. I got to add note pages where I actually needed them. It gave me weekly grids that made it easy for me to right out what needed to be done, what was due, what everyone’s schedule were. It gave me a central location to keep all my lists. It was a little expensive but worth it because it really kept me somewhat organized.

Recently I realized that I was in need of a new planner.  I went to the Plum page. I began designing my planner for the upcoming year. And then I realized something: without my daughter at home, my planner needs have totally changed. I no longer need the Mercedes of planners.

Cue silent weeping.

My daughter is leaving and my planner needs are changing.

Oh the inhumanity.

Could life be any worse?

Ok- after I calmed down, I started to look for a new planner. The first issue I faced was of my own making. When I created my Plum planner, I somehow had it end in May. Why did I do this? I don’t know- I’m an idiot. I didn’t plan properly. OMG- could it get any worse? Now I failed at planning?

Cue banging head against wall.

When I calmed down, I wrote a list. (really- what did you think I would do first?) I need something that would enable me to write blog ideas and novel notes. I need to be able to track future to do’s. I still need a weekly view, but I realized I no longer needed the grid system that I have used in the past- my lifestyle is about to change.

AAAAAHHHH. MY LIIFE IS ABOUT TO CHANGE

Ok. Back on track. Weekly, but I can switch to a day block.

Whew. That was a tough thought process.

I still need to look at the month as a whole. I’m not an animal. I need to long range plan.

Good. Now I’m on track. I need a weekly look with blocks, and I need a monthly view.

I need a notes page per month. I have monthly “fun” bucket lists.

This is where I sensed a fail. Without creating an expensive planner, there was no way I was going to find a planner with monthly note pages. Not at mid year any way.

I then remembered that I needed to find a planner that starts in June.

Fail

Huge Fail.

While there are undated planners, I know from experience that these don’t work for me. I don’t like writing in the days, creating the month. I like it done for me. (yes- I’m a Princess)

When you’re about to go off the deep end, you have no option but to regroup. Which I did. I went on Amazon and found a reasonably efficient planner that started this past January and ends in December, when all planners should end. Calendar year. It had the weekly and monthly views that I desired, and I figured I’d wing it with a notes page. And the planner was about 75% off because you know, half of it is useless.

In October, expect a week of blogs regarding my search for the new perfect planner. As always, we need to constantly adapt, because life is always in flux. I know. We don’t always like change. We would often prefer things never change. But that’s not realistic. Change is inevitable. It’s all in how we handle the change. And, it’s all about the plan…