May 29th – “Forget about that supposedly perfect future version of you.”

That’s good advice because I’m already perfect!

Okay, I’m kidding. Everyone has flaws and I have too many to count. Some days I’m a know-it-all. Other days I’m intolerant, moody, and just unpleasant to be around.

When I envision what I am like in the future, I don’t see what my attitude, opinions, and behavior is like. What I do see is what I am doing, and that isn’t much. My future self is lazy and enjoying a life of retirement.

That’s not very useful. I don’t see who I will be. What are my values? How do I see the world? More importantly, how am I treating myself and others around me?

Imaging the perfect future version of me doesn’t provide me complete picture. Moreover, when I hear the word “perfect,” I think  “boring.” If perfect means boring, I’ll take imperfect any day!

May 7th – “Let all your casual conversations meander down tangential paths. You could make a breakthrough connection with someone who intrigues you.”

Tangential paths in casual conversations are one of my favorite things to do when meeting new people. I’ve learned from hours of talking to strangers that there is something interesting about everyone. Okay, I have to admit, during some of these hours, I was not sober! 

It’s been awhile, Nov 2016 to be exact, since I’ve put myself in a public situation and introduced myself to people I don’t know. The difference this time was that I didn’t dread the situation. I let go of any expectations and had fun hearing about what others like to do in their spare time and what colors they use to paint their world.

I may be wrong, but I feel like I’m one of those lucky people who makes breakthrough connections with many people. I’m probably no luckier than anyone else. It’s probably just a matter of statistics. The more people you talk to, the more likely you are to find someone whom you really connect with.

I knew it would be a great day because I liked the first person I met. Our conversation only lasted 5 minutes, but the energy was very positive.

In the middle of my day, I met a person whom I connected well in energy, personality, and interest. I didn’t have to explain myself very much. I like those people. We talked about politics and culture, my two favorite subjects. I don’t have her contact information, but I have a feeling that we’ll connect again in the future.

May 4th – “Take heart! If you’ve been feeling unfocused or underwhelmed in the recent past, the stars send you something or someone compelling enough to perk up your interest.”

Mercury is finally out of retrograde! Hooray!

I hope that means I’ll get back to writing. I took a look ahead and May 10th is the best day of the year for me. The best day. Can you believe that? I wonder what magical things will happen on that day.

As much as I would like to rely on the stars to make my life great, if I’m not working on anything, there will be no magic at all! It’s like hoping to get a new job when you’re not sending out applications. Not happening!

Writing needed to be done and I didn’t do it last night. I had a long day at work and I haven’t been sleeping well or enough. Sleeping is my number 1 priority these days because I can’t be at my best if I’m not well rested. Writing is important too, but not nearly as important as sleep. It was only 9 p.m, and decided to call it an early night.

Just as I was about to sleep, I saw this article posted by a friend. It’s a list of things to give up to become successful. Here is a recap:

GIVE UP

  1. Unhealthy lifestyle
  2. Short-term mindset
  3. Playing Small
  4. Excuses
  5. Fixed mindset
  6. Believing in a magic bullet
  7. Need to control everything
  8. Saying yes to things that don’t support your goal
  9. Toxic people
  10. Need to be liked
  11. Dependency on social media/television

Once upon a time when I was trying to successful, I gave up all of these things. I can say from experience that it’s a good list.

I am not sure that I care about being successful anymore.  I’m in the middle of redefining what success means to meUntil then, there’s nothing to “go for.”  I still have, however, given up most of the items on the list.

The two things I am doing and might want to think about giving up is #11 dependency on television and #5 playing small. I am not surprised about the television. I observe and analyze popular culture. It’s what I do, so I’ve been trying to find a good medium to watch enough to know what’s going on, but not get completely sucked into it. I wish “The Soup” was still on!  What I did forget about is playing small. I’ve been hiding out from the world and wanting to be anonymous. That doesn’t help!

Well, the stars certainly work in mysterious ways. On Sunday, I agreed to attend a public event. I have to stay for a few hours and sell myself to strangers. If I am already there, there’s no reason not let myself shine. Some attention makes for a much more interesting day!

May 2nd – “Are you spreading yourself too thin? It’s time to take a cold, hard look at your resources, emotionally, financially and mentally.”

My tarot reader said that I need to take care of myself this month and she was right. April was not a good month for me and my health suffered as well. Mercury in retrograde really didn’t help! She said that I would feel fatigued in May, so I am heeding her advice.

I’m very tempted to agree to any fun shenanigans that come my way, but I know that if I don’t schedule my activities wisely, I’ll find myself drained. For now, I putting off making any future commitments until Thursday, when Mercury is no longer in retrograde. I’ve already have a June deadline coming up and May is the busiest month of the year at work. I don’t need more on my plate!

What I have been putting on my plate are a lot of vegetables for lunch. Yesterday had brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Today I had Chinese broccoli, regular broccoli, and carrots. It’s not very exciting, but it leaves room for more interesting food for the rest of the day.

When I got home, I had a slice of rhubarb pie with Greek yogurt.

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Rhubarb Pie

¾ cup maple sugar

3 cups chopped rhubarb stalks

1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries

2 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoon cornstarch

2 pie crusts

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2.  Mix sugar, rhubarb, strawberries, flour and starch together.
  3.  Put into pie crust. Cover pie with second crust and seal edges. Cut holes to let steam  out. 
  4. Bake for at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

Over rhubarb pie, I took a cold, hard look at my resources.

Financially and emotionally, I’m doing fine. Last month’s expenses and communication issues were abnormal, so I’m not worried about that.

The one thing I am lacking in is my mental capabilities. I’m not processing things as quickly as I used and need to work on improving my intellect. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I think I need to exercise my academic brain more. That means spending less time reading fluffy news articles that provide vague, inaccurate information about the world and reading more stuff written by experts in the field. 

April 18th – “Remind yourself that nobody is a mind reader. If you’re not getting what you want, maybe you just need to ask!”

Directness is one of the qualities that those who are close to me appreciate. It’s also the thing that’s gotten me in trouble with people, so I’ve been trying to keep a low profile. I want to stay focused on my work until the end of June. I don’t have energy to deal with the repercussions of my directness, so I’m doing the best I can to let things slide. That is proving to be much easier said than done.

Mercury has been in retrograde since April 9th. If you believe in such things, which I suspect you might if you’re reading this blog, it means that life may be a little harder to navigate. It’s generally not a good time to sign contracts, make decisions, start something new, etc. Basically, things will not turn out well! For fun, I checked the calendar in 2013. Mercury was in retrograde when I applied for and started at the Worst Job Ever. I should have known better!

My monthly horoscope cautions that, “Mercury is retrograde in Taurus and your partnership house until April 20th, which could muck up messages with your closest peeps. Be extra cautious about signing contracts or agreeing to any collaborations.

This period has proven to be difficult time for me. I tried to organize an event with my friend, but it fell apart. Just to be sure, I checked the email she sent and it was done on April 9th, the first day of Mercury in retrograde!

I have also had some poorly communicated and received messages with those closest to me. In one instance, my partner called me grumpy. I did not respond in the way that he wanted me to, so he assumed that I was in a bad mood. I wasn’t, but one second after he called me that, I flipped out and started yelling at him. I tried to explain to him (still yelling, of course) that he had just created a situation when there wasn’t one, but none of the words came out right. I sounded like a maniac.

This happened again with someone else a few days later. I didn’t fit into his/her reality and he/she came up with a label for me so that I could make sense in his/her world.  I didn’t want to sound like maniac, so I bit my tongue.

Being labelled for something I am NOT is something I cannot stand for. I HATE it. It’s right up there with others telling me how I feel and think.

Labels for people are offensive. That’s how stereotypes are created. If you take one aspect of person (whether it is true or not) and define them based on that characteristic, it creates a false fixed truth. In strips away any individual identity and puts people in boxes to be judged and categorized.

As much as I don’t like being a textbook psychoanalytic example, I think my highly emotional reactions are influenced by my childhood experiences. Among many other forms of torture, my family liked to call me “fat cow” when I wasn’t. I was one of the youngest kids in my family, so everyone thought that it was their job to tease me incessantly. It was like a 17 year hazing ritual and would have continued into adulthood had I not stopped participating in family activities.

I do not respond well when people say blatant lies about me. I don’t logically lay out the evidence that I have to disprove the lies. Instead, I have knee jerk reactions that can only escalate situations.  If I were in a Lifetime movie, I would be the main character who gets manipulated and driven insane by the real murderer. The last scene would fade away with a shot of me sitting in prison for a crime I didn’t commit while I am repeating to myself, “I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it…”

At the moment, I’m not getting what I want and I’m not going to ask for it. I agree that no one is a mind reader, but I don’t think it’s the right time to be forward. The horoscope says “maybe” I should ask. I’ll take that as a sign that I shouldn’t.

It’s a good thing that April 20th is just 2 days away because I don’t think I’ll last until June. With time, these problems could work itself out without my direct intervention. If not, I will tell you exactly what’s on my mind!

April 17th – “Nothing frightens you right now, that’s why the next few days present a great time to start on an intimidating project.”

As a child, I had nightmares every night. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal until I was in my teens. Most of my friends rarely had nightmares, and when they did, it didn’t involve people chasing them with knives trying to kill them. One of the reasons for the repeated horror scenes I saw in my dreams were all the slasher films I watched in the 80s. Nightmare on Elm Street films were my favorite and Child’s Play movies are a close second. Who doesn’t love an evil doll?! There was no censorship at my home. I never understood why the kids in my first grade class thought The Wizard of Oz was scary.

I had nightmares so often that I became conscious my dreams when I was in them. I didn’t like the nightmares, so I trained myself to stop them. The easiest thing to do was to close my eyes in my dream. When I opened them again, the scenes disappeared or changed into something else. When I got better at this, I was able to make myself wake up.

I no longer have nightmares on a regular basis. It’s usually triggered because I’m sick or when my energy is low. That’s when I know that it’s time to slow down and take better care of myself.

When I do have nightmares, it rarely involves anyone chasing me up and down the hills of San Francisco trying to stab me in the stomach with a giant machete. In high school, nightmares involved unfinished essay assignments or having to take math tests I didn’t study for. In my 20s, I had work nightmares where I was making a million mistakes and customers were yelling at me. Nowadays, I have nightmares about people I don’t like (i.e. family members, ex-lovers/friends). I no longer try to manipulate these dreams and let them play out. These nightmares are more annoying than scary. I can deal with annoying.

If my nightmares don’t scare me, what’s there to be afraid of?!

I haven’t thought about nightmares in a long time, and it’s probably in my consciousness today because of a book I just read. My friend gave me an American horror story by Shirley Jackson called We Have Always Lived in a Castle. Since I’m such an expert on nightmares, perhaps I should try writing horror!

April 7th – “Kick some bad habits, whether it’s smoking, fast food or repeated defeatist thoughts.”

Oh, I have so many bad habits, I don’t know which one to pick! As I’m writing this, I am having a giant slice of cake AND have buns baking in the oven.

I’m addicted to TV. I started watching a lot of reality TV a three years ago when I was at the second “worst job ever.” I recognized the pattern immediately because I behaved the same when I was at the first worst job ever. It was my way to cope with spending 40 hours a week with people I didn’t like. I learned that it just takes one jerk to make an entire office miserable.

One of my favorite shows to watch is the Real Housewives franchise. Unfortunately, unlike other programs where there are breaks in between seasons, this franchise doesn’t have any downtime. When one show ends, another one starts. To be more accurate, there are usually 2 shows running at the same time, and when those ends, 2 more start. There’s rarely a week when there isn’t a new Real Housewives show on!

This bad habit of mine is very strange. On one hand, I am repulsed by the extravagant lifestyles and overt materialism that this shows displays (not to mention all the plastic surgery). It’s everything I wish the world wasn’t. But I can’t help watching. Isn’t there usually an element of disgust in oneself for participating in addictive behavior?

On the other hand, what’s got me hooked on these shows are the range of personalities. I learn a lot about human behavior without having to directly engage in it. I also learn a lot about myself by observing my own reactions to different scenarios.

If you are so inclined, it’s a good way to practice listening to other people’s perspective that are very different from your own and stretch those empathy muscles. Okay, some of you may think that’s a big leap, but it’s possible if you can keep an open mind. If you’re not, these shows might have the opposite effect and encourage you to become more narcissistic. Beware!

I don’t think I’m ready to completely kick this bad habit yet, but I do have an idea of how I can make the habit more beneficial. I’ve been trying to reward myself for hours spent on writing. I am going to add to this. For every hour of television, I will do 2 hours of writing. I don’t know how the math will work on all of this, so we’ll see what happens.

April 6th – “You know intuitively that things are going to go your way, even if all visible signs point in the opposite direction.”

Do I know that things are going my way? I don’t feel very sure about my writing project.

The new thing I’m trying to do is to clock in a certain number of hours each week for writing. Ideally it would be 20 hours. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not a crazy number for me. For years, I wrote 20 – 30 hours a week in addition to working a day job. It’s going to take a while to build that habit back up, so I’m not expecting it to happen overnight. It will likely take a few years.

Two weeks ago, I decided to set up a reward system for myself. For every 5 hours I write, I get to do 1 hour of another creative activity (i.e. painting/reading). So far, I’ve only accumulated 1 hour of fun time. I made cat yoga cards from an old calendar I wanted to upcycle:

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I know from experience that there will be many hours “wasted” and I will not have added too many words to the page. My tarot reader also confirmed this and said that I should just sit there. Does that happen to you?

I’d like to believe that all hours I’ve spent writing have been productive. That’s not true at all! There have many days and nights…even weeks when I worked on writing just 1 page. There have also been many times where I’ve written 25 pages in the course of a night. It’s very unpredictable.

It’s funny that how easily how nostalgia can distort reality. In my mind, I only like to remember all the 25 page nights, not the hours that I spent sitting in a coffee shop trying to string up 25 words to make up a sentence.

Are things going my way, even if I only have a few pages to show for it? I’d like to think so!

April 3rd, “You will encounter someone today who seems like a text book example of a jerk — but try to be open-minded about them!”

I don’t like dealing with jerks and avoid them when possible. Just yesterday, jerks were a topic of conversation. I asked my partner, “What majority of jerks do you think realize that they are being jerks?”

He responded, “99 percent of them.”

I was shocked. My guess was 50 percent because I don’t think a lot of people have self-awareness. Maybe being “jerk consciousness” requires a different kind of awareness. It seems mind boggling to me that so many people could act terribly towards others and know it. Perhaps I’m not a pessimist after all, or more accurately, I’m not a misanthrope. If I am giving half the jerk population the benefit of the doubt, how much do I really hate people?

The horoscope continues to advise:

Judging a book by its cover has never been your style, so why start now? Extenuating circumstances are at work here. Maybe they’re intimidated by you. Maybe they’re acting out because they are nervous or just have a headache! You just don’t know enough to know who they are. Give them a chance and give them time.

Frankly, I don’t care about the reason as to why someone is behaving badly. I do give people passes, but if you’re a jerk often enough, I will stay far, far away from you! It’s not my problem you’re single. Stop treating me a like a punching bag!

Using my energy to deal with others’ issues and personalities is a waste of my resources. I don’t feel like I have enough energy for the people and things I love, so why would I spend any on someone I don’t care about?

I could only surmise that there is something to be gained by my encounter today. Who knows, maybe my mood will change and I’ll have a more generous spirit. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Otherwise, I might be that jerk I encounter!

March 26th – “Feel like you’re banging your head against a wall with someone? Give up, move on.”

Yes, I do. I’ve told myself that I’ve given up on my friend by keeping my mouth shut when it comes to his love life, but I really haven’t. I may not have been saying anything to him, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have strong opinions. I have been HOPING that he will come around and see what he’s doing to himself. Today I’m officially giving up. There’s no more hoping on my part. If I can’t help him become stronger, I have to just let him be!

On one of the days when I was relating too much to my friend’s problems, my partner wisely counseled, “Maybe there’s a lesson your friend needs to learn and he needs to go through this experience.”

I argued, “But they are BOTH suffering so much. He’s punishing himself AND her for something that has nothing to do with their relationship. It seems like his partner thinks that it’s what long term relationships should be. I hate seeing them both suffer like this. It’s awful!”

He replied, “Well, maybe they both have something to learn from this.”

“You have a point,” I paused because he was right. Then I continued, “The world can have cruel ways to lead us to where we need to go.”

It’s been months since I’ve had this conversation with my partner. I’ve always understood this intellectually, but haven’t processed it emotionally. Time to let this one go!

I doubt this will be the last time it will come up. The next time “hope” rear’s its ugly head, I’ll tell it to, “GO AWAY! I’m moving on!”