Motivation for Perfection

I guess this is kind of late, not on the same day the prompt was given, but this was the first thing that came to mind as I read the prompt “Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.”

When I was in middle school, I played the trumpet.  I waited for the day I would be able to play for a medal.  In middle school, you go to this event, that if you play an instrument and try to play a song of your choice perfectly, with no mistakes, you will get a gold medal.  Isn’t that always the goal, no mistakes?  But at this event, you go in a room and are judged by one person.  You can get a bronze, silver, or gold depending on how many mistakes you made, hitting the perfect notes, etc.  I really wanted a gold, but I was so nervous.  At that point in my life, I got anxious very easily and I would crack under pressure (luckily I eventually overcame that).

As I walked into the room where I would be judged, I saw a donut on the table.  I thought to myself, if I get that gold medal, I get to eat her donut.  That donut will be mine.

Now, I loved food.  I had dreams where I ate an entire box of ice cream cones in my refrigerator, and sure enough, I would wake up in the morning and really had slept walked and ate them while I dreamt it.  Strange, I know.  I was a fat kid at heart.  I once had another experience when I was half awake and half asleep one morning and as I slowly woke up, I saw a candy bar floating next to my bed, just out of reach.  I reached out to grab it and I fell out of bed.  Literally, fell out of bed reaching for this imaginary candy bar.  That woke me up.  Luckily, I don’t have those dreams anymore, they’re kind of embarrassing, even if you’re the only one who knows about them.

So anyways, this donut.  Here it is on the table, and I keep saying to myself you want this donut, you have to earn it!  I was no longer stressed, I was motivated.  I played my heart out, hit every note, no mistakes.  I got the gold! But of course, I didn’t get the donut.  I wasn’t really going to take this judge’s donut, nor was I going to ask and tell her I deserved her donut for getting a gold medal that many other kids get.

I was lucky enough, however, to have told my parents how I got myself to win the gold – they bought me my very own donut on the way home.  And there I had it, the gold medal AND a donut.  Perfect.

Submitted to  http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/daily-prompt-perfect/

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You Don’t Always Get What You Want

I’m a planner.  I have my entire life planned out, always have, always will. Of course, things don’t always go as planned, and I know this.  As a matter of fact, they never go as planned, but they always work out perfectly in the end.

One of these instances was while in college.  I was ill, I had graves disease, and was struggling with eating most foods, though we couldn’t figure out why.  I couldn’t eat off of my meal plan because the food would make me sick.  I went to the Vice President of my school and told her of my predicament and said I would like to be let off the meal plan.  I thought this was a no-brainer, but it wasn’t.  She said she couldn’t take me off of the meal plan, I would have to talk to Sudexo who ran the cafeteria.  Now let’s get this straight…the VP of can’t get me off of their meal plan? I call BS.  But regardless, she wouldn’t budge, so I talked to Sudexo and they said they would work with me, that they could even get me food from Whole Foods if needed and they would introduce me to people who could order food for me.  This sounded too good to be true, and it was.  They introduced me to people who were never there.  So I finally decided, I live on the beach, I’ll make a deal with Sudexo – buy 40 cases of sodas and water and sell it on the beach in the summer time, and I did just that.  I got licensed by the State and then a permit from my town and set up Julie’s Sodas.  The permit allowed me to drive around like an ice cream truck.

Now just to show you the scope of the issue, I had about $1000 left on my meal plan when they were forcing me to put another $1000 on for the next semester.  This was when I had made my decision to open up shop because I would lose all money in the end whether or not I chose to spend it in the cafeteria.  The cafeteria was overpriced and they made me buy each bottle separately instead of discount the cases, so I didn’t expect to make all of my money back from the start.  I was selling these sodas out of my car after all and had to have an edge since I probably looked sketchy to start.  I sold the sodas for a $1 each, which was the cheapest in town, and I did very well, considering I was already losing and figured I could only go up from here.  Though I wasn’t expecting to make a true profit because of the circumstances, I gained experience that was priceless.

I had already owned my own jewelry business, making jewelry and selling it out of stores in high school, but this was the first business I had to deal with other costs other than the product.  I had to get bags of ice everyday, bins, make sure the sodas stayed cold and didn’t change temperature from warm to cold to warm again.  I had to show up everyday, be there on time and stay there throughout the day without anyone making me come in (but this was easy because it was MY business and that motivated me).  I got to talk to customers and form relationships and learn how to sell to people walking by, which was much different than selling jewelry out of stores, which is easier than you think when you’re younger and everyone wants to support you because they think it’s cute you’re a little entrepreneur.

I got many job opportunities because of that soda business.  One day, about a year after my summer soda business, my mom said, Julie, you don’t have a job and they have interviews at the new restaurant down the street, you should go.  So I did.  I got dressed and headed over.  The main thing that caught their attention was my soda business, and right away I got the job.

Later, I would be interviewing for engineering internships and jobs, which this soda business also helped gain me opportunities.  Of course, doing projects on my own and being passionate was also helpful, I had a background in business and law on top of engineering (I worked at my Dad’s law office as a paralegal for a few years and helped out with various tasks at the office for as long as I could remember) so I had a pretty interesting background for someone just out of college.

When I finally chose the job I wanted (which wasn’t much of a choice because it was my first choice of all of the interviews I had and I jumped at the offer) I was so excited because they had told me I’d be working in the program I wanted.  Well, as it turns out, when I arrived my first day I found out I wasn’t working in that program after all, I would be in a completely different program.  At first, I was mad.  I didn’t want to be in this program and I gave up a lot of great opportunities because they promised I would be able to do what I wanted.  I walked up to the person who had originally told me I could work on the program I was interested in and said “do you remember our interview?”  And he said he did.  I said… “so then how did I end up on this program? This wasn’t what was discussed.”  He was shocked. Stumbled for an answer, but couldn’t find one.  I decided I would work in the program but I would try to get to where I wanted to be and learn as much as I could on my own time.  As it turns out, I couldn’t have lucked out more being in the program I was placed in.  I had the best manager, I got to work with a bunch of great people, everyone in the program did their best to get you to where you wanted and so helpful, and I realized I wanted to eventually be in business, which this program was perfect for.  I ended up getting a couple of great mentors on the business side and have been very fortunate with all of the opportunities given to me.

As an engineer (which I still am and I still do love), I have been given a lot of responsibility in my first year (one year anniversary in late February!)  and do my best to ensure a great product.  I’ve grown so much within my first year alone, and expect to continue to learn and grow and contribute as much as possible.

It just goes to show… and I sing… “You don’t always get what you want….You get what you need!”

(I should mention – I still feel badly for being a bit harsh on my interviewer, after all he did hire me and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be.)

The Early Bird Catches The Worm

It is amazing how much of a difference in mood you can get from waking up early.  I used to get depressed in the winter and would not want to get out of bed, not for anything.  Eventually, I was tired of feeling so sad and drained and I started making appointments at 7am to get myself to wake up at 6am, exercise early, and have a full day.  (This was when I was in college still so I had a lot more time on my hands).  The change in mood I felt was astronomical.  I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders, and eventually, I started waking up at 6am daily without trying to force it.

As I’ve said prior to this post, I had the flu for a couple of weeks.  I still have a cough after 3 weeks + and I hadn’t been able to get out of bed until 8am on any given day even when I’ve had to go to work.  I started feeling upset and stressed out, sad for no reason.  I realized I had to do something.  My first thought was eat healthier.  I used to eat so healthily and lately all I’ve eaten has been crap! Well, it was hard to get healthy meals together when I was waking up late, going to work, and getting home late.  The kitchen has been a mess, which completely kills motivation to even step foot in the kitchen so that was also against me.  The best I could do was microwaved veggies.  Yikes.

Luckily, last night must have been the breaking point for my body, brain, whatever..because this morning I woke up at 7am, the first day I was able to get up before 8am, and my head screamed out get out of bed and get in the shower NOW! And I did.  And it felt amazing, I feel like me again.  My mood has skyrocketed today, I feel great! And it really does make a difference, getting up early. It makes a difference having time to yourself, to plan, get ready, relax, get something done, just have extra time in general, see more daylight.  It makes a BIG difference.  I feel ready for the day, like it’s already going to be a success.

This morning I had time to get up, go get a coffee at Starbuckos (that’s what Andrew and I like to call it), talk to my neighbor for a bit, take the dog out, make a pomegranate (or rather take one apart), read some recipes, and get to work (almost) on time.  Luckily, where I work we don’t really have much of an “on time”.  We have flexible schedules so we can come in earlier or later, as long as we put in 9 hours a day (9/80 schedule).  Of course, we have “mandatory hours”; however, they aren’t very strict unless you really abuse the privilege.

But all that!  All that from waking up an hour earlier! And imagine if I go back to waking up two hours earlier! Then I can add in even more.  If that’s not enough for motivation, I don’t know what is. Maybe I’ll even be able to start putting up blog posts in the morning again. 😉    ….We’ll see.

The Girl in the Window

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If you saw a girl sitting in the window, what would you think?

Is it thought provoking? Is she pensive, are you pensive? Why is she out there? Was there something that drew her outside? Could she fall off the roof? Does she do that often?

What does she see? What does her world look like? Would you want to be a part of that world? What is it like inside? Does she like her family? Did she want to get away for a bit?

Could you start writing a story based on a single moment.  A single girl in the window, or a single look out your own window?

When I was in high school I used to write often, and many times I would look out my window and watch people walking by and write about what I saw, making up stories for each person, why they were there, where they were going, what they were saying.  It would take my mind away for even just a few hours and draw me into a different world, just by looking outside of my window.

This was when I lived in on the beach, with crowds in the summer time, walkers all year round.

I have also lived in the city, downtown.

When I lived in the city, I couldn’t write what I saw in real life.  The things you see living in a city write themselves, because there is such a variety of people, there are wind tunnels, and so much you don’t see living in the suburbs.  I looked out my window during a storm once to see a poor woman holding onto the side of a bush frantically while the wind harshly blew her umbrella, but she wouldn’t let go.  Even though the umbrella was inside out and she was getting pulled as she grasped the bush as tight as she could, she would not let go of that umbrella.  I kept screaming at the window, “Let go of that umbrella Woman before you blow away!”.  This sounds crazy, but it really happened.  I couldn’t write that to sound like reality as hard as I tried.  During the same storm I saw two boys walking down the same stairwell and one of the boy’s shirts flew off of his back! The shirt came up and over his head and just before it came off of his neck, he quickly reached out with both hands, grabbed the edges of the shirt and pulled it back onto his body.  Would you believe that would happen in real life if you had read it in a book? Probably not.  Maybe if there was a hurricane or a tornado or something of the sort. But this is what I saw out my window living next to a wind tunnel in the city.

I’ve lived in apartment complexes, as well.

People watch out their window in apartment complexes and tell you they’ve laughed at you from time to time watching you out the window as your dog pulls you to his spot to go the bathroom and you’re dragging along behind him or when he pulls you into the snow onto your knees because you have the flu and you’re not ready for 65 lbs to pull you across the lawn just yet.  Clearly you can tell I speak from personal experience on that issue.

It’s amazing the stories you can tell just from looking out your window.  The places you can go with your imagination.  The people who make you laugh, and the ones that laugh at you.  What about the sounds that draw you to your window at night?

Every so often I hear drag races in the parking lot next door at the wee hours of the morning.  I’m always tempted to get up and look, but I’m usually too tired.

There have been times when I wake up to windows smashed or gas tanks open and think did anyone wake up? What if I had heard that and looked out the window to see who had done it, could we have caught them?  No one heard the drill going through the truck’s gas tank the night before to syphon out the gas? Not one person looked out their window? (You can tell I don’t live in the best area….but surprisingly it’s not the worst either, we just seem to have terrible luck lately in this development…I’m going to move soon regardless.)

Look at all of that.  All because of a girl in the window, a trigger went off in my head.  So many stories, so many memories, laughs, tears, happiness, sadness, fear.  All from a piece of glass between me and them. Me and the world. Me and my imagination.

Why Do You Write?

I wrote this piece years ago, probably while in high school, but I feel it still holds true.  So here it is:

I write to feel better.  I write to feel worse.  I write to find answers to what I feel and from what I might secretly know beneath the surface.  I write for pleasure and for purpose.  I write to make things known and to get through to people because I don’t really know how to any other way.

I write to understand myself better.  I write to feel like I belong.  I write to know there’s always something I can do.  I write as a coping skill.  I write to communicate and because these hands are able to so I might as well.  I write because it feels right and it makes me feel safer than anything else.  I write because it’s a record of what’s passed; the past.  I write because I’m never going to remember every thought I ever have simply by memory.  I write because it makes me feel good.  I write because sometimes pieces reach out to people and touch their heart.

I write because people enjoy reading.  I write because I love to read the pieces I write years later.  I write because I know that’s what I felt at the time and that was what was real to me then; that was what was going on.  I write because it makes me sad when people say they can’t or that they won’t simply because they’re bad at it because in reality no one can be bad at writing unless there is a reason they can’t write at all.

I write because I can escape from the rest of the world when it makes me sad, when it ignores me, and when it rejects me.

Now why do you write?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Surprisingly Compelling

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I know the previews looked a bit silly, but Andrew and I decided to see Walter Mitty tonight to open the New Year.  We figured it looked like a movie that was easy to watch, easy to relax, something ambitious and adventurous to get you wanting to move and live.

Well, it turned out to be great! Or at least I think so.  It made me feel like living, like I couldn’t wait to travel again and really experience life.  I’ve always been interested in experiencing life, or seeing the world, hiking mountains, having great adventures, but this was like an extra boost.  Not to mention, great soundtrack and Sean Penn looks perfect in his role.

I’m a dreamer…I’m a planner too, but I also get impulsive and spontaneous.  I have those “zone out” times and I have a bit of a wild imagination, but as Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.”  And how very true.

I would recommend seeing it.

With The New Year…I’m Going To Be Good To Myself.

What makes you feel alive? What makes you feel like you’ve had a productive day? Like you really did things you wanted to do?

Does a productive day mean you did things you wanted to do or only things you needed to do?

Do you ever feel like you can never do enough to feel satisfied? I almost always feel like I never did enough. I have so many interests and so much I say I need to do, but I get distraught because I overwhelm myself with all of these things.

 

I have a full time job as an engineer, I own my own startup T-shirt company on the side, I started a blog that I intend to post at least 2 posts per day; one quote of the day, and one “real” post. I try to fit in fitness and cooking and playing with my dog.  I want to fit in reading and playing guitar and writing. And yet even if I do somehow fit all of that in, I still feel incomplete, I still feel like I haven’t learned enough, I didn’t program today or make that app that I’ve been telling myself I’m going to make for years now.  When does that yearning to do more come to an end? Does it ever? I have a feeling it never will.

 

I love having goals, I love doing everything, I love being tired and knowing I do as much as I can, but that’s the problem I guess…I never feel like I’ve done as much as I could have.

 

I could have woken up at 6am today and instead I was up at 9am lollygagging.  I could have not been on Facebook for an hour chatting and instead have been learning or writing emails.  I could have been superwoman today, but I wasn’t. It’s just not in me today.

 

These are the thoughts I struggle with day in and day out when I’m not at work.  When I’m at work, it is the only time I feel free and really productive because I can’t waste my time on other things, I have to do the tasks at hand and I can’t go on Facebook or waste my time sleeping.

 

I’m very happy and I feel very lucky to be who I am and where I am, but I can’t help but feel saddened that I know I will never really rest and feel “complete”.  I will always be craving more…of everything and anything.

 

If I were traveling or going to events I would feel satisfied.  Those are planned, and you prepare for that, but this 2 week vacation I’ve had from work to just sit home by myself and try to do things I’ve been wanting to do has been a nightmare.  At the start of my break I gave myself a laundry list of things to do….I’m going to learn accounting, operations management, and finance with free online courses I told myself.  I’m going to finish my computer networks course. I’m going to start my app. Now already, I’ve set myself up for failure, because already there aren’t enough hours in two weeks to complete all of those courses.  And on top of that I wanted to write, sketch, play guitar, exercise, see the family, go to parties, and so on.

 

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve hit the first step to recovery.  I still am going to be me and try to do a thousand things a day, but I realize I need not be so hard on myself.  And if I want to relax, then I should relax.  And if I didn’t finish something, I didn’t finish it, because these are all things I WANT to do, not NEED to do.  I shouldn’t be worrying over the things I WANT to do that are supposed to be enjoyable!

 

So my New Years Resolution, take it easy. I always say that to my dog when he tries to run off even though he’s still on the leash, Take It Easy.  I still plan on doing all of the things I love and want to do, but I’m going to stop beating myself up for not getting to something insignificant.  I’m going to be good to myself.