Go at your own pace

While waiting in line at Starbucks yesterday morning, I overheard a conversation between a teenager and a middle aged woman. I imagine this was a college admissions interview and the woman was an alumna and the young man a high school senior. While the senior was talking about his experience running cross country, I was struck by two things he said and how they apply to so much more than running.

Keep your own pace

He said that in cross country it’s important to find your own pace and keep your own pace.  That when someone passes you it’s very tempting, almost innate, to want to run faster to catch up with him and then pass him, but you have to know your own pace and not use up all of your energy in one burst sprinting to beat the person in front of you. That you need to figure out a pace that you can maintain and just keep it at that.

You don’t have to be first to win

The teen also said that in cross country, you don’t have to be the first to win.  That simply hitting a personal best is an accomplishment in itself.

I think I may have gotten tears in my eyes as I heard this, thinking “wow, this is a great reminder for life.” It can be so easy to compare yourself to friends, coworkers, people from high school or college that you’re not friends with in real life but are friends on Facebook. If they’re getting married, buying a house, having kids, getting promoted, getting a Master’s degree, traveling, buying x, y, or z. And when we see people “passing” us it’s easy to want to sprint to catch up, and to put pressure on ourselves to find a boyfriend or buy a home or whatever. But doing so only expends unnecessary energy. It feels so much better if you’re doing it at your own pace, not sprinting to get to catch up to the person in front of you. And remember that just because you’re not the first doesn’t make crossing the finish line any less significant.

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Resolutions: set yourself up for success

On Friday, I shared my 2012 resolutions and my 2012 resolutions spreadsheet. When deciding on my resolutions, I thought about my intentions for this year and what I wanted to achieve and then thought about what steps I could do to make them be my reality this time next year.

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions or goals yet? It’s not too late, you know. But I’m sure you don’t want them to be like this:

If you haven’t made your 2012 resolutions yet (or if even if you have), here’s some tips to help you set them (or revise them) to set yourself up for success.

When writing resolutions or setting any type of goal you want it to be SMART:

Specific–make the goal something very specific

Measurable–make the action item something you can quantify

Attainable–you want a goal that is actually within your reach

Realistic–set goals that you know you can meet or are just a bit of a stretch

Time-bound–set a time frame for your goal

For example: If your intention for 2012 is to lose weight, you’ll want to set SMART resolutions that support that intention coming true. So instead of saying “go to the gym” a SMART goal would be go to the gym 3 times per week for 45 minutes. This is

Specific–saying what you will do for how long and how often

Measurable–you can say whether or not you achieved this

Attainable–if you have a gym membership or means to get one this would be attainable

Realistic–3 times a week is do-able whereas every day may not be

Time-bound–there’s a time period in which to measure this.

And that’s that. Then you go on working toward it.

I’d love to know:

What are your SMART resolutions or goals for 2012, this month, or this week?

If you want help setting smart goals, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at thingsafterrings@gmail.com. I’m happy to help.

6 great wedding gifts

While most brides would say they want cash or something off their registry, I know some people feel uncomfortable giving money or towels.  They want to give something more special and personal.  Here’s a list of gifts we received that were not on our registry and that I loved/appreciated.

Painting of the church we were married in

My aunt and uncle gave us this water color painting of the church we were married in.  In my thank you note, I wrote “we’ll hang it in our new apartment and be reminded of the joy of our day when we walk by it.”  And sure enough when Mike put it up, it made me smile with delight and joy and gratitude for my new husband.  In addition, it helped make our new apartment feel like home.

Wine rack and bottles of wine

We registered for wine glasses and my creative and thoughtful friends Leslie and Bridget gave the gift a personal touch.  With the wine glasses, they gave us a wine rack and two bottles of wine.  They selected bottles of wine that relate to newlywed issues: Clean Slate and Tempra Tantrum and attached notes to them explaining when to open them.

Love and wine grow better with time

Open your home to entertain and eat, 

catch up with old friends and new ones to meet.

When the night is over share this bottle of wine, 

but don’t sit down yet–it’s clean up time!

~

Love and wine grow better with time

When fights occur as they sometimes will

and tempers are steaming hot,

pour a glass, take a sip, and be thankful for what you’ve got.

For in a marriage if everyone agreed life would be a bore,

and by asking for Joanna’s hand, Mike is surely in for more!

We haven’t opened the bottles of wine yet, we haven’t had a massive fight (woohoo) or entertained much (goal for December?) but I’m looking forward to it. Edit: when I originally drafted this post we hadn’t opened either bottle.  After the bed bug incident we broke into one.

Flowers

This sweet, colorful set of seeds and pots came from my best friend and bridesmaid Amanda via Red Envelope. I haven’t planted them but I’m looking forward to it. (Note: until midnight tonight get 10% off using the discount code KANE (courtesy of my favorite radio show)).

Mr. and Mrs. Aprons with Newlywed Cookbook

This set also came from Amanda via Red Envelope. This was the perfect gift for us.  We love to cook together, it’s one of the things that keeps us connected, and we always cook from a recipe.

Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook Set

Still love this gift from my friend Jordan.

Night at Bed and Breakfast

My girlfriends from college got us a night at a B&B in Virginia, about an hour from the city.  We spent the night at Stone Manor B&B in October and enjoyed relaxing together.  It was so nice to get a break and some quality time out in the country.

Thanks, everyone!

I’d love to know:

Did you get any gifts that weren’t on your registry? Were they good or bad?

What’s your favorite gift to give a newlywed couple?

Advice on moving in

My sister and her boyfriend are moving in together for the first time next semester.  After talking to some different people and hearing horror stories about couples that move into together and then break up, they asked me for my advice on moving in together. Here’s what I came up with (in no particular order):

  • Make sure you have quality time.  Whether it’s a date night, cooking dinner together, or watching a show once a week, make sure you spend quality time together.  It’s easy to be together but not really be present with one another.
  • Make sure you have alone time.  While it’s important to do things together, it’s also important to do your own thing.
  • Figure out how you’ll pay the bills, both where the money will come from and how the bill will logistically be paid (online, check, who will do it). When I lived with roommates in college, we’d leave the bill in the return envelope with a stamp in front of the door with a post-it of how much each person owed and the due date.  Last person to put their check in dropped it in the mail.
  • Pick your battles. Most likely there will be a bunch of habits that randomly irk you when you move in with someone new.  Whether they leave dishes in the sink, leave the bath mat soaking wet, or leave their dirty socks wherever they take them off, figure out which one drives you the most crazy and choose that one. Then communicate that preference to your partner in a polite way.
  • Be patient. It takes time to merge living experiences. Heck, we’ve been living together for 3+ years and we’re still working things out.

I’d love to know (and so would my sister):

What advice would give to a couple moving in together?

Do your own thing

When you live with someone–roommate, boyfriend, husband, whoever–it’s natural to want to be with them, to want to do things together when you’re both there. Maybe you want to go to Trader Joe’s or watch a TV show or go to the gym. Maybe you want to stay up late or wake up early. And you want your significant other to do the same. It’s unlikely that you’ll both want to do the same things all the time.  And that’s ok.

It’s ok to spend some time apart, to do your own thing.  Not only is it ok, it’s actually healthy. Because when you take time for yourself to do what you want to do, spend your time in the way you want to, you give yourself time to think and recharge. Then, when you come back together you’ll be more of yourself, able to give your full attention to your partner.

Though Mike and I have been living together for three years now, we still find ourselves struggling with this sometimes. Or at least I do. Especially on weekends when we don’t have set plans. Though I wake up very early on weekends and want to start my day, I often find myself waiting around to see what Mike feels like doing. And we go back and forth over what to do and I find myself weighing what I would do on my own and what we would do together. But our ideas of a nice Saturday morning aren’t the same.

So I’m proud of myself for doing what I want to do this morning.  I woke up early, laid in bed thinking for a while and decided to get up and head to Moderntimes Coffeehouse at Politics & Prose for some writing and blogging with a bagel and coffee. I’m here now with a full belly, writing this post and then drafting some posts for the upcoming week.  After this I’ll go to Body Flow, one of my favorite gym classes, to stretch and relax and rejuvenate, and to follow one of my November goals.

While I’m doing this, I’m sure Mike is still in bed, watching ESPN, the History Channel, or re-runs of Mad Men on A&E. He’ll move to the couch, have some breakfast, and watch an episode of John Adams on Netflix.  Then he’ll shower and head to play hockey in the White House Roller Hockey League. And he will do all of this without me bothering him.

When we see each other this afternoon, we will both be in good moods because we were able to spend our Saturday mornings the way we wanted. We will be energized, and happy, and excited to see each other.

It’s easy to want to do everything with your partner from errands or chores to watching TV or taking a nap. It’s also exhausting to make that happen and have both of you have your needs met.  So go ahead, do your own thing.  Spend a few hours apart even when you have no set plans.  Your mind, your mood, and your relationship will be better for it.

name change checklist

if you think you go to the social security office to change your name and it’s done in one fell swoop, i’ve got some news for you.  this is a multi-step process.  i mean, think of all the things that use your name.  of course, you can pay to have your name changed in all of the important places but i have other things i’d like to spend $35 on: a pedicure, dinner out with a friend, a negligee to wear for my new husband, or a replacement hub cap. so if you’re like me and want to have-at the name-changing game all by yourself here’s what you’ll to change and my status on each:

  •  social security card 
  • passport. i think i might be lazy on this one and change it just before i need it.
  • driver’s license
  • employer (W-4, email, business cards).  i opted to just change the “from” in my work email address and keep my old business cards.  i felt bad throwing out a whole box of business cards.  my contact info is still the same so the person can find me if they need me.
  • bank still waiting on my new debit cards though.
  • credit cards.  should i be surprised that this one is the biggest pain?
  • health insurance (if it’s not taken care of by your employer)
  • retirement account (if it’s not taken care of by your employer)
  • car insurance
  • utilities ok, we may have just moved into a building where utilities are included so maybe i cheated a bit to cross this one off 
  • magazine subscriptions

what about online shopping sites? and groupon, livingsocial?  i’d also like my name changed on opentable.com so that our restaurant reservations are in my married name.

anything i forgot?

take long walks together

my husband’s mom wrote this on an advice card at my bridal shower. she said “take long walks together once in a while because that’s when you really talk.” we went on a few walks this weekend: to starbucks and to the capitol to throw the frisbee. and this advice proves to be true. conversation flows much more freely and continuously when we’re walking. we talked about the future and our new apartment. he’s more open and talkative and it’s really nice to just talk and have him initiate bigger conversations.