Check-in

Dear Blog and Readers,

I have not forgotten nor forsaken you. Though I have been absent for a couple weeks, its not for lack of desire, simply from lack of bandwidth. You see, instead of making a mere refinement to my routine, I upturned the apple cart and took my career into a new direction. Well, it was more like a return to an old direction, but it’s a new direction nonetheless. Anyways, this has required a lot of focus and writing and social media content creation on subjects new or recently unpracticed. It has been awesome. It has been crazy. Sometimes it has been a little overwhelming, but it’s also exhilarating. It has also meant that my posts here have simply not occurred.

Rest assured, my writing will continue. My thoughts on improving my own life bit by bit will continue and hopefully sometimes they will be helpful or encouraging to you as maybe-possibly-I-really-hope they have been before. Lyz has continued to write a whole bunch of Foodie Friday posts on cooking which totally rock. My intermittent pep talks of the usually non-culinary variety will resume shortly.

I hope you’re all well and that spring is finally coming to your neck of the woods.

“See” ya again next week,
Anthea

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That One Box

Today’s blog is about something that I’ve been carrying around with myself for a while: That One Box. You know the box, the one that sits in the back of your closet or in your basement? It hangs around and comes with your move after move, never being opened, yet somehow filled with “valuable” possessions that must be kept.

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That One Box in process

For me, That One Box came in the form of three boxes that I literally packed at some point at the end of grad school in 2009 and came with me from Texas to Illinois and back to Texas without ever being opened or completely sorted through. The craziest thing about this is I moved back to Texas with only what I could fit in my car and still I chose to bring those three boxes with me.

I’ve been in a brief time of transition in my life, and so I decided to tackle That One Box last weekend. You guys, it feels so good to have it done! Yeah, a large percentage of it was junk, but I also found sweet cards and handwritten letters from years ago. I found notes from classes that I’d like to reference and classes I’d rather forget. But most of all, knowing that space in my closet is clear and I’ve cut down on the clutter is a great.

Do you have That One Box hanging around? Consider this my personal encouragement to you to take a bit of time and sort through it. I bet ya it will be worth it.

Bringing back “You’re Welcome”

Today’s post is a day late (Did you know I try and post on Tuesdays? Because I do. Try.) and it’s recycled, but it’s been rolling around in my head again recently and I thought it would fit in here. So, without further ado, here is a repost of an old blog entry from 2011 on a long-abandoned blog of mine. You can thank me later. (I’ll try and respond appropriately.)

You’re Welcome
(written March 18, 2011)

I’m on a few committees for different organizations and events, and I went to one of them earlier this week. We were meeting to discuss where our little committee was going to put its efforts next and brainstorming ideas. We had a new guy show up (and participate!) for the first time, and after the meeting was over I thanked him for coming and he responded, “You’re welcome.”

His response surprised me. Not because it was in any way wrong. In fact, it’s exactly what my mom taught me to say (and I think she’s right). When someone thanks you, you say, “You’re welcome,” because the person was indeed welcome to your help/time/etc. It surprised me because it’s a phrase I’ve heard and said(!) with less and less frequency over the years, and I’d been thinking about its disappearance for a while.

Instead of letting the person thanking me for whatever it is I did for them know they were welcome to my help, I shrug it off. “No problem.” It’s fine I did something nice for you, because it wasn’t a big deal anyway. It sort of implies that it’s not special to me to help you. Or that I only do it because it’s easy. Or, conversely, that it doesn’t even matter (to me) that I helped, because my time/effort has no value (in my eyes).

The other response to “Thank You” I hear/say is… “No,¬†thank¬†you!” This one is sort of ridiculous, like falling over ourselves to prove who is more grateful. This is the opposite of “No problem.” It implies I’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to do something nice for someone else and you finally gave me the chance to put the gold star on my chart for the day. Yay, me!

I think “You’re welcome” should make a come back. I’d rather my friends and colleagues know they were welcome to my help, and that’s that. No discounting myself and no puffing myself up. It seems like the best choice.

Keep Your Self-Critical Mouth Shut

Today’s post is mostly an admonition to myself after I realized something I do pretty regularly. The title really says it all, but I’ll elaborate. It wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I didn’t!

See, I recently moved and I’ve been really trying to make this new apartment seem more like “home” and less like someplace I’m going to watch TV and sleep until my lease runs out. There are so many things I love about this unique apartment, and with a great landlord and a fabulous friend living in the same building, it really is a joy to live here. I have loved many apartments I’ve had over the years, but this is by far the best place I’ve ever had to myself.

So, after a couple years living in a comfortable but minimalistic place without a single knick-knack or decoration besides some pictures on the walls, I decided to buckle down, think through some decorative choices, invest in some bookshelves and furniture, and assert a little more of myself into the space. A few trips to IKEA and some relatively painless building time, I had myself a nice TV stand and a little set of shelves – some of which we put some glass doors on to make them “classy” – and I opened the long-packed boxes of books and random treasures and started to find them new homes in my new place.

I’m sure you’re wondering where the “shut up” part of this story comes, since all I’ve done is gush about how much I love my apartment so far. Well, it comes next when the occasion came along for a couple friends and I to meet to discuss a project we’re taking on and I thought it would be fun to host the meeting so I could show them my new place.

Perfectly Fine Imperfect Shelves

As I busied myself around the apartment before them came over, cleaning the sinks, shuffling things around the shelves, folding blankets, etc, I caught myself pre-emptively making excuses for the things I didn’t quite think were “right” yet. Serious thoughts came into my head like, “Oh, I can just tell them that the junk on the bottom shelves still needs to be sorted”…”I can mention how I think I probably need new sheets to match the new bedroom”…”I can point out the dust on the windowsills I didn’t clean yet and comment about how gross I am”…Wait, what?! *cue record screeching halt*

STOP.

STOP STOP STOP.

Here I am in a place that is not perfect, but that I still love and am proud of. Why on earth would I point out its flaws when I can share the things I truly love? Why criticize myself when I instead can take a little bit of pride in what I’ve put together? Will my friends notice the random un-done stuff? Maybe. Will they care? I truly doubt it. Does it matter? No. Right then and there I decided to not voice a single one of those thoughts.

Bathroom

Bathroom Peacocks. For reals.

When my friends showed up, I showed them the new shelves, and the peacocks on the bathroom walls (true story), and the washer and dryer (YOU GUYS. I have a washer and dryer!!), and I kept my mouth shut about the flaws. I shared my vision for things I didn’t have yet, but didn’t make excuses for not having them. They ooh-ed and ahh-ed and shared my excitement; I felt better about not tearing myself down. I consider that a win.

Even now, I still have sorting and arranging to do. I have bedroom furniture to buy. But I also have a great place to kick up my feet and enjoy, and now it even comes with a little bit of positive self-awareness. If you visit, there might be dusty windowsills or a dirty kitchen floor or a haphazard pile of sheet music on my book shelf, but I’m gonna do my best not to point them out to you.