Thursday, August 27, 2009

Being practical is overrated

I've always described myself as very practical, because I am, and think I've worn that trait as some sort of badge.

I'd imagine a lot of people who describe themselves as perfectionists would probably also consider themselves practical. Practical generally means being useful, and I doubt many perfectionists would do something that wasn't useful. Being useless would definitely not be perfect.

But I realized recently that being practical -- just like being wasteful -- can get totally out of control. I realized my practical tendencies had gotten out of hand when I found myself not knowing the immediate answer to this question: "Should I drive an extra 30 minutes out of my way in order to have my friends in the car during the two-hour ride for a weekend away with them? Or, should I just meet them at our destination to keep from adding 30 extra minutes onto both legs of my trip?"

Granted, I'd come up with this non-dilemma after back-to-back, extra long days at work with little sleep in between. But, the fact is, I did find this to be a dilemma for a short while.

Looking back at the laughs we had riding down together -- car somehow packed to the brim with five girls' belongings for a one-night stay (I believe someone held a watermelon in her lap the whole ride, and I definitely had no use of the rear-view mirror) -- I can't believe I even thought twice about whether the extra travel time was a good idea.

But I did think twice, and now I realize I've thought twice about -- and opted out of -- tons of other random scenarios because they weren't "practical." Thinking about how much time and how many memories I've likely missed out on with friends and family because I was being so practical with my time and my "to do" list is heartbreaking.

I'm happy to say this road trip was the wake-up call I've needed, though. Since realizing there's nothing perfect about missing out on fun just to make the most of my time, I've already begun to allot much more space on my priority list to spending time with my friends and taking time to be with my family.

It doesn't always feel immediately comfortable to abandon my schedule to just have some fun, but the more I do it, the easier it gets. And, as if having fun wasn't enough of a reward in itself, I've found that when I do return to my "regularly scheduled programming," I'm much more productive, and much happier doing so.

I guess the old saying -- as usual -- is true: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Renee a dull girl? No thank you!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A rant: Don't tell me what day these pants are for

I just stopped what I was doing to come compose this rant, because I just realized something that affects me more than it should, and I'm wondering if it's just me.

I was just moments ago flipping through a clothing catalogue my mother had left on my kitchen table, after getting home from a nice dinner out with a friend. I was enjoying the fact that I had nothing to do so why not stop and flip through this new addition to my reading stack. I was also feeling pretty impressed with myself that somehow the chocolate craving I'd been experiencing my whole 20-minute ride home had been met -- and satisfied, I might add -- instead with the blueberries I saw in my fridge. (Granted, this is the first sweet thing that passed my eyes on my return; had it been the cookies, things would've turned out a lot differently. And that's not to say they still won't ... like I said, I had to drop what I was doing to come write this.)

Anyway, I was feeling quite good and content as I flipped through this catalogue until I saw the name of their corduroy pants: Saturday Corduroy Pants.

This irritated me immediately. Then, as I sat there with my blueberry-eating peace suddenly disrupted by irritation, I wondered, "Why am I so annoyed?"

I thought for a second, then realized exactly why I was annoyed. My inner dialogue went a little something like this, "Don't tell me when I should where these pants, Mr. (or Ms.) So-and-So Catalogue. Maybe I think these pants are good enough for work. Maybe I'd rather wear my ripped jeans on Saturday. Or maybe even my sweatpants! Don't try and tell me that I should be getting dressed in your brightly colored and oh-so-chic corduroys on a Saturday."

And then, "Oh, what, so my life is so lame because these so-called 'Saturday Corduroys' would do just fine on a weekday in my office? My job isn't fancy enough to confine corduroys to the weekend? And my weekends are so uncool and/or uneventful that nothing more than my 6-year-old jeans is necessary?"

So, I think I just got into a legit fight with the catalogue. In my head. But then I realized, "Wait, that fight was with my head."

So I learned two things just now. A) I'm a sucker for marketing, obviously (though their clever naming technique didn't necessarily make me want the special "Saturday Corduroys," it did make me stop and think about my whole life and how I feel about it based on my wardrobe. Nuts.)

And B) I really need to stop beating myself up so much. If a catchy named pair of pants can throw me out of my blissful state into a self-assessing argument with myself, something's gotta give.

But in the meantime, I really hate when clothing catalogues name their clothes after the days of the week. Really, I can figure that out myself, thank you ... (And yes, I was just talking to an inanimate object, I think. I didn't say I was cured, just that I recognize I need one. Knowing is half the battle. Right?)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ankle-deep, and we're not talkin' the pool here

This week's post is short and sweet, thanks in part to the double deadlines I've got at work this week. Also, there's not much more to say on this little wrinkled life lesson than this:

We all know sweating the small stuff is stupid, a waste of time, a big waste of energy, and a really big annoyance not just to ourselves, but to the poor souls closest to us. It just so happens that trying to avoid wrinkles, or imperfections, is one of the best ways to sweat the small stuff.

So after I worried, fretted, got stressed and rushed around like a mad woman to make the house "perfect" and the food and drinks "just right" for the two back-to-back parties we had this weekend, guess what happened?

The toilet overflowed. And it wasn't just water. Or liquid, if you know what I mean.

And we're not talking just a little overflow and splash on the floor here, either. We're talking a full-on, inch-of-water-in-the-bathroom-and-more-making-its-way-in-a-river-down-the-hardwood-floored-hallway-and-then-tracked-all-over-the-house kind of flood.

So, just when you think you've got it all perfect, you're ankle deep in poop water. Need I say more?