Habit’s Power

Today I find myself doing a lot of cleaning in preparation for my impending move and I came across a copy of the Yahoo! Hotjobs section of the Daily News from October 4th.  There George Gurney writes a section called Dear Headhunter, which is essentially an advise column, similar to the Dear Abbey columns I grew up with, except it’s focus is centered on jobs and careers.  Anyways, I don’t usually keep these sections because they’re no longer as information packed as they once where – but on this day, I chose to keep it.

After sharing a quote by Jim Ryum, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”, Mr Gurney encourages his readers to take a closer look at their habits and ask, are they positive or negative?

I know that I have many habits that I work at changing.  Sometimes I’m successful, othertimes not so much.  But the following poem that Mr. Gurney shared really made me think about the power that a positive, and a negative,  habit can have over me.  Here is it for you to read and hopefully to make you take a closer look at your own habits:

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do, you might as well turn over to me,
And I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done,
And after a few lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great men
and, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work will all the precision of a machine
Plus the intelligence of a man.
You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin;
It makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me
And I will put the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I am HABIT!

-Author Anonymous

Reflecting on 2009

As I was looking through this morning’s paper, one section caught my attention so much that I even tweeted about it.  The tweet, and the section (paraphrased), simply stated:  “Today is Wed., Nov 22nd, 322 day of the year.  There are 43 days left in 2009″.  My first reaction was wow, only 43 days left and I have a lot to do still.  I mean I’ve got emails to finish, thank you cards to send out, Christmas shopping to do, memberships to report, a plan of action to write for the SCV Jaycees, a plan of action to finish for the CA Jaycees, my own plan of action to review, a niece (Taelyn) to welcome into the world within the next week or so, start my new job, pack my belongings, move… and the list can go on and on.  I am the type of person that always looks forward – at the opportunity, at the possibility that life brings.  But in order to fully appreciate everything that is in store for these next 43 days, I’ve decided to take a step back and look at the last 322 days.

This year has been a particularly challenging one – so much more so than the last few.  I started the year working for a company I adore and then was there to unfortunately help close the doors 4 months later.   I started off this year with a place I could call home, and today I find myself dreading the packing process to move out.  I started off this year swearing that I would let an organization that I had lost a little faith become what it may, only to step in as President because the course of events reminded me of how much I truly care about the future of the California Junior Chamber.

This year I lost a couple of friends due to differences, but I made new ones.  I’ve maintained hope, albeit there were days that just seemed to look so dreary, and that hope eventually opened new doors.  I’ve looked to my family and friends more times than I would have liked to – but it was them that reminded me that good things are just over the horizon.

ThanksgivingToday I find myself reflecting.  And, in the Spirit of Thanksgiving, which is a mere 8 days away, I find myself thankful for my family and my friends.  Thankful for the opportunities that have surfaced out of the challenges 2009 presented.  I find myself looking forward to the next chapter in my life and content in the knowledge that 2010 also offers new opportunities yet to be discovered.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can breathe!

So the past few weeks have been hectic to say the least.  I’ve taken on new responsibilities in a time when I’m still trying to find that perfect job and a new roommate.  My head has been spinning with uncertainty and of course, my coping mechanism is to keep myself busy with tasks.  Needless to say, the California Jaycees have benefited from my stress and have acted as my therapy.  The good news is that A LOT of positive things have been accomplished for the organization.  The bad news is that I’m still in a state of limbo trying to land that perfect job and getting my living situation situated.

Less than an hour ago I was sitting at my computer wondering what to do next – do I pack? clean? type? or forget it all and watch tv?  I chose to play of Facebook while I sorted out the next 15 minutes of my life.  Then the text came.  You know, that text that just comes out of the blue, completely unexpected, but OH so VERY needed and welcomed.  And now I am on cloud 9!  This enormous weight of where will I live has been lifted from my shoulders.   I want to thank my friends for gifting me with such a generous and wonderful offer. You have given me one less thing to worry about, you have given me the ability to breathe just a little easier once again and for that I am SOOOOO very grateful.

Friday Funny…

Whereas I pretty much grew up watching Saturday Night Live (SNL), I can’t say that I remember watching this particular episode.  It’s one with Jannette Jackson, Jimmy Fallon and a bunch of other people as they pay homage to a particular portion of the wine making process.  I got such a kick out of it that I had to share it with you.  Enjoy!

You look like a good cork soaker….

 

Party Etiquette

Growing up, my parents were pretty strict on how my brothers and I should act at gatherings.  We also witnessed how my parents greeted and treated their guests when they entered the house.  Their was always (and still is) a jovial air, very light hearted, very welcoming, and very open.  There wasn’t any type of segregation like the adults table vs kids table.  You sat with whomever you wanted to sit, as long as you respected, then you were respected.  I believe that the key word that we were taught ultimately is “respect”.

Yesterday I attended a baby-shower.  The decorations were absolutely beautiful and appropriate (great job Lillian!).  And, “special” people were gifted with decorated name badges that said things like “Nonna” and “Grandma <insert name here>”.  There were also “Auntie” badges for friends close the family, and another specially decorated badge for the “Tia” (which would be the related Aunt).  I received an “Auntie” badge.

I was ok with the badge, up until I saw the “Tia” badge, and I became offended.  Why?  Well because this baby-shower was for my niece – the first little girl we will be welcoming to our family.  I am the only blood related aunt my niece will actually have — yet, I wasn’t placed in the “Tia” category, I had apparently been demoted to the “Auntie” category along with friends.  Seems petty I know, but, I guess I just don’t understand how I can consistently be dismissed with this particular side of the family.   Upon seeing the Tia name badge, I handed my “Auntie” badge over to my Aunt who had wanted one, but didn’t receive one.  I knew that she would appreciate it much more than I was at that time.

You may be reading this and thinking, gosh Claudia, get over it.  I, on the other hand, feel hurt.

What’d we say?

As you know, this weekend a friend and I went up to Fresno to do some wine tasting and research the wineries in the area.  Fortunately Mike remembered to bring his trusty, albeit ANCIENT, microcassette recorder.  You remember the kind – their gray, about the size of your hand and claim to be voice activated?  Anyways, I was glad that he brought it because inevitably I tend to be the person people turn to and say “can you write that down?”.  And I usually do.  The problem with that is that while everyone else is conversing, I’m jotting down notes that I may or may not reference again.  So the tape recorder really allowed me to ask my questions without having to immediately write everything down.

So now we’re back in town and it’s time to transcribe the taped recordings.  I sit down with the recorder next to me and a Word doc opened.  Start the tape, listen and type.  Stop typing, stop the type, rewind and listen again.  Nowcassette-lamp I remember why I didn’t use cassette tapes in college!  Did he say “alicante bushe”, “alicante muse”, .. um, what’s “alicante” mean anyways?  And, did I like it when I tried it?  Inevitably all that listening effort results in my napping.

So here I am, about to tackle the cassette tape again and hope that I’ll understand at least 80% of the words that are said.  If anyone out there has a better method of note taking, or of transcribing — please, PLEASE, share it with me because I’m not sure I’d volunteer to transcribe the tape next time.

In the meantime.. I think that making a cassette tape lamp is a perfect option for those tapes!

You talkin’ to me?

Adversity is one of those things that builds character.  It tests our boundaries and takes us back to those basic rules we all learned in kindergarten.  You know – those little tiffs out on the playground with the school bully? He/She says something mean to me or pushes me.   Do I fight back?  Do I sit back and watch?  Do I act?  or do I react?

Masks_smI’ve fought back, actually pulled little Penny’s braid right out of her hair one day out on the playground when she made fun of the dress I was wearing in 1st grade.  I didn’t even get in trouble.  I think the teacher was so surprised that she really wasn’t sure what to do.  That marked the end of my fighting days — because I felt bad – and yet I felt better.  Hmm, a dichotomy if I ever heard of one.

I’ve sat back an said nothing.  Actually watched a classmate pass out after the wind was knocked out of him by another in the 3rd grade.  When asked about it, I said.. well nothing.  I felt mad, but then again, I was relieved that I wasn’t being asked anymore questions. Another dichotomy.

Amazingly enough everytime I am presented with adversity, I have to stop and decide my course of action.  Fortunately for me, each experience teaches me some type of valuable life lesson.  They have helped, and continue to elp,  me become the person I am.  Truth be told, I don’t like adversity, but I do appreciate learning from it.  Hmm, would that be considered yet another dichotomy?

Mamma Mia! what’s in that stocking?

I’m one of those people that can watch a movie over and over again.  Not just any movie, mind you.  It has to be a “feel good” movie.  One that makes me smile.  One where I can follow along without having to actually watch the movie.  It’s a movie that can serve as a “go-to” when there’s nothing on TV, or when I just want to track time.  And, if it has music in it, all the better!

Right now I’m watching one of those movies as I catch up with some Jaycee work.  The choice — Mamma Mia!  I have to say that I LOVE this movie.  I love the musicality of it.  Listening to the music takes me back to a Christmas morning when I was a kid.  My family isn’t much into stocking stuffers, but this was the one and only year that my brother and I had a stocking full of knick-knacks.  In my stocking — a brand new 8-track tape of ABBA’s Greatest Hits!  Yes!    Ok, first off, yes I did say 8-track tape.  Secondly, it was ABBA!   I can’t tell you how many times I went around the house singing

Chiquitita, dime por que
tu dolor hoy te encadena
en tus ojos hay
una sombra de gran pena.

or

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?

I would make my brother sing with me as well — he was such a good sport.  Truth be told, he’s a great sport to this day!  I remember that Christmas morning like it was yesterday and I must have been maybe 6-7 years old?

Like I said earlier, my family isn’t really into stocking stuffers.  But to this day I thank Santa for that one Christmas where ABBA appeared hanging on the chimney wall.  When i hear their music, I immediately “feel the beat from the tambourine”.  I immediately remember running over to my dad’s stereo and playing it over and over again.  I don’t know what ever happened to that tape, it was probably sold at some garage sale or other. And whereas I’ve always considered replacing it with a cassette tape, and then a CD, and now downloads on iTunes — I’ve never replaced it.  Today I have Mamma Mia on the television as background.  I may buy the movie, I should, but I don’t know if I will.  There’s something special about being taken back to your childhood at random — and it’s a beautiful feeling.

He’s not big.. but he is quick!

CIMG0001Corky is not a big dog, but he is a quick one!  Every morning Corky and I go for a walk.  Mostly so that he can take care of business, but I make sure we take the long way around so that he can time to adequately bug the crap out of the squirrels and birds hiding in the trees and bushes.  Every time he spots a squirrel climbing up a tree, he dutifully claws at the tree as if to protest at the fact that he can’t climb it himself.  Then when he eyes a bird, he chases and then leaps as if he’s about to take off for flight.  I can only imagine what is going through his mind when he realizes that he doesn’t climb trees and that flying isn’t one of his strengths. This weekend he wasn’t deterred and he must have woken up determined.

Sunday morning we went for our usual walk over to the park.  On the way there, he spotted a pack of 3 birds hanging out near the bushes.  As I usually do when he spots something to chase, I let out the leash to give him a full 16 foot runway.  He takes off and…. he catches a bird!  OH MY GOSH!  HE CAUGHT ONE!   He drops it at my feet and I feel so bad for the little bird.  Wait.. um, Corky, why are you bringing it to me?????  I immediately shirk, but then remember that Corky has brought me a gift, so I pick Corky up and rub his neck to sing his praises.  As I’m looking past Corky, the little bird stands up, unruffles its feathers and starts to hobble away. (Thank goodness the little bird was ok!)

As you can imagine, Corky’s pride soared!  He had just transformed from a 12 lb Chihuahua to a 30 lb flushing spaniel right before my eyes.  After all, he had proven himself to be a hunter – daring game to fly before his path. For the rest of the day, he was alert and ready.  He walked a little taller and even added a little bounce in his step as if to say, “I am Corky…. arrrrr”.

He’s not big.. but he is quick!

Corky is not a big dog, but he is a quick one!  Every morning Corky and I go for a walk.  Mostly so that he can take care of business, but I make sure we take the long way around so that he can time to adequately bug the crap out of the squirrels and birds hiding in the trees and bushes.  Every time he spots a squirrel climbing up a tree, he dutifully claws at the tree as if to protest at the fact that he can’t climb it himself.  Then when he eyes a bird, he chases and then leaps as if he’s about to take off for flight.  I can only imagine what is going through his mind when he realizes that he doesn’t climb trees and that flying isn’t one of his strengths. This weekend he wasn’t deterred and he must have woken up determined.

Sunday morning we went for our usual walk over to the park.  On the way there, he spotted a pack of 3 birds hanging out near the bushes.  As I usually do when he spots something to chase, I let out the leash to give him a full 16 foot runway.  He takes off and…. he catches a bird!  OH MY GOSH!  HE CAUGHT ONE!   He drops it at my feet and I feel so bad for the little bird.  Wait.. um, Corky, why are you bringing it to me?????  I immediately shirk, but then remember that Corky has brought me a gift, so I pick Corky up and rub his neck to sing his praises.  As I’m looking past Corky, the little bird stands up, unruffles its feathers and starts to hobble away. (Thank goodness the little bird was ok!)

As you can imagine, Corky’s pride soared!  He had just transformed from a 12 lb Chihuahua to a 30 lb flushing spaniel right before my eyes.  After all, he had proven himself to be a hunter – daring game to fly before his path. For the rest of the day, he was alert and ready.  He walked a little taller and even added a little bounce in his step as if to say, “I am Corky…. arrrrr”.