It’s funny how long this takes me to write sometimes from when I first think about a topic. On top of that, there have probably been several cycles of all of this, too. As the summer has progressed, the weather has gone between being “disgustingly humid,” as someone I know posted, rainy, or right in-between with a lower humidity and temperature. The point is not the weather forecast. It is that I have really wanted to go swimming, and it took a while to get there. I needed a new suit, for one. Plus, I wanted to specifically go to the campus pool for lap swimming, and I needed a swim cap for that. I decided to add goggles, too, and make sure my eyes stayed protected. While gathering all of those items, I also had to figure out how to get to the pool and make sure it was open for the summer, since there tends to be construction. What I figured out is that it’s a long walk to get to the pool without a car. Maybe during the fall or winter a campus bus gets closer. The city bus definitely does not. The final item to figure out was the day and time. I decided to replace running with swimming and go on the day I tend to run.
I finally made it to the pool last week, and it was great! Now I feel more comfortable about going and I have figured out other items. For example, if I do happen to drive and go at the evening time, the meters are free after 4pm. Yay! Swimming was a relief from the humid weather that day, so bonus on the timing. On top of that, I went swimming the next day, too, although a different pool.
My dentist happens to be 40 miles away, and my cousin(in-law). I like going to her and her office cause I feel like they really take care of me there, and they do not try to overdo the office or up-charge or find things to work on that may not really be necessary. For example, many times when I am there we discuss my bite splint. I totally agree that when the dentist at the time said that I needed one, it was, and still would be, an accurate diagnosis. However, I did not need a bite splint that is neon pink and glows in the dark (and I used to have a case that matched). It cost more to get it that way and the neon pink glow was not what made me want to wear it. My bite splint is a “hot topic” almost every time I go to the dentist because part of the appointment is getting it cleaned and making sure it fits.
I also like going to my cousin because it is a chance to see family. When available, I go to the house and see my cousin and their kids, which hadn’t worked out for several times. At the least, I get the connection at the office, though. This time, I found out my cousin and the kids would be around all day, and I could go swimming, if I wanted to. I said I’d be there after my appointment. At my appointment, I was forewarned that the boys were taking turns doing chores, and the 12-year-old was quite grumpy since that took him away from playing video games.
It was late morning when I arrived at the house, and my cousin greeted me outside. When his younger (8 yr old) son finished a chore, we all sat on the porch and chatted while the older son bounced back and forth a couple of times. I loved listening to what everyone was into, including the circuit in the basement based on “American Ninja Warrior” that my youngest cousin moved through rather well. Eventually, we all went outside to swim and sit by the pool. Yes, another swim day! This time, in salt water. Within a couple of hours, my cousin’s friend with his boys joined. The kids played in the pool while the three adults chatted. It was an all around great day and hard to leave and return to Kalamazoo. One of the reasons I wanted to stay was because the social connections I have been missing felt really strong and the discussions were interesting. I missed out on the chance to see my cousin’s dad, too. It has all made me reconsider what I might do about transportation so I can get up there more often.
The back and forth days have not just been the temperature. They have included how I have been feeling. Sometimes the yoga instructors will say to assess and think about terms related to weight. One day, my legs felt really heavy and I was glad for yoga. By the end of the class, my legs felt better. Yoga on the beach highlighted the end of the week and added another really good social component. I rode with the instructor and met the other ladies when we had lunch together. I’m grateful that the instructor sets up carpooling. If it wasn’t for carpooling, I wouldn’t be able to go at all.
As the weeks transition, I had that lethargic feeling again and decided to take advantage of the unlimited summer yoga and go this morning. It definitely has helped me get unstuck and flow again.
Finally, sometimes what I notice is the need to be acknowledged. This could be personal or it could be what I see out in the world, on my block, through Facebook, or wherever. One of the reasons I like blogs over journals is because I want to be acknowledged as much as I want to share my experiences. When people “like” my posts, it is a good start. I still believe that some are doing that because they “like” whatever the featured photo is and aren’t necessarily reading what I write. What is even better is when there are comments, and it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. I try to acknowledge my friends by sending them messages after seeing posts, or offering to take one of the neighbor kids with me when I walk downtown. No one needs to be invisible and we are all human.
Sometimes, the memories Facebook decides to remind me of are better off being ignored. Other times, they are plain old sad and I may look at them, but I do not usually choose to share them. The last couple of days, though, have been big winners. I have cluttered my news feed because they were FUN!
For example, yesterday was not only humid, the memory that popped up was when I first saw Pop Evil locally. All I wished for yesterday was for it to rain and relieve some of the heat. When the rain finally came later that night, I was thrilled!
The significance of the Pop Evil concert was that it was during a particularly dry summer four years ago. The band played at an outdoor venue. When they finished, many stuck around to get autographs and photos or they were dancing to the music still being piped through the speakers. Maybe an hour later, it started to rain. I handed my phone to the friend with me and joined others who were dancing, sliding on some of the brick since I was barefoot. If I had been around others during the storm last night I just may have danced in celebration during that one, too. The experience four years ago, especially shared with one of my friends, was one of the most fantastic nights. I even met the lead singer and drummer of the band, and both were really nice! Somewhere, I have autographs. Yay for great rainy day Facebook memories! What are yours?
This post is going to be a bit of an experiment. The experiment comes with the topic. As mentioned in The Bicycle Ride and Dancing it Out, motivation has been low lately. I think some of it comes from not feeling well. Even more than that, in this case, there has been an uncertainty, an unknown. Unknowns can be exciting, as one of my friends recently pointed out. As true as that can be, there is another side. The topic I am referring to is how women age. I don’t know where the models are supposed to be if they are not in your own family, so like a new parent might, if something seems weird, I make an appointment to see the doctor. Where is the community, similar to the mom groups, to help figure these things out? It’s one of the topics I dreamed about discussing when developing Hacker Gals. It never made it that far. It’s a topic that I thought would be expanded more for a “Psychology of Aging” class I took in the spring. Not much beyond “a change in hormone levels” included. Yeah, I knew that much already.
I remember a couple of women I worked with who experienced hot flashes, a lot. They would be dripping in sweat while the rest of us were all bundled up from being cold. I don’t know how long that was supposed to last, and it hasn’t been my experience at all.
When it comes to puberty and pregnancy, the information is all over the place. I feel like I am looked at by the medical staff like I am supposed to have these aging answers. If I had the answers then this post and my experience would be much different. Instead, I am taking the risk of sharing my uncertainty with the world.
Men, you can answer this, too. I find it interesting who comments on my posts, written or verbal. In trying to find connections, they come from unexpected sources sometimes, and that is ok.
So, as you might have noticed, my mood is slightly different than the last post. I did go to yoga on Tuesday and I plan on going at least one or two more times this week. As other answers surface, that will help me, too. If this sounds cryptic, it is meant to. I mean, this IS the internet.
It hasn’t happened in a long time where I have lost my motivation. I’m pretty much self-driven with a lot of things, including exercise, at least in the realms that I like. Lately, I haven’t wanted to run, and even though I am on a summer unlimited pass, I haven’t been to yoga since the middle of last week. Whether or not this seems weird to you, it definitely seems weird to me.
My homework this weekend was fitting for these thoughts. I started an online Holistic Living class. Since it is summer, that also means double time, and that technically I am already two weeks in with the four lessons. One of the topics discussed the continuum of balance that we are on which goes between chaos and stagnation. Those on the chaos end feel overwhelmed and those on the stagnate end get bored. Or, maybe unmotivated? What helps me with staying motivated are the social interactions and the support that comes from it, which has been minimal lately. Maybe we’re all at extremes, trying to come back towards the middle, and missing each other in the process. Or, maybe my circle of friends is such that I’m not part of the closest circle, and have to really assert myself or be willing to be by myself. Luckily, the air temperature has been cool enough that my apartment is comfortable without a fan on or extra windows open. I was happy enough to be doing my homework and I was able to take a dinner break out with a friend on Saturday. All good, right?
The other part I have noticed is that I don’t know what pictures I want in the frames on my wall. A few years ago, it was a no-brainer since there were several groups of friends who were special to me. Some people I saw regularly, others were from groups I used to see all the time, including classmates from high school. The classmate pictures were from interim reunion pictures. Those pages are now in an album. I’m not sure if the replacements will be people or scenes. Right now, I have blank frames.
On the flip side, Zumba is one class that I have been returning to lately at the gym. The instructor I like keeps us moving and plays more than the traditional Latin songs. There is usually one or two I can sing to because I have heard them on the radio, such as Cheap Thrills by Sia’. One of my favorites!
My Zumba instructor also talks about our energy helping to give her energy, and that sometimes you have to “Dance it out.” Dancing had been something else that I had not been motivated to do much until I was in Chicago. Shortly after that trip, I returned to Zumba and more dancing. I have loved dancing in that class and was super excited the first day back. Sometimes it is a challenge to keep up, yet I was able to the entire time, and have returned a couple of more times. What fun!
After being in my apartment for the majority of the weekend, I decided that I needed to get out once I finished my homework. Since it is a holiday, my choices were limited by what was open. Transportation was limited to walking or biking. I decided to bike ride, and I made it a challenge, too. Other than a hill that I chose to walk my bike up, I bicycled to a coffee shop more than 2.5 miles away. It’s pretty quiet, as expected. Still, it is a place to be interactive. Plus, I can treat myself to food and a tea. Changing perspectives always seems to be a good thing. Sometimes an inversion is a good choice. Tonight, the bike ride was a great choice!
The “Year of Yoga” is continuing through the summer. I purchased an unlimited package that is good through the end of August and have already registered for all of the 6am classes. The cool part about going to classes is getting the benefit of the background the instructors bring, besides the yoga (or any type of group class). One of my instructors is a therapist. The instructor uses the therapy background in how she talks to the class and what she has us think about. Many times, there is a theme. The theme of the past week was “chaos.” She basically stated that chaos is supposed to be in our life, and what if we accepted it. The urge is to fix or avoid chaos. Instead, she asked us to acknowledge it, and stop there. I have to say that I love these life lesson thoughts early in the day and it gave me something to think about while walking home. When I arrived home and opened my apartment door I felt welcomed by my chaos. It was a comfortable and familiar feeling, which seemed like a good thing, to me.
Although the lesson came after, I thought about the Startup Grind event I hosted a couple of days earlier. My challenge was carrying all the stuff needed. I opted to take the bus and be at least a little bit closer to the final destination. Even though what I carried fit with what is usually seen on the bus, I still found it a little bit funny. You’ll get the idea if you look at the featured photo. What I carried included a banner, a tripod, a couple of cloth Meijer bags, and I wore a backpack. Someone on the bus was nice enough to get up so I could have easy access to two seats by myself. Once off the bus, I had about 3 blocks to walk, and an elevator to ride.
When it comes to the event chaos, I’m getting better at managing it. The chaos comes because it is a mixture of people bringing their own challenges and chaos. I try to arrive early enough to take care of what I need to and then be fully focused on assisting everyone else. It is actually a fun challenge. Even someone who had bought a ticket ahead and knew he’d be late was able to be taken care of because I had that information. I plan to continue that practice and cannot wait for the next “lesson.” Welcome to my chaos! What is yours?
I just finished an excellent book called “The Linchpin” by Seth Godin. It would’ve fit well with the Business Book Lady and Kalamazoo Business Book Club discussions. My favorite point, the main point of the book, is that we all have art to give. Art, according to Godin, is “any original idea that can be a gift.” Godin also notes that there is labor involved: “Not the labor of lifting a brush or typing a sentence, but the emotional labor of doing something difficult, taking a risk and extending yourself.”
As I was reading the book, I was thinking about Godin’s concept of art. The art couldn’t be outside the box, either, because there is no guaranteed support or even the chance to complete (what Godin called “shipping.”) Instead, the creativity of the art is on the edge, where it is still recognizable, with a twist. I believe Hacker Gals would’ve fit since the goal was to have part maker space design, and part women’s organization, among other ideas. Those were all recognizable. Putting them together the way I did was the twist.
My life seems to be one of those twists, too, kind of like my favorite flavor of soft serve ice cream – mixing vanilla and chocolate. I’m coming up on a really good part, too. It’s like when you know your experience will change because you turned 16 to drive, except that is all you know. I’m getting to the part of school I’ve been wanting to do the most for the last couple of years. I couldn’t do these things now if I hadn’t taken the path I did, my “driver’s training.” The training is not easy, and definitely comes with obstacles. First of all, appealing to be able to receive financial aid.
Funny thing about liking school enough to earn degrees – they all add up to a lot of credit hours. Too many credit hours earned can be just as bad as too many credit hours attempted and not earned. The requirement for both is to appeal and provide documentation to prove your plan. I had to do it last school year, too. All I get out of the process is feeling like a human pinball being bounced around the machine. The biggest problem of being a part of the machine is that the departments don’t talk to one another. No one knows the entire process or what each step requires. I started this year with what I learned from last year, and made an appointment with financial aid. My paperwork was ok as written, except I needed to submit a graduation audit for my documentation. An audit required talking to an adviser in the college of my degree, and walk-ins weren’t available the day I was already on campus. When I talked to someone a week later and submitted paperwork to the registrar’s office, the auditor emailed me later that one part was missing. Meanwhile, financial aid had made it sound like the audit had to be completed before the appeal could be approved, which I told the auditor. A couple of days later, the missing paperwork was submitted, the auditor stated proof of the submission was all I needed for financial aid, and financial aid is reviewing my paperwork. Whew!
Another transition has been a change socially. It’s been weird not having friends to talk to as regularly. Maybe this is part of the “art” since it is something I have been doing even before reading “Linchpin” – reaching out to friends to support them, even when they do not ask. It has been special cause it has led to being able to see people who I haven’t seen much in the last year. I hope it has helped in return, too. Plus, today I received unexpected messages to join a couple of friends for dinner. That was super cool, even when I arrived after they were close to finishing. I wasn’t hungry and ordered food to go, which also worked well.
Connections have also been important to me. A former high school classmate reached out recently on Facebook. It was someone who I actually talked to in high school and at a reunion or two in-between because I remember having a conversation about writing. It turns out that is still what he does. I sent a message to have a short chat, and we discussed writing. I have to say that even though I haven’t read Science Fiction (or any fiction) lately, thinking about all I have learned or experienced lately I am inspired to take some of it and create stories. Maybe that’ll work out better than the songwriting attempts, or even help them.
My friends tonight asked what I was up to today, noting that it had been “7 hours” since I had been on Facebook. Even though I use messenger, I’m really not on Facebook that often and appreciate the separation of the apps. What a loaded question about my day. I was excited to say that I watched parts of the Startup Grind Europe conference which began about 3am here (9am in London). I also participated in the world record attempt for the largest live stream audience by watching the interview with Eric Schmidt of Alphabet. After dinner, I had to be home for an online work meeting, and now here I am writing this.
Oh, and I love the layout of my space! I worked on it Tuesday morning before my friend came to visit. Knowing that I was going to show it off was a great motivator!
An ice cream twist explanation of the day seems much simpler, don’t you think?
In my last blog post, I mentioned “taking back my space,” and I have made a great deal of progress. On Friday, the Salvation Army picked up just about everything I had ready to donate, including the chair, futon and filing cabinet. What I really find interesting is that it feels like I moved. I didn’t change locations at all. In fact, one of my friends asked if I was moving, and another friend noticed my answer, so maybe it was a question that multiple people had. I am not planning on moving. Part of the purpose for downsizing is to have items left that I can move myself. Mostly, though, the donation is to be able to enjoy more of the space in my apartment. I live in a studio, and I have accumulated a lifetime of stuff, some of which I definitely do not need anymore. Getting rid of bigger chunks, such as the futon, gives room to work on going through the rest. And, just space to work or rest better. It is great!
The other part I find interesting in this experience is that I am reminded of my first apartment from over seven years ago. I had a lot more stuff and it was a one bedroom with a living room and a kitchen and a fairly big full-size bathroom. When I originally moved in, I did not have a bed or even a futon, since both were bought later. I slept in my sleeping bag, which was on top of an exercise mat. The floor had carpeting, too. After I had been there around a month, one of my friends lent me an air mattress until I had a regular bed. Since that time, I have lived in three different houses (all four of those were also with my cat). Although it is inside of a house, the studio apartment is the first time I am back to an apartment (no cat). I am also back to sleeping on the floor, this time on purpose. It is actually really nice. I stuffed a couple of blankets with throw pillows and wrapped my sleeping bag around all of that to shape it, then put another blanket and bed spread on top. After sleeping on a mattress in my last place, I don’t mind being low to the ground. I like that the space is mobile – I don’t have to stick with the area I chose for my “bedroom.”
My favorite part, though? The wall space to do the inversions I learned in Yoga
It was hard to leave Chicago last week. Really hard. I noticed the same thing when I was in the San Francisco area in February for Startup Grind. Both times, I was connecting with people who I knew, making new friends, and learning. The education was through the sessions, discussions outside, and discovery of the area itself. I finally feel like I might not get quite as lost in downtown Chicago, for example. I can also name all the cities in the San Francisco Bay area I visited and sort of have an idea of where they are in relationship to each other. After all of that, returning to Kalamazoo has seemed so – ordinary.
Ordinary or not, it is still home, and I am always working to make my apartment, in particular, as comfortable as possible. Lately, I decided that as part of the downsizing of stuff, I need to go bigger in taking back my space. What I mean by that is I want to see more floor than furniture. I love having wood floors and I would actually love a reason to use my Swiffer. People have already tried talking me out of the next part. Just remember – I’m not asking anyone else to follow. This is my story. I’m taking back my space by donating all that I cannot carry on my own – my bookcase, my futon, a chair and a file cabinet. The futon has been my bed in the last year and a half. I’m going to create bean bag type chairs and sleep on those instead. The chair is always covered with stuff or hard to get to. For files, I have been using plastic tubs designed for file folders. The books are probably the toughest, since I have been trying to determine which ones I want to keep and which ones I don’t need or can go to the library and borrow. The books I keep are going in my plastic crates, which I can carry and stack.
To tie this together, I have been exploring internally, what I already have, as much as exploring externally when I go traveling. An afternoon of reading is just as joyful as walking around San Francisco or Chicago. I probably won’t get to add London like I was hoping to this month. It would have been a reunion since I miss my Startup Grind family. Plus, I would have a chance to start using my passport and explore another new area. That’s ok, though. I’m really excited about sharing my apartment transformation. Stay tuned!
I traveled by train to Chicago last weekend with the main purpose of attending a conference in the city. Instead of staying at one of the hotels hosting the conference, I chose to stay in a hostel. Part of the purpose of doing that was to save money since I wasn’t traveling with anyone in particular. Another reason was to meet new people. The cool thing was that it was well worth the choice. One of my roommates, Dylan, and one more person, Darcy, who I met while playing pool in the hostel lounge, were both attending the same conference. I not only made new friends, I had people to talk to sharing the same experiences. We had breakfast together at the hostel and met up at lunch time and the end of the conference sessions each day to at least check-in with each other. Since Dylan stayed longer, we also hung out the day after the conference until I had to leave. It was nice to have company and be able to relate our educational background and jobs, besides general interests.
The last night of the conference included a social. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. My roommate went ahead of me because she wanted to go to something else first. I had some work I had to finish, including this post here. It turned out that the social had the usual bar and seating areas, plus a photo booth. It also had DJs playing dance music and a good sized dance floor. By the time I made it to the social, the dance floor was packed. I hadn’t gone dancing like that since attending Michigan Jaycees conventions, although there have been a few good karaoke nights or bands to dance to during the last few years. The atmosphere, though, more resembled my convention experience, and I was ecstatic! The rule I have about dancing is that as long as there are people, I will go out on the floor. People usually let you in their circle if you ask or they see you nearby. I made quite a few new friends doing that, even though I might not see them again for a year. That also matches previous convention experience. The point, though, was that dancing gave me a chance to engage with what was happening right in front of me and I guarantee I was smiling! When the music is good, it is hard for me not to move.
The ironic part of all of this is that I am happy. Why is that so ironic? Cause I am finally, in the last 8 years or so, following what I really want to do. As I have changed my environment, the things I have always liked best – writing, photography, and traveling (at the least) have become main parts of what I do, allowing me to give back to my community through my efforts and and allowing me to feel like I am making a difference in the world. Maybe some would not call that successful or wonder why I am sticking to what is definitely non-traditional. I believe that if you’re not happy, then you are not being fulfilled in life. For some, that is a more traditional route. For me, I am making my path as I go along. It is not always easy. I love it, though, and would not be able to travel or contribute as I have more recently without these choices. What makes you happy?
The phrase in the title “The Seven-Year Itch” usually is about marriage. In my case, it’s how long I’ve been divorced. I noticed this recently because I changed my name back to my maiden name, which started conversations and questions. A common question was to ask if I recently got married. No one expects an answer to be “divorce” unless they have known me long enough to know about my previous relationship. A reason I even noticed the 7 years in particular was because I had to dig out my divorce decree as part of changing my name. It was the official paperwork, stamped and signed in February of 2009 which gave permission to return my name to “Stacy Belinsky.”
One of the first questions I had was “Why did it take so long?” At the time, there was a lot going on, and a long list of things to change. It was easier to leave my last name and wait. I had thought that if I waited more than a year that I would have to go through the name change process, which is expensive and time consuming. I’m quite glad that I was wrong!
Another meaning, to me, of “the seven-year itch” is change. Some changes come at you, whether you want them or not and whether you are warned or not. Meanwhile, there is a steady change going on in the background that is accumulating to something bigger. For example, I never thought I would end up as THE Startup Grind Chapter Director of Kalamazoo. It’s quite a different hat than I am used to because I am the one setting the stage, doing things I wasn’t before and finding coverage for what I was doing and cannot. It makes me quite aware and puts everything in slow motion.
Then there is school. For the first couple of years, the object was to work really hard and learn. When I added in psychology classes on top of writing classes, the amount of learning increased exponentially, at least. What’s really cool is that I am getting to the impact part – working on a collaboration of a journal article to be published later this year and (as part of the psychology program) working in a research lab starting in the Fall. Plus, thanks to one of my recent instructors, I have been meeting psychology graduate students in PhD programs. I am hoping that discussions started on campus will continue at a conference in Chicago, and allow for new people and discussions. Another hat and a new type of conference to attend. I am excited!
Writing has always been the backbone. It was the reason I wanted to return to school. Writing is what I enjoy doing the most and I find it something I need to do, too. Writing is the one part of Startup Grind that I consistently get to do, and even though it is a long shot, I’m even hoping to be able to attend the first Europe conference. I already know I could be one of the writers there. Traveling abroad is also a brand new hat, too, and part of the motivation for the timing of the name change – I want to study abroad before I finish my current program, and the first task on the list is to apply for a passport. I wasn’t going to apply until I changed my name, and that, of course, led to the “seven year itch” reference. Many of these changes I am doing as a part of my choices in life and the items mentioned are most recent. If I looked back at 7 years, the accumulation would be a long list. A reason for what I am doing now is because of items in the list from before that opened the opportunities. I can’t wait to see what is next! What are you up to?