September 24, 2012

Perspective Changes Everything

Perspective culminates from life experience, our situations, and the lives of those around us, resulting in a very personal vantage point to the world and society.  What I am continually learning as I make my way through life is that my perspective is always changing, like every day, even.  Every time my opinion of a situation is challenged by a new experience, or I’m enlightened by someone’s own perspective or story, I am again reminded how my perspective is always on the brink of transition.  This is one of the greatest treasures in life: the notion that we are always ourselves, but that we are always constantly in the midst of change and growth through our various life experiences. 

These experiences change us, hopefully more for the better than for the worse, and regardless they are unique to each of us.   Given the same experience, our perceptions and reactions to them are all so different.  I remember taking a trip to New York City shortly after graduating from college.  At the time, I was on a tight budget because I had so much student-loan debt, and while I wanted to go to the city my only option was to do it on the cheap.  And that, friends, included stuffing canned food and Balance bars in my duffel to save money on sky-high, New York food prices and traveling the seven-plus hours each way by Greyhound bus, which happened to break down en route to the city. 

While recalling how damn heavy my luggage was from all cans of food I had packed now makes me laugh/roll my eyes, I also look upon that memory with fondness.  It was a hustle-and-flow kind of attitude where I was going to make the best of a situation with what little I had.  I may not have been able to have it all, but I realized that I could still have some of it, which consisted of a no-frills trip to New York (because at the time there was no city beyond New York) that still included the essentials for me at the time:  a visit to the Museum of Natural History, strolling around Central Park, hanging out in The Village, and getting a makeup session at Henri Bendel, complete with Chef Boyardee in the evening at the Hotel Belvedere (which sounds fancier than it actually was, but heck it had an en-suite kitchenette and was in the heart of the Theatre District).   

Having since paid off student-loan debt and spent a few years in the workforce, things no longer need to always be so budget-friendly.  I've also learned that there are other cities to have love affairs with.  And while life is a little more comfortable, I haven’t forgotten those days of buying 69-cent bread at Walmart and stuffing my luggage with canned food.  I've also realized that while my perspective has shifted, life may be more comfortable when it’s a little more cushy, but it isn’t necessarily any more fun.  Some of my best memories were when I had the least, because it’s not what you have that matters, it’s your disposition on life. 

Just like I haven’t forgotten the days well before graduating from college thinking that it was realistic for every little girl to grow up and become a stay-at-home mom (I admit that was a secret fantasy of mine) simply because that’s what my mom did, so too did I eventually learn that most moms have to work and still other moms choose to work.  My perspective was again challenged when I since came to the realization that becoming a parent is not necessarily your only option in life, even if you have a spouse and a house.

Perspective changes everything, constantly challenging what you think you know and believe, and so too does it make you realize how many options and possibilities there are in life.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring and how it will make you view life? 

September 16, 2012

Change in Season = Change in Tune(s)

Do you begin to crave different music with the change in seasons?   I do. 

All summer I have been listening to carefree, upbeat, sexy music:  lots of '70s and '80s soul (i.e., Maze, The Jacksons, Buddy Miles), a bit of disco (such as the Boogie Nights soundtrack), some current and classic pop-rock (including John Mayer's new album, Robbie Dupree, Christopher Cross), and a bit of Jay-Z, in particular, The Blueprint 2. 

Music is often the backdrop of our lives, and with the transition from summer to fall resulting in a change in activity, temperment, and, to some extent, lifestyle, so too (at least for me) music is affected by this transition. 

Come fall, when the days begin to shorten and the air turns brisk, my desire for new music (at least this season) happens to consist of a more moody, mid-tempo, rock-based soundtrack than my sexy, soul-heavy summer soundtrack.  Herewith is my first playlist for fall:

  • “Girl Can’t Help It” Journey
  • “Still Can’t...” The Cranberries
  • “Carnival” Natalie Merchant
  • "Is This Love” Whitesnake
  • “I’ll Be Alright Without You” Journey
  • “Tin Man” America
  • “Tempted” Squeeze
  • “I Can’t Tell You Why” The Eagles
  • “Who’s Crying Now” Journey
  • “Lightening Crashes” Live
  • “Rhymes of an Hour” Mazzy Star
  • “Free” The Martinis
  • “Beautiful Calm Driving” Sia
  • “Last Goodbye” Jeff Buckley
  • “I Go To Sleep” Sia
  • “Levon” Elton John
  • “Bad Sneakers” Steely Dan
  • “What Goes Around Comes Around” Lenny Kravitz
  • “Knocks Me Off My Feet” Stevie Wonder
  • “Crystal Blue Persuasion” Tommy James & The Shondells
What are you listening to this fall?

September 3, 2012

The Fine Line Between Monotony and Routine

There is a fine line between monotony and routine, I believe.  On the one hand, to be successful at whatever it is you want to accomplish in life, some element of routine is necessary -- be it achieving success in your career, maintaining your physique, or being a good partner or parent.  But when routine starts to cross over into monotony, it's time to take reflect on whether the routine for this or that is still working. 

This happens to me every so often with my various routines, whether it be with my workout regimen, my post-work routine, or other rituals and habits.  Recently, I thought about whether I wanted to continue waking up at 5:30 a.m. to workout.  Getting up so early was beginning to feel restrictive, monotonous, and just plain annoying.  There were things I wanted to do, places I wanted to be, and having to be in bed by 9 p.m. so I could wake up so early to work out felt like it was getting in the way.  So I did what I do when things are dragging me down and took a couple days off so I could step back from my routine, something I've done pretty consistently since college.  When I thought about other alternatives, such as working out after work, when I generally have plans with friends, appointments, or just want to relax, I soon realized that trying to squeeze in an evening workout simply wouldn't happen because something would always be in the way, and then I'd be a miserable, out-of-shape little bitch.

My friend Carrie posted this on my Facebook wall a little while ago, knowing me all too well. 
But of course I had to give myself the chance to think about other possibilities, to have the freedom to choose (because I like my freedom!), at which point I realized that getting up early to workout -- something which provides me a lot of mental and physical satisfaction -- simply works for me.  The good of all this is that my pondering led me to make one little tweak: I reset my alarm clock from 5:30 to 5:45 a.m., a simple change in routine that added 15 minutes to my sleepy time.

I have said before that something I've been learning along the way is that my perspective is always evolving, resulting in sometimes changed opinions about things, which is why I think it's important to always be reflecting on what we want (and need) out of life at every given moment.  Is my routine actually leading me to a more rewarding, happy life, or has it become just an obligation that's leading me to no man's land? 

Sometimes our self-imposed schedules can get in the way of our goals, and ultimately our success in life.  For me, I believe the ultimate success is being in the present and living each day to the fullest.  Since the ultimate intent of a routine is to ideally help us attain our goals, they should not dictate the way we lead our lives, or more importantly, be the crux of a monotonous, boring life.  Instead, they should be the ingredient to a really great, full-bodied life.  Don't you agree?

In Sarah style, I'll end with a quote from Rilke which I read the other day in Letters on Life, a quote quite apropos for this subject: "You have to live life to the limit, not according to each day but according to its depth."  Perhaps easier said than done, but an enlightening perspective on achieving the good life.