Life Goals Achieved This Week

I actually don’t have that many life goals.

I used to, but I either 1) achieved them already, or 2) gave up on them.

The big one I gave up on was graduate school and becoming a college professor. At one time, it was my only goal; now it’s something I have absolutely zero interest in doing. Every once in a while my mother suggests I go back to school, or asks when I am going back to school. I always respond by blankly staring at her, because really how many times do I have to explain this?

Really I think my absence of life goals at this point in my life has to do with that fortune cookie I got years ago that read: those who expect nothing never find themselves disappointed.

As pathetic as that fortune cookie is, it’s so truthful it stings.

So I don’t have many goals anymore. More I have things I would like to do, because they’d be fun or whatever. But if I don’t end up doing them before my untimely demise (because whenever I kick it, it’ll surely be untimely) – oh well.

Life is too short, and I have too much to value in my life now, to be constantly chasing dreams.

(I realize that this philosophy spits in the face of every pithy inspirational quote you have ever seen.)

This week has been pretty strange, though. I’ve done a lot of things – verifiably dumb things – that were they listed among my life’s goals and dreams, I would have a considerable number of check marks added to that list.

I finally offended someone over the matter of pizza.

I say some really shitty things about pizza in California to people. I mean that I am pretty surprised that I haven’t offended anyone up to this point over the matter of pizza – really, I am surprised.

When my in-laws and I tried a new pizza place in town last year, I told them I would rather lick the inside of my husband’s ear than eat there again.

I have brought my own homemade pizzas to a pizza party where the pizza was already provided because local pizzerias make me queasy.

I’m a jerk, and over a really stupid issue. I know.

But really…is pizza a stupid issue? If you’re from Chicagoland area, like I am, no. No, pizza is not a stupid issue, and never a laughing matter.

So my mother came over for dinner the night before Mother’s Day, for an early celebration. She asked what our plans were the following day, and my kids told her that among our other things, we had special ordered some pizzas from Giordano’s – one of our favorite pizzerias in Chicago, that just happens to ship frozen pies around the country.

Then the kids told her how expensive they were and my mother’s response (and tone) showed how clearly offended she was over the matter:

“Oh, well …I had a slice of pizza the other day for $5 but I guess that isn’t good enough for people who have $60 to drop on frozen food.”

Life goal to offend someone over the matter of pizza? Achieved.

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My Boob Fell Out of My Tank Top At Staples

My body has been pretty weird lately. Awkward, maybe is the right way to put it.

And as a result of this awkwardness, I’ve been especially attached to my yoga pants, hoodies, and bra tank tops lately.

So there I was, picking up my copy and print order at my local Staples office supply store, and I dropped my keys on the floor. I bent down to pick them up and WHOOP – my boob plum fell out of my top.

The offending tank top was pretty small to begin with, and I honestly hadn’t been expecting to go anywhere that day. Fortunately, the guy ringing up my copy and print order didn’t notice as I quickly tucked myself back in while I stood back up.

Or at least he didn’t let on that he had seen anything.

Life goal to give up so much that body parts arbitrarily fall out of my slovenly clothing while out in public? Achieved.

I’ve Learned To Swallow Food Whole

I don’t know if I should be proud or horrified by this, but if I had a life goal to learn how to swallow my food whole – as in no chewing or silverware involved – well, then I have mastered this one. Oh, have I mastered it.

It started Monday night. My husband worked really late, and I was awake at about three o’clock in the morning after he texted me about how late he’d be getting home. Suddenly I realized that the reason I couldn’t get back to sleep was because I was starving – I mean I was so hungry I could have eaten anything… anything…

So I got up and grabbed a couple bananas, but was so tired I just wanted the eating process to be over with. Long story short, I unintentionally engaged in some pseudo-erotic, middle-of-the-night, whole banana consumption. My appetite was immediately satisfied and I was sawing logs within five minutes.

Then tonight it was time to make supper for myself and the kids, and we were all so hungry we could barely stand it. I went to make something quick (a box of some kind of quickie angel hair pasta dish), but it needed milk and we had run out earlier in the day. Feeling uninspired to cook anything but a throw-together box meal, we ended up desperately grabbing my purse and running out the door to go to In N Out.

By the time we got to In N Out, ordered our food, sat in the characteristically never-ending line, and got our food, my stomach was starting to feel queasy from having been so empty. So I took out my grilled cheese sandwich and scarfed it in about one, large bite.

Unlike the banana situation from Monday night, I was still hungry.

So the moral of the story is that were I to set life goals for myself at this particular stage, they would have to be pretty low brow. Don’t expect too much, or anything, because I clearly have little to give.

But it makes for a good story, right?

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I’m a loser, baby

If you’re like me, any thought of the 90s is immediately accompanied by a music flashback to Beck’s Loser.  I have many-a-fond memories of kicking back in high school and loving Beck more than life, itself.  Like many other teens during the dawn of teen angst, that song was my battle cry; and very likely, I was just as much a loser as the next kid.

So it should come as no surprise, then, that even hearing or reading about losers harkens me back to that song of my youth.  This morning, reading Darren Hardy’s How to Be a Loser blog post was no different.  The publisher of SUCCESS magazine, Hardy blogged with intention to look at what makes a loser from a satirical standpoint … a guide, so to speak, to becoming one of those many people walking around with the big L dangling from their forehead.

The thing about Hardy’s blog is that, while it raises some excellent points, it also is a bit too general to hit the mark on each point.  In one instance, Hardy says you can make yourself a loser by never setting goals and only taking things day by day.  Sure, this may be true in some instances, but it is so general and does not necessarily apply to everyone.  There is such a thing as getting too out of control with your goals; and for some going through major life issues (marriage, divorce, new baby, death in the family) day-by-day is the only way to survive.  Ultimately, I think the blog would have been more effective if Hardy had gone with a straight-forward approach; his backhanded way of talking about loserdome just doesn’t jive with the advise he is trying to give.

Beyond that, though, I think the idea of how to be a loser is still a good one.  This week has been all about balance:  the healthy way to live life to its fullest.  With that and Hardy’s blog post in mind, I decided to create my own list of ways to be a loser.

I’m a loser, baby #1:  

Lose sight of happiness in the name of undefinable goals

We all know someone that has done this.  Rather than let themselves live in the present, they are so far in the future and/or the past that they can’t even tell you what they are feeling right now, let alone whether or not they are happy.  And in many cases, they come to the end of the rope only to realize that everything they gave up was not worth it.  Goals and plans are important, but there is something to be said for being both emotionally and physically present in the now.  And hey:  you never know what could happen – you could leave for work tomorrow and get hit by a truck.  Laying on the concrete, dying, will you regret not having savored life now at least once in a while?

I’m a loser, baby #2:  

Always eliminate people and things from your life that deviate from the way you are

It is astonishing sometimes to hear people say that they broke up with someone because they saw things differently, or that they decided to give up certain things in their life because it got in the way with what was most important to them:  them.  Yesterday we talked about things the world doesn’t stop for... I’ve got news for you, faithful blog followers, you are included in that list of things.  Life is about both a give and a take; and the truth to the matter is there is not one person or thing on this planet that will see entirely eye-to-eye with you.  Some (myself included) might even go as far as to say that people who are much different than you are good in the sense that they offer a more well-rounded view of your otherwise closed circuit life.

I’m a loser, baby #3:  

Never take risks.  Ever.

I recently read Eric Sevareid’s “Canoeing with the Cree,” which is a true memoir about a 2250 mile canoeing trip up the Missouri River into Canada.  The trip took place in the 1930s and had never been done before, let alone by two 18 year olds, fresh out of high school.  The main focus of discussion at my book club (which the book was read for) was focused on this idea of risks:  that we do not take risks anymore, be it physical or emotional risks, like they did less than a century ago.  Life is about continual leaps of faith, and to think of anything as a safe venture is just foolish.

I’m a loser, baby #4:  

Don’t keep things in perspective

Ever talk to someone that blows everything so far out of proportion, and gets so caught up in the “what if”s and “I assume”s of the situation that it makes you want to stick a piece of dynamite in your ear and make your own head explode before they get a chance to do it with their incessant blathering?  This can go a lot of ways.  One is in the case of the overachieving idealist.  Sure, it’s great to have ideals and forward-thinking ways of living; but it’s another thing to not look at the situation realistically and pragmatically.  Another is in the case of someone that acts as though a minor event is the absolute end of the world.  It’s not, bitch.  Get some perspective.

I’m a loser, baby #5:  

Constantly blame other people for your problems

There are certainly a lot of things out of your control; just as a lot of times people around you influence you to do things you may have otherwise not done.  But enough with the blame-game, loser.  Nothing is more annoying than someone that cannot take responsibility for any of his or her actions; especially when they go as far as to suggest a change in the way things happened, or put words in people’s mouths or assign intentions in people’s minds.  Chances are, unless you are 15 years old or a complete douche, you were at least 80% responsible for the situation you are blaming others for.

Am I a loser, baby?  Some people might say I am.  I certainly try and avoid the five scenarios above, and in fact, I generally try and live by (at least most of) Hardy’s list too.  But then it takes one to know one, doesn’t it?

What’s In a Goal?

Once upon a time, I was a philosophy major.  Of course by “once upon a time,” I mean about a year ago; and by “I was a philosophy major,” I mean I was a graduate school slave.  Regardless of what I did or when it was, a lot of what I learned still sticks with me today.  No doubt it will for a long time.  So when I came across a blog the other day devoted entirely to ways you can sacrifice for some grandiose (yet undefinable) goal so far down the line that you don’t even know if you will be alive to do that thing that you have not even defined, I turned to my philosophical training to determine whether this blog was legit or just more bad personal ethics our generation seems to be addicted to.

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m all for sacrificing a Starbucks a week so that you can stop charging Christmas presents every year.  And I think that saving for retirement is essential in an age when social security is dwindling.  But there are those practical things everyone should do to have a more balanced life, and just making yourself completely miserable by sacrificing everything for goals that you, yourself, cannot even truly and specifically determine.  On this topic, Speiman said something that will always stick with me in one of his many essays on Aristotle’s ethics and the road to happiness (and I am, of course, paraphrasing):  how often is it you attain a goal only to find out that what you sacrificed in the process was not worth it?

What a powerful statement that is.  How often is it you attain a goal only to find out that what you sacrificed in the process was not worth it?  I think the perfect example of this is in the case of a person that sacrifices everything for their career.  Family is put on the backburner, or abandoned altogether; friends are reserved for only when it is absolutely convenient.  Personal health is even bargained when stress levels and the toll of physical exhaustion are ignored in the face of career advancement.  And on many occasions, what seemed to be the right path ended up being the worst road that could be taken, even a dead end.  When I worked in pharmacy, we used to say all the time:  “when I’m on my deathbed, I won’t be thinking I wish I had worked just another day in pharmacy…I’ll be saying I wish I had worked just one day less.”  Truer words were never spoken.

But it goes beyond that.  I had a friend a few years ago that signup up to run in the Chicago marathon.  This is a real fad right now:  everyone seems to be interested in pushing their physical limit in the name of some vague philanthropic goal.  (Kudos to those that do, but the status quo of it all has become a little overkill.)  From the get-go, her physical limitations were at odds with her completion of the marathon.  Ignoring the advise of her physician that said her already-present back problems would only be worsened by running on a regular basis, she decided she was going to do it no matter what it took.  For the five months of training, she was in daily pain – sometimes so bad that prescription strength painkillers did nothing.  In the end, she threw her back out a week before the marathon and was unable to run (barely even able to walk).  It has been two years, now, and her back problems have only been made worse by her stubborn attempts to defy all the odds.  She did not even attain her goal and now contends that even had she it would not have been worth it.  … only to find out that what you sacrificed in the process was not worth it…

Speiman’s whole point is that there is a happy medium, what Aristotle called the Golden Mean.  On either extremes, there is only suffering.  In the case of the work-aholic (what I think is the most relevant for people of the 21st century), on the lower extreme there is unemployment, poverty, and desolation; on the upper extreme there is loneliness, materialism, and a life not well lived.  But in the middle – in the compromise, the best of both worlds – there can be goals attained that do not require such life-changing sacrifices.  Ultimately, trying to live life so grossly out of balance is like an elephant standing on a beach ball:  it may be great for an occasional circus trick, but in the end the elephant just comes toppling down.

How often is it you attain a goal only to find out that what you sacrificed in the process was not worth it?  I think the truth to the whole matter is that sacrifice in the strictest sense is rarely a necessity when a healthy balance is always in sight, in everything you do.  Thus, I think the only real goal anyone should be working towards is in avoiding that problem altogether.  The whole idea of a goal or a sacrifice does seem irrelevant when you consider that in living a life of balance, happiness comes naturally and no sacrifices or goals are even necessary because they have already been achieved.