2017 Reflections

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This, my 79th blog post, will be the last addition to the blog in 2017.  It’s hard to believe that I started this blog a full YEAR ago, publishing my first 432 words on January 2nd, 2017. As I was re-reading that first post, “The Optimization Operation“, I was struck by how much my simple site has evolved over the past year.

Since its inception, this project of mine has gone from “The Optimization Operation” to simply “Hannah Elizabeth.”  I’ve gone from 500 word posts to a standard 1000 words.  I have attended the BlogHer conference and gained a lot of interesting and useful knowledge.  My struggle for two weekly updates has settled into one.  My posts have been viewed as little as 8 times and as much as 165 times.  I’ve gained 71 followers.  I’ve received numerous compliments on my writing. Most of all, I’ve created something that I’m proud of.

When I first started this blog, I was determined to change my life around at a rapid-fire pace.  The idea of “optimization” seemed like something that would be noble to strive for, kicking me into high gear as I raced towards this always-out-of-reach goal of greatness.

However, it has morphed into more of a reflection space, a place where I can sort out what I think about certain things in my life and in the world, and hopefully help other people sort out what they think too.

As I look back on where I started the year, I’m honestly a little bit disappointed at where I ended up.  I feel like my projections of grandeur have dissolved into simple, ordinary life with no proof of concept.  I reached for the moon, and when I missed, I plummeted past the stars and slammed into Arkansas, and then built a hut and lived there whilst muttering about how the stars don’t shine that brightly anyways.

A bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but after re-reading how fresh and eager I was at the beginning of the year, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed in what little results I feel that I’ve produced.

A couple of days ago, I sat down with my notebook and wrote notes on every aspect of my life—teaching, fitness, dating, personal—and thought about what I have done well and what I have sucked at.  What I realized is, that this sort of activity should take place at least once a week because HOLY COW it was incredibly useful.

It’s amazing to me how much we put off creating habits that will benefit us.  Hmmm, I have ten minutes to spare…I could think about my day and pre-think through some things, or I can just scroll through Instagram…yeah, I need to catch up on puppy memes.  I find myself mindlessly doing shit like that ALL. THE. TIME.  And honestly, it’s not even a struggle because the thought of being productive for a spare 10-20 minutes doesn’t even usually cross my mind.  Which is completely sad…and completely normal for most people in the world.

Even though I am not religious anymore, as I try to steer myself towards a place of productivity and growth, I can see the benefits of religious practices: finding a daily quiet place for reflection and prayer/meditation, focusing on things of a higher nature both morning and night, living for a higher purpose….all of these things lead to a deep, calming centeredness and sure, steady steps towards the end goal.

With the realization that you cannot keep your engine turbo charged at all times without stopping to clean and rest and rebuild, my focus moving towards 2018 is going to be one of deliberate reflection, renewal, and movement:

  1. I will meditate for 10 minutes a day.
  2. I will set aside time every week for reflection on all aspects of my life.
  3. I will create a mantra for myself that I put on my bathroom mirror and repeat every morning and every night.
  4. I will take the time to create a vision board.
  5. I will utilize the Power List created by Andy Frisella (if you don’t listen to his podcast, check it out!)

This list contains only 5 things.  But they are ALL new habits.  And as easy as bad habits are to form, good habits are like sparks if you don’t have the proper plan: bright for a second and vanishing fast.

And so, I need a plan:

  1. Meditation:  I will set a reminder on my phone at 4pm, the time I usually arrive home from school.  I will do my utmost to not allow myself to do anything else until I have meditated.
  2. Reflection.  I will write this into my calendar (which I use on a daily basis).  I will also purchase a notebook to be used only for these weekly reflections.
  3. Mantra: I will put time and thought into creating these words that I will tell myself.  They will be put on the mirror where my face usually goes when I open the door.
  4. Vision Board:  I will go to Barnes and Noble and purchase several magazines that contain the message I want to send myself.  I will pin them to the bulletin board I already own.
  5. Power List:  Starting January first (basic, I know), I will utilize my reflection notebook for creating my daily power lists.  I will also put the first three items from this list onto my power list until they become habits.

If you notice, my plan for action includes things that will ENCOURAGE and make it EASIER for me to complete these daily habits.  They are in no way a GUARANTEE of success.  What this means is that it all comes down to me.  How bad do I want to improve?  How much do I want to succeed?  How many times am I willing to fail and give it another try tomorrow?  How long am I willing to struggle with it until it becomes easy?

There is no one path to success.  We are all just trying to figure it out, one messy step at a time.  But the armies who have a plan ultimately triumph over fools who grab a torch and run screaming into battle.

Last year, I was the fool.  This year, I will be the victor.

What about you?

The Infamous Flow

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Lately I’ve been perusing the endless possibilities of Bumble.  I’ve been on several dates, none of which (obviously) have manifested into the love of my life, but they’ve mostly all been interesting albeit a let down when it doesn’t move forward, especially because I actually enjoy meeting random people and hearing their perspective on life.

One date in particular, recently, was a bit of a disappointment.  We met on Thursday, had sushi and some wine, talked for HOURS without pause, and in general had an awesome time.  I came home on a high, and excitedly told all my girlfriends what a great time we had had.

A couple of days go by, and no second date invitation seemed to be forthcoming.  Determined to not slip silently into Bumble oblivion, I threw out a message saying what a great time I had had, and if he was free Monday or Tuesday, I’d love to get together again.

Crickets.

Needless to say, I was pretty bummed.  And immediately fell to analyzing anything that could have gone wrong.  Was it because of the holiday weight? (Damn you Christmas Walk cookies!) The zit that had popped up on my face hours prior to the date?  The fact that I seemed TOO interested?  Not interesting enough?  Perhaps because my hair was day-old curls and not fresh ones?  I could go on.

Of course, all craziness aside, it just simply comes down to the fact that he, for whatever reason, was not into me. *womp womp*.  No matter how much I wish I could capture his affection, I can’t.  End of story.

People always tell me to just ‘go with the flow’ and ‘it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen’.  If you know me at all, you know that this seriously goes against my usual M.O.  I am (most times) a take charge, get-this-shit-done-NOW, no excuses type of person.  Sitting back and allowing love to manifest seems appealing to me; actually waiting for it to happen does not.  When I get an idea in my head, I cannot put it off for later; it must be accomplish ASAP.

Yet, as with all great things, you cannot force amazing things to happen; all you can do is put in the ingredients for success, stir it up a bit, and hope that it works.

For example, in teaching, I cannot walk in to the classroom and expect my students to instantly respect and adore me (as much as they totally should *hair toss*).  I have to come in and show them that I care.  I have to plan lessons that don’t suck.  I have to make sure that I listen when they are struggling.  I have to make class fun yet productive.  All of the ingredients can be carefully portioned out and folded together with a gentle yet masterful hand, and there will still be those days where that one girl in the second row gives you so. much. attitude.  Yet despite those few anomalies, if the ingredients are quality, the product will be amazing 9 times out of 10 IF you don’t open the oven every two seconds to check how it’s doing.

Similarly, I also cannot force myself to have the perfect bikini body, as much as I wish I could snap my fingers and look like Kim Kardashian.  Instead, I need to stick to my diet, exercise, refrain from alcohol (sob), and trust in that process to slowly change my body, however long it takes.  I cannot starve myself for a week and expect miracles.

Likewise, I am now acknowledging (slowly but surely) that I cannot will my perfect person into my life.  I simply have to create a more perfect version of myself, solidify what I want, and allow my vibes to permeate the universe and attract someone when they’re meant to come in to my life.

Which low-key DRIVES ME CRAZY.

But throughout all of my dating shenanigans, I have refused to compromise on what I want in a guy.  Which I haven’t found yet.  And that brings me to my conundrum:  how will I find my person if I don’t make SOME effort, yet why am I wasting my time on dates when I need to be focusing on the goals that I have set for myself?  How can I attract the right person into my life if I spend all my time looking for the person and not actually building myself into the person that my perfect person would love?

Truthfully, I can’t.  I need to take a step back and just….be.  And there are times that I do-I go through cycles, like I think that everyone does.

While ruminating on it, I’ve realized that failing at dating seems a lot less scary than failing at my goals.  Everyone fails at dating.  It’s normal.  It’s accepted.  It’s expected that date after date will turn into a great big nothingness (until the magical moment that it doesn’t).  Yet trying to do things that other people don’t normally do, such a blogging, a podcast, a second side career, writing books…failing that that seems more REAL.  More hurtful.  More in-your-face.

Not trying isn’t scary at all.  It gives you a lot of free time.  Yet one of my Bumble dates made a great observation when he said “the world is our oyster”.  Why wouldn’t I try to gather as many pearls as I can?

So, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, I’m going “shake it off, shake it off” and turn my focus to what I want to do that will just be the cherry on top of my already full life.  I need to stop the bullshit and simply DO.

And so, dear readers, expect big things in my next year of blogging.  I’ll keep you updated, and you can keep me accountable.

2018—you’re MINE.