What is important?



I often worry about priorities and what is important in life.  I make to-do lists; I get frustrated with myself when I don’t accomplish what I have deemed to be reasonable (and usually isn’t); I worry about little, minute details of life; I stress about almost everything.  What does all that worry and stress and driven perfectionism accomplish?  Do I actually think that I am always doing what is important?


In fact, I often feel like I have wasted my days.  For instance, I spent almost three hours in Target this morning agonizing over the purchase of some baby clothes.  Three hours!  Are those clothes that important?  Definitely not.  But I certainly acted like they were.  I spent 1/8 of my day worrying about them.  I made them that important rather than focusing on things that are truly important (not the fifty-six cents I saved by using my 10% off coupon and carefully selecting the ideal baby dress).

However, rather than beat myself up about it any more than I already have, I found this quote.

This helped me realize that while I consciously have decided that I waste time stressing and worrying and being a perfectionist, I unconsciously have decided that those activities are important because I spend my life doing them.  However, this is something that I want to change.  I want to relax and be more flexible and spontaneous.  And I want to enjoy my life more, after all, I am exchanging part of my life for everything that I do, so I should make it worthwhile.



Though I am a day late, I thought I would share my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 with you all.  Without further ado…

I am resolved…

… to get into better shape by maintaining a daily pilates or yoga practice five days a week and by walking at least four days a week.

… to read the Word of God daily.  My friend Megan and I are following a combination Old Testament and New Testament plan together.  I think (rather, I know) that the accountability will be motivating and humbling.

… to read two books a week.  Since graduating, I have sadly neglected to read as much as I should, though I do still love to read.  Any suggestions are welcome. 🙂

… to post at least weekly.  This resolution is a bit undefined at the moment since I am still attempting to realize which of the many blogs I have I should focus on and how many I can reasonably maintain.  I love this blog too much to give it up entirely, so I will probably use it to post random, personal thoughts rather than have a specific purpose… at least for now.  I’ll update you on my other blog projects as they develop.

… to listen to music daily.  Somehow, I have fallen out of my old habit of listening to music all the time.  I blame a previous addiction to TV.  However, since I am no longer watching TV and rarely watching movies (combined with the fact that I love music and hate silence), I have determined to listen to music daily while I walk, work around my house, or sit in a coffee shop writing.

… to try one new recipe or cooking idea each week.  These attempts will be blogged about over at cupcakescoffeeandcoconut.wordpress.com.  I’m excited to see what I discover!

In contrast with previous years, I have not resolved to embark on major changes, rather just to be dedicated to what I am already working on.  If I happen to learn Italian or take more pictures, then so be it.  But for now, I’m just going to live my life with more focus and intention.


I’ve always dreaded physical fitness.  From waking up to my mother jumping up and down to the oldies while doing Aerobics when I was growing up to the exercise regime and (perceived) constant criticism of my how fit I was, I developed a hatred of anything and everything related to exercise and used this hatred of exercise as a form of rebellion throughout my college years.  I know, I should have rebelled using some method that wasn’t also self-destructive, but you live and learn, right?

It wasn’t until I moved home from China with my husband in February and into my friend’s house that I really actually began to get somewhat serious about fitness for several reasons.

  1. I wasn’t as thin as I used to be despite losing weight in China (perhaps my mother’s exercise regime did some good after all?).
  2. I wanted to be attractive, not only to my husband, but also just in general.
  3. I’d known for approximately a year and a half that my cholesterol was dangerously high and had taken small steps to work on it but hadn’t really been that serious about it.  The threat of beginning lifelong medication in my early twenties should have been more motivating…
  4. I wanted to live a simpler, healthier lifestyle and take care of the body I have since it is, after all, the only body I’m ever going to have.

So with my friend’s encouragement and love of fitness, I painstakingly began to actually work out regularly for the first time in years and not just count the walking around whatever town I lived in as daily exercise.  She had a Pilates DVD, so I started off slowly.  Ten minutes a day five days a week at first.  Then twenty minutes a day five days a week.  Finally, thirty minutes a day five days a week and occasionally the entire fifty minute DVD.  Since it was too cold to run or jog outside (oh the joys of living in the Midwest during the winter!), I was limited to Pilates and my bundled-up walks downtown.

I began to see results.  Nothing drastic by any means, but I had slightly tighter abs and more toned arms and legs.  I had more energy.  I could wear skinny jeans for the first time in my life.  My thighs had always been too big, which I attribute to years of ballet and soccer followed by years of weight gain and lack of exercise to tone the muscular tree trunks that I had developed.  I was on a roll, exercising regularly and eating much healthier.  As the weather warmed up, I even began to occasionally run.  I felt great!  I was confident and hopeful that I would continue this healthier lifestyle for a long, long time.

Then I moved to Portland.  With no access to the Pilates DVD since I was too broke to afford one, I stopped exercising.  I didn’t even run since I was living with a friend and had to abide by her schedule while looking for an apartment, a schedule that meant only being home to sleep.  While I didn’t gain any weight, I lost the muscle tone I had been developing.  I was walking around more than ever, but that was it in terms of exercise.  I was discouraged.

Once my husband John and I moved into our own apartment, I thought about exercising.  I wanted to exercise and regain the muscle tone I had lost.  I wanted to continue to be fit and healthy.  I was walking even more than before due to a lack of car, a lack of bicycle, and a lack of money to buy a transit pass.  In fact, I walked just over a mile to and then from work five days a week.  But even in combination with trying to eat healthier, I wasn’t seeing real results.  I lost some weight, but wasn’t getting toned.  I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my appearance, especially since any weight I had lost only accentuated the weight I hadn’t lost in my stomach and thighs.

Finally, after several months of hating my appearance, I checked out the Pilates DVD I had used in Ohio from the local library.  But I lacked the motivation to begin again.  Beginning is always the hardest part.  It took feeling like I looked pregnant, being upset that my jeans were wearing out after seven months before they were falling off, the prospect of seeing friends from Ohio and wanting to be thinner, the prospect of going to the doctor to be weighed, continued discussions (and consequent guilt) about healthy living (aka eating and exercising) with John, and getting a bike only to realize that I wasn’t in the same shape I had been the last time I had owned a bike to actually motivate me to start exercising again.  Wow, am I stubborn!

Daunted, I didn’t do so well the first two weeks.  I had set unreasonable goals and got stuck in failure.  However, since I really dislike my stomach and thighs, I reevaluated my goals this week and set smaller, achievable goals.  I can always go above and beyond these goals if I really want to (now that would be quite the accomplishment!).  So far, I’ve stuck with them, and exercising is getting easier and more enjoyable.  In addition to riding my bike to work (hooray for a shorter commute!), I decided to do twenty minutes of Pilates at least four times a week.  Also, I am going to go on two or three bike rides this week – the first of which will be tonight once it is not blistering hot outside.

I’ve already done Pilates twice this week, and since I don’t work mornings for the next three days, I plan to do Pilates all three of those days.  I may need to plan time for an extra long bike ride to prepare for the 7-miles-one-way jaunt that I planned for Monday.  Oops.  It’s a start.  And while I’m sure my weight won’t be what I want it to be at my doctor’s appointment next Wednesday, I’m sure it won’t be as bad as it once was either (a number so high it is unpublishable).  I am starting to be toned again (perhaps I can buy a size smaller in my jeans?).  Most importantly, I have more energy and feel healthier, a definite step on my way to being confident with my body again.

I’ll keep you all updated on my fitness progress…. perhaps I’ll even investigate a widget or chart or something to track what I’ve done.

What is your favorite workout routine?

Post #65 – Reading minds for a day?

Insecurity plagues me sometimes, particularly when I wonder what people think of me.  Do they really like me?  Or are they just being nice?  Do they really think I’m a good writer, or are they just trying to encourage me?  Does he think I’m attractive or fat?  The list goes on and on, especially on days that I’m down.  I often people watch while sitting in coffee shops and ponder what people think of me, both the people that pass me by and the people that really know me.

So, if given the chance to read minds for a day, I would seriously contemplate the pros and cons of doing so.  I could discover what people really think of me, both those who think well of me and those who don’t.  Would the confirmation of my friends’ love really be worth any potential bad feeling I stumbled upon?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  Though I do already know people who genuinely don’t care for me, so perhaps finding out that more people could feel that way wouldn’t hurt as much as the betrayal I felt when I discovered that some people close to me genuinely don’t care for me.  Ok, let’s be real.  It would still hurt to find out that anyone doesn’t like me, and I have no reason to distrust what my close friends say to me.  So perhaps reading minds for a day to discover what people think of me would end badly.

I could use the power for good though.  I could learn what my friends really like and surprise them with gifts or excursions or whatnot.  I could learn what they are intimidated by or afraid of and encourage them.  Somehow, I don’t think this justifies reading minds for a day.  I could just ask them these things and be open about my own likes and fears.  Then we would all know.

So I suppose that I would not read minds for a day if given the choice.  The risks outweigh any potential benefits.  This is one time that I would rather not be sorry than safe.

Post #56 – What gets better with age?

Hmmm… this is an interesting topic.  What gets better with age?  Since I’m 23 and consider myself relatively young in the scheme of adulthood, I don’t know too much about aging outside of the general growing up experience.

I do know that red wine gets better with age.  After trying some expensive wine at Morton’s The Steakhouse on my honeymoon and trying older wines while in China, I can say that old red wine is better than new red wine.  I think in general old alcohol is better than new alcohol, but to be honest, I don’t drink much so I don’t really know.  Serve me a Killian’s Irish Red with my dinner, and I’ll be happy!

When I was growing up, I expected my relationship with my parents to get better with age.  I figured that as I got older I would understand their perspective more and that they would treat me like an adult.  I thought we would be able to resolve our differences.  Sadly, as of right now, we aren’t even talking anymore.  I suppose at some point we will talk through all that has happened, but until that point, my relationship with my parents is one thing I expected to get better than just hasn’t.

As for one thing I didn’t expect to get better with age that did, I would have to say that my weight and general fitness has improved rather than getting worse.  Of course, I haven’t had kids yet, but still.  I figured my weight and fitness level would stabilize when I grew up and got a big kid job that didn’t allow for me to make drastic changes to my lifestyle.  But recently, I have lost weight and begun to exercise, so I am slimmer and healthier than I have been in as long as I can remember!  And the best part is that I am still losing weight!  I love Pilates and eating healthy, delicious food.  Also, I love discovering new recipes that help accomplish the eating of healthy, delicious food.

What do you think gets better with age?

Post #53 – How long could I go without a shower?

Today’s post is about how long I could go without a shower, which is ironic because I just showered for the first time since Saturday afternoon.  I suppose I could go one more day without a shower, but after that I would certainly feel too dirty.

I usually shower every single day.  I have the world’s most unruly, untamable curly hair.  Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but just barely.  It sticks up awkwardly when I wake up.  And it gets greasy really quickly, especially when I do straighten it.  The only way to tame it is to wash it, put some gel in it, and hope for the best.  Hence the daily showers.

Sometimes, I go a day without a shower.  But I don’t think I could go much longer than that, although it would depend on a couple different variables.  What does my hair look like?  Is it greasy?  Do I stink?  What am I doing today?  Should I look presentable or can I just chill out in sweats?  I admit that I am a bit of a clean freak.  I really enjoy my showers.  I use them much like many people use coffee.  My showers wake me up in the morning.  They are my few minutes alone before entering the crazy and occasionally overwhelming world.  I like them.  I could probably go two or three days without a shower, but I just don’t like to.  I like my daily showers.

On beginnings

Beginning #1 – posting on this blog again.  I am ashamed to admit that my posting has fallen by the wayside as of late… well, the past few months.  So I am going to make a concerted effort to post regularly once more.  I am also working daily on my latest blog (I know… a new one when I can’t keep up with the old???) www.rachelbuckingham.wordpress.com.  This new blog is about beginning #2 which is…

Beginning #2 – China.  You know, the whole nation. 🙂  Ok, not really.  Actually it is about beginning a new life in China and adjusting to the culture.  So far, it is good.  It is hard.  It is overwhelming, and also surprisingly simple.  Some aspects feel so natural; others feel so foreign and alien that I have trouble even comprehending them.

Beginning #3 – a new career.  Yup.  I have started all over once again.  After graduation, it wasn’t grad school like I had anticipated.  It was being a secretary at the Language Company-Bowling Green – an ESL school affliated with BGSU.  Now, I have quit that job to move to China to teach English as a foreign language with my husband, John.  Which brings me to beginning #4…

Beginning #4 – my recent marriage.  Tomorrow is our one month anniversary!  And while I am excited, I am also sad that since I am in China and don’t speak more than 10 words of Mandarin, I have no idea how to celebrate or make our day special.  Aside from that however, marriage is spectacular.  Yes, it is work and it is hard and frustrating at times.  But it is so good.  My husband loves me, and he loves God more than me, which is fabulous!  We are growing together and going on adventures.  We are pursuing our dreams!  I feel loved and supported and encouraged every single day!  I am so blessed to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.  🙂

Beginning #5 – this is kind of an old beginning, but still more recent than my last post… oops.  Graduation.  I graduated from Bowling Green State University with a B. A. in English Literature (and a 3.45 GPA that just barely kept me from graduating with honors. :()  Real life began quickly since I started my secretary job two days before graduating.  Ohhhh… and I was proposed to (and said yes!) one week after graduation.  When it rains, it pours I suppose.  Or maybe the more appropriate saying is that life comes at you fast.

So yeah… lots of beginnings and changes in my life.  Keep checking back for updates!