How To Get What You Deserve

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on May 28, 2008
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trish ryan book.

I had been reading Trish’s Dishes — Trish Ryan’s blog — for a few months before her memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, came out. When I was picked at random to receive an advance publicity copy, I was thrilled. After all, Trish’s blog is always entertaining, and her protracted quest for a spiritual home reminded me of my own.

When I sat down with her book, though, I was still wary. My own spiritual journey had led me away from my Roman Catholic upbringing, while Trish’s had led her to salvation through Jesus. I was blown away by her memoir, however, and ended up immediately ordering two more copies to use as mom’s-day gifts for my mom and mom-in-law.

I’ll be posting an interview with Trish at a later date. For now, though, I wanted to mention one of the lessons Trish learns as she delves into Christianity…something she mentioned — and which resonated with me — at her NYC reading last week.

In speaking of the message God had for her when He first appeared in her life, Trish mentioned the lesson of not throwing pearls before swine. In short: Realize your worth, and for the love of god, act accordingly.

For Trish, this meant not giving every good-for-nothing who crossed her path a chance at mucking up her life. But the “pearls before swine” lesson can be applied to just about any aspect of life. I’ve found several areas in my own life where it took me perhaps a bit longer than it should have to learn this lesson:

Love: Trish found herself caught in an abusive marriage, which she eventually escaped from by going into hiding. I myself once allowed myself to become embroiled in such a relationship, one that was emotionally, verbally, and sexually abusive. Dealing with the aftermath of this relationship only made me stronger, but I can’t help being angry at myself for not knowing better than to let something like this happen to me. In short, if someone is not treating you the way you deserve to be treated (lovingly and fabulously), then this is not the person for you. You cannot save a person. You cannot change a person. Being in such a relationship taught me to raise my standards, considering things such as education, thoughtfulness, bad recreational habits, and more when looking for that deal-breaker.

Career: Many people look at their jobs merely as a way to pay the bills. I look to my career for something more: a means of creative and professional fulfillment, and sometimes even fun, not to mention a huge part of my self-identity. When my job was making me miserable, I owed it to myself to take the risks necessary to find career fulfillment elsewhere. Now, I struggle with actually putting a price on what my time and talents are worth. I’m still in my first year of full-time freelancing, and am just now finding out that I’ve been screwing myself over when setting my rates. It’s tough to ask for more money when you’re on a larger staff. In some ways, it’s even tougher to ask for more money when you’re your own boss. It shows a certain level of belief in yourself to ask for what you deserve.

Health: Many people lament their lack of time for things such as working out or cooking. I’m guilty of the same thing. When it comes down to it, though, it’s necessary to make yourself the higher priority. Things such as home-cooked meals and regular workout sessions need to be scheduled into your life, in much the same way you schedule in business meetings and happy hours and choir rehearsals. Such reprioritizing will only benefit you and your health in the long run. At the moment, I have dedicated myself to attending weekly hoop classes, but once a week is not enough. I also find myself living off of ramen and Pizza Hut, which is admittedly horrifying. Don’t follow my lead, for the love of god. Put your physical and mental health above all else. You deserve it.


How to Make It To Your One-Year Anniversary

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on May 14, 2008
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wedding photo.

I’ve already written about the difficulties in making a relationship last. (It’s hard.)

As mine and Michael’s one-year wedding anniversary approaches, however, it occurs to me that just making it 365 days, let alone forever, can be a long shot.

Heck, I’m surprised I made it through the first month. The months following only humbled me more.

Which brings us to Peter Scott’s There’s a Spouse In My House: A Humorous Journey Through the First Years of Marriage.

More entertaining than I had expected, Scott’s humorous “how-to” pinpoints the realities of first marriage in a way that will make you wonder if you’re being secretly videotaped.

After the jump, a number of the topics Scott touched upon, and how they scarily relate to my life with Michael:


How To Be A Joiner

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on May 7, 2008
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join me.I already raved about my enjoyment of Danny Wallace’s Yes Man, which was funny and insightful and made me giggle in public, multiple times.

What I haven’t gotten the chance to tell you yet is that, immediately after finishing Yes Man, I ordered Wallace’s first book, Join Me.

In Join Me, Wallace almost accidentally builds a cult — or, as he prefers to call it, a collective — by placing an ad asking people simply to Join Him. Before long, he has a rapidly growing yet directionless following.

In a moment in which he must choose between using his powers for good or evil, he lands on the side of the greater good, making its his group’s mission to do good deeds unto others.

And thus a movement is born, in which people who may not have have thought to do good deeds for the sake of doing good deeds are suddenly seeking them out!

It’s a great read and, frankly, inspiring.

It leads me to bemoan the lack of volunteering in my life. Aside from singing in various volunteer choirs, and participating — by the skin of my teeth — in iMentor last year, it’s been awhile since I reached the dizzying volunteer heights of my junior high and high school years. Yea, my list of extracurriculars — lovingly prepared by my mom for the sake of college applications — was rife with volunteer activities, including a stint at the town library, the Clifton Juniorettes, Safety Town, CCD, etc. Wallace’s book reassures me with the promise that weekly, and even small, good deeds can be just as worthy and rewarding as involvement in a volunteer organization. Still, if you have a tough time coming up with your own ideas, it’s worth checking out VolunteerMatch for an activity that fits your life.

Another lesson learned in the reading of Join Me was in the power of groups. Momentum. Community-building. Support.

It reminds me of the first sermon I heard at CUC, in which the good Rev extemporized about personal ministries and the importance of lending your time and effort to the greater good. At the time, I found it especially applicable to my life, because my attendance that morning was due to a personal search for community…a community that was united by its good deeds.

I am thankful for the varying communities I belong to: that at hoop class, filled with members who lead me in a sort of body-driven meditation with my hoop every week; that at CUC, which brings me ever closer to a liberal definition of faith; the blogging and publishing community, including the NY Bloggers Meetup Group, that keeps me connected with others in my field and provides me with new opportunities; the community of friends who provide me with perspective and sanity just about every day…And I miss past communities that have dissolved, such as the writing group I was once a part of, or the church choir I recently left.

There is much to be said about being a joiner. If you’re feeling a bit isolated from the world lately — and even if you’re not — consider joining a new group, and observe how it enriches your life.