pet peeves

Contentment and Satisfaction – Strange Bedfellows Indeed

So not to lose you in the bog surrounding today’s philosophical journey, forgive me jumping straight to the point of my thoughts and not leading you in by the hand with a friendly introduction. It seems a central theme in my life is risk-taking and satisfaction, and now that I’m actually an adult I’m wondering if I forgot where contentment fits in all this mess. I believe that tolerance and contentment are related, whereas contentment and satisfaction are strange bedfellows that have no business breeding.



Life has been in a bit of upheaval in the last month or so. I’ve left the desert for the homeland of the Midwest and am now embarking on buying a house. After a whirlwind move I’ve had the opportunity to be catching up with several friends, a few of whom are the long-lost sort. Despite these friends being far-flung and of different personalities our conversations echo the same theme.


The most startling comment I’ve heard was from a friend I hadn’t really talked to since well before the snowboarding accident. We had been catching up on life and after summarising my recent move and the events of buying a house he said something about my personality that stopped me in my tracks. I can’t remember exactly how it was said, but the gist is that I’m fiercely independent and that the wild girl who wanted to set the world on fire he’d first met 10 years ago still hasn’t died out. Sure, I might also be described as brave and tenacious, and being independent isn’t really a bad thing, but this made me take a step back and think.


I’ve made a career out of taking calculated risks and I’ve had some wonderful life experiences by setting out for myself to accomplish things. Not all of them have been as hare-brained as the others, but I guess there is truth about me wanting to set the world on fire. Passionate has always been a word I’ve used to describe myself.


So in the course of jumping through hoops to buy this house I’ve got my eye on, I was speaking with another old friend who went through the same process last year – except with fewer hoops. He was suggesting finding a new realtor to do all the heavy lifting for me, lamenting that he couldn’t just wave a wand and make all the complicated pieces fit in place. Without thinking I replied that I’m in this mess because I trusted other people to take care of things for me in the first place, and if you want something done right you’re better off doing it yourself. These were reflexive comments made without forethought, so when I actually looked at what I’d written the conversations of the last few weeks about the fiery independent streak that’s still burning in my blood flooded back and hit me like a wave of bricks.


One of my besties makes an off-the-cuff comment lamenting the difficulties of buying a house and I immediately go to my “fuck everyone else”, “put the team on your back” place? What the hell is wrong with this?


Nothing is wrong with me, per se, but thinking of all the events in life that have led me to this solid steel wall of GOTTA DO IT MYSELF I’m  beginning to realise that I’ve never learned to be content.  I’m unable to tolerate myself when I’m not striving for my best, to make a reasonable dream happen. What I have learned is that the disappointment of a failed risk is infinitely better than the disappointment of the current situation, no matter how temporary it may be. If I had many regrets then maybe I would have thought of this earlier. Instead, I’ve learned to take failure as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to better insulate myself, and a badge of honour on my Girl Scout sash.


Life is all about those achievement badges.


Where my independence is concerned, I can’t say that I regret any of the decisions I’ve made in the last decade or so. I’m going to be able to look back on my life and be satisfied that I didn’t let any opportunities pass me by, and also that I didn’t give up on anything too soon. I can also say that I know how to find contentment in other areas of my life. Parts of my body are built in awkward ways and I fully embrace it. When I was younger I dreamed of being a billionaire, a world-renowned theoretical mathematician, an acclaimed scholar, and I’m perfectly content with letting those dreams go. However, when it comes to certain issues like financial planning and cleanliness I completely lose my cool and am completely unable to be content with any differences from what I believe is right and responsible. I seriously find it impossible to tolerate any standards that are less stringent than my own. Not that my standards are impossible, they’re just particular.


Tolerance and contentment go hand in hand and I think they’re unrelated to satisfaction and risk. Risk leads to satisfaction, whether you succeed right away or if you fail and have to keep trying. Learning to be tolerant of differences, both between ourselves and others and between our ideals and reality is what allows us to be content in life. I never learned to relax my expectations and tolerate anything less than doing one’s absolute best. Giving 80% or 5% is the same when you know the actual capacity is 100%, at least in this twisted little head of mine. It’s not something I’m sure I want to learn to tolerate in myself, but it’s something I MUST learn to tolerate in others if I ever have any hope of dampening this wild, fiery blood of mine.

Categories: character flaws, getting old, pet peeves, reflection | Leave a comment

Uptight, all right, outta sight – Character Flaws #1

I’m losing my mind today, thanks to my “perfectionist” nature.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m pretty uptight. As scatterbrained and cluttered as I am I’m a nasty mixture of OCD/Type A/tunnel vision.  Often I feel quite masculine – if there’s something I want I find a way to get it or make it happen.  These qualities have done a lot for me – I’m driven to succeed (with the right motivation) and I don’t take no for an answer. I’m a bit of a daredevil and a dedicated adventurer, which is much nicer than my parents’ label of “perfectionist” when I was little.

Pirate Nurr, age 4

Let me give you a few examples.

  • I keep my budget in a little graph-paper notebook in my purse, check it against the budgeting software on my phone, and meet with my financial advisor about once a quarter. At any given moment I know my investments’ totals, how much cash I have liquid, and how much of that I can spend for fun.
  • When my hands work my shirts are arranged by color and sleeve length (or function, depending on what my work dress code is), along with my dresses and work pants, and all of the hangers face the same way.
  • I stack my tupperware and my lids don’t go missing – they’re right there with the containers.
  • Despite having a well-kept calendar in Outlook and a BlackBerry for work, I have a paper calendar for personal commitments on my desk wall and I keep a spiral planner with all of these things. It’s not just a back-up for my BlackBerry – it’s color-coded and I cross off meetings I make and circle meetings I missed.



I function in the normal world even if I can’t keep my life organized like this, but I am usually much more care-free and happier when I have my life organized and somewhat planned. I love being spontaneous and I’ve learned my lessons about being spontaneous after a few disorganized disasters in college. If I know where all the pieces in my life and my calendar fit I know where I have free time, free energy, and money to spare.  This way I know how far I can extend myself and I feel comfortable being flexible.

The last point above is probably the most important illustration of my character if you’re going to understand my pet peeve.

When I have events, chores, or purchases planned it’s very important to me to stay on course. I try to be generous and pad my plans but it’s not always possible.  I’m cautious about relying on other people for help or participation because not everyone views deadlines the same way. When I make a commitment I intend to honor that commitment , even if it’s only a commitment I’ve made to myself.  Nobody’s perfect and I fully appreciate that delays and other things happen – I can’t keep my commitments all the time.  Knowing myself and my limitations/needs as well as I do though, I try to make all of this clear to other people when we’re undertaking a project together.

(Can you tell I’ve run a business or two before?)

All together now!


It shouldn’t be surprising that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people offer or suggest to do something and then have no intention of following through.  It comes in either one of two forms and I hate them both.

Either people say “Yeah, maybe we’ll hang out on Wednesday after work” or “I wanted to go see that movie, we should go see it” when they have no intention of doing whatever they brought up.  I know you want to sound friendly and like you’re thinking of me, but if you don’t want to do something don’t bring it up!  If you have no intention of going, not only have I wasted my time – you’ve lied to me. I feel totally disrespected and lose faith in our friendship. It’s all relative to what’s being brought up, but it’s the same feeling at the core.

The other form is “I’ll come get you at 7 and we’ll go to the party” or “Wake me up at noon so we can go finish that chore”.  This time, we don’t end up leaving until 9, or I get shooed away for a few more hours’ sleep.  I know that everyone’s perception of time is different, but my time is my biggest asset and I don’t like to waste it.  My stepdad is habitually late and his family always plans around it by telling him to be at a function 2 hours before they plan it to start.  This is one way of coping, but I hate having to plan on other people being late. I see it as disrespect because if you know you won’t be ready until 9, why tell me 7?  I should know that you’re late or take forever, but I expect you to manage that aspect of your life and show me enough respect to be ready when you say you will.

The biggest irritation with this subject is when people say “and if I’m not ready, kick my ass” but then get upset with me for doing what they asked.  Please don’t ask me to do something or say you’ll be ready if you already know you’ll need more time or won’t be able to follow through.  I’m more than happy to respect your schedule and your needs and I only ask that you respect mine in return.


I try to communicate my needs/limitations clearly because I know I’m uptight, and on top of it I’m sort of crippled and that can cause a bunch of complications.  One of the biggest compliments you can pay me is to respect my time, communicate your needs, wants, and limitations clearly, and TELL ME if you don’t think you’ll be able to do what you say you’ll do.

I’m going to have a heart attack or an aneurysm by the time I’m 35, I swear.

Categories: character flaws, commitments, pet peeves | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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