Willow

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So does your pool of friends.

In college I never had a problem with too few friends. In fact it was the opposite for me. I hd too many friends and not enough time.

Well the time thing is still there, but the friends have become fewer. One thing that made a big difference was that the bulk of my friends were in my same program.

So I would hang out with them to do homework and study.

Maybe not the most exciting thing, but doing homework with your friends is an easy way to spend time together. I didn’t see the friends outside of my major quite as much, but would usually find time to go out with them on weekends. I essentially just lived on campus. I would get to campus around 7 in the morning and bring all my crap with me for the day. I’d dump it in a locker at the gym and do class, work, and the gym all day, then go home sometime between 5 pm and 2 am, depending on the day.

If you can, get a job on campus. This makes things so much easier. And it is better than commuting to a crappy job. You only have so much energy.

I'm not going to have time, energy, or desire for everything in my life all the time. The first step was to accept that.

There will not always be a balance. What helped me the most was to plan and schedule absolutely everything, schedule time to nap, grocery shop, etc.

One of my college friends told me once that being an adult, it's just too hard. "How do people do it," she asked me. Trust me, college is the easy part. Life is much harder, and you don't graduate to life until after you get your diploma.

Willow

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To me, family is WAY more important than career. A job is a means of survival, and ideally should interfere with family as little as possible.

Yet, the survival is the part that keeps me coming back every day. I am perpetually exhausted. Happy, fulfilled, challenged, but exhausted. There are some things I have done to work on striking balance. I find that insulating my family from the day job is important.

My husband does not bring work home but I have to and so it ca conflict with my views.

What I do is simple, I do all my planning for the week on Saturday or Sunday morning, but NOT both. I work collaboratively with colleagues who share the same job with me, I will do Saturday or Sunday and they will cover the other day. What I dois wake up early while everyone else is sleeping in, go out on my back porch with a cup of coffee and spend 3-5 hours working with few distractions compared to the business of the work week.

I allow myself the freedom from perfection. I know I could do better if I sacrificed my family a little but I won't.

Your best at both is impossible!

Willow

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Most people have other interests or hobbies that don't align with their current job.

Even if you enjoy your job, leisure time is still important. Besides, even if your job was the reason for your existence, if you're constantly stressed out, you'll burn out and not enjoy it any longer. So, even if you have no interests outside of work, you still need to find ways to lower stress and decompress.

For high-skill labor, the problem here is can be attributed to corporate culture.

Take Japan as a extreme example. They work some of the longest hours as proven by the chart and other sources. But, there is a culture where leaving work early is generally frowned upon even if your work for that day is done and staying at work late to creates the perception of being a hard-worker even if you are productively able to accomplish very little. This culture exists in other first-world nations as well.

I suppose part of the problem here is that many places management expects workers to "look busy".

THis leaves little time to actually contemplate a problem to find a solution. Often times I find that staring out of the window, going for a walk, or playing a mindless game for a little while. Allows my brain to process things in the background. If I have to "look busy" I might just be banging my head against the same mental wall without progress. But hey at least I "look busy" so obviously that means I am a hard worker.

Something else to consider, though, is that work-life balance isn't simply dependent on how much time you spend working.

One of the most common strategies that companies use to improve work-life balance are flex-time and flex-place policies.

A country with large populations of poor people are going to be working longer hours, or even multiple jobs, just to make survival wages. On the flip-side, you have a lot of the Nordic European countries, like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, that are among best countries for social welfare programs that even allow the poorest to have a decent life and free education.

As the OECD explains it "Percentage of people who are wroking 50 hours or more a week on average for the past year". You can find more info and more details per country on the OECD page.

Willow

One thing that I had to adjust to when I started to take care of myself and cook the food that we ate was trying to do the calorie calculation when cooking from scratch without package information.

But it is just a snack

Actually it is a really simple process. But I will share it with you so that you may get motivated and start doing it as well.

When you cook from scratch, add up all of the caloric values for each of the ingredients. For example if you cook a soup, after you added up all of the calories, if you decide to make the serving size a cup, simply divide the total amount of calories by the number of cups.

To find the calories in a turkey burger or ground meat in general is tough, because different brands will have different macronutrients/calories.

But what I do for most meats, look up the nutrition for the percentage lean meat you have and that will be universal. Fruits and veggies will have the same nutrition no matter where you get them from if you get them raw.

Also check the official ratings for raw ingredients are usually good, but you can also check the USDA site if you aren't sure. Some items do have nutrition facts even if they are raw ingredients, so be sure to double check. I know some people weigh out the food they make and then set 100g as the serving size and then you can just weigh and not worry about eating exactly 1 cup or whatever. In otherwords divide the total amount by the amount per serving to find the number of servings.

Divide the total calories by the number of servings to find the calories per serving.

It is as simple as that.

Willow

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When I was growing up my brother tried to make my life less than enjoyable. It was just the way it was, there wasn't any reason for it. I am a lot younger than he is, but it didn't detract from the attention he received from our parents. My mother was especially prone to being taken advantage of and "sticking up" for him even when everyone else was sick of his antics. My father actually threw down the law and tried to keep him in line, while mom would intervene on my brother's behalf. It was a stressful time. But once he left the house everything changed. He moved away and made little contact, which was fine with me and dad.

We only ever heard from him when he wanted/needed something. Money usually. But also a shoulder to cry on. It was usually on my mom's shoulder, but dad kept him in line.

Now that my father is gone big brother has made a reappearance in my life. And, while a sane person would see why things are tense, just can't grasp why I am keeping him and his fiancee at bay. My husband can't stand him because of all that he put me and my family through. And bless his heart he stands up for me when my brother get's mouthy. But now I am getting pushed by my mother to host a bridal shower for my "future sister-in-law." It is just what my brother wants.

I am supposed to host a shower for her and introduce her to the family.

And honestly, and I guess this is the purpose of the post today, I said yes.

It wasn't for my brother, but my mother wouldn't let up and I am partially mad at her for it. But I also don't dislike the woman he is marrying, and I can only hope that he treats her better than everyone else he has ever had contact with.

The Bridal Shower

So now I am stuck with making plans for a bridal shower for a woman I don't know and a brother that I can't stand. Thankfully I am not alone with this, the internet is there for me when I need it most. And more importantly I am able to find people with, while different, similar situations for myself. After a little bit of searching I found people to cry do. Okay, I didn't really, but I found some women that had the same thing happen to them, namely, they had to plan a bridal shower for somebody that they didn't know that well. And it seems like it went well enough.

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On the Cheap

I think what bothers me the most, and I am not stingy mind you, is shelling out money on my brother's future wife and know that he will not appreciate it, nor will it be enough.

I have a family to feed, bills to pay, and yes I am a little bit annoyed that I have to shell out money to appease his ego.

That is why I agreed to do the bridal shower, but I am going to go as cheap as possible. I won't have it at my home, I don't want him here, mainly because I don't know who else they will invite and I don't want contact with his friends. I have worked very hard to ensure that he doesn't come around.

That is why a good friend of mine, I would go as far as calling her my best friend, has agreed to host the bridal shower at her restaurant at cost. Though I plan to give her and her staff a really big gratuity for all of their effort.

I have been friends with her for close to ten years and she knows the whole family history so it is easy for her to understand my position on hosting the shower. And she is willing to step in and put herself in as the third-party. Having friends is wonderful.

She will be preparing all of the food.

Which means that I will not need to make any big plans for feeding the guests. They will handle all of that on the day of the shower. She is reserving a room at the restaurant for us to celebrate in. Right now the guest list is around twenty-five people but there is just enough space for that many people, and if he tries to bring more well ... if they aren't on the list yet, I am not going to set aside any additional space for them. I am sorry, it is just not going to happen.

Honestly, this is going to be a really easy bridal/couples shower for me to organize. I say couples shower because my brother is such a hog for attention I don't think that he will pass on the opportunity to be in the lime light.

Still I am not going to make it a couples shower, at least not on paper. I am sending out the standard style of bridal shower invitations. The kind that are all pink and girly, the ones covered in glitter and scream feminine. If he wants to crash the party then he is going to have to such up his pride and that is something that is hard for him to do. I won't say impossible, but very hard none the less.

I was looking around for invitations and honestly there are so many beautiful options out there to choose from that I sort of wish that the bridal shower was under other circumstances. I would have a lot of fun picking out invites for a real one. But since all of my closest friends are already happily married it really isn't going to happen.

The Guest of Honor

The woman he is marrying is really shy. At least that is the feeling I have gotten from her so far. I say so far because I have talked to her a total of three times since it was "decided" by my mom and I would be welcoming my future sister-in-law into the family. It isn't something that I would have picked out, but....

I have gotten zero input about what she would like. She doesn't give me anything in the way of ideas. I honestly don't know anything about her. Like I said, she has been cordial when I talk to her on the phone. But when I ask her what she would like she always tells me to decide. One thing that I know is that she is from Buffalo, NY, which I know very little about. My brother met her when he was working for his previous employer. He would assemble machines on site and she just happened to be the secretary who was at the front desk.

Listening to her describe it, well, it fits my brother's way of handling things.

Let's just say, uhm, direct.

In All Honesty

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This is something that I never could have imagined. Honestly, not in a million years.

That I would host a bridal shower, sure, that isn't out of the ordinary. Plenty of women do that at some time in their lives, but that I would be asked/expected to do it for somebody that I have never met and don't know in the slightest. That is stretching the limits of my imagination.

I will make another little confession. I am actually getting excited to met her. After all I can't imagine what this is going to be like for her. She is moving across the country to be with my brother, and let me just say if you haven't noticed already, he is less than dependable. So she will be up against a lot. And from the impression I got on the phone she is a down to earth and pleasant person, somebody that I could actually like spending time with.

What would be fascinating would be is if I actually gain a "sister" from the experience.

I think that it would be a trade that I am willing to make.

But I will wait until after the woman's bridal shower, possibly even the wedding, before I go that far.

Willow

A string of lights

The only time that I see my brother now is when he "happens" to be at my mother's house, which means he wants something from one of us.

I seriously don't know what is up with him.

We were raised the same, but well, we do not get along. He is older than I am by a couple of years. But that isn't the thing. All my life he has only felt the need to make things hard for me.

Now he needs something, but it is not for him. He is getting married. He skipped that part the first time and just went stright to making babies. Babies he hasn't see in years.

But this time is "for real."

Now he wants me to organize a bridal shower for her and welcome her into our family. Introduce her to our friends. People he has no conact to and doesn't want contact with. I am honestly at a loss. We'll see.

I'm still the queen