“Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter.”

For awhile, I’ve been wanting to share a story with all of you, but I just didn’t know how. Many of you may have heard this before, but even so, it always makes me feel a little better. So, here it is.  

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A Jar of Mayo and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your  spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

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Have I really not posted in over a month?

That’s embarrassing and unacceptable, but I promise I haven’t just been sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

I wanted to share this story for awhile, but I also couldn’t decide if I wanted to add my two cents to the story. What could I see that hadn’t already been said, and  how could I say eloquently?

I don’t know if I’ve figured out the eloquent part, but I do have things to say.

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the superficial things in our life-‘what am I going to do on my day off? ”I wish I could buy concerts tickets’.’ How should I get my hair done for the summer?’ You may laugh, but it’s probably because you’ve had some of these very same thoughts. When you think about it, we waste an incredible amount of our time worrying about the sand-the trivial things.

We worry about our job, our education, our homes. But even without these things, we would still be fine if we knew we still had our family, friends, passions, and health.

On March 2nd, our 8-year old golden retriever, Minnie Mouse, passed away. It was completely unexpected and we had next to no time to say good-bye. I was devastated. I cried, I sulked, I wallowed. I think it’s a natural response when you love someone (yes, I know she wasn’t a human) you love. Within a month, we’d gotten another golden retriever in our home-Luna Love-of-my-life-Good.

Going away to grad school, I feel like I’ve missed a lot. I knew I’d miss out on the last few years of our dogs’  lives, but I never expected it would come so soon. Now that we’ve lost one dog, and have gotten another, I feel like I’m sometimes missing out on our new puppy growing up.

If you haven’t guessed this already, I’m a worrier. I’m also very driven and perfectionistic in many aspects of my life. I want to do and get what’s best for me. I want to embrace every opportunity in my path, which often means I worry about the little things. I concern myself with the sand, when I should be worried about the golf balls.

When I found out about our dog, I was still at school. I had a class that evening and I actually contemplated staying for class because I couldn’t miss class in graduate school.  And that’s when it hit me-what’s one class going to matter in the scheme of things, when I could be home saying goodbye and being with my family?

So, I went home.

I forgot about the sand.

I took care of the golf balls first.

2011: My year?

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all rang in 2012 with the ones you love and had a great time doing it 🙂 Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about everything I experiened in 2011 both personally and somewhat in a way that hopefully you can all understand and thought I’d share some of these thoughts with all of you!

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I thought 2011 was going to be my year. As I entered my last semester of undergrad, I had high expectations for myself: get into a variety of honors societies, enter different presentation competitions, be accepted into PhD programs, etc.

The year did in fact start out in my favor. I was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, won various awards from my department and for my individual college, and thought “This is it-I really can have it all! (at least academically).” I had successfully applied to 5 PhD programs in Developmental Psychology and one Clinical Psychology PhD program. I had an interview with a program and thought that it had went well. Now, anyone who has applied to graduate programs knows how stressful it can be to wait to hear back from them. Days seem like weeks and weeks seem like months. It’s an extremely agonizing process, but once you hear that you’ve been accepted, it’s worth it, right? Well, there is that whole “acceptance” thing. Despite how competitive it is to get into psychology PhD programs (or any PhD program for that matter), I (as well as my professors) made a great candidate.

Shows how much we know. I wasn’t accepted to a single PhD program. Getting rejected from some of the schools was somewhat expected, but once I’d found out that I wasn’t accepted to the school where I’d had an interview, that was it. My self-confidence dwindled and I was left feeling awful. I felt as if everything that I had worked for during the past 3 1/2 years was for nothing. At that moment, I’m sure I felt like all those rejections would serve as the defining moment of 2011 for me.

A lot of people might be ashamed to say that they weren’t accepted. I felt that way at first. I was embarrassed. I felt inadequate and like a failure. However, looking back on it, I realize how comeptitive it really is and am more aware of how important matching really is. Getting into a PhD program is hard for a reason. Being in a masters program now, I realize how overwhelmed I would have been had I gone straight to a PhD program from undergrad. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, whether it be waiting to hear back from schools or dealing with a rejection, think of me and know that it gets better. It’s not the end of the world. You see that I’ve successfully survived my first semester of a masters program and am in good spirits (well..most of the time). If, on the other hand, you are accepted into the school of your dreams, please share your happy moments with us! We’d love to hear about them, too =)

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In the midst of all of this, many of us watched as people protested and rioted against their rulers in the Middle East, hoping to bring about change within their country. For my family, we had a special interest in keeping a close eye on what was going on. We waited with extreme anxiety and fear as we watched the uprising in one specific country. Despite the fact that you would have no way of knowing from looking at me, I am 50% Egyptian. My father is from Egypt and my family spent 9 months living in the country when I was a baby. With the exception of one sister, the rest of my dad’s family is still in Egypt. Although my relatives do not live close to where most of the rioting and protesting occurred, it was impossible not to fear for their safety during this time. Despite the fact that the citizens tried to remain peaceful in their protest, many individuals lost their lives fighting for a cause they believed in. I don’t really want to voice any sort of opinion on what happened in Egypt during that time period or about Hosni Mubarak because I don’t live there. However, I think that it was really cool that Muslims and Christians joined forces and protected each other during this epic moment in Egypt’s history.

If you know anything at all about religion in Egypt, you know that Muslims and Christians are usually (always) at odds with one another (as they are in many other countries). During the riots, pictures and videos emerged of Christians protecting Muslims during their time of prayer. I thought it was really neat that these people joined together for a common cause. However, since Mubarak stepped down as president, religion has once again become a topic of debate and much of the progress between Christians and Muslims during the riots seems to be forgotten. I’m really curious and hopeful (yet somewhat doubtful) for what this year will bring for Egyptians. I can only hope that all the progress these people made both for the country in general and with each other will not be for nothing. It will certainly be interesting to see what this year has in store for them!

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In 2011, my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary! For some people, 25 years might not sound like that long, but it really is. My parents are humble people and would do anything for anyone who asked. I think it’s so awesome that they found each other and were able to maintain a happy, healthy relationship for 25 years.  They’ve been a great example to me of what marriage is like and have certainly had their fair share of ups and downs. I think our generation doesn’t respect marriage as much as previous generations, but I think I’ll side with previous generations when it comes to this one 🙂

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I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that I graduated with my B.A. in psychology and political science in 2011! I think it’s kind of easy to take education for granted, but that’s a big deal. I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity to go to college and to be continuing my education now.

As a side note, as a graduation gift to myself I got myself a kitten =) Knowing that I would be moving to an apartment and living by myself for the first time, I knew I needed a pet. Although I wanted a puppy, I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to get one because I wouldn’t be able to give her the lifestyle and attention she deserved. So instead, I ended up with a kitten…so did my mom. I adopted my kitten from a shelter and fell in love with all the animals! There were two kittens in particular that I was interested in, but I knew I could only get one. So, I chose mine and was set to pick her up in a week. My mom was teetering back and forth between whether or not she should get the other kitten, but opted out of another pet since we already have 2 dogs and a cat at home as it was. However…with some coaxing from my brother and I, my mother ultimately gave in and we ended up with two kittens instead of one (sisters!).

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I didn’t get into a PhD program, but I was accepted into a masters program in clinical psychology. Despite my initial sadness about not going to a PhD program, I love the program I am in and feel like the program suits my personality.

I moved 4 hours away from home. I managed to survive living alone for the first four months (with my kitten, of course). I successfully survived my first semester of graduate school.

2011 might not have been everything I had expected or anticipated. There were enough moments when I doubted myself and everything that I had worked so hard for. However, there were moments in which I was so thankful to have been blessed with the life I’ve been given. When I moved for school, my uncle gave me a picture with three little kids sitting on a boat dock that says, “We might not have it all together, but together we have it all.” Between my family, my fellow dames, and the beautiful other friends I have been blessed with, I feel confident that I (and we) can make it through anything.

I don’t really like setting New Year’s resolutions because I’m really bad at sticking to them. I do have one in mind for this year, but because I’m likely to ignore it, it’s probably best not to mention it until I’ve been successful for a few weeks. Nevertheless, this year has a lot in store for me: finish my first year of graduate school, start my practicum (hopefully at a hospital), decide what I want to study for my PhD, apply to PhD programs, and many other wonderful things! Although I’m sure this year will have it’s challenges, I’m looking forward to what’s in store for me.

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Some other memorable world events of 2011:

  1. Remembering the 10th anniversary of 9/11
  2. The conclusion of the Harry Potter films
  3. William and Kate get married ❤
  4. Occupy Wall Street (and a variety of other places)
  5. Steve Jobs dies
  6. Death of Osama bin Laden
  7. U.S. declares an end to the Iraq War
  8. Earthquake and tsunami in Japan