2013 Goals Update 4

The sun is coming up earlier and earlier every day so it is time to jump start my yearly goals again.

Every month I hope to keep you all updated on my progress toward my yearly goals.

End of April, how am I doing with my yearly goals?

Well, over all this month I have not made much progress…

1: work at the office 5 days a week: done!

2: work out: As in past months very little consistent training has occurred but by choosing to walk the long way around often I have made some progress. Using my new pedometer every day I am averaging > 5,000 steps a normal work day getting up as high as ~15,000 on some days. From all of this and by utilizing the wavering “sticky lbs” I am down 6 kg in the last 2 months. This brings me closer and closer to my first mostly unstated weight goal. I am looking for ways to increase the amount of training I do and also take some dance classes as I used to love dancing.

3: keep up with blog: failure. This has been sacrificed for “real” work, from my job and my dad visiting the last few days. Need to find a better way to keep up with posting all of my ideas.

4: work on my Swedish:  My new Swedish class is much harder than the last. I still am struggling with remembering vocab and having words for what I would like to say. I am trying a new program for this and hope to have a good review to report soon.

Outlook for May: UPDATE BLOG, do more intense workouts more often, and keep up with Swedish class & vocab.

I hope you guys will help keep me motivated and honest about the results of this 🙂


2013 Goals Update 3

Every month I hope to keep you all updated on my progress toward my yearly goals.

End of March, how am I doing with my yearly goals?

Well, over all this month I have not made much progress…

1: work at the office 5 days a week: I have been sick for the last 3 weeks. At the beginning of last week I went to work and everyone acted like I had the plague. When you get so many comments on how sick you look, GO HOME! so I have worked from home the last few weeks, taking lots of naps and drinking lots of tea.

2: work out: OK well, good news, I haven’t gained any weight…actually I have “lost” a few kg due to being sick but I am sure they will come back soon. Right now the focus is getting really well. **goal of the month: walk extra and work out 2 times a week when  I can** My mother gave me a pedometer and I have been using it recently, this is a great way to monitor how much you walk and try to up the amount.

3: keep up with blog: A few updates. A few more half started…being sick makes everything harder especially writing. My brain has felt so tired lately.

4: work on my Swedish:  Well my first Swedish class is over. The second one starts on Wednesday!

Outlook for April: WORK ON THE BLOG, find a better way to fit in workouts, and keep up with Swedish class.

I hope you guys will help keep me motivated and honest about the results of this 🙂

2013 Goals Update 2

Every month I hope to keep you all updated on my progress toward my yearly goals.

End of February, how am I doing with my yearly goals?

Well, over all this month I have not made much progress…

1: work at the office 5 days a week: DONE! Actually maybe too much work…

2: work out: OK well, good news, I haven’t gained any weight…bad news, haven’t lost any more and more importantly basically haven’t worked out at all this month. With my new busy evening schedule and things picking up at work I need to rethink when and where I can work out. I am going to try this coming month not just to work out more but to find more convenient times or places. **goal of the month: 2 times a week**

3: keep up with blog: Again a huge failure on this. The number of half completed posts or just blog ideas has piled up into maybe an insurmountable list. Honestly as the list got longer the less I wanted to deal with this. So trying to remove the pressure to back post these old posts and starting fresh with posting new events in a timely manner. I will still keep the back posts for the next month and try to update these also but after that I am deleting them. **goal of the month**

4: work on my Swedish: My Swedish class is going well. I haven’t missed a class yet but I also haven’t invested much time out of class to working on my Swedish. So this month my goal is to practice more outside of class…and spend some time learning the vocabulary we go over in class.

Outlook for March: WORK ON THE BLOG, find a better way to fit in workouts, and keep up with Swedish class.

I hope you guys will help keep me motivated and honest about the results of this 🙂

2013 Goal Update 1

Every month I hope to keep you all updated on my progress toward my yearly goals.

End of January, how am I doing with my yearly goals. Copying my goals from just after the new year, here is an update on the progress.

1: work at the office 5 days a week: DONE! successfully am going in to work in a more honest way (helps that I have more to do and many more meetings) and even the days I have worked from home have been much more productive.

2: work out 3 days a week in January…up it to 4-5 days a week in Feb and March and keep up for the year: OK not really done…I averaged about 2 days a week but as I have lost 9 kg since December 28th I will continue to try to do this by resetting this goal to be work out 3 days a week in Feb.

3: post more often and in a timely manner to the blog: ok this one is the real failure this month. I have been so busy that I keep starting posts and not going back and editing them and posting them. Basically I am failing at the shipping part of the project **main focus for the next month**

4: work on my Swedish: I am now taking a Swedish class 2 nights a week. It started this week and will go to the end of March.

Outlook for February: work on the blog, work out more, and keep up with Swedish class.

I hope you guys will help keep me motivated and honest about the results of this 🙂

Work Life Balance: Working Out

One of the main workshop and development conversations in science academia both in graduate school and beyond is how to achieve work life balance. I have attended so many workshops on this topic it is crazy. I am not sure there is really such a thing as work life balance but this year I made my New Years Resolutions in the hope of being healthier, happier, and more balanced. To me this means being healthy: both the food I eat and working out, being happy: doing fun things, staying in touch with friends, and balancing that with hard work and some good publications (otherwise how would you know you were productive :).

This is the first post in what I hope will be a year long series on how I am finding work life balance and working on my goals for the year.

One of my goals for this year is to work out more regularly. To this end, I decided to try to ease into it this time instead of trying to start too quickly which I did often during graduate school. My goal is to work out 3 times a week in January and then slowly increase this amount to 4-5 times a week in February and March. I decided to start with some workout DVDs I have (I own about 30ish).

Today I did my first workout of the new year; I tried a Jillian Michaels tape. What I notice each time I start again is that I am sore, out of breath, and that I don’t do the workout “full out”. I made it through the hr long workout but just barely.

This time what is particularly interesting is that I lost about 3 kg on my recent trip to London by just walking around. I was being cheap when I had time to kill instead of paying to take the tube back to my hotel I just “went shopping”, i.e. wandering through the stores and buying nothing. I hoped that this would be a good kick off to my fitness this year. I have been eating quite healthily since I moved into my apartment as during graduate school the way I learned to eat cheaply was by cooking healthy food in bulk.

Even though my back is sore from arm circles and some planks (crazy I know), I think this is a good start for the year.

yes my name is Swedish…now can I ask in English please

Today when I got to work my building card didn’t work. I went to the main chemistry office to ask them what to do since this is where I got my card to start with. When I got there they told me that I needed to talk to my department administrator but I couldn’t get to her since I need my card to get to our offices. After figuring this out and the crazy explanation that the permanent card wasn’t here yet because the office that makes them is closed till Jan 18 for the holidays. However this post is really about my name, while I have never loved my name and have always been envious of those that can make nicknames out of their name I do love the story that my parents wanted to name me Alisa but my Swedish farmor had problems saying it so they changed it to Lisa. However, this means that my name is very Swedish.

I like that my name is Swedish sounding, in fact when I was calling the immigration board to get my visa it was so nice to have people pronounce my last name correctly, not just the baby American way I tell people in the US to say it: “it is like the boys names Fred and Dean smashed together”. When Swedish people say Fredin it sounds lyrical.

While I have been practicing and can talk in Swedish to the grocery store clerks, I don’t speak Swedish well enough to sign any important paperwork in Swedish. Everywhere I go:  the  immigration board, the tax office, the bank, the main chemistry office….after asking if we can speak in English when I hand over my ID they say “oh but you have a very Swedish name”. Yes my father is Swedish, my name is very typically Swedish…could I make major life discussions in English please….

GOAL: be able to sign bank papers in Swedish without clarifying first. Obviously not legalese but something…cashing a check maybe.

New Years Resolutions

I have read all the advise about making and keeping New Years Resolutions. I have decided this year to make 4 “resolutions” and I will keep you posted on the progress. Each is action based, not results based so we will have to see what results I get.

First goal: work at the office 5 days a week (stop working from home basically-leads to laziness)

2nd: work out 3 days a week in January…up it to 4-5 days a week in Feb and March and keep up for the year

3rd: post more often and in a timely manner to the blog (due to all the holiday and London back posts…still coming)

4th: work on my Swedish: sign up for a class by end of Jan or do computer programs 2 days a week

I hope you guys will help keep me motivated and honest about the results of this 🙂

London’s Calling!

An old friend of mine (we had our first sleep over in 7th grade) was headed to London to march in the New Years Day Parade. We had casually talked about the possibility of me coming to London to meet her. After looking at their group itinerary I decided to go for it. Buying a plane ticket and booking a hotel room in about 2 hrs I am set to head out to London for New Years!

London is calling! Many posts about the trip to come after I get back.


Tivioli! and the rain…

Every year while living in Chicago, I would go to the the Christkindlmarket with my best friends. We would show up early in the morning as soon as the market opened (11am) and browse the stalls. After getting cold enough we would have a glass of Glühwein and keep shopping. Around 1pm or so as the market got busy we would have finished and would get a bratwurst with sauerkraut to go.

When I got to Sweden just a few weeks ago, I was discussing the holiday schedule with my aunt and uncle. I told them about an article I had read in one of those “plane magazines” on the 5 best Christmas markets in Europe. Number 1 was in Prague (where I totally want to visit) but 3 or 4 was Tivoli in Denmark! So close…my aunt couldn’t remember how long it had been since she had been to Tivoli but years was the answer. We started to looking at calendars (3 adults at the kitchen table with their smart phones ;). Finally we found one of the only days we could go….

I had 3 goals: (1) have fun, (2) find some fun holiday decorations or Christmas presents, (3) get a picture for my holiday card!

So the day was finally here and it was rainy and cold (traditional Skånes winter I am told). We decided to go for it and took the train over the bridge to Denmark to avoid driving and parking in the city.

entering a "winter wonderland"

entering a “winter wonderland”

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Big family dinners….in another language

A week or so before I came to Sweden my aunt sent me a very nice email letting me know that the family had talked and they had all  “reserved a couple of dates” in their calendars for family dinners. Some were related to the upcoming holiday season and some to family birthdays. I put this list of dates into my electronic calendar like everything else and hoped I would be able to make the one on November 10th, which was to be a celebration of my farmor’s birthday, the fact that my cousin sold his house/his sambo (which translates directly to attached, but means girlfriend/fiancée/significant romantic partner…one of my favorite Swedish words) sold her house/they got a bigger house together, and my PhD graduation. One of my favorite things about visiting my family in Sweden is they have these big family dinners with good food, lots of wine, and exciting conversation. When I lived here  a for a summer in college my Swedish was quite good and these dinners were a real test, many people talking at the same time, talking over each other, some people have fairly strong accents (and more so with alcohol) but right now my Swedish is not so good…

Growing up many friends would say “your going on vacation to Sweden…cool!” While going to Sweden was cool: my parents often gave us a treat on the plane ride over and we always did something fun an touristy, looking back my mother worked really hard to make going to Sweden fun, because honestly it was going to your grandparent’s house and sitting around all day and bonus they didn’t even speak the same language….so is it any wonder that my cousins often remind me how I was so “bored” all the time.

First, I would like to dis-spell the common American myth that everyone in Sweden speaks English and especially the myth that everyone in Sweden likes to speak English…it is my experience that everyone in Sweden understands English, normally very well via listening (they don’t dub their movies or TV but instead use subtitles) but just like all other European countries lots of Swedes are self concious about their English, or like me right now with Swedish, they don’t use it that often and therefore it is rusty and they have a hard time making whole sentences. What to play a trick on an unsuspecting everyday Swede? walk into a random store (not in Stockholm) or in a tourist museum and speak to them in English…9 times out of 10 they get flustered…now this is decreasing as the workers are younger and spend more time interacting online in English. So if you are traveling to common travel areas in Sweden, yes everyone will speak English and all of the tourist sites with have information in English; if however you are riding the bus between two small kommunen in Sweden…ask the high school or college kids riding the bus to help you if you need something.

Now when my whole family was in Sweden lots of the conversation at family dinners was in English. My cousins liked to practice their English (plus it was all my brother and I spoke) and my aunt used English often in her job and while my uncle always is a little uncomfortable speaking in English (and as he told me a this most recent family dinner at some point someone told him he wasn’t that good in English…which honestly compared to my cousin’s and my aunt his English isn’t as perfect…but I make fun of one of my cousins about when he mixes up good and well (like all the stupid Americans) …these are people who speak and pronounce English like native speakers…so really not as good as them is better than most others) his English is very good and the only errors he makes often are common non-native pronunciation (or pro-nounce-ciation) issues. Then I lived in Sweden and was trying to practice my Swedish. I would go out to dinner with my aunt and uncle and only speak Swedish for practice. The last few times my whole family was here I noticed that they spoke much more often in Swedish at the dinner table, switching from English to Swedish when the opportunity arose  I spent a lot of meals trying to translate what was going on to my brother who still doesn’t speak any Swedish. So how do you get through a whole day of family activities where 90% is in another language you don’t totally understand? You use your brain resources wisely!

That’s right: you can’t translate everything, you can’t follow every conversation, you can’t ask them to translate everything you don’t hear or don’t understand…So I used my most clean uncluttered brain to have 20min with my farmor before the masses arrived. Just the two of us talking about everyday things where I could talk in broken Swedish and talk around the words I couldn’t remember….I told her about how I was, my new job, my new desk at my new job, how my family in the states was, I asked her about how she was feeling about her upcoming birthday…It was great…then came everyone else. I listened for the most part, I participated somewhat, I nodded my head when I wanted to agree, and I sat quietly and ate my food. A few times they switched to English deliberately when asking me a direct question or describing the food, or one person would turn to me and give a break by having a private conversation in English for a few minutes. Trust me it was all appreciated. But sometimes after a long conversation in Swedish a cousin would asked me if I had understood the conversation or not…probably not…probably I wasn’t listening because you were talking too quickly or too loudly or too many people were talking…honestly, probably I was making a list of what of the night I should blog about :). But I wasn’t not listening because I don’t like you or don’t care…I was just saving my resources for when the conversation was important or when they would be most useful.

So big family dinner number 1 down, my cousin (actually my cousin’s husband=my cousin) cooked an interesting meal that was really fabulous and I got to see everyone and give them all hugs..I officially feel like I am in Sweden. Goal for next dinner…speak up in Swedish more, don’t always switch back to English when responding.