Sunday, April 3, 2011

Coasting Along

It’s been awhile since I rode my bike. Years ago I rode it all the time, but lately it just isn’t something I’ve done much of. I can blame it on parenthood or working or whatever, but really, it just hasn’t crossed my mind much. The other night though, the weather was great and I was heading over to a friend’s house just a few blocks away. I thought that rather than drive, I’d bike.

I hopped on, and started down the street. I instantly felt about 5 years younger – it was invigorating. I pedaled, speeding along, even yipping a little bit with the sheer joy I felt. It took me back and I wondered why I didn’t do this all the time. I was riding along so completely joyfully, and about 3 blocks in I hit a pothole and blew my front tire.


Life is like that, I guess. And you can’t let it completely take the wind out of your sales, though when you’re trudging along through the night pushing your bike since you can’t ride it anymore, it’s hard to flash back to the joy you felt just a couple minutes earlier.

But hey, no real harm done. And I was reminded about something I love. Today I dropped my bike off to get the tire fixed and rim checked, so I’ll be ready to hop back on this week.

Whether in life or in the road, we can’t always avoid the potholes, but that’s no reason to hold back. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beyond Empty Spaces

I was reading a book yesterday and a piece of it struck me intensely. The character talked about living in between the empty spaces left by other people. Squishing herself in to fit the areas of the world unoccupied by others. Limiting herself to the spaces, to the experiences that others aren’t already using.

This resonated for me in so many ways. For so long I’ve thought that I couldn’t share the gifts or strengths of my siblings – my sister is the artist, so I’ve never even attempted anything artistic. My brother is the smart one, so I’ve never pushed to excel there either. And in the larger world of people outside my family, on some subconscious level I think I’ve tried to work around the lives of others. Thinking I was only allowed to exist in those empty spaces. I’ve realized that the success of others often affects me negatively – but I didn’t think that the reason might be because my brain saw their success and added it to the list of things that were now "taken". The space where they succeeded became already occupied with no room for me.

So I’ve been limiting myself to the empty spaces. I’m not sure whether I’ve been living in those empty spaces out of a desire to leave experiences and choices to those who clearly excel? Or whether it’s been out of politeness, an “excuse me, pardon me” kind of approach to living, not wanting to step on anyone else’s toes. Regardless of the reason, last night I realized that the limits I’ve put on what I can do and who I can be are illusions created by me. And because they are simply illusions, they can be shattered.

I envisioned myself as a pliable mass, contorted and squished into the odd and uncomfortable shapes left between others, like play-doh smashed down into tight spaces. But now, instead of staying there, I rise up above those spaces let myself stretch, experiment, play with whatever shape might feel right to me. It was a completely liberating vision. I want to stretch so far beyond those empty spaces I’ve been restricting myself to.

Because I finally realize, there ARE no limits.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remembering Dad

2 years ago today my family and I stood next to my father and held his hand while he took his last breath. His illness, bile duct cancer, was asymptomatic until 3 weeks before his death. While I’m so thankful he didn’t suffer long, the shock of such a quick loss, with no warning, hit those of us left behind powerfully.
For my part, losing my dad so unexpectedly set me onto a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. It’s made me think hard about the uncertainty of life. About the impact his presence, and now the lack thereof, has had on my behaviors and choices. About the meaning of this life and what we leave behind. About how I will be able to raise my son with the memory of a man he only knew for the first 4 years of his life.

I know he wasn’t perfect, but my dad was a great father and a kind and successful man. He taught me calm in the face of a storm, and how to think through problems. He taught me tolerance, particularly for those we love, and that as hard as it sometimes can be, to always love your family. He taught me a strong work ethic and how to be professional, and in later years guided me through my career. He was strong and quiet – he has as much impact with his silence as he did with his words. Which he chose wisely and carefully.

So today, more than other days, I wanted to pause to think about him and remember. I miss him.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where's the Damn Mute Button?

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been lucky enough to be working out with some amazing coaches at Crossfit Central. And in general in my life, have met some amazing, motivational people. They’re so good at pushing you to go further than you think you can, to stay on task when you want to give up, and keep you moving. There is one thing that I haven’t been able to get though – and I’m not sure its something someone can help me with or something I need to figure out myself. But beyond all the urging to “dig deep”,and “push through” and “don’t quit” – there’s a part of me that prevents me from success in some areas of my life. It’s a part that thinks I don’t deserve it. None of the great coaching so far has been able to help me overcome that one.

It’s pretty typical for me to go into things with gusto – tons of motivation, a clear goal, lots of drive. After a bit of time though, I start doubting myself, getting in my own way. It’s less a voice saying “you can’t do this” and more a voice saying “why bother – you’re never going to be good enough anyway.” That’s a tough one to overcome. This quiet, nagging little voice that I can drown out sometimes seems to keep winning out in the end, just by being constantly present and eventually wearing me down. I start feeling useless, even guilty for thinking that I can accomplish something. I’ll start undermining myself - skipping workouts, eat like crap, stop writing. The irony is that the voice is my own – what I’m missing is the access to the remote control for it so I can mute it. Or better yet, turn it off completely.

I hate to be all Stewart Smalley about it, but there’s some truth to those old Saturday Night Live skits. I need to somehow realize and accept, on a genuine level, that I AM good enough, deserving enough. I already am happy, already am successful – I just can't see it sometimes. In the moments when I do see that clearly, it fills me up to the point where my heart is bursting. There are more things I want and more goals that I have, yes, but those are also possible, and I deserve not only to try for those thing but achieve them. Without guilt. Without thinking that those accomplishments are for people other than me.

So in closing, note to self: Get out of your own damn way. Love, Beth.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Peace and Perspective

What a week. So when I last wrote, I had friended my old junior high bully on Facebook. She accepted, and then after some thought I decided I wanted to write her. I didn’t want to give the impression that events of old had been the focus of my life all these years, but I did want her to know the impact that her actions had on me and the fact that I still thought of her when I read stories of bullying. So I sent her a note. And not only did she write back – she apologized. And she alluded to things that had been going on in her life at the time that weren’t so great. And it gave me two things I that made me feel better – peace and perspective. I think that much of what happened back then simply wasn’t really even about me. I was just caught in the crossfire of other things swirling around in the world. Now, while it doesn’t make it right – there’s never a good reason for bullying – it did give me perspective that for whatever they put me through, the girls who bullied me might have been going through something equally bad or worse. Maybe at home, maybe at school themselves. It feels good to have some closure there, and to know that the girl who has been this two-dimensional evil figure in my head, and the shy, demoralized, fragile version of myself, have both become strong, compassionate, and accomplished women.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


So, I just accidentally invited my old junior high bully to be my friend on Facebook.

Here’s the thing. I was invited to join a Facebook page for someone I had graduated with who suddenly and tragically passed away this week. I didn’t really know him, but I was scanning the page and reading all the posts. Honestly, it freaked me out a bit – reading through the page it seemed everyone in my graduating class knew each other and maintained all these friendships from high school and remembered all these shared moments. Maybe I blocked it out. Maybe it’s because my parents moved after I started college so I never went back to my high school town for summers or breaks. But reading through the page felt like somehow I had missed out not only on high school, but whatever seemed to have transpired socially after that.

Of course I went into self-therapist mode, thinking it was probably due to the bullying I endured. I know that I pretty much spent every moment after 7th grade trying not to be noticed, so no one would attack me. It was a matter of survival. And then as I was scrolling down this memorial Facebook page, there it was. The name of the girl who, along with 2 others, emotionally destroyed me for a whole year. Who screamed at me down hallways, gathered her friends to do the same, toilet papered my house, and on and on – and there’s her picture staring at me 25 years later. Again, how odd is Facebook.

So I clicked. I guess I was surprised, reading over posts to her wall and her photos. She seems pretty cool now – a big runner, diverse friends, married. I’m not sure what I expected – but she kind of looked liked someone I’d be friends with now. I thought about it and was curious if I could send her a message through Facebook even though she wasn’t a FB friend. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say exactly, but I did want to say something. That she hurt me. That I think of her and the other 2 every single time I read a story about kids who are bullied, or who take their lives because of it. That I turned out to be a successful, generally happy person, but that what they did to me absolutely impacted and shaped me. Some for good, some for bad. Anyway, I was looking to see if I could just send a message without friending – but apparently you can’t. But while I was exploring the possibility the mouse accidentally clicked (or WAS it an accident?). So this person now has an invite from me asking her to be my friend on Facebook.


I guess now I just will see what happens. I have no idea if she’ll remember me at all. She certainly won’t know my married name, but will she recognize my picture? Will she just ignore it, assuming I’m some stranger? We’ll just have to wait and see what, if anything, happens now. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Facebook, Please Stop Making Me Feel Like Poop

Facebook can drive me up the wall. Of course I use it and have no plans to stop. But here’s the thing. Sometimes I can’t keep myself from looking through the “people you may know” list. That list contains tons of information about people and places I totally forgot – some of which I kind of wish had stayed forgotten. Like seeing the names of the 3 girls who bullied me through middle-school and who single-handedly led the “cool kids” charge to attack me and drive me home crying every day for over a year. No Facebook, I really don’t want to “friend” them, thanks. Sorry if that makes me immature. The girl who brought the guy I went on a few dates with to beach week to stay at the house where I was – which is how I found out, incidentally, that he wasn’t into me. I’m sure you’re a much nicer person now, but I just really don’t care to find out. And the girl who I am still pretty sure slept with a boyfriend of mine while we were still dating – not to mention the ex-boyfriend himself. Yes, this is the stuff Facebook dregs up from my far off past and wants to reacquaint me with. And then I have to have this little conversation with myself. “Why are you upset at all? I mean, that was AGES ago! And you have a great family now, so its good that all that happened to get you here, right? You should rise above, don’t let it bother you. You’re more mature than that.” And yet I still feel icky for a bit afterward. Seeing some of these names takes me right back to whatever age and emotional place I was in all those years ago – and I still want to kick them in the shins.

So despite all this, there are still people who I’ve friended who fall into this list of those who have done not so nice things to me. And when I see a status pop up for them, it STILL triggers some kind of icky feeling, even if it’s tiny. So I finally just did it. I purged my friend list. And it felt GREAT.

So onto my next Facebook issue. I know a lot of people who use Facebook in a way that works well for me – posting what they’re up to, funny things that happened, etc . But I know a bunch of people who seem to use it only as a way to force a clearly pre-thought out image to the world. I shouldn’t judge, I know. Like most people, I pause and think about what I post and wonder how it will be interpreted. “Is this funny enough?” or “Do I really want people to know that I did that/ate that/said that/etc.”? or “Do I want the people from my gym/office wherever to know that I just ate a whole cake/complained about that aspect of work, etc.?” Yes, we all do some bit of editing – it’s natural and inevitable. But it does seem like some feeds are more wholly aimed at being a resume to let me know how great and cool someone is. Again, I hate that sound so judgmental here – I mean, I’m writing a blog that is all about me and totally selfish, so who am I to talk? But I’m kind of tired of those posts that seem to have a “here’s something great I did that you didn’t” tone, or “this post shows what an expert at food/wine/music/whatever I am”. Even if you are, there is a way to write it that doesn’t rub people’s face in it, isn’t there? I’ll preemptively say that yes, I’m sure that a psychologist would have a field day with me on this. My own psyche and list of inadequacies probably imposes a lot of emotion on top of these types of things. But moving on.

So I can’t figure out how to handle those feeds. People are legitimate in writing about things they did/like/whatever. They aren’t people I’ve had a problem with generally speaking, and some of their posts give me great info/links/etc . But I wish there was a way for Facebook to “learn” about the kind of posts that I describe above and leave them out of my feed. I already know that I’m pretty much a big dork, and I really don’t need other people’s posts to tell me that they are way cooler.

So Facebook, I love you, but sheesh. Can’t you only surface up things that make me feel good? Give those IBM guys who built Watson a call. Maybe they can help out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh, Universe.

What a crazy couple of weeks. Do you ever have those periods of time where you can tell that you’re going through some serious stuff, but you can’t really explain it or define it? Like there is something fundamental going on on an emotional level, a paradigm shift of sorts. You know it’s big, but you also know not to question it too much or try to define it until you get thru it and have some more perspective. So I’m in that now. I know it’s a good thing, but I feel keyed up, like my nervous system has been put on high gear. My sleep patterns seem to be changing, my emotions are all over the map from one second to the next. And yet, there’s a kind of relief and joy in all this – though its sitting side by side with fear and confusion.

Seems like a good time to get back to learning more about meditation and such. Once again I was talking to a friend of mine who has recently been exploring meditation – the one who told me about the class I wanted to take . Each week during the session they’d leave with little assignments and guidance to work on their practice. One night this week she was showing me the “homework” and it said that during the week, in a moment when you’re particularly anxious or stressed, do this. First, pause. Then ask yourself these 2 questions:
1. What am I thinking right now?
2. Is it true?

This didn’t really resonate for me during our conversation, but that night I went home after an extremely stressful day. One of the greatest things I enjoy in life is a hot bath, and I had been looking forward to it desperately. I got the water running and started getting ready. After awhile I notice the bath doesn’t seem to be filling properly. Turns out the stopper is not going down – and I can’t get it work. The water had run so long there was no more hot water even if I had been able to fix it. I could literally feel my blood pressure going up, my frustration rising. After this crazy day, all I wanted was a stupid bath and even that isn’t working. I started to spiral out in my head a bit but then remembered the questions.

So I paused.

I asked what I was thinking right them (“the universe is conspiring against me completely.”)

I asked if this was true (Pause. Sigh. “fine, no, the universe probably isn’t devoting its energy to interrupting my bath plans.”)

And amazingly, it worked! In less than minute I felt physically calmer, and certainly had a better perspective. Instead of a bath I had a cup of tea and relaxed with a book. I can already see many situations a day where this quick practice will probably be helpful – I know I’m certainly going to try it out. I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. As I was trying to post this my computer froze up and I had to do a hard restart. Ironic, as again I felt myself starting to tense up and getting seriously annoyed. Still calming down, but the questions worked again! No, my computer isn't trying to make me insane, nor is the universe again dedicating itself to screwing with me. (Though its disappointing to realize I'm not as important as I think I am.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Sands of Time

A friend of mine and I were talking about meditation the other day. There’s a place in town that was giving a 5 week seminar, kind of a “meditation 101” series. I got really excited – I could use skills to help me calm my mind, center myself, and just relax. So I looked up the times for the 5 week session each Monday night. I figured that if I dropped off my son Monday mornings so my husband could trade off to pick him up, then I could run home, pack a change of clothes, get changed to be at my 6pm workout, bring some food with me to eat in the car, quickly switch into less sweaty clothes, and then be at the meditation class.

I like to think I’m fairly intelligent, but it took me awhile to see the irony.

Needless to say, I’m not doing this session. BUT, I would like to figure out how to work some mindful meditation into my life. The few times I’ve attempted it I sit there trying to focus on my breath. Then my nose itches. I try to ignore it. It gets worse. I move and scratch. Then resume the position. Then my hand is itchy. And my mind starts wandering. And after what feels like eternity I look up to see that about 2 minutes have gone by.

I guess it just takes practice, and it’s something I should commit to. It got me thinking about all the things I read about, or friends tell me about that are good and healthy and great daily practices. I’ll read about how you should do “x” once a day – and it only takes a few minutes, so it’s easy to make time for it! OK – except there are tons of those “x” items that I “should” do to improve the quality of my life and that of my family. I couldn’t resist doing the math.
  • 8 hours of sleep (recommended –and for me needed!)
  • 9 hours work (7-8 in the office, more in the evenings at home – that’s the nature of my work)
  • 1 hour a day commuting/school pickup & dropoff and such
  • 1 hour in the morning getting myself and family ready, fixing a healthy breakfast, packing lunches
  • 1 hour in the evening cooking a healthy family meal, cleaning up, etc.
  • 30 minutes getting ready for bed
  • 1 hour exercising (including the to and from) – not all days, but 3 days a week on weekdays
  • 1 hour quality kiddo time – playing, reading, whatever
So that’s already 22 hours a day without factoring in all the things that happen that take up more time in random ways (traffic on the way home, stops at the store, calling mom, chatting with my husband, visiting with a friend, etc.). It’s kind of exhausting just writing it all down.

If I start to try to think about all the other things I could do that take just a few minutes a day, I clearly need to be pretty selective about what those are because I just don’t have the time. Gardening in the summer – just needs a few minutes of tending to a day. Meditation – just 15 minutes a day. I like to read and to write too – that’s important to me. And for me there is a lot of value in just doing nothing. Or just laying on the couch with my husband catching up.

So for now – no more stuff. No more hobbies. No more things added to my list that I’ll run out of time for and then feel guilty about not doing. And now I’m heading into a hot bath with essential oils, a couple candles and a good book. Now THAT is a good use of my time!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Outside Looking In

You know, I’ve always felt like an outsider. I guess I mean that in any kind of large group, I’m never one of the “cool kids”. I’m talking about places I frequent, where I interact with the same people repeatedly. At work, at the gym, other groups I interact with – I’m not saying I don’t have friends. But inevitably, I feel like I’m outside of the central dynamic. Or there’s people who I admire and like and want to spend time with, but I can’t seem to break into the circle. And I honestly have no idea why or how I can bridge the gap.

A few questions come to mind. Is this in fact, the reality? Or is it just my perception of things? And does that even matter, if regardless of the truth I still FEEL outside of things? I have noticed that as I get older, I’m less bothered by it. When I was younger this feeling could destroy me, make me feel like I was worthless. Now, I’m not always sure I want to be in with some circles, though I might still eye them and even be a bit envious of the bond they share.

I also find myself wondering if the dynamics really ever change, and what they mean. In middle school, didn’t cliques primarily ban together to protect their own fragile self-image? And as adults, are we much different? I know that I surround myself with people whose company I not only enjoy, but who make me feel good and appreciated. Perhaps to those who sit slightly outside of my own social centers, I am part of that “in group” and they feel like outsiders. I think regardless, I’m learning to be less concerned with being accepted by everyone. There are some people who won’t like me, and there will be people I don’t like. Not because I’m bad, or they’re bad – but because we’re just too different. Or too much the same.

Anyway, though I’ve been feeling a little on the outside lately, tonight I spent an evening with some folks among whom I really feel easy and comfortable . And I’m grateful to have the warm embrace of close friends near at hand.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back Intact

So after over 3 days with a migraine headache, I FINALLY woke up today without it!If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know that when you wake up and its gone, it is the most amazing feeling.I’ve nursed a bit of a “migraine hangover” I’ve had today, but hey, that is WAY preferable to the last few days.

Migraines are crazy.You feel like a total loser because you just “have a headache” – but one that completely stops you in your tracks.You hope that people understand what you mean, why you’re in bed, why you aren’t in the office, why you’re skipping workouts.Yes, it’s a headache.But one that involves having little midgets behind your eyeballs drilling into the back of them with mini-power tools. If you haven’t had one, consider yourself lucky. And when someone does cop out of something because of a migraine, know that they’re probably not exaggerating. I worked from home a couple days, having to take breaks from the computer screen so my eyeballs wouldn’t explode. Finally on Thursday I just shut totally down, put an icepack on my head, eye cover over my eyes, dosed myself on pain medication and checked out. It was miserable.

So the aftermath of a migraine usually involves looking back to figure out what the trigger was.There can be so many things converging that its sometimes futile. The cause or causes can range from stress to hormones to foods to caffeine and so on. Looking back this time, I did have to face the fact that honestly, my stress level at work is pretty damn high right now. I think that comes primarily from being on call 24/7, so even when I’m not working, I’m never really not working. And that kind of sucks.

The plan, then? I have got to get approval to hire help, and get someone who can share the on-call job with me so that I can truly unplug here and there. We all need to, and we all should. Ideally, this can happen before the next migraine comes knocking on the door.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Trolls Behind the Curtain

So I work in social media. And one thing that never ceases to amaze is how rude, offensive, and negative people will be when they’re hidden behind a computer and not face to face with the people they’re addressing. There are days where I can be very Zen about it all, water off a duck’s back and all that. Then there are other days, like today, where it takes everything in me not to want to just GO OFF on someone and give them a taste of their own medicine.

But I’m better than that. I’ll just complain here about them instead. ;-)

Really though, on days when I’m already feeling less than 100% and I’m handling an online community and someone just rails on me, it’s hard to stay professional. I’m good at it, most days. But sheesh, some people are just mean, and bitter. And boy is it easy to get sucked into that. But its also such a self-feeding cycle. Negativity breeds negativity. But if you can hold out against it and Judo someone’s negativity into something positive, its so much better. And on days like this that is what I have to do.

The other thing that helps is to maintain perspective. I’ve been through some serious things in this life already, and when I start to get caught up in some online troll’s ridiculous antics, I remind myself that THIS ISN’T IMPORTANT. Not remotely. Why get upset by something so silly an inconsequential? And like that, my frustration and anger lifts. What a relief.

My words of wisdom? Don’t be a jerk online, because there might be someone like me working on a site who has to put up with it. ;-) And there are already enough jerks out there.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet Surrender

It’s so interesting to me that sometimes surrendering can be one of the most empowering of acts. I fight any kind of surrender, struggling to the point of exhaustion – it might be against a person who I’m in a disagreement with, or a reality that I don’t want to accept. I try a variety of angles and techniques, hoping there might be another way through the situation. But sometimes, the only way is to lay down your instruments of battle, throw your arms up to the sky and surrender to whatever will come.

And often, what comes is a peace and serenity and level of understanding that I didn’t even know I was missing. And I think WOW – I can’t believe I fought against this! I see it in my workouts, when I put all my mental chatter and fear aside and just be in it. I see it in interactions I wrestle to have control over, until I finally surrender to the fact that I can’t have control over anything but myself.

A lifetime of instincts and habits are not quickly changed. But the lightness of being that comes from letting go is something worthy of dedicated pursuit.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I had some particularly poignant moments this week where I was, very honestly, overcome with gratitude. It wasn’t gratitude for material things either (though I won’t lie, I like material things well enough). It was gratitude for the people I know, the friends I have, and the family I’ve been a part of and helped build. Those of you who know me well know that I’m not a religious person, though I do consider myself to be a spiritual one. That said, this week I found myself filled up with a warm and complete feeling of being grateful to whatever or whoever it is that allowed me to be where I am, who I am. And to learn something new everyday from amazing people – and from myself.

This morning I spent some time with a group of incredible women, then got to go hang out with my fabulous cousin and her sweet new baby, and when I got home I curled up on the couch with my husband and son. By the time I hit the last stop I was nearly about to burst with joy – and it wasn’t even noon. Now THAT is a good Saturday.

Anyway, I know I’m gushing – but I think it’s important to stop and be grateful. I know a person who right now is challenging herself to write down 20 things she’s grateful for everyday for 30 days. The idea is to get herself into the habit of being grateful – to do it without thinking. I’d love to see more people as dedicated to the pursuit of gratitude as she as. But since I can’t control what others do, all I can is to try it myself. So I think I might. Certainly today is a day where 20 things to be grateful for will be easy. There will be days when my mood, my circumstances, and more will make it hard to find things to be grateful for. And those are the days when I’ll need it the most.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Choices, Choices

I love quotes. Part of it is that I love writing – words are definitely the medium I’m most comfortable in and respond the most to. The other part is that sometimes someone else can put a sentiment in just such a perfect way, or spin a phrase that really gives you pause and makes you think.

One phrase I came across the other day was “Pride in reverse.” It was in the context of explaining how some people (ahem) get very caught up in the things they do wrong or struggle with, then are wracked with guilt and turn in on themselves to focus on how horrible they are or how terribly they screwed up. So they’re feeling badly about something, but the act of wallowing in their sorrow about it was expressed as “pride in reverse”. I love that. I’ve been totally guilty of doing that. Wallowing is very self-centered. There is learning to be had in looking at things you’ve done critically, but that is a very different thing.

So back to quotes. With “pride in reverse” already in mind, I came across this great quote today:
“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” It’s from a writer named Karen Kaiser. How interesting – I think it’s so easy to assume that with change comes growth. But that’s an assumption that isn’t always the case. Potential for growth from change is always there, but you have to chose it.

Pretty fun stuff. So I’m going to choose to grow from my experiences with “pride in reverse” so that I can find better ways to handle it when I screw something up. ;-)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Do I Look Wise in these Jeans?

There are things I’ve really looked forward to about getting older. Being able to get by with less sleep, for example. Caring less about jeans sizes. Knowing myself better. Having a better handle on the world at large. Being wise.

So what gives? Does any of that stuff actually happen, or is it all a big ruse? Ironically, I think as I’ve gotten older and have had exposure to more experiences and things and people, I’m more confused than ever. People are weird and random things seem to happen all the time. As for knowing myself, I keep being surprised, even after nearly 4 decades. And the sleep thing definitely hasn’t hit at all. I really kind of need that one. I’d be so much more productive if I didn’t pass out at 10pm every night. ;-)

Well, one thing has happened. I’ve gotten tired of bullshit. ;-) Primarily my own, but also the piles of it that can build up around me. Life is just too short and I have better things to do than spend my time on things I have no control over. Especially stuff that doesn’t do anyone any good. I can’t control what people say and do. I can’t control whether people are nice or not, or whether they are considerate, or whether it will be sunny tomorrow.

But I can control some things.

I can control what I say and do. I can control how I react to things, what I do with my free time, what I eat, whether I decide to take something personally. I can control whether I let something outside my control ruin my whole day. What do I chose?

So today I got up early, and started the morning with my family. I took my beautiful son to school and kissed him goodbye on those amazing, perfect cheeks. I went to work, got things done, and I stayed calm and polite even when others chose not to. After a long day I headed to Crossfit and pushed myself to finish a hard workout. I came home and ate delicious healthy food sitting down at the table with my family so we could talk and share about our day, and just be together for a bit. And now I plan to sink into a hot bath and read before bed.

There is a lot I can’t control - but there is a lot I can, even if its small stuff. And it was a really good day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weren't there Supposed to be Fireworks?!

So I blinked and my 21-day Paleo challenge was over. I honestly can’t believe how fast time goes these days. Each year as I get older, things seem to move faster. It seems unfair, since I’m still learning how to appreciate it all. Slow down, world, so I can really enjoy everything and get the most from it!

But anyway – the challenge. This was run by one of the Crossfit coaches/nutrition guru Crystal Nelson. It was guided and we were measured and everything, and I was very strict. End result? I barely lost weight (a little over 2 pounds, I think), BUT, I lost 3.3% body fat, and 4.5 inches from my midsection. Not bad for 3 weeks! More importantly than those numbers, though, is the fact that I’ve felt great, lean, strong, energetic, and satisfied the whole time. I’ve developed a great schedule for planning weekly meals, shopping and doing some prep work on Sundays, and generally managing things without it needing to dominate my time or energy. In short, I’m good for the long haul.

Now since my last post, I was thinking more about stumbling blocks. I mean, I think it’s way easier to get fired up and enthusiastic at the start of something. Whether it’s focused on diet and exercise, or a new house project, or a personal goal, or any number of things – we can get ourselves focused and psyched up, but after that fades and we’re still slugging along with our goals miles out in front of us…..well, what then? This has been my big question.

For me, there are definitely a couple things that derail me and suck the motivation right out of the air around me. One is the need for quick gratification. Big shock given our culture, I know. ;-) But seriously, despite my efforts not to absorb too much of that message from the media, here I am ticked off that I didn’t lose more weight in 3 weeks. 3 WEEKS! I mean, shouldn’t I be impressed by the 3.3% body fat? How is a smart person like me disheartened because I don’t have a supermodel figure in 3 weeks? But at least this time I was prepared for it, and instead of letting it own me I was able to feel that emotion, give it a nod, and then let it go out the door with the other unrealistic expectations that flutter into my brain.

Another obstacle to maintaining motivation? Comparing myself to others. Rather than measure myself against, well, myself, I look at every other person around instead. Look at what that person accomplished! Look at how that other person looks! And that one’s career! I get defeated when I see success around me because I feel like I can never have whatever it is. Whether that’s because I don’t think I deserve it or because I think that person was born with a quality I somehow don’t have is up for debate. Perhaps I think they’re just better people than me. They are the achievers! The go-getters! They clearly made the right decisions to get there, and I clearly made the wrong ones because I’m not there. Something like that anyway. The end result though, is that I just give up.

Now, I like to think I’m a reasonably smart individual – and yet here I am wanting to be unique. Yet I’m using everyone around me to measure off of. And clearly, that hasn’t been working for me. Time for a change. So what I’m focusing on now is just being ME. Whatever that means in any given moment, here I am. And when my attention is on that, I realize that I actually LIKE me. I’m happy, and I get joy out of all kinds of things –my family, a beautiful afternoon, a good cup of tea, a hot bath…so many small things that aren’t huge. But they are amazing. I don’t need to be anyone else – this works.

There’s something to be said for the enthusiasm and motivation at the outset of things. But right now I’m focused on each step I take, slow and steady. I’ve got goals and desires, but they won’t be achieved until I can learn to keep putting one foot in front of the other, appreciating each step I take.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Round Two….Again

I feel like I’m infamous for starting things, stopping them, starting them again, and so on. I think they call that “inconsistency”. My intentions are good, of course. Whether it’s a way of eating, an exercise plan, a writing schedule – whatever. I start off guns blazing, but after anywhere from a week to a couple months, suddenly I find myself way off that trail. In some cases, I forget there ever WAS a trail.

Recently though, I had something of an epiphany. At least, I hope it is. You’ll have to check back after a long enough time to know if I’m for real.

I spent the last year exploring the world of Crossfit, which also introduced me to the concept of Paleo eating. The idea, for those of you who don’t know, is that many diseases and issues of being overweight and such began with the agricultural revolution. By sticking to a diet that our hunter gatherer ancestors had – one of meat, fish, vegetables, fruits nuts and seeds – we will automatically lean out and get healthier. I tried out Paleo the first three months of last year – right about when I started Crossfit workouts 3x a week. I saw great improvements in my body, performance, and overall health – but for many reasons I didn’t connect that to the Paleo diet. I figured it could just as easily be due to the workouts. I slid off the Paleo wagon, and before I knew it I was back to grabbing lunches out with the guys (mainly pizza, burritos, sandwiches – pretty much every NON Paleo food you can think of) and snacking on Goldfish with my 5-year-old.

The end of 2010 found me bloated, frustrated, and at a point where I was ready for big change. REAL change. Long-term change. So here I am again – back to strict Paleo. I’m using a coach/nutrition counselor from Crossfit Central to help keep me on track and motivated the first 21 days. And you know what – so far, it’s been awesome. Granted, I’m only a week in – but usually the first week of this kind of thing is the hardest. You fight cravings for sugar, you’re moody and tired as your body adjusts to the new diet, etc. This time though, even though I had a bit of that, I’m just so completely invested. I’m not eating this way because I HAVE to, it’s because I WANT to. I’m not thinking about what I’m missing or being deprived of – I’m enjoying all the healthy good things I am eating. And a side note – after just one week I feel SO much better physically and mentally. It’s kind of awesome.

I’m good at going through the motions of things – following rules that are laid out for me. But it’s truly another thing to throw yourself into something completely and wholeheartedly. I’m hoping that this round, I manage to set a new trend for myself, and keep my eyes and mind on the path I want to be on.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Coming into Focus

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.” Wayne Dyer

When I was in college I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. During a trip to Rome we visited the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square. If you’ve been there or seen pictures, you know that the square is surrounded by 2 half-circle structures supported by hundreds of columns set several deep. If you stand in just the right spot, though, the columns disappear behind one another and the structure you’re looking at appears as a half-circle of single columns.

I feel like life is often like that. You can look at things from all different angles and appreciate various facets of them. You shift a little this way, and a little that way. You think you found the best spot, the one that really hits the mark – but then you step a little more to one side and, almost magically, the vision clicks into place. And you realize this is how you were meant to view it. You just had to work for it a bit.

The quote above is one I recently stumbled across and loved. The end of last year, as various blog posts and the end of year silence likely indicated, I floundered. For reasons both known and fuzzy, I felt overwhelmed and unable to focus. But as the year closed, it seems as though I shifted in a way that landed me on just the right spot. And things fell into place.

I know I’ll be overwhelmed and fuzzy again in the future, but for right now, I’m thrilled to start the year feeling clean and strong and focused. It’s funny, because nothing really changed – but apparently changing my perspective was all that I needed.