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.