Sunday, February 02, 2014
A month has passed since some made their "NEW YEAR" resolutions. How did you do? Did you head into 2014 with a plan and it's already gone beside the way or are you living it?
I have been overindulging for decades in many ways.
Many have been over eating, over drinking, over spending, under exercising, generally engorging themselves on life with the idea that come January 1st they will put an immediate end to it all. They will do this by merely invoking their New Year’s resolutions.
You see, I have a big problem with resolutions. They are for the most part unattainable. By turning one page of the calendar you cannot break firmly engrained bad habits.
Realistically you cannot vow to start going to the gym five days a week when historically you have gone once or twice then stopped.
Little known fact, but makes total sense, more people sign up for gym memberships during the month of January than any other time. Of course they do, for a brief moment, they are following through on their well – meaning resolutions. But by the end of February most people who signed up stop going all together, another hunk show up once every few weeks. The rest are MIA by March.
The basis of the recovery movement is a day at a time. Each day we have the chance to examine and amend our behavior.
What works about this principle is if you slip up, it’s one day. You are not falling off a giant wagon that you have declared will carry you for 365 days.
As we all know bad habits, old habits, all habits are hard to break. They require daily vigilance and diligence if we want to change them.
And if you fall back into old ways, as we all do; if you take a piece or three of pizza when you have sworn off carbs. Or snuck a Marlboro Light when you promised to quit smoking; or if you took out that over used Visa for a purchase you vowed you would not make; well, you are merely human.
But human nature, being human what we tend to do is go, “Oh well, I’ve botched the whole thing up now” and what can be taken as a momentary, singular tear in a resolution (if we must use that word) becomes a direct pathway right back to the old habits.
The Visa remains in use. The one cigarette gets turned into a pack and then another, until you’re right back to a pack a day. The pizza is followed by dessert and well what the hell, I will start the diet next week. Which often turns into next year, which translates into never. The single day you missed working out, is suddenly four, then four weeks, then WTF – why bother?
The advantage of a day at a time is you just say, OK, I’m not ruining a year with this one incident. I’m not undoing my whole new lifestyle.
I’m not stacking the deck totally against personal progress. I’m making it doable.
Habits are easy to return to once they are habits, and that works both ways, good habits and bad habits. If you get in the habit of taking care of yourself, eating well, working out, not over spending, whatever your Achilles heel might be it will be much easier to return to it even if there is a slip up.
But you can realistically only create those habits if you take it a day at a time. If you set yourself up by saying, “I will never eat another carb until June.” Well, that is not possible. Not for me. I say I try not to eat too many carbs. That is as good as I can do. I know will eat them, but I don’t set myself up to fail. If I’ve had more on one day than normal, I say tomorrow I cut way back, maybe tomorrow I have none. The day after I will see what happens. And it’s the way I live my life. Some days are better than others. If I said December 31st, “I am totally off carbs”, and by January 2nd I was at IHOP, it would likely be another year before I made that declaration. I would probably spend too much time at IHOP.
So, yes, we are all about self-improvement. Yes, we are all about making the most of our lives. Yes, we are all about owning our flaws and life-limiting habits and trying to correct them, to make our lives and the lives of those we love that much better.
But we are also realistic. And we know to live that way mandates a day at a time approach.
We are grateful we wake up each morning, not just January 1st with a clean slate. Whatever has gone on the day before is history and we have a whole new 24 hours to start again. And once those 24 hours start building, they become days and weeks and months. And then it’s January 31st again and you are in a much better place than you were the year before. And it didn’t happen because you resolved to never do anything again, but because you made the choice to live your life one day at a time.
You trust you will do the right thing and if you don’t you are grateful every day is a new slate. Ipso facto - if you live in the moment every day is January 1st.
Check out this system and see what you think. David Seah came up with Ground Hog Day Resolutions. davidseah.com/blog/2013/02/groundhog
-day-resolutions-2013-kick-off/ Brilliant really. You could do yours as GHDRR if you find this today or VDRR if you read it later. ANY time really you can pick it up and introduce a set of goals revisited MONTHLY.
If you start TODAY it would be
February 2 GHDR #1
Each month you check-in equal to that month's number on the calendar...
To make things easy, I’ve made the check-in date for each month equal to that month’s number on the calendar. For example, in April, my VDR review day (VDRR) is on the 4th. In May, the 5th and so forth. Therefore, my schedule looks like this:
March 3 — GHDR #2
April 4 – GHDR #3
May 5 – GHDR #4
June 6 – GHDR #5
July 7 – GHDR #6
August 8 –GHDR #7
September 9 – GHDR #8
October 10 – GHDR #9
November 11 –GHDR #10 Veteran's Day
December 12 – GHDR #11 End of Year
When you finish up in December you devote the rest of the month to holiday celebrations. If holidays coincide with the days use them for themed reflection. I love the one for Tanabata that Dave Seah uses. It is a Japanese holiday when one makes wishes for self improvement, written on streamers and placed on trees.
Veteran's Day is a day of remembrance, and we give thanks for freedoms enjoyed due to the sacrifice of others and as Dave says, gives additional resolve to push to the end.
The point is that there are so many ways for us to set ourselves up for success and celebrate and savor ALL the moments of every day!
P.S. The sun isn't up yet so no clue what Phil will predict for us. Hoping for an early spring; how about you?
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Who Do You Want to Be This Year?
This is the time of year when we make a lot of promises. In year’s past, I’ve resolved to go to the gym regularly, take yoga classes, listen to classical music in the mornings, bring a smile to one person’s face every day, write one letter of gratitude to a loved one each month, and to give up dairy, among many other resolutions.
As I thought over what I wanted to change about my life in 2014, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. Do more good deeds! Give more attention to your loved ones! Meditate more often! Be the light in everyone’s day! Help all the aging people in your life on a regular basis! Do something memorable with your family every month!
It felt as if it would take a resolution a year for the rest of my life to even make the smallest dent in my list.
So I decided to keep it simple: Bring the best you to the next moment.
The best me is the woman who ignores her mild fatigue so she can make life easier for someone who has even less energy. She listens even when her mind is tempted to wander. When someone needs her attention, she stops what she is doing and she gives it freely and abundantly. When someone needs advice, she shares her wisdom without getting attached to whether that person puts that advice into action. When people are in pain, she gives them what they say they need rather than forcing them to endure what she thinks they should want. She does dirty jobs without complaint. She offers the best parking spaces to others. She notices all the small ways her husband makes her life easier and she compliments him. She’s a walking, talking bottle of Xanax and Prozac. She’s so happy and peaceful that others around her are infected by her brightness. She is the person she wants her child to become. She learns from every hardship and from every person. She is a friend to the world.
The best me is someone else. She’s the me of my dreams. She’s a Saint, a Bodhisattva, a holy being, a wistful fantasy. I like to imagine I can become her, but I don’t believe I am her. Can I be her for a whole year? I don’t have faith that I can.
Even an hour feels like a stretch. But the next moment? Definitely.
Our lives are filled with moments, most of which slip by so quietly that we don’t even realize they ever took place. There will be many quiet moments during 2014 when I’ll accidentally leave my best self in bed. My ordinary self will get up and go about her day on autopilot. Entire days might go by as my ordinary self goes through the motions and my best self lies dormant. During the next year, I promise to wake my best self and pull her out of bed as soon as I remember that she exists.
There are many other moments that are so loud that no one could possibly miss them. Such moments are filled with problems and obstacles. In at least some of these loud moments, I’m bound to tell my best self to just mind her own business and let my worst self handle things for a change! After the worst me has whipped all of my problems into tornados of negativity and pain, she’ll take a look at the mess she’s created and she’ll feel overwhelmed. Oh, what has she done? Who could be so stupid? So negative? So cruel? So short-sighted? Oh, my worst self will sit down, pull her knees into her chest, and she’ll wallow. During the next year, I promise to use wallowing as a sign to tuck my worst self into bed and let my best self clean up her mess.
Every moment offers us a chance to start over. No moment is too late or too early to welcome your best self into your life. In the miraculous freedom of one fleeting moment, the you of the future can become the you of the now.
Who is your best you? When will you invite that self into your life?
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Like each year, after I thought about my word and my plans for 2014, I began to think more and more about what the word and the priorities meant. Since I tend to be self-reflective during this time of year, this is very long and mostly for my benefit.
Since I have my list of priorities this year, I thought it would be a good exercise to see if I could come up with a few goals for each.
One of my goals this year is to really slow down. I know this might not seem so from the list, but I am focusing on what I know will comfort my soul but no more so I can also rest and breathe more as I want to keep working on being more present and listening.
My other big focus this year is on learning. I’ve noticed that I go through different cycles and 2013 was a year of practicing for me but not a lot of learning. I want to feel free to experiment, to mess up, to copy others, to learn new things. I want to my own voice and to do that, I need to start with others’ voices, with what calls me. I want to create room for that this year. I also just want to learn new things. In every topic. I love learning, it makes me come alive.
So here we go:
Goals for Each Priority
1. Find ways to enjoy each other’s company.
2. Participate more in The School of Rock
3. Write weekly gratitudes and celebrations.
4. Take online classes and focus on learning
5. Schedule MINIMUM bi-monthly date nights with Brian.
6. Meet Kathy’s new husband that she has spent the past 13 years with.
7. Spend time with family making memories.
8. Enjoy walks with the fur family DAILY.
1. Continue walking and shooting for 10,000 steps a day.
2. Work Beachbody Programs - start and complete at least three this year.
3. Eat whole/clean foods at least 80/20.
4. Get minimum 7 hours of sleep every night.
5. Take a walk somewhere new every week with the family and dogs.
1. Send one kind email to someone each week.
2. Have an end of the day ritual each night and a welcoming the day ritual each morning.
3. Always use the good stuff. Thank you Erma Bombeck.
4. Celebrate and savor moments.
1. Write down two things I am grateful for each day.
2. Create gratitude post cards and mail them
1. Get coaching certification
2. Take local classes
3. Take online classes
4. Go to Beachbody Summit again this year.
1. Invite guests to dinner.
2. Get out and meet people.
3. Send out gratitude cards to people I am grateful for.
1. Read a book a week
2. Journal daily.
3. Gratitude Journal daily.
4. Experiment more with meditation, yoga and breathing
5. Go camping.
1. Make and keep regular pedicure and hair appointments (every 6 weeks or so)
2. Enjoy volunteer opportunities and giving back/paying forward.
3. Send one kind email to someone each week
4. Have and end-of-day ritual each night and a welcoming-the-day ritual each morning
5. Follow self-care rituals and maintain them.
1. Learn to do lettering (Finish on-line classes)
2. Take more online classes.
3. Practice lettering/doodling and DO IT.
4. Participate in art related swaps.
1. JUST DO IT!
2. Get out of the house and engage.
3. Participate more.
4. Journal Daily
5. Sign up for and complete a 5K at least bi-monthly.
7. Learn/tackle something new. Explore something I haven’t done.
I decided this year’s thoughts to cultivate will be around my core desires. So here’s some of what’s on my mind.
1. Serene What helps me be most serene is taking time for myself. I plan to start the day and end the day alone. Listen to Tara Brach. I will take a break in the middle of the day and walk to get some fresh air and to step away for a bit. I will slow down and breathe more. When I feel worry and panic, I will take a moment, I will name it, I will let things get quieter and then act (and not react.) I will use the Four Questions. I will set intentions each week. I will end my days with a small routine to re-center myself. I will make sure to get enough sleep.
2. Grace I will carry myself with grace. I will take the time to be kind. I will practice ease and comfort. I will take the extra few minutes to wear things that make me feel good. I will take care of my body, my soul and my heart. I will slow down and move deliberately. I will get quieter. I will listen more talk less. I will thank. I will show my gratitude. I will practice self-kindness and care as well as extending it to others. I will volunteer. I will practice patience.
3. Engaged I will choose to engage. I will show up. I will step up. I will learn and grow and participate. I will choose curiosity again and again. I will choose to lean in. I will pay attention to what makes me come alive. I will practice art. I will practice both depth and breadth.
Whole I will practice self-compassion. I will choose kindness towards myself. I will celebrate achievements big and small. I will practice gratitude. I will show up to events and reach out to those I love. I will make room for new friends. I will choose to cultivate belonging. I will make the time and room for others.
Major focus areas to come back to again and again.
Let go of worry. Be present. Stay in the present moment. To breathe and see if something I am worrying about is or should be in the past or future instead of the here and now. I plan to listen to various life coaches and mentors and inspirations regularly and use The Four Questions.
Do less. Slow down. Make and spend quality time with family. Quality time to rest. Let myself off the hook if I need to.
Do not yell! I hate that I have become a yeller. I do it far more often than I want to admit. This year it’s non-negotiable. BREATHE. People I love deserve my respect just as I do theirs. I want to be more resolute. Kinder. Stronger. Quieter. Calmer.
Be mindful. I want to be a lot more aware of my own feelings. Those of my kids. Aware of how my actions affect others. How I actually have time before I need to react. How I can choose what I want to do next. How I can choose the tone of my voice, the way I feel, the way I react.
Celebrate. I want to focus on all the good things in my life more purposefully this year. Take scheduled time to celebrate. Celebrate those around me and myself. Spread joy. Spread kindness. Make rituals. Reach out to people and celebrate together. Life is a present. The best gift ever. LIVE IT!
Cultivate belonging. I have been struggling with community for awhile now. Working at home and juggling all that I do makes it harder for me. I have also developed social anxiety. So instead of tring to cure it all, my plan this year is to narrow down my focus. Find the few people I care about and cultivate those friendships. Focus on establishing deeper ties. Not necessarily wider but deeper. For me and my family.
Self Compassion. I want to be kinder to myself. I want to cultivate awareness so I can see when I fall back into my non-productive patters and forgive myself. I want to show my family that we all mess up and we all deserve forgiveness. I want to be kind, kind, kind. I ant to practice non-judging awareness. And I want to quit taking things personally.
Be open. While I want to forgive myself for not enjoying some of the things others may, I also want to continue to try new things. I want to be willing to do something just for someone else. Be open to the possibility that I may like it. I want to be BRAVE. I want to be a good example of courage and practice it regularly. I want to move away from deprecating self talk. I want to show that failure is a part of life and so is showing compassion for oneself.
Gratitude. I plan to kick the gratitude thing up a few notches. I want to practice it myself, send it out to my friends and the universe. I want to make it front and center in my life. I know it’s one of the biggest links to happiness.
January – Quietly Present – take a break. ponder. walk, don’t run. take it slow and steady. be calm. don’t yell. be quieter. listen.
February – Joyfully Present – celebrate the joy of life. drink it up. buy a present. spread the joy. how could you celebrate more?
March – Kindly Present – be kinder to yourself. how can you be kinder? gentler with yourself and others. go slow. be sweet.
April – Bravely Present – take a risk. do something new. where are you not being brave? dare to do more or different.
May – Physically Present – go outside. breathe. and breathe more. can you do more to be healthy? what needs attention now?
June – Calmly Present – embrace the chaos. assume it will be fun. breathe. and then relax some more. lean into the joy of family.
July – Positively Present – focus on the positive. what is good about this moment? see the good. find the gem. life is beautiful.
August – Deliberately Present – choose your path. choose to show up. is this what you want to do? is it fulfilling you? look closely.
September – Visibly Present – See people. Let yourself be seen. who can you reach out to today? send an email to meet with them.
October – Deeply Present – go deeper. what are you taking for granted? what more is there? what are you not paying attention to? look around.
November – Unabashedly Present – be bold. show up. be you. what’s holding you back? what would feel great? now go do it.
December – Fully Present – soak it all in. experience all the moments. love deeply. forgive. hug. breathe the joy in. love.
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