Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Ever find one of those words that you can't define without using the word itself or its root or derivative? "Use" is one of those words!
As a software designer (one of my hats), I once took a course in "usability". Bear with me, this does have a Spark connection. In this course, about 20 software / hardware engineers sat together and were asked as an opening exercise to design a "usable" hot and cold water faucet: what direction the handles would turn, which side things would be on, etc. Also included were controls for a stove-top.
So, any predictions for what designs came out? Did I hear a voice in the back saying, "you designed what you already used!"? In fact, that's true. Each of us ended up drawing the faucet control or stove controls that we had at home. Whoa! To US, they were usable. But they certainly were not identical.
This exercise was to wake us up to the fact that to design something usable, you needed to understand who was going to be using it, what their background and experience was, and so on.
Which brings me to Spark, diet, and exercise. Each of us brings to Spark a wealth of experience. There are a lot of content experts here on Spark who know nutrition and know exercise very well. But each of us will find the tools here more or less usable based on what we have already experienced.
Extending this to eating plans and exercise plans and mind-work: nobody knows YOU better than you! (Well, maybe your mom or your spouse... but I digress!) Tools and programs have to work into your life. I just saw a blog by SLENDERELLA61 yesterday where she was adapting her schedule to fit in the things that have become priorities to her program, so that she can continue her maintenance journey successfully.
I had to do something similar last Winter / Spring / Summer when a large work project interfered with my energy levels... I had to adapt my expectations and my plan to fit the way my life needed to work for six months or so. Change isn't always easy. But it's seldom absent. Adapting things in a program to make them usable where I am RIGHT NOW in my life is essential to long term success.
That means considering, re-considering, and adjusting... you know, those that I see setting monthly goals have something there. When I sit down with an adviser (maybe even that internal adviser in my brain) and discuss upcoming events in life and how I will fit my program around them, I am doing the same sort of thing: planning and adapting.
So this is my wish for all of us today: Here's to keeping our weight management and fitness and nutrition plans fresh and usable... with periodic reviews of "how it is going".
Monday, October 04, 2010
Time. We only have so much of it. Yet each of us has exactly the same amount each day. How we use it is important to our health and well-being, but also to those who rely on us. There are a vast number of "time management" systems, from the Franklin Covey systems to the One Minute Manager system to you name it that purport to help us learn to better manage the time that we have. But it dawned on me this morning (yes, in the shower, post-workout, endorphin-influenced)...
I do one of three things with a given moment in time: I think, I avoid, or I act. OK, that IS an over-simplification, but it will do for the purpose of this entry.
Thinking in a moment can be simple observation of my surroundings, but it often involves the past, the future, and judgment of what I am observing or thinking about. The "thinking" is where those of us with problems beating up on ourselves get in trouble. This is when we don't just observe our behavior, remember the comment someone made to us yesterday, or contemplate the wedding that's coming up in a couple of weeks: we make judgments about it!
More acceptance, less judgment in thinking about what's going on in my life has been a blessing of my program.
Avoidance is something that I do. I think others with compulsive issues (be it eating, drinking, cleaning, gambling, working, whatever compulsion is your favorite) do this too. We behave compulsively to avoid facing something. Or to avoid doing something we consider unpleasant. My little "binge" on Saturday was partly avoidance behavior: if I'm eating I can't be doing something else (cleaning).
By the way, for those of you waiting for the next chapter in THAT saga, I spent a good deal of Sunday doing what I had been avoiding on Saturday. That leads right into the third thing to do with my time: act. Since I have a new furnace and hot water heater getting installed today, I needed to get the area of the house where they are going to be cleared out to give the workmen space to work. And while I was at it, I started in on another chore I've been avoiding... for three years!
Yes, the kids moved out three years ago, leaving a lot of clutter behind. It has taken me until now to address parts of that clutter, and yesterday I did! It just so happens that a good chunk of that clutter was near where the work needs to be done today. I'm rather pleased with myself.
Moral of the story: thinking does not require one to stop acting. You can think while acting, and sometimes that casts a more positive spin on the thoughts. It helps work out anger. It helps wash grief. It helps heal the scars of that "beating up on oneself" that some of us are so prone to inflict.
This is not to minimize the importance of restoration thought, meditation, relaxation... those are needed too. To STOP the thinking. To relax the muscles that have worked well today. To rest and sleep. And I did, very well, after my day of action.
Here's to a healthy use of our 24 hours today! May we nourish ourselves, have some activity, and take time to restore... may we live a life of Mastery, just for today.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
I'll bet you thought I'd say "sleep"! I kind of set you up with that expectation yesterday when I mentioned starting the better sleep challenge, but I'm not ready to blog about that just yet. And as often happens, life intervened and told me I need to write about the "should" game, and how it can really kill a healthy living program.
Lots of voices, inside and outside, tell us what we "should" do. But, how often does even casting that thought in terms of "should" have a negative impact on whether I act on it? I don't know about you but it seems to me that every time I start out with "I should clear out those weeds in the back yard..." it's followed by a "but I don't feel like it!" It's like the very word "should" sets me up for rebellion.
Yesterday I had a minor binge episode, and it started with a "should". In this case it was a whole bunch of "should"s. I should vacuum. I should clean the tile floors. I should dust. I should weed. I should organize.
And the list got so big that I overwhelmed myself. I rebelled. And I got into some procrastination eating. I'm sure I'm the ONLY person who ever does that!
I don't want to do this thing I should do, so I'll eat, instead?
In looking back, the anatomy of the binge involved some drowsiness, some procrastination, and some fear of losing too much. It wasn't the terrible tear of a binge I am capable of, but it was a red flag. I was aware of what I was doing, even as I continued to act on it. And I stopped and brushed my teeth and didn't continue it past supper. By bedtime, I pretty much knew what it was all about. And I am not giving myself a hard time about it, but I am determined it's over.
Today is a recovery day, an introspection day... and a day to examine those "should"s and prioritize them into what I shall and shall not do today.
After all... today is all I have!
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Back a few blogs I talked about Mastery Living, the "cure" for Stalled Living. In Mastery Living there are three elements, one of which is Time to Restore. That's so important to us hard-charging, black-white thinking, type-A personalities.
So what does it mean to restore?
1 to give back (something taken away, lost, etc.); make restitution of
2 to bring back to a former or normal condition, as by repairing, rebuilding, altering, etc. (to restore a building, painting)
3 to put (a person) back in a place, position, rank, etc. (to restore a king to his throne)
4 to bring back to health, strength, etc.
5 to bring back into being, use, etc; reestablish (to restore order...)
The other two elements of Mastery Living, exercise and meaningful activities are ways that we expend our energy. Time to restore is a vital piece: we need to get that energy back!
How many of us, in our unfit times, saw "rest" as sitting on the couch and munching while watching TV? If you've come a long way on your journey, do you still see that as restorative?
But it IS important to give our bodies the time to recover from exercise: to rebuild muscles. And it IS important to give our minds the restoration of good sleep. So, I've taken on the Better Sleep challenge for October. I'm starting to journal about my sleep... so far on paper, but don't be surprised to find it showing up in the blog, too. After all, I'm going to run out of alphabet pretty soon!
I'm trying to think of what I do to restore, and I am having trouble! So, it is an area for me to work on, or at least become more conscious of. Thoughts that come to mind are NOTICING the beauty around me, whether that's Orion marching across the sky when I'm putting my trash to the curb, or the sunrise / sunset, the trees changing color. Breathing, and being conscious of that. Reading / watching inspiring stories.
Spark friends... what do YOU do to restore your soul?
Friday, October 01, 2010
How could it be anything other than "quest"?
quest (noun) - 1 a seeking; hunt; pursuit 2 a journey in search of adventure, as those undertaken by knights-errant in medieval times
quest (verb transitive) - to search for, seek
What is a journey without a destination? What is a search, without an object of desire? What is a mission, without an objective?
I feel that life itself is a form of quest: we start out as infants, fully "programmed" (if you'll pardon a programmer's analogy) to figure out and adapt to the world in which we find ourselves. Thus begins the struggle for survival. But survival is not enough for human beings to thrive. We need those goals. We need something to quest for. Once our basic needs are met, there are whole realms of development to be sought and achieved.
I've known my Q word would be quest ever since I wrote the P entry for play. How do two such words tie together? I take myself back to childhood and how often my "play" involved fantasy. My siblings and I would act out stories in our play: rescue the princess (Ivanhoe, Knights of the Round Table), save the village (pick your favorite Western, or modernize this to Star Wars!), survive on the island (Swiss Family Robinson)... whatever. There were heroes and heroines who were brave and took action.
Back in "real life", we truly are our own heroes, as we quest, life-long, for health and fitness. And as we do, we can pursue whatever larger goals mean something to each of us.
I leave you with a link to lyrics: the song that's been playing in my head ever since Wednesday. It's from the Musical, "Man of La Mancha" - The Impossible Dream. The key bits: "I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest. And the world will be better for this."
What are you questing for today?
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