Saturday, December 6, 2014

What's Your Intention?

I have a lot of friends.    I have a lot of friends who are beautiful, and successful, and have achieved so much, and have really terrific lives.    And at this time of year especially, I am seeing a trend in my friends that makes me really sad, and is causing me to stop and really look at how I am choosing to live my own life.  

Don’t get me wrong.   They aren’t drinking too much, or doing bad things.   They aren’t being unkind to me, or treating others with disrespect.   They aren’t texting while driving or cursing, or generally hurting anyone.

Except themselves.

And as I look at them, I see my own reflection.   And for whatever reason, at this time…..the end of the year…..I feel it more strongly than before.   I feel a need to change.

It’s tradition.   The end of one year, signals a rebirth of sorts in the form of New Year’s resolutions.   We have all done it.   We vow to lose weight, to be a better person, to recycle, save money, donate to charity, run a marathon……  you name it.   Generally though, it is always this really big “global” idea.  Something life altering…something that we perceive as the one really big thing about ourselves that we need to do to be a success.

I hear it all the time.    From my friends.   These women and men that I love.    And it makes me sad.

This idea came to me in a conversation with a friend recently where she revealed a pretty momentous goal for 2015.    And achieving that goal to her seems pinnacle to her success as a person.   But what I saw, was someone putting an immense amount of pressure on herself to do something so large, that she couldn’t even picture herself doing it at that moment.  

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t thing large goals are bad.   At ALL!   I have goals, and wants and things that I want to change.    But like so many out there, and like my girlfriend, sometimes when I look at them, they seem so very far away from where I am today that I get completely overwhelmed.   And this THING…..this GOAL that was supposed to motivate me……paralyzes me instead.    And all I see at that moment is failure, and hopelessness.

So as I talked to her, this idea dawned on me.

What if…..instead of a New Year’s Resolution to begin precisely at 12:00am on January 1, 2015….what IF…..I started something NOW.   

And what if…..instead of a big global “fix me” project…….my only goal is to slow down and take my life a day at a time.    And each day, I set a small attainable intention for myself.   Something simple.   Something I am capable of doing THIS day. 
Base my “intention” on what I feel like that day.    Am I happy?   Am I sad?   Am I sick?   Am I completely overwhelmed?   What can I do TODAY to be kind to myself, and to make myself a better person?

So a few weeks ago, I started.    I made myself accountable to a friend, because that works for me.    So each day I send her a short text with my intention for the day.    Some days it is small, and some days larger.  

Today my intention is to let myself rest because I am tired.

Today my intention is to go to the gym.

Today my intention is to be kind to myself, even though I don’t feel like it.

Today my intention is to say no.

Today my intention is to clean the bathroom.

Today I am going to let myself be angry because of all that seems so unfair to me right now.

Today I am going to choose to be happy.

Do you see the difference in what I have been doing?   I am waking up, and looking at my life IN THAT MOMENT, and deciding what is possible for me.   I am setting myself up to succeed each and every day, by setting an intention that is attainable.

Some days I do better than others.   But each day, I am making a resolution for myself to be stronger by allowing myself to succeed at whatever I need that day.   That’s it.  Daily success.  

And what am I finding?   That each day I succeed……I wake up the next day feeling a little stronger.   And my viewfinder isn’t quite as laser focused on the BIG GOALS, because I am working so much more on what I NEED each day to feel complete.

This is a work in progress, and I cannot tell a lie.   It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.   I still fight with myself each time I see a diet commercial to not think “this year it will all be different.”   But I can tell you ths…’s helping.   It is helping me to honor myself with what I am needing today, and in the end, it’s helping me to see what is really important.

And that isn’t if I run a marathon, or lose 50 pounds, or whatever your resolution has been year after year.    It’s helping me to see that I am worthy of success, and gentleness, and kindness, and daily compassion.   It’s helping me put myself as a priority each day, even if it’s for something small., by deciding for myself what I need for THAT DAY only.  

And the beauty of it?  The intention changes again tomorrow.  

So I encourage you to try it.   TODAY.   Don’t wait for January 1.   We DESERVE this kind of self care and kindness every day.   Honor yourself by taking one day at a time.   

You may be surprised that after a year, you are achieving more than you ever thought possible.   

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Get Out of My Way!

“I am the only person in my life who consistently gets in my way.”

This thought has been flowing through my brain since yesterday.

I had a particularly hard day yesterday, and sitting in my car with tears running down my cheeks after a tough experience at the gym, these words came into my head and have been playing over and over and over since.  And being who I am, I have been trying to figure out what the hell to do with the thought.  

I was at the gym working with my trainer, and we are working on strengthening a shoulder injury I got through some unknown  means, and things were hard, and I was feeling weak and sorry for myself, and I suddenly felt all this emotion welling up through my soul.   It was visceral.   It was big.   And it caught me completely off guard.   I felt empty.

It hit like the surf in the ocean, coming in waves, and it was all I could do not to succumb.    I felt my throat tighten, and my heart race, and the corners of my vision began to darken and I could feel tears and frustration and anger and sadness, and I stopped.   Inside I felt like an emotional explosion had happened and I was going to have a panic attack.   I looked at my trainer and said “I’m done.” 

And I wasn’t done because I had worked too hard and felt like I was going to pass out.   I was done because emotionally I couldn’t do it anymore.   So I shut myself in the office, and talked to my trainer about what was going on, and what hard a time I was having, and how I worried about this, and that, and them, and how I worry all the time, and how OVERWHELMED I am, and how shitty it all felt.   

And he didn’t shame me.   And he didn’t look embarrassed or confused.   He listened.   And I talked.   And when I was done, he said to me that I am putting myself at the bottom of my list.   And I left with this thought….

“I am the only person in my life who consistently gets in my way.” 

And I have spent the better part of 24 hours thinking about what this means.

And here is what I have come up with….

My priority is not me.   And until I realize that I deserve to be a priority to myself, I will continue to be overwhelmed with these feelings.   I have value, and until I recognize my own value, I will continue to overwhelm myself with self doubt, hate, and shame.  

I am not programmed to be selfish.  I think most women aren’t.   But I’m pretty sure when this self preservation gene was handed out, I missed the memo.   I don’t hold myself in a place of prominence, and when I start to, I allow other things to easily nudge me out until I am no longer on the list at all.

When I lower myself to the bottom of the barrel, I give up on the things that make me better.   That fulfill me personally.   That make me a whole human being.  And I am left feeling like I did yesterday.   
I cannot continue to put myself dead last, because by doing this, I am telling myself that my needs and desires are inconsequential and trivial and that I don’t deserve to want them.   Therefore, I am not worthy or having them.   Therefore I am not worth it.  

This is not the truth I want for myself.

In so many aspects of my life, I have shut down my own needs by putting myself last.   In being a wife and mother, I think this is easy to do, but it’s time I carve out a little piece of my world for me to do the work I need to do to complete myself.   I think I deserve it.   Don’t I?

So I am going to attempt to become a champion for myself.   I am going to exercise my God given right to say “NO” when I am overwhelmed with things to do, and I am going to give myself the permission I need to do a few things for myself without feeling guilty.   I am going to try each day to look at myself as I would someone else, and hold myself in a place of compassion and caring.    I will try to tell myself it’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes.  I am going to try to move gently from the place where I see myself as an enemy not to be trusted, instead to seeing myself as a stronghold for myself.   Where I can feel safe and worthy and whole.   

And then, maybe when the world starts to feel chaotic and scary, and I feel like I have a million things to worry about, I can rely on myself for strength.

I deserve to be on my list of priorities dammit.   So I guess after nearly 44 years, it’s time to get the hell out of my own way.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Awesome Lives. My Kid is Proof.

My son came up to me and told me that he was fat.  

For real.

My son.

And when I asked him where he got that idea he said that his "friends" told him that he had fat on his legs and that his muscles weren't hard.   For real.   He's 10.  

AND he has mitochondrial disease.   AND he was born with all over hypotonia.   AND he had a tethered spinal cord.  

For real.   His body has overcome all of this......And all he wants is to be skinny.

When he was a baby the doctors told me that he might never walk.   They didn't know if his muscles could handle carrying the weight of his body.  There were days we weren't sure how long he'd even be with us.

He starts soccer practice this week.   This boy who may have never walked, or even lived.   So I want to scream at these kids,  "HIS LEGS ARE FREAKING MIRACLES!   AND HE WILL NEVER HAVE HARD MUSCLES, BUT THE FACT THAT HE'S PLAYING SOCCER IS AMAZING! THE FACT THAT HE'S ALIVE AND THRIVING IS AMAZING!  THE FACT THAT HE'S HAPPY AND HEALTHY IS THE BIGGEST WIN HERE!"  But of course I can't.   So I'm here.  

I have had this thought before, and I've written it before, but I feel compelled to say it again.   So here goes.

If we as parents don't teach our children that body type doesn't mean a thing when it comes to being a good person, we are failing.   We teach them that they can't judge people based on color, or handicap, or religion.   We teach our children that sexual orientation is nothing more than who you fall in love with and isn't a reason to judge people.   We teach our children that kindness is IMPORTANT, and that being a good and gracious human being is one of the best gifts you can give the world.

But we still treat weight like a dirty little secret.    Fat is bad.   Unrealistic skinny is good.  

We have to change this.   Health is important.   Body type is not.  Period.  

So let's teach kids to see the awesome INSIDE people instead of the exterior that houses it.  Just a thought.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Saw Myself in the "Mirror" Today...

I went to the gym this morning, which in and of itself is an accomplishment because I woke up in a pissy mood, and certainly didn’t want to.   But I went.   I need to exercise this shoulder so I don’t tighten up, and I need to move to keep my brain from tightening up, so I went.

But the whole time I was there…..I fought HARD not to cry.   Not because what I was doing was so hard, but because I just felt shitty, inside and out.   Lifting weights generally makes me feel better, but today, although my body feels good, when I was driving home, I was literally sobbing.  Not the kind of endorphine rush I was going for.

See, as I was doing my workout, and listening to my music, I was just sort of noticing what was going on around me.   And I saw a woman, a woman I don’ t know, having a conversation with her trainer.    And even though I couldn’t hear her (nor would I presume to try….that’s rude) I knew EXACTLY what she was saying.   I knew, because I could read it on her.   She hadn’t followed her “plan” and she “knew better” and she just in general was giving off the “I’ve failed again” vibe.   I’m very familiar with it, because I do it all the time.   I didn’t study her long, because I didn’t’ want to be rude or nosey, but as I moved on, I saw another woman walking  on the treadmill.   And every few minutes she would look around the entire gym with what I can only call a timid look on her face.   I know that one too….”don’t look at me.   I’m ashamed of what I look like.  I wish I was invisible.”  And I just got sad.   

As I noticed all these women, I simply wanted to go up to them and say, “You are NOT alone.   I know EXACTLY how you feel, and although we all get to where we are on different paths, the landing spot of self hate is often very similar.   And you aren’t failing at ANYTHING, and I am GLAD you aren’t invisible  Give yourself a break, and forgive yourself.  And then….LIGHTBULB….I realized this is what I needed to say to myself.

Why can’t we give ourselves a break?   At some point I convinced myself that I had to do it all and do it all well, or I wasn’t living.   But I forgot one key component here….I am HUMAN.   And being human means that some days will be better than others and some days I am just going to want a cookie to get through it, or to lay in bed and watch tv, or to read, or WHATEVER I need to do to cope, and that’s OKAY.  As humans we encounter hurt and discouragement, and sometimes when we can’t deal with it, we need to give ourselves a break from reality.   AND THAT IS OKAY!   As long as you find the place to pick yourself up and move on when you are ready.    

And right now, I am ready.   Seeing myself literally reflected back in those other women, has shown me that I am ready to let this go. 

I have been in a sad place for a bit, and it’s time to choose something else.  I am not invisible.   I am not a failure.   I do the best I can with what I have.   And today….I am CHOOSING to change my outlook.  And all because I went to the gym and saw myself.

Every day I have a choice to make when I wake up.  Today I just needed a little help from the universe to get to the right one.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How about a New Year's EVOLUTION?

Here is a small list of things I know I want to try.   Not because it’s a new year, but because I think I am ready.  I don't want to set myself up with a list of things that I will ultimately fail at.   I want to take some time to look at what has been holding me back, and allow myself to naturally evolve into the version of myself that I want to be.   Shall we call it a my New Year's EVOLUTION?

1.  I want to begin to “let go”
            What does this mean?   It means I realized recently that I am carrying around a whole bunch of stuff with me that is shaping how I handle situations and how I deal with things emotionally.   These things are from past experiences, mostly negative, and they are no longer serving me.   I would like the opportunity to react to situations for myself today, and not as myself from years past.   To be able to truly do this, I need to free myself from the feelings I carry.    I want to let go.

2.  I want to look at myself in the mirror and be happy with who I see there.
            I am tired of looking at my reflection and feeling regret and anger and disappointment.   I am so much more than a size, or wrinkle, or gray hair.   I am a woman who has value.   I am a wife, a mother, a friend.  I want to see this when I look at my own reflection.   This may well be one of the hardest things I will attempt, but I feel I am ready to give it a shot.

3.  I want to stop being lead by fear.  
            I often believe that I allow my decisions and actions to be lead by fear.   Fear of failure, isolation, gaining weight, making waves, doing the wrong thing, etc. etc. etc.   I want to make decisions with conviction and be happy in the choices I make.  I want to know that when I decide on something that I am making my decision from a place of peace and not one of constant worry of the outcome.

4.   I want to fill myself and my life up with things that make me feel good.  
            This one has to be interpreted VERY carefully, because if you are food obsessed like me, you could easily make this about what you eat.   NO!   Of course I would like to incorporate some more whole food, and make choices that make me physically feel good, but what I really mean by this is that I want to bring things that make me happy into my life.  I don’t want to HAVE to exercise and eat well, I want to focus energy on doing it because it makes me FEEL more peaceful and happy.   And with this, I must allow myself the power to NOT always be perfect and regimented, but to eat a cookie and lay around once in a while too.   I want to listen to my body AND my soul, and honor what they need without harsh self criticism or guilt.

And finally…

5.   I want to regain trust in myself.
            Somewhere along the path this past year, I feel like I have lost my way personally.   I question everything I do, and making decisions for my own well being has become a chore of playing questions over and over in my mind.    I want to get back to believing in myself and stop obsessing over what I believe people perceive of me.   I am a smart, loving, caring, intelligent woman, and I am capable of living a good life.   My decisions aren’t always perfect, but if I listen to my inner self, I trust that I DO know what is best for me.  

I think it’s important for me to write this as well.    I am a good person today, and I will be a good person tomorrow.   I am a good person if I yell at my kids.   And I am a good person if I eat a cookie.   I am a good person at size 16, and I’d be the same good person at size 10.    Nothing about what I want to work on changes WHO I am…it simply changes how I perceive what is already there.

So, it’s time for me to put a little energy into these five things .  I really believe that if I can tackle this, I can set myself up on a foundation of personal strength and peace.  To evolve into the me that actually likes herself a little more.   I’ll let you know how it goes.