Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Learning to Love the Process

The alternate title to this post is "Dealing with Disappointment." This week my coworkers asked me to wear black in *honor* of our supervisor's fortieth birthday. When I put on my black scrubs, they fit more snugly and uncomfortably than I remembered. This is where the disappointment reared its ugly head. As I reported in my last post, I've been exercising four days a week for the last couple of weeks. However, it hasn't shown up in my clothes yet. The situation reminds me of a bit of wisdom shared with me many years ago: An expectation is a premeditated resentment. Or tweaked for my circumstance, a premeditated disappointment.

So I have to change my way of thinking, specifically my beliefs about myself. James Clear calls this transformation Identity-Based Habits. Instead of my goal being to lose 75 pounds, I change how I identify myself. My current identity is "I'm a fat person who needs to lose weight." I'm working on changing it to "I am the kind of person who doesn't miss a workout"with a corollary being "I am the kind of person who takes the stairs at every opportunity." Here's the magic: Behind every behavior is a feeling, and behind every feeling is a belief. My work is to change my belief of my identity and what I can control. No matter how hard I try, I have little control over the numbers that show up on that scale. I can control how much I move, for how long and at what level. So who do you believe you are?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chaining Myself to Success

I'm trying to become a better person physically, mentally and spiritually. I'm not trying to do it on my own. I read a good bit (online and offline) and I listen to podcasts. The ones I have found that are the most uplifting have also led me to other uplifting podcasts and websites. When I have the time, I watch TED Talks. I don't remember who turned me on to TED Talks but they were sent by God. It was there that I found Brene Brown as well as Adam Baker. It was Baker (as he is generally referred to), or rather his wife via email, that directed me to Byron Davis and his podcast. It was there that I found James Clear. For all of the blogs that I read, I sign up for their emails. This is how I know when they have posted new content and sometimes you get cool extra stuff. When I signed up for James' list, there was a line at the bottom of the email that said, "I'd love to hear about what you are struggling with or what you are working towards right now when it comes to your health. Seriously -- reply to this email and let me know. I'm here to help however I can." So I did. I mean, really, this guy gets hundreds of emails so there is no way he will reply. But he did. He clearly read what I wrote to him and he linked some of his posts that he thought might help me. If he can take the time to do that, I can take the time to read what he sent.

The post that stood out the most to me addressed....Procrastination! I know you are as surprised as I am. This one (How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals by Using the Seinfeld Strategy) is the one I have most recently taken to heart. The concept is using a visual strategy of X's on a calendar (big red ones) to show that you have started a chain of behavior. It serves as reminder that you don't want to break the chain.

I started a chain this week of morning exercise. For the record, I used to go to aerobics at 5:00 am, 4 or 5 days a week but then my arthritis acted up and it was just easier to walk on the treadmill. Then it was just easier to stay home and exercise with the Wii. Then it was just easier to do nothing because there were other things I should be doing that I never ended up doing. This week I got up and walked with Leslie Sansone. I'm just walking a mile but I'll increase it over time. I mark my calendar every day I walk. It reminds me that I can do this.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Paper mess

So today I tackled the paper pile. I have tried to stay on top of the sorting and filing but it's just easier to toss papers/paperwork/receipts in the basket. The same holds true for the junk mail and credit card offers. I don't know about you but we get 4 to 5 credit card offers a week. I procrastinate with this paper pile because I know I need to shred any of the financial offers. It's an extra step in a task that I already dread.

The "important papers" basket has been piling up, especially since I refinanced my mortgage earlier this year. I finally did that after putting it off for a year or so. The basket also piles up after I clean up my husband's paper. He is overwhelmed with paper and just puts it in boxes or baggies and considers it dealt with. So I have to sort through his papers to determine what to keep and what to throw out. I have been given the advice to let him do it, but he can't. It's not that he won't; he simply can't, hence the boxes and baggies. The last time I tackled his area, I emptied six different little boxes, all containing receipts, payroll stubs and the like.

Today I have sorted, filed and shredded, and created a full trash bag. And it feels good.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On Not Making More of a Mess

Yesterday was not the best of days. It wasn't the worst by any means but I'm glad I don't have to do that one again.

First, I have had some neck/shoulder/back pain. The muscle at the base of my neck is hard as a rock and painful. The pain radiates and refer down my back and arm. It shows up when I reach for something with my left hand. It wakes me up at night. So on Monday evening, I asked my husband to massage it for me. He did so while I cried from the pain of trying to release that knot. Afterwards, I took an anti-inflammatory, drank lots of water and went to bed early. The next day (yesterday) the pain was still there but it referred less to my back and arm. I knew it was on the way to healing but it still hurt.

Later in the day, I was given some information. The information was given as it was "not personal" to me but it felt incredibly personal and fed into my insecurities. It hurt more than the physical pain I had been experiencing. As the inimitable Brene Brown says, I was experiencing shame, what she calls "the warm wash of inadequacy". Maybe I'll post more about her later but her work and speaking has resonated with me in ways that I can't describe. Anyway, I was hurting emotionally on top of the physical pain.

When I got home, there was a small package for me from a beloved cousin. It contained pictures of me and my family that had been in my grandmother's personal effects. While I would love to tell you about my Grammie, I do actually have to go to work today. After opening the package, the floodgate of tears opened up as well.

In the past I would have lashed out and spread my anger (shame-based) all over the place. I feel fortunate that I have not always been on Facebook because the ugliness of my anger shows up in spite and sarcasm. Apparently, I am not alone in this behavior.  Instead, I sat with my pain and cried. I cried until I was done. Then I went to bed. While I know that is not the best thing to do for some people, it was the best thing for me. I don't say and do things that I will have to apologize for later. I don't stew on the information and deepen my shame spiral. I rest and let my mind and body heal.

When my husband came home from work, I was able to talk to him about it. He made sure I had something to eat. Then I went back to sleep.

This morning I look back and see the pain. I can decide today whether I want to stew in it or not. I can decide to take action to make some things happen. I can decide to do nothing. I have choices. Yesterday I chose to not make more of a mess. I have the same choices today.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Power of Influence

As I was listening to radio while I got ready for work, I heard the DJs talking about how their teachers in school helped to shape their lives for the future. One in particular was talking about his teacher that suggested he join the annual staff. That experience eventually led him to what he does now. I wonder if that teacher ever knew.

I am fortunate to be Facebook friends with several of my former teacher. I'm glad that Facebook can show them how we turned out (hopefully it encourages them). I have a multitude of family and friends who work professionally as teachers at all levels of education. They have had, and continue to have, a powerful influence in the lives of their students.

But I like to think that, at some level, we are all teachers and we are all students. As a professional (Speech Language Pathologist), I teach on a very specialized level. I also learn very specialized information. But I don't just teach my patients, I try to teach their families and caregivers. I try to remember to teach them where they are in life and in the current situation. I have had families who thought I did a poor job with their loved one and others who wouldn't go to anyone else for therapy. Isn't that what happens to all of us? We connect with some of our "students" and others we cannot reach no matter what we try to do. Regardless, we have influence and I need never forget it. I remember the compassion and effort that so many of my teachers showed. Some did not and I remember that also. So my goal for today, and each day, is to remember my influence and my need to show compassion, and to let go of the result. Many times I literally see their progress and it is amazing. But some times, I never do and never will, which is why I have to let go of the results.

But if you can say thank you to your teachers (professional or otherwise), let them know. I'm sure it will make their day.