Tuesday, July 13

Time flies

It's already time for my 3rd set of goals for the 15-week period from 7/7/10 to 10/20/10. I've learned that small goals really do work. And that it's important to state goals that are actually what I want to achieve rather than what I think I should do.

So, here are my new goals:

  • Physical: Visit the "Y" 3 times a week, doing what the trainer's plan says to do but no more (unless I feel like it). I'm loving working out, feeling my body again from the neck down, and am settling into a routine so that less effort is being spent on getting there.

  • Social: Renew my personal style by adding something new to my wardrobe each week, even if it's just a bracelet, so that I feel like going out and doing things. This is more about living in my entire body not just being aware of myself from the neck up. This week I added a nearly clear yet peachy nail polish.

  • Emotional: Just do it, 3 times a week. Meaning take immediate action when I think of something rather than putting it off and over thinking. As an example, when I realized I had a conflict for the time I'd made a doctor's appointment, I just called up and requested another time. That was so refreshing, so much easier than fretting over which of the two appointments to change, or waiting until the last minute and coming up with a story to explain a cancelled appointment (not that I would ever do such a thing, you understand).

  • Intellectual: Try something that I wouldn't typically do, 2 times a week to get more out of my comfort zone. For one thing, I'm downloading some classical music for my iPod as an alternative to classic rock and country. For the 2nd thing this week, I haven't a clue. I definitely like my comfort zone but I do understand that the point is to enlarge it. Not enter a zone of discomfort, necessarily, but find new things that become comfortable.

  • Spiritual: Make my house a home again, a place for flourishing, by taking steps 2 times a week to refresh a particular area (a place to sew, a place to cook, a place to reflect, a place to sleep, a place to paint, etc.).

Should be fun!

You know, this process is reminding me of something that I used to say to younger people who were hesitating over going to night school. I'd say that the time will pass anyway so the question is what do you want to have at the end of the time period. This may sound weird but I'm so grateful to myself that at the end of these 30 weeks I'm not still just thinking about changing.

Interesting thoughts for the week before I turn 60, yes? I guess I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up: me!

Sunday, June 27

A meditation story

Ok, so I am fine but have been super busy fitting achievement of all of my weekly goals on top of things that have to be done that are not goal-related. Funny how much time we spend on things not related to goals!

The best thing is that I have reconnected with Vee, an out-of-town gal friend. We had gradually grown away from each other while I was focusing (well, watching from a distance) on my falling-down life. But we picked up from where we'd left off as if it had been only a week or two. Love the way that can happen. Timeless friendships.

Have been to the Y every other night for two weeks! So proud of myself. In a good way. Haha. I signed up for a free (once-per-membership) 12-week program with a personal trainer…you get 4 meetings w/ the trainer over the 12-week period. The trainer that I drew out of the hat is a woman over 55, really nice woman. Told me to go slow and to NOT do more than she says to do so that I will keep it up rather than drop out. Instructions like that I can follow.

I work out in the back exercise room for people who like quiet exercise without tv, music, or chatter. Sometimes it’s just me and one other person or no one or at the most two other people. Love it.

Anyway, I told you that so that this meditation story will make sense. I got up early yesterday so that I could get to the Y and back and still get the garage shampooed before lunch. Looking for a nice quiet morning. Walked in the room to work out and this woman I’ve never seen before said, “HI!! How are you today” while walking on the treadmill. I said, “Ok, how are you.” And she says, “Well, I would be a lot better but I’m going thru a divorce and have been fighting with my husband since January over who gets the kids and now (pauses to wipe sweat) I finally got him to agree and the kids want to stay with him but what do they know. Not to mention the guy I’m dating is pissed off that I’m working out because he asked me if I’m losing weight for him and I said 'no I’m losing weight so that I can meet a new guy after you screw up' and he didn’t think that was funny but I do* and my sister hates me because now she’s a size 18 and I’m a size 16 which is smaller, I don’t know if you know that, but it is, and I’m proud of it but my mother is mad because I have hurt my sister’s feelings.” So I said, “Oh um nice to meet you but I can’t talk and exercise at the same time. No breath, you know.” Thinking she would hush. But she didn’t. Talked non-stop while I said nothing except “oh” when she’d pause to wipe sweat off her face. Finally, I just closed my eyes and focused on breathing in and out. And after awhile her voice faded away. That’s my meditation story.

The good thing is that my friend Kathy noted that I now have a new BFF. Geeez. What if she's right??

I hope you're having a lovely weekend! Take care until we catch up again.

*Must admit. That is funny.

Saturday, May 22

New Growth

This is my favorite time of year. And this is my favorite year. I just realized that is so.

I've been so busy. There's something about being busy that makes a person get even more busy. And the frame of the day expands to hold it all.

Well, that's not exactly what I mean. It's the opposite of being closed off, where one activity can expand to fill the entire day. But busy I have been:
  • Took my young friend (the one that I'm mentoring -- I'll call her Shara since the benefits flow both ways) to two restaurants for dinner, helping her to get comfortable with more formal restaurants, menus and the like, than fast food restaurants so that she's prepared for job interviews

  • In the process of getting to know Shara, I've also expanded my sense of self-forgiveness by highlighting all the mistakes I've made in my life from the perspective of how it's ok, not just ok, it's that learning from mistakes is actually what life is all about

  • Refrained from making an issue of a conversation I overheard at work which I thought meant disaster for me only to learn later that the conversation was not actually about me

  • Recommended (rather than asked for -- a distinction that's making all the difference) a new project for myself (designing the wellness component of our new medical benefit plan) which will stimulate my thinking and also support my personal wellness goals

  • Surprised myself by getting initial loan approval (testament to my 18-month focus on not purchasing stuff) to refinance my house which, of course, means I must refresh the house really quickly for the appraisal (is it really possible to paint the exterior, get new carpeting and a new roof in a week??? ok, rhetorical question)

  • Explored new ways of nurturing my spirit by spending a few hours at Spirtuality and Practice learning small steps to take, including #1 sleep and #2 take a day off each week to relax and enjoy an ordinary day

  • Requested three books from the library that were listed on that Web site, including one (On Women Turning 70 by Cathleen Rountree) of interviews with 16 women who are living life fearlessly -- since I'll turn 60 in a couple months, am thinking it can't hurt to jump to the head of the class -- and they're ready to pick up already

  • Skipped Weight Watchers for two weeks (I guess losing 4 lbs in one week was scary) but finding upon my return that instead of gaining I'd lost another 1/2 lb

  • Planted five pots of flowers (white, pink, and red caladiums with purple petunias) for the entries to my house

  • Had a good conversation with my exGuy, current GuyFriend, carving out a different place for him in my heart

  • Made plans with my best girlfriend in town to see another friend's paintings that are showing this afternoon at an art fair

  • Agreed to go to NYC on business Monday because it's good for me to be present at that meeting not because I have any clothes for such a trip (yaaaay Shopping!)

  • Paused just now to proofread and wonder at how I am energized rather than exhausted but there you have it, my new truth: if you feel tired but haven't been, you know, doing much of anything? Get busy.
I must run but will leave you with my favorite blessing:

May the evening find you at peace with your day.

Sunday, May 2

Day trippin'

I love me a little day trip now and then.

So after my Saturday weigh-in at Weight Watchers, where I found that I lost 4 lbs. last week, I decided to celebrate by taking my big sister on a little day trip down to the Blue Owl Restaurant in Kimmswick, Missouri. Just take a look at the pies! Ok, so not the wisest of all choices but it was a relaxing drive and, if my estimation is correct, I'll have worked off all the calories in a year or two! The lunch was seriously delicious.

Then my sister suggested we stop at the Sisters of Mercy retreat center to take a walk. It was amazing. (That's their photo, not mine.) About 70 acres of fields and trees with paths. We didn't walk around the whole thing but walked for a couple of hours. Sat on benches now and then. Was lovely, quiet, and peaceful.

I told her about a book I've been reading, The Art of Possibility, and how it suggests that you can recreate a relationship, if you wish, by recognizing that you created the original one so you can create another one, one that works better for both. I probably wouldn't have told her that if we'd gone shopping after lunch. Something about walking through the fields reminded me of home and made me think that we can remember our old selves but still choose to be different than before.

Was a really nice day. And, without planning to do so, I met several of my goals for the week all at once. Walking, meditating, expressing an emotion outside my comfort zone, and spending time with a friend.

A good day. I hope you've had a good one, too.

Sunday, April 25

Works in Progress

Rainy Sunday morning. I love this.

The rain finally stopped but water still drips off the house and trees. It's so quiet outside, it's weird, as if the birds are waiting to chirp until they're sure the rain is over.

So I'm sitting here at my desk looking out the window at the mound of cut pampas grass, in the far corner of the back yard, spread out on the lawn by the doggies and the rain. Thinking how like me this picture is. (You know, the old growth is cut, allowing new growth to come in. And yet the old remains, waiting for clean-up.)

I'd asked the lawn mowing crew to do some spring clean-up for me, but they forgot to cut the pampas grass. By the time I realized it and called the manager, it was late in the day so I ok'd their cutting it and putting off the clean-up for another day.

The thing is, I'm finally learning to be as nice to myself:
  • When I'm working on something that I really want to do, just do what I have time and energy to do and be nice (to me) about what remains, what can be tackled another day...

    and yet...

  • Be clear in my mind when I've changed my mind. Taking a moment to deliberately recognize that I'm not going to do it because I no longer wish to do it releases me from thinking it's procrastination or a failure to complete. Once I've recognized that I've changed my mind, then the project is finished. Complete. [exhale]

Actually, I think the #1 thing I'm learning to do better is love. Myself. Others. And of the two, loving myself is the harder.

Love you.
Love. You.

Tuesday, March 30

Be still my heart

What good is a still heart? Reason I've been thinking about that is that my stress test showed that I've actually had a heart attack sometime in my life. Sounds strange, but apparently it's not uncommon for people to have one yet not know it.

I've got some meds to take and need to exercise more slowly and lose weight faster than I'd been doing. While at first I was afraid to go to sleep for fear I wouldn't wake up, I've come to see that the only thing that's changed in the last couple of weeks is that I'm now in touch with reality. Information is power, yes?

That news came just in time for me to commit to my 2nd set of mini-goals for the next 15 weeks. They're "very mini" because these are in addition to my original mini-goals and I'm still practicing fitting a fuller life into a work week.

My additional goals for 3/23/10 to 7/6/10:
  • Physical: Working in the yard 10 minutes, 3 times weekly
  • Social: Either have a friend over or participate in a church or community social activity 2 times monthly
  • Emotional: Express a feeling, where expressing it is out of my comfort zone, 1 time weekly
  • Intellectual: Investigate alternatives for becoming credentialed in my field, researching 1 alternative a week
  • Spiritual: Meditate for 10 minutes, 2 times weekly
I'm really enjoying the process of changing in small steps. Typically, I'd have waited until the weekend when there's more time to work in the yard but by puttering a bit last evening, I discovered the first blooms on the groundcover. A little reward hidden in the leaves.

Here's to making each week a bit more interesting than the last!

Thursday, March 18

Fun can be...fun?

I'm having a good time this week.
  • My iris in the front yard are starting to show signs of buds so it reminded me to get ready for spring planting. Bought a bunch of seed packets for flowers in the backyard beds. Seeds are the only way to go with two puppies (ok, 80 lb doggies) skampering around. Soon as we're past the snow-risk time, the seeds are going in the ground. Can't wait to smell the mulch. Dig in the dirt.

  • I fell for an iPod Nano (purple, of course!) and so have been listening to music while I draft papers and work out. Love music and listening with half an ear to familiar tunes while engrossed in other things. Am planning to load my CDs this weekend and also get a speaker thingie to go with it at home. So...toys aren't just for kids/guys.

  • Speaking of toys, I went to the dentist yesterday for my 6-month cleaning. No, the dentist is nice but not a toy. I'd bought an electric toothbrush a day or so after the last cleaning and because of that, this cleaning was a breeze. In and out in no time. For some reason, I'd always thought that electric toothbrushes were toys, an extravagance. Who knew they have a legitimate purpose supporting good health? Well, you, most likely since I seem to be the last to know.

  • After finding a new primary care doctor and getting a variety of tests run, I got some good results. Still pending results of a stress test but received good marks on cholesterol and a bunch of other factors. Have some work to do (exercising) to avoid hypertension and getting any closer to having a problem with type 2 diabetes. But it could be a whole lot worse considering that it's been nearly a dozen years since I saw a doctor other than a GYN. There's something invigorating about tackling all of that, getting it done, and getting the information.

  • Tomorrow at lunch I meet with a volunteer organizer and a young lady they're matching me with under a mentor program. I don't know much more than that but can't wait to meet her and come up with a plan, think of things to do.

  • Today I started drafting my second set of 15-week goals, mini-goals, pondering various possibilities from the standpoint of how do I want my life to change over the next 15 weeks. Because I can see now that I can change my life, a few small steps at a time.

Fun times in a calm, um, dare I say serene definition of "fun." Am excited about what may be over the horizon.

How about you? Have you had an interesting week?


Wednesday, March 3


The thing I love most about spring: the bright yellow daffodils and, um, Rubbermaid mop buckets. You're thinking I've lost it, right?

In my quest to become more active and social, I've started participating in activities that present themselves to me as opposed to reading about them and thinking, "Wish I had the time." Thing is, I have the time. The time is steady. The thing that changes is what I do with it.

Because I work at a faith-based health organization, there are a lot of discussions about spirituality, wellness, etc. that I've usually avoided but am now finding are full of thoughts that support me in the process of change. Such as this thought from a paper on servant-leadership from the Greenleaf Center:

James Hillman, in The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, describes the "invisible source of personal consistency, for which I am using the word "habit," psychology today calls character. Character refers to deep structures of personality that are particularly resistant to change."
I tend to think of character as reflected in decisions of morality but expanding that view to include "habit" somehow elevates the mundane.

I've started paying more attention to the details of my life: laundry, dusting, polishing, vacuuming. Finding ways to enjoy doing them, whether it's listening to music, or adding new scents or polishes, or finding that bright yellow beauty (not being sarcastic, I love it!): a Rubbermaid mop bucket on wheels. With a bright blue mop that you wring out. And Green cleaner that smells just clean, nothing stronger than clean.

Somehow, spending just an hour puttering, cleaning, in one room or another each morning or night, makes me feel better. Cleaner rooms, refreshed thoughts, more productive habits, stronger character. I'm starting to see how all of those are linked.

I hope you enjoy your day!

Saturday, February 27

Working on it

My life, that is. It's getting better. And spring isn't even here yet!

A few months ago, after Thanksgiving, I started working with a counselor to help me find a balance in my life. My teeter-totter was all teeter. I was so stuck. My counselor's thought was that I had "learned depression" or a belief that I couldn't change my life, a belief learned through setting stretch goals and then not reaching them.

She suggested that I set goals in each area of life since I'd defined my problem as not having a balanced life, not having a life really. The only requirement was that the goals be small, things that would involve one step each week for 15 weeks. My 15 weeks are up mid-March, at which point I'll set 5 more goals.

I started out this way:
  • Physical: taking 2 walks a week of 3,000 steps each
  • Emotional: calling 2 friends each week
  • Intellectual: writing a book for 10 minutes twice a week
  • Social: visiting a church 2 times a month to develop a sense of community
  • Spiritual: volunteering in some way
Now, for those of you who, you know, have lives, that list probably seems weird, but for awhile it was so hard to find time from working (10-hour days) and sitting (CSI, Dancing, Letterman, anyone?) to fit all of those activities in.

But now I've gotten better at setting priorities at work, walking away from it. I started walking through malls and furniture stores but now have joined the Y. I reconnected with my two sisters and a best friend that I'd lost track of. Have found a couple churches that feel good. And have researched ways of helping a young person transitioning out of foster care. I'm applying to be a mentor but might just tutor, to start with, remembering that small steps are better.

Oh, and I started writing a book, one I'd always intended to write, about a long-lost relationship with the ex who done me wrong. So I wrote two chapters -- the intro and the ending -- because I so didn't want to go backward. Now I'm thinking of a new story to tell. Might be about a woman in late-mid life who grows up to be herself...

Smiling at me. You gotta love yourself, you know?