Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30 - The "real" goals.

Today is the last day of November, and thus, the last day I will be posting daily. Of course, by "daily" I mean "mostly daily," obviously.

While I didn't necessarily meet the goal to post "daily," I'm honestly not too surprised by that; I have a history of problems with "have to's," even if they're my own "have to's" that I've given myself, and for some reason I just seem to have this vague need to rebel against them every now and then. I'm not thrilled with that about myself, but I've accepted it, and it's not at the top of my list of things to work on at the moment, so we'll just leave that there for right now.

What I can say, though, is that the "daily" part of it was just sort of a guideline to get me started. My real goal when deciding to do NoJoMo on this blog was to get myself out of my self-defeat boxes -- the ones labeled "It has to be perfect before I can posted," and "It's been so long since I've written that now it REALLY has to be good." In the mostly-daily posts, I feel like some of them were pretty good, and others I sort of winced at, but still posted. Thus, I have definitely broken out of those boxes, and daily or not, I feel I've reached my goal.

I've also learned that by trying to come up with something to write about every day, I normally don't get around to really thinking about it until about 9:30 at night, and don't get around to posting something until closer to 11pm. After this month, I'm thinking that spending a few days thinking about what would be worth posting, and then actually posting it at a decent time, might be worth trying out. My current goal: Tuesday and Friday afternoons. Should the mood happen to strike me to write something on a Monday night, I'll write it then -- and then revisit it to post Tuesday afternoon. That, hopefully, will give me the flexibility to get around my issue with "have to's."

It's been fun, though, and I'm glad I did this. I occasionally need a kick in the butt, and this did it. Thanks to everyone who followed along!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 29 - It's okay to be grumpy sometimes.

It's been one of those days -- lots of heavy, irritated sighs, and lots of muttering, "Really?!"

This is something I still struggle with. Not that I struggle with having the occasional bad day -- I mean, I do, and I'm always striving more and more to see the bright side, opportunities, positives and lessons. What I struggle with is being okay with myself when I'm not 100% optimistic.

I used to be a very negative person, I'll just put that out there. There was always something wrong with everything, and I was basically never happy with anything. In fact I was probably my happiest when I had something major and dramatic to gripe about. Once I started working with my first life coach and moving past that into something healthier, I learned to see the good in things... and, I've discovered, the pendulum swung so far to the other direction that I don't feel like it's okay to get grumpy every once in a while or to be disappointed in anything.

And some days, let's be honest, it's just hard to see a bright side about getting a sore throat, and it's hard not to mutter, "Really?!" when, for example, you go to blogger to write a post about being cranky and saying "Really?!" a lot, and get a 503 error when the page is trying to load. After the internet had died for a while earlier in the evening, anyway. (Insert heavy, irritated sigh, here.)

What really opened my eyes to where my pendulum seems to have swung was a conference I attended last July, where one of my favorite people on the planet is an instructor. She is the most loving, joyful, wise, giving person, with the greatest sense of self of anyone I have ever known. She is who she is, and who she is, is absolutely amazing. So when I heard her speak in class about being disappointed by one of the conference events being too rushed, unemotional, and anticlimactic, I really perked up. She, who teaches classes on how to be joyful, who has "joybringer and light bearer" on her business card (and accurately so), wasn't happy with something?

I actually approached her about it, and she told me (and you have to hear this in an English accent), "It is absolutely okay to be disappointed with an anticlimax." She even went so far in class to discuss some of the silly things she'll occasionally get upset about. Listening to her was a good first step in helping me realize that I don't have to beat myself up for not being absolutely happy with absolutely everything, absolutely all of the time.

But I'm still working on it.

And today is giving me lots of opportunity to be okay with the fact that sometimes, I'm just grumpy, and things are just annoying. It helps to remember that it's not permanent, and at the same time, giving myself the permission to just be cranky when I need to, also helps me move past it when it's no longer doing me any good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 25 - Holiday magic.

One of the funnest (yeah, I said funnest) things about having a kid, is making everything new all over again by seeing the world through his eyes.

Before he was born, I'll admit it: I'd become a pirate. (You know, all grown-ups are pirates?) Especially around the holidays -- I just didn't enjoy them, with all the "have-to's" and family bickering about presents and schedules and worrying about money and traveling and weather...

And then I had a kid, and the magic is back.

It's not even just the holidays; it's silly things, like watching him eat his first corn dog from the side rather than from the end, and realizing that there's no reason that you "have to" do things the way everyone else does, or seeing his reaction to completely ordinary foods that are brand new to him; watching with him the same movies I watched when I was a kid, and remembering why I loved them when I was small even though they may seem silly now as an adult.

But this time of year... how excited he is to have all the family together; all the questions he's asking about how Santa does things, what Santa's doing right now, if Santa shops at Walmart; the pure joy in his eyes when we drive by houses with (even poorly-done) Christmas lights; wanting to give everyone "Thanksgiving presents" in the form of pieces of candy from his Halloween stash. He makes it fun again.

So tomorrow, with the little guy being at the most fun age ever, we are going to decorate the house with Christmas decorations like we've never done before! Which means buying some... but that kid's smile is absolutely worth however much a few strings of Christmas lights and some yard decorations may cost. (But oh, believe me when I say we'll be shopping at discount stores.)

What about you? What makes this time of year fun for you? If you're a "pirate" like I used to be, what could it be like if you were to try and see the holiday season with "fun" eyes -- what could be fun, if you wanted it to be?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 24 - Thanksgiving!

I am so stuffed. We ate at noon, it's approaching 5:30, and still, I am so stuffed. Oh man, I love food.

I'm not sure if it's cliche, obligatory, or both to do a list of things I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving, but I have a lot to be thankful for today. Including:

  • I am thankful that when family asks me, "How you liking the new job?" I can honestly tell them that I love it.
  • I am thankful that I have finally learned to request minor changes on Thanksgiving dishes to make them gluten free, rather than eating the normal recipes and suffering the consequences. (Like I'm not gonna be in a food coma already! All I need is the gluten grog to go with it!)
  • I am thankful that my family and my in-laws respond favorably when I ask. For example: my mother in law made the green bean casserole with Progresso cream of mushroom soup, which is gluten free, and put some in a separate dish for me on which she did not add any of the crispy onions, and that she made cookies from a gluten-free cake mix so that I'd be able to have a dessert.
  • I'm thankful that I've learned to listen to my body and avoid the foods I know make it not feel well. Let me tell you, those cheesey potatoes really looked and smelled good, but I've learned potatoes are a pain trigger and there was plenty of other food that I know is not.
  • I am thankful that I've learned to see things this way, rather than looking at the dinner spread and seeing all I "can't" have.
  • I'm thankful for my creativity when it comes to making gluten-free stuffing. I don't follow a recipe, I just toss things in until it smells/tastes right. It must've paid off this time, too; my father in law specifically told me, "Make it exactly like this next year."
  • I'm thankful for the opportunity to nap, even if I wasn't able to get all the way to sleep.
  • I'm thankful that even though the little guy has a cough right now, he's not all-out sick like he has been the previous three Thanksgivings, and I'm thankful that we seem to be keeping the worst of the cough at bay.
  • I'm thankful that I married a man with a pretty good family, giving me two pretty good families to have nice Thanksgiving dinners with, with all their different traditional foods to send me into a food coma.
  • I'm thankful that I've learned not to over-indulge in food just because it's there.
  • I'm thankful for the snuggly cats that are currently keeping my legs warm.
  • I'm thankful for pretty much my whole life right now, because whether it's the way things are working out, the way I've learned to see things, or both, there's not much I can complain about right now.
Happy Thanksgiving, all! Drink plenty of water and go for a walk ;).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 22 - Hm, what?

Apparently all the lack-of-writing I had been doing in the months previous to November had left me with a backlog of mental back-burner ideas. To be more precise, about twenty of them. Now I kind of feel like I'm grasping at straws, trying to think of anything worthwhile to say. It's getting to be slim pickings now, topic-wise. Want to know anything about my cats? They meow a lot. Their names are Agent and Clockwork, and they are orange.

I am learning, though, that if I can somehow pull together a post nearly every day for 20ish days -- some good, some not as good -- that there is absolutely no reason I can't write regularly once or twice a week.

I'm sure the next 8 days' worth of posts will be another mix of some good, some not as good, and I do intend on completing NoJoMo. I also intend to write once or twice a week (I haven't decided yet) after November is over. Maybe having more than one day between thought processes will give me some better quality posts. Or maybe not. But maybe.

In the mean time: What would you like me to write about for the next week or so?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 20 - Even less-than-100% can be more-than-before.

(I took Friday night off for date night, and Saturday off because, um, because it was Saturday? Basically family time was priority, and I'm cool with that.)

My poor kid. Friday afternoon he told us he was losing his voice. He sounded fine to me, but sure enough, when we picked him up after Date Night was over, he was, in fact, losing his voice.

The poor kid just seems to get colds way, way too easily, and his colds usually turn into a very bad lingering cough. I've had him at the doctor off and on a thousand times or so in the past two months trying to get everything under control, and it just seems like every time he finally gets well, it's time for the next cold to start again.

This round, however, we're on Day Three, and so far he's only coughed eight or ten times. This is where the husband and I disagree. Since the little guy is sick at all, he says, this means that the doctor is obviously missing something, and when the first two coughs showed up, this meant, to him, that the breathing treatments haven't been doing any good at all.

Me, I'm on the fence. I don't know that we can say yet what good anything has been doing, since we don't know how bad his cold (if it's even a cold -- right now just a raspy voice and extra-runny nose) is going to get, how bad the cough is going to get along with it, how long its going to last... If this is the worst of it, then, to me, the fact that his cough isn't constant nor is it so bad that he's throwing up, means to me that though we obviously aren't at 100% with keeping him healthy, it's also a vast improvement.

I've known lots of folks who see anything less than 100% as a failure. I probably used to be one of them, to be honest -- I'm sure that being able to see any improvement as improvement is a product of years (and years and years) of working with coaches, studying metaphysics, going through life coach training, and practice with coaching in helping others to see (and celebrate) their small improvements while they're on the way to something bigger.

It can be applied to nearly everything. For example, you're on a diet, and you vow not to have ANY potato chips, then at a social gathering, you break down and have three. Is that failure? What if, before you decided to start eating healthier, you normally would've had three handfuls plus four or five of the cookies next to them, instead of three chips? Is that still a failure, or is it a vast improvement?

Or... you take two days off from writing a blog post when you've said you'll write every day for a month. Is that failure? Or if, before, you were barely writing anything once a month, does skipping two days rather than thirty or so still show a dedication to improving? (Ahem. Hypothetical, of course.)

The choice, as always, is in how you choose to view it. Which feels better -- to call yourself a failure for being imperfect, or to see how differently you're doing things now than you were before and to feel good about it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17 - Changing the right habits.

I'm doing that thing again where I see connections in seemingly-unrelated things.

For eleven or so years, I did a lot of trial and error to figure out what was causing some of my health problems, and how to fix it. Lots of doctors, lots of naturopaths, lots of getting very very frustrated, lots of searching the internet for ideas. As it turns out, my symptoms fit a lot of different conditions -- and all of those conditions have conflicting if not complete opposite ideas for how to reduce pain and flare-ups. There's the low acid diet, the IC (interstitial cystitis) diet, low oxalate diet, low glycemic diet, anti-candida diet... and if you compare them, foods that are definitely okay on one diet are absolutely not okay on another.

Since I didn't know what the cause was, I had no idea which direction to go. I'd try a diet associated with a condition I thought, maybe, I might have, I would feel like I was eating "healthier" and doing things "right," and I would end up hurting more. And then I would bang my head against the wall and wonder if I needed to try harder, give it longer to work, or go a different direction.

When I finally got a diagnosis, the best part of it was that I finally knew which diet to follow. As it turned out, I had been making things worse while trying to make things better.

When I was describing this to someone earlier today, I started seeing similarities in other situations.

How often do we tend to try and change the circumstances around us without really addressing why we're unhappy with our surroundings in the first place? What if all the stuff we try to change around us is the wrong stuff? How do you go about figuring out the right course of action for you, without knowing quite where the cause for discomfort really falls?

On the other hand, I did just talk yesterday about how trying the things that don't work is helpful, too.

Again, I guess it's all about balance. Trying things to improve your situation is always a good thing, even if it doesn't work the way you'd like. But keep digging -- sometimes finding out why you're having difficulty and addressing it can help you move forward more productively.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16 - When things click.

I remember The Hippie Housewife mentioning once that she had been working with her son (who is just a few weeks younger than mine; we were pregnant together online!) on using scissors, and he just couldn't get it. She realized one day that they hadn't worked with them for a while, and felt like she should, so he could get some practice. The next time he used scissors, without having had any practice in between, it clicked; he was suddenly skilled with scissors, because now, he was ready.

I've experienced the same thing with my son, and knowing that this tends to be what happens, I work with it. Right now, it's drawing and writing. For the longest time I would see kids his age coloring pictures with different and appropriate colors, at least trying to stay in the lines, and my kid? One crayon, three scribbles, "I'm all done," and he'd move onto something else. He just didn't seem to care about it. His abundant (abundant, did I mention abundant) inquisitiveness and communication skills showed me that I had nothing to worry about as far as overall development; he just didn't really care about drawing or coloring. Until about two or three weeks ago. All of a sudden he's coloring (mostly) within the lines, showing an amazing attention to detail where color is concerned, you can recognize his name when he writes it, and he is asking to practice drawing and writing, all on his own. Something just finally clicked.

How does this factor in for adults?

I know similar things have happened to me, as well. I'll struggle with something for a while, seem to be beating my head against the wall, and then all of a sudden, it clicks, and magic starts to happen.

The tricky part is finding the line between exhausting yourself working on something that just doesn't seem to go anywhere, and sitting there doing nothing while you're waiting for the time to be right. It's possible that continuing to work on something you're having a hard time with will eventually pay off and the work itself will make things click; it's possible that waiting for the right time will actually help you find it, and once it's right, things will magically fall into place. I also think it's possible that the right combination of both attitudes could yield some great results -- that putting the time in and learning what doesn't work could be an important step of letting things work perfectly (give or take) when the time is right.

I'm not sure if a child who had never used scissors before could know exactly how to use them at "the right time" without the prior experience, or that my son could color Robin (as in Batman) with a red suit, yellow buttons, a green mask and a yellow cape if he'd never before held a crayon. But even with some prior practice, they weren't able to do it well until they were ready.

So how about this: if you're beating your head against the wall over something, relax, and know that when the time is right it will pay off. Conversely, if you're hesitant to take any first steps until the time is right, start trying something until then just to get some practice.

What examples do you have of things working out well when it was obviously the right time for it to happen?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15 - Slogging through apathy.

So, let's say you've realized that things need to change in your life. You're not happy where things are. You have a vague concept of what could be different. You feel like you should be doing something else. You feel that you have every power within yourself to improve things. You might even have a vague concept of how to go about it -- what specifically you could be doing to improve yourself, your circumstances, your health, whatever you feel needs improving.

And then you don't.

It could be a fear of change; it could be a fear of improvement; it could be that sitting still and not doing any of it is just plain easier.

But you really, really want to! Kind of. You think.

Then what?

The approach I tend to take with clients who really-want-to-I-think, or who are just plain stuck on the couch, is to take baby steps. Really tiny baby steps. I even have to laugh at myself sometimes when I catch myself saying to a client, "What would you think about thinking about..." making some type of change in his/her life. If diving into something is the hard part right now, get used to the idea of it, before you dive in. Think about what your life could be like if you were to take some real steps toward your goal. Think about your life could be like when you accomplish your goal. Think about why you have this goal. Think and think and think, and plant the idea into your head so hard that you want it, and sitting on the couch isn't comfortable anymore. Build some internal momentum to help you get started. Then when you can't sit still on it any longer: go! You have the plan in mind; you've been thinking about where you need to start; you've been developing an idea of what you want this to look like. So go for it!

A lot of times, doing the mental prep work for making a change in your life and getting yourself to the place that you're really, really ready to do it, is a big part of the battle. Once you start taking the steps to make it happen, the momentum happens pretty much organically.

What do you want to do or change that you keep putting off, just because? Start thinking about it. Create a picture of it in your head. That's it. Then see what sort of life the picture takes on for itself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 14 - Brain surgery on myself.

I'm calling Day 13 a wash and not double-posting today. Mostly because I am exhausted, and I'm just gonna go ahead and see that as a valid excuse :).

After weeks of insomnia, the opposite has been the case the past week or so and I seem to be barely able to stay awake past 9:30. (So, given that it is currently 9:29pm, you'll forgive me if this post trails off into random characters any minute now due to my falling asleep on the keyboard.)

This recent exhaustion and its marked contrast with my less-recent insomnia has me thinking. We seem to be in a society that thrives on encouraging productivity. In fact I feel absolutely safe in saying that I was much more productive when I wasn't able to sleep: wide awake, folding clothes or catching up on emails or blog posts I'd neglected the rest of the day. I may not have been sleeping, but I didn't feel so behind. Now that I'm getting tired earlier -- arguably at a normal time of the night -- I find myself struggling to keep up.

Am I expecting too much of myself? Even if it's things I want to do, with no tangible benefit other than "I just wanna," compared to things like, "Hey, we're all out of clean underwear," where do the priorities lie, and where ought the priorities lie? Productivity, me-time, or getting some dang sleep?

This is one of those things I'm great at when it comes to my clients. In fact, one was commenting recently that after a session she and I had where she, too, was stressing out over a mile-long to-do list and not enough time to complete it, she was able to take the "what absolutely has to get done or the world explodes?" approach to prioritizing that we'd done during the session, and apply it on a fairly regular basis when she feels herself feeling the same type of stress. I remember my own coach commenting one time that you "can't do brain surgery on yourself," and this is definitely one of those cases for me. I'm so glad I'm able to help my clients feel more empowered when it comes to their to-do lists, because, man, I can relate to stressing out over them...

Today is just one of those days. But that's okay, because I know that once the immediate STRESS of realizing how full my calendar is this week is able to wear off, I'll be able to look at everything I absolutely have to do and realize that for a lot of it, the world will not explode if it doesn't get done. (We currently have plenty of clean underwear. And even socks.) And I know that at the end of this very busy week, I'll feel very accomplished. So right now, I'll just remember to breathe.

What about you? How much stuff that absolutely has to get done or else is on your plate right now, stressing you out? And how much of that, actually, could be put off until you realistically have time to do it, without the world exploding?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12 - Appreciation.

Occasionally my kid will have a day where nothing is good enough. It's not that he's necessarily unhappy with what he has, it's just that what he has isn't enough. He has a million Star Wars Legos, but not the new Boba Fett; the picture I colored for him was good, but he asked for the lava to be orange and part of it is red; we're on our way to get ice cream and he's holding a toy in each hand, but he needs a quarter for the vending machine; he's played way more video games than we normally allow but he didn't get to play this one. So we often find ourselves with the opportunity to teach him about appreciating what he does have.

But how many of us need that same reminder?

I'll admit it: I'm one of them. Lately, I've been keeping myself conscious of the feelings of "not enough" of something, and as soon as I feel it kicking in, I stop it, shift it, think of something I can appreciate instead, and move on with a smile and a contented sigh. I'll catch myself complaining that I don't have any free time, and remind myself that I'm choosing to spend my free time keeping up with chores rather than reading or writing, but I could just as easily make that choice differently; or, whining to myself that I don't have any friends I can talk to until I remember that, oh wait a minute, yes I do, I just don't talk to them often, so I take the opportunity to shoot a text to a friend; or, complaining that we always do what they want but never what I want, only to be met with the reminder that hey, I can ask to do things I want just as easily as they can.

How often do the choices we make keep us living with a limited idea of our resources? How easy could it be to reframe things, to remember all that we do have and to better utilize what we have rather than looking for more to fill a void? 

Right now, think of something you've been feeling a lack of. Time? (Time for what? What could be rearranged to give you time for that?) Money? (Money for what? What could be rearranged so you could use your money differently?) Friends? Love? Support? Attention?

What of that do you already have that you could appreciate a little more? Because the funny thing is, wishing you had more makes you more aware of what you don't have, yet appreciating what you do makes it easier to see more of what's already in front of you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11 - Soullessness forthcoming.

I don't even know how to explain this.

So, there's this movie, Manos: The Hands of Fate. In short, it is the worst movie ever. I only wish I were exaggerating. It really, really is. And it's not just bad like "wow, what a total waste of time" bad, or bad like "wow, this is so bad you can laugh at how bad it is" bad. It's the kind of bad that sucks out your soul moment by moment, makes time slow down so that the movie lasts seventeen hours instead of two, and by the end of it, you generally have lost the will to live.

MST3K did Manos and that doesn't even make it tolerable. If you're not familiar with MST3K, one man and a few robots he made are launched into space by a mad scientist who forces them to watch terrible movies, which they sit there making fun of. Typically this can turn a terrible movie into something hilarious with all the making-fun-of going on. In Manos, by the end of it, the dude and the robots are all crying, and the mad scientist and his assistant both independently apologize to them for sending them Manos, saying that they've gone too far.

I have seen it three times.

The first, I was in college, and I watched it with a group of nerd-friends.

The second, some other friends who'd seen it and I were talking about its awfulness, and Rich felt left out... so we watched it together to let Rich experience the horror.

Which he then felt the need to spread to his brother, which makes time number three.

What typically happens is that at the beginning of the movie, people are all geared up and "Ooh! A bad movie! This'll be awesome!" and excited. Then after a bit, the excitement not only fades but is gone completely, and posture goes from upright to a general slump. A while later, you just get fidgety and uncomfortable and want it to end, when will it end. Then by the end of the movie you feel dead inside, posture is something close to being a puddle of goo barely even maintaining a position on the furniture you're slumping so hard. In groups where we would tend to watch multiple movies in one night, by the end of Manos, you just.... can't. There is no desire to watch anything on the television again, ever. Period.

And we'll be watching it tonight with some newer friends, who are currently excited to see a how bad a movie it can be.

If I don't make it out alive, just know that I love you all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10 - Creativity with restrictions.

I mentioned the other day that I have some food sensitivities; add in my husband's and the tastes of my four year old and cooking around here can get pretty creative.

I had a similar transition on a low oxalate diet as I did when I first went gluten free: a general panic that I can no longer eat ANYTHING and that there is no way to eat a healthy diet by removing all the foods it seems I now need to remove. Of course, there are plenty of foods out there, but my initial reaction was to see the restrictions. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that's pretty typical.

Now, I've had some time to calm down and realize that, no, even though it's easier to remember that they're low oxalate, a diet consisting entirely of meat and dairy is probably not very nutritionally sound. So, I re-examined the list of oxalate content in foods with a different perspective: instead of looking for what I can't eat anymore, I was looking for what I can.

Squash, zucchini, cucumbers, cauliflower, avocado...

Shifting from the attitude of More Things I Can't Have into one of More Things I Can Have, I've found some pretty interesting combinations of foods.

For example, my latest favorite was derived from the fact that it's pumpkin pie season. One night, by chance, my rice pasta was done cooking at the same time as the fresh pumpkin was done boiling (in preparation for the pies my husband cooked immediately following). I glanced over at the spaghetti sauce and various other pasta-ready components that were sitting on the counter, and on impulse, disregarded them, shifted gears, and asked my husband if I could use some of the pumpkin. Pasta, pumpkin, butter, oregano, pepper, garlic: voila. I've made it three times since and I love it.

I tried different spice combinations with an acorn squash for several days in a row.

I plan on trying "zucchini bake" that a friend of ours recommended recently, which consists of sliced zucchini in the bottom of a baking dish, some olive oil, salt and pepper, topped with cheese, then baked.

The phase I went through where I made avocado-based smoothies for breakfast was interesting; I wouldn't recommend blending avocado with blueberries as the color just turns out wrong, but it tasted just fine; bananas and strawberries work much better.

But in general? Now that I'm seeing this with an element of creativity rather than an element of "can't," I'm having fun with cooking (those who know me may fall over dead reading that statement, just sayin'), and I'm discovering new flavors that I never knew I'd like.

What is something in your life that you could use a shift? Instead of the "can'ts," look for the "cans." Let me know what you find, and have fun with it!

Day 9 (late again) - Inspiring.

It always amazes me seeing how people respond to their circumstances -- how some folks react outrageously to things that seem small to others, how some respond calmly and see opportunities in things that would be devastating to others, how different people can respond to the same exact thing in completely different ways.

A friend of mine and former metaphysics teacher had his foot amputated last week. I visited him in the hospital yesterday, and in the face of something that others could find truly devastating, he was happy to feel better after the issues leading up to the amputations had been taken care of, discussing how interesting it was to observe the different personality types of the hospital staff and how their attitude affects their work, and curious what type of career he may go towards next, since he had, until now, been in construction.

In the face of losing a foot and part of his leg, in place of pain and loss he was talking about change, and how this can help him better help others.

It's all in how you see things, I suppose. I like his way. And I wish him speedy healing, and an exciting transition into the rest of his life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8 - Made with love.

A hand-made present from your kid is always the best present you could receive. A pie made entirely from scratch, made for people you really want to enjoy it, always tastes better. A greeting card is more appreciated you spent the time to pick out the perfect one, and it shows.

What if you decided to hand-make your day from scratch, with love, and spend time picking out the perfect message you want to send yourself that day? What kind of day would that be?

What's stopping you?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 - Mistakes.

Since writing Day 6's (late) post earlier today, I've been thinking about the concept of "failure." In the School of Metaphysics, we learned -- and I'm totally paraphrasing here -- that there are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn. There is so much you can learn from the "mistakes" and "failures" in your life -- if you choose to.

I would be willing to bet that not one person out there hasn't had at least one big, huge learning experience in the form of what could otherwise be called a "mistake." A car accident that taught you to drive more carefully; unintentionally hurting someone's feelings which taught you to be more careful with your words; a close call with drinking or drugs that led you to make healthier choices for yourself; forgetting too many important appointments leading you to learning better calendaring skills.

The important factor in this is what you choose to do with it. You could choose to beat yourself up over hurting someone's feelings or forgetting too many appointments, or you could choose to learn from it and work to reduce those types of mistakes in the future.

The cool thing? You can even do this in retrospect. Do you have a mistake in your past that you're still holding a grudge about against yourself? Stop and look at it. Did you know it was a mistake when you were doing it? How has this mistake changed you as a person? If you hadn't made this mistake and learned from it, who might you be now without having learned that lesson?

Chances are, a lot of what's made you as awesome as you are today, was figuring out all the things that didn't make you feel so awesome before, and then working on it.

It occurs to me that this ties in with self-forgiveness... Topic for another day.

Day 6 (a day late) - Success is in how you see things.

Six days into November and I missed a day. I could look as this a couple of different ways:

1) I SUCK and I FAILED less than ONE WEEK IN and I should just GIVE UP now that I've failed because I can't even make it ONE WEEK so what's the point in doing this the rest of the month when I've already failed?!


2) I was spending time with my family yesterday and at the end of the day, I chose for my priority to be resting and spending time with my husband after a good, long day, rather than blanking out on the internet and forcing words onto a screen, just because.

I'm going with option two.

There is a difference between "failing" and choosing to spend your time and energy elsewhere.

Yesterday was a good day, complete with hand-made presents from the little guy, pizza with the in-laws at the request of the little guy, free fabric from my mother-in-law with lots of grand mental plans to make more tiered skirts, our bedroom and closet cleaned and reorganized, the little one's bedroom picked up and some toys reorganized... and? Apparently just moving around toys makes them all! brand! new! and exciting! so I had plastic eggs and pretend grape juice for dinner, after snacking on some plastic broccoli and a plastic banana.

There is nothing "fail" about yesterday.

Today I'll choose to make up for it and write twice :).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5 - Relaxing.

Sometimes, the days where you do nothing productive but a load of laundry and spend the rest of the day leisurely relaxing, and it is a purposeful, "I deserve this" sort of relaxing, that is just as good a day as the days when you check a dozen things off your to-do list.

Today is one of those days.

What do you do on your "screw it, I'm doing nothing!" days? (Other than... nothing.) Reading? Writing? Are you huddled on the couch with a blanket? In the recliner with the cats? I want to hear all about your chill-time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 4 - Food for thought.

You may or may not know that I'm gluten intolerant, and that due to my vestibulitis I also try to follow a low oxalate diet. My husband has a problem with milk products, and claims he's "allergic" to onions to better avoid them; my son doesn't like mushrooms or cumin; none of us do very well with too much sugar.

And somehow we still manage to eat :).

I've noticed lately a sort of amusement I get from listening to others talk about the healthy food choices they're making. A client will be talking about making healthier food choices for herself, something along the lines of a spinach salad and broccoli, and I have to really separate the Coach from the Self for a minute to be able to celebrate her healthy choices with her (because, hey! good for her!) without thinking to myself, "Hahaha, sounds like death!" A friend will share a tasty, healthy recipe with me, full of pasta, canned tomatoes, onions and heavy whipping cream, and I smile to myself knowing very simply that this is a recipe that will never make it into our house.

We try our best not to make holiday dinners too complicated, honest.

I wondered the other day, though, in how many other areas of my life this same type of back-burner, personal-experience semi-judgment crops up. If I do things a different way than someone else, do I have that quick moment of personal judgment where I stop to think, "Actually, that sounds terrible... but good for you!" Or if something great happens that I would like to happen to me, do I have a moment of quasi-bitter, "Oh that must be nice..." before genuinely being able to celebrate something with the other person?

And if I do have that momentary self-comparison-judgment, is that okay? If I feel something less-than-ideal for a split second and then can still put it aside to celebrate with someone else, is the response, as long as it's still genuine, what really matters?

What do you do when you catch yourself in a moment of comparison with someone else?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 3 - A little creativity.

A couple of weeks ago, the four-year-old informed me that he doesn't have a scarf. This statement was followed by, "You need to make me one." Oh, how I love that my child knows that things can be made and not only bought, and oh, how I love that he is still young enough to think it's cool to wear things I make him :).

I let him pick through my yarn stash and he chose, I wasn't surprised, lime green. The word "green" can't even be said by itself in our house right now; it's "green-my-favorite-color." But he needs choices, so I give him choices, even if I'm 99% sure what he will choose. And of course, he chose green.

I started working with a basket-weaving type stitch I found in the book I bought myself a few months ago, 99 Crochet Post Stitches, and while it looked just fine, it also just looked... fine. Not neat. Not something neat enough for a four-year-old.

So, about fourteen or so inches into the fine-but-plain scarf, I ripped it all out, and found something better.

The pattern I found for a snake scarf was a great start, though I was still pretty intent on learning a new stitch in the process, too, and that one's still mostly just single crochet. So, back to the book, I found a few stitches that I thought could look snake-scaley and, again with my son needing choices, let him choose which he thought looked the snakiest.

A couple of modifications later (because, you know, trying to meld two patterns you've never done before into one final product doesn't always go exactly right the first time) and a lot of crocheting a little bit at a time over the course of, oh, I don't know, I have no concept of time, a week or two maybe?, we have a snake scarf -- just in time for cold weather!

How have you been expressing some creativity lately? What creative endeavors do you like learning more about? What's one thing you can do to expand your creative horizons?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 2 - Improvement through being fine where you are.

Something has me thinking.

I saw a post on facebook the other day that suggested the idea of self-love and self-acceptance rather than self-help and/or self-improvement. For a second, I loved the idea -- accepting yourself for who you are, right now, sounds like a great idea! But then I started wondering...

Okay, so what if "self-acceptance" were the idea of accepting you, as you truly are, on the inside, and letting that shine? Wouldn't that be different than loving the "you" that shows up with all the masks you put on and barriers you put around yourself, to keep the rest of the world from seeing who you truly are? If we were to love and accept ourselves with all our masks and barriers, would that hold us back from being more of who we really are?

Couldn't part of "self-acceptance" be accepting who you are on the inside and then wanting to use self-help/self-improvement tools to shed the masks and kick down the walls?

So now I'm thinking, self-improvement and self-acceptance can go hand in hand, and possibly even be the same thing. Do you think? Or does it depend on motive? Do you want to "self-improve" for yourself? For your spouse? For your kids? For your boss? If you accept yourself for who you are now, with all the masks and barriers, does that then help them to shed more naturally, as you no longer feel the need to protect yourself with them?

How does that work?

What if you love and accept yourself so much that you want to be an even better you?

Maybe the facebook post had the right idea... what if self-acceptance is the key, and with that, all the "improvements" start happening more easily and more naturally?

So... what do you love about yourself, that could help you be an even better you by embracing it?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1 - "I love you enough..."

My son is going through an argumentative phase. This phase started when he was pretty small and I get the odd feeling it will continue the rest of his life, so maybe "phase" isn't the right word, and maybe "argumentative" isn't, either. My son just has to push boundaries, to see what he can get to happen his way, and what will happen in response if the answer is that he can't. He likes to have things on his terms (who doesn't?) and is very vocal about it when he's unhappy about the way something is going.

On the flip side, he's also very vocal when he is happy. Pretty much, the kid is just very vocal. And I think the boundary-pushing that frustrates us, as his parents, while he is four, will be a fabulous trait when he is older.

The past few days I've been experimenting with some new wording when I am setting boundaries that he's not happy with. Instead of arguing or explaining or reminding him that "we're working on listening the first time right now, remember?" or what have you, what I've started doing is giving him a hug and saying, "I love you enough to teach you about boundaries," or, "I love you enough to teach you to be a responsible person and make good choices." In this way, instead of one of us "winning" an argument, it's a reminder (to both of us) that I'm doing what I am because I love him and want him to learn good habits.

I got to thinking this morning about how I could apply this concept to myself. I tend to have internal arguments with myself, and to rebel against the "rules" I put in place for myself to follow. Simply put, I don't like have-to's, even if they're my have-to's. I give myself lots of choices. But still I catch myself losing momentum (or not even being able to get momentum in the first place) on things that I would really like for myself to learn. So I wondered, what if I were to change the wording with myself? Instead of telling myself I "have to" do something or that it would be "good for me" to learn to be more responsible with this or that, what if I told myself, "I love you enough to teach you to be a responsible person and make good choices?" If I came at my list of have-to's and ought-to's and keep-intending-to's from a position of love thyself, how much better might those healthy decisions feel?

What about you -- how do you talk to yourself about your I-really-ought-to's? How effective is it, and what might make it feel better?