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Category — Random Stuff

ROCKS AND ROLLIN’

It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade, and my roller skates (not blades, mind you, skates) were my car. In those days, my friends and I skated EVERYWHERE, especially to the mall, the park and yes, stealthily past my crush’s house. I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea to skate “by” a guy’s house, but when you’re 12-1/2, lots of things seem like good ideas. Anyway, on this particular summer’s day, my friend and I decided to skate to the park for an ice cream. I was FLYING…wind blowing through my hair; trees, grass, kids and playground whizzing by, when – THUD! I was on the ground.

How did that happen? Oh no! Did anybody see me? Yes, of course they did; the entire world was looking at me…you know, the girl who thought she could skate…the show-off with the wind-blown hair. Yeah, that one. Ha ha, she was on the ground. Apparently, she can’t skate…

That’s what they were all thinking. I was convinced of it.

Yikes! What do I do?

GET UP AND IMMEDIATELY BEGIN LOOKING FOR THE MASSIVE BOULDER THAT TRIPPED ME. That’s right, search for the cause of my fall. Search for something to blame. Search for whatever huge thing struck me down in my finest hour.

Okay, that’s weird…I couldn’t find any boulders. Hmmm…Maybe it was a stone – something about the size of a small car…Nope. No boulder, no stone. How about…a log? A Stick? Don’t tell me it was a pebble?

(Time to up the ante and intensify my search efforts.)

Still nothing. Sigh. Despite my most emphatic gestures and impressive scene-making, I found NOTHING (not even a pebble). There was absolutely nothing there that could trip me.

Well, not one to let a perfectly good crisis go to waste, I triumphantly raised my closed hand and exclaimed, “Ah-ha! Here it is! Stupid rock! I can’t believe I didn’t see that!” And then, I threw it far, far away…toward the grassy knoll where no one would ever find it.

The funny thing is, I hadn’t thrown anything, because I hadn’t found anything. BUT, I couldn’t let everyone else know that, so I pretended that there was something to blame.

I suppose it doesn’t matter that everyone had gone back to their business and forgotten about me by the time I mimed the stone’s throw, but I was still paying attention, and so was my friend (who was pretending not to laugh), and I NEEDED TO FIND SOMETHING TO BLAME.

In retrospect, the way I dealt with that stumble was a boilerplate for my life. I hated being wrong and I didn’t want anyone to think I was stupid. Yes, I realize it was an accident, but in my mind, it was a dumb accident that I should have avoided. Clearly, if I thought it was dumb, then everyone else must have thought so too. Rather than accepting the fact that I was just another girl who had fallen in the park while skating, I learned to deflect, deny, rationalize, explain, make excuses and dramatize…those were my “go-to” behaviors, and they weren’t healthy.

I believed I needed to find something to blame so I could justify circumstances in my life. And, I did that a lot with my obesity. I was always looking for the boulder…or the stone…or the log that kept me from losing weight, keeping weight off…being skinny.

The cause of my obesity HAD to be something outside of myself, I reasoned. It had to be humongous and impossible to avoid, I concluded.

True, there were some boulders and stones and logs, but once I skated past those (genetics, environment, etc.), the rest of the path was up to me.

These days (thanks to things like therapy and a lot of personal work), when I fall, I get up, dust myself off and don’t make a big deal out of it. Either that, or I laugh it off (which I prefer!)

At the end of the day, people may think I’m a dufus, but that’s okay because I AM A DUFUS. Here’s where I’ll end my little skating tale: I’ve learned not to take life so seriously, and when you fall, don’t look for something to blame–look for a way to get back up again, and carry on.

How about you? Do you tend to look for boulders, rocks and logs to blame for the things that trip you up in life? OR, do you accept reality as it is, get up when you fall, and maybe even laugh sometimes?

You already know what I do. Now, where did I pack those skates…?

July 20, 2015   4 Comments

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, Don’t Be Mean About What You Say

Say What You Mean
Mean What You Say
Don’t Be Mean About What You Say

Words are incredibly powerful.

They can be used for healing or for hurting.
They can be helpful or they can be harmful.
They can be used as weapons or as olive branches.
They can be understood and misunderstoodused and misused.

Words are used to convey emotions, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs.

To others.
To ourselves.

I spend a lot of time thinking about words. I’d say 95% of my day (if not more) is consumed by the processing of words. I process words in emails that I write to friends, coworkers and business associates, and I process words that I text, post or tweet. I process words that I speak, and I process words that I hear and read.

I ponder over the meanings of words — overt and covert, intentional and unintentional, serious and funny — in my own messages and thoughts, those written or spoken to me, and those written or spoken for no one in particular.

Sometimes, I wonder if people really know what they are saying? I like to THINK they know, but the reality is, they probably don’t, and I like to THINK they want OTHERS to think they know, and I’d go even further to say that what they THINK are saying really isn’t what they are saying.

Confused, yet?

Let me try and make it clear, because I think that what I’m trying to say would fit neatly into something called the Johari Window. In my study of life, I was aware of three of the panes (what I know about myself, what others know about me, what I share about myself), but not the fourth (what isn’t known by anyone). Now that I AM aware, life looks much different.

Let me see if I can do a better job of explaining it to you:

Basically, there are 4 “parts” to each of us: Our Private self, Hidden self, Unknown self and Blind self. It’s pretty easy to understand the private and hidden selves, for they are what we know about ourselves and choose either to show the world, or hide. The other window panes are a bit trickier because they represent selves others know or no one knows.

Johari Window

Why am I talking about pictures when my opening comments were about words?

Well, think about this for a moment: Our friends look through the same 4 panes as we do, although we are not familiar with at least two of them. So, when we speak, it’s to the public or blind person and we choose our words accordingly. It’s pretty easy to speak to someone in familiar terms, addressing them as they want others to know them, but much more challenging to point out areas where the other person is completely unaware.

Now, imagine the person to whom you are speaking is YOU. Hmmm…We speak to the person we want the world to believe we are, and we speak to the person we believe we are (but hide from the world), but that leaves two panes unaddressed: The blind pane (things we don’t know about ourselves) and the unconscious or unknown pane (things no one knows about us, even ourselves.)

Do we speak to our hidden person as kindly as we speak to another person’s blind spots? Do we speak to our public selves in honest terms, or do we lie to keep up an image?

This is where words matter most. There are kind words and mean words, and two of the words I use mostly frequently when speaking to myself are: OUGHT and SHOULD – especially during the holidays.

I hear myself telling myself:
You SHOULD work out more to compensate for the Halloween candy you SHOULDN’T have eaten.
Of course, you SHOULDN’T eat the candy in the first place, but if you buy it, you OUGHT to hand it out at the door.

You SHOULD buy a Christmas present for that person. You OUGHT to cook Thanksgiving dinner like you always do. You SHOULD hang a wreath on the door and decorate for the holidays. You SHOULD have started your Christmas shopping early. You SHOULD call your brother and your mother more often, especially during this “blue” season. You OUGHT to be a better friend. You SHOULD have gotten up earlier this morning. You OUGHT to know better than to bring home a whole sugar free pie.

And on and on.

SHOULD and OUGHT to.

Fortunately, as I explore my recovery from obesity further, I am learning to reframe my inner dialogue to exclude the shaming words, which sounds something like this:

OLD: You SHOULD work out more to the eat the candy you SHOULDN’T have eaten.
NEW: I can choose to work out today and I can choose to pass on the candy. If I choose the candy, I am responsible for the repercussions. If I don’t want to pass candy out at the door because it is too great a temptation, it’s okay. I don’t have to. But, I must accept the consequences.There are no rules that say I must have bowls of candy to give to trick-or-treaters, but there are no rules that say I have to buy it, either.

OR THIS: You CAN buy Christmas presents for people, and if you CAN’T afford it, you can always make a thoughtful card. You CAN have your family over for dinner another night; it doesn’t have to be on Thanksgiving. It’s OKAY to go camping — but call your mother. It’s OKAY that you didn’t call your friend yesterday; call her NOW. It’s okay that you didn’t work out this morning, go to the gym tonight.

Ultimately, I view it as negotiation. In speaking to myself, what is my goal? Resolution or condemnation? If you think of it in terms of speaking to a child, when you ask them to do a task, are you asking with the goal of accomplishing something (clean your room, make your bed, empty the cat box), OR, are you being critical: You SHOULD clean your room; it’s a pigpen. You OUGHT to wash your bedsheets because they haven’t been washed in months! The cat box stinks; you SHOULD think about how other people feel when they have to smell it.

Different tone, don’t you agree? If we speak like that to others, how do we feel when we speak to ourselves like that???

Without going much deeper, this is what I want you to hear:

  • LISTEN to what you are saying.
  • Speak to yourself with kindness and purpose; there is no room for blame and shame.
  • Learn more about the person you hide from the world by asking respectful questions.
  • Encourage trusted friends to speak to the self you don’t know.
  • Do your best to know yourself better.

Ultimately, choose your words carefully; if they don’t sound like something you would tell another person, consider whether it needs to be said at all.

October 26, 2012   4 Comments

Why Does it Matter, Anyway…?

People get themselves worked up into a lather over the oddest things. I know, I do. For example, just last night, *someone in my house* got cranky because I put recyclable bottles in the non-recyclable trash can. Big deal, right? I mean, *I* thought that it would be easy enough to sort when it was emptied, but unfortunately, my belief was not shared by *someone else* in my house (who shall remain nameless), so we both got prickly about it.

In the past, I’d have marinated about this and probably even gone to bed mad (!) but, THIS TIME, rather than stewing over it, I did something different – (a skill I’ve been working on for about a year, by the way): I calmly sat down and rationally thought about the situation. (Gasp!) Guess what happened? I realized that I was making a federal case over…plastic bottles. Yes. Plastic bottles. And, yes, I know one could argue that *someone else* was doing the same thing, but that’s only when seen through my own prism of self-importance. See, I was getting overheated about…EMPTY BOTTLES…and perhaps there’s a metaphor there: The bottles were empty, and so was my anger.

(Profound, don’t you think?)

So, once I saw the emptiness of my anger, I took a deep breath and came up with a solution to the problem — not that it was a problem for me, mind you, but since it was a problem for *someone I actually love in the house,* it needed a solution. Just what did I do? No, I did not go onto Facebook and status about it (LOL) — I put a recycling bag by the trashcan so that, in the future, I can “sort-on-the-fly.” (Revolutionary!) Now, truth be told, I could easily have continued on the war path and turned this into a battle of epic proportions; but I didn’t. This time…I just…let it go and moved on.

What changed? Why was I able to do this now when I spent years and years and years being…mad? Well, to be perfectly honest, it comes down to a little thing called my “ego.” (Ouch.) Uh-huh, I spent my life fighting to the death over ridiculously insignificant things because of my E-G-O.

Alright, I realize that this might sound a bit absurd to you, and you might be wondering just how I could make a federal offense out of trash (but that is only because YOU were not there; YOU were not enmeshed in my moment, and YOU do not know how frustrated I was to have to defend my decision to put a freaking bottle in a freaking trashcan.) Got that? Silly, really, but admit it — you have found yourself in a similar situation and gotten all worked up over something equally trivial. You know you have.

Don’t believe me? Let me jog your memory…

Ever found yourself asking:

  • Is it *really* that hard to put the roll of toilet paper on so that paper faces out, instead of in?
  • Can’t you *just* turn the “clean/dirty” magnet to the right position on the dishwasher so I know those dishes aren’t clean?
  • Is it *that* big a problem to just refill the soap dispenser…?
  • Can’t you JUST hang my Victoria’s Secret bras, rather than drying them in the hot dryer with your socks? (I might have gotten worked up over this one. Once or twice…)

Did anything up there ring a bell for you? No? Okay, think about it for a minute; I’ll wait…

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Do you have some examples now? Great! So, here’s my question: Why. Does. IT. Matter? Why does it matter if you overreact to silly things that you swear are more important than they are? Where’s the harm? Well, I contend it matters because when we allow unimportant things to overshadow our reason, we allow distractions to overshadow our recovery.

Let me say that again:
When we allow unimportant things to overshadow our reason, we allow distractions to overshadow our recovery.

Said differently:
When we make unimportant stuff seem important,
we make important stuff seem unimportant
until it becomes impossibly-important.

Still confused? (Stay with me) I say, it’s pretty hard to be calm when you’re a raw nerve just waiting for a place to overreact. Don’t you think? And it’s pretty hard to be rational when you’re feeling irrational. Right? Wrong? Don’t know?

How about if I frame this in a (seemingly) innocent way? Ever spent an hour on Facebook? Ever seen any drama? Ever found yourself saying, “What is the big, fricken’ deal?” I mean, just scan the status updates and you’d swear we were mere moments away from the Apocalypse. Yup. Catastrophic-end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it sorta drama.

Stuff like:

  • My husband left the toilet seat up! (It’s the end of the world!)
  • I got a bad haircut and I’m convinced my stylist did it on purpose! (My life is over!)
  • I lost my phone charger! (There is no reason to even think about tomorrow!)
  • Someone misspelled my name! (I am struggling for my next breath.)
  • Someone said I took the easy way out by having weight loss surgery! (People are just evil…I can’t go on.)
  • My football team lost (I’m gonna go eat a brownie!)

Ooh, ouch, I have a feeling one of those hit the aforementioned raw nerve…but that’s what happens when we allow drama to rule the day. That’s what happens when we elevate everything to “code red.” Well, at least it is for a great many of us. You see, when we feel out of control and angry, many of us decide to EAT…We decide that situations are unmanageable so we can *manage* them by eating Oreo cookies, or french fries…or drinking (and I don’t mean protein shakes.) The point is, when we allow trivial matters to become overly significant, many of us turn to our familiar go-to behaviors for solace and relief…yet…solace and relief are the very things we don’t find. The net result is, not only have we NOT solved the problem, we feel “guilty” for eating Zingers, AND are STILL worked up over the drama that started the whole thing!

Wow. Self-defeating behavior at its finest. Sounds a lot like sabotage to me…

Want another way of looking at is this? When we make mountains out of molehills, we quickly learn that the view from the top isn’t so great. (I’m talking about that little mound you created when someone  said you looked too skinny and you tried to convince everyone this was a brazen act of war.) Don’t get mad at me. I didn’t say that to you…

But here’s the thing — WE HAVE THE POWER TO MANAGE OUR EMOTIONS — I’m not saying we don’t involuntarily REACT and FEEL things — I’m saying we can choose how we ultimately respond — even if we’ve already reacted with a dramatic performance worthy of an Academy Award. You’d be amazed how powerful the words, “I’m sorry I overreacted” can be. Of course, most of the time, we believe we are completely justified in our reactions, so it makes saying something like that twice as hard. I mean, people “just don’t understand,” or, “they can’t possibly comprehend” the immensity of the event that has befallen us! (Right?)

The real question is: WHY are we catastrophizing, awfulizing, and giganticizing all that drama in our lives? Could it be so we DON’T have to deal with the stuff that REALLY matters? Could it be that if we’re constantly trying to cope with manufactured stuff, we won’t have to face the genuinely important stuff…like our weight…our health…our relationships…ourselves? It certainly seems plausible. At least, that’s what I’ve learned in therapy…

Whether you think you do it or you think you don’t do it…YOU DO IT — and there’s hope. See, I have this process I use when I feel myself venturing into Dramaville. When I feel like I’m going to blast-off (like, when someone has the audacity to park *their* car in *my* spot), I walk myself through this series of questions:

  1. Does it really matter?
  2. To whom? Just me? Someone else? A lot of others…?
  3. Do I need to do anything about it?
  4. What would happen if I DIDN’T do something?
  5. What would happen if I DID do something?
  6. Will it matter tomorrow? Next week? Next year? In 10 years?
  7. Why do I believe it matters so much?
  8. Am I ignoring something else?
  9. In the grand scheme of things, will anyone be hurt if I just move on?
  10. Is this the best use of my energy?
  11. Does it really matter? (Notice how we ended where we started?)

Next time, you try it. But, be aware, when you first begin working through this process, the answer to these questions might be, “yes, this is a good use of my energy because I am upset about something extremely important that will impact my life in a negative way…FOREVER” and that’s okay; it’s precisely why this exercise matters. In practicing this method myself, I’ve learned that a great deal of what I always believed was significant, really…wasn’t. The stuff I thought mattered…really didn’t. Mostly, being a drama queen just gave me excuses to eat my frustration away.

Know what? By asking myself this simple series of questions, I have allowed recovery from obesity to become a very real part of my life. I’ve learned that it’s darn-near-impossible to be in recovery if I’m always trying to deal with the hard stuff by throwing food at it (and if everything is hard stuff, then I’m gonna be throwing a LOT OF FOOD around…mostly into my mouth.) So, doesn’t it just make sense to eliminate drama for drama’s-sake?

Wouldn’t life be…simpler if life were…simpler?

Just for today, I encourage you to try having this conversation with yourself. Next time you feel that familiar anger welling up inside you — and you’re one finger away from Facebooking the world about it – DON’T. Instead, walk yourself though the questions above, and see what happens.

Chances are, NOTHING will happen if you don’t tell the world. The world will continue to rotate on its axis and the sun will continue to be the center of our solar system and, oh yeah, you might not eat about it!

Just for today…eliminate the drama. You’ll be glad you did.

August 28, 2012   7 Comments

Vignettes From the Bariatric After Life™

I call today’s posting Vignettes from the Bariatric After Life™ but really, they are just scenes from life. Ready to watch?

SET-UP: You are a pre-op, a new post-op, or someone who is overweight. This could be the “before” you or the “now” you.

SCENE 1: Try-On Room at the Clothing Store.
You’re in your room, checking with the mirror to see how your butt looks in your jeans. Suddenly, a woman in the hall exclaims: “Darnit! These are too tight. I look so FAT in this!” Of course you want to see what she’s talking about, so you peek out from behind the curtain and notice she is evaluating herself in the 3-way mirror. You estimate that she is about a size 4 and respond:

“You? FAT? Are you kidding me? You could never look fat! I wish I was that fat…”

Alternate: You see a woman who is obviously too big for what she’s wearing, look appreciably in the mirror and say, “I love how this looks on me. Don’t I look thin?”

You shake your head and think, “Doesn’t she see how she looks? That is NOT flattering on her! It’s too small, shows all of her rolls and makes her look bigger than she is. If I were here, I’d never dress like that.”

Cut.

SCENE 2: Weigh-in at a Weight Watchers Meeting
You’re next in line to be “judged” by the scale. The lady in front of you removes her shoes, puts her purse down, holds her breath and steps onto the scale, where she laments, “What? How could I have gained a pound this week? Why is it so hard to lose those 10 pounds?!”

You roll your eyes and say to yourself, “She’s complaining about losing 10 pounds and she gained 1 pound this week??? Are you KIDDING ME? I could lose 10 pounds by skipping breakfast and if I ONLY gained a pound, I’d be thrilled!”

Alternate: A woman who wears about a size 8-10 is standing in line with you. You think: “Why is she even HERE? If I weighed what she weighs, I’d never complain and would always be happy.”

Cut.

SCENE 3: All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet
You watch as very large man piles fried chicken, french fries, potato salad, steak potatoes, buffalo wings, and baked beans onto his second plate and think: “If I weighed that much, I’d never do that. Doesn’t he see that’s he’s making himself fat? That’s just wrong.”

Alternate: You overhear someone at a nearby table loudly whisper, “Are you looking at this guy? Can you SEE how much food he has on his plate? No WONDER he’s fat! That’s his second plate, and I’m sure it’s not his last. Watch what he eats for dessert. Pig.” (You silently agree.)

Alternate: You see a thin person selecting small portions of fresh veggies, fruit, salad with lo-fat dressing and some grilled chicken and say, “Why did they even COME to this place if they’re going to eat so little of that rabbit food?”

Alternate: After about 10 bites and 10 minutes, you watch as the person pushes the plate away, pats their belly and sighs, “I am stuffed! I can’t eat another bite! I’m stopping there…no room for dessert.”

You mutter, “I wish I could get full on so little food. I’d never complain. What would it feel like NOT to want dessert…?”

SCENE 4: You are on Facebook and you see a picture of someone who has just finished a half-marathon. The caption reads: “Just ran 13 miles. Really slow for me, and it’s not a full-marathon, but it’s better than nothing….”

You think, “ONLY 13 miles? In the same day? And you’re unhappy because it wasn’t a Marathon? I can’t even walk around the block, so if I could do that, I’d be the happiest person in the world.”

Cut.

What do all of these little scenes have to do with you (and me)? Each of them involves active ‘marginalizing, mitigating and minimizing.’ In each scenario, we have a person who as accomplished something. To you, it is big; to them, it is either unacceptable, or not worth mentioning. Before we get too much further, let’s define each of those terms (so we’re all on the same page. After all, I’d hate to think you were marginalizing, minimizing or mitigating the value of this posting because of different meanings.)

MARGINALIZETreat someone or something as insignificant or peripheral.
MINIMIZEReduce something to the smallest possible amount or degree. Represent or estimate as less than the true value or importance.
MITIGATEMake less severe, serious or painful; lessen the gravity of.

NOW…back to the scenarios. Let’s review:

  • Thin woman says she’s fat. You mitigate her feelings about her weight because you weigh more. Basically, you write her and her feelings off and decide she is making something out of nothing. You conclude that she probably has an eating disorder, because that is the only way anyone could look and think like that.
  • Alternately, you see a big woman doing what you, yourself might actually do (or did), except that she “actually, really looks bad.”
  • People you don’t think belong at a Weight Watchers meeting complain about their failures. You minimize their struggles because they do not look like you. You determine that it is ridiculous to obsess over 1 pound…or 10 pounds when your problems are so much bigger.
  • You observe big and small people at a buffet and have completely different interpretations of their actions. You decide that the “big man” is bad, and the “small person” is bad – but with a good excuse. You are quite certain you would never act like either one of them.
  • Your Facebook friend is dissatisfied with an achievement you say you’d be overjoyed to accomplish. You marginalize their beliefs as being extreme and surmise that they are probably just fishing for compliments.

Time for some unexpected juxtaposition! Let’s reset our vignettes.

SET UP: You have lost 130 pounds.

SCENE 1: You are trying on a pair of size 4 jeans and they are tight.

You exclaim, “I look so fat in these jeans!”

  • You mitigate the fact that you used to wear a size 24 and ignore the fact that a woman who had on the same pants thought she looked fat, too.

SCENE 2:You get on the scale and see that you have gained a pound. You sputter, “I am such a failure! I gained an entire pound!”

  • You minimize the fact that you have not regained 129 pounds.

Alternate: You have lost 120 pounds, but your “GOAL” is 130 pounds. You say, “I will never reach goal. There is no way I can ever lose 10 more pounds. It might as well be 100.”

  • You marginalize your ability to lose weight and inflate the magnitude of the small number of pounds you say you still want to lose.

SCENE 3: You put small portions of healthy foods on your plate and include several desserts. You do not finish all of the healthy foods on your plate, but force yourself to consume almost all of the desserts.
You say, “Just about everything I ate was healthy for me. I don’t always eat desserts. Only on special occasions…or when I come to buffets.”

  • You minimize the behavior of making unhealthy choices, but criticize another person for doing the same thing.

SCENE 4: You complete your first 10K and post a picture on Facebook that says, “I didn’t run the whole way, but at least I finished.”

  • You marginalize the significance of completing ANY race because you did not do it the same way (or speed) as someone else. You reduce the accomplishment to something just short of total failure, but condemn someone else for doing the same thing.

In each of these instances, you are doing the same thing as someone you criticize, but have convinced yourself that you’re not doing it! Which is it? Or…is it only true when it’s about Y-O-U?
Since the common denominator is YOU,the conclusions are not surprising, but they are revealing. What we think and say about others says a lot about what we think and say about ourselves. And we are pros at defending our positions, even if we argue from both sides! So, which is it?

  • Is the person — any person — who wears a size 4 fat or thin?
  • has the person who loses 130 pounds accomplished an incredible achievement, or not?
  • Is the person who makes wise food choices most of the time healthier, or not?
  • Is the person who runs a half-marathon better than the person who completes the 10K? How about a 5K?  How about 10 minutes on the treadmill?
  • Does it matter?

In my book, you can be healthy, successful and accomplished no matter what size you wear, how many pounds you shed, how many healthy things you put on your plate at a buffet, or how fast you run a race – as long as you choose to see it that way.

As usual, there is a *subtle* duality to my message today:

  • Don’t judge others’ accomplishments against your own (unless you are in the Olympics), but judge your own accomplishments as you would judge others.
  • Don’t project your feelings onto someone else, but be willing to examine those  feelings for yourself.
  • Don’t diminish the feelings of others or magnify your own.
  • Don’t presume to know what someone is thinking or feeling by interpreting their actions, and don’t let their actions interpret your thoughts and feelings about yourself.
  • Don’t do to others what you are unwilling to do yourself, but be willing to do for yourself what you claim others are unwilling to do at all.

Can you see yourself in any of these vignettes? I am interested to hear how you have minimized, marginalized and mitigated situations, achievements, and realities in your OWN LIFE.

May 31, 2012   6 Comments

RINSE. LATHER. REPEAT.

 

Ever read the directions on the shampoo bottle?

  1. Rinse.
  2. Lather.
  3. Repeat.

Seems reasonable enough…until you think about it for a bit longer than one hair washing, because those directions are not for your benefit; they’re written so you’ll use more shampoo! Besides, they don’t tell you how many times are you supposed to “repeat” – which is kinda important.  We “assume” once, but then again…maybe not?

Now matter what your interpretation of the instructions on the shampoo bottle, I think that ‘repeating’ something is not always necessary or helpful. As a matter of fact, it could be harmful. I mean, when you think about it, repeat soapings on your hair will result in cleaner hair, but it might also result in your hair being stripped of its natural oils…or falling out and running down the drain. (And, what’s so great about a bald, dry head?)

BUT…you know this blog posting isn’t about shampoo…

As always, it’s about Life in Recovery.

So, let’s get started! Yesterday, I posted something on Facebook and it ended up receiving so many comments, I decided the subject might be the basis of a blog!

Here’s what it said:

* * *

YOUR STORY

  • Don’t Nurse It.
  • Don’t Curse It.
  • Don’t REHEARSE It.
  • REVERSE IT.

Many times, we keep ourselves “sick” – which is to say “unhealthy” (emotionally, spiritually, physically) – because it’s what we know. We’re good at being obese, or good at being indulgent, angry, sad, judgmental, defensive, wounded, whatever. SO…we marinate in it — which means we “nurse” it.

Other times, we complain about our circumstances…but do nothing to change them (Curse it.)

Each of those behaviors does nothing to help us heal, especially not RELISHING it. How exactly does one relish a negative thought/feeling/circumstnce/behavior?

By retelling the story.

“This is how I have failed.”
“This is what always happens to me.”
“I am no good at ______”
“No one supports me.”
“I hate my body because _____.

Each time you speak the negative — each time you retell your story — you give it renewed energy. Each time you replay that tape about how disappointed you are in this or that (person, behavior, event), you give it new life, new purpose, new meaning. But, you know what? If you just leave it unsaid and move forward, the story fades away in significance, power and meaning. Amazing.

So: What’s the best way to start healing?

STOP: Nursing, Cursing & Rehearsuing your problem (unhappiness/shame/guilt/failure) and START Reversing It.

PROCESS:
Stop telling your story.
Stop complaining about your past (or present).
Stop believing it’s the way it must be.
START being the change you want to see and be.

* * *

So, that’s what it said. Evidently, this subject struck a chord with a number of people, which led me to come up with the following analogy (that I think deserves further explanation):

Retelling your story over and over is a lot like watching TITANIC and hoping it will have a different ending! Ever caught yourself saying, “Watch out for that iceberg! Slow down! Get more lifeboats! There’s room for both of you on that headboard!” [Okay, maybe you don’t say that last part, but I do.]

The point is, we all know the story of Titanic. It hit an iceberg. It didn’t have enough lifeboats. They lowered half-empty lifeboats. They locked poor people behind gates. Jack drowned and Rose threw her jewel into the sea. [Again, that last part probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things…] or maybe it does. After all, it’s a little detail that’s added to the story to give it new life; new dimension. It’s a great detail that makes people think, “Oh my gosh! Why did she do that? Do you think the jewel is still there? Do you think they found it with their underwater rovers? How much would it be worth today? Would I let someone draw a charcoal drawing of me naked…?”

Anyway, the point is, each new detail forms the basis for MORE DISCUSSION. It feeds the flames…fuels the fire…keeps the story alive for another telling.

Which is exactly what happens in our lives. We become experts at telling our stories.

I had surgery 512 days ago. I lost 122.5 pounds, but I lost 21 of those before surgery, and I regained 4.7 since my lowest, but I’ve been in maintenance for 347 days and I wear a junior size 9!”

Okay. When we lose weight and gain health, it feels really good, but so often, we are compelled to fill in the blanks with numbers and statistics and specifics, as if the basic story isn’t compelling enough. Why aren’t we content to say:

“I lost weight, I feel great, I’m living and loving life.”

Well, I have a theory: I think we do it because it feeds a need for validation and justification (or even vindication) really. We need people to tell us we look good. We need people to tell us we “didn’t cheat” with surgery. We need people to tell us we are successful. We need people to forgive us (?!) for regaining 4.7 pounds. Mostly…we need to believe these things about ourselves, but since we don’t believe it ourselves, we seek the approval and agreement of others.

Here’s my next theory: I think this behavior is an addiction. I say this because I am an addict, and I know how easy it is to become addicted to the feeling you get when people praise you, or when people condemn others who dare to disagree with you. I believe it’s an addiction because, I am never content to stop telling the story to just ONE PERSON. Oh, sure…I might start with my best friend, but once I curry her agreement (and know she’s on my team, of course), I have to go collect OTHERS, or I might stop believing my story. Of course, I’ll have to embellish my story a little to get others to agree with me. I might have to make it sound more dire, or harrowing, or riveting. And, with each telling, the story will become more powerful, more believable, and more tellable.

Given that, how can I NOT share a riveting, powerful, extraordinary, unbelievable story with EVERYBODY. EVERYWHERE???

It’s a regular feeling-feeding frenzy. And it sounds like Addiction to me.

I. Must. Have. More.

I need more and more and more and more people to hear my story. I am addicted to their support, their sympathy, their agreement.

I believe that the more we focus on the past…our unhappiness, discontentment, rage, disappointments, hurt, pain – even successes – the less we  live in the present. If I’m busy complaining about my siblings, or how I was passed over for a promotion when I was obese; if I’m busy complaining that I had a horrible time in high school, or even something as mundane as getting a traffic ticket…then I’m ignoring the here and now!

C’mon, you know you’ve done it. You’ve told and retold your story about how you got a ticket, but you didn’t deserve it, and the cop was a jerk, and it was a trap, and the guy ahead of you was really speeding, and the guy behind you made you run the redlight…You know you have. But…guess what? You still got the ticket. The guy in front of you didn’t get caught (then). The guy behind you still ran the redlight, and the cop may or may not have been a jerk. The point is, no matter how many times you told the story – even though you might have embellished, made it more dramatic, added qualifying factors and scintillating details….you still got the ticket.

…And the Titanic still sank.

  • What would happen if you stopped telling your story?
  • What would happen if you stopped saying where you’ve been and focused on where you ARE?
  • What would happen if you lived in the now, rather than in the past?

Still not sure there’s anything wrong with retelling your story? That’s fine. As long as you’re okay to keep re-living, rather than living.

* Recovery Moment *

Just for today, think of a story you’ve told. A lot. Then, decide NOT to tell it again. Will it hurt? Will it help? Will it matter? You decide. Then get a new bottle of shampoo that says:

  1. Rinse.
  2. Rinse.
  3. Rinse.

 

May 30, 2012   11 Comments

We See What We Choose to See.

Where is your focus?

 

Which way is she spinning?

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Now, as a rule, I’m not really a “holiday sorta girl.” I’m just. Not. It’s not that I don’t love my mom, and it’s not that I don’t feel loved as a mom, but, I dunno, I sorta feel like there’s a great deal of pressure to show and receive affection in a particular way on a particular day, when it’s better to show and receive affection that way – every day.

So, there’s that.

But, there’s also the very real fact that I don’t like to be disappointed, and I hate not having my expectations met. “If I can’t have it my way, I don’t want it any way.” (Really attractive quality, isn’t it?) Now, truth be told, I’m recovering from this “all or nothing” way of thinking, but it’s still ingrained, and it still rears its ugly head sometimes. Especially on: HOLIDAYS.

Fortunately, in my house, we never really make a big deal of Mother’s Day, which means I don’t have to be disappointed.

Well…*suspicious* emotions and motivations aside, THIS particular Mother’s Day was different. It was truly different.

For starters, my 21-Year Old daughter (Hannah) BOUGHT ME A MOTHER’S DAY CARD (yes, with her own money) – several days BEFORE MOTHER’S DAY. It is an adorable card; so her; so me. I love it. She also handmade me a super-cute “CERTIFICATE OF AWARD” which entitles the bearer (me) to – wait for it – 1 FREE HAIRCUT!!

Heck, yes, I’ll be using that.

Ahh, but it didn’t stop there. MexiKen bought me a super cute card that is completely contrary to those typical, sappy Mother’s Day Cards (did I mention I don’t like sappy Mother’s Day cards?) Anyway, he got it for me because the cartoon on the front of the card has a woman in these cute pumps with sparkly stones on the toes. He said it reminded him of me. (Love that).

To top it all off, we took a lovely 18+ mile bike ride up the canal and back, then dropped by the grocery store to pick-up some salad fixins’ before heading home. It was a delightful afternoon.

And that was the good stuff. Got it? Cards. Certificate. Bike Ride. All good.

BUT…what I didn’t mention is, before the cards, certificate and bike ride, we (Hannah, MexiKen and I) went out for breakfast to a place I had hoped wouldn’t be crowded (I was mostly right): Panera. Now, Panera is pretty much ALL BREAD; ALL THE TIME – something I don’t do. BUT, they do have a Mediterranean egg white thing (which I order sans ciabatta bread), and they also have a soufflé (which I can eat about half of) – so, that’s what I typically do.

Except for yesterday.

Yesterday, they were sold out. That’s right, they were sold out of everything my pouch could tolerate. So I had: NOTHING. My family ate (because I wisely had them order first), but I had…crappy coffee. (I don’t like Panera’s coffee, but I didn’t want to just have a glass of water…I don’t know why not.) At some point, I decided that maybe I could try some black bean soup. (For Mother’s Day breakfast….right) but, I really was not in the mood for black bean soup…so I hated it.

And then we headed home.

I was deflated, to say the least. I felt cranky and cheated and disappointed. It wasn’t “fair” I thought. Why couldn’t I eat the way everyone else does? Of course, I already answered my own question, (Because I chose to have bariatric surgery as a tool to combat precisely that sort of unhealthy behavior – at least eating like that every day) – But..that didn’t make me feel any better. Sometimes…like on holidays…I really resent my Bariatric After Life™.  Sometimes, I just want to be: NORMAL.

Fortunately, that’s what pity parties are for. So I had one. For an hour. I frowned and groused and just felt pitiful. It was delightfully self-indulgent.

And counterproductive.

So, I decided I’d had enough of that, and changed my attitude. Yup.I pretty much started over and changed the way I looked at my day.

Okay, so I didn’t find anything that would work for me at the restaurant. Big deal. I had a protein shake when I got home. And then I ambled back to my computer, where I began to create a wonderful video for Las Vegas (which felt pretty good). And then…well, THEN, I decided to DO SOMETHING that I really wanted to do. Something I NEVER would have done in my “Before” life: I decided then and there that we should go for a bike ride, and that is precisely what we did.

Guess what? We had an incredible time.

So, how did I go from pity to party in 10 seconds flat? I changed my attitude….my outlook…my perspective. I changed the way I looked at my day, my options…my life.

Here’s what I’ve learned: There are many different ways you can look at a situation. You can focus on the negative, or you can focus on the positive. You can see only what you can’t do, or you can look for the things you CAN do. You can step away from the situation and look from a different angle or, you can get closer. Whatever you do, in those times when life looks dreary or down, the best thing to do is find the UP.

And that’s why I put that picture of the pirouetting girl at the top of this posting. Because there are always different ways to see things – and, while one is not necessarily “wrong,” sometimes, there are better ways.

Which way is she spinning?

This Mother’s Day, I chose to focus on what made me happy, rather than what made me sad. (And, yes, I called my mama, sent her a card, texted her, post on her Facebook wall – and sent her a Facebook message. I covered all of my bases, and we are going to celebrate together over Memorial Day weekend.)

Now that I’ve told you about my day and my struggles, I want to know what you do when you’re feeling down and all you can see around you is failure or roadblocks? How do you deal with disappointment? Do you get resentful? Do you give into it, or do you change your point of view and enjoy the life you’re given?

I know why I chose bariatric surgery: To live.

How about you?

May 14, 2012   3 Comments

HAIL ME A CAB! (My shoes are too tight to chase it.)

When I was a young working girl, I had to dress up everyday for my job at the investment bank on the 22nd floor of a really tall building in downtown Los Angeles. I wore stockings, heels and suits, dresses or skirts. I never wore pants – it wasn’t acceptable, but that was fine, because my “butt-to-waist” ratio made it challenging to find a good fit anyway. Of course, in those days, spandex-enhanced pants were not really en vogue, (meaning there was no “give” or expansion to accommodate the spread). Needless to say, pants were uncomfortable.

Still…I did dress up. Every. Day. (And that really is the point of this blog).

To put this into proper perspective, I was not making a lot of money as a secretary, and, at that time anyway, Payless only sold tennis shoes, so I generally spent about $45 for a pair of shoes…That was a LOT of money, considering rent was $465!

Well, the other day, I was reminiscing about the “good old days” and remembered one of my VERY-MOST-FAVORITE-PAIR-OF-SHOES. Ever. They were taxi-cab yellow patent leather pumps with a sexy vamp and the perfect heel. Some people called them “school bus gold,” but that always mortified me, because it meant someone thought I was BIG…like a school bus.

Seriously. I thought that.

My shoes were way prettier than these, and they didn't have pointy toes, but these are for effect.

Anyway, I had two things that matched those shoes: One was a cute cotton dress with a matching fabric belt, (that I always thought made me look fat…isn’t that funny?) and the other was a sexy satin goldenrod yellow blouse that I wore with a black pencil skirt. But…those were the ONLY TWO THINGS that those shoes matched and, in those days, you didn’t go for a “POP” of color like you do now; you went for “MATCHY-MATCHY.”

They were a lot like these, only they weren't suede – they were shiny – and I don't recall ever standing on a sheepskin throw in mine.

BUT, back to the shoes. In reality, I must confess that they weren’t patent leather at all. They were pleather. That’s right: PLASTIC-LEATHER. And, they were tight. Incredibly tight. Incredibly, painfully tight. From the instant I put them on, until I took them off, they pinched my toes and hurt like nobody’s business. Yes, I bought them like that, and yes, they hurt in the store! Tragically, these stupid shoes hurt so much, I wasn’t even able to walk in them for the first hour. Fortunately, it would get better and eventually, my toes would fall asleep so the pain would localize, and I could wince my way quite convincingly through my day without anyone having the slightest hint that I was uncomfortable.

That’s what I did: I shimmied along in my über-sexy yellow plastic shoes and matching dress and acted is if I hadn’t a care in the world (because that’s what beautiful did. They ignored their discomfort.) Although…in retrospect, I cannot begin to understand HOW they tolerated the pain, except to say that they weren’t trying to balance 180 pounds on a 1/4″ diameter heel stud. Yeah, that was definitely how they did it.

Right about now, you’re asking, “What on EARTH could possibly have motivated you to spend money you didn’t have on shoes that didn’t fit in the store and weren’t going to stretch once you got them home?”

In a word? VANITY.

That’s right: VANITY.

I had always heard that you had to suffer for your beauty, so that’s what I did. Never mind those naysayers who warned me that I’d “pay the ultimate price later” when I was old (40) and couldn’t wear heels anymore. They told me I’d end up in sensible shoes…like nurses wear. And that I’d have bunions, calluses and misshapen feet.

But I DIDN’T CARE.

I wanted what I wanted — no matter the price.

What made me think it was okay to suffer in silence? Why did I think I needed to HURT for the sake of beauty? As I sit here today (in more comfortable, though much higher shoes), I wonder if it was the evil “over-compensation” at work. You know, the feeling that, since I was overweight, I had to pay the price by suffering. Perhaps I believed I wasn’t worth more, so I’d take what I could get and enjoy the compliments.

Or, maybe I just WANTED to fit in so desperately, it didn’t matter how extreme the consequences…

There might be something to that…after all it’s a skill I perfected in my obese years…the art of ignoring the consequences.

I wanted it, and that’s all that mattered.

Other people ate junk food; so did I.
Other people did whatever they wanted; so did I.
Who really cared?It was only LIFE…and I had so much more of it ahead of me, best to live it while I was young.

And here I am.
Older than 40.
Recovering from obesity and food addiction.
And still wearing high heels.

So, what changed?

Well, I think I finally figured out that I don’t have to overcompensate for my deficiencies anymore, because my goal is not perfection. I don’t have to suffer because I think it is expected of me, and I don’t have to wear shoes that pinch. (Unless I want to because they are so, darned sexy 😉

The reality is, I am who I am, and life is too short to suffer and try to pretend I am someone that I’m not.

Why, if I had those shoes today, I’d proudly call them SCHOOL BUS YELLOW and not worry that someone might think I LOOK like a school bus in them!

What matters most?

Well…I think I’m gonna go with comfortable peace on this one. Yes, comfortable peace. That is the goal, and it doesn’t involve ill-fitting, taxi-cab yellow pumps or dresses that make me feel ugly.

Okay, I do miss those shoes.

Sometimes.

August 26, 2011   2 Comments

Did I Shave My Legs For This? Letting Myself Be LOVED.

Here is a Little Life Lesson for Living a Happier Bariatric After Life™

I have always hated my legs; they just aren’t good looking.  Sadly, I was not one of those women whose legs stayed skinny and shapely while the rest of me got bigger. Okay, that’s not entirely true: I had an hourglass figure…but all the sand ran to the bottom.

Anyway, in this episode, I figured out that it’s not okay to decide that, just because *I* don’t like something, *no one* else can like it either. When you set up boundaries, and make rules about how someone can love you, the real loser is YOU.

August 22, 2011   11 Comments

How Julie P. Taught Me to Be A Better Me

When I was little, people told me that I should be an artist, an illustrator, or a cartoonist when I grew up. I heard this all the time (probably because I was ALWAYS DRAWING something) and besides, it wasn’t a far-fetched idea. Didn’t all of us imagine we would grow up to do something “fun” …that we’d make a living doing something we love? I grew up in the early 70’s when kids dreamt of becoming an astronaut, airline pilot, or even president. Boy, times have changed…

Anyway, I spent my formative years drawing, sketching and coloring on whatever paper I could find. During the school year, I’d draw pictures of couples (John + Anna, John + Donna, John + Somebody New…), and at the end of the school year, I’d “doodle” in people’s yearbooks.

I left my mark EVERYWHERE, and became well-known for my cartoons.

And then I started junior high, (which ran from 7th to 9th grade.) This was the first time art became more than just something I could do after lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was an actual “elective” that I could take, and I got to do it EVERY DAY! This was heaven for me, and I loved the idea of it all. Of course, we explored entirely new media — things like pen and ink, watercolors and clay. Unfortunately, I soon figured out that I had two problems:

  1. I wasn’t very good at many of the new media, and
  2. there was a girl named Julie P. who WAS.

Trust me, she was an incredibly gifted artist. Which only meant one thing: C-O-M-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N.

Okay, so there was someone BETTER than I was at art.  Actually, she was SO much better, she was voted “Most Artistic” in the 9th grade popularity poll.

I came in second.

You know what they say, you don’t win the silver, you lose the gold. So, I did what any honest, self-discriminating person would do: I quit dreaming of becoming an artist. After all, everyone *else* was better, so why should I pursue a career at it?

Right about now, I can hear some of you saying, “What? Why did she quit art? Why would she do that? Why didn’t she learn from Julie P. (and any of the other artists who were better?) It’s true…that would have been the smart thing, I’ll give you that, but in those days, I had zero self-confidence and a fragile ego, so admitting that someone was BETTER at something carried a very high price tag. Unfortunately, that price tag turned out to be my entire creative self, because over the course of the next 8 years (until about the age of 20), I continued to run into people who were better.

I got turned down for VAPA (Visual & Performing Arts) program in high school, I got turned down for a scholarship to Art Center, and I got turned down for a promotion in the creative department at the ad agency where I worked. Never mind that I should have taken those rejections as opportunities to become better at my craft. Never mind that I could have asked talented and successful artists for help…Just never mind.

I took those rejections personally, and they became nails in my creative coffin.

Until…one day…I just…stopped drawing.

So, what was the lesson in that creative carnage? Well, it sort of came to me the other day, when I learned (for the umpteenth time) that my success as a post-op is viewed by some with scorn and jealousy. In other words, my success somehow translates into their failure. Are you noting the parallels here? The only real difference is, now, *I* am Julie P. and those people who don’t think they are “good enough” are ME! Unfortunately, this isn’t about crayons and paper — this is about life. This is about health, happiness and healing.

Of course, I can’t blame others for looking at me with derision – it’s a practiced art form for some of us; we compare ourselves to others, usually, unfavorably. I spent YEARS believing I didn’t measure up; I put myself on the losing end of the comparison.

WELL, not anymore. I no longer compare myself to others who are living a successful Bariatric After Life™ because I realize that we all have different gifts…talents…strengths…we are all different people who can bring a great deal of wisdom to the world, if we just BELIEVE IN OURSELVES.

Alright, I don’t expect to be voted “Most Fabulous” anytime soon (because, last time I checked, there were no Bariatric Yearbooks — LOL), but that’s okay. I know that I must share my talents with others and, wherever I come up short, must look to those who are MORE SUCCESSFUL to learn how THEY have succeeded!

So what if it took me forty years to figure it all out…I may be a SLOW learner, but I’m a GOOD learner, and this lesson has been well- learned: I didn’t ask Julie P. for tips on how to become a better artist, but that won’t stop me from asking others how to become a better ME.

Do you see yourself in this lesson? Have you judged yourself poorly against others who might have shed more weight after surgery, or been more physically active? Have you decided you are a failure because you don’t wear a certain size, haven’t run a 5K, or you struggle with bingeing?

If there’s one message I can give you, it’s this: LEARN FROM OTHERS.

Don’t quit because they succeed.
Succeed because they don’t quit!

August 12, 2011   2 Comments

My Bariatric Cadillac

When we bought my Honda Pilot in 2003, we made sure to get the top of the line model, because we knew we were going to hold onto it for a long, long time. The only option we didn’t buy was the DVD/Navigation feature, because we just didn’t need it. We also upgraded the transmission so that it would be able to pull the fishing boat we had at the time. I was quite specific that I DIDN’T want a minivan, needed to move a lot of bodies without much difficulty, and wanted it to “fit” me (because I was still obese and overflowed car seats on smaller vehicles.)

The Pilot seemed to fit the bill in every way. So we bought it and loved it. Until we noticed that the leather was garbage (Think: Band-Aids with those perforated holes and you’re getting close).

  • Then we noticed that the radio knobs were garbage (so we had it replaced under the warranty…though they failed again on the replacement model).
  • Then the airbag sensor went out and they wanted $600 to make it right. I told them what they could do with their airbag and sensor and was quite detailed about it.
  • Then we noticed that everything plastic that was painted (which is, after all, what makes it “top-of-the-line”) was flaking and peeling. Sorta like my face after my chemical peel only, in the case of my face, I ended up looking YOUNGER, while my car just looked…old.

Okay, so I learned to accept all of the disappointing stuff, figuring we could fix it in due time. We thought we’d bought the Cadillac of midsized SUVs, but we ended up with a Yugo (look it up.)

And then MexiKen lost his job and things went south (for longer than just the winter).

WELL, the latest thing to go bad on my 8-year old car (with only 103,000 miles on it, by the way) is the transmission. Yes, you read that right: the transmission took a dump, and the dealership wants $4200 to fix it. Plus, they want another $1800 to do the “100,000 mile timing belt service.” Are you freaking KIDDING ME?

Believe me when I say, this chain of events has thrown me for a loop and I have NOT been happy with Honda. It was my first and it will be my last – no doubt about it. Anyway, yesterday, I rented a little car. It’s a simple model with hand-cranking windows and no power locks. There is no leather, no remote-keyless entry, and no sunroof. There is just: A Car that Drives.

As I drove my little roller skate to work this morning, a few things hit me:

  1. I have definitely undergrown my big old SUV, and can “fit” a small car quite nicely now.
  2. Buying a Honda is NOT what it’s cracked up to be, and
  3. Buying TOP-OF-THE-LINE doesn’t guarantee you anything…except that you will spend more to maintain it.

Okay, so what’s the LIFE lesson in all of this?

  • Sometimes, I have goals that are unreasonable or unattainable.
  • Sometimes, I achieve goals that I absolutely, positively had to achieve, and then I am disappointed by the experience, because it doesn’t live up to the “marketing materials.”
  • Sometimes, that thing that I had to have from the late night infomercial does not work the way it does on T.V.

In other words, if I put my faith in something OUTSIDE of myself and what I have control over, I will pretty much ALWAYS be disappointed. Or, if I’m not, it may not live up to everything I’d hoped for.

I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t dream big — or dream BIGGER — because I know how important goals and dreams are in our lives — I just think that we need to maintain perspective. We need to know that “our mileage may vary,” and that sometimes we’ll get “flat tires” or have engine trouble on our life’s journey.

It’s how we handle the news that defines our success and happiness as individuals.

I didn’t handle my news very well. I tried to be positive, but it really sucked the wind out of my sails and took me almost an entire week to accept. The good news is, I am now more peaceful, because I know that better times are ahead. No, not in an unrealistic way — in a real way. This peacefulness comes directly from that Serenity Prayer that we all know:

God, Grant me the Serenity to Accept the Things I cannot CHANGE.
The Courage to Change the Things I CAN,
And the Wisdom to Know the DIFFERENCE.

Do I have power over my transmission? Yes. I can decide to take it to an independent mechanic who will charge me less and offer me a great warranty. $1800 is way better 😉

Do I have power over my leather seats? Yes. I can decide that I may or may not need that option on future vehicles.

Do I have power over that thing I bought on TV that doesn’t work now? Yes, I can return it (minus shipping and handling) for a complete refund.

Yesterday, I hit the wall. I was tired of “NO’s” and just wanted some “YES’s.” I called it the “Wall of NO’s” and I just needed to find a way over, around or under it.

Guess what? I rented that little car and smashed right THROUGH it. (Yes, I have the extra insurance coverage, so don’t worry.)

As far as Honda goes? They are on my list and Santa WILL hear about how bad they’ve been.
….now, NISSAN is going to get an extra something in their stocking this year!

How about you? Are you guilty of unrealistic goals? Do you think that your happiness lies in settling for nothing less than the best? Do you think you can be comfortable and content with something LESS than top-of-the-line?

As we prepare to move into a little apartment somewhere and leave our beautiful house behind, I can tell you that it IS possible to be happy with less. You just have to have the right state-of-mind to succeed.

August 2, 2011   9 Comments