Saturday, July 20, 2013
I do love how sometimes the universe aligns things just perfectly - in big ways and in small ones. I'm back from a two day beach get-away that turned out to be particularly magical. I took a bit of a risk with this one since I was trying to achieve something for two people, me and a family member, who were coming from two very different emotional places. My life is pretty good, pretty stable and pretty secure. Hers is chaos. I love this person. Her birthday is in a few days. I wanted this to be a happy time for her while still being a happy time for me - and as I said - sometimes the universe just makes it all perfect.
The traffic was easy getting to the beach. The weather was hot but just beachy hot and there was always an ocean breeze and the water was gentle and refreshing. The crowds were packed like sardines and as polite as Sunday School teachers. In fact, it was the people we encountered that made this trip so fantastic. Everywhere we went on this little jaunt, we made the most amazing connections with people. The man at the hotel was able to get us into our room an hour early. He gave us fabulous advice on a restaurant which turned out to be the first restaurant I've ever eaten in at VaBeach that wasn't all carnival food and didn't also cost an arm and a leg. It also turns out that the city fathers and mothers of Virginia Beach have hired performers to entertain people on every corner in a 10 block line - every night throughout the summer from 7:30 to 11. No tips. Just pure pleasure. And entertainment of every sort from hammer dulcimers to HipHop dancers, magicians to folk rock singers, marching bands to jugglers of flaming torches. There was even a cabaret style Frank Sinatra singer crooning in the middle of one block. At either end were two large stages - one with a gritty rock band and the other with the most amazing magician/illusionist I've ever seen. Here's a link to some videos of his stunts.
The magic continued the next morning with a sunrise beach walk and a mid-morning departure. The traffic was easy to drive through - an important thing for this country driver who rarely encounters more than a dozen cars on her daily commute. The only slow down was right before the Norfolk tunnel ... which is a good thing, because then even the driver can mosey along looking at the wide water, the sailboats, air craft carriers and cargo ships as they move slowly up and down their watery highway. We got to Colonial Williamsburg right at lunchtime and were treated to an absolutely delicious luncheon of quasi historic dishes in Shields Tavern - one of the documented eateries close to the Capital Building. As our meal came to an end we heard music coming from upstairs and as we were leaving we stopped to talk to the musician - who, in the most charming Virginia fashion, turned out to be married to a woman who went to the same high school as my companion and was best friends with the daughter of a man who worked for my father. And though he grew up in Texas, he was a descendant of two families from my end of the county, including one long gone family whose original land patent was researched and platted by my surveyor husband in 1977. I mean - how Virginia is that?!?
So. Great. Great Vacation. Happy Bess.
But this is, after all, Spark People. It's about staying healthy - and obviously there was a lot of emotional and mental health going on here but what about the food thing. What about my weight goals. What about that? I ate all over the place on this trip: shrimp scampi, salt water taffy, ice cream, wine with dinner - and though I walked for miles and swam for hours, I didn't track anything.
So. so did I break my streak of healthy days?
Well that harmonic connection I mentioned at first - that thing about the universe aligning up to make things just right must still be going on because what did I discover on the Best of Spark People this morning?
I found these words quoted from this article:
"The second most common cause of a motivational slump is expecting yourself to be perfect. The idea that anyone can (or should) never overeat or never skip a workout is a form of false pride. Why would anyone think that she'll be the first human being in history to pull this off, or that if you don't, you must be a miserable failure? The emotional upset of failed perfectionism can make it virtually impossible to stay motivated.
If you're holding yourself to a standard of perfection, or verbally abusing yourself for those bad days, give yourself a break. "
Yeah. Yep Yep Yep. YES! I'd say I'm still on my streak of making healthy choices. And look where it got me -
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Last winter I took up playing with pens and drawing, inspired by the books about Zentangle Art. I was immediately struck with the idea to do something like this. It's still a work-in-progress - I'm taking the leaf fronds around the back. And I'm still learning to keep the pens upright ... there's a lot of smearing in this first attempt. Still, I am having a ton of fun with this artistic play.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Wanna know a secret about me?
I hate goals.
Yep. I really hate goals. Goals are not like challenges. A challenge means it's still going on. You don't have to stop. You can keep on learning whatever it is you're working on. A goal means you're done. It's over. Finis. For an ENFP - the sort of person who hates to come to closure, a challenge is a friend. A goal is not.
ENFP? That's a personality type - you can read about them here:
Besides, goals sound too much like sports and me? Well. I don't like sports either - especially team sports - things where if I win, you have to lose and if you win I have to lose. I don't like either side of "lose". Set a goal for me and I immediately wander off in a different direction. this happens even when I set the goal myself. I'll get sick, get interested in something else, my eyes will begin to flick away- I put my hands over my ears and sing LA LA LA LA LA loudly .
I'm solo athlete. I love a challenge. I love to push myself harder than I did yesterday. I love to try new things and I'll even come back again and again till I've mastered them. It's how I learned to play the violin - how I learned to knit - how I learned to draw (still learning that one). I don't have any problem with practice. Love me some practice. Just don't ask me to reach a goal. Don't put a deadline on me. Don't fence me in.
I am reminded of a description of how a horse whisperer gets horses to link up with her. She circles around the horse, always coming at him from the side as he avoids her - till, when he's tired, she turns her back on him and waits - and then he steps up behind her and touches her shoulder. They link up.
Yeah. that's me, trying to reach any desired outcome. (Notice how I didn't use the G word?) I have to keep at it - from several directions and then, when the outcome seems like it's just exhausted from trying to avoid me - I stop and let it happen.
So I love a challenge. And for quite a while now I haven't had one. I'm casting about for something I can circle, approach, investigate - explore. I posted about the LDRICHEL's Happiness Challenge yesterday. That sounds tempting. But I've also just bought two books that offer challenges: THE ARTISTS' WAY by Julia Cameron
and (no surprise) Martha Beck's new book FINDING YOUR WAY IN A WILD NEW WORLD.
Both of them offer the sort of challenge I like - the kind that pushes you further down the road to a better version of yourself. They're both demanding, though I think The Artists' Way will be the harder of the two. They push you. They introduce you to things you had never tried before. They have lists and exercises and steps. But the thing is - neither of them lock you into a goal. You'll definitely get somewhere and it might look like you've reached a goal, but in fact, the goal sort of gives up avoiding you and when you least expect it - links up with you.
I love the idea of that and I'm beginning to crave a new challenge. I'm also having an unbelievably crammed busy summer. In addition to the normal busy of summer in the library we're going to migrate to a completely new automation system in August. Believe me - it's an enormous task - you don't really want to know the details. Then, I have several big social events coming up over the next 6 weeks. And it's hot. Hot hot hot. and humid. It's no time for me to begin a new challenge. But I can look into some. I can think about it - or even just think about thinking about it. So - for the next few weeks I am going to investigate and read these two books. I'll dabble a bit with them and then I will either pick a challenge or devise one of my own.
Because - even though I hate a goal - I love a challenge.
Monday, July 15, 2013
I got this idea from fellow sparker LDRICHEL.
If, at any time, someone were to ask me, I would say "I'm a happy person" and I am. But I also struggle with nagging worries that, when looked at closely, are not really worries at all. They're more like distractions from the responsibility of living joyfully. Most of the world's cultures, and most of our philosophers, push us to think that the world is bad and life is bad and it's much smarter to expect the worst so that when it doesn't happen, you will be pleasantly surprised. There's something so backwards about that I have actually quit reading the philosophers - and yet I'm always seeking new ways of eradicating those niggling anxieties. Because not being grateful for all the riches in my life seems even more stupid than being naive.
There is something in my nature that loves exercises, check boxes, forms, trackers, and practices. Right now I am exploring several of these. Obviously it's time to put a new ritual together. I am not sure if I'm ready to jump into this particular one - but I thought it was so good - that it holds such beneficial possibilities, that I just had to share. Here is LDRICHEL's Happiness Experiment boiled down to 5 essential steps. I'm sure she won't mind me passing it along.
1. Three new gratitudes each day will teach your brain to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.
2. Journaling about one positive experience you've had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to re-live it.
3. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters.
4. Meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we've been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once.
5. Random or conscious acts of kindness - send a positive e-mail to thank or praise someone in your social support network.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Yep. It's Day One of a new streak for me. I'm concentrating on only one streak this year - to make each day as healthy as I possibly can. Not as perfect as I can ... though the inclination is to obsess over reaching or not reaching perfection. I'm pretty good at dismissing the perfection imp. Doesn't mean I don't feel his pinch - just that - I can tell it to sit down and be quiet.
No - what I want is to eliminate - or at least drastically limit the number of days when I blank out, eat all over the place, remain inactive and make other bad choices by default. Mindless eating, eating when my body says "please, no more", eating because "It's dinner time", eating because it's there.
To tell if I'm making each day as healthy as I can, I have to track. I wear an exercise monitor so that takes the burden of tracking off my shoulders. LOL. I wish I had an eating monitor I could slip over my teeth that would do the same with tracking food. But I can write down everything I eat. I have a pretty open plan for making sure my days average out to the right amount of food to keep me healthy. There's a daily caloric total and a daily activity total but I can go a little over or under in any given day just so long as I stay within the total week's allotment.
that's the plan
so far I've been pretty good at sticking to it.
But not last week.
Last week I just plain ate more calories than I burned up. Each day the tracker showed the excess but it wasn't till Sunday that I hit the red zone. I could have made up for it with a little more exercise and a limited, but healthy, amount of food. But I didn't. By lunchtime I found myself spreading butter on a second roll at the restaurant. The thought floated through my head "Hey Bess - isn't this how you got to be 173 lbs - and 187 lbs and 200 lbs?" I answered "Yeah - it's the end of the week. I already blew it. I'll start tomorrow ... at Tara" and took a big bite into soft fluffy wheat and dairy.
There you have it.
Today is different. Today I am hearing this old Jerome Kern song - one my mama used to sing to us. Here's the Frank Sinatra version:
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