Wednesday, October 14, 2009
...human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but...life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (interluderetreat.com)
Have you ever thought about how you have given birth to yourself, much less over and over again? It's a startling thought. We think of birth as when we separate from our mother's body, but as Marquez says, life requires us to give birth to ourselves over and over.
When I think back at my own life, as you probably do too, I come to understand that I am not the same woman I was at 15, 25 or even 40. So many things can happen in a lifetime, and in order to deal with things, one cannot stay the same. The process requires us to take on new things, and sometimes give up things as well. It requires us to look honestly and firmly and adjust when necessary.
And life obliges us to give birth to OURSELVES. We each have to do this. We have to do the thinking and the emoting. We can't depend on others to pick up the burden and carry it for us. We can't put the blame on anyone but ourselves. Our lives belong to each of us, with input from other people and outside events. These people and events can influence us, but cannot force us how to behave. That's our own responsibility. That's our own challenge.
It is scary, and at the same time exciting.
I can give birth to the person I want to be. It is empowering, yet humbling all at once-giving life to myself, the life I want to have.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
and other random Tuesday thoughts.
For the month of October I decided to do what it takes to get more sleep. This means getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and also getting up without hitting the snooze button for an extra 10 or 20 minutes.
At this writing, I'm happy to say that most weeknights I'm in the bed by 10 or 10:30. I still indulge in Mad Men on Sunday night (yes, I know I could record it) but it's one of the few times my hubby and I sit down and watch a TV show together (that isn't sports or news). It's as much about "we time" as it is enjoying good television. On the snooze button front, I can report that today was the only work day that I've hit the button and rolled over. I was awake for awhile earlier in the morning-felt like 5 a.m. maybe? but didn't want to get up yet. I may experiment next with getting up and working out before work, but I'm not there yet!
What has the "sleep study" taught me? First-that sleep is way way way underrated. More and more research is pointing out the necessity of getting adequate rest. I can personally vouch for the fact that I seem to be in a better mood and feel less "run down" during the day. I can get past the dreaded 3 p.m. slump. I can go without that afternoon cup of java, too.
What else have I learned? I'm learning to manage my time better in the evenings. In order to get in bed by 10, I have to start getting ready about an hour earlier. Sometimes you just have to tell the world "Stop!" Getting ready means packing a lunch, getting the wardrobe for work together, thinking about what I need to do the next day (papers to sign, fax, emails need answering?). I can't fool around watching TV when I need to be getting myself together for tomorrow. I have to get my workout in earlier in the day so that I won't be too revved up to get to sleep.
And what about getting up a little earlier? I find that I'm more relaxed in the morning-not so rushed. I have time to talk to my son (when he's in the mood-he's 17, unfortunately!). I can eat something other than cold cereal in the morning since I have time to fix breakfast. I can leave on time and get to work on time. I'm on a clock, so punctuality is kind of important (ha!).
On another (possibly related?) note: is it my imagination, or are there a lot of sick Sparkers out there? To all of you not feeling well, I wish you a speedy recovery. Cold and flu season is upon us, so take care, wash those hands, etc.
On yet another note: Really? I only have 375 calories left for today? I haven't even eaten dinner! I don't care what anybody says, but tracking nutrition is a mind-blowing, eye-opening experience! Don't believe me? Give it a try-if you're like me, you've probably have been eating way too much and not realizing it. Or rather, not been honest about it.
Well, let me go hit the stationary bike and check out the news.
Are YOU getting a good night's sleep? ZZZZZ...
Monday, October 12, 2009
There I was in the kitchen on Friday morning. I was going in early to cover for my coworker who was off. As I gathered up my work keys and badge, my house keys, my lunch, my backpack, my walking shoes and my umbrella, I remarked to Sparky-dog that "It takes a lot to get the army that is me out the door." I know the phrase is not original since the U. S. Army has a campaign of "An Army of One," but think about what it means to be "the army that is me."
Do you ever consider yourself Army-strong? I've never served in the military, but my perception is that men and women in service are strong, organized, loyal and brave (when called upon to put themselves in harm's way) to name just a few traits.
In my daily life, I try to be those things for myself and others. I try to stay strong in doing what is best for me as far as diet and exercise. I don't always succeed, but I try to pick myself back up when I fall. I might hesitate, but I keep marching forward.
I try to be an organized person, fixing my lunch at night, laying out my clothes, making sure I've got done what I need to get done today and look at what I know is coming tomorrow. I try to know where things are in my house, my office, etc. I know I can't anticipate everything the day will throw at me, but I think I try to roll with the punches as best I can and not get too unnerved by whatever comes my way.
When I think of an army, I think of Alexander the Great, conquering the known world. Not being content with the known, but also pursuing the unknown. You can't lead (an army, an office, a family) without confidence. You can't be your best without confidence.
Pinkcoconut recently wrote a blog about confidence and the importance of it. How to get it. She is an inspiration.
So in the morning, or afternoon, or whenever you head out next, think about your abilities, your strengths, and go forth with confidence. Don't have it? Nurture it within yourself. Everyone should have something they are good at. Whatever it is, sing the praise to yourself. Acknowledge it, and let it lead you to other ways you can be strong, other things you can be good at.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Remember when you learned to swim? Did you jump into 8 feet of water feet first, or did you take lessons? Maybe at the Y, or a rec center, or maybe a relative held you up while you learned to first float, then take strokes, then kick, then put it all together.
What about driving a car? Did you hop in the driver's seat, smash down on the gas pedal and take off at 80 mph to parts unknown? Probably not. Most of us took lessons, and had some poor parent sitting in the passenger seat clutching their chest, or maybe a rosary. You learned what all the various pedals and knobs did, how to use the turn signal, maybe even learned to drive a manual transmission. It took a while, but eventually you learned what you were doing.
So why is it that many of us are so hesitant to "learn" how to live a new lifestyle? I read an article today about "developing happiness as a skill." I took that idea further and thought about the skill it takes to know what to eat, how much, how often and why. The skill it takes to learn why exercise is beneficial for the body, how to perform, how often, how hard. And where does rest come in? Why do we even need to sleep at all?
These are skills, and like any skill, it takes interest, dedication and practice. I was forced to take piano lessons as a child. Now, let me tell you, I am no virtuoso. I can read music well enough, but to sit down and play a piece takes concentration and a whole lot of practice. A whole lot. It doesn't come naturally to me, and I'm ok with it. Talent at the piano is not something I possess. I could probably learn to play well technically, but it would take a lot of work.
When I see someone use the word "diet" or say that this whole thing is hard or that they're giving up, it makes me cringe. People who try to make too many huge life changes all at once make me question whether or not they'll be successful. At times I wonder if the person ever looked at their whole situation; learning a new way of living as a "skill." It takes education, along with interest, dedication and practice.
"Well, I've been eating food all of my life! What's there to learn? I'll lose weight if I just stop eating certain foods!" My mother is a dietician, so I grew up learning a little about the science of food. There are reasons why we need protein, carbs, and fats. Reasons why fruits and veggies come in a variety of colors. Nature provides the variety that we need for a reason. Different nutrients are needed for different functions of the body. It's science, pure and simple. My mother was even concerned about bowel movements, for goodness sake. Yeah, they mean something too! Another part of the equation (like a learned math problem!) is exercise. Calories expended vs calories ingested. If you can learn a mathematical equation, then you can learn how to apply it to your health.
If I'm learning a new language, I have to learn the rules of that language. I can't sit there and question why the adjective comes after the noun as it does in Spanish. That's just the way it is, and if I want to be successful at learning the new language I have to learn how the structure goes. I can't make Spanish into English. I have to pretty much let go of what I know and am familiar with, and take up what I'm learning. I have to educate myself, dedicate myself, and practice using the new language.
It's the same thing with a new lifestyle. Getting educated is key. It's not enough to be interested in making the change if you don't arm yourself with knowledge. Interest or desire can only take you so far. Dedication is needed for the long haul, and when it's a lifestyle change, it's a long haul. Practice doing the right things over and over is important too. Repetition means it can become habit or second nature.
Skills come more easily to some people than to others (like me and that piano). Or it might take some of us a little longer to "get it," but it can be done!
Thursday, October 08, 2009
It's Thankful Thursday. Today, no, this week has had me on edge. I have 2 coworkers. One was out two days this week. Before she was gone she was mentally gone working on a fundraiser for a young woman she knows with cancer and a son getting married this weekend. The other will be out all next week. We all work part time, so to me, communication is essential because many days in the office only 2 out of 3 of us are there. Sometimes I feel like I might as well be talking to myself instead of talking to these two people about keeping each other up on what needs to be done during an absence.
Couple picking up the slack (and the phone) for the missing person with the nonsense from my status post this morning-people standing directly in front of my office door waiting to get their flu shot, augh. I just couldn't wait to get out of there today!
The local weather forecast is for 3 inches of rain over the next day and a half, starting with rain this afternoon. My first "thank goodness" is that the rain was very light for my ride home, I had my rain suit to keep me dry, and nobody called or stopped by the office at the last minute for help. Yeah! I was free to leave on time! And tomorrow I get to be alone in the office. Yeah again! More thanks!
Some days, isn't the smallest of favors from on high enough? Just getting in before the rain was monumental after a week like mine. And it's supposed to keep on raining so that I won't have to play sand volleyball tonight. Thank goodness again, because I am not enjoying it. I feel obligated to finish up the season since there are only 4 of us who play regularly on the team. We don't win, and it usually takes us less time to lose than it does to drive over there to play!
There are plenty of leftovers in the fridge so I don't have to cook tonight-thank goodness yet again! My sons are both going to be home this evening to help me put my mini trampoline together. Thank goodness. Sparkpeople lets you track "trampoline" as a cardio exercise. Yeah! Thank you Sparkpeople!
I think you get the point here. When things are not going as well as we like, there's always something (no matter how small) to be grateful for. Something that only you might feel thankful for. Some mornings when I'm running late for work, I send up a prayer of thanks for green lights all the way! That may seem to be a silly thing to some of you, but some days, that's a big thing to be thankful for to me!
What little thing are you thankful for? What tiny thing has made you breathe a little sigh of relief and say, "thank goodness?" Go ahead, no matter how small-say thanks.
Get An Email Alert Each Time WORKINGSTIFF Posts