Rising above October

22 Oct

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8017081

Some weeks I struggle with writing my blog and coming up with ideas for my radio show. Some weeks I have an overload of subjects to talk about. Some weeks, I search and search for a topic and once I find one, I can barely hold back the flood of ideas that finally come. This week was such a week. I did not know until this morning what to talk about on the radio show, but once I did, my fingers couldn’t write down the ideas fast enough. Ironically, as I put my fingers to the keyboard to write up my notes to post on the blog page, I still wasn’t sure where the muse would lead me, but I have learned to trust the Divine to send me exactly where I need to be and that is where today’s subject begins.

This week I’ve been thinking about momentum, so that’s where I thought I should start. I lost some writing and holiday prep momentum last weekend. It was a fantastic weekend, and I truly enjoyed myself, but the writing slowed and so did the holiday prep. Unfortunately, that slow down seeped into Monday and even Tuesday I found myself not wanting to do anything, but I know I have a deadline for publication. I know I have a deadline for holiday prep, so I dragged myself into the day on Tuesday, and once I got rolling, I was so excited with the progress I made on my home, my holiday planning and the book. When Wednesday rolled around, I truly wanted to build on the success of Tuesday, and I did really well around the house, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to write. I put it off and procrastinated until well into the evening. It would have been so easy to let it slide until Thursday, but Thursday is radio show day and writing is a bit of a challenge because of the radio show notes and posting the blog post. It takes about the same amount of time I schedule each day for writing, so if I find it challenging to make writing a priority on easy days, you can imagine how difficult it can be on busier days, and with less than ten days left to finish, any day without writing puts me one step closer to missing out on publishing at all. So, I dug in and spent an hour working on the book. I didn’t write thousands of words, but I made progress, and that is how I came to today’s radio show.

I’ve had two amazingly productive days in a row. In October, that is nearly a miracle for me because this is traditionally a time of struggle for me. I don’t like September and October most years for several reasons. September and October are traditionally the times when money is the tightest for us. Our additional income stops and school expenses skyrocket. The weather gets colder and for this spring and summer loving girl, that is usually a challenge. I am often whiny and fussy and generally miserable to be around. I can’t stand me, and it amazes me sometimes how my family puts up with my October attitude, but I truly wanted this year to be different, and it’s amazing how the Divine will give you just what you ask for, if you ask for it with intention and specificity. This year I wrote down several things I wanted. I set a specific weight loss goal, but I made sure to write down that I wanted it to be in a healthy way, and I wanted to enjoy the process. Guess what? I started using my Fitbit app and I’m having a great time with it. I’m not pushing myself to be miserable. I’m focused on enjoying the process and it’s working. I also wrote down that I want our home to be clean, clutter free and holiday ready by the end of the countdown I am doing on the Better Living Daily page. I want to enjoy the holiday season while I get my home, body and creativity in their best shape ever, but I also want to laugh and smile daily and delight in the process of doing that, and it is happening.

I’ve talked before about Tony Robbins’ four step process to set and achieve goals, and those are the goals I have. The second step is to take action. I am writing even on day’s I don’t really feel like it. I’m keeping up with my Fitbit App. I’ve joined a Creativity Bootcamp. I have daily routines and know that decluttering needs to be a part of the plan. The brilliance in the four step plan, in my opinion, though, is step 3 that tells you to notice what is working and what needs to change. Some days you figure out little things. I’ve been eating low carb for a while because I feel better when I do. Since I was tracking calories, one day I decided to have a few potatoes with lunch and some pasta with dinner. I rarely eat either of those things anymore and cannot remember the last time before that day that I had eaten them in the same day. I still stayed under my suggested calorie intake. I got enough sleep and drank plenty of water. By the numbers, I did everything right, but I gained a pound, and I felt like garbage the next day. I realized that eating lower carb was still the right direction for me, and since then, I have seen more success. I also wasn’t seeing the success I was hoping for around my house and realized my decluttering was sporadic at best, so I’ve become more consistent with that on a daily basis and it’s amazing how quickly the house has come into alignment. I’ve even been more consistent on a huge project I take on every year with our marching band. Each year we have something called Tag Day where the band members go into the community and collect donations. Residents know the students will be coming and can recognize them by the band shirts that they wear. The band provides t-shirts to the younger members who don’t have the standard band polo shirt so everyone is wearing something uniquely band themed, and every year, I volunteer to wash, dry and fold the 150-200 t-shirts they use. It generally takes me 6-8 weeks to do, but this year it seems like less of a burden because I am folding between five and seven shirts daily. It keeps the process going and keeps the crabbiness away as well, which brings me to step four, which is to be flexible and keep changing until you find the best approach and results for you. This is big. It’s huge if you think about it.

The whole idea behind these steps is to strive for constant improvement, and I believe each of us can do that, no matter what our circumstances, and if you think you’re circumstances are tough, let me share this with you. Tough is having watched your child struggle for a month to regain her fragile health after open heart surgery for the second time in her less than two year life. Tough is jumping on a boat that may or may not make it to a place that is safer than the one you are living in. Tougher still is risking your children’s lives to make that journey as well because where they live now is such a dangerous place to be. Perhaps the toughest of all is to live through that journey only to be relegated to a camp with a tent for shelter, no running water, less than adequate sewage facilities for human waste and people who are not happy to have you in their country. You can read about the journeys of the Syrian refugees on the Humans of New York Facebook page, and if reading those stories don’t make you realized how very blessed you are on the deepest of levels, may God have mercy on your soul. I don’t share any of this to make you feel guilty or ashamed; please understand that. There is too much of that in the world. Everyone is offended these days and feel it is their right to judge others, and frankly I’m sick of it. You know, I’m reminded of a line from the Broadway show Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet and most damned fools are starving to death.” Yes, some days are less than stellar, but I would be willing to bet that for most people, their worst day is better than someone who is living in a refugee camp. I know it is for me because I have running water, two working toilets, more food than in my home than some families will eat in a month. Again, this isn’t about guilt and shame. It is about gratitude for the incredible blessings you have. Perhaps the extra weight I carry is a blessing because while losing it, I have been hungry for the first time in a long time. I’ve allowed myself to feel what hungry really is, knowing I can change it at any time but understanding that many can’t. That is a revelation indeed.

I know now that I used to have mild depression during October and November. I have learned to increase my Vitamin D, get adequate rest, eat healthier and focus on gratitude to keep the depression at bay, but I learned something else. I learned that depression is a selfish, hateful brat. Depression only wants you to think about yourself and your poor, pitiful life. Depression tells you that your house would be clean if only your kids would pick up after themselves. Depression tells you that your husband doesn’t care about you and only thinks of himself. Depression tells that someone else’s success is ill gotten and your only friend is someone who suffers with you and will get sucked into the abyss with you. This is how selfish depression is, and it’s very difficult to save someone who insists on being depressed. I understand that some need medication. I understand that some need counseling, and I am the greatest advocate of people having those things and not having to hide it in any way, but I am a huge proponent of solutions, and the first solution is to take care of yourself. Whether it is mild or deep depression, taking care of yourself, however pointless it seems, is a step in the right direction. Honestly, whenever you’re feeling off balance, I think good self-care is the first step back. I used to think it was selfish to pamper yourself and I still know some who take it too far, but I’ve also realized that you truly do have to fill your own cup before you can pour yourself into anyone else’s. The other thing is to start thinking of others and though that might sound like the opposite of what I just said, I would suggest that you think about how you can build yourself up by building up someone else, especially someone less fortunate than yourself. I used to try to do random acts of kindness for people I knew and you know what? It back fired. So many weren’t happy or grateful for what I did for them, and I didn’t feel good about it. Now I do things for people who I may never see again and who cannot repay me. I donate small amounts to worthy causes. I make homeless bags by filling a one gallon Ziploc with a bottle of water, a snack, a piece of candy and some tissues to give to homeless folks at corners. Every time I have had occasion to give one away, I have driven away as blessed at the person I have given the bag to. I pray for people and write notes to them when they are on my mind to let them know I’m thinking about them. Those things put my life into perspective because it makes me look at those who have needs that I can help fulfill. They connect me to my higher purpose and they help me realize that the blessing of being able to write and publish a book is much more important than the fear of whether anyone will buy it. Those things make me look at everything, including my pile of laundry, my messy kitchen table, the number on the scale and my yard full of leaves and know that each of them is a gift beyond measure and a challenge many would love to have. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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