Progress vs. Perfection

Apparently the universe didn’t get the memo that I’m trying to get my life in order!  My intention was to do an update on my progress that I’ve made toward my goals for my 40th birthday but then Tuesday happened.  Tuesday was just not the best day.  I don’t even remember what all happened to make it a “bad” day but I was in a mood.  So instead of writing an update that would have just put a negative spin on any progress that had been made, I just took a step back at laid low.

I’m a person that’s comfortable with working through a process.  Unfortunately, there seem to be few people around that are comfortable with processes.  But, when you feel like things need to change majorly for not only your happiness, but your sanity/survival, the daily circumstances that surround you can often feel too daunting to overcome and you might feel like giving up.  The most important thing to remember is DON’T GIVE UP!!!  You can never give up on yourself or what you truly want out of your life.

So instead of giving up, I look at what I’ve been doing and reflect on what’s going well and what I can improve.  Acknowledging what has gone well is a far better motivator than casting a critical eye on everything and magnifying what we deem to be a failure.

With 24 days until my birthday, here’s where I stand:

Goal 1: Simplify-I’ve collected 3 boxes of stuff from our house to donate.  (There’ll be MANY more boxes to come!)  I found an old file box that I’ve had since I first started teaching that was SUPPOSED to be my filing system.  There were bank statements from banks that no longer exist and so many other things that were just completely unnecessary and I can’t even tell you the last time I looked in that box!  I consolidated it down to 2 file folders and the rest was shredded.  And to think that I have carried that box with me for 4 moves!

My goal today is to make sure that our living areas are free of extraneous things and to take the boxes to be donated.  We still have cabinets to go through and purge.  We have an entire extra bedroom that is currently serving as a storage room that needs to be purged, but that is a long term project and I’ll have to break that down into smaller pieces.  The more daunting challenge (and the most needed) is tackling my classroom.  I might have to recruit a team to take care of that!

Goal 2: Schedule-I’ve been consistent with my morning routines and making sure that I have everything ready the night before.  Bedtime for baby has been consistent but I need to move my time to work my business to the morning because my brain does not function after baby goes to bed which effects productivity, but it’s still has be an improvement.

Goal 3: Health- I’m pretty sure that I haven’t hit 120 oz of water a day but I’m consistently hitting the 60-90 oz  a day so that’s progress. Being consistent with my bedtime has certainly NOT been consistent, but I think moving my business time to the morning will help with that as well.

Goal 4: Mental Well-Being- I need to go back to my old school days of marking my activity on a calendar.  This is definitely something that I have to make visible to myself.  I’m going to put my jogger stroller in my car and pack workout clothes to go to the park after work and hit the trails with baby because that would do us both some good, but of course that means I have to leave work before it gets dark!

This week I will make a checklist of my Steps for Success so that I can make it visible to myself and hold myself accountable.  I SEE great things happening this week. 🙂

Goal #4: Mental Well Being

I would say that most weeks start out pretty strong for me but around say Wednesday, the wheels just kind of fall of.  As in like Wednesday morning.  Is this why they call it Hump Day?  I don’t seem to be making it up the incline these days.  Case in point, this post was intended for Wednesday evening, along with my raffle drawing for my business, and I am sure a litany of things that I don’t even remember forgetting to do!  Having the weekend is definitely needed to collect my thoughts and refine my goals or steps that I can take to support my goals, but first, I need to lay out my last goal for my 40 Days to 40 Challenge.  This one is probably the most needed and my intention is for the first 3 goals to contribute to this.

I DESPERATELY need to make some time for some down time.  I need time to do things that I enjoy and have NOTHING to do with my job or the thousands of responsibilities that I have on a daily basis.  I know this will probably be very difficult for me since I have grown quite accustomed to isolating myself and just trying to get it all done.  Of course it seems that it isn’t humanly possible to get done what is required of me, and pushing harder and harder without ever giving myself a break is a whole lot like requiring 5 year olds to sit down and focus on developmentally inappropriate tasks like tests, tests, and more tests while refusing to give them recess or developmental center time to play and interact with each other.  Sounds ludicrous, right?!

There are things that were once a part of me that have fallen by the wayside since having Lucy along with the combination of my career and my husband’s work schedule, that I need to reclaim.  I know they will look differently from what they once were, and I am fine with that.  I don’t want to go back to the way things were before Lucy.  I loved those days but my days with Lucy are even better!

Steps for Success:

-Incorporate more physical activity into my life.  (I pushed a car during carpool this week, so that counts, right?!)

-Spend more time doing a hobby that I enjoy.    I have scheduled in time for reading (NOTHING PROFESSIONAL) at the end of my day, before bed.  Running and working out were hobbies that obviously are the goal for my first step for success.  I really enjoy writing so using my blog as a way to track my challenge gives me the opportunity to do a hobby that I enjoy as well.

So as I have worked my way through this week, I will take some time to do some self reflection of what went well and what I can improve on to make this upcoming week even more successful.  I look forward to sharing that in my next post!

 

 

Words are Our “Frenemies”

We use words every day.  We read them, write them, say them, think them, and even sing them.  We can use our words as a means of support or as a tool of destruction.  We usually think carefully about our words as we present them to others, but do we stop to consider their weight as it pertains to how we feel about and view ourselves?

It seems that we are all too comfortable with seeing ourselves in a negative light.  We certainly don’t want people to think that we are an arrogant jerk, so instead we diminish any glimmer of positive regard for our self.  When someone tries to acknowledge our positive accomplishment like starting to run, we respond with something like “It was ONLY a mile,” because we know people that are able to run 3, or 10, or 26 miles, so self consciously we think our measly mile can’t really be worth much!  I can assure you that the people you know who are able to run 3, 10, or even 100 miles, were not birthed from their mother’s womb adorned with a fresh set of Nikes on their adorable little feet!  EVERYONE has to start from somewhere.  The most important thing is starting!  The best way to ensure that you will continue with good habits is by acknowledging them yourself!  Sure, you don’t need to contact every media outlet and suggest that they run a spotlight piece on your magnificent mile during the 6 o’clock news, but at least allow yourself to be proud of your accomplishment.

 

I love to run.  I haven’t always loved to run.  Matter of fact, in high school I HATED running.  I didn’t mind running after a soccer ball, but to set out with the intention of “just” running did not jive for me.  I started running around 5 or 6 years ago after a break up.  I don’t know what exactly made me decide to go for that first run, but I sure am glad I did!  The physical activity did wonders for me.  I had so much emotional conflict inside that I didn’t know what to do with, but it would all get sorted out during a run.  I didn’t set any speed records (still don’t, nor do I care to) during my runs, but I would find clarity.  I often said that God spoke to me when I ran, clear as day, and it helped me make sense of things.  I learned that I was physically strong, which allowed my emotional strength to grow, as well.  The weight loss that accompanied my new found hobby didn’t bother me, either!  I am so glad that I started out running by myself because I didn’t have any pressure from anyone to do speedwork or drills to help me improve my time.  It was not a competitive thing for me. It was my time to prove to myself that I deserved to take care of my body and mind.  I thought running was so great that I started recruiting non-running friends to be my running buddies and it became a social thing for us.  Over the years, I have run a gaggle of 5Ks and 10Ks, multiple half marathons, 2 marathons, and 5 St. Jude Memphis to Mobile Relays.  My friends and I would meet on Saturday mornings, at ungodly hours, to do our long runs which allowed us time to catch up on what was happening in our lives.  It was great and I treasured these runs.

As with anything, the more you do it, the more likely you are to become desensitized to it or lose appreciation.  As we continued to improve on our fitness and a 10 miler became common place, we allowed negative thoughts to creep in.  After a while, we put a to stop negative comments, but that is when we got really creative.  If you say it in a joking manner, then surely it can’t be as damaging, right? WRONG!!!  Every single thing you say counts.  I can’t tell you the countless times that I have declared that “I need to get my fat butt in the gym,’ while running various long distances.  Surely there is no harm in that!  Boy was I wrong.

That is the kind of seemingly innocent talk that little girls overhear and becomes the foundation of poor body image, overall low self-esteem, or eating disorders.  What I was doing, without realizing it, was discrediting all of the hard work that I have done, diminishing the obstacles that I have overcome, and making light of the 45ish pounds that I have lost through that hard work.  Today, I am very careful about the words that I choose, whether directed at myself or others.  It can be extremely challenging at times, but it is well worth it.  I think about things differently and while life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, it helps me to see more of the positive things in life by first acknowledging the positive things I have done for myself.

What would happen if we were all kinder to ourselves?  Think about how you refer to yourself and cut out those negative thoughts and see how things change for you.

 

 


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson


 

 

Taking the Fear Out of Change

 

Do you like change?  Does it scare you?  For many people, including myself, change can seem frightening.  I have learned that it’s all in how you deal with change that can either make it the greatest blessing or the most miserable thing ever.  We can’t reach our ultimate potential if we avoid change at all cost.  In education, we talk about creating disequilibrium, giving students new or different information and students work to regain their equilibrium by storing the new information or reshaping their pre-existing understanding to accommodate the information.  If we know that disequilibrium, or being out of our comfort zone, is necessary for growth to occur, then why does it seem so darn scary to us?

Is the fear of failure the true culprit?  We are all scared of failing at one thing or another and for different reasons. Maybe it goes back to society’s pressure to be “perfect.”  But, if we don’t buy into the notion of perfection, then are we opening the door to be more accepting of ourselves  and okay with making mistakes or failing at something for the sake of self growth?  After all, the Wright Brothers didn’t exactly get it right the first time, now did they?

Perhaps, it is the fear of success that scares us the most.  If we are successful and do indeed change, we can’t go back to our comfort zone.  We are uncomfortable with the idea of a new comfort zone.  Let’s use getting in shape as an example of this. Let’s pretend we have a friend who is about 100 pounds overweight and is currently inactive.  They wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and they want to live a healthier life.   They live on fast food, several sodas daily (whether regular or diet), and extremely large portions of food at every meal.   More often than not, we take the all or nothing approach or try to find the “quick fix”, either of which is almost assuredly a set-up for failure.  (I say we because I have been guilty of all of these things.) We resort to deprivation diets cutting out carbs, gluten, fat, or subsisting on cabbage soups, all of which are not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.  It has been scientifically proven, a gazillion times over, what is necessary to lose weight, but we think we are the exception to the rule or we just don’t want to wait that long to see results.  In order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you take in.  No one said you had to take in so few calories that you are actually causing metabolic damage, but we go there instead of proceeding cautiously into our weight loss mission.

No one needs to exist on 1200 calories a day and attempt to RUN 3 miles right out of the gate.  You don’t have to empty your cupboards and fridge of every single “junk” food item and fill them with organic kale and tempeh and eat plain tilapia out of Tupperware containers at every meal.  Quite honestly, if I had to eat tilapia out of Tupperware I would probably be the crabbiest person you have ever met! Instead pick ONE thing to change with your eating habits and find ONE way to become more active.  I didn’t say sign up for a marathon next month, I simply said become more active. Go for a WALK 3 times a week, even if it is for only 15 minutes, and work your way up from there.  Don’t start by setting a goal to lose 100 pounds because that is too overwhelming and people tend to beat themselves up if they don’t meet a goal quickly.  Make your first goal losing 5 pounds in the first month.  At the end of the month, reevaluate your progress and set a new goal for the following month.  The more gradual the changes are, the less painful they will be and the likelihood of success increases.  We don’t need to fear success.  We all are worthy of living a better life and showing ourselves respect.

My challenge, for anyone wishing to make a change in their life, is to make your (small, manageable) goals visual to yourself and share your intentions with others.  This increases the likelihood of success by serving as a source of accountability and support.  Feel free to share your goals here and we can work to support each other.  Okay, I’ll start…my goal is to drink more water, 64 ounces, a day and to lift weights 3 times a week for the next month.  I will track this on my kitchen calendar and will reevaluate my goals at the end of August.  Now it’s your turn!