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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Courage: Breathing towards New Beginnings


The typical review/reflect on the past year and look towards the coming new year always used fill me with dread. Afterall, in my past, the reflecting back was always looking at a shattering of failed diets and, yet again, an increase in weight. And the new year was always filled with those same "weight related" issues and good intentions: healthier eating, regular exercise, weight going down, etc. The other "disasters" in my life, such as fiscal irresponsibility and compulsive spending also were "reviewed" and "intended". What a sad state of affairs both directions. Lots of prayers. Lots of good intentions. Lots of attempts. Lots of falling down and getting up and getting seemingly nowhere. Yet, changes were being made. So subtly, so softly, so imperceptibly that to the outside world "miracles" have happened. And I do agree that a lot of GRACE has happened, but it is GRACE combined with ACTION.

What I write below, is merely to say that what happened to me, can happen to anyone, for I am simply human and no one "special", without any special gifts or circumstances.

Three years ago, I was too impatient. I would tell myself, "Give it two years; lose just 2 or 4 pounds a month and in two years, all will be well." Over and over again, but deep, deep down, I didn't have the patience for two years. I wanted "Insta-change!": that miracle Clark Kent telephone booth that I could step inside and magically swirl around and viola! Instantly, my life is perfect. I was a big sucker for any "20 Day Miracle" or "Two Weeks and 2 Dress Sizes" or "7 pounds in 7 days"... big, big (literally), desperate woman. I wanted my normal body without having to deal with any of the issues that compelled me to eat. No, no, no. I didn't want to look at those. Those problems/dragons/fears would also magically disappear when I was no longer obese.

In 2014, I hit and have maintained a 100# weight loss. It took 18 months of weighing and measuring my food and then continuing to weigh and measure: every day, without exception.

Now, let us backtrack a moment, just to put 2014 in perspective, and remember this didn't happen overnight:
In 2009, someone gently suggested to me that dieting might not be enough. That I might be a compulsive overeater and, like an alcoholic, need more than a diet. She suggested that I pray for the willingness to be willing. I resented her telling me that, but it planted a seed that made every failed diet after that moment reaffirm the words she had spoken to me in kindness and love.
June 2012: I hit my rock bottom. The pain, despair and terror of continuing to live my life in active food addiction was more than I could bear. My world was in flames and I gave up and acknowledged myself as a compulsive overeater who needed a very serious program. For over a year, I did nothing more than weigh and measure my food. Food that did not include sugars, grains, or refined carbs. No exercise. No change in my spiritual program, just doing what I was told with regards to my eating.

August 2013: I went to a retreat and met, for the first time, a group of people who "do what I do". I saw they fell into two categories-- those who were still full of anger and resentment and those who practiced a form of spirituality that helped them rid themselves of that anger and resentment and gave them simple tools for how to deal with life. That program required things, that until that weekend, I was terrified of: who needs to know my past in such depth? Hadn't I done that with my priest? Why must I review it in such detail and say it out loud? Yet, the difference in the two groups of people was mind blowing, and I knew, more that anything, that I wanted to be in the calm group. So I asked for help and immediately began the task of formally going through the steps to clean out my internal house to a degree that I had never done before. All that stuff that I had buried and stamped down with food began to come up. All those feelings. All those fears. I learned to feel and face fear and understand that I would not perish in this process.

For so many years, I thought two things:
1. That I needed a "white knight in shining armor" to always rescue me. I was not responsible for saving me-- that was someone else's job. Or, conversely, I was so busy trying to save everyone else, I was utterly out of personal oxygen.
2. That I had to be "perfect" in order to face the dragons in my life: those fears that so consumed me. Fears that may or may not have a basis in reality, and may or may not be what I had imagined them to be.

What I learned (am learning) in this spiritual discipline:
1. God is bigger and more that I can comprehend.
2. I am not God and can not do God's job.
3. The absolute truth of the serenity prayer and how it applies personally to my life.

And so, I came to 2014, and if you read my posts over the past year, you will see them filled with a woman who is authentic, compassionate, and full of bravery and courage. For the first time in my adult life, I look back on the past year and have no regrets: not one. I look ahead to 2015, and yes, I see different dragons ahead, but the past year has taught me how to look a dragon in the eye. 2014 has taught me wisdom, courage and bravery. Authenticity more than anything else: for that I consider it one of my very best years. A watershed year.

And for you, Dear Reader, may your year ahead be full of more good than you dreamed possible.
As ever,
~e

Source for image: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/540924605216751657/

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How To Get Things Done


We all would like a magic formula on "how to get things done". And I know one sure fired magic formula.
Are you ready? It's amazing.
Start.

That's it.
Just do that.
Start. Begin. Do 15 minutes.
Just start.

As I walked around my home this morning, it looked as if a series of cluster bombs had gone off in various rooms. There is the kitchen with nearly two days worth of debris scattered about it, in spite of half-hearted attempts to clean and put away. And over there, the bedroom with the bed unmade, the couch full to bursting with clothes that have not been folded or put away. Here's the livingroom with controllers, pillows and various kid clutter scattered about. Speaking of kids, I don't even want to look over there, particularly not in Bear's room, which is a sad far cry from the day it looked after I spent a full 8 hours decluttering. The yard and porch and deck are full of leaves and debris.
Then there is my "work" as well. And it's work that involves papers and documents and writing and thinking.
It is, in a word, overwhelming.

And I am tired. The children and I have been away from home for nine days and it has sapped me.
And sad. My grandfather died (part of why I was gone), and there is no funeral, no memorial, nothing to "officially" honor and recognize his life, or his death. The part that I could do to honor him, I did, but this still leaves me sad in ways beyond the grief of his death.
Yesterday, I spent the day in semi-hibernation, finally emerging at 3 p.m. to do the three necessary things for the day:
1. wash and vacuum the car
2. buy minimal groceries
3. go to the gym and exercise

And I did those three things.
Today, I've gotten up and started to work on the cluster bombs.
Just 15 minutes at a time.
For me, that starts with what I like to call a "walkabout". I set the timer for 15 minutes and walk about the house (or when I had a desk job, the office) and pick up the clutter, move all the papers into a general stack, start a load of clothes, gather all the dishes into the kitchen from all the various rooms of the house, move toys from all the other parts of the house to the kids rooms, tidy pillows and throws, etc.

Immediately, the livingroom and den look presentable. There is now, at least, one place (even if it is just the couch or your office chair) that is "tidy" and "in order". Next 15 minutes for me, is always, always the kitchen. It doesn't have to be perfect, but having the kitchen gotten under control, makes the entire home feel "put together". It is, for me, the equivalent of getting out of your nightclothes and putting on the day's outfit. Depending on the state of chaos, the kitchen may take more than 15 minutes. Start with one. Then take a break and do something else. Again, I set my timer, so my "something else" doesn't take over the time I've committed to "getting things done".

Then I move in a radius, alternating between things that are easy and things that are more difficult.
Emails, quick office tasks, follow-up calls, meetings, reports.
Social media, coffee break, online shopping.
Dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, laundry, sweeping, leaves.
Housework or office work it can all be handled in short bursts.
Just try it.
You don't have to do it all in one day... or maybe you do.
So start now.
15 minutes.
Make it a game and "race the clock".
Find some music you enjoy to listen to.
My timer has gone off... time to stop writing and get to the next challenge.
As ever,
~e