Tag Archives: balance

Dear Abby: Quit It

Dear Abby,

I know (you think) you’re busy, but it’s time we had a talk. No, not “the talk,” although you could probably use a refresher course on the actual mechanics of that as well.

We need to have a talk because although you are good at quite a few things, there are some things you just need to quit. Sometimes you forget, which is why I’m here to remind you of a few things:

  • Blogging isn’t your job, so quit putting stress on yourself. When creatively blocked, anything written sounds forced. You get panicked, completely sure you won’t be able to come up with anything before that imaginary deadline appears. There is no deadline. There is no pressure. If there is no post, there is no problem. The best post ideas simply pop in your head, so chill the freak out from now on.
  • Quit yelling at inanimate objects before making sure they’re plugged in. Said objects and anyone in the vicinity will appreciate that gesture.
  • Quit trying to keep up. If it’s depth you want, you won’t find it in the quantity of people you’re involved in, but rather in the quality of people you’re involved with—online and off. There are too many things that suck way too much time. Choose wisely, have fun and move on. There are no rules.
  • That body you have? Quit taking it for granted. Yes, you eat healthy and exercise, but you know what I mean. You’ve been relatively lucky so far, but don’t push your luck.
  • Quit looking for answers outside of yourself. You will find your niche eventually—personally and professionally—but the answer won’t be found on the path that somebody else took. Live your life, not in comparison to any virtual stranger or things that you’ve done in the past, but in accordance to what you want now (TBD, I know, I know. We can talk about this later.) 
  • You live alone, so quit expecting the shower to clean itself. Not going to happen.
  • Quit saying “no” when perhaps you should say “yes.” There are routines and then there are ruts. I know you like things the way they are, but life begins outside your comfort zone.
  • And quit rolling your eyes after reading that.
  • Sometimes you lose focus and get jealous of things that other people do or get, even if they are things that you wouldn’t exactly want for yourself. Quit trying to squeeze yourself into a mold that’s entirely wrong. That never works. You get cranky. Surround yourself with things/people that make you feel good and avoid all the others that don’t.
  • Quit pretending you don’t know what I’m talking about.
  • Insisting that people address you as the Polish Princess every other Friday of the month? Quit that. It’s a bit excessive. Scale it down to once a month and call it good.
  • I know with constant streams of information everywhere, you struggle with the speed at which your words can be forgotten. Quit letting that stop you from writing. Write for you. Make words vulnerable to the possibility of being skimmed over and forgotten because the alternative is not putting them out there at all.
  • On a related note, sometimes you act insecure. That’s annoying. Quit it. You’re really not that bad.
  • Finally, quit worrying about the fact that I put this post up, that it isn’t funny and that you have nothing waiting in the wings (see my first point, as I’m sure you’ve already forgotten.) Knowing you, you’ll get attacked by a woodchuck or be part of a flash mob in the grocery store. When this happens, you will blog about it.

Sincerely,

The Voice of Reason

P.S. Quit doing that thing where you spray perfume/air freshener and then proceed to walk straight into it with your mouth open. Sigh…one of these days you will learn.

This post is in response to the Studio30 Plus prompt:

Write About Something You Quit

The truth?

Even though I blog and put it all out there, there are still things I can’t say to people I see on a daily basis. Part of it is that I’m a private person, but another part of it is that I have trust issues and doubt the authenticity of intentions—warranted or not.

I also doubt that anyone will understand, that the truth is boring and repetitive and of no interest to anyone else.

But sometimes I feel like putting it out there—at least on the blog and sometimes face-to-face.  Sometimes I open up and realize that it’s nice just to be able to talk without really self-editing—much how I write here—and not think about fixing something, but rather just talking about something.

When I am busy being analytical, I tend to forget that there’s a relationship between the physical and the emotional and that I can’t separate them into neat little packages. I can’t talk about one and numb out the other.

I can’t always think myself out of every situation, even though lord knows I try.

So, the truth?

I don’t want to have to think about it. At all.

I don’t want to have to think about the when, where and what of exercise or food. I don’t want to have to think about excuses for why I can’t (don’t want to) go out or answer in vague terms what it is I’m doing that keeps me busy.

I don’t want to have to think about whether my decisions are made from a healthy place or simply motivated by a search for the next opportunity to perpetuate the comfortable cycle I’m in.

The truth?

I can’t imagine it being okay if all that was taken away. As much as I want to not think about things, thinking about it—and then acting on those thoughts — paradoxically grants me some peace.

If I can check certain things off on my must-do-for-sanity list—eat what I want, when I want, how I want it and go for a walk or the like—I can move on and function with some sense of calm and relative normality.

Everything’s okay.

The truth?

I can’t imagine being at a point where extra food and extra rest weren’t necessary somehow in my mind, where it was something I physically required. One of the reasons I find it hard to challenge some of these thoughts is because it’s become the only way I can imagine allowing myself to eat what I want all the time or to let myself “be” on certain occasions—and enjoy it.

While I restrict certain things, I don’t ever want to be restricted.

I worry I will miss the pleasure that I get from eating— or rather, the pleasure of routinely eating to feel clean—and that if I get too relaxed or have too much of something on a regular basis, it will be impossible for “normal” to feel like enough.

I wonder what will ever be enough.

The truth?

The fact that I allow myself to lose/maintain this weight while not believing for a second that I am overweight or attractive at a lower weight confuses the hell out of me.

It’s not driven by self hatred but by a deep (if misguided) belief that what I do protects me from any discomfort—now or in the future. It is hard to untangle myself when my body and  mind are craving food, rest, emotion and relief.

The truth?

I don’t want to think about it. At all.

But I do. All the time.

I also doubt that anyone will understand, that the truth is boring and repetitive and of no interest to anyone else. But sometimes I like to put it out there, if only for myself.

When I am busy being analytical, I also tend to forget that achieving this body/mind balance is a lifelong journey for everyone, that each day is a chance to even the scales (no pun intended—okay, maybe a little bit.) I have to trust the process, not judge the past or predict the future and learn from each stumble and success.

My truth?

It will happen.

I like to think about that and I do.

All the time.

I Sometimes Always Never Like It

I sometimes have these little “light bulb” moments, although I’ll admit they’re usually more along the lines of a brain zap—fleeting and quickly forgotten. But when they happen, I’m usually just reminded of a simple fact I may have muddled up in my brain at some point in time.

Let me start by saying that I’m kind of in a new winter routine. This is not really by choice, considering it’s freezing out and dark at 5pm, eliminating any chance of me frolicking in the garden or going for walks at 9 pm. (I do enjoy the  frolicking in warmer days of yore…)

Anyway, instead of filling these dark hours with maladaptive behaviors considered healthy by people who aren’t OCD like me, I’ve tried something new lately. Sometime in the evening—in between feedings when time must be filled—I pour myself another cup of tea, plant my flat ass on the couch, turn on my computer and write.

No TV, no Internet, no radio, no yoga—just quiet—usually for around an hour.

This kind of freaks me out for a couple reasons—I am allowing myself a third cup of my tea for the day (OCD rule,) I am not running around like a spastic gnat (much different than frolicking—more manic) and finally, I look forward to this immensely.

That wasn’t really my brain zap moment, as that occurred when I came home from the store last night. It was snowing—nothing heavy, but around half an inch had accumulated on the driveway. There was no wind and it was really peaceful, so I threw my bags inside, slipped on my boots and my hat and took to bonding with my shovel.

There are times I really, really hate snow—when my 25 min. drive into work turns into an hour at 6:30 in the morning, when I sneeze and my eyelashes freeze together, when I am all dressed up to go out and end up looking like the Bumble the second I walk out the door.

Bumbles

OK, I made that last one up. We all know I don’t get dressed up to go out.

But I do a lot of shoveling, and sometimes, I really like the snow. I like pushing it around, the peaceful quiet of the night that allows for reflection and how the sky gets a little brighter from the falling flakes. As long as there’s no wind and I have nowhere else to go, it’s relaxing. It’s not frolicking in the garden in the summer, but it’s the same exact place, just at a different time.

So my light bulb brain zap moment was that I remembered I don’t have to like something all of the time to like it.

I don’t love snow. OK, who are we kidding, I am a sun whore and love the warmth, but sometimes I can also find moments of contentment among the falling flakes.

I might not always like sitting on my ass for an hour in the quiet with my computer—especially if it’s warm out or there’s a ball game on—but for now, I really look forward to it.

I don’t always like owning a house. There are things I spend money on  I never even knew existed and things I just assumed magically appeared. But then there are  times when I can come home, plop down on my couch, close my eyes and just “be.”

garden4

I can sit in my backyard and watch the spastic squirrels frolicking in the yard. I know that no matter what happens during the day, I can go home, relax and pretend I don’t need to go to Home Depot for something as exciting as furnace filters or shower caulk.

I might not always like my job, a certain TV show or even other people. I could go on and on with examples. Things happen, tastes change and what I like now might not be what I like next week or even five minutes from now (a more likely scenario.)

The point I made to myself while shoveling was that finding peace and contentment isn’t an all-or-nothing scenario, that even though I find it rather drab, there is a shade of gray. Nothing’s good all the time, but I can appreciate it for what it is in that moment.

And you know what? That’s OK, and it will still be OK five minutes from now and even next week. (Unless you’re someone I really don’t like that completely gets on my nerves, then I will most likely never like you.)

But for the most part, I can sometimes always never like it. 

Like it or not.

My big little things

No, the title of this post is not in reference to my invisibly-small boobies. Sorry if you’re bummed, but so am I in that department. Moving on…

Despite the fact that I occasionally fall walking up the stairs or spill at least part of one meal each day, I am actually (generally) pretty good at keeping a balance that works for me when it comes to external things. While I might struggle with issues on the inside, my public personality lends itself to the side of a compassionate calm and realistic rationality.

Lately I’ve noticed this a lot more, as it seems everyone around me is stressed out or creating some sort of drama—either professional or personal. I don’t mean to sound callus, but I often sit back and wonder why the hell they make things so difficult for themselves.

This is ironic, I know, and I’ll address that in a minute.

When someone comes to me sad, I honor those feelings and counter them with some hopeful insight of my own. When someone comes to me angry, I try and understand their frustration and offer a rationality that may be temporarily clouded. When everyone is freaking out over whatever it may be, I am the one that doesn’t get worked up and can generally calm the situation down.

In other words, I’m the one that can talk you off a ledge, even if it was the same ledge I was precariously balancing on myself just moments before.

For some reason I find that many of my responses to external situations are simply a counter to the stress that other people place on them. You are the yin, so I am the yang. It all ends neat and tidy until it’s not.

So I don’t let down my guard or show weakness all that often in my everyday life, as I don’t feel like there is a solid sounding board for me to fall back on. Even if I’m mentally exhausted or physically spent, I somehow find a way to stay strong and counter any negativity that may be  around.

But at times, I’m screaming inside.

I can deal with the process of losing a loved one, divorces, deadlines, personal or professional drama, etc. with a valiant amount of strength and rationality. I can say the right things and honestly mean them, take the next step and know it’s the right one—but in the back of my mind is the same tape playing over and over on a repetitive loop. While I’m helping you down, I’m hyping “my” things up in my head.

It’s almost as if I feel like handling the big things allows me the freedom to obsesses over the seemingly minor things that keep me in any state of disorder or imbalance. After all, it’s not drugs or drinking or clubbing baby seals. It’s just food. It’s just exercise. It’s just a way to cope with the everyday stress we all face. It all ends neat and tidy until it’s not.

And like it or not—address it or not—I know when it’s not.

So my seemingly endless challenge is to be able to apply the same compassionate calm and realistic rationality to my own issues as I do to the “big” things that I deal with. It’s being able to talk you off the ledge without simultaneously planning on taking the stairs down instead of the elevator to fit in a bit of activity. It’s being able to handle external stress without feeling like I have to internally self-destruct to feel calm. It’s still adding in the damn butter when it’s so convenient not to.

It’s also remembering that I don’t always have to be the strong one; that if I’m on the proverbial ledge (not a real one—don’t worry), there will be someone there to talk my skinny as down.

And after they do, we can go out for drinks or ice cream and people watch, possibly making fun of all the crazy people walking by. After all, we have to balance it out.

Go Away

Next week at this time I will be traveling, but not to the FoodBuzz Festival that so many of you are attending. No, I will be in Sevierville, Tenn. for work from Tuesday until Friday.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of traveling. In fact, the only time I’ve traveled the past 10 years it has been for work; never for a vacation. Expenses aside, I like my routines and any disruption annoys me.

But what I usually find is that once I settle in and have my bony fingers grasping just a bit of control over the situation, things are manageable. When I travel somewhere with viable food options, I actually even enjoy eating out and trying different things.

So, minus the fact that I’m stuck in between nowhere and  a tourist trap full of pulled pork and BBQ joints every 10 feet, this is a relatively low-stress venture in theory. I’ve done this show a couple times before and the fall colors are usually quite pretty, even if the restaurant options aren’t.

However, whereas a lot of people worry about gaining weight while traveling, I worry about losing weight and usually end up feeling like I got hit by a truck upon my return.

I tend to get stuck in an all-or-nothing mindset when my routine gets broken and I don’t have my staples or normal times. Even though I’m walking around for work all day, I don’t consider it exercise because it’s just “work” and not scheduled exercise.

I skip snacks or overestimate my meals and try to compensate, not because I want to lose weight, but because it feels uncomfortable to change things up. Even though I’m okay eating different things, it’s usually actually less than I would eat during a “normal” day at home. So…

Underestimated activity + Overestimated food = the fact that traveling isn’t healthy for me.

But for some reason, I’m not that stressed about this trip. I found out my room has a mini-fridge, so I’ll hit the Wal-Mart and buy a few things to have on hand—yogurt, fruit, veggies, water, etc. For everything else, I’ll play it by ear and try not to be neurotic if my meals are less than perfect or not exactly what I want.

It’s only for a couple of days and worrying about things that haven’t happened yet is the most unhealthy thing I could do.

In fact, I only get stressed out over things (work, time, family, etc.) because I feel like I have to do so many things at a certain time and a certain way. The phone rings, I have to answer it. An e-mail comes in, I have to reply that second. I ate this earlier, so I  have to eat this later.

I’m so busy trying to prevent stress in the future that I end up stressing myself out in the process. Counterproductive, don’t you think?

So, this is a pep talk to myself for next week (and to anyone who might be traveling in the near future):

  • Prepare for the situation, but don’t do “normal” if an adventure awaits.
  • Take advantage of the change in scenery and the ambiguity of being somewhere new where no one knows you. 
  • Just because you’re not in your own bed doesn’t mean you aren’t in still in your own head—be responsible for your own health and make no excuses. 
  • since you have to do it anyway, enjoy it for what it’s worth (you’ll be back home before you know it.)

And hey, even if it stinks it will make for an entertaining blog post.

P.S. Baby goats make me happy.

goat3

goat1

(I drive by them every day on my way to and from work—no kidding. Get it?)

Squirrely Thoughts

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, breakfast and tea consumed, and I’m sitting in my sunny dining room watching a squirrel gingerly step onto my deck, take a look around, and proceed to step into my planter and retrieve some sort of squirrely snack.

There is no TV, no traffic, no phone—just a few birds in the distance and the sound of my fingers on the keyboard. For a few minutes this morning, I am content.

There is nowhere I have to be and nothing I have to do.

Sometimes I think I was just born at the wrong time in the wrong place among people I can’t relate to. While I can appear to navigate through life just fine to the outside world, thank you, I often feel like I’m really not equipped to do anything more than just survive. I don’t have the tools to deal with “today.”

What I mean is that I don’t feel like I fit in—anywhere. Insert eye roll at teenage-sounding statement and woe-is-me drama here, but this isn’t a new thing, just a general thing. My frustration with things, well, frustrates me and amps up the anxiety.

Enter my maladaptive behaviors as a way to cope.

My struggles have never been about fitting into an accepted societal norm—ever. I do what I do as a way to find a sense of peace, a way to numb out frustrations and anxieties I feel I don’t have the tools to deal with. The hospital, therapy—a band-aid; a one-size-fits-all-she’s-skinny-so-lets-feed-her cure. Yes, I need to gain weight, but body image chants and making placemats in the art room weren’t helping me to cope.

I always said (and still maintain), that if I had spent a quarter of the money I spent for the hospital and instead took a month-long yoga retreat—meditation, quiet, natural food and environment—I would come back healthy and happy.

It’s not always how I feel about myself, but rather how I feel about those things out of my control and how I deal with them.

I think part of my frustration is that it seems we all have to adapt to these times to survive. Whether we like it or not, a majority of people place a higher value on things than thoughts. What I want—not only professionally— is a way to do what I love, love what I do and still survive.

While I know that life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself, I suppose I find that hard to do with how things are today. I should have been a hippie or a bohemian or something. Give me my house (in a warm climate) with a huge garden, some animals of both the farm and rescue variety, a job that I had true passion for and could work hard at and the chance to enjoy the natural pleasures of life, yoga and the human spirit (the good ones) with like-minded people.

I would be content.

I want to wake up every morning with a passion for the day, flip-flops on my feet and organic tea up on the stove. I long to be an artsy soul, a deep thinker with light spirits and an open creativity. More than that, I want to be around others that feel the same way.

I don’t want mundane meetings. I don’t want to feel obligated to “Tweet” to keep up. I don’t want reality TV taking the place of real life. I don’t want my days to be filled with obligations to everyone too busy to take the time to appreciate them.

Not really sure where I’m going with this.

But if anyone wants to move to a warm climate with me and start a community of like-minded individuals, let me know. There will be yoga, art, reading, writing, sports, Food Network and anything with Joel McHale on TV, long hikes, great food and plentiful gardens.

There will be computers, of course, but only two hours of Internet access a day—go outside, read a book, write a poem. Share your gifts, whatever they may be, and know they are accepted—even welcomed—as a way to make a living.

But back on planet Earth, I guess the challenge is creating a life that can balance things out—somewhere between deadlines and downward dogs—and still survive, even thrive. I have no answers and really no idea how, but I do have a squirrel in a planter, and some days, that’s enough.

What would you add to our new “community,” so to speak? (This is not a cult, by the way, so it’s not creepy or anything.)

or

Have you found this balance already? Do you do what you love every day and thrive, not just survive?