Thoughts and such like.....
March is month three of my year long challenge - if you remember I decided to add Pilates and/or Yoga to each day. Well only halfway through the month, I'd lost two days, not back to back, but in the same week and now at the end of the month I've lost 6 days, however I don't see that as a failure rather I look at it as adding at least 20 days of exercise that I may not have had. When I look back at the days I wasn't able to exercise, I see a pattern, not being a morning person, I usually exercise, meditate, write or do anything else that takes time in the evenings. My mornings are usually taken up with getting ready, interspersed with peeks at e-mail, Facebook etc... in other words electronic media - guess what next months challenge will be!
So going back to the pattern of why I lost the days of exercise - they were all evenings that I got home late, and by late usually after 9:00 pm, I was tired, bone weary and I hadn't really eaten properly during the day, so late, tired and hungry, obviously for me not a good mixture - so now for the next month I have to be more aware of later evenings and either get up earlier on those nights I know I am going to be late and do my yoga or pilates, as well as bringing something that I can eat, rather than buying a chocolate bar - being tired isn't something I can do much about other than trying to get more sleep - another months challenge option.
It's fascinating to me that I find it easier to cut things from my life rather than add them, maybe I need to take a closer look at how I spend my time away from my office(s). Granted there are nights I need to bring home work, but in-between getting home and beginning this work, maybe I could fit in my exercise. I know there will always be days that I can't exercise for one reason or another, but I'm not going to beat myself up, I'm determined to continue making this a priority and that soon it will become a habit. I was reading lately about a study led by Phillippa Lally, PhD, a psychologist at University College London, that found it actually took people 66 days (9.5 weeks) for a behavious to become automatic, so I have a wee while yet. Meanwhile, from Tuesday I'm not looking at my e-mail, or any other electronic device that I have, in the morning until I'm ready to work - no more peeking at it when I awake or as I get ready!
Now I'm three months into my challenge what I have found is that pressing the reset button in January and February and then adding exercise this month has allowed me to become healthier. I'm looking at this year as a total reset of bits and pieces of my life - so what next. April, cutting back on electronic devices, May - I'm not sure., if you have any ideas send them to me. What is also great is that I'm enjoying the challenges I've set - an end date in sight makes it easier to manage each change, and once I get into the mindset it's not so difficult.
So what changes have you made in your life recently, how are they going?
So I'm back painting, which allows me great globs of time to think. So a warning, you'll probably find a lot of posts over the next few days as I unload my thoughts!
Today my music was very eighties - Bruce Springsteen, Eurythmics and more recent Bruno Mars, great bopping (dancing) music. I had a lot to think about - yesterday we celebrated International Women's Day with a coffee hour hosted by Olympian and MLA (Politician) Michelle Stilwell who invited another Canadian Olympian, a former MLA and the ED of our local Women's Transition House to talk about what drove them to pick their careers, who inspired them and what they hope for the future! It was both exhilarating and inspiring.
While painting I thought back to yesterday and thought 'okay but what now? What are those 130 Women of all ages and walks of life going to do, change, today as a result of what they heard yesterday?' It is so easy to walk away feeling great, then as the 'tyranny of the urgent' takes over the excitement we experienced disappears and is forgotten. So I'm challenging you to think what could you do this year to make a difference in a women or girls' life? I've loads of ideas, of course! What about helping the single mum by offering to drive her child once a month to their activity of choice, allowing the mum to rest? What about mentoring a girl in high school or university? Volunteering your time once a month to a women's charity?, like your local transition house. What about in your professional life, how about mentoring a young women coming into the profession? Try it.
What am I doing, since it is my suggestion! I've done a number of things which I will continue - I mentor/coach someone who is new to the non-profit profession, a program I was involved in last year and enjoyed, so I volunteered to continue this year with another individual - we introduced ourselves via e-mail this week. I also joined a great group www.tenthousandcoffees.com
We’re a team of young people who believe that the next generation has incredible potential just waiting to be unlocked. The problem? There’s a gap between the leaders of today and the social generation. We built Ten Thousand Coffees to be the solution: to bridge that gap and help people connect in a way that’s never been done before.
Business leaders go for coffee all the time, but they’re restricted to their personal networks of friends and family. Ten Thousand Coffees is democratizing the coffee experience by opening it up to
youth all over Canada.
The conversations I've had so far have been incredibly interesting, and with young women. Ten Thousand Coffee has a new idea and a great one. Those women I've had the privilege of talking too are not from my side of Canada and with technology today it's easy to talk.
I believe each of us has a lot of value inside, we just have to open up and share - start with a smile at the bus stop or at the car beside when you're stuck in a traffic jam! Take it a bit further and listen, really listen to a friend or colleague when they are unloading or trying to sort out a problem out loud - don't let your mind wander, even if you've heard the story a hundred times, sit and listen. All of us have amazing talents, we just have to share them. A professor at the University when I took my coaching certificate used to say, 'what people really want is to be seen, heard and understood', and it's so true. I love watching people blossom as they grow in confidence, it's my payback
So I challenge you to think about what you can do this year, let me know and return in one year and let me know how it went!
It was a dark and dreary day, (I've always wanted to write that line!). Rain pouring down, it was as if the day was trying to make us as miserable as possible! I decided it was an ideal day to stay home, have a leisurely late breakfast and tackle some of the painting I have left undone, forever. So after breakfast in bed with my latest read 'The Trial of Fallen Angels', by James Kimmel, Jr., which despite the title isn't as dark as it sounds, I got up and dressed for painting.
I am the messiest painter out there, most of the spare paint somehow lands on me, so I now designate old special paint clothes that I throw out after each job. These days I'm painting the wood ceiling and shelving in my loft, I want to have more light up there all year round. Like any 'have to' jobs I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time getting psyched up, funny actually as I quite like painting. It gives me time to think, ruminate over my week, wrestle with problems or just go off on tangents. There are a few things however that I need to bring with me, first coffee, then water and finally music - to paint I prefer what my sister terms 'bubble gum' music, stuff that I can dance to, stuff from my teen years right up to today and to which I can sing along to as loudly as I wish!!
The music is always upbeat, and allows my mind to jump all over the place - it makes me feel happy. I think of my younger son who cringes at his aunt and myself and our love of this music, at his brother who understands the genius behind those that can create such sounds and my sister who coined the phrase 'bubble gum' music, I can see her dancing in the night!
Today, as I painted I thought of a friend who had contacted me during the week to apologize for not being in touch, personal problems she explained. I had invited her to come over, anytime, we could have a bottle of wine, talk and she could sleep over in one of the kids beds. Her contacting me made me think of how often we don't reach out to others when we have problems. I'm guilty, are you? When I first became a single parent, I told no one that my husband and I had split, other than my family and with the closest relative probably over 10,000 km away it was an expensive conversation any day! I think what stopped me from telling friends was pride and fear of everything, from how would we survive to how would I survive financially? Don't ask me what telling people had to do with any of those and the hundreds of other reasons I had but then I felt there was a connection! Mixed in was also relief, and from that relief a little shame that I would feel so!! How crazy is that? What was actually a good thing for me and my kids, and I told myself that I should feel shameful for feeling relief - sometimes we should smack ourselves for our own foolish self talk. How much easier would life have been, how much less lonely I would have felt if I had confided in others during those years. Instead I closed in on myself. Now I'm not exactly an open book today, but I have learned over the years to reach out
It sounds like that I spent my afternoon thinking somewhat negative deep thoughts, when it was actually lots of fun. As I said I'm painting the ceiling and I have to do it in stages otherwise I get a bit glassy eyed at the thought of doing the whole undercoat at once. So each time I go up there I give myself a certain portion to paint, before I'm allowed to go onto something else - like diving into the books I've taken down from the shelves (I can sort and maybe give away a few). Or check out a new pattern, look at my fabric stash and start imaging what I could make. My challenge is there is so much to play with, and I want to do it all - NOW! So I need to give myself a goal before I move onto something else - a skill I've learned over the years as I get to know myself better. Today, I only stopped because I ran out of paint!
So who do you talk to when you are fearful, or when life kicks you in the knees? Take a look around, there are so many people out there who are willing to help, you just have to ask!
So I'm nearly half way through my chocolate-less month and I have to admit it is as difficult as I thought it would be! Even chocolate covered ginger is out! Plus after visiting the British sweet store in Victoria this week, I have decided that I have to also cut sugar from my diet. This came to me as I happily chewed my way up the Island highway! What was I doing? I didn't consciously decide, but without thinking I was jeopardizing the good I was trying to achieve by cutting out chocolate for a month. What a eijit! (a good descriptive Irish word)
So I've decided that apart my yummy cereal, which is almost all nuts and seeds with a wee bit of honey, I'm cutting out sugar too! I started this on Saturday and so far so good, I've been replacing the candy with fruit not quite the same, but it is working. In the meantime, I've been thinking how funny it is that we do this, we make a decision about changing a habit and then test ourselves consciously or unconsciously by doing something to jeopardize what we are trying to achieve. A book that discusses how habits work and suggests how to change them, is "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. I read it recently and really enjoyed it. It gave me the idea to quit alcohol for the month of January and now chocolate in February. Pressing the reset button!
So as I continue my challenge, let me know what you think.
A New Year, and rather than making resolutions which i'll either forget or more likely give up on, I've decided instead to do something different. Each month I will either give something up, or try something different that is add something to my life. I'm looking at what I might learn about myself along the way.
So for example in January I decided to forgo alcohol, it was time to hit the reset button after the holiday celebrations. Immediately after the boys left, my booze free month started, and of course the invitations poured in! Ukrainian New Year, Girls home movie night, a fundraiser for the Symphony, dinner with friends. However I've stuck to my commitment and I've earned lots of favours, being the DD on a number of nights. It's nearly at the end, and I have to admit it hasn't been too difficult, I'm not amazed since it was only for 31 days and with with an end in sight seemed easier that I had thought to do. When I say no alcohol, I mean nothing not even a glass of wine, I did however cook with wine, because I feel it didn't/doesn't count as the alcohol burns off during cooking. On the negative side however I've discovered that my chocolate consumption seems to have gone up or maybe it just continued without a break after the holidays! So even though I feel good and I've increased my exercise I still feel sluggish, so it's time for a reset.
Soooo, guess what February's resolution is? Yep you got it, I'm giving up chocolate! I'm not sure if I have ever given up chocolate for any longer than a few days, maybe a week, but normally after Christmas things slow down, I don't eat as much. Maybe since I wasn't having a glass of wine when I felt like it, I instinctively felt I could eat chocolate instead - yikes!!
Yes, I know it'll be Valentine's day, but with no sweetheart to entice me to break my challenge, and a good reason to do it, better health, I start on Saturday. No chocolate for 28 days. I know it's the shortest month of the year, but for someone who has always believed a good day means a couple of pieces of chocolate, a bad one, maybe a bar, this is going to be one of the most difficult things I can do, or do without!! So no baking muffins with chocolate chips, no candy with chocolate inside, or chocolate flavoured anything!
I'm not planning on giving up something every month, I want to add more to my life so now it's time to think of what I can add for March - I want to do things that are free, don't cost a lot... something that everyone can do, that's easy and doesn't tie me up in knots. This year allows me to test myself, to check out some of the things I challenge others to do when I coach them. So send me your thoughts, what should I add and/or removed from my life over the next year that you think might challenge or be different for me?
I was invited to the Survivors dinner, Dragonboat Festival, the 11th, over $2 Million raised for diagnostic and operating equipment. I sat at the front and watched as women young and old greeted each other. Some came from down the road, others from flood ridden Calgary. Each of these men and women have a story, each a survivor of Breast Cancer. Some friends from last year weren't able to come, others will never return - they lost their fight. I sat and marvelled at the courage and felt privileged that I for a few hours became part of their fight. They laughed and teased each other, dressed to the nines for the dance competition later - the songs they chose ranging from Swan lake to Stronger inspired by this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaQdwTsVtCY). And me, I was invited to say thank you and what I wanted to do was go away, hide and cry - why? These are incredibly strong women and men, who have battled and are winning their individual fight, why am I so emotional? Is it my ego, am I crying for myself and my fears? I acknowledge that some is fear but what else pushes that button that brings tears? Is it guilt that I have, to date, avoided this disease on my dance card? As I sat and watched these women and men, it occurred to me that I was avoiding the question? I skipped around it, testing, but I don't want to answer, I'm letting my fear take over. There is no big question today, no clever discussion - just a thought - when did you last look at the good in your life and give thanks and love to those around you?
As I heal from my surgery, I'm discovering new things about myself, some I'm okay with, others have surprised me and some I need to leave behind!
I am I believe with others, patient and practical I encourage them to be realistic when setting goals, I urge them to be patient about acquiring new habits, learning new skills and I suggest to them that they practice, practice, practice. So why do I find it so difficult to follow my own advice? As I recover from my surgery I am discovering that I want to heal - NOW. That I really don't want to do my exercises every day and that I have to be patient with the healing process - some days are going to be better than others, and look where I am now compared to six weeks ago.
I am getting a new appreciation of the hurdles clients face when they approach challenges in their lives. So what is it about us, that makes us so impatient, unforgiving and unrealistic about ourselves in ways that we would not be to our friends? What is it that is so difficult in change, and changing habits? One thing I'm realizing is that for me, changing one thing at a time is easier than trying to change a whole load of things at once. For others I know they feel better if they can just make a whole load at once. So each day I practice up and down the stairs, sometimes if I'm feeling good, I'll go on my stationary bike and/or add another exercise and later on every second day I work on my arms, continuing with my weight training. I'm changing my diet, I have time to review what I eat - more protein and lots of vegetables and fruit all aiding my internal recovery.
I can look at the positives in my life, and I can continue working acknowledging and honouring my limits. What are you challenged by, and how are you working to overcome, acknowledge and honouring these challenges?
I'm confined to my home, a new knee in place and the journey back to wellness - I believe the health is there, the wellness is getting the new knee to straighten and bend. So what is my goal - by next March 2014 I want to sit cross legged again! And to achieve this I must work at the exercises that I have been given by my healthcare team - it's going to be challenging and there will be good days and bad days, but I have a clear goal in front of me - now to break it down into smaller steps. I'm treating this like many other goals, small steps that move me forward.
One amazing discovery I have made since I arrived at home is that I am so lucky, I live on my own for the most part, I have no family close by, there are no nurses coming to visit, just the incredible generosity of friends who have put their lives aside to ensure that my journey to wellness is as easy as it can be. I am overwhelmed and inspired by the number of people, who when I put my pride aside and asked for help, have been so giving. Checking in with me each day, popping in with ice, food and company. Ensuring that I can get to the appointments that have been made for me by my healthcare team. It appears so simple, ask for help and friends willingly show up, however that first step is amazingly difficult to take, for me anyway. What was it that made it so difficult - pride? the unwillingness to 'burden' others; the difficultly of showing others, good friends though they might be, the me underneath the paint and make up? It interests me that it was such a big step for me, me who values my privacy, me who could do anything - I had to. How much of my life journey may have been different if I had asked for help during those years on my own with my boys? What is it that holds us back. I spoke to one women some time ago about a difficult period in her life and why she hadn't done things in a different way - her response was that she didn't want anyone to know her business. I asked why not - she wouldn't/couldn't answer. She is stuck and unwilling to become unstuck - I can show her how, but she must make the decision.
I'm interested in my reaction, what was it in my life that stopped me opening to others? Was there a time when I was more open, what happened that changed things - sure I can blame it on my childhood, but it was my choice. Why did I make that choice, and how am I going to change my way of being when another challenge comes? What about you, can you think back to a moment in time when you made a choice, and another when you changed that choice? For now I'm thankful that I made that decision to ask for help, what a wonderful gift I allowed myself, my thanks to others is in allowing them to see me - who I am, warts and all!
So during the last few months, and particularly in recent weeks, I'm learning new things about myself. I've always thought that I was fairly easy going, moving along life's path riding the waves and with a few exceptions coming out the other side intact.
Over the years I have spent time learning more about me, doing some self examination and have a better understanding of who I am. I've become much more self aware. So it comes as some surprise to me now, when I find myself fretting. I'm about to have surgery, a knee replacement, not a small thing I know, however what I have learned so far about myself is that despite the easy going exterior I show to the world, I really like to control the environment I live in and how I show up! With this surgery I have to let go, I have no control around what is going to happen to me, other than say no, and believe me at this time it is not an option if I want to have a better quality of life as I age. I have done everything I have been told, shown up at the pre-rehab information session, worked on the exercises given and more, re-organized in my mind not only that session but also the whole pre-admit process in BC hospitals! Sent out a spreadsheet to friends to organize my life after surgery, reorganized my bedroom and home to accommodate me during that time of learning to walk again. Ensured that friends and family are contacted after surgery letting loved ones especially know that I'm out and fine. And yet.... I still fret!
And so it's a time of learning, I'm amazed at the generosity of friends, of others who have gone through this operation and are willing to share their learnings. I'm also interested to listen to others who rather than encourage and applaud the decision to move forward with this operation, are negative. Quite frankly if another person tells me it is going to hurt like hell I think I'll scream - those that do for the most part haven't had the operation themselves, but they know. They continue about how difficult recovery will be, and how I'll not be able to do certain things! I find myself curious, why are they so negative? What is driving them to make such comments? It has made me conscious that I should be more mindful of comments I make when speaking with someone who is facing a hard decision, or who has made one about moving forward - what assumptions am I making about their decision, is it my life I'm basing those assumptions on, or theirs? Why be so negative when someone has obviously thought things through?
It's just over a week before I go into hospital and I find myself working to still my mind of worries, fears about the what ifs? What if something goes wrong? What if I don't make it? Have I got my papers in order (of course not!). What if ? Minds are funny things, we can't control what passes through but we can control our reaction to them. So what if something goes wrong - I can't control that, but I have trust in my surgeon, I know that the team working on me are on my side, that they will do everything in their power to make sure nothing goes wrong, the admit process that I am so critical of is just one of the check points to ensure that I am ready and able to undergo this surgery - I need to accept this and not stress out about what I can't control, rather focus on what I can - ensuring I eat well and am as prepared as I can be both before and after surgery - I follow instructions rather than knowing better than the experts. Again it makes me think about how much energy we put into focusing on our fears, usually fears of the unknown. So now I'm focusing on 'So I'm out of surgery, all is well, how can I ensure my recovery is the best it can be?' What do I look like three months from now, six months? What am I doing? Walking with friends, hiking maybe in a year I'll be snow shoeing up that same mountain that was the location of the accident that was the start of this three year journey - life will be good, because I will make it so - I'll be back in the driving seat, in control!
ps. A friend sent this link to a TED talk about how our body language shapes who you are! Enjoy
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog