The Magic of Yet

One of the things I like to do is to see how much I can change the meaning of a sentence while changing the words as little as possible. “My yard is covered with ice” becomes: “my yard is covered with ice cream,” obviously preferable but only so slightly different. I know. It’s weird. It’s a thing language lovers do, or at least the language lovers in my family. My father loved to play with words, changing words, changing sentences. I do it too, and now my son has begun to play with me. It occurred to me today that this kind of word play can be so so so useful when we’re trying to make changes in our lives. Continue reading

Change in Just 5 Minutes

She said: “Well, if I’m only going to do it for 10 minutes, why bother?”

She was referring to exercise, and explaining to me why the hadn’t gotten any exercise in that week, having identified it as a priority the week prior.

Slide1This notion that only 10 minutes of exercise makes it not worth the attempt smells like perfectionism as a delay tactic. Perfectionism comes in many shapes and sizes, and sometimes it sounds like this:

“I’ll buy new clothes when I lose some weight.”

“I’ll plan a vacation when I have more time.”

“I’ll take a day off when things aren’t so busy.”

“I’ll change careers when my children are older.”

“I’ll exercise when I have enough time to do it properly.”

“If I don’t have time to make a great meal at home, I might as well carry out.”

“If I can’t look like the women in magazines, I might as well wear sweats.”

“If I can’t do IT the right way, I’d just as soon skip it.” Continue reading

When Are You Holding Back?

Slide1My Mom and Stepdad have decided to move, and there’s a big downsize as part of that move. When we gathered on Easter, lots of stuff got distributed. I walked away with a mishmash of things including a box of CDs. On my way back to their house this past Friday to help clean out the cellar, I popped in one of them, John Denver’s Back Home Again. This album played a big part in my musical childhood. As my kids watched Percy Jackson and the whatever whatever whatever in the back (with headphones) I sang childhood John Denver songs at the top of my lungs. Both “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Grandma’s Feather Bed” are on that particular album and I chuckled to myself as I remembered his appearance on The Muppets singing those songs. If I’ve lost you completely because you are too young for any of this, you might want to plug the feather bed song into YouTube. I remember that Muppets appearance being pretty awesome.

At any rate, what I hadn’t remembered was another song, Sweet Surrender. “SWEET, SWEET SURRENDER. LIVE, LIVE WITHOUT CARE. LIKE A FISH IN THE WATER. LIKE A BIRD IN…”  “Mom, that’s REALLY loud.” Right, sorry, volume adjustment. Now, I don’t honestly know whether or not fish and birds are actually without care as they move through the world, but I get the point about being in the moment, being who you are, flowing, singing as you go to help your Mom pack up her house: “SWEET, SWEET SURRENDER. LIVE, LIVE WITHOUT CARE…” “MOM!!” Right. Not quite without care. It was not nearly as satisfying at lower volume. Surrender with twins is sometimes more challenging than surrender when I am by myself in the car. Continue reading

Getting Your Actual Work Done

Slide1She said: “I never get to do the work that is my actual job.” I nodded because having worked out of my house for the last several years with kids around, I very much know that feeling. I can’t count the number of times I thought: “I’m working ALL the time, but how much of that work has been the work that I believe I am supposed to be doing, that I want to do, that I believe I most need to do?” Those are some tricky questions.

Because I’ve faced this in my self-employed phase, I believed this was just a problem for the self-employed, particularly those of us who work out of our homes: the tendency for so many problems, needs and concerns to sneak onto our radars and block out everything else, the insistence of the phone call we’ve been waiting for or the last-minute opportunity that we really shouldn’t miss, the call from the nurse’s office, the dog who needs to go to the vet, the colleague who wants to meet and can only do it today, the deadline someone else has that suddenly impacts YOUR schedule, the mixup at the bank, the broken AC, the laptop crash that interferes with progress, the impromptu staff meeting, the crisis that must be addressed pronto. For many of us, there is no real inviolable time. Continue reading

Loneliness and Connection

Slide1When I was a teenager, some research study must have been released about “quality time.” There grew to be a general agreement that it was not as important HOW much time you spent with a loved one as whether or not that time was QUALITY time. Suddenly we were all very worried about having important bonding time with people we cared about. What I find fascinating is that we’ve never, at least as a culture, applied the same standard to time with ourselves. There seems to be no general agreement that the time we spend with ourselves should 1) actually happen and 2) be quality time; in fact, you rarely hear people talk about “the time you spend with yourself.” It’s really curious if you start to think about it. All of our conversations about relationship and how to spend time appropriately to nurture those relationships have to do with everyone else. Don’t we need to spend time, and not just any old time but QUALITY time with ourselves? Don’t we need to know who WE are and take care of that person? Continue reading

Are You Close to Ready?

Slide1Yesterday I got an e-mail from the choir director at church, reminding us that the children’s choir would be performing, giving details about when kids needed to be there, and with a youtube link of the song being performed by another children’s choir (she’s so smart). I reminded my daughter that they were singing this morning and she said: “Mom, I’m not even CLOSE to ready!” I dutifully retrieved the e-mail, pulled up the youtube and sent her on her way to prepare. She emerged 20 minutes later, confidence restored, saying she thinks she even remembers all the words now.

I thought more about this interaction later and I just love it for a couple of reasons. First of all there was a lot of drama in her reaction, which I tried very hard not to find humor in. Secondly she said it just the way I would, hands out, horror face. And finally, the part that struck me later: the realistic goal. Continue reading

You Need Some Fun

I have a dear friend, who has the gift of seeing the things that are below the surface, the things we don’t willingly share with everybody. She has sensed in me whatever it is exactly that she senses in people and her prescription: “You need to have some fun.” I’ve been thinking about that sentence a lot (because I’m like that). A few days after that conversation, I was at an event at church and the woman next to me, who doesn’t see below the surface but puts tiny incomplete puzzle pieces together quicker than a stroke of lightening, looked at me and said: “What are you doing for fun?” I’m a little thick sometimes, but when the signs come in human form and are all saying the same thing, even the thick among us stop and take notice.

I rattled off some things I’m enjoying lately, and of course mentioned how much I like my work, and she said: “You know that’s not what I’m talking about.” She was right, I did. In this life where my hobby has taken on some elements of obligation and scheduling (has become what I refer to as a jobby), things that I do for the sheer fun of it are scarcer than they have been at times in the past. There’s usually some ulterior motive to my fun. A walk with the dog gets us both exercise, time to read shrinks my reading list for my practice, a night out with my husband gives us a chance to really talk and address some things that need addressing at home, playing the guitar will make the next gig better… You need to have some fun. Continue reading

It’s What’s in Her Head

I had a lovely friend approach me today about my last blog post where I talk about the time (years) when I avoided looking at my body in the mirror. She was shocked that this was the case. She told me she thinks I’m extremely attractive (aw shucks), so she was surprised by what I wrote.

Slide1We talked for a while, trading stories of body image and our first-hand knowledge that attaining a lower weight had not, for us individually, magically created a healthy body image. We digested the stats, that 90% of women are dissatisfied with the shape of their bodies, that up to 50% of women are on a diet at any given moment, that the average woman spends 31 years of her life on a diet, that women – when provided with silhouettes of body types – consistently choose shapes that are larger than they are.

It didn’t take me long to convince her that my body image problem was, at least to some degree, independent of my former body shape problem. In fact, I saw her get it within the first sentence of my response. She got it because she knows, as I think many women do, that for many there is no reshaping of the body that’s going to be adequate. I’ve experienced this many times, reaching (or at least nearing) a weight goal and still only seeing the flaws, setting yet another goal toward recapturing my only minimally adolescent body. Continue reading