Thursday, June 26, 2014

Complacency vs Courage


You know that old story about having two wolves inside - one good and one evil? And the grandfather tells his grandson that the two wolves fight all the time? In the myth, the grandson asks which one wins. And the grandfather says, 'the one you feed'. The myth is supposed to be Native American but is actually a story Billy Graham told to promote good vs. evil. Well, that story is in my head today.

Moving beyond the murky and very questionable origins of the story and the concept of good vs. evil, I'm struggling with the concepts of choice today and the profound implications of making changes in my life.

I saw this quote today:

Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice.

I don't know who to attribute that quote to, but it resonates with where my life is at the moment.

I am trying to make choices in a more mindful way. I am constantly amazed at how difficult that can be. How scary it is at times to choose something out of my comfort zone. For me, my two wolves aren't evil and good, that is too black and white. For me, my two wolves are complacency and courage.
Making a choice to listen to my heart takes courage. It takes courage to eat the healthy dinner not the comfortable one. Those two wolves fight inside of me all the time. It is easy to 'rest' in anger, or be complacent in habits that only give the illusion of comfort.

But the courage it takes to make those harder choices is sometimes out of my reach.

I want to honor myself. I want to honor the emotional, physical and spiritual core of who I am. And each choice I make allows me to feed one of my two wolves - courage or complacency.

Someone I love told me about the 4 levels of competence.

As an example, in my childhood I learned that love was earned. It was not freely given, it was something I only deserved if I worked for it. If I just did enough, if I just gave enough, if I just tried hard enough, I would earn it. If I was struggling - I just needed to give MORE. That would fix it. In a very unconscious way, I meandered through life - consistently disappointed I could not do enough to earn love. In general, I didn't get angry or blame others when things didn't work out, I got angry at myself, but didn't see the pattern in my choices. When I met Candace, she taught me that in friendship, love wasn't earned - it was shared. It was freely given - even when it hurt, even when it seemed too hard, it wasn't taken away when things got difficult. It didn't depend on me being 'good enough'. Love was love. I moved from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence over time - weeding out friendships and people in my life that demanded more from me than I was capable of giving. It was a slow process, but over time I realized what friendship meant. Candace taught me and for that I will be forever grateful.

But the reality is, that simply because I know how to make different choices in ONE piece of my life, doesn't mean it applies to others. Without realizing it, that pattern of trying to earn love continued in my life. Not in my friendships, but in other areas.

I find myself having to relearn that lesson all over again. That is how powerful complacency is. Change is hard work. It is continual. And it is easy to feed complacency. Complacency gives me a sense of comfort - even as its corruption eats away at my foundation.

Letting go of anger, letting go of fear, letting go of childhood patterns is hard. Those patterns were developed for a reason. They protected the heart.

I took a risk this week to shift a pattern in my life. I stepped out of complacency. It was scary. It was incredibly hard. I tried to do it with courage and grace, but I'm not sure I managed that. And I do not know what the outcome will be. Because when you make a change, you are not the only one involved in it. Patterns developed with others also have to evolve. Sometimes you come to a whole new level of connectedness. And sometimes that isn't possible.

So I'm tackling moving from complacency to change. I am making the choice to live my life in a more mindful way.

I am working hard to feed the wolf of change.

I'm working to choose courage.

One bite at a time.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Back at it


So, here I am. Back at it. Sometimes, I feel like I am on a perpetual, pointless wheel. Try to get healthier, fail at getting healthier, get back up. Dust off. Try to get healthier, fail at getting healthier, get back up. You get the idea.

This summer I am determined to do 3 things.

1) Be more mindful of my health.

2) Be more mindful of my finances.

3) Be more mindful of my Self.

Short list. Lots of drama and shame with the first two. And a new attempt at better self-care with the third one. I am working one day a week this summer. Not even a full day. A half day. Now is the time for me to make some adjustments in my life and dedicate myself to following them for the next two months. Small changes and being more mindful. I don't feel overwhelmed, I feel focused. And I'm posting so I can come back to this page and remember the clarity in this moment.

1) Be more mindful of my health.
Goal number one is a 2 parter. Part one is that I am walking the dog every day. Started out today with 1.5 miles. I hope to be up to five miles by the end of the summer. Certainly not a huge goal and not unreasonable. I am also considering getting a personal trainer to help me, but right now, financially that isn't really possible. *See goal number two. If I just do my walking, and throw in some biking this summer, that should be enough. I am the classic example of over-estimating what I can do, failing and then giving up. I'm going to focus on one or two things I can do without needing anyone to monitor me. I am however, thinking about a fitband. Mostly because I have heard good things about them. However, seeing as the whole point of goal number two is to be more financially responsible, I'm going to wait a while before I get one - if I get one. I have some apps on my phone that will do perfectly well for my current needs.

Part two of the first goal, is to be mindful of the food I put into my body. Yes, there will be days I don't eat so well, but in general: smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch and a lean, healthy dinner. That doesn't seem ridiculous. If I can get in the routine of eating smart this summer, I want to believe that when my life is more stressful this winter and I am back at work, I can stay mindful about my eating because 'stress eating' won't be my norm. I'm also hoping to find some recipes that are easy, so when I get home and I am exhausted, I don't have to cook a full meal. Having tried to tackle biting my nails for 20 years, I recognize how difficult it is to rework ingrained behavior. Not to mention the chemical addiction to food that I've used my whole life to numb my senses and take the edge off anxiety. With better regulated exercise, I am hoping I can manage anxiety in a more healthy way. 

2) Be more mindful of my finances.
Ugh. I don't even like to put this on my blog. Believe it or not, it is way more shameful to me than my eating issues. I have a terrible relationship with money. I'd like to change that this summer. While I don't spend money recklessly or irresponsibly, I do spend money mindlessly. I want to be more mindful of what I spend, when I spend it and how I spend it. Starting with eliminating eating out simply because I am too tired to cook. *See goal number one. It's all circular - wheels in wheels. If I regulate my finances better? I will be automatically regulating my health better. While my finances certainly aren't an A#1 disaster, I'd like to not *be* in a disaster zone in order to live my life. I am one of the millions of paycheck to paycheck people. I certainly make enough money to support myself and my child, but it is time for me to be more mindful of not only this moment, but to think about future expenses and responsibly save for them. Having no savings is terrifying, and it is time for me to rethink how I see money and my relationship with it. Not to mention eliminating the shame of feeling irresponsible. Being more mindful will help not only my finances, but my self-esteem in terms of how I see myself. 

3) Be more mindful of my Self.
I am a giver. I remember I used to tell people I knew who were givers to be careful, or they would give themselves away. I do not feel like I have given myself away. I do, however, recognize that it is time for me to put myself first. On Shark Tank, I remember one of the entrepreneurs saying, "Pay yourself, first. THEN invest in your company." I need to pay myself first. And I need to be okay with doing that. Most of the time, I put my daughter or my boyfriend or my family or my job or my friends or or or before myself. If I just 'give' enough, people will think I am worthy of being loved. Another old pattern I have to eliminate. I am working to understand how to balance the needs of those I love, with the needs of my own Self. Goal one and two are good ways to start putting myself first, but I also know that it is more than just being healthy and financially secure. I need to remember to take time for myself. To find my joy and allow myself to feel it. I want to write this summer. To read this summer. To spend time alone as well as with others. I want to finish the novel I am working on, if for no other reason than I want to know how it ends! 

All of these goals imply taking a more active role in my own life. Owning my life choices and moving forward with them. 

I don't have some 'perfect' weight in my head, or 'perfect' amount of money saved, or 'perfect' day created in my head. I am evolving. It's a process. I sort of see it as there is no failing. I haven't set up these goals with failing in mind. Instead, I am investing in a process. One to help me be more present and mindful in my life.

I'll try to post once a week to keep up to date on how I am doing. I truly appreciate all of your support, love and your continued belief that real change can happen and that new ways of thinking and being are possible.