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Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

So one of my guiltiest pleasures is browsing Hollywood gossip sites. Usually I scan OMG for the picture galleries (I especially like the ‘What Were They Thinking?!‘ gallery…) and today I discovered Parade Magazine’s site. (You know the insert in the Sunday paper written for the over 60 crowd). Of course I had to read the article on Ashley Tisdale since ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody‘ still plays daily in our house–AND we know all the words to Sharpay’s song ‘Fabulous‘ from High School Musical 2.

Then I saw this gallery/article on “What Celebrities Would Tell Their Younger Selves.” As brain-mushing as this activity is, this article really got me thinking. So many of them said they would tell themselves to relax more, and enjoy the moment. After I read the article, I went out on our back deck with my coffee and thought about what I would tell my present self from my older and wiser self: Stop wasting your time worrying about how Sadie is going to turn out. Enjoy the fact that she is an only child instead of carrying around all this angst about it. Even if you think you are doing nothing with your life now, wait! You’re going to love what’s coming next. Oh. And you are so not fat right now!

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It occurred to me in the shower this morning that I am paralyzed by fear. Stuck stock still, feet set in concrete. I’m scared out of my mind. And here is what I am afraid of: that I will never change. That I will always be wondering where my motivation is hiding. Wondering what my problem is–blaming the stagnant patterns in my life on OCD, or depression, or my childhood, or something else external that I have no control over (my sister’s death…). Scared to death that if I start something–anything–that I will just run out of motivational gas and go back to wondering when my life is going to change. I have started and fizzled out so many times–the memories of pushing off and heading out full speed only to fail and stop lay on top of each other in my head like a pile of unmovable rocks–heavy and unyielding.

The other obvious related bullet I’m trying to dodge is failure. I haven’t written on here because I’ve been so fearful of having nothing to say. A friend of mine over at Snarkington Post told me wisely on facebook the other day: “Blog about being blog-blocked.” Good advice. Of course the conversation started because her sister, my dear friend, told me gently (and I quote) “Update your blog you wiener!” I would link to HER blog, but she too has been on hiatus (wiener!).

So I guess that is what I’m doing. I’m just going to start and be boring and make mistakes and sound stupid. I found this super inspiring blog yesterday by Christine Kane. Her tagline is Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous. I love that. Especially because I’m in need of some courage. She wrote this great post about taking imperfect action. How taking action–however imperfect–is better than taking no action at all. Which is where I have been hiding. Where it is safe (but boring and terribly unsatisfying…)

I want to look my fear in the eye and not flinch. I want to roll my eyes and shrug my shoulders and just dismiss it.

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So I’ve really not been ok. I don’t think I realized how far under the water I was until I started to surface recently. I don’t know how I mistook the murky deep for light or air. All I know is that I didn’t know how bad I was feeling until I started feeling better. Depression is tricky that way. It’s like the frog who doesn’t feel the water getting hotter as he starts to boil because it’s been happening so gradually.

Thankfully I have found a good nurse practitioner who recognized the need to up my medication. Every once in a while I’ll have these flashes of hope and light, and their existence is quite a surprise to me. That buoyant feeling means its working!

My new therapist reminded me that in the past six months I have moved across the country, left my job, left my girlfriends, AND my sister died. So a little depression really shouldn’t be surprising me–or a cause to panic. I LOVE her. People think you have to be crazy to go to a therapist. I say I’d be CRAZY not to see one. She helps me realize that I am quite sane.

So, I’ll be here, trudging along–skipping occasionally–and working my way up out of the water.

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I have a teeny tiny problem with perfectionism. If I can’t do it perfectly, (I tell myself) I can’t do it. So projects pile up, clutter collects and my life goes from order to disorder in a blink. I have journal entries dating back to 1997 that say the same thing: why can’t I get my crap together? What’s wrong with me? Do I need a professional organizer? Should I pay someone else to clean my house? Why does life feel so hard for me??? (Haven’t I written this blog entry before…)

I’ve tried all kinds of house systems and ordered all kinds of de-clutter organizing books. I joined Flylady.com and bought a Bubble Planner. I’ve asked everyone I know: what works for you? How do you manage kids/house/stuff? Because I seem to suck at it. Even just as recently as last week, I went on an info spree and spent 5 hours (over the span of a few days) on the internet researching organization and productivity and housekeeping. Oh. and how to stop procrastinating. Years and years have gone by while I have tried to find the answer.

I was watching Kung Fu Panda with Sadie when I had my aha moment. Po’s dad finally reveals the secret to his best-selling noodle soup: ‘there is no secret ingredient.’ Then it dawned on me: I have everything that I need within me already. I haven’t been trusting myself. I’ve been beating myself up for not ‘succeeding.’ But what does success even mean? For me, doing something is better than the overwhelmed NOTHING I have been doing. So I decided to change my expectations of myself. Instead of a job well done, I’m going to settle for a job done half-assed. At least it’s done.

So I came up with a Plan for Half-Assed Success. I will add one or two things to my schedule and do them every day until I don’t notice I’m doing them anymore. I will write said one or two things in my planner every day and then highlight them when I’ve completed them. So last week I put in my planner: ‘make bed as soon as you get up,’ and ‘unload the dishes while Sadie eats breakfast.’ I was already doing these things sporadically–so it wasn’t earth-shattering to add them into my life. By the way,  I’m using the words ‘planner’ and ‘schedule’ loosely– I started using a planner at the beginning of January (a cheapy one from Walmart), and by ‘schedule’ I mean ‘the random stuff I do at random times in my life.’ So I did it. I wrote those two things down every day and highlighted them when I finished them. So YAY me! I will celebrate the small successes along the way: I now have unloaded the dishes AND made my bed all of last week and today.

My mom used to say ‘you don’t get praised for stuff you should already be doing…’ but I’m going to disagree with her. I made my bed and I ROCK! (I love you, Mom :))

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Well, I didn’t hate Christmas. It didn’t suck. Surprisingly. Though I did have a few moments where I wanted to hurl myself off of the mountain side because the physical pain would have felt much better than the waves of grief that shoved me hard underwater at random and unexpected times. I found myself muttering dumb dead sister; sad and mad and totally resistant to the fact that I had to be without her. I’m just glad it’s over.

But all in all it really was ok. I mean, we didn’t have to spend 20 hours in the car to see our family–AND Dan and I got to stay in a hotel while Grandma Judy supervised the cousins sleepover party at the Noyes house. Sleeping in never felt so good. I also must mention the hours that Sadie and Grampa John (Smith) spent together watching the strongest man contest on ESPN. I kept hearing Sadie gasping and yelling Grampa! That guy just pulled a TRUCK with his BARE HANDS! And then he would make some comments and I would hear him chuckling. She was so into it.  I think it was a highlight for him too. Nothing like a FULLY ALIVE six year old to ease the pain of loss–even if for a short time.

Now that I’m back, I’m concentrating on making some changes that I think will help lift the funk I’ve been living under. As usual, it starts with my House. I’ve been so paralyzed since August. Not like I was super house functional before (um…….) but for the last few months it’s been TORTURE to do even the smallest thing around the house. I’ve done a lot of wandering and napping and more than my share of self-loathing. I’ve felt lost and listless and just plain despondent. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that grief hangs on and hangs on and looks sometimes like depression and/or laziness and a lot of times like personal failure. But I’m not going to beat myself up anymore. I’m not going to stare helplessly around me and believe that I cannot move forward, because I can. I can take teeny tiny steps–I can start small and declutter one shelf, one drawer, one lazy susan at a time. I can decide to look through a smaller frame and refuse to be overwhelmed. I can believe that I don’t have to be perfect.

Also, I’m going to do a lot of running. I need all the endorphins I can get.

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I started running after my sister died. Well, running is a little ambitious to describe it. Let’s just say someone walking at a very brisk pace could lap me repeatedly. I always thought I hated running, but somehow–right now–it is the only thing that seems to make sense to me. When I’m running, I feel like I’m right where I am supposed to be, doing exactly the right thing. I don’t have mundane things over my head like ‘I should be unloading the dishwasher right now,’ or even meaningful things like ‘I should be sending thank you cards to people so they know I’ve appreciated their kindness during my sorrow.’ Both of those things are important to do, and both feel like insurmountable tasks sometimes. I may not be able to do them, but I CAN run.

I was trying to figure out what is it about running that feels right, and I wrote this in my journal on Tuesday after I came home from the gym:

Running and stretching open me up. I feel creative and alive and connected to myself. I like the feeling of being present–I’m all there when I’m running. It’s like meditation: focused but loose–and I feel released and peaceful afterward. The rock-huge boulder that holds my mind back from motivation is rolled away. I feel worshipful. Joyful. Open.

I’m intrigued by this joy I feel in spite of my sorrow. I don’t know how connected to running it is, but I am experiencing something I never understood before. That I can be mourning and grieving, but underneath know deep joy. Not happiness, necessarily. But a right-ness. Peace that passes all understanding, perhaps?

The sun and the beauty and leaves and the smell of wood stoves and the crisp fall weather–even the pinecones on the tree in my backyard–they are all trying to tell me something. Being in this place, connected to these people at this very time–all of it feels like God is saying: I’m with you. I love you. This grief is not forever. I have plans for you. Look around! See my hand. I am here.

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I’m feeling a little better today. Although Dan has been telling me for YEARS, and every book on depression mentions EXERCISE, I finally have begun a routine. I have been sporadic for years with exercise, but thanks to some great motivational friends here, I have been reaping some benefits of those wonderful endorphins.

I never thought I’d say this, but I like running. Not like I’m actually RUNNING per se…more like jogging reeeeallly slowly, but enough to get my heart going and give my mood a kick. My friend Betsy won’t let me run any more than a mile right now (even if I feel like running more…)–I’m amazed that God gave me a friend who seems to know that I have a teensy tendency to over do it at the beginning.

So we’ll be side by side on the treadmills (she runs FOUR miles…) and I’ll see that I’ve hit one mile, and I keep going and try to block her view of my numbers, yet she still somehow KNOWS and says “Shelley, are you sure you shouldn’t be WALKING right now???” Yes, I mumble with my head hanging because she caught me. “You can run more NEXT week.” she promises me.

Oh, goody, can I?? 🙂 (You bet I will…)

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