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Word of the Year: Wrap-Up and Start-Up

words

Without any further ado, my word of 2015 was:

energy

And I wrote a lengthy post as to its possible manifestations about a year or so ago.

I just re-read the post, which was full of all sorts of good intentions, and considered if I got the job done.  Did I successfully commit 2015 as the year of energy?

It’s a tough question to answer.  On the one hand, the Inner Critic wants to yell no, and for one very good reason.  The bottom line for me was, at the time, I wanted energy to mean, first and foremost, some pretty specific things:

  1. lose weight
  2. increase fitness
  3. bonus if the entire basement was purged and organized

 

So if you take that fairly specific list, then no, energy was not very well spent… I did not lose weight, my fitness level has had starts and stops, just as it’s had in the past 3 or so years, and considering the basement as it is right now, after Christmas decorations have been more or less thrown down there, would drain the energy right out of my body.

So I’m not going to consider that.

Here’s the thing, though.  My journey to achieve some of the things on the list above has taken me in directions heretofore unchartered:  real, honest therapy, meditation classes and practice, a variety of fitness routines, books read, podcasts heard, and thousands of words journaled on mind-expanding subjects.

And through it all I’ve learned a heck of a lot about myself.

The best part of all:  I have not given up.  Another first in the life of this 46 year old.  My modus operandi has always been if I can’t do it perfectly in an extremely short period of time, then I’m not doing it at all.  This includes the horrific game Words With Friends, but excludes Candy Crush… I’m still plugging away at that one, and I’m the only one I know who’s sticking with it!

So I’m going to continue on self-development this year and see where it takes me.  So far it has taken me to some interesting places, given me a life-changing new friendship, and the possibility of substantial change in the coming year.

So, considering all of that, I’m giving energy a thumbs up, even if my basement’s still a wreck.  There’s always 2016 for that one.  Plus, I’m currently reading Marie Kondo, so I expect to find the inspiration very soon.


 

Moving on to this year, my word for the year came a day or two before the year began.  As many of the blogging friends have shared, this word chose me rather than me choosing it.  And this word has challenge etched into every letter.  My word for 2016 is:

calm

calm-picture-quotes

The idea came to me while watching the movie The Intern with Robert DeNiro.  The movie itself was so/so, but I adored everything about the character he played in that movie.  I even said to my husband at the end, “That character is everything I want to be when I grow up.”  No matter what life threw his way, no matter how anyone treated him, he responded evenly, thoughtfully, politely.

The story line, in case you have not seen the movie, is the character deciding after a few years of retirement and living the life of a widower, that he had more to offer this world, so he applied for a senior intern position at a start-up internet company.  He was overlooked, condescended to, and largely misunderstood, and yet remained unflappable.  In the end, of course, everyone adored him.

Which is not the part I’m looking to emulate.

I don’t think.

Seriously, I just love the idea of remaining calm in the face of anything.

This, it should go without saying, is an uphill battle.  I have friends that try to provoke me because they so thoroughly enjoy my somewhat excitable reactive nature.  Those friends are going to be disappointed this year.

Now, I will say, I picked this right away, it is currently January 8, and I have done very little in terms of making headway with this goal.  In fact, it almost seems like I’m moving in the opposite direction so far:  big yelling matches with a family member, ongoing frustrations with a moody teenage daughter, impatience with customer service  representatives.

All I can say is:  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  And the fact that I’m noticing is progress.  Maybe.

So there you have it.  Calm for 2016.  Bring it on!

Today’s Miracle:

How about this… TGIF, the miracle of the weekend and sleeping in!

Staying Motivated: 5 Tips to Keep On Keepin’ On!

In Monday’s post I wrote about an injury I sustained this past weekend.  Today is day 6 in dealing with a bum knee.  Here is a thumbnail sketch of the past 6 days:

  • Days 1 and 2:  debilitating pain keeps me a model patient:  I adhere to every directive designed to expedite healing
  • Day 3:  Despite every natural inclination, I make and keep Doctor’s appointment, at which I find that I am doing all that is necessary, but that I need to keep doing it
  • Day 4:  Feels quite a bit better than the first 3 days, which I take as a positive sign, begin to function more normally
  • Day 5:  Feeling same as yesterday, so increase my activity, which I then proceed to overdo.  Now the pain level is back to day 3, and I am dejected.  I try to recover in the evening
  • Day 6:  Wake up feeling as bad as yesterday, and now, besides being in pain, I am also outraged… how can this be happening?

Now, you might read this breakdown and scratch your head in bewilderment… is there something wrong with this woman?  Of course the pain has returned, she did not give it enough time!

But really, this is just an example of so many things in life:  we have a goal, we start out with gusto, and then, either fizzle out due to fading motivation, or to some wrench in the plans of life.  And what a perfect time of year to discuss this topic.  It is January 9th.  Had I not injured my knee, I would have been embarking on resuming my running regimen.  And I guarantee you I would have been facing feelings similar to the ones I am facing with this knee injury… either impatience that I am not progressing fast enough, disgust that I am not seeing any results, or simple boredom with the new routine.  Same with sobriety, the first several weeks of my recovery I remained sober, but life continued to plummet downward.  It’s hard enough making the decision to give up drinking/drugs, but to do so in the face of chaos, even more challenging.

Now, with this injury, I can cry and gnash my teeth all I want, but it’s not going to change anything.  But with other goals… new eating plans, staying sober, physical fitness… the mental engagement is critical to success.  So how to maintain the passion that drives someone to embark on a lifestyle change?

There are probably a million and one great articles out there on staying motivated, but here are the top 5 tips I have come across, have used myself, or will attempt to use in the upcoming weeks:

1.  Have a specific goal:  In terms of my injury, I want to completely recover from my injury so that I may resume my fitness routine.  This goal is specific, it is measurable (return to zero pain), it is attainable (doctor’s opinion), and it is time-bound (doctor-given guidelines).  For many reading this post, the goal could be sobriety:  I want to live my life chemically unaltered.  The simpler and more specific the goal, the better.

2.  Know why you wish to achieve this goal:  I want to recover from my injury so that I may have the full use of my leg… so that I may walk, run, climb stairs as any healthy person can.  The why behind this goal are more obvious that some other goals.  In terms of sobriety, it is important to know clearly why you want to be drug and alcohol free.  The reasons can be to attain benefits, such as “increased health,” or it can be to avoid negative consequences, such as “so that I don’t lose my self-respect, or the respect of others.”

3.  Visualize the end result:  For me, I really want to get back to my goal of running, so I picture myself as I was last summer and fall, when I was at my peak.  I can also visualize what it would be like to do even better than my best, as in run (not walk) in a 5K.  For sobriety, there are so many ways to visualize the end result:  how you will look and feel knowing that you have overcome an unhealthy relationship with drugs/alcohol, the joy of attending functions and not behaving irrationally, the peace that would come from living life with a clear mind, and without the worry of what you may have said or done under the influence.

4.  Learn from failures:  So I overdid things this week, and I recognize that only sets me back further from my goal.  I can bemoan this fact, or I can chalk it up as a learning experience… now I know what I can do, and what I cannot.  This is a critical piece for people in early sobriety.  Many times someone will accrue a number of sober days or weeks, and then slip.  Okay, it happened, so now there is the choice:  decide that all the progress was for nought, or figure out what led to the relapse so that you do not repeat the mistake.  As Buddha says, “There are only two mistakes along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

5.  Reward yourself:  The more long-range the goal, the more mini-rewards should be given.  Celebrate every milestone along the way.  The more positive reinforcement you give yourself, the more likely you are to keep going!

I would love to hear from my friends in recovery:  what methods have you used to keep motivated in staying sober?

Today’s Miracle:

Giving advice on motivation is a reciprocal gift… I feel better as I type!

Progress, Not Perfection

No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying. -Unknown

This quote is a reminder to myself.  The first week of January, I went to the gym one time, and considered it the miracle of that day.  The second week, I went two times.  This week, I made it a whopping three times.  I have a tendency to look at that fact and remember the times in my life when I was going at least 3 times a week, and doing much more than I am currently doing, but I conveniently forget the months on end when I did not go a single time.  So progress, no matter how slow, is progress, and I am grateful!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Today’s Miracle:

Having some quiet alone time to read a novel, I haven’t done enjoyed this luxury since last year (of course, last year was only 19 days ago, but still…)!

 

 

The Mechanics of a Resolution

 I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. –Tony Robbins

It’s that time of year again… resolution time.  I was just watching a small clip of Tony Robbins, and he was explaining why most resolutions fail.  He says in order to be successful at resolving to change, you must have these three components in place:

1.  Compelling vision (not just “I want to lose 10 pounds,” but really have a clear picture of what it will feel like once you have lost weight)

2.  Strong reasons for pushing through when inevitable challenges arise (the reasons can be negative or positive, but they have to be serious)

3.  Review it and feel it daily (otherwise you will run out of steam quickly)

Today I am celebrating 11 months of sobriety,  and I can say these components were critical to my success in recovery.  My compelling vision, 11 months ago, was that I wanted my life back… I wanted to gain back the trust and love of my husband, I wanted my family reunited, and I wanted to repair relationships everywhere else in my life.  The vision was compelling because I knew what it looked like… I wanted what I had before I was in active addiction.

My strong reasons for pushing through were mostly negative, but they did work…. if I did not stay sober, I would lose my marriage, my family, and my life.  Period.  Along the way new reasons did pop up, such as letting down the people in the AA fellowship, and losing my sober time, which became an important part of my identity.  All of these reasons kept me working towards my goal of recovery.

Reviewing it and feeling it daily is perhaps the most important of the three, at least for me.  If I don’t get on my knees each morning and thank God for another day, if I don’t remind myself in meetings where I’ve been, and if I don’t reach out to help another person in need every day, then I am likely to forget the reasons I have chosen this resolution.

So the new question I am pondering, as the new year looms, and as I am heading towards the one year mark of sobriety… what am I resolving to progress towards next?

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