I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Posts tagged ‘choices’

Aside

The Long Haul

The beginning of a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt says “Nothing in this world is having or worth doing unless it means effort.”

But we humans want quick fixes and fast solutions.  I’m four weeks into a new workout routine and have made some pretty significant changes to my eating habits as well as being much more intentional about my water consumption.  My eating habits aren’t perfect – I still “cheat” now and then – but I’m learning and doing a little bit better each day.  I’m doing LOTS better than I was four weeks ago!

But I’d love to see big changes and fast!  In my head I know that quick, radical changes usually don’t last.  When it comes to healthy weight loss, slow and steady is the route to success.

So I have to choose to focus on the positives –

– My sleeping pattern is better and more restful.

– My energy level is great!

– There have been small changes in all of the “measurements” and the scale has nudged a bit in a healthier direction.

– My legs feel stronger and my arms are starting to do the same.

I say these things not to brag but to remind myself that my commitment to living healthier was never going to be a short term thing.  If I want these healthy changes to “stick”, I need to remember that I signed up for the long haul and just keep taking baby steps forward.

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First, the Truth

Most human beings don’t like to admit that they need to make changes.  Sure, most of us can privately beat ourselves up about our flaws and shortcomings pretty well.  But publicly, many of us (most of us? all of us?) put on a brave front that says we have it all together and know just what to do with it.  And just to show that we are still slightly humble, we’ll mention some minor habit – biting our nails, chewing on pencils, etc. – that we know we should change.

But if there are BIG changes that need to happen, the very first thing we have to do is admit the truth to ourselves.

So I started with the truth – my weight was beginning to affect my health.  While I think that the current BMI standards are ridiculous (and should NEVER be shared with teenagers as many schools currently do!), carrying around an extra 100 pounds (more, at my heaviest) and being really inactive just wasn’t healthy.  For my health and energy level, I needed to radically change some habits – I needed to eat differently and get moving more.

I used every excuse in the book – can’t find a work out that I can do at my weight, can’t afford a personal trainer, too much conflicting nutritional information out there . . . I was REALLY good at giving you “reasons” for why I wasn’t doing anything different.   But they were not legitimate reasons.  They were excuses.  And I had to stop using them and get brutally honest with myself – I needed to start moving more and eating healthier.

I kept looking for a work out that would push me but that I could still complete.  And I found it!  If you’ve seen the infomercials for Cize, let me tell you this: those workouts are every bit as fun as they look and every bit as tough as you need!  I’m into week three of six and I’m still a little in shock that I can actually do these workouts.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a sweaty, out of breath mess at the end.  But I do it!  I love the increased energy, the ability to walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath, the muscles that are getting stronger . . . I’m already thinking about what workout I’m going to do next (I have the rest of this week then three more before I’m done with Cize).  I actually LOOK FORWARD to working out each day and that is SOOOOOO not like me.

And the nutrition piece?  I finally took the jump and dumped caffeinated soda for starters.  I also purchased a package of clean eating cookbooks and began choosing recipes that have allowed me to try new foods or old favorites prepared in healthier ways (ask me sometime about the ranch dressing substitute that uses pureed cashews as the base of the dressing!).  My eating habits still aren’t perfect but I’ve cut out virtually all junk food and have increased my intake of fruits and veggies for my snacks.

I don’t say this to brag.  I still eat more starches than I probably should and could stand to eat even more veggies but I’ve started making healthier choices and I’m liking the payoff.

But I would not have made ANY changes if I didn’t start by telling myself the truth.  It wasn’t pleasant to admit and it’s a truth that is still hard to say, but I can’t fix a problem if I won’t admit it exists.

 

Inspired

Week 2, day 5 of my new workout plan.  No, that doesn’t sound very long to most people.  But for me?  It’s about a week and 4 days longer than I’ve ever stuck with anything before!  I’m pretty sure that the difference this time around is the fact that I’m not depending on weight loss or a new dress size to make me happier or make me like myself better.  I have flaws, yes.  But there are also things I do well and people that I love fiercely.  To continue to love those people well, I need to be the healthiest I can be.

So here is some of the inspiration I’m using to keep myself motivated.  Thought I’d share these with you –

Just One

I haven’t posted in QUITE a long time . . . I feel bad about that.  Not just the lack of posts.  Also the fact that the reason I haven’t posted is because the lessons I’m learning . . . the things my brain is focusing on . . . the positive changes I’m trying to make (there are so many ways to describe this “place” in my life!) are not changing or varying all that much so I fear that multiple blog posts would just sound the same!

But there are thoughts spinning in my head that won’t stop until I get them out in some organized fashion.  So a new blog post it is.

I’m a people pleaser from “way back in the day”.  I’m pretty sure I know why but don’t want to belabor things from my past that I have, to be brutally honest, gotten over completely.  Unfortunately, as a people pleaser, I take it hard when someone disapproves of me or something I’ve done.  There could be a dozen people that are THRILLED with my work or who approve of me in general.  But I will focus all my time and energy on that one who doesn’t.

Kind of a silly way to approach life, don’t you think?!  I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of this year to actively look for the good in people and situations.  Some days it’s been REALLY easy.  Other days, not so much.  With most people, it doesn’t take much effort.  Others?!  Well . . . yeah.  It’s tough to “un-learn” being a people pleaser!

There are actually two people right now that are . . . how would my husband put it? . . . providing a chance to grow in this area.  Thankfully, my connection with them is NOT in the same part of my life so they are not able to double team me!  One of them is trying (and appears to be succeeding) to put up walls between me and a volunteer position I’ve had the last couple of years.  The other has asked for my help in a specific way and denigrates or just completely refuses to acknowledge my work and the progress that has been made.  I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me at all.  It stings.  But only a little. Less than it would have in the past, thankfully.

Here’s the thing – in both of those arenas in my life, they are just one person with an opinion that others do not appear to share.  In both cases, there are more than a few others – maybe even MANY others – that make me feel like a valued contributor.  These contrary individuals are frustrating to deal with when I absolutely have to.  But their attitude toward me and their opinion of me has – by their choice – kept those encounters at a minimum.  Instead, the majority of my time has been spent around those who validate my work, encourage and build me up, allow me to feel like a valued contributor and make it a joy to be involved.

What’s the take away?  I will NOT focus on “the one” who isn’t satisfied with what I’m doing.  I will not give “the one” any power to affect my attitude toward the others I work with, the situation I’m in, or my level of enthusiasm.  That one person can be as negative and cranky as they wish.  I am surrounded by positive people who strive for excellence and welcome whatever contribution I am able to make as they work toward their goals.  The secret is simple – focus on the others, not the one.  If I don’t give that one person my focus or allow them to take up space in my thoughts, I will feel much more positively about the work I am doing, the part I am playing in creating something wonderful, and the relationships I am having a chance to build.

I will never be able to please every single person I encounter.  Well, I could probably get close but I would lose myself in the process and I’m not okay with that.  So I choose to focus on those who are happy to work along side me and welcome my presence in their lives.  As for those who feel more negatively inclined toward me?  I have just one thing to say – I wish you well.

What a Difference!

Life is not perfect.  It never is. And that is completely okay with me. After all, I appreciate the good things in part because they stand out in contrast to the bad! But I will be brutally honest – life is much eadier to walk through when the good outweighs the bad.

I really like where and how I am spending my time and energy right now. The best part is, it is just going to get better!  The college class I teach in the spring is my favorite one to teach AND the spring semester means the college and Senior High musicals which is always a good time. Thanks to Stage Door’s schedule, I am currently in rehearsal for “Edges”  and will move from that show into “I Love a Piano”. Yeah, life is good.

The lesson during last school year was tough to walk through but trust me, I get it now! Just because something seems like a practical solution does not mean it is the right solution for you. Knowing exactly where my time and energy should be spent is making it much easier to say “no” to things that  are good but not right for me.  The lesson was hard won.  But I appreciate it now. 

Just for Me . . . Can I Do That?!

I was having a conversation with myself earlier today.  Don’t laugh.  I’m not the only person that talks to herself.  Others have told me they do it too.  Now, if you want to question our sanity, that is an altogether different topic of discussion!  But I digress.

The most recent conversation went something like this –

Me – Excuse me, self?

Self – Yes.

Me – Ya’ wanna know what I miss most from my “growing up” years?

Self – What?

Me – Piano lessons and practicing.

Self – *disbelieving pause* Come again?!

Me – Yeah.  I miss having weekly lessons and having someone – or a couple of someone’s – holding me accountable for practicing during the week.

Self – But there were SEVERAL occasions during the earlier years when we would throw a bit of a fit when it came to practice.

Me – Well . . . yeah.  But in middle school and high school?  We actually liked it then!

Self – True.  It was fun to conquer a really hard piece and see the progress.

Me – Oh!  And remember Senior year?!  Worked ALONE to get a piece ready for Solo and Ensemble and actually got a Division I rating?!

Self – I’ll never forget that!  That Mozart piece was still a personal favorite.

Me – I know, right?!

Self – So why did we stop practicing like that?  We’re a responsible adult now, we could set our own practice expectations.  Why don’t we.

Me – It’s selfish.

Self – *pause* Huh?!

Me – It’s selfish.  There is a family to take care of and work responsibilities.  I mean, we still have rehearsing we have to do for the choral accompanist gigs and the music theater jobs.

Self – But it’s not the same.

Me – *sigh* No.  It’s not even close.

Self – I still don’t get the selfish part.

Me – I’m a wife. A parent. I have responsibilities.  The kind of songs I would want to learn would mean longer practice sessions and that feels like I’m cheating others out of my time or cheating on my responsibilities.

Self – *pause of disbelief* Are you kidding me?

Me – What?

Self – That’s nonsense!  You are an individual with a unique identity that existed before your roles as wife, mother, employee, volunteer, etc.  There is nothing selfish about making sure you don’t stagnate; that your identity continues to exist!

Me – Well, when you put it that way . . . 

Self – So what piece are you going to assign yourself?

Me – Huh?

Self – Now that we have that silly “it’s selfish” nonsense dealt with, what piece are you going to set aside time to learn?

Me – I won’t have anywhere to perform it.

Self – So what?!  Is the purpose a performance or feeding your heart?!  

Me – *feeling a little ashamed* Feeding my heart

Self – Okay.  So I’m asking you again – what piece are you going to start working on.

Me – Well, I haven’t finished learning Moonlight Sonata.  And I still have a copy of Clair de Lune, and I’ve always wanted to . . .

Self – Now you’re talking.

I think you get the point.  This is for me.  The me that existed before wedding vows and nine months of waiting added pieces to my identity that I prize beyond words  The me that has found solace, comfort, consolation, and joy by simply coaxing notes and rhythms from 88 black and white keys.  The piano has always been my favorite instrument and sometimes even felt like a best friend!  In recent years, I’ve restricted my rehearsal moments to those that would benefit others only.  But that’s done.  I have some pieces at home that I have not yet learned to play all the way through and that will be changing.  Soon.  No one else may ever hear them performed but that is SOOOOOO not the point.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have some music to go look through!

 

Defined

It’s amazing what happens when you begin to embrace your gifts and how they help to define your identity.  It helps you say “yes” joyfully and “no” without guilt.

Let me explain – over the last few months, I’ve walked through a personal refining process where I have VERY clearly seen what is it I’m designed to do.  I’ve gotten a better grasp on what drives me than ever before.  It has allowed me to resign a position that completely misses the mark with a complete sense of peace.  Truthfully, it wasn’t that hard to do.  Working a job that completely misses that target as far as talent and passion go?  Really doesn’t build much into your life so it’s not terribly hard to walk away.  But I don’t regret the time because I learned things.  Lots of things.  About myself, about what matters to me, about what I want my energy and time to focus on.

Then I heard of a job opening in a field that I am qualified for.  The problem?  It’s a field that I have chosen to turn my focus from.  In other words, it’s not something I want to do with my life anymore.  In the past, I would have felt obligated to apply.  If I’m trained for the job and it’s available, I should want it, right?  Nope.  Not even a little bit.  That fact has often been true.  I applied because I felt I was supposed to, not because I wanted to.

Not this time.  This time I looked at the possibility and asked – “Does it line up with my passion?  Is it a part of what matters most to me?”  When the answer was no, then the decision was made.

My only regret is that it took me until the age of 45 to get to this place.  But at least I got here.

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