Thursday, March 29, 2012

Do You Push Yourself?

As my husband and I have been preparing for his upcoming reconstructive surgery we have been working on increasing his stamina.  He has a desk job and isn't really familiar with pushing himself physically.  He has worked extremely hard even with his current physical limitations and is doing amazing well.  This has gotten me thinking more and more about the whole idea of pushing myself as a human being in general.

I have come to the conclusion that my body does best when I push it a bit.  And also my mind. 

It seems to me that really when we stop pushing ourselves, that's the moment when things start to go downhill.  Now granted that can mean different things for different people at different points in our lives.  But really, if we're not willing to push ourselves some then aren't we just waiting to die?  That may sound harsh, but I can't really justify softening the sentiment when I feel so strongly about what happens when we just settle in and get too comfortable.

I've seen this idea in action many times.  We all know people who have pretty much given up, even at a young age.  They sit in front of a computer or TV and slowly watch their lives slip away.  Or they sell their lives out to long hours at work that don't ever really produce all that much.  Their health goes downhill fast.  They lose their zest for life. 

Meanwhile there are those who seem to make every last drop of life count to its fullest.  I once worked for a 93 year old woman who had always told herself that her home would be ready for visitors at any given moment and she made sure that it always was.  Not only was her home a wonderful and inviting place, but she was a fantastic conversationalist who had clearly kept her mind at the ready for those she would entertain as well.

I almost always feel good when I have pushed myself some.  Sometimes the process is scary and feels a little edgy.  In the end, the satisfaction with learning that maybe there is one more limit that I can break for myself is immense. 

While there is no good reason to do things that we absolutely do not enjoy, surely we all can find something that will stretch us just enough to keep the mind and body elastic and living well.

copyright: Laughing Jasmine Images

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Smart Boy

Just about everybody who meets my nephew, Nathan, tells me what a charmer he is. 

He is visiting us for part of his Spring Break this week and we have been out and about doing a lot of walking and hiking around.  On one particularly difficult climb uphill Nathan was really starting to fade out on me.

I said to him that he should be able to beat me up the hill because he is so much younger than me.  Then he asked me just how old I am.

When I told him, he said this:  Yeah, you're 38 but you look 19!

Yup, he's a charmer. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dumping Chaos- 15 Minutes At A Time

First off, thanks for the nice comments concerning my dog and his health.


He is doing OK for now and through some experimentation I have found ways to keep things pretty even keel for the time being.  I am satisfied with where things are for Parker in this moment.  I hope and pray that things progress along a natural course and I am not forced to make tougher decisions.  Being spared that would be a wonderful gift.

As to my topic for today of 'dumping chaos', it certainly is a bit of a spill-over from my last post about the crazy ups and downs of life.  And 'dumping chaos' is something that I might just have more insights to share about in time as I go along with my efforts to do so.

So let's see... some historical information might be of value here.  Chaos has certainly had an effect on me for much of my life.  And then when I started this whole journey of deciding that I want to make a major cross country move and some other life changes, I noticed that chaos had not only become a regular visitor in my life, but also had actually taken over my life completely.

Chaos was everywhere for me and I didn't even see it.  So many people I love had so much chaos in their lives that I thought I was doing OK as I certainly didn't have chaos at their level.  Ugh, I was wrong.  Turns out you can't really allow chaos near you without getting some on you!

So as I set out to make some life changes and ready myself to make some bigger dreams come true, I found had a lot of cleaning up to do- both figuratively and literally.  I needed to make room for the things I want my life to be and I needed to be sure to stop sabotaging my efforts by letting chaos creep into everything around me.

This has been a long process.  An emotional process to be sure.  A process that is best shared in multiple small doses over time.

As I read around the blogoshpere today I see that it seems I am not alone in my quest to choose a life without chaos, a life that suits my needs and goals a lot better than it has in the past.    A good example of this can be read and digested over at MizFitOnline.  Carla has written some blogger gold on related topics over there recently.  

As for me today, I will conquer one small aspect that has made a big difference in my life here at home:  how I take 15 minutes and turn it into a real improvement in my surroundings, aesthetically and essentially.

First let me admit that although I consider myself more than an average domestic goddess, there ARE some things that I just don't enjoy doing here on the home front.  One of those things is yard work.  For some reason I equate yard work with torture.  Even though I love the fact that doing the yard work results in money saved and good times spent with loved ones in garden and play areas on sunny days, I just have not been often motivated to do the work to get to the result.

So... in comes my 15 minute plan.  In the last couple of months I have made a real effort concerted effort to plan out time to work in the yard for 15 minutes at a time.  Doesn't sound like much, but it is. 

Some of the things I have accomplished in about 15 minutes are:  trimming and fertilizing the roses, cleaning leftover leaves from one area of the yard at a time, cleaning out flower pots to ready them for planting, mixing in new dirt and fertilizer in those flower pots, weeding out one small garden area at a time, treating moss on the roof one section at a time, planting some new stuff, scrubbing off one section at a time of our concrete patio, cleaning out one section of gutters... you get the idea.

I stumbled upon this idea when I was waiting for a friend.  At first I thought that hauling out all the 'stuff' to do the project would take up all the time I had and that I would end up actually doing the work later.  Then I realized how quick it was to just dive in and get something done.  Now I often end up working a little longer than 15 minutes, but I also allow myself to celebrate what I have done if 15 minutes is all I have.

15 minutes is way better than nothing and I am finding that I don't have such an uphill battle staring me in the face.  I find that my loathing for yard work has diminished greatly and this 15 minutes at a time has taken a good load of chaos from my surroundings and gives me a neater, cleaner world to look at and live in. 

This 15 minute approach may not work for everything, but you may be surprised at what can be tackled in this way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mixed Bag

I used to belong to the club of people who think that if you talk about something good, then you jinx it.
Now I feel as if you gotta' put it out there in order to make it real.

Then there are the things that you don't want to talk about because you don't want reality to set in too soon, even though you know it's coming.  These are usually life things that inevitably make you sad, even if known and expected.  (Once in a while it's nice to be in denial.)

With those two juxtaposed ideas in mind, humor me a little as I share a bit about how things went around here today.

This morning I took my dog, Parker, into the vet for a recheck on his heart.    He needed a refill of the meds. that he finally started about 6 weeks ago and the doctor wanted to listen to his heart murmur to see how well the meds. were working.  This turned out to be the perfect day for the recheck as today also turned out to be one of those rare rough days for Parker.  It was a day where he kept wanting to faint and was breathing pretty hard.  I was actually glad that his symptoms would be on full display during the visit for once.  (Kind of like when you can't get your car to make 'that noise' when you take it to the shop.)  I figured it would be helpful. 

Unfortunately, it was.

My vet is super sweet and always takes the positive road.  He assured me that this could just be another rare bad day.  But then he also said that the meds. are doing what they're supposed to do in taking a load off the heart and that they are meant to make remaining life more comfortable for Parker, not to cure anything.  He reminded me that Parker is remarkable in the age that he has achieved for his breed and then gently suggested that we only refill 30 days worth of meds.

I got what he was trying to say.

And now, to flip things completely upside down...

Later today my husband came home with another cash bonus.  Smaller than the last one, but still...  And then he told me that he has also been given a raise.  Along with his strong feeling that he's going to pass his next test in May, my heart is practically bursting with pride over what he has been able to accomplish recently.  (And all while preparing for major rehabilitative surgery.)  Property in Palm Springs is becoming more real by the day...  I tell ya' give that man a goal that he really wants to get to and he can do absolutely anything.

So you can see why I might be feeling a little merry-go-roundish today...

Absolutely not sorry for myself by any means.  I know everyone goes through this type of stuff.  Just interesting how life can throw you onto such different parts of the emotional spectrum all in the same day.  Right now, it just feels good to kind of sit with my feelings and experience them without putting too much expectation into how I 'should' feel. 

How about you?  What kind of day did you have?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time And Resources

One day, back when I was working as a nanny and was still really struggling to make ends meet, the father of the kids I was working with reminded me of one of the simple truisms of life:  You either have more time or more money- not usually the luxury of both at the same time.

Lately, as I contemplate the exciting changes that are on the horizon for me and mine- eventually moving to a warm weather spot, investing in a vacation property, working with my husband through his recovery to health, and even seeing my life through my own perimeters instead of those that have been assigned to me by others in the past- I can't help but contemplate that idea of time and resources.

I want to be careful and considerate with the things I give my time and effort to.  I want to spend my resources on things that truly matter to me.  I want to build the life I desire out of what I have.

That means I cannot please everyone.  Not even close.  And I am pretty OK with that.

So I've noticed that I'm putting more and more time and effort into things that are important to my husband. 
It feels good to me.  It feels right.
I'm a natural supporter, an ally, a partner.
I've never been comfortable in the limelight.
Some of us are supporting actors.  And damn good ones.

Unproductive beginnings can produce mad skills.  And just because those skills might have been originally produced in fear and taken advantage of by some in the past, doesn't mean they aren't real skills and meaningful in my life today. 

It is the most fun and rewarding thing to be there with someone who doesn't necessarily need you to survive, and yet is certainly better off because you are there.  There's a big difference between feeling as if you must keep everything in balance to avoid disaster and being able to provide a solid foundation in a partnership that is more than the sum total of its parts.

It's good to have a worthy place to put my time and energy into.  A place that makes me a better person too...  a person who will be more ready to accomplish my own goals as well. 

So I'm curious...  Are you the type of person that enjoys more of a supporting role?  How did you come to accept that about yourself?  Are you able to successfully weave in your own accomplishments?  What's the most that you have ever happily sacrificed for someone else?  Tell me your stories!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Workin' Hard And Stayin' Honest

Remember when I wrote about a ton of work that I'd been offered and taken up because I really want to help make our Palm Springs plans a reality.  And then I also wrote about it being super important to me to be more honest than ever these days.

Surprise, surprise (to me) that those two goals should meet.

Let me explain.

For many long years I have done things that I didn't necessarily enjoy doing and made sure that those things were done so well that no one could ever possibly question my desire to please and over deliver on just about everything.   This has become a big part of who I am.  People know without a doubt that I am going to come through (come hell or high water).  So it's been a wee bit intimidating to ever even think about letting up a little.  Maybe giving myself any room at all to breathe or just be human.

But then, last week I actually admitted that I was kind of burnt out on a particular project for work... 


...I know.  You can hear the audible gasp all the way to where you are, can't you?!

I ended up taking some time away from a project that I wasn't quite ready to tackle yet.  (It was not time sensitive.)  I risked being a little less than enthusiastic for a moment there.  I made less money for that day.  I had no good ideas for this project at the time and I chose not to just slog through it. 

And now I'm coming back this week with a killer plan that will knock the socks off the client.  And I'm really ready to see it through to a better end than I possibly could have even thought of last week, no matter how hard I had worked at it.

Being my own boss is one of the best decisions I ever made.

Being a trusting and understanding boss to myself is even better.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Wishes

So I've heard that most of the country has missed out on winter this year.  Except for us lucky ducks up north who are apparently getting another cold shot sent down from our neighbors to the further north.  Humph I say, those darn Canadians!

Well bleah! I've had enough.  We've had and are still having (with our nights near freezing temps) plenty of winter right here in the northwest.  Come on over and take a look at our mossy rooftops, muddy lawns and our inability to pull off any of the cute spring clothes (at least not without visible shivering) that are splashed all over the target ad right now.  Seriously, you can't really think that donning a hot pink t-shirt is really gonna' make you believe it's spring when the cold drizzle and grey skies are still all around.  But maybe I'll get me one of those bikinis for later use in August when our whole two weeks of summer will make me feel like I need something like that. 

Oh wait sunshine doesn't actually magically produce the body for such things, but hey at least I have an answer for those tourists that always ask how in the world it's still so green here, even in the 'summertime'...

Anyway, all this talk of the impending Spring has got me thinking.  It will officially be Spring in about 18 days or so and whatever the heck the weather is like, I intend to participate.

I've got one more Spring/Summer season left here for sure as my husband works through his impending surgery and recovery.  And I'm gonna' make the most of it.  So I'm starting out by heading off to get me some Spring color that I CAN actually pull off.  I'll be bringing home some pretty flowers to spruce up the yard and patio areas.  I'll keep it the plants in areas that are pretty protected from the cold for now.  Heck, I may even bring some of the plants inside the house where I can really enjoy them.  Whatever makes me feel like the weather is changing, even if it isn't quite true- YET.
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