Do what you can…NOW!

 A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules. – Anthony Trollope

I have a confession to make. I’ve been procrastinating writing posts, because “I didn’t have time”. Oh come on! I have the same amount of time as everyone else. 24 hours a day, and so on.

The real issue is, I thought I didn’t have enough time to craft a truly wonderful post. So I just…didn’t…write…anything. Hmmph. I kept thinking about it, sure! Oh, I want to blog about THAT. Here’s a good quote. Ha ha, cat owl! And so on. But still, nothing written.

Then I decided to give myself a dose of my own medicine. Who cares if it’s a quick post? Maybe it’s not the most eloquent, but you didn’t come here for that anyhow, now did you?

No. You check in because you either (a) find my pictures humorous, or (b) you want a little inspiration fix, or (c) whatever your reason is. Pulitzer-prize winning, this isn’t. (I couldn’t quite bring myself to use the a-word, though I flout conventional grammar rules with delight. If you don’t believe me, check out my sentences beginning with but, and, or so! LIVING ON THE EDGE. Hey, that’s not even a proper sentence!)

Sometimes, maybe a lot of times, we put things off because they seem overwhelming. It’s too big a task to get done in the time we have available, so we figure we’ll wait “until we have time”. Uh-huh. Exactly when might that happen?

When a task is large, break it up! Fly Lady says, “You can do anything for 15 minutes!” Okay, I can think of a few exceptions (holding my breath), but in general I agree. I can attack the messy closet, or work on a budget, or make phone calls, or exercise, or even iron clothes -ick- for 15 minutes. I’m not fooling myself that 15 minutes is necessarily going to finish the job, but at least I accomplished something. And every now and then, I’m on such a roll that I just decide to finish the job and be done with it. If you are interested, Fly Lady has all sorts of helpful hints and tricks. I do not have a Control Journal or anything impressive like that, but I take what I can from her ideas. Really need to get back on the shiny sink thing…

After we’ve broken it up, how do we motivate ourselves to do that little bit of a task? I’m a big list-maker. Checking off the little boxes next to the items (yes, I draw little boxes next to the items) is highly rewarding! Even when I have to keep adding things to the list, it’s still a little thrill.  It’s okay to keep adding things to the list, because that means stuff is still happening. When stuff isn’t happening any more, you’re done living. Not as fun. I sometimes say things like “I’m happy that I have growing active children who can mess up their clothes” as I do laundry. No, really. I do say that sometimes. Because I hate laundry. But I love having kids, and clothes for them. It’s all about the gratitude, people. Plus sometimes I can get Tween Spirit to help me with the laundry, and she’s getting pretty good at it, actually!

Sometimes my list items are LAME. Some might say, really not worth a line item, (make lunches, clean cat boxes) but you know what? If it motivates me to do it because I can look at my little scrap of recycled paper and all the boxes I’ve checked off, so be it!  What works for you? Use it! Don’t be ashamed.

Do what you can, about the things that are important to you, or important to the important people in your life, NOW.  You’ll at least be a little farther down the road than you were before, and you can stop feeling guilty about all the undone tasks. You’re making progress. 15 minutes or 5 minutes or 1 hour at a time. It’s still progress! (Guess what? I wrote this post in little 5-minute bursts while doing all the things I needed to do.)

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It’s Okay to be Cranky!

“What fresh hell is this?” – Dorothy Parker

Yes, the overwhelming topic in this little old blog is…well…happiness.  But sometimes, as I’ve said, even the most optimistic people get a little glass-half-empty, too.  And although we might think at first that this is a bad thing, I hope by now you know it isn’t. Because it’s real. It’s how we feel at that moment in time.  And acknowledging our emotions is always better than denying or stifling them.  Sometimes we can’t SHOW how we feel, because it’s not the time or place, but at least we KNOW how we feel.  Even though I don’t want to let my negative thoughts and annoyances and dire predictions take over my entire emotional landscape (at least not for too long), there’s nothing at all wrong with them being there.  Nothing!

A good vent can be very liberating!  You might be surprised what words sometimes escape my mouth, behind closed doors, anyway. I see no problem with admitting that something is upsetting, and getting it out of my system if it’s okay to do that then.  Just so long as it’s not a habit. Sometimes I make myself come up with a positive or two after I’ve gone on and on about something annoying me,  just for a little perspective. Other times, I just rant away, and then take a deep breath and get on with it.

I was talking to Girl Child (who’s really a ‘tween now) about this the other day.  I stole Russ Harris’s idea about negative emotions being like clouds in the sky.  They come and go, and we really can’t do anything about them being there. We might not want a cloudy day; we might prefer the sun, but do we really have to stay indoors just because it’s gray and gloomy? Nope. Negative thoughts are like that – they’ll be around every day, sometimes more than others.  We can try to minimize them, but remember when we directly try to squash them…white elephant!

The presence of negative emotion does not have to stop us from doing what we want to do.  It would be ludicrous to say, “I’m not going to apply for that new job until there’s not a cloud in the sky!”  But don’t we all say, “I’ll be happy when..” or “I can’t do X until I feel more confident/better/happier…blah blah blah”…  Sure, it would be BETTER to feel confident and happy all the time, we’d enjoy what we’re doing more if that were the case. But being cranky or worried or whatever else we feel doesn’t have to stop us from getting done what needs to be done.  Often, the sooner we get into it, the faster those negative emotions reduce, at least somewhat.

Have you been putting off doing something you want to do, or avoiding pushing out of your comfort zone a little bit – waiting until it “feels right”?  Here’s a thought: maybe it will never feel right enough if you don’t push yourself. Something to think about, anyhow.  And now, let’s laugh at the turtle.

The “4 Ps”

 – Not sure who said this; if you happen to know, tell me and I’ll credit properly…

For those of you who are my Facebook friends, (and maybe even to those of you who aren’t) it will come as no surprise that I frequently post “inspirational” sayings. Some of them are funny, as well. Or at least I find them funny.  Some of you have told me (thank you!!) that reading these posts actually does inspire you, which is all I could hope for.

Of course, I’m not always feeling inspirational, and sometimes even I read those sayings and think  yeah, right, because I’m caught up in a mood or a thought or whatever.  But generally, I snap back to the optimistic mode, because as I told someone long ago, no one has given me a better option so far.

One of my Facebook friends posted on the topic of inspirational sayings, and he mentioned a phrase I liked. Naturally, I asked his permission to use it (and his story) here. He kindly consented. I appreciate that, because we really don’t know each other that well, and have not seen each other since high school. He hopes his story might help someone else, and I hope so too.

“The 4 Ps” – PERSISTENT POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE = PROGRESS.  Nice, isn’t it? And it’s alliterative, too!

Notice the word “perfection” is not anywhere in there. Perfection is a waste of time! You’ll never get there, really. There’s always something more to do, and be. And when we fall short of “perfection” we beat ourselves up, when as I’ve noted before, “excellent”, “awesome”, “pretty good”, or even “good enough” will often do just fine.

Here’s the story (dramatically truncated) =  he tells me he had a wake-up call about 4 years ago (he’s my age, which is to say, 29.  Ha ha.  Okay, 41. So that makes him 37 when his story starts.  At the time, he and his wife had a failing marriage and two young children (aged 4 and 2). He was about 40 pounds overweight, and generally felt crummy, to put it mildly.

He went to the doctor because he had been having chest pains. During his stress test, he was asked, “When did you have your heart attack?”   His reaction was “What heart attack??”  Uh huh. He had a heart attack, and hadn’t known it.  He discussed the test results with his doctor and was basically told that if he didn’t make some changes, he had about 5 years to live. And from the sound of it, they weren’t going to be pleasant years.

So he had a decision to make; actually LOTS of decisions to make.  He wrote, I’d think about my daughter walking down the aisle at her wedding, without me. I thought about the things I’ve learned from my Father about being a man and a father, and my son sitting alone with no one to teach him. I would literally cry while working out thinking about all these things. And sometimes, I’d be so mad at myself for letting things get so bad, that the anger would fuel me for 2-3 hour workouts.  

And what to do about his marriage, which was still falling apart? He decided that he had to focus on one thing at a time, and that he had to get healthy to be there for his kids, even if he couldn’t salvage his marriage.  He got busy learning about exercise and nutrition, and that actually became the starting point for renewing his relationship with his wife.  Over time, bit by bit, he got healthier and healthier. He is now strong and fit, a veritable nutrition guru, and his family is intact and better than ever.

Another quote:  I honestly can say that exercise saved my life, and not just by keeping me alive, but by helping me keep my family, which is the only thing I care about anymore. It’s easier now, because I can look back to where I was and KNOW that it is all achievable, because I’ve done it. 

He took pains to note that it has not been an easy road. He’s had several injuries and other physical problems that slowed progress. These forced him to find creative ways to work out or keep his weight at a healthy level.  I’m sure there were plenty of emotional challenges as well, and sometimes those are harder to overcome than the physical issues.  The list of setbacks was long. I’m sure no one would blame  him, had he said that one or the other of these barriers had prevented him from making progress and achieving his goal to be healthy.  But he made it through them all. And these are choices we all have to make every day. Again and again.

Persistent positive perspective = progress.  We have to believe that what we want in our lives is attainable, and then we have to figure out the steps to get there. Most importantly, we then have to take those steps. Over and over. Even when we don’t want to. Even when barriers are in our way. Every day. Every moment.

Despite the emphasis on exercise and nutrition, you know this post isn’t really about eating right and moving, though that may be the topic of other posts. The real point is that you can scribble out the problems listed above and write in your own. Scribble out those setbacks and pencil yours in. The real point is to keep on, no matter what.

One of my favorite quotes (I don’t think I’ve used it before, but forgive me if I have) is the Japanese proverb, Fall seven times, stand up eight.  We will all fall down from time to time. We will all have our doubts, fears, and annoyances. We will all have our what-ifs  and our I can’ts and our it’s not fairs.  That’s okay. We have to persist, and stay focused on the good in our lives, the moments that work out right, and take every tiny step we can toward that goal.

What will you use the 4Ps for?