Under Pressure

You know that feeling you get when someone is watching over your shoulder? Or, you say you can sink a basket from the free-throw line? No pressure, right? Oh the deadline is Friday? For all of the discomfort it brings, pressure also can bring out the best in us. I’ve found the best way to motivate myself is to set a deadline. Even better is to tell someone about my deadline. If I can line up my goal with this type of pressure, I will almost always complete the task.

Here are my steps,

  • I have a thought or an idea.
  • I write it out either in Google Drive or in a personal notebook.
  • I decide what effort is needed, money or time.
  • I let it percolate inside of me for however long it’s necessary.
  • When the idea has built enough inside of me I usually get follow up ideas and at that moment I can plunge into the project.
  • I find tweeting my progress helps

My pitfalls

It’s easy for me to get lost in researching my ideas so, I try as best as I can to write everything out from the top of my head. Ad Lib if you will. Afterwards since the idea is written out I can edit as needed and add more details.

It took me a while to get comfortable with announcing my plans. Stating aloud “I’m writing a novel,” can lead to all types of feedback. Some think you’re bragging, but you’re not. Mostly I avoided it because seemed like too much pressure. It created that mind numbing turmoil in my head. Now if I don’t finish I am shamed. No one wants to look like a braggart or a fool, but people really have short memories. And they have their own lives to live. A week from now, their troubles will make them forget about the silly thing you stated. And when you actually finish the novel, run the marathon, or lose the weight, you feel the satisfaction. Isn’t that what you wanted?

Run for yourself, not anyone else. – runner’s world

suggested read:

 

Wants, Desires, and Actions

There is an inherent order to life. It’s as old as the earth herself. Desire plus response equals fulfillment. A baby’s cry causes a mother to feed her baby. Want plus action equals satisfaction. It’s how we all function.

I grew up when, as the saying goes, men kept their word, and a handshake was as good as a contract. I’ve known people who practically killed themselves to finish something, not because they wanted it, but because they promised to do it. They desired to be trustworthy. Honest. Culture has shifted, and we now allow more leniency on contracts. Marriages end. Jobs change. We’re more flexible. Some would say that society’s gone downhill because of this—some, but not me. People still do what they desire the most; it’s just that what we want has changed.

Desire and fulfillment are promoted by many as a hidden treasure, a secret bit of knowledge. But it’s as simple as scratching an itch. So the next time you have an urge to accomplish something, ask yourself how big your appetite is? The next time your back itches, how desperate are you to relieve that itch? What hoops will you jump through? Which laws will you break? How many zombies will you kill? The size of the emotion will tell you how dedicated you’ll be to achieving your goal. It’s not just willpower; there’s desire too.

You already have permission – Seth’s Blog

Just saying.

You have permission to create, to speak up, and stand up.

You have permission to be generous, to fail, and to be vulnerable.

You have permission to own your words, to matter and to help.

No need to wait

Seth Godin

Like Nike’s ad – Just do it.

It’s different from planning, pushing, and forcing life to conform. They’re two different viewpoints, two different stories, as different as a Mac and a PC. Nike and Reebok.

Mind, Body, and Spirit

Mind we know. Body we get. But, what is spirit? Grace, kindness, joy, love, peace? Things you can’t see. Spirit doesn’t mean it’s a ghost or even that it will live after our body dies. I can believe in spirit without believing in Jehovah, Thor, Ahura Mazda or Allah. I believe those things named above are spirit. These live on after we have left the building. They are in the memory of every love letter you wrote, every kind word you said, and every cookie you baked. Think about these two things for a moment: Using your body to pray. Acts of kindness as gifts.

Grace is a power that comes in and transforms a moment into something better.

— CAROLINE MYSS

Yes, I know that love and joy and anger and confusion are emotions, ruled by chemicals. Our language and concept of self came at a time in history before we had knowledge of chemicals. At that time we often loved with our bowels. Spirit described anything or force that could not be seen or explained, but the chemical response in our heads never belittles the reality of love. It only shows it’s ours.

King James Bible

But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? I John 3:17

Never underestimate the power of kindness. You never know when a smile or a kind word or hug could save a person’s life. We are social animals. Even me, sometimes. We are meant to interact and bounce ideas off of each other. Without this we are stagnant and we die. If you don’t think you have anything to give, think again. Any kind act, any kind word can change someone’s day.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

I use my physical body as a way to express my love. Seanne Corn – On Being

Set your intention. What prayer would you pray with your actions or your movements? Do that today.

My Attitude? I Blame Westerns

I watch the AMC show, Hell on Wheels and I often smile at the lengths the character Cullen Bohannon goes to hold to his morality. He will do whatever it takes to get the job done, whether it’s legal or not. Whether it’s lethal or not. Then step out of the muck and mud, put on his hat, and walk away.

Work hard. Clean up your mess. Speak softly and carry a big stick. Let your actions do your talking. Take care of your family. Don’t air your dirty laundry. It’s better to be poor and stand on your own two feet than to be carried around by someone else. That’s the codes of conduct I grew up with and they developed my attitudes.

 “A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.” – Shane

Someone asked me once, if you had a disease and the only treatment or cure was illegal, would you get it? My answer is easy. Absolutely, but I’m not alone. The rise of self publishing shows our love for individualism.

Whether you call it an American attitude or something we picked up from John Wayne in the movies, there’s an internal moral compass that tells us what is right and what is wrong. Even though the law says it’s right, it isn’t always the right that we believe. We honor independence over group thinking. It’s a western, as opposed to an eastern, way of thinking. See what I mean: Minimalistic Visualizations Explain Differences In Eastern And Western Cultures 

There are downfalls in this thinking and I’m not touting it as a recipe for success. Sadly, there were proud fathers who turned down help from neighbors when their children were starving. Charity wasn’t for them or their kin and they would state it proudly. No one is perfect and no political stance is complete. It would be refreshing though to see a politician or an individual who could look at a problem from a neutral viewpoint, without the blinders of pride or prejudice. The ability to hold two differing points of view in your mind and judge is a difficult task. If they could do that, then they could solve the problems of today, like the wise men of long ago. No, not just like Solomon, but like Rooster Cogburn also.

Rooster Cogburn: Well, out in the territory, we prize a dead shot more’n we do a lady’s charms.

Eula Goodnight: Then I’ve come to the right place, haven’t I? You mean the men in the West do not mind if their women outshoot and outsmart them?

Rooster Cogburn: If they’re quiet about it. No, here we value a spirited woman almost as much as we do a spirited horse.

Check it out: The 16 Best Western Movies-The Art of Manliness

 

Up

Change.....
Change….. (Photo credit: B Gilmour.)

Change is a lot of work. I’ve update my life and restarted more times than I want to think about. Packing, moving, unpacking. I went through a 5 year period in which we moved 5 times. Crazy. I’m the girl who has lived 40 plus years only 30 miles from her home town.

This week my office was doing some reconstruction around my cubicle. It’s funny to me since I’m the only one left in the area and I’m expecting to hear at any moment, “you have to move.” They’ve asked if I want to move and no, not really. I like my quiet corner of the world. It’s dark and I’m not bothered much. I sometimes feel like the old guy from the Disney animation, Up (2009)

I ponder buying a new car or moving to a new place like I’m looking at a spreadsheet of credits and debits. Is the thrill and novelty of changing worth the effort it takes to change? Even in just trying to set up a new habit, the benefits have to outweigh the effort. Some are worth it. For example, working out, or more specifically, running has been worth it. I enjoy it and miss the effort when I can’t hit the pavement. Even beyond the euphoria of the run, the sweat makes me feel I’ve accomplished something.

Most of my changes are for progress. It’s not the novelty that makes me put in the mileage or sign my money away. I will sweat and endure the pain if it’s important to me. Maybe we’re all that way.

I just watched a family member move to another city and state. It’s difficult to watch someone go. It’s difficult to see the emotions on their face. There’s the uncertainty mixed with the excitement. New experiences and new people. A bigger city means more opportunities for the activities you like, but there’s also the trouble of finding a place to live and new friends. It takes time for the new place to feel like home. Finding a favorite store or a favorite running trail.

If you’re feeling like the earth has moved out from under you, don’t worry. Just breathe. And remember why you’re doing it. Over time you’ll find your balance again.

In the Name of Love

What overtakes us when we’re in love? What is this passion, this force that motivates us to set ourselves aside?

What you don’t understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya
Read more: Bruno Mars – Grenade Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Last winter, after a ridiculous ice storm, I got out of my warm home for two reasons, both for love. Early that Saturday morning I went to watch my oldest son walk across the stage with the other college graduates. I wouldn’t have missed it. Zombie attacks, apocalypse, earthquakes, or whatever. I love that boy.

Later that day, and not a bit warmer, I stood in a line that wrapped around the corner and the along the side of The Brady Theater. A light drizzle of ice was falling, but my friends and I stood and waited and shivered. Why? Our favorite band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, was playing for the Rockin’ Christmas concert.

But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door – Proclaimers

Passion motivates us to do many things. And you can’t fake it. I’ve tried to be passionate about things but there’s no life if there’s no love. No zest. It’s an internal motivation that can’t be bought or borrowed. Forcing yourself to complete a task you hate is necessary at times, but you won’t hurry up to do it again and the time spent doing it is draining. Exhausting. I’m currently reading a book called DO NOTHING. It’s a very Zen or Taoist concept. I’ve played with this notion for years as I’m sure you have too, but I think I understand it now. So I stop grasping at every loose end and unfinished task. Focus on what’s the most important and the tasks that are lead by my motivation. There are two questions that have stuck with me that I read a few years back in a time management book,

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night? These are your passions.

The Not So Assertive Me

Thought Bubbles
Thought Bubbles (Photo credit: Michael Taggart Photography)

Sometimes we have to become comfortable with who we are when we are alone. I was driving in my car yesterday, thinking of of all the things I’m afraid of. How I’ve tried so much to be what’s expected of me and to hide the unacceptable parts. Be more respectful, less quiet, open up and share my private thoughts. Be outgoing, win friends and influence people, stand tall and assert myself.

In the normal moments, I’m happy puttering around my house or watching a marathon of Doctor Who. I tried dating because I don’t want to become a hermit quite yet. Maybe when I’m 70. Most of the guys I’ve dated like to do things. Shopping, traveling, gambling, all those physical and crowd oriented activities. And I can do those things just like anyone else, but it makes me tired.

I remember in elementary school fluffing and enlarging my persona. No one wants to be thought of as boring. And being fearful and boring at the same time is a huge ick factor for children. So over the years I learned to say the right words when asked, what are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time? Fluff. It was easy because most people don’t really care. They move on and I can go back to my book.

But that moment, while driving, I was alone. Just me and my thoughts and I was okay with them. I’ve finally accepted that they are who I really am. In that moment I was being myself. No act, no bluster, no fluff. And I liked it.

 

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To Love Yourself

Love
Love (Photo credit: Swamibu)

Most of us would agree mutilating our body because we hate ourselves is unhealthy. Acting against our health by withholding food or making unrealistic demands on ourselves seems obviously wrong, but yet we see it happen. Neighbors, actors, models, even family members mutilate themselves out of hatred.

Sometimes we also try to better ourselves because of fear. We feel we don’t fit in or we aren’t pretty enough. We are too fat, too ugly or too nice. So we try to change because we fear rejection.

I’ve heard many times that we need to love ourselves as we are today. How do we do that?

  • Highlight one part of yourself, your voice, your slim fingers and focus on that one attribute.
  • Steal someone’s persona. If you adore a well-known actress for her hair and yours is similar, hijack that feeling. Someone once told me I reminded him of Kate Winslet. Recently Vogue photographed Kate and used Photoshop, as is their norm, creating a big brouhaha. Kate Winslet’s Vogue Cover.  Once before, GQ visually slimmed her down but stated it wasn’t drastic. I’m glad that someone noticed her original beauty.
  • Be. Just be who you are and meet your own needs. Don’t withhold food, clothing or love. Just as you would see a child’s need for these things, see your own need. 

That’s where I’m at. I’m still looking and may stumble upon other ways to love me. What’s yours? In the meantime, I refuse to be cruel to myself.

 

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Know Thy Species

Self Portrait

You have to understand the rules before you can break the rules. At least that’s what I’ve been taught. One easy to understand rule is, people need oxygen. We can’t live without it. It makes us uncomfortable and we start to panic. We will fight against anything that keeps us from breathing. There’s no nice and compliant if someone is choking you. You will kick, claw, poke and jab.

I once thought it was important to be tough. Tough meant defying the rules. Defying what I needed. Things that were natural came too easily and where’s the challenge in that? Climb Mt Everest and prove yourself. Prove that you can make it to the top and still breathe. Scoff. It’s important to know the rule of oxygen. Humans just can’t live at 35,000 feet above sea level. There’s barely any oxygen. And it’s freakin’ cold.

By the same measurement, I wouldn’t expect to feed grass to a dog and expect him to leave the T-bone steak on the kitchen table. It’s natural and expected for the dog to eat the steak. So I realize I have to take a fresh look at being tough and strong. It’s not defying my need for oxygen.

…Know thy species…The best way to learn about a species is to study it in the wild, living in its natural habitat. This includes everything from what the species eats to how it moves, from common predators to mating behavior-everything…..This approach works for humans too…..To understand human health we have to study our own species, the human animal. The Paleo Manifesto-John Durant

Most of my life I’ve operated by existence. My thoughts were of what I needed to survive. And even then I questioned it. I scoffed at people who were high maintenance and was cocky that I wasn’t one of those women. I didn’t require a spa day or an entire room for closeting my shoes. I could travel with just one suitcase. I could get by on less. Now I ask why that was so important. My badge of honor looks rusty now. The truth has nothing to do with high maintenance or low maintenance. If I were an African Violet, I’d need x number of hours of sunlight and y amount of rain. It’s just the facts. Maybe I’ll still scoff at the women who can’t live without their mani-pedi, but I may also reconsider and enjoy one myself.

I want to dig into this more. One of the books on my reading list is, Me, Myself and Why: Searching for the Science of Self By Jennifer Ouellette

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I Hate Feeling Helpless

In my family, growing up wasn’t about self empowerment. We survived, we made do, and we were grateful for what we had. Any self empowerment wasn’t recognized. It didn’t have anything to do with the mindset of raising children in the culture of my family and town. It wasn’t practical. Mind your parents and mind your teachers. That was the mindset of my generation.

Why do I bring this up? Because this week I felt like this,

Gaping Void

and all of me felt like praying to some big person in the sky. But even when I do, I’m still the one with the screwdriver in my hand trying to fix whatever is broken.

When my car won’t run or my washer is broken, I feel helpless. We had snow and ice this last week so my car didn’t budge from its parking space and the battery was dead. Normally I face things logically. Easy fix. But for some strange reason when I feel trapped, I panic. I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want to hide. I want to run. I want to crawl back under the covers and never come out. Helpless.

So what causes this shift in mindset and what do I need to do about it? I took the rational practical approach and got my car taken care of. I called the repair place to make an appointment for the washing machine to be fixed next week. What else is there to do? I took the practical approach because there is no magic potion or special words to chant. There was AAA who came to jump the battery and Collins Repair for the washer.

I also went to work and behaved like a rational person, pretending that I wasn’t raised from birth to be helpless. Even though I feel like a newborn babe, I’m not helpless.