REALLY long term goals

What a great day for the Do-Over Project!

I used to have Epilepsy and was on medication for that for years. Shortly after I stopped the anti-convulsant, I was diagnosed with panic disorder and have spent over 20 years on Paxil.

You can, perhaps, understand why one of my goals in life is to be medication free. No anti-convulsant, no anti-anxiety–and no anti-diabetes, no anti-high-blood-pressure, or any other typical meds adults are on. No medication. Period.

I’d like that to extend to the rest of my life.

I think it’s possible, so this year, as I work on my Do-Over Project, I’m trying to get myself as healthy as I can to get rid of what little medication I am on and not start on any others for as long as I possibly can.

I’m not anti-medication, by the way, if you need it, you need it. But my own experience with medication and watching my parents gulp down pills by the handfuls (my father just told me he take 10 different pills per day!), well, I just don’t want to do it!

Anyway, As part of the Do-Over Project, I’ve been decreasing Paxil since the beginning of the year, and I just went to the shrink who’s prescribing it and she says I’m on a low enough dose now that I can stop it entirely.

AND, Paxil is the only med I’m on. Tonight, for the first time in 20 years, I won’t be taking medication. This is huge for me and I just needed to share my joy with the world!!

I don’t know what the future may bring, I may have to go back on an anti-anxiety med again, who knows? Maybe there are other medications in my future, but I’m going to do everything in my power to stay healthy enough to avoid that possibility.

It was important to keep at this REALLY long-term goal–for more than health reasons. It tells me to keep at other REALLY long-term goals–like publishing a book. It’s another almost life-long goal. If I can finally achieve the medication REALLY long-term goal, maybe my published book isn’t far off! Just keep at the goal!

Cheers,

Tracy

 

Why am I so exhausted?

Why am I so exhausted? That’s what’s been on my mind lately.

At first I was whining, “Oh, it’s cuz I’m getting older…I’m an old lady of 53 with no energy…boo hoo!”

But after the pity party, I realized it has nothing to do with my age. Let’s see:

  • Monday, I’m in grief counselling
  • Tuesday, I (force myself to) go to singing lessons (because of the grief I haven’t enjoyed the things I love as much, but I kept going and the joy is finally returning)
  • Wednesday, I have off (but not really!)
  • Thursday, I go to neurofeedback (more counselling)
  • Friday, is date night with my husband
  • Saturday, is running around down (groceries, errands)
  • Sunday, is climbing in the morning (sometimes walking group too) and then house chores

But that’s not all! During the week I also have to find time to:

  • write in my journal daily (finding one thing that brings me joy, post a positive Facebook video, etc.)
  • do my short workout at least 4 times a week
  • run at least 4 times per week
  • write this blog once a week
  • meditate for 1 hour 6 times per week
  • do my therapy homework (usually Wednesday)
  • fit in other appointments since I committed to getting health issues cleared up

That doesn’t include other positive activities to get things on track such as social time with friends or duties like checking in on my parents and other family members or working on our fixer-upper house. Oh and there’s the day job thing too!!

But I’ve realized that it’s not all of the above that’s taking a toll on me. No, I’m exhausted from the constant processing. I am going through probably the biggest transition of my life with the Do-Over Project and my mind, body and soul are constantly working. I’m absorbing the lessons I’m learning, applying them to my life every day. It’s a full time job!

I’m not complaining. I’m very glad I’ve taken on this project. But I’ve realized I have to give myself a break. Be gentle with myself. Not beat myself up for not getting more done.

If you’re going through a change in your life, don’t underestimate how difficult processing change is. Give yourself a break!

Cheers,

Tracy

Don't confuse difficulty with impossibility. Is achieving your goal difficult, yes. Is achieving your goal impossible, no.

Ego ≠ Success

Hi All!

I am by no means a mathematician, but I know one formula: ego ≠ success. That is, in order to be successful, you have to get out of your own way, which means putting your ego aside.

Yesterday I joined Weight Watchers. It felt like utter defeat. You see, I’m a personal trainer and a fitness instructor. I have training in nutrition. And yet I have not been able to lose weight. I exercise, eat incredibly well, meditate, decrease my stress at every turn–and yet still, here I am, struggling with my weight.

I felt ashamed asking for help. I should know what to do and do it! And yet still, here I am, struggling with my weight.

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday for my annual physical and I was griping about my weight. She said my weight is OK but I could stand to lose a few pounds. She told me the only weight loss program recommended by doctors across Canada is Weight Watchers and maybe I should give it a try.

But I eat incredibly healthfully, I exercise…! I stopped myself. Clearly something isn’t working. While I’m guessing some of the problem is related to my gut issue (which I’m doing testing for in a few weeks so my doctor will have results after that), it’s not the whole problem. I need help tweaking what I eat, how I workout…something!

It couldn’t hurt to try it out–after all, this is my year of doing things differently. Repeating the same patterns isn’t working for me so I better try a different approach if I want success.

But I eat incredibly healthfully, I exercise…! Put the ego on hold and all the things I should be able to do and I’ll likely have better success. Ask for help. Beg for help. Do whatever it takes to change my life.

I’m trying hard to learn the lesson: ego ≠ success.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tracy

 

 

 

Tick-tock!

 

Hi All!

Well, I’Wall Clockm coming close to five months in on the Do-Over Project. This blog is an update of my goals set at the end of January.

This may not seem relevant to you, since they’re MY goals, but perhaps this can stand as a reminder of the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Have you looked at them since?

Or, maybe you have been working on your goals, but you think they should all be accomplished by now! I feel that way sometimes. It can be really frustrating to not see progress fast enough (or as fast as we think we should see it).

For me, some changes have already taken place, others are progressing slowly and some aren’t even started. I think I’m pretty average so have a look to see where my goals are. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. As long as we continue to work on ourselves, we can’t go wrong!

Exercise:

  • YES! Get knee fixed (miniscus tear). In good working order!
  • YES! Sign up for Ottawa Race Weekend 10 km (May 27). Because of above injury I couldn’t run the 10km so I walked the 1/2 Marathon!!!!!
  • NO BUT YES! up for MEC Races. Forgot so I signed up for Army 1/2 Marathon (Sept 7)
  • NO! Sign up for Fall Colours 10km (Sunday, October 8). Not yet.
  • PARTLY! Workout: GOAL (need one). Doing 30-day work out routines I find online. I can do way better.
  • PARTLY! Rock climbing: Didn’t start indoor rock climbing in Dec 2016 because of knee. It’s been sporadic. I went today so that’s something!
  • NO! A climbing goal. I want to do an outdoor climbing trip but I haven’t been in the gym so I’m not ready. Maybe fall?

Weight:

  • NO! I wanted to be 135 lbs by the Ottawa Race Weekend (Saturday, May 27). I’ve lost 5. Not good enough.

Food:

  • PARTLY! Get back to regular good eating habits. Still eating bits of sugar. Would like to cut it out completely.
  • YES! Little or no white bread. None but I’d I’ve had whole grain which also doesn’t feel great in my tummy. Like to ditch this too!
  • YES! Limit alcohol (which I do anyway) but maintain.
  • YES! Go back to mainly protein and vegetables, which makes me feel good.

Supplements:

  • YES! Continue habit of Vitamin C
  • YES! Continue habit of Omega 3-6-9
  • YES! add: Magnesium (500 mg?)
  • YES! Start pro/prebiotics (10 million)

Other Health:

  • YES! Continue Neurofeedback once/week, but begin training other areas of the brain. We’re about to do another mini-map to see where else I can try.
  • YES! BONUS POINTS: I started biofeedback too!
  • YES! DON’T cancel my cardiologist specialist. Got a clean bill of health!
  • PARTLY! Balance my gut this year! All tests done. Go for results on Monday. See what followup I need to do.

FUN!

  • PARTLY! Find 10 things do that bring more fun/joy to my life.
    • Spa day with my mom (May 25). massage, back scrub, pedi!!
    • Charity event with bands playing all night (June 2)
    • Planning a hiking trip for our wedding anniversary (July 20)
    • One other local (4-hr drive or less) vacation in the next 3 years with my husband
    • Planning a hiking trip with the girls (September some time)
    • Need to work harder at this
  • PARTLY! Singing: find the joy in singing again. I’m getting there but still work to do.
    • Go to all lessons and jams. I’ve missed some of both. Legitimate reasons but still missed. AND,
    • Sing at the jams like I don’t care if I crack or forget. Sheer joy!) Getting there
  • PARTLY! Audition for at least two more things (musical, revue, band, something!). Decided to ditch this in favour of doing more jams.
    • PARTLY! Go to four additional jams around the city (other than The Music Factory). Gone to 1.
  • YES! Joy Journal. Most days doing it, but still not there.
  • YES! Drawing Prompts. Doing this regularly, but not EVERY day.
  • PARTLY! My Book: An agent this year. To send 100 queries by year end. Had fallen off the wagon, but I’m back on it.
  • YES! Blog: at first I wanted to blog daily but I realized it was too much so as long as I get 1 per week, I feel good. I have to give myself a thumbs up on this!
  • YES! Adventure: Go to my financial planner to save for adventure.
  • YES! Set up RRSP for stability but also a travel account to start March 15
  • PARTLY! Save 15-20,000 for a big trip in 2-3 years. Workin’ on it.
  • PARTLY! Take a beach vacation in 2018 with my husband. On track.
  • NO! Get new passports for husband in myself (spring 2017).Not yet. GET TO IT!
  • YES! Go to bank for a travel rewards card.
  • MOSTLY! Finish my office in beach theme. Almost there! It’s so pretty!

New goals:

There are goals that I added along the way:

  • YES! Meditation for leadership: 8-week course. No skipping a class. commit to 5 minutes of meditation per day. TOTAL success!
  • PARTLY! New therapist to work through grief and other issues developed in the last two years. 9 more weeks. Haven’t missed any.
  • PARTLY! Decided to stop taking Paxil (for anxiety) so have a doctor to wean me from it. I’ve got from 40 mg to 10 mg, so I’m getting there.
  • YES! write down 5 things I’m grateful for daily. Most days I’m successful.
  • STARTING! Starting a meditation program with my husband (one hour per night for 8 weeks)

If you haven’t looked at your goals lately, what are you waiting for? Don’t be scared, just do it!

Cheers,

Tracy

Deciding to be happy

I’m almost half-way through 2017. Soon I will have to take stock of where I am in The Do-Over Project. Where am I succeeding? Where am I…not? Where do I have to pick up the pace? Am I accomplishing what I set out to do in this experiment?

I’ll get to that in another week or so, but in the meantime, I’ve been thinking about my initial thoughts on why I started this experiment.

I wanted to be happy again. Simple–but not easy. I’ve had a couple of tough years (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts) and I felt it was time to take back my life.

But could I just decide to be happy again? That’s one question I’ve answered for sure in the last six months. I won’t make you wait until next week to find out what I’ve discovered…the answer is…

Yes. It is possible to simply decide to be happy. No matter where you are in your life. No matter what has happened to you. Actually, it’s the most important decision–before you set a single goal. There has to be a decision to do something differently.

But it’s not easy. In fact, the decision is very, very hard, because it means that, like me, you’ve accepted you need to take responsibility for your life. You have decided to take control of your life.

It takes me back a few years to my fitness instructor days. In order to get people into the habit of fitness, we needed to understand an individual’s readiness to change in order to meet them where they were.

We used the Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente), which identifies six stages of change:

Precontemplation (Not Ready): People in this stage aren’t going to take action. There’s no sense setting up a fitness routine, for example, for a precontemplator.

Contemplation (Getting Ready): People in this stage want to change. They understand the pros an the cons of their behavior, but they are often hung up on these, making them ambivalent and keeping them stuck in place. They are likely to procrastinate.

Preparation (Ready): People in this stage intend to take action in the near future (say, a month). They have typically already taken some action in the past year. For example, they’ve joined a gym or are seeing a psychologist. These are the people ready for action!

Action: People in this stage are making specific overt changes.

Maintenance: People in this stage are working to prevent relapse. They are increasingly confident that they can do this! They’ve learned that they can. But they still have to keep at it, because relapse can sneak up.

Now, this is simplification of a much more complex theory and I am in no way an expert in this area, but it’s important to think about (for more information, just google “stages of change” and you’ll find many resources). Where are you in your own process?

For me, I’d say I’m in the early stages of Action. This is when I have to be hypervigilant in my efforts and I know this, which is why I’ve given myself a year. I want to really get it under my belt. I want to be a Maintainor.

This theory points to something very important about making the decision to change. While it’s arguably the hardest decision, it isn’t the only decision.

Unfortunately, you still have to do the work! I still have to do the work. If I want to be happy, I have to back up my intention with action. I’m getting there, but I still have a lot of actionable items!

Here’s to action!

Tracy

 

 

Patterns, patterns everywhere!

As each week of the Do-Over Project passes, I am more and more convinced of a single truth: change happens when we interrupt the negative patterns in our lives and don’t interrupt the good ones.

Humans are creatures of habit. We want habits because they make life easier for us. Like driving a standard vehicle. At first, it’s hard as you pay attention to every little detail of driving. After a time, you just do it.

It’s important that some stuff in our life is automatic. How would it be if we had to pay attention to every stroke of a toothbrush or every step we take in the dressing process?! When some things are automatic, it frees up our brain to do other stuff. Like when I’m running. I don’t have to pay attention to every footfall, which frees my brain up to solve problems (or let my creativity spin stories as move along.

Of course, too much automatic thinking is also a problem. That’s why mindfulness training has become so popular. We’ve become a society that multi-tasks everything and pays attention to nothing. Shoveling food into our mouths mindlessly helps drive the obesity epidemic. Driving while distracted by cellphones and radios and friends talking has led to more than one car accident.

But back to my original thought…some automatic habits are good–especially if they’re good habits!

How can we use this automatic ability humans have to create good habits? It’s understanding the role interruption plays in habit-forming.

For example, when I started my new job three months ago, I had to keep track of every moment between the time I woke up and the time I left the house, lest I take too long on one task, which would make me leave the house a few minutes late and, invariably, miss the bus.

Now the alarm goes off, I go through my routine without ever checking the clock because I can feel when I’m falling behind. My morning routine has become a habit.

Interrupt my routine and failure is sure to follow! Let’s say my husband has a dentist appointment in the morning and doesn’t leave until after me. Now he’s underfoot in the bathroom, hits the coffee maker before me and just generally makes a nuisance of himself (I love you, dearheart!).

If he lost his job and was now underfoot all the time, we’d adjust and make it work. That would now be our habit.

So, to create a new habit or get rid of one you don’t want, you need to interrupt the pattern.

If I was a pack a day smoker and one day ran out of cigarettes and couldn’t get anymore (say I was iceberg surfing in Antarctica and there were no corner stores), my smoking habit would be interrupted.

Maybe the next day there’s a supply drop and I get more cigarettes, but because my pattern was interrupted, I at least have the idea that it’s possible to be smoke free. Maybe I go back to my smoking habit or maybe I don’t, but once I know something, I can’t unknow it! I now know I can do without cigarettes. The simple act of interrupting the pattern made me mindful of another choice.

Like most things in life, being mindful (even temporarily) of your patterns is the catalyst for change.

With the Do-Over Project, the act of writing in my journal every day is becoming a habit. When I interrupt the pattern, I feel like I’m missing something in my day. If I interrupted my habit, say, for a week, it would be much more difficult to start again (anyone who’s ever stopped exercising for a time and tried to start again can attest to this!)

So, if you want to start a new habit, get a pattern started and don’t interrupt it. If you want to stop a habit, go ahead, break that pattern!

You don’t have to be perfect at it. Just the act of breaking the pattern once is enough to at least get you thinking mindfully about change and that’s how it all starts.

Here’s to making and breaking habits!

Tracy

creatures of habit

Husband challenge: Part deux

I accepted my husband’s (Pierre) challenge yesterday and let my subconscious work on the connection between apples and change overnight.

It turns out apples and change are not random topics after all! They’re really quite connected.

When I think of apples, I think of the fall when it’s time to go and pick them from the orchard. I love roaming the rows of different varieties and taste-testing them all. Some are crisp and sour, others are softer and sweet; some are naturally small, which Image result for apple picturesother varieties grow fat; some are green and some are brilliant red. I was looking for Spy apples last fall and, when I asked the owner of the orchard where they were, he said they don’t grow them anymore because it takes too long. Aw! So some varieties also grow faster than others!

It’s all very interesting when you think of people and change. We’re all human, and thus very similar, but what differences we have too! The varieties are endless. That means that change is different for each person too. Some people embrace change, while others avoid it like, well, wormy apples! Some people take their time, others jump right to it.

Whatever our comfort level, we need to meet ourselves where we are (a vast human orchard!) Just because Louis next store seems to be one of those fast changers, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, because you’re not!

In the end, what we all have in common is that we won’t grow at all, unless we plant the seeds. Then, depending on temperament, background, environment, opportunities, etc., we grow. At some point, if we continue to nurture ourselves, we will blossom. If not, the worms, bad soil, drought, etc., will get us!

But it doesn’t end with blossoming. We have to continue the nurturing process, because there are many years of blossoming within us–if we keep at it. Eventually, we all bear fruit. And, if we continue to nurture ourselves, we’ll continue to bear fruit year after year.

That’s why we cannot grow stagnant as we grow older. An old apple tree doesn’t bear as much fruit as a young tree, and the farmer has to work a little harder at keeping it healthy, but that old tree still has lots of juicy apples to deliver–don’t underestimate it!

So, my apples, the moral of this story is: continue the change process, it’s completely natural, and you will reap the rewards–for a lifetime!

 

Husband challenge!

No, I’m not being challenged (or challenging others) to find a husband!

I was talking to my husband, Pierre, about the blog post I wanted to write last night–I hadn’t actually thought of a topic and I was too tired to come up with one after a long work day.

Pierre challenged me to come up with a topic tonight, let my subconscious work on it overnight, and then write it tomorrow night when I’d be full of ideas.  He gave the example topic of  “apples and change”. My job would be to let my subconscious explore a connection between two seemingly random ideas. What an interesting idea!

Since I’m about change this year and doing things differently, I said, “I’m game!” Maybe this will create a new habit that will make me think about change in new ways.

I’m stealing Pierre’s topic directly and I’ll let you know tomorrow night what I discovered about “apples and change”! What an adventure!

Cheers,

Tracy

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Better than before

Hi!

When I got my first pay check at my new job a couple of months ago, I immediately bought a Groupon for a facial. I don’t pamper myself much, so this was a little out of character for me. But, I’m doing things differently, so why not?

Perhaps, because it’s out of character, I kept putting off calling the spa. Maybe, subconsciously, I didn’t feel worthy of the pampering. Finally, the day before the Groupon expired, I made an appointment. Thankfully, they could fit me in.

Friday evening after work, I raced across town and spent the next hour being touched by a complete stranger. I didn’t even know the girl’s name (I forgot to ask!)! I just put myself in her hands as she steamed, extracted, lotioned and potioned me. It was amazing!

After a few minutes, I noticed that I was very tense and wondered why.

Firstly, it was odd to have a complete stranger touching my body. But I’m the touchy-feely sort so this didn’t quite fit. Then it occurred to me that the face is an intimate place. After all, how many people do we have in our lives that getthatclose to us? And, even those who do getthatclose, how often are they that close for that long?

OK so it was normal to be a bit tense, so I allowed myself to relax a bit. But I was still tense. “What else is there?!!!” I thought.

And then I understood: “Oh, I get it! I’m supposed to be doing other things!”

Like most people, I have a long list of “have tos”. I was in a hurry to get my (relaxing) facial “over with” so I could get to my next task!! Facial. Check. Groceries. Check.

It took me 20 minutes of laying there to figure that out! So, for the next 40 minutes, I put away my mental check list and forced myself to relax. This was going to take as much time as it took! Potion away, my girl!

I don’t believe in coincidence. The next day, I went to Chapters to use a gift card I had received for my birthday. I was browsing through the Self-Help section, when a book practically dove from the shelf and leapt into my arms.

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. It’s about making and breaking habits for a happier life. Well, I was going to happily spend my gift card on a book about change by the author of The Happiness Project!

I rushed home and read the first chapter. If you want to change, Rubin says, you need to look at your habits. I read further until I came to her Habits Manifesto, where I was clubbed over the head with #6:

When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves.

I can work on myself endlessly, beat myself up for not changing faster, or worry myself sick about the possibility of NOT changing within my 365-day timeline, but none of these will get me there faster than being kind to myself.

It seems obvious. If I want, for example, an employee to work harder, I can beat them down with mental cruelty and they will do what I want out of fear. Or, I can treat them with dignity and respect, I can coach and mentor them, I can lead by example, I can give them the opportunity to learn from mistakes, and so much more. Which is going to be the more motivated employee? It’s a no-brainer!

The question is: why can I be kinder to an employee than I can be to myself? Now THAT’S a change worth exploring!

Whether it’s setting aside time for pampering, self-reflection, fun or relaxation, I will get more out of myself in the long run, if I am kinder to myself.

I see a massage in my future!

Tracy

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Eustress, me stress!

Last week was extremely busy at work. A colleague was away on holidays so we took up the slack, we had a deadline to get a newsletter out on Friday morning (with people sending me things at 4:59 pm Thursday afternoon that just had to go in it), as well as a variety of small bits of writing that needed done yesterday.

Today was the first time I’ve had a moment to reflect on last week and I discovered something–I had a good time! Although it was stressful, it was fun!

I remember reading about eustress, the “good” stress that motivates you versus distress, the “bad” stress, that makes it hard to cope. Last week was pure eustress.

As long as I’m writing, I can handle a number of competing priorities and that makes me feel good. I feel eustress. Distress arrives, for me, when peoples’ baggage, drama and politics enter the mix.

It got me thinking, “How did I get so lucky that I can write for a living?” The answer is, of course, that it wasn’t luck. I worked incredibly hard (which included a lot of distress),  to get my degree in Journalism. The job I have today is a direct result of the decision I made when I was 12 to go to university. My decision. Not my parents or teachers or guidance counsellors. Mine.

I don’t know what possessed me to make such a life-altering adult decision at such a young age. No one on either my mom’s or dad’s side of the family went to university. I didn’t having anyone telling me to do it or not.

All I know is that I made the decision and followed through. It was the best decision I have ever made.

How about you? What is the best decision you ever made? How has that one decision changed your life?

Cheers,

Tracy