Tag: goals

The Last Few Days

light in balanceStart over. Do over. Put the lights on and flood the fuck out of the nightmares.

I’m struggling with something I just learned a few days ago (about the past).  It felt like a sock in the gut. I need some therapy for this. The last time I tried to get therapy from Kaiser I was really let down so I don’t know that I can turn to them for help.  I really wish my first psychologist was still alive.

But he’s not.

All the Christmas hoopla and noise is over and New Year’s Eve is almost here, my favorite day of the year. A symbolic new start. I have the next few days off to think about what I want for (and from) myself this year. Not much different from what I wanted last year and every year for the last number of years, but even so, I like to approach each year as a fresh opportunity. I like to focus on new words, new thoughts, and new energy.

I want to not drink alcohol until I’ve lost 85 lbs.

I want to have one whole finished first draft of a novel by this time next year.

That’s all I ask of myself. Perhaps this will be easier while I have a job because at least money isn’t quite as much of a stressor. I mean, we still can’t afford a new car and our current one is held together with packing tape, but at least the regular bills are easier to pay. Max isn’t struggling so hard right now either so I don’t have to micromanage his school experience or fight the school over stupid shit that shouldn’t be so hard to get done. My mom isn’t scheduled for any surgeries and is recovering well from the last two. Also, I just had that writing realization which will (hopefully) help me re-focus on the fiction writing. So this is a good time to get down to business. I hope.

Renewal of hope is what the New Year is all about.

A good amount of self care is called for this year. That’s the other thing I want to work on – writing self care posts on Sugar & Pith. Explore daily self care and share it with others. I need to engage in that actively with purpose. Take care of my skin. Take reading breaks. Do little things around the house that improve my every-day experience in it. Take better care of my body with exercise. With diet. Part of self care is also shutting out the world more often and taking care who I spend time with. Plant more plants.

Cleaning crap out is also excellent self care. I was doing that the day before yesterday. Went through all my clothes and shoes and hat boxes. Cleaned up my office quite a bit (still have some cleaning up to do in here). I love cleaning crap out of my house. It takes a lot of energy to get going with it but once I do it – it makes my head feel clearer.

What are you going to work on this coming year?

If you hate New Year’s Eve and thinking about goals and aspirations then don’t tell me about it. A lot of you get really depressed after Christmas and hate resolutions and winter and all of that. Now that Christmas is over it’s finally quiet enough out there for me to enjoy my favorite time of year and favorite holiday. I did make strong efforts not to ruin Christmas for all of you (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY BITTER GRUMBLINGS AND COMMENTS I HELD BACK). Please let me enjoy this time with those who also enjoy it.

Far from done, but now I have a hammer.

bad intentionsI never do anything because of Jesus or for Jesus but I like to think that as far as icons of belief go – a Jewish carpenter who consorts with prostitutes and people losing limbs to disease while spouting messages of love and acceptance and nonviolence – he seems like a pretty cool drinking partner.  I just can’t figure out how American conservatives and the people leading the Inquisition got themselves hooked up with a guy who wouldn’t let you stone a whore without stoning him with her?  I consider this the ninth wonder of the world.

I said I was going to be sober for 90 days and lose at least 20lbs during that time and I did both of those things.  I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol for 3 months and I lost 31lbs.  I didn’t overeat during that time or crave cigarettes as the chemical dependency counselor suggested I might.  She should have listened to me.  I also didn’t ever actually crave alcohol the way I craved cigarettes when I quit smoking.  I was über-cranky for the first week and then most Fridays.  I discovered that life without alcohol isn’t bad – it’s just BORING.

Last night I had a few beers in celebration and answered a question I didn’t know I had: yes, your tolerance level goes way down after 3 months of not drinking.  People, I can’t drink very much without getting tipsy now.  And that’s fine because even though I don’t regret partying last night (I did, after all, accomplish something amazing) I am now going to discover how to have alcohol in my life in a moderate fashion.

Except for at parties or events where there are a lot of human beings I don’t know and have to interact with.  All bets are off when I must interact with GROUPS.  Even small groups.  ANY GROUPS.

Socializing, period.  Shut up.  Just because your nervous system is shiny and solid and mine has the tensile strength as wet tissue unless held up with old sticks and booze is no measure of superiority.

I want to thank all of you who did this challenge with me – in whatever way you participated – and for all of the support you’ve all given me for months now.  It made a big difference to me. !!

What now?

I’m so far from done.  I have set new goals for the next 3 months:

Lose at least another 20lbs – as of right now I still have 82lbs to lose to get to where I want to be physically.  I want to get most of the way there by my 45th birthday.

Drink only moderately on the weekends (see above exception) I want to be able to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine at home or a couple of beers out – but not both on the same night.  I want Saturday to be the same.  “Moderate” for me would be somewhere between 1-3 drinks a night.

Don’t drink at all 4 days a week* – I need to keep up this lower tolerance and I need to remember how easy it is to not drink most of the time.  When I forget this my liver cries.

Eat more whole foods and fruits, less cheese – already happening but I want to continue working on this.  Aside from being a vegetarian I refuse to do any exclusionary diets.  (All kinds of opinions on stupid-ass diets that will NOT be names are being held  back that would otherwise be filling this space)

Exercise 20 minutes a day at least 5 days a week – walking, bicycling, whatever.  I’ll lunge across the house in tight pants if I feel like it.  I’d have to get tight pants first, obviously.  You fitness nuts can hold your tongues right now.  For me, just 20 minutes a day on a regular basis will be a great improvement.  Don’t give me your statistics on how much more I should be doing or what kind of movement I should be doing.  It’s none of your fucking business to school me on your religion.  Fitness isn’t my faith.  Getting back to my usual level of physical activity is what I want and need at this part of my physical recalibration.  I was always a really active person and the only thing that’s held me back in the last few years is all the physical pain and injury that results from being active and also obese.

That’s enough for the next 3 months and it starts tomorrow: April 9th and will end July 9th**.  Anyone who doesn’t believe I can lose another 20lbs in three months or that I can’t learn to drink more moderately can get off my boat.  I don’t need anyone around who doesn’t trust me to meet goals that are this important to me.

This is not three years ago.  Three years ago I was waking up wishing I wasn’t.  You can’t look at failed goals back then and hold them up to my face now.  I succeeded in surviving my secret suicidal ideation and getting myself out of purgatory.  I kept saying I was going to lose weight but then not dealing with the bigger crisis in front of me.  I was trying to run a race from inside a locked cell.  I was trying to knock down a wall with my bare hands.

Now I have a hammer.

*As before, I will not count bitters in mineral water as an alcoholic beverage.  My goals, my rules.

**Not counting precise days now – just months.

41 and 18 are Very Good Numbers

I turned 41 years old today.  Turning 41 is infinitely better than turning 10.  Or 20.  Or 35.  Thirty five was a very stupid year for me.  Also incredibly painful what with breaking my acetabulum (first bone I ever broke) and then getting a colposcopy immediately followed by a biopsy.

I have to say that while 40 has had some pretty intense challenges it has also been a year of breaking through, pulling up, lightening up, growing strength, and some real fun.  I am physically stronger than I was a year ago by quite a lot- I’m not much thinner (I gained back some of what I lost 6 months ago) but I can do full push-ups for the first time in years.  I can kick higher and stronger, I can punch harder and tighter, I can do things now that I couldn’t do when I was 35.  I can do things now that I couldn’t do when I was 84 pounds lighter.

That’s another great choke-hold released this year: changing my medications last June was absolutely one of the best things I did all year and I can thank my family physician for taking such good and thoughtful care of me.  Proper medication for people with lifelong clinical depression and anxiety is essential to overall health.

The result is that now when I take care of my body and stop drinking so much beer and eating so much damn cheese and get my ass moving with exercise- my body actually responds, just as it should.  I lost 20 pounds last year and then in the last few months of slacking off on in my self discipline I gained back 12 pounds.  I’m not panicking.  I’m not depressed.  I am responsible for that weight gain.  Me.  Not my medications.  I have gone without beer for three days, no cheese besides a modest amount of feta, eaten really well, no snacking that wasn’t a piece of fruit… the result is that in three days I lost 2 pounds.

That’s how my body used to react before Paxil.  If I put in the effort and the time exercising, eating well, and not snacking on cheese and crackers late at night, I lose weight.  For the last three years this was not true.  I would work hard and see NO results.  In fact, I would work hard and then gain weight.  I would give up for a while, and gain weight.  Then I would pull myself up again and work even harder, and gain weight.  Never lose.

It’s difficult to maintain your energy, your motivation, and your will to even try when you see NO results.  I didn’t expect anything spectacular at any point.  Just that I would see some small progress.

Now my body is doing exactly what it should be doing when I reduce my daily calories for three days by about a thousand a day and get a total of two hours of exercise in that same time- shedding a couple of pounds.

This, my peoples, this is an incredible thing to me.

Can you imagine how amazing and strong my kicks could be if I wasn’t lugging around this extra 84 pounds?

My intention for this year is to get down to 200 pounds and get my blue belt in Kung Fu.  This year I actually have a chance of achieving that goal.

I’m going to finish my first novel this year too.  There is a contest going on between Penguin Books, Creative Space, and Amazon for a breakout novel and I’m going to enter it.  I have nothing to lose and it will at the very least start preparing me for the other thing I have to do this year: start querying publishers and literary agents.

I really truly deeply suck at making pitches so if anyone can coach me on that I will not say no to help.  I need to learn to make a fantastic pitch.  This is the equivalent of selling stuff and you all know my mad selling skills.

I know a lot of people have ideas about what they’re going to have accomplished by certain ages but I think that might be too much pressure.  There are no time limits on what you can accomplish in your life, except for death itself.  As long as you’re not dead you can achieve amazing things at almost any age.  I know people perceive time limits such as having to have children before the egg factory closes up, but if you really truly want children because you want them in your life you can adopt a child at almost any age provided you can show you can care for them.  You might want to become a marathon runner but then you aged and got rheumatoid arthritis, it’s not too late.  Did you know that?  You can race in wheel chairs.  You can do sports in wheel chairs.

My cousin Nick is a paraplegic from a snow boarding accident.  A lot of people would just give the hell up on themselves.  He was only in his early twenties.  The Christmas letter I got from my cousins this year had a picture of Nick skiing in his wheel chair.

For the person who is willing to let their desires change shape to fit with reality, there is no limit to what you can do.

Most unhappiness, I think, comes from expectations we develop about who we’re supposed to be, what we should be able to accomplish, and not being willing to find creative ways to fulfill our desires and dreams when life has changed us irrevocably.  I don’t believe in miracles.  I do believe in determination and flexibility.

Today is also my 18th wedding anniversary.  I am going to share with you all my number one tip for a good relationship:

Don’t keep score.  If you’re keeping score on hurts, insults, annoyances, inadequacies, arguments, bad decisions, or anything else- you’re relationship is corrosive.  You may not think so now, but it is and eventually it will either implode or slowly sicken you both with unhappiness.

So don’t do it.

Who said what or did what last year doesn’t matter.  If you care that much about who said what last year or last month or last week then you are stuck in a ditch and need to get the hell out.  Let go of it.  What matters is what YOU say or do next.  Those bad moments need to be dealt with within a very short period of time and then let go of.

If you keep bringing up how your spouse disappointed you in the past it’s like sticking a needle in their heart over and over.  You have not got over things and if you haven’t it means you haven’t got what you need from your spouse and that needs to be addressed.  If your spouse is incapable of giving you what you need, then you need to end the relationship.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of couples who keep score don’t ever really tell each other what they need in the first place.  Most people cannot read each other’s minds.  What I’ve noticed a lot of couples do is to drag their mutual baggage around for years and assume that if their spouse can’t SEE what the matter is without being told then they are just that much deeper in the shit-hole they’ve both spent so much time digging.

Score-keeping is toxic.

A lot of people do it.  A lot of couples I know do it.

Another thing is that it really does take two to make a relationship either good or bad.  If it’s good then it’s because both of you are working at it, maintaining it, and putting your best into it.  If it’s bad it’s both of you.  If you are constantly complaining about your spouse and every day are annoyed and finding them not living up to your standards then either your standards are for fictional people only, OR (and this is way more likely) you aren’t living up to theirs either.  If you are deeply unhappy with your marriage it is absolutely just as much your responsibility as theirs.  You contribute to it just the same.

The only situation in which I see anything even slightly skewed from what I have said above is in an abusive relationship.  But here the hard truth is hardest of all and always sounds unkind but the truth is that adults who are in abusive relationships and stay in them are contributing to that relationship as well.  Allowing someone to abuse you continually is giving them permission, it is being complicit.  Children have no power to leave abusive situations but adults do.  If you’re in an abusive situation then you have to get out.  And then you need to stop choosing abusive partnerships.  To be clear: I’m not saying there is ever a situation where a person DESERVES to be abused.  I am only saying that everyone is personally responsible for the relationship choices they make.  If you find you were mistaken in your partner and didn’t know they were abusive, you must get out.  Staying in the relationship will not fix the abuser and it will only further hurt yourself.  You most likely need therapy to work on your self esteem and to learn what a healthy relationship is.  But mostly you need to not stay because staying is being complicit with abuse.

I have learned a lot about maintaining a relationship and one of the biggest things I’ve learned and continue to work on all the time is looking at myself every time I point a finger at Philip.  I may be unhappy with something he’s done but a lot of the time there is something I’ve done that has contributed to a misunderstanding or a piece of unhappiness.  I have to be willing to honestly look at how I’m treating him all the time because what I do, how I treat him, and what kind of spouse I’m being is what I have the most control over.

Listening is also very very important.  Talking to each other.  And listening.

People say I’m lucky to have “found” Philip.  There really wasn’t a lot of luck involved so I always get annoyed.  Good partners don’t drop into your lap from the sky.  You have to be able to see a person beyond your hormonal reaction to them.  “Finding” a good partner is about recognizing one when you see one and going for it.

So I’m 41 and been married 18 years and have a 10 year old son and am writing the second draft of my first novel.

Plus I have a great right hook.

If I die today I will be happy with what I’ve accomplished and not worry about all the things I haven’t yet achieved like: being really rich, being published, living in Scotland, becoming a Canadian, keeping my house, getting my old pink house back, or being a black belt in Kung Fu.

Those are the things I will keep working at until my time runs out or I achieve them and have new goals and hopes.

I can’t know how this next year is going to unfold but I’m not scared.

What I Want and What I’m Doing About It

I am a fairly superstitious person for not actually believing in any god, godess, or power aside from the power of nature to continually reinvent itself according to changing conditions and stimuli.  I can honestly tell you I don’t believe in the evil eye.  I don’t.  It doesn’t exist.  Everything that’s meant to be happens.  Nothing that’s not meant to be ever happens.  Even so, there’s a peasant-like dogmatic aspect to my nature that still requires that I knock on wood when making certain statements or that I couch certain sentiments very carefully in order to not jinx myself.  I think it’s more about acknowledging my powerlessness and remaining humble rather than a belief that saying I want something out loud will result in me not getting it because there’s some perverse god or devilish eye who thinks I don’t deserve to have things I want.

(Whoa.  Sudden random completely unrelated thought just jumped into my head- what would happen if I went around my town dressed in a burka?  Would I get treated differently than I am as a misfit socialist?)

I have struggled not to be afraid of saying what I want out loud.  I have struggled to be comfortable saying it and knowing that if the opposite happens it isn’t personal.  I know it’s not.  I just struggle against the simple emotions that rule most humans and the fears that chance and circumstance can sometimes paint us with.

I struggle with it because the counterpart to that superstitiousness is the belief that if we don’t acknowledge what we want, we can never get it, that we have to say what we want and not be afraid of it because if we can’t even say it how will we begin to take steps to achieve it?  I believe that most of the time we get what we want because we set things in motion for it.  We put ourselves in the right place to get what we want, we go after it.

If you want to ride horses but you don’t have any of your own and can’t afford one then what do you do?  You save up money, you talk to people who have them, stables that rent them, friends of friends with horses, or you take on a job cleaning horse stables until you make it happen.  How do you not make it happen?  Horses don’t generally fall out of the sky into your lap, cause they’d kill you if they did.  You don’t make it happen if you keep that desire to ride horses secreted in your breast and go about your life exactly as you are, where there are no horses, and no connections being forged with people or businesses that deal in horses.

Of course, just because you want something and you put yourself out there and work towards it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it.  Maybe you’ll never have enough money to achieve the things you want that require money you don’t have.  Maybe you’ll never meet the right people to help you reach your desires.

And then sometimes we get close to achieving a desire only to find that it isn’t what we thought it would be up close and personal.  Maybe you get close to a 1500 pound beast with a wary eye as large as an apple and realize that bicycles are much more predictable and don’t bolt unexpectedly.  Still, you won’t ever know if you sit dreaming silently in your cocoon of self.

So I’ve been trying to say what I want more.  Not just what I want but what I intend,  what I’m going to work towards in those cases when what I want is something I can do something (anything) about.  I’m trying not to just say it in my head but out loud, and often.

I no longer say I want to publish novels.  I say I intend to publish my novels.  And it’s dangerously close to a statement that I have no control over and is possibly the sort of thing that will make me feel stupid if I die and haven’t achieved it.

I’m going to get my novels published.

That kind of hurts and scares me, as ridiculous as that sounds.  But it’s a lot better than listening to myself say things like this:

“When I publish my novel, IF I’m lucky enough to get it published, I plan to write more, provided people don’t hate it and I suck and it flops, which it totally might because you never know…”

Right there is the way to convince all literary agents and book publishers to steer wide of me.  If I can’t be certain enough of my own value, skill, and hard work, why should anyone else?  I’m a good writer.  I suck as a person in many ways, I stick my foot in my mouth at least once a day, I unwittingly constantly trudge over more delicate feelings than my own, and I’m a slob… but I can fucking write the Great Wall of China to ash!

(I’m looking for a giant god-like hand to smite me down…)

My secret card in all this is that I maintain a sense of humility* at all times.  I know a person can work towards one single goal their whole life and still not achieve it.

So I can either look back and wonder what might have happened if I’d had the confidence to say what I want and work tirelessly for it regardless of outcome and regret that I didn’t, or I can know that I have lived strongly and as confidently as possible and not been afraid of wishes and wants.

What about you?  What do you want?  What are you doing about it?  Have you said what you want out loud?

What I Want and What I’m Doing About It:

I want the bank to allow us to refinance so we don’t have to lose our home. Philip is the one working on this for us, resubmitting paperwork every single month.  He needs to get on making the follow-up calls regularly.  That’s all we can do.

I want to remain employed so we don’t end up on the streets. I’d like that employment to remain with my current employers unless someone else can pay me a million dollars a year to do something legal and not mean.  I try to be a good employee and I care about my work and I try to remember at all times that I’m playing with a team and act like it.

I want this year of parenting to be as awesome as last year was. Maintaining patience for who my son is and his challenges is very important, continuing to encourage the best in him and forgive the worst in him all helps a great deal to have a good parenting experience.  Not listening to criticisms from other parents nor listening to anyone who thinks ADD is a made up issue is very very important.  Parenting my kid used to be much more painful when I didn’t trust myself to know my kid and what issues are real issues.

I want to see my roses blooming again. Even if we lose the house I should be able to see them blooming once, at least a few of them.  It will help if I prune them this winter.  Since we won’t move until late spring/early summer if we lose the house, I’ll have my chance.  In addition to this, if we have to move then I have friends who will take my special roses, so I’ll see them again.

I want to lose fifty pounds now that I’m no longer on the medication that was making me gain 20 lbs a year. This has been a goal for years and was panic inducing since nothing I did made any difference.  I finally lost 20 pounds after getting off the Paxil, but since then I’ve put it on again.  This is NOT out of my control though, this time it has been all my doing and I’m really happy to know that now when I do what I should be doing to lose weight, it will actually happen.  So, to work towards this desire I am drawing up a simple plan for myself.

I want to reach a new level of physical strength and endurance. To do this I must keep training in Kung Fu with everything I’ve got.  Doing push-ups, crunches, kicks, etc not only in class but outside of it too.  This is a completely obtainable desire because I’ve already become much stronger in the last year.

I want to find a literary agent. This is a process that is not easy but what is necessary is to send out an endless stream of query letters after researching appropriate agents (ones who handle the kind of writing I do).  It’s time to start doing this this year.

I want to finish writing Cricket and Grey. To work towards this I have to become more disciplined with my time.  I need to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.  I need to put in two hours a day and I will absolutely reach this goal.

I want to be able to afford getting my teeth taken care of. This is a little less in my control.  We make a finite amount of money.  While we are waiting on the bank not paying our mortgage we have been paying down our taxes and this month those will be done.  We have to save a lot of money to move if the bank doesn’t let us refinance, but somehow we need to budget so I can get my teeth taken care of too.

I want to get all the pest situations under control (mice, fleas…and any other unpleasant pesty surprises waiting to blossom). Put more mouse traps out (Philip does this for me!) and apply more flea spray to carpet.

I want to be able to run again. Losing the weight will greatly aid in this endeavor.  The weight makes running hurt my joints like hell.  I have to slowly slowly train for this.  And carefully.  I believe that as I lose weight this will become easier and training for this will help me lose weight.  Win, win.

I want to get over my hysterical paralyzing anxiety about Twitter. Actually I wouldn’t care about it at all if it weren’t for the panel at the Blogher conference pounding it into my head that Twitter is an important tool for the modern author.  Must use Twitter.  To help get over it I just have to do it.  My friend Angela has tips for me to follow as soon as I swallow down my paralyzing hatred/panic of it.

I want Judy to come through her surgeries  better than she’s felt in years so she can go to Jamaica with Lars. (Update: sometimes wanting isn’t enough.  Judy died in surgery 12.28.10)  What I was going to do to try and help realize this was send Judy the family photo yearbook I was making in Blurb.  I was waiting until the end of December to finish it.  Judy loved loved loved Philip and, well, everyone.  I think it might have helped give her some joy to see what Philip and Max have been up to, and joy helps people stay/get better.  Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to do this one.  She told us she was at peace dying if she didn’t make it through surgery so I’m not so sad for her.  She’s really where she’s ready to be.  We loved you Judy!!

I want Lonnie to get through her cancer treatment feeling better than ever so her family can have a bazillion more years with her and so I can get to know her better. I had a plan for something for Lonnie for last year and never did it, obviously what I’m realizing now is that time is of the essence.  I can’t say what I have planned because Lonnie sometimes reads my blog.  Hang in there Lonnie- I know you have an awesome support group all around you in your family and friends!!!!!

Snow.  Lots of snow.  More snow.  3 feet of snow that doesn’t melt for weeks. There’s nothing I can do about this one.  I’d do a snow dance but I don’t believe in snow dances.  It’s all about what the earth is up to, what precipitation is happening at what temperatures at what altitudes.  All I can do is watch and wait and hope.

I want to become a blue belt in Kung Fu. I must push myself (safely) to improve all my actions.  Special emphasis on really getting the JKD lockflow down so I can move on to the Dynamic Lock Flow and get to where I can do the whole thing all the way through.  Once I do that I can work more on the technique.

No hospitalizations in our family. All we can do is be mindful and work at living more healthily all the time.

Healthy animal family members! They’ve all got their shots now and we’re working on the flea situation that got out of control.  Next we should work on Pippa’s weight a little.  I refuse to make her be a skinny kitty because I don’t think that’s natural for her but she needs to slim a bit and NOT gain.  Chick needs more exercise.

To visit my old hens.  Even just once. Just have to ask the Jaillet’s permission and plan a little trip.  I’m sure Sheila and Andre wouldn’t mind letting us visit them once.

*Anyone who believes otherwise, because I write a blog (considered by some critics to be an act of narcissism) is seeing the very limited surface view and is most likely a person who isn’t particularly sharp witted.  That’s all the time I have for such people.