I think we should consider rewards investments. When we reward ourselves for a job well done or for not giving up or for going the extra mile, we’re not just giving ourselves some kind of two-bit prize, we’re investing in the change that we’ve made.
On April 1, you start a 30 day workout challenge and complete it. On April 28th, you take up running like a Viking and start logging a half marathon every week. Sure, it takes you four days a week to complete the half marathon, but you’re still doing it. In May, you take on another challenge. The same with June, July, and August. You continue running regardless of your location –at home, in Portland, while away at school for two weeks. You get so involved, you find an adorable running partner (in addition to your furry friend who can lap you easily).
In August, you add in changing your eating habits. You count carbs, work on portion control, and generally carry around a wooden cross and cloves of garlic to ward off any and all sugary temptations –of which there are quite a lot. You drink gallons of water, purposefully find reasons to take extra steps, rework your schedule to fit in 30-40 minute workouts every morning…all before you get on your bike and pedal 3 miles to work.
And don’t forget you go home after work –that’s another 3 miles.
Through all of these changes and additional physical exercise, you continue to go to work each day, because you know, you like to pay the bills or whatever. You take on extra work in a field you love. You do your homework because that’s the only way they’ll give you the degree –you’re pretty amazing, but there won’t be an honorary degree for you.
Have there been any rewards through all of this? Sure. The sun’s been out quite a bit, so there’s the Vitamin D, the golden brown skin, the fresh air. Your clothes fit better (score!) and you’re having a blast making some friends in the challenges. Your adorable little running buddy puts a smile on your face and you love spending time with that puppy, who has finally learned how to run without tripping you.
And you can’t not want to spell out the rewards like Monica did after she lost all the weight:
“Sure, I look good and I feel good and my heart’s not in trouble anymore. Blah, blah, blah.”
But sometimes you need a little bit more. A little bit more than just new running shoes or new workout gear. Yes, that stuff is great and you’re rocking your new gym-babe look, but what about the you that’s tired and occasionally wishes for a day of near comatose sleep that comes with a side of pizza and real ice cream? Not that faux stuff you created out of a serving of Greek yogurt topped with frozen berries and the tiniest drop of honey.
Yeah, I feel you. Because that’s where I’m at right now. I’m five months into this journey and I’ve hit a wall of tired. Yet I don’t want to give up. I can’t give up. Giving up is worse than the tired.
So, I’m going to reward myself for working this hard. I’m going to invest in myself, my future, and the next 5 months of this journey.
Two days from now, I’m going to buy: a gorgeous red dress, a travel blender (for protein drinks when I travel), a spiralizer (because those look fun and I want to try zoodles), a healthy cookbook (go #21dayfix and Fixate), and some new tops.
You thought I was going to reward myself with ice cream and pizza didn’t you? Believe me, I considered t.
Those things will be my reward and my investment in me. Because I’m working hard and have more work to do. Because being tired will pass. Because the long dark days of winter will come and they’ll go. Because the sore muscles will get stronger. Because I only get one body in this crazy life.
Because I am worth taking care of. I am worth the investment.
And so are you.
I’m completely distracted.
Since I signed up for www.whoirun4.com I am distracted. Yesterday I ran four miles instead of the usual three because I was thinking about my future buddy. I’m sixteenth on the list for getting matched; much closer to a match than before because I switched to run for a sibling on Sunday night. Oftentimes siblings of a medically fragile child feel left out due to the amount of attention needed for their sibling. The whoirun4 group refers to these siblings as the “unsung heroes” and frankly, I couldn’t wait to be matched. My heart overflows every time I scroll through my newsfeed and see the positive, loving posts from runners and buddies.
Maybe it’s impatience on my part for switching. Though when I was debating switching, I had a vivid childhood memory of my own time as a sibling to a medically fragile sister (she did recover from her illness, but it was a long two years for me as a three year old) and I knew I had to make the switch. But I’m down to number sixteenth as opposed to somewhere in the mid two-thousands on the waitlist. And I just can’t wait to be matched.
I’ve been trying to figure out why this movement is speaking to me so strongly and I don’t really have an answer. This morning, as I scrolled past all the other posts in my newsfeed to read carefully all the runner/buddy ones, it occurred to me that the one constant in the runner/buddy posts is love, encouragement, kindness, happiness, joy, appreciation.
Okay, there are a lot of constants.
It’s possible that’s what’s speaking to me. These posts aren’t about politics, Facebook games, to-do lists, or complaints about work. They’re about real people doing things for real people out of the kindness of their hearts. Not that I’m trying to dictate what people should post about, after all, it’s your wall, do what you will with it. I know I do with mine.
I think it’s just refreshing to see such an outpouring of love in a world so full of hate and anger.
I’ve been telling others about this group. If they go for it, great. If they don’t, that’s fine too. All I know, is I’m number sixteen on the waitlist and I have a feeling this experience is going to change me. And not just physically.
After a few days of thinking it over, I did it. I joined www.whoirun4.com. I struggled with the decision. I wanted to join, but let’s face it –I’ve been burned so many times by “friends” that the thought of putting myself out there wasn’t that appealing. I mean, I wanted to and I didn’t want to.
But I couldn’t get the thought out of my head.
I wasn’t thinking so much about the possibility of friendship or relationship building. Introverts like myself don’t really need that much interaction anyway. I was thinking about the bigger picture…the picture I’ve never given much thought to before.
I can run.
And there are some people out there who can’t.
I mean, I’ve known that before, but this time I started to know it in my heart.
Then I got thinking about how I would feel if I couldn’t run or walk or jump or move.
Then all I could think about was how blessed I am.
So I signed up.
I still run for me. For my health, for strength, for opportunities to have “me” time, to think about my writing, and for time with my silly puppy.
But yesterday, when I went running after I signed up for whoIrun4.com, my mind wasn’t on getting stronger or slimming down or losing a pound. My heart was on the buddy I’m going to be matched with and the thousands of runner/buddy matches that already exist.
I was running for a whole other reason.
And it felt good.
When I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, it was a blessing to see the support, encouragement, and love being shared. It was by far the epitome of human kindness.
I don’t have a buddy yet. The wait list is incredibly long. So until I get matched, Omar and I will keep running in anticipation of our buddy.
I’m told it’s worth the wait.
This morning I’m awake (barely) with one question on my mind. Okay two questions.
The second question is a given, right? Who doesn’t want to take the day off and nap? It is Monday after all. Besides, if you’re sleep tracking for the previous night looks anything like this, it’s no wonder you want to stay home and nap.
Now for another question: Do you love your Fitbit as much as I do? The Alta is so fun. Except for maybe the incessant tapping. That’s a little odd. And the colorful band choices? Yeah, I want the pink one.
Who wants to be Fitbit buddies?
Okay, back on track. Question one: why do I bother?
Do you ever feel this way?
This has been on my mind since yesterday and here’s why.
I did my usual three mile run yesterday. When I’m on my three mile route, I go up to the airport and say hi to my handsome husband. Then after a quick water break, Omar and I head back home.
And twice during my running, I’ve added in one other thing.
I jump on the scale (that’s supposedly calibrated by the government or something).
The first time I did it, I was pleased to see I was down two pounds. Not that weight is everything, but you know, when you need to lose a few pounds, you need to lose it. Just reality.
Well, yesterday when I went running, I decided to weigh myself again. It had been a few weeks since the last time and all the exercise had to be paying off, right?
Up three pounds. Three! As of yesterday, I’m officially one pound heavier than I was when I started running!
I was annoyed. Still am a little bit.
But I put on a smile, turned up my music, and ran home. What other choice did I have?
I tried not to let it bother me and went about my day as I tried to focus on why I took up running in the first place, which had nothing to do with losing weight. I actually started it so that I wasn’t so bored on Sunday afternoons and I figured it would tire me out enough to help me sleep better.
Yeah. Sleep better.
Did you take a look at the amount of times I was awake last night compared to the amount of time I spent sleeping restfully? Yeah, last night has been the worst night sleep I’ve had since tracking my zzz’s, but let me tell you, the nights before it –not much better. I’m averaging about four and a half hours of sleep a night.
Is it any wonder I ask the question: why bother?
Running thirteen miles a week isn’t helping me sleep. The added bonus of a little weight lost hasn’t happened.
Then I started thinking about how I feel when I run.
Stronger. Braver. Healthier.
And I started thinking about what it does for me.
Keeps me from being bored. Gives me some good “mental” writing time. It gives me opportunity to exercise my dog.
Would I like to sleep a solid eight hours? Absolutely. Would I like to be a svelte 115? Sure. I’d be up for a svelte 120.
But are those the only reasons I run? No.
It makes me think about writing.
Yesterday my husband asked me how many reviews on Amazon I have for my novel Soaring Alone.
My response: only seven.
He encouraged me as usual. I responded by immediate feelings of irritability. After all, seven reviews aren’t going to make the book a bestseller.
Yet, I have to ask myself: is being a bestseller the only reason I write?
If I’m being completely honest: is being published the only reason I write?
The answer to both questions is no.
Would it be nice if my book was a bestseller? Of course. An international bestseller…even better. But those things and being published are bonuses. Just like good sleep and weight loss.
I write because I enjoy it. It’s cathartic. It’s fun. I like playing with words. Everything else is cake.
Man, I’d like a piece of cake. Have you tried Jewish Coffee Cake? I baked one yesterday and it is hands down, the best coffee cake I’ve ever eaten.
Anyway, all that to say this: if you find yourself getting discouraged about the way things are going, ask yourself: why I do bother.
Then, if the outcome is anything like I experienced this weekend, keep doing what you’re doing and enjoy it. Remember, everything else is simply a bonus.
Oh…and make this cake. It really is good.
A couple things that occurred to me today about paradigm shifts and discipline.
Have you ever had people in your life who reach out to you one out of three hundred and sixty five days? Usually on or around your birthday or a major holiday, these people will send a quick “thinking of you” text that has a small window of opportunity in which you can respond and start a dialogue. Shocking, I know. Do you know these people? Have one or a slew of them in your life? I have a few. Typically, the day after I hear from one of them, I get this awful feeling inside. It’s a combination of guilt and shame that I don’t understand because as far as I know I haven’t done anything wrong! But the feeling is there gumming up my usually cheerful demeanor.
This morning, I mulled over a recent interaction I had with a couple of folks. Why did I feel bad? How was it that these people who have nothing to do with me all year long end up having such a hold over me? It’s not like they said anything to upset me.
Them: Hope you’re having a special day. I hope I didn’t wake you.
Me: I’m well thanks. No you didn’t. It’s evening here.
See how I did that? I was polite. I assured them they hadn’t woken me from a sound (and rare) sleep. I even gave them information about the time zone I was in. It was the perfect opportunity to have a conversation.
But nothing happened. Let me rephrase that. Nothing new happened. We’ve had these kinds of exchanges before. Nothing mean is ever said, it’s the silence that hurts.
Today it hit me. I don’t get upset because of anything the person has said, I get upset because once again I’ve gotten my hopes up that this time, this text will lead somewhere. Bridges will be rebuilt, relationships will be restored, and this will be it.
And every time I get my hopes up, nothing changes. The conversation (albeit it short) ends abruptly as soon as I respond to the initiating text. Every. Single. Time. Then, I end up feeling bad and sad and ashamed of myself because why, oh why do these people hate me? What have I done to make them stop talking to me as quickly as they’ve started? Every. Single. Time.
Today though, I experienced a paradigm shift.
I don’t need to get my hopes up.
Do I want things to change? Absolutely. That would be divine. But, I don’t need to continue wasting good, positive vibes on people who have no interest in changing. So here’s how I handled it today.
I stopped feeling guilty and ashamed.
I stopped fretting about why these people have zero interest in having a relationship with me.
I reminded myself that I responded to the text which means I still believe in doing my part in forgiving, moving on, loving, and all that mushy stuff.
I reminded myself that I can rest easy knowing I didn’t respond with bitterness or anger but that I spoke with kindness.
Because if three hundred and sixty-four days from now a new text doesn’t come, I’ll know my last words were nice ones that opened the door to a possible friendship.
The other thing I learned today is that it’s all about discipline and that discipline can be implemented in many parts of my life. I just have to be purposeful about it.
For over a month now, I’ve been a runner. I’ve worked up to running four times a week and love it. Some days I love it more than others, but it’s for me. It’s for my health, for me to have time exercising my puppy, for my longevity. It’s good for me.
Two days ago, I decided to incorporate discipline into my education. Homework in the morning, in the afternoon at lunch, and again in the evening. It doesn’t have to be much –an hour here, an hour there. The point is I have to be purposeful about it. I have to set alarms, pencil it into the calendar, and make myself do the work.
Do I enjoy it every time? No. Sometimes the assignments are hard and frustrating. Sometimes I make mistakes in my homework. Big deal. I’m not perfect. I’m not a robot. And sometimes things are hard.
What is a big deal?
That I’m doing it. That I’m making the effort. That sometimes I write something that’s good or I learn something that’s new and will make me a better writer.
These are things that matter. I can rest easy tonight knowing I did my best with people and with my education.
Paradigm shifts and discipline, these are what made my day today.
What about you? Any monumental musings or even small accomplishments? Be proud of what you’ve done and try again tomorrow.
It's late the night before my 40th birthday and I'm lying awake watching FRIENDS reruns. They never get old, unlike...well, I don't feel old so I'll refrain from finishing that sentence and bumming myself out.
Life is good. Family, education, career -yes I've got it all. Are there times when I experience the cold chill of insecurity and regret? Yes to the former. As for the latter, the only thing I wish I'd done differently is start running a long time ago as opposed to just last month. But I figure if that's my one regret, I'm doing okay.
Usually I like to make big plans for the coming year. Start new projects, go on incredible adventures. This year though, I think it's going to be about patience and not trying to get too far ahead of myself. I'm in the "stay in school, don't rush things" phase of my world. Not a bad thing -especially if I can still squeeze in some great adventures.
Patience is is for parenting, writing the dreaded middles, and working toward an MFA degree. Patience is for personal growth and determination. It's for not giving up and finding yourself, once and for all, at forty.
What at do you need patience for? Are you embarking on an uncharted life journey? Tell me about it and let's support one another in the process. We've got this.
I’m a writer. And a pretty good one, I think. I’ve been told I do alright anyway. Yet here I am, another morning, feeling like a fraud.
I’m enrolled in an MFA program.
Does that explain my feeling of displacement? If not, let me expand on the idea with ten reasons why the deception of my role in this program feels so real.
There you have it. My truth about being an MFA student. I’d say more, but there isn’t much to add here -except that I've always wanted to get an MFA. I cried when I found out I was accepted. I stand in awe of the professors when I am around them or get feedback from them. I truly feel blessed to be part of such a unique experience. Besides, I have a short story to read and decipher as well as a critique to revise.
Do you have an MFA? Are you pursuing one? If not, I have to say it’s an excellent way to challenge yourself and discover who you really are, especially if you’re a reader and a writer.
If you’re not working toward an MFA, are you (or have you ever) pursued something where you felt like a fake? What about that undertaking made you feel like you didn’t belong?
When I spoke to the sleep study doctor on the phone because I had gotten desperate about sleeping through the night and he asked if I was depressed or anxious, I decided not to make an appointment. I didn’t want a pill for something that I didn’t have. I wanted to know why I wasn’t sleeping and then I wanted it fixed. For good.
That doctor didn’t seem to have a good plan in mind. In fact, he actually told me he didn’t know why I was having such strange symptoms.
I started running in late April. The first week and a half, I ran two different days, 3 miles each time. It hurt. I had to force myself off the couch, down the stairs, and make myself get dressed and out the door.
I didn’t feel strong either time. I felt winded and achy. I felt frustrated because it was so darn hard.
When you have lived a sedentary lifestyle, it shouldn’t be a surprise that running will exhaust you to the point of falling into bed as soon as you get home and shower the sweat off your body. I slept hard –even on the days I didn’t run. Those nights were pure bliss.
With a couple nights of good sleep, I decided I’d do things my way. I decided to keep running.
In an effort to not set myself up for failure, I chose what I thought was a reasonable schedule. I would run four times a week. I spaced out the days just so on the calendar and told my husband what I was doing. He told me he’d support me from the house as running isn’t his game. That was fine with me. I had my puppy Omar to keep me company.
Despite the physical aches that came with this new activity, I was sleeping better…and then something else changed.
I felt strong.
Free from the constraints of the world, of time, and the opinions of others.
Free from ordinary expectations and regular life.
Free from limitations set by others and myself.
Free to be a stronger version of myself.
Free to be confident and bold in my decisions as well as my mistakes.
And with that freedom, the aches and frustrations of running dissipated. I discovered that I look forward to my time to run. With earbuds in my ears and my trusty four-legged sidekick, at times I want to dance as I head down the street singing a somewhat winded and off-key rendition of whatever song is on my playlist.
The entire experience is bliss.
On the days I don’t run, I find myself planning the next day’s route and mulling over how I can challenge myself or counting up the miles to see when I’ll need a new pair of running shoes.
I also find that on the days I don’t run, I don’t care for sitting around on the sofa watching television. I do a little more housecleaning and sewing and reading. I take internal inventory of what project I want to work on and identify steps on how I’ll get it done.
I haven’t been tired due to sleeplessness in almost a month. I have more energy, smile more, and feel stronger than ever.
The Bible says: The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. But He has come that you might have life and have it more abundantly. (Paraphrased John 10:10)
How wonderful is that? And now that I’m meeting Him on the road, life is definitely much more abundant for me.
Yesterday I really pushed myself. I did day 5 of a 15 day workout and then ran 5.82 miles. With a few modifications in the workout and a bit of walking during the run, I did it. And emotionally, I felt great. Physically I felt stronger.
Until the pain in my right ankle became more intense.
Based on the research I’ve done, I strained my right Achilles’ tendon. And it hurts. A lot.
I’ve been limping around the house while on grandson duty. I made bottles, fed, burped, and changed him. I cooked dinner and cleaned the kitchen. I even washed, dried, and put away a load of laundry. It was a full Sunday.
As I contemplated how this dull pain was going to impact the rest of this week’s physical activity, something happened that I hadn’t expected.
I didn’t get down about it.
In the past, if something like this had happened during a time when I was trying to enjoy a new hobby, I would have gotten discouraged. I would have given up on my plan to get strong and physically fit.
How many times have I given up on eating healthy because I ended up eating a cupcake? More than I can count.
Yet as I hobbled around the house pondering what my next few days would consist of, my perspective on things was different. I accepted the fact that I’m injured. I read up on how to manage the pain and how to ease back into my activities. I was disappointed but not defeated when I read that it may take up to eight weeks to get back to running.
Today, I woke up with the same pain in my ankle. It hadn’t miraculously healed during the night. So I decided to take a full rest day –no workout. It’s already my rest day from running, so no problem there. Since I’m already working from home this morning (still on grandson duty); I’m even debating working all day from home and just keeping my leg elevated and iced.
I work out to take care of myself. I run because I enjoy the challenge and the high that comes with it. I enjoy the time I have for me.
This injury is slowing me down a little, but it’s not going to stop me.
There will always be things in life that slow us down a little.
The rejection letter.
A less than stellar grade.
The relationship that ends.
Downsizing at the office.
These things happen. They slow us down, but they don’t have to stop us.
It’s that time of year again. The school house is emptying as teachers put the “teacher is not in” sign up on the door. The books are filed away for another year. Desks are emptied out as students find that elusive book report they never did get credit for, crammed amongst their trinkets and half chewed pencils. Backpacks are filled with everything the kids have stored in the classroom, no ready to be taken home for the parents to sort through and discard as necessary.
The weather has finally figured out its temperament and is staying steady in the high seventies. Any day now the public pools will open, parents will slather their offspring with sunscreen, and position the arm floaties just so in order to keep the kidlets upright in the water.
And we all know what this means for writers.
Summer has come and we must find time to write!
If you’re a writer reading this, relax. I’ve got ten tips on how you can keep writing all through the summer. Some of them might be a bit more creative than you’d like when it comes to your consistent ‘write-during-the-school-hours’ schedule you keep nine months out of the year. You may still find yourself perusing the various school districts searching for the one that just started year round schooling. But remember, even those districts take time off.
What you need to do is fit the summer schedule into your writing schedule.
Not the other way around.
It really can be done. It just takes some determination, creativity (which we know you have!), and planning. –If you’re not usually a planner, you can read more about how to plan for your writing here.
Tip One: While the kids sleep in, you get up early. Set the coffee pot timer (if you don’t have a coffee pot that can do this, I urge you to go out and get one. I got mine on Amazon. It has been a lifesaver. Programmable coffee pots let you get up to coffee freshly made. It’s a miracle. Once out of bed, sneak quietly to your writing spot and get some words in before the kids wake up!
Tip Two: Be willing to relocate your writing spot. This is helpful for all the places you have to go during the summer. What’s that Dr. Seuss book line? “Oh the places you will go”… For the mobile writer, you must be able to get those creative juices flowing regardless of your location. So, you’ll need the following things:
Laptop (or notebook and writing utensil)
A lap desk –these are amazing feats of engineering and rather inexpensive.
An insulated travel mug –whether you like your coffee hot or cold in the summer, this will come in handy.
A plethora of ideas (to write about, of course)
Tip Three: Utilize your surroundings. If you’re anything like I used to be, you find it challenging to write about anything unless you are tucked away in your designated writing space without any interruptions. But I’ve learned over the years that being in a new environment can really get those ideas coursing through my brain. When you’re out and about and have a few minutes to write, choose something (or someone) in your line of sight. Write about it (or him or her or them) for ten minutes. Even if you never use that bit of creativity for anything, it gets your brain percolating and can help you get into the zone.
Tip Four: So you need ten minutes to write, but all the kids are home. They want food and for you to entertain them for hours on end. What do you do? Implement daily movie time. It doesn’t have to be a full two hour movie; it can even be a half hour television show. Sit with them. Pop popcorn for snacking. And pull out your notebook to write while the show is on. If they ask what you’re doing or accuse you of not paying attention, let them know you’re taking notes on the elements of the production. They can join you if they want, but they can’t stop you from doing it. And voila! You’re guaranteed to produce at minimum thirty minutes of solid writing!
Tip Five: Rotate the play date responsibility. *Note: this typically works for writers who have a reasonable number of kids or are willing to separate their litter into small groups.* Find a responsible friend who has kids at or around your kids’ age(s). Schedule a rotating weekly play date or two. On the days your kids go to his/her house, hole up in your writing studio and crank out the words. Reminder: this will only work if you keep to the writing time. No running errands during these allotted play date arrangements. Those errands will be there long after you’re published.
Tip Six: Change your routine. If waking up early during the summer isn’t your cup of tea, morph into the kids’ routine. Do you have night owls for kids? Proclaim the late evening/night hours to be “quiet time” or “independent video game time” or some such thing and at the appointed time, march everyone off to their respective rooms to wind down for the night. You can march yourself off to your room or writing studio and get some words written. Don’t worry about being tired the next day; you’ll all sleep until noon anyway.
Tip Seven: Volunteer to be the co-captain on all family road trips. If you’re not doing the driving, you can write from the passenger seat. Just don’t forget to take your lap desk.
Tip Eight: Participate in the summer library programs with your kids! You can write in the delicious quiet of the library while your kids go to story time or use the internet or read books. As a reward, you can check out books to read later too. It’s a total win-win situation.
Tip Nine: Collaborate with your family on individual summer goals. Maybe your nine year old wants to improve her swim skills. Or your teenager wants to get a summer job. Sit down with your family and discuss those summer goals. While doing so, be sure to share with them your summer writing goals. Maybe you want to do July Camp Nano or you want to finally get that full first draft written. Tell them about it. Support one another and set up a homemade sticker chart to track each other’s’ progress. Then, when you all reach your goals, plan a family bar-b-que to celebrate.
Tip Ten: Change your writing schedule. If absolutely necessary and you are unable to fit your family’s summer schedule around your writing schedule, be willing to change your writing schedule. Family time is essential. It’s a blessed and wonderful thing. It’s okay to modify your writing time or even reduce it to three days a week instead of seven. Don’t feel guilty for making modifications that work well for you and your family. The ideas will be there when school starts again.
Other random, potential ideas for guarding the writing time throughout the summer:
Now get out there and write!