When it hurts so good: a healthy dose of self-denial

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Habits: These good, bad and ugly boys wrestle with my will on the daily. Some studies say it takes three weeks to enforce a habit. For me, it can also take less than 30 seconds to unravel the best of intentions. Real talk: I have a few bad habits I can no longer ignore, deny or continue to associate with. Not too long ago, I believed it simply required a matter of mindful choices. However, I’ve noticed, of late, that once I engage in an undesirable habit (or three), I’ve set myself up for failure. In other words, the snowball effect takes over of its own accord. The same can be true at the opposite end of the spectrum: If I employ a habit that benefits mind, body and/or spirit, I’ve prepped for success and smooth(er) sailing ensues. It’s more than a decision to act a certain way. It’s a commitment to replace self-defeat with self-love—and a healthy dose of self-denial.

What habit(s) do you wrestle with?

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Visualize it to become it

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I teeter on the edge—close to abandoning my passion once again. But in the quiet of morning—that fuzzy space when daybreak balances in the silence—my husband’s body presses against mine, his arm draped over me. Sheets askew, strips of sunlight strain to penetrate the shutter seams. And his mouth brushes my hair as he speaks: I haven’t seen you write lately. It isn’t how these words string together to form meaning. It’s what he doesn’t say: I notice you; there’s something missing. As I often do with my hopes—my feelings—I tamp them down; the ashes turn cold from neglect. Yet even though I pretend I’m okay, that I’m happy, soon the need to seek solitude and inspiration along the mountain trails will become a tangible draw. But it’s now that I see a glimmer among the dust motes: the spark of resolve as it ignites. I visualize myself as a successful writer. A published novelist. I’m back.

What do you need to visualize?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Straight talk about the small stuff: don’t sweat it

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I possess little patience for complainers although, admittedly, complaints come far too easy for me. Yet, if you say it’s too hot—and you live in Minnesota where winters last forever or you live in Arizona where, you know, it’s a desert—I will likely show little to no sympathy. #SorryNotSorry. This has become larger than life over the past couple of weeks as I watched a dear and beautiful friend of nearly two decades lose her fight against cancer. As I embraced a husband who prepared to say goodbye to his bride of 22 years. While I hugged a daughter about to lose her mother and a best friend about to lose her confidante. Several years ago, I, myself, walked through the shadow of the valley of death—the days and months following my husband’s near-fatal car accident. But, once life resumed an air of normality, it was easy to forget how unimportant the little things are. Let’s try not to.

Do you sweat the small stuff?

Photo source: http://www.peacetothepeople.com.

PSA: If you think it can’t happen to you, think again

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14 years ago, my daughter and I waited for her dad to return home from work and join us on a bike ride. Instead, a police officer rang our doorbell to inform us that my husband’s vehicle had been T-boned by a drunk driver. Paramedics completed fatality paperwork on scene—just in case. Emergency personnel used the Jaws of Life to extricate him from the wreckage. And he flew in a helicopter to a Level 1 trauma hospital where the head of OR performed surgery. My husband sustained a ruptured spleen, cracked ribs, a displaced clavicle, crushed hip, collapsed lung, lacerations, contusions and a diffuse TBI. He spent 59 days in the hospital—which included a medicated coma for 17 days and five weeks of inpatient therapy to relearn how to feed himself and to write and walk—followed by two months of outpatient therapy. Six months post-accident, he returned to work full time. But our lives were forever changed. Make the right choice: Don’t drink and drive.

Photo courtesy of Chandler Police Department.

Love without condition: begin with yourself

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Today I asked my body what she needed,
Which is a big deal
Considering my journey of
Not really asking that much.

I thought she might need more water.
Or protein.
Or greens.
Or yoga.
Or supplements.
Or movement.

But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks,
Her roundness where I would like flatness,
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditioned wishes
That form a bundle of
Never-Quite-Right-Ness,
She whispered very gently:

Could you just love me like this?
~ Hollie Holden

I read this poem while scrolling through Facebook and tears welled quickly. For more than a half century, I’ve wrestled with the “bundle of never-quite-right-ness.” When I first joined ‘Club 50,’ I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin, as long as I practiced mindfulness. But what if I could love myself without condition? After all, if I love others this way, then I owe myself the same consideration. And grace.

What do you ask of yourself?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

We all reside here: hanging in the balance

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Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. What shall we do with this gift? For some, #thestruggleisreal and their days hang in the balance as they fight for their next breath. While others grieve, strive, win some, lose some, laugh on the outside, cry on the inside. Continue to repeat the same mistakes. Yet, when we break it down, we all reside in a similar place: each of us shares the same 24 hours. And our days are numbered. What if we acted like it? Was that argument I had with my daughter yesterday afternoon worth it? Would she remember the last words I spoke, albeit in anger: “Drive safe”—or, rather, would she remember the sound of the phone line going dead with no goodbye? It’s so easy to forget that our words, our actions, oftentimes leave lifelong imprints on others’ hearts. When we can be anything at all, let’s use our gift to be kind.

How will you use your gift today?

Photo source: http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au.

Feed yourself good stuff

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Feed yourself good stuff

More than a week ago my husband and I hit the road. In under three hours behind the wheel, we exchanged our busy, commitment-rattled lives for a slower pace—the surge of a Northern Arizona canyon creek our white noise for a full week. He fished. I wrote. We hiked. A lot. We practiced yoga each morning in front of our cabin’s picture window—the view, beyond, a veritable canopy of leaves and needles and bark. Dappled sunlight. Two bird houses swaying in the gentle breeze. We played games; cooked hearty meals in our compact kitchen; ventured into town on a whim. Read books. Took walks at dusk. Slept with the windows opened and woke without alarms. We savored thunderstorms that rolled through the canyon and cooled the air with rich, earthy scents. And I was reminded that healing takes place when we feed ourselves good stuff. Sometimes all it requires is an open road and a date with Mother Nature.

How do you feed yourself good stuff?

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