F is for free time

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

There was one day last week where the left side of my Franklin was penciled in from 5:30 in the morning until 7:00 at night, after which I simply wrote free in big bold letters (and which ended up being filled with dinner and a movie).  The next day I woke up to an almost blank page.  For some people an open day may elicit excitement, but not for me.  I need that security blanket of knowing what to do and when.  But I’ve also learned my Franklin is more like a guideline and that it’s okay for me to deviate from the list. After sitting at the patio table that morning and writing for a bit, I pulled out my planner and jotted in my day, including some more free time.  It helps to know I can thoroughly immerse myself in my daily tasks, and eventually receive the earned reward of time to do whatever it is my heart desires.  This is one of my ideas for eliminating stress.  Of course the real test will be keeping a flexible schedule on my upcoming travels.  Wish me luck!

Is your to-do list a loose guideline or set in stone?

Finding the positive amid the setbacks

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[Image credit: pal2iyawit]

It was the end of January when I sprained my ankle, cutting off my plans to run in my first marathon and train for a triathlon.  Right around that time, I also started suffering with abdominal issues.  Between these two setbacks, my gym time has ebbed and flowed.  Some weeks I’m able to show up every day, barely limping in, while others I stay in bed with my good intentions.  One morning my trainer pointed out my weight loss and diminishing muscle mass.  But over the past few weeks, I feel like I just may be back in the game.  Not ready to run a marathon or enter any fitness competitions, but my endurance is improving, my muscles are becoming stronger and dare I say it … I’m filled with optimism for healthier days ahead.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the first half of this year, it’s to appreciate every day — each moment — I feel strong and healthy.  And to understand how quickly that can change.

Where have you found the good amid your setbacks?

Coping with stress

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.
~ Hans Selye

Referring to my post It’s all in my head … or is it? and the need to eliminate the stress-causing elements in my life, I’m feeling stressed just thinking about it.  For one, it will require some big changes that I’m not sure I’m up for.  In the meantime, one of my best girlfriends told me I need to rest, heal and trust.  I wrote these words on a post-it note which I keep transferring to each new day in my Franklin.  And before I plan on making any life-altering decisions, I’m going to try something first.  Although it hasn’t worked in the past, knowing it may improve my health is a strong impetus for me to try harder.  The idea is to step out in confidence with my actions, in anticipation that my feelings will catch up.  While this should result in less stress, maybe it’s also a way to hang on to my hope for Someday.  Or perhaps it will change the outcome of my future altogether.

What is the secret to eliminating stress from your life?

A belated celebration

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[Image credit: nuttakit]

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~ Gloria Naylor

For the past three years since my mom passed away, I’ve made a concerted effort to get back home to spend the holiday with my dad.  This year, however, my work scheduled prevented long distance travel over the weekend.  Although, he’ll no doubt have my three sisters with him, it is still hard for me to forego his special day.  I still plan to call him to hear his voice, and in just a few days we’ll have our own face-to-face belated celebration.  But belated or not, as long as I make the most of the time we do share when we’re together, it’s like one big party.  Thankfully, this was one of those instances I made a decision and stuck to it, because it turns out life has gotten a bit crazier.  I think had I not booked my travel arrangements well in advance, there might never have been a good time to “get out of Dodge.”  With that said, Happy Father’s Day to all the Daddies out there.  Enjoy.

Do you avoid making plans simply because there isn’t a good time?

B is for blog

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[Image credit: Theeradech Sanin]

The first step in blogging is not writing them but reading them. ~ Jeff Jarvis

My big sister emailed me last week and mentioned I had already written 161 blog posts.  One of my goals for the New Year was to post each day, and although a few haven’t cleared until after midnight in some parts of the world, I’ve faithfully stuck to my resolution.  With a half-year left and around 200 more to go, I’m already thinking about 2013.  At this point, I don’t know that I’ll commit to another blog-a-day, but rather focus on my other writing endeavors, while checking in occasionally and following fellow bloggers.  Blogging daily has been a great way to discipline myself, however.  Although no one else keeps track (except maybe my sister), I like the regular deadline and feeling of accountability.  It also forces me to be more observant, dig deep into my well of ideas and step outside my comfort zone.  Plus, it helps me work things out in print.  For now I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, and in 200 odd days, maybe I won’t just be a little bit older, I’ll be a little bit wiser.

Is there a goal you made for 2012 that you’ve kept up with?

It’s all in my head … or is it?

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[Image credit: luigi diamanti]

Over a week after undergoing my most recent diagnostic test to get to the “bottom” of my digestive issues (and more), I learned the findings were unremarkable and insignificant.  With the addition of my normal test results, I felt a bit of an inferiority complex setting in.  Either my symptoms are “all in my head,” or they really aren’t worth talking about.  I did stop taking a couple of herbal supplements over the past few weeks, which alleviated my most severe symptoms.  Periodically, I still experience bouts of pain and discomfort, but I’ve been contemplating the possibility it may be stress-related. Not only did a physician of mine suggest it, but it’s the top cause of one diagnosis.  If that’s the case, it’s time for me to start removing stressors in my life — as I did with the supplements —even those things that seem good for me on the surface.  My biggest problem is in knowing which stressor to eliminate first.

Is there something you know causes you illness or stress, but you just can’t let go?

Grammar Lesson #11: you and I/me, what’s the big deal?

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

I’m not going to lie: the improper use of the pronouns me and I causes me to cringe.  Not as much as the plural-apostrophe debacle (please, please don’t use apostrophes to denote more than one of something), but it ranks pretty high on my irritation scale.  Here are some rules to help you — and me — get it right.

  • Use the pronoun I, along with other subjective pronouns like she, you, they, we and he when the pronoun is the subject of a verb.  For example:
    • He ate bacon.
    • We went shelling.
    • Lisa and I are driving to Vegas.  (The pronoun I, together with the proper noun Lisa, forms the subject of the sentence.)
  • Use the pronoun me, along with other objective pronouns like him, her, you, them and us when the pronoun is the object of a verb.
    • Paige thanked them.
    • The kitty followed Bailey and me to the door.  (The pronoun me, together with the proper noun Bailey, forms the object of the verb follow.)
  • Use the pronoun me, along with other objective pronouns; i.e., him, her, you, them and us when the pronoun is the object of a preposition.
    • Paige spent the day with Lisa and me.  (Me, together with Lisa, forms the object of the preposition with.)

To see if you’ve chosen the correct pronoun, remove the additional noun and re-read the sentence:

I am driving to Vegas.
X Me am driving to Vegas.

√ The kitty followed me.
X The kitty followed I.

√ Paige spent the day with me.
X Paige spent the day with I.

Do you know anyone who should be reported to the grammar police for committing this grammar crime?

Bottling the joy

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[Image credit: markuso]

Joy is the will which labors, which overcomes obstacles,
which knows triumph. ~ William Butler Yeats

When my daughter was little, we enjoyed a particularly joy-filled day.  I emailed her dad something along the lines of wishing I could bottle the day, so that on the hard ones, I could pop the cork and remember our good times.  Over the years, on those not so great days, her dad made it a habit to forward me that same email and I’d reflect on our special day.  Although I haven’t seen the email for many years now, there are still times in my life I wish I could bottle, events I could replay — those instances where all is fleetingly right with the world.  Especially on days when I feel like I’m spinning my wheels in limbo or feeling the sting of rejection.  On days like that I would uncork the bottle and allow the sweet memories to bathe me in their heady tonic, reminding me of my worth.  Of course, it doesn’t work like that.  The highs are highs and the lows are lows.  But as Yeats suggests, when I overcome the obstacles, my joy will be waiting.

How do you “bottle” the highs?

Is it real or is it Memorex?

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Many who read the title of this post may not be familiar with the 1980 commercial featuring Chuck Mangione and Ella Fitzgerald.  It revolves around breaking glass sounding just as authentic on cassette tape (Google the definition if necessary).  Not so far of a stretch is the topic of substitutions.  In a society of abundant choices, it’s easier than ever to replace one thing with another.  When dining out, we can ask for a fruit cup instead of toast; when shopping we can choose generic rather than name brand.  For a long time, I refused to exchange Heinz catsup for any other tomatoey condiment, but over the years I’ve relaxed a bit.  However, according to one of my friends, if it isn’t pig, it isn’t bacon (while the turkey variety is fine by me).  Although when it comes to Someday, only the real deal will do.  No substitutions allowed.  This may delay the fulfillment of my dreams, but I’ll appreciate what I’m waiting for that much more when it gets here.

What do you refuse to replace for the real deal?

Image credit: Kilcrease, Worth. “The Journey Ahead: Meditations on Death, Bereavement, and End of Life Care.” Photo.  Psychology Today.com copyright 1991-2012. [6 June, 2012]

Believe it, become it

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[Image credit: the path traveler]

We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us.
~ George Eliot

To some, the world consists of the family we’re born into.  To others, it extends to the classroom or the boardroom or a myriad of places in between.  Many young people grow up thinking they’re not smart enough or good enough; they’re too shy or outspoken, or will never amount to much.  If you hear something enough times, the words can seep under your skin until you believe each one — good or bad — to be true with every fiber of your being.  And as Eliot states, if you believe it, you’re apt to become it.  It is especially hard to break out of a negative mindset that has taken years or maybe just a few months to form.  This only goes to show how important it is to surround ourselves with people who encourage and enrich our lives, rather than discourage and nullify.  It isn’t so much how we feel about the next person; it’s how they make us feel about ourselves.  So even though we can’t pick our family, we can pick many of those who make up our world.

What does your world believe about you?

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