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.

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.

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?

The best use of our time: a legacy lived out

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In my post, “How to jump start your day…,” I suggest a break from the daily grind as a method to motivate beyond the initial cup of morning java. Yet, as I sit at my laptop and attempt to sum up a half century of lessons learned to craft a life from which I don’t want—or need—to escape, a longtime friend of mine fights for her life. Cancer: A word that even reeks of insidious intent. Another friend struggles with feelings of loss and isolation, while another mourns a broken relationship. Still others suffer in silence. Admittedly, I’m ashamed when I utter words of complaint over a trivial inconvenience, an unpleasant interaction, a facial blemish visible today and forgotten next week. And it seems trite to believe I have the answers, a cure-all. But what I think it all boils down to is this: to live out a legacy of love. Passionately, transparently, courageously and honestly. While there’s still time.

What does your legacy look like?

Photo source: https://bitsofpositivity.com.

How to jump start your day: a quest for the Holy Grail

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Fantasy: I am so excited to begin each day that I jump out of bed in the mornings. Reality: I silence the alarm, squint at my cellphone and weep a little on the inside when I realize it’s time to get up. As much as I like my day job, what I’d like even more is to find that reason to jump out of bed in the mornings. Yes, I’m grateful, thankful, blessed—which the wooden sign hanging over my kitchen window calls out to those who enter the room. But aside from my morning coffee, there’s very little that excites me about the ritual I perform once I’m awake. This past weekend, however, I broke free from my daily routine and enjoyed a mini getaway up north. I’m convinced this deviation from my everyday agenda is the Holy Grail required to jump start my days. Mission: Figure out how to make it work Monday through Friday.

What gets you excited to jump out of bed each morning?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

There’s no ‘i’ in team: what happens when we apply good sportsmanship

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Ouch. That’s the sound of conviction. For me, it often transpires during my morning quiet time. I read a quote or scripture and realize, once again, that I fall short. For instance, in one breath I push an attitude of gratitude, but in the next I grumble when I don’t get my way. The most recent “my bad” happened while my partner of 30 years and I were in the middle of planning a getaway to celebrate our wedding anniversary later this year. While studying the topic of pride, I watched the entire play unfold as if in instant replay—with me in center field—and it wasn’t pretty. You see, all of a sudden it had become “my anniversary” and what “I want.” Yet for three decades, now, my husband and I have shared a partnership based, primarily, on good sportsmanship. What does this look like? The ability to take turns. Cheer each other on. Compromise when necessary. And play fair for the win.

Got team spirit?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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