Sunshine, Racing and Friends: Mackinac Island

View from our Room

During the holidays, my friend Michele from Lansing texted me about a 5-mile race on Mackinac Island. She and a couple of her friends were going, and she was wondering if I might like to go. Now this was in the middle of snow season, and I had not been running at all. Besides, we were knee deep in Omicron and I couldn’t yet imagine that we’d be able to get together without fear of sharing a deadly virus. But it seemed like a great reason to get my running legs in action once again. Besides, it’s so much fun to spend time with women who enjoy running and cycling and spending time in beautiful places. How could I say no?

We’ve had a very cool spring or a prolonged winter, and it snowed literally 3 weeks ago. I tried to get out and run on warmer days and hit the treadmill on the cooler ones starting in mid-February. I worked myself up to running four miles and then promptly lost interest about two weeks before the race. I figured I could at least walk it, and it really didn’t matter how fast I was. It’d be a nice weekend away in a lovely spot, and I know I’d have fun even if I wasn’t into the run.

Friday Bike Ride…..

I took Friday off and drove the four and 1/2 hours north. The temperature inland was in the high 80s, and the thermometer on my car read 92 degrees 15 minutes away from Mackinaw City. When I stopped the car 15 minutes later at the dock, the temperature had plummeted to 63 degrees. I’ve never seen the temps drop so fast, but the cold Lake Michigan water can definitely dispel the heat. I put on my jacket and boarded with my luggage and my bike.

We stayed at the Chippewa Hotel and had a lovely victorian style suite with a living room opening onto the water. The first thing we did was get on our bikes and cycle the loop around the island. I was freezing even with my jacket and long pants on. But it was a gorgeous sunny day, and the water was emerald green. Being that late in the day, we were the only people riding the loop so we had that gorgeous island all to ourselves. We got to know each other and dodged horse poop until dinner time.

Scenes from the race…..

The next morning was the race, and it was forecast to be windy, cold and rainy. We were all dreading it but determined to enjoy the run. We chatted and fell asleep to a movie around 9:30 PM. When we woke up we were thrilled to see that the forecast no longer showed rain, and we were going to have a sunny and 50 degree race. It was perfect.

The race connected the two forts on the island by circling through the woods and down the coast. The course was hilly but mostly paved, and I was mesmerized by the magical forest that surrounded me. I ended up feeling great and ran most of the course with walk breaks on the uphills. Five miles felt easy for some reason, and I had a blast chatting with people along the way. It seemed like everybody was thrilled with the surprisingly dry morning and in finally getting spring weather in this part of the world.

We spent Saturday shopping, eating, shopping and eating and then shopping and eating some more. Michele introduced us to an amazing bread pudding and then I indulged in a traditional Jamaican Beef Patty for dinner. It was delicious and spicy. It reminded me of the Pasties from the Upper Peninsula, and I made a note that I was going to get one before I got on the road to go home on Sunday.

We went to bed Saturday night exhausted but full and worn out from laughing. It felt so great to do something normal again. It was the first race I’ve attended since March 2020. I had a couple of races planned that spring, and they both were canceled on the same day. I forgot how nice it was to do a destination trip with like-minded friends and have long stretches of time to tell stories and make future plans. Before I left to get my pastie and drive home, we exchanged phone numbers and vowed to find another event this summer. I can’t wait.

Give Me Some Unanswered Questions

I don’t remember when I started using the verb Google to mean “get an answer”. I’m sure I used it first in jest but somewhere along the way it just became part of my vocabulary. My friend Melanie and I were chatting this morning about this need we have to get instantaneous answers, goods and results. I wonder what this is doing to us.

  • Hey Siri, what time is it?
  • Why are people so mean?
  • Did our ancestors eat more meat or vegetables?

I used to think it was so cool to call Time and Temperature to get the time and temperature. That was the only quick resource we had. And now I even wonder why we needed the time. Melanie reminded me that back then our clocks might lose time and we wouldn’t know it. There was no iPhone or computer to check our time against. Clocks weren’t automatically synchronized with the world clock. If the clock stopped working or slowed down, we had to make a phone call and reset it. We could also call information to get phone numbers. Now we just google them.

  • What is the average lifespan of a border collie?
  • How much does it usually rain in Michigan?
  • Is basement waterproofing worth the investment?

In Seattle in 1998, I discovered the internet. I had dial up so it was excruciatingly slow. And back then the websites that existed were horrible. Most of my friends didn’t trust it. They pledged never to buy anything off the internet. It was too unsafe and too dangerous.

  • When was the internet invented?
  • Why do cats get hairballs?
  • What makes curly hair curl?

I traveled a lot with my job and I discovered a web-based grocery service. It wasn’t like today’s delivery services. It was a real grocery in a warehouse, and I could order my groceries on Sunday night before I left town and schedule them to be delivered when I woke up Saturday morning. They would always give me a little gift like a flower or a sample of something, and the groceries arrived in a lovely brown paper bag at my front door. I’ve never been so enthralled by a service. Unfortunately that model didn’t last. Sometimes I fantasize about walking to my door and finding my lovely little grocery sack, and other times I engage Google to see if someone else has started one like it. But, alas, today everything is about speed and not good service.

  • Whatever happened to online grocery stores?
  • Why did Blackberry go out of business?
  • How many lakes are in Michigan?

I got my first Blackberry while I was in Memphis. I loved being able to surf the internet and check my emails from work. People used to call them Crackberries because they were so addictive. That’s laughable now because they were nowhere near as addictive as the smartphones of today. Ashok ate my beautiful brand new cherry red Blackberry, and I went in search of a cheap used phone as a punishment phone. The minute I opened my iPhone I knew I’d never go back to a Blackberry again. It was an immediate and steadfast love.

  • How old is Kevin Costner?
  • Is dark chocolate really healthy?
  • Can a repulsion for white male politicians kill a heterosexual woman’s sex drive?

My job in Learning and Development is truly dependent on technology. Digital is literally the fabric of my life. It’s how I find answers, communicate with others, schedule and order my day and teach. I have to search my memory to remember what it was like to not have instantaneous answers to stupid and thought-provoking questions. In my efforts to stop using my phone so much, I often catch myself thinking a thought and immediately reaching for my phone to google feedback to my passing thought. I stop myself and say “you don’t have to know the answer to everything.” The void hurts.

  • Is Kenny Chesney gay?
  • Are Persian rugs worth the investment?
  • What would happen if you never cut your toenails?

What was it like to think a thought or wonder about something and NOT have immediate feedback. I think maybe it created more mystery. It was probably much less stressful to not know everything the minute it happens. It was definitely easier to be an expert as you explored the unknown in real life experiments that other people didn’t have time nor the interest to do. And if it wasn’t truly important, we probably just let it go unanswered. I don’t want to go back to long ass telephone cords that wrapped around the furniture or to typing essays on a typewriter. But I might like to have that sweet little grocery service, be unreachable when I’m not at home and to not have the answers to all the questions my mind brings up. It might even be nice to be in the dark about the time and temperature and just let the day go by as it will.

What is the population of New Orleans?

  • Are down coats humane?
  • Does God still love us?
  • Hey Siri, can we go back in time?

What would you like to go back to if you could? What questions do you wish went unanswered?

Help Our Truckers: My Monday Morning Rant

Last summer when I worked for a retail store, we had terrible issues with our Fedex deliveries. We had much understanding that it was pandemic-related but it really impacted our business. The account manager I worked with at Fedex was wonderful and tried to do what she could to help, but the drivers and trucks belonged to a contractor. The young man who was our delivery driver was not given any equipment to help with hauling all of those big, heavy boxes inside, so he was physically carrying each one. And the truck he had was not even the right kind of truck to be doing those kinds of deliveries. I felt so bad for him and really worried about his health and well-being.

I stopped buying from Amazon long ago and am vehemently opposed to their next day shipping practices. Somebody pays for “free” next day shipping. It’s just not the consumer. I don’t need anything next day, and if I do, I’ll drive myself to go get it. It’s just not an emergency to get my skin care products, and if I wait until I’m out of toilet paper to order it, it’s my fault. When I read an article about a shipping company in Memphis that literally made pregnant women work without breaks resulting in numerous miscarriages, I drew a red line for myself. There are people behind these shipments and this work, and nothing is free.

That’s all I’m going to say about my opinion on this, but John Oliver’s show is on trucking this week. He articulates the problems with the trucking industry and how these poor drivers are getting mistreated and cheated of a decent living because of deregulation. What used to be a lucrative way to make a living has become a torturous life. We literally won’t function as a country without our truckers. Everything we have comes to us because of a truck whether it’s next day shipping or delivered to a store. Take a minute to watch this and make your own decision. We owe it to the people who are literally breaking their backs for us. And don’t forget to read the comments for a confirmation of the reality from real truckers and other “contractors” across all of our industries.

Warning: John Oliver’s language and humor is intended for mature audiences.

Life’s Wetlands and Deltas: Relief Valves

I took Ashok to one of our favorite local hiking spots this morning. Warren Woods State Park is a lovely little pocket wilderness near Three Oaks MI. The beech and maple forest is one of the quieter parks in the area as it’s not close to the lake and tourists much prefer the beaches over the forest. The unmarked but clearly defined trails meander next to the Galien River. Ashok and I have gone there several times this year as I’ve decided I’d like to have some favorites that I visit year round. The forest changes every time I visit, and I love to see the differences throughout the year.

A month or so ago, literally feet of snow covered the trails, and I wished I had my snowshoes to easier travel. But today all of the snow had turned to water. The river was swollen with yesterday’s rain and the snow melt. The wetlands bordering the river were full of water and even blocked the trail. A couple we met had intended on geocaching but couldn’t get where they needed to go due to the trail blockage. They must not have known that you could circle around and still get to the geocache on another route. We had the trails to ourselves after that and enjoyed a peaceful stroll listening to the birds.

We saw a Great Blue Heron, spooked a pair of Canada Geese, spotted Blue Jays, Cardinals, Red-headed woodpeckers and a variety of ducks. The forest was literally alive with birds. That, along with the green shoots of Iris and ferns peeking up from under the fallen leaves, made it feel like spring is somehow finally in the not-so-distant future. It snowed this weekend, so it’s not here yet, but spring is in my sights. I swear I heard a Kingfisher rattle, but that could have been wishful thinking.

We took a seat on a bluff overlooking the river and an adjoining wetland area that was completely flooded. I thought of an article I read this morning in the NYT about the state of “return to work” after the pandemic. Spoiler Alert: It’s not going well. The problem isn’t remote work or the economy or anything that simple. People are back at work and businesses are looking towards business as usual, but people are not okay. I’ve been saying that as I’ve noticed friends react to things differently than they would have in the past. Tempers are shorter. Energy is down. Anxiety is up. People are literally grieving. Life is more burdensome than it was before…. ya know?…. BEFORE. Last night Saturday Night Live had a skit about how we are not okay. I totally related. It was funny because it is so true.

The river – swelled with too much water for its banks – has a relief valve in its wetlands. Lots of people think swamps are just muddy and icky, but they are the release valve for the excess water that flows down rivers during spring thaws, that slam into land from hurricanes or pour down from the sky too quickly to be absorbed. I thought about all that has happened in the last two years in my life, and I challenged myself to be aware of my relief valves – my very own personal wetlands. And, to be clear, I am not okay either. I’m struggling and on edge like everybody else. But I am functioning. I am laughing. I am moving forward. I will be back to normal one day… whatever the new normal is.

Late last year I got a paper planner. I’ve been okay without one for many years because I keep everything digitally. But I realized that the act of planning is beneficial in itself in making sure I’m focusing on the things I want to focus on, and I was having trouble remembering things. It’s an act of self care to plan every week. I set my own priorities, weed out the things that really don’t matter and then hold myself accountable for following my plan. It has helped me feel more in control of my life.

My unbelievable rock star band of friends has definitely been a delta for me. Someone is always there when I need a hand or a shoulder to cry on. They helped me navigate that awful job search during a pandemic. Being single and at home would have been so isolating if it hadn’t been for the loving hearts opened through zoom calls with my friends.

Nature is my other wetland that literally keeps me sane. Meditation, exercise, yoga and eating well help me stay on my game. And I’ve loved the new apps that provide me support for all of those activities. The Calm App, Find What Feels Good, the Daily Burn and Eat Right Now have been life savers in redirecting the flood of anxiety and fear to a different place than in my body. Technology can suck but it can also provide a LOT of help.

I felt a new appreciation for the wetlands on our hike – even though we had to walk around water a lot. They were helping keep the river from damaging the peaceful landscape around it. I noticed that trees and branches that had decorated the frozen river landscape had been moved downstream sometimes unrecognizably by the fast-moving current. But that’s what rivers do. They create change in their wake. And the wetlands mitigate the damage just by being there.

If you are struggling right now, know you are not alone. What kind of relief valves do you need to pull? It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s actually a sign of strength.

In the Spirit of Odessa – Play the Fool!!

Happy April Fools’ Day! We don’t actually know where this holiday originated but we do know there is one place that has an actual festival and celebrates April Fools’ Day as a real holiday. I’ve learned more about Ukraine in the last six weeks than I’ve ever known, but this morning I was saddened to see that Odessa, Ukraine is going to be missing a wonderful hilarious celebration this year due to the war. The festival, Humorina, was born when the Soviets censored a televised improvisational comedy competition in 1972. A team from Odessa was in the lead, so local officials granted them the right to hold a festival on April 1. It has become a popular, boisterous annual celebration.

I woke up this morning and my yard was snow-covered with snowflakes filling up the sky. Winter is not over in Michigan, and April Fools’ Day is here to make sure we know it. The joke is on all of us who have been complaining and moaning about the cold since the first 60ish degree day in late February. Now we all know very well it doesn’t really warm up around here until the first week of May at the earliest. That doesn’t stop the wishing and the groaning at every 30-degree weather forecast. We are definitely April Fools.

Today I’m signing the papers to refinance my house. I beat the interest rate hike, and I’m super excited about that. But it’s much more than a money-saving opportunity. It’s a commitment to stay here in this home where I’ve lived longer than I’ve ever lived in any home in my adult life. I was hoping to sell and buy a condo or even move around the country with a new job as a result of my big career change over the last couple years. But with the housing market what it is and the securing of a great new job in this area, I decided to stay in my little St. Joseph bungalow exactly one mile from the sands of Lake Michigan. It feels good to not be in limbo. I’m here. And that’s no April Fools.

I’m not a big prankster, and I definitely don’t like pranks that humiliate others or otherwise make another person the butt of a joke. But I do like to laugh, and there is a lot to laugh about if you look around you. The fact that I opened the door to a snowstorm this morning made me giggle. Just when you think you have things figured out, life inserts a surprising punch line. So I think I’ll take a lesson from Odessa and make today my own little festival of laughter. They sadly may not be laughing in Odessa today, but we can support those lighthearted people by lightening the mood all over the world and by lighting up our hearts -and hopefully theirs – for a brief moment of laughter.

Happy April Fools Day, y’all. Make a fool of yourself today. I’ll laugh with you.

My Love for the Rising Sun

I’ve started working again full-time, and I’ve had to abandon my routine of waiting until I feel like it to work out or grocery shop or do any other thing I have to do. My body never got used to sleeping in and consistently woke up at 5 or 5:30 A.M. every morning during the year and a half that I was off. And, gratefully, my new job has a more flexible start time than the one I had at Whirlpool. So my mornings are once again filled with activity as I drive to the gym in the dark or – if it’s above 30 degrees – drag my butt outside to run. Oh how I want to sit and drink tea until I feel like getting up to go out. Those small pleasures are relegated to weekends now. And it feels really good to have workouts done before I actually really wake up. Sometimes it feels like a dream.

My favorite part of a morning run or a drive to the gym is being present and outdoors for the sunrise. The sun sets here over the lake but it rises among the trees and the cornfields. It is almost always orange, and it throws a striking light over the lighthouse. Some backstage lighting expert flicks the switch on a bright spotlight perfectly placed to illuminate that lovely little lighthouse on the water. And just as quickly as the spotlight appeared, it disappears into a sea of morning sunshine. I’m not often there for that moment, but it is a wonderful treat when I am.

My neighborhood at sun rise.

I love sunrises. I’ve never been a particular fan of sunsets. They are certainly nice and mark the end of a long day, but as an early riser, the sun rise coincides with my best energy. I’m always happiest when the day is before me, and I’ve yet to make any mistakes or find anything to worry about. By nightfall, I will have some regrets and surely will have a list of things to lose sleep over. The mornings are my time, and the sun rise is the clearest symbol of the dawning of a new day and a clean slate.

Tomorrow will be cold, and it will be snowing when I arise. So I will get up, get dressed, make a smoothie and head to the gym. I’ll leave it open whether I lift weights or run on the treadmill depending on my mood and the way my body feels. It took a week or so for my body to get accustomed to moving again early in the morning, but I’m back in the saddle. I won’t likely see the sun rise tomorrow as I’ll be in the shower or getting ready by then. But maybe I’ll make a little time to grab some tea and watch the sun rise from my front window to celebrate the rising sun on the first day of another week.

Do you like the sun rise or the sun set? Do you make time for the ritual of watching it?

Dreaming With The Cottage Fairy

YouTube’s algorithm suggested I watch a video from The Cottage Fairy a month or so ago. I’m not sure why it seemed like a good video for me. I typically watch Stephen Colbert or pet videos on YouTube, but lately I’ve been subscribing to videos with mature women who are trying to make the best out of their lives in many different ways. I don’t often watch the suggested videos, but the name “The Cottage Fairy” and the beautiful, natural setting drew me in. It looked so romantic and whimsical.

The Cottage Fairy is an artist who lives in a rural area, and her videos are these lovely video diaries of her day. They look effortless, but I know they must take a lot of work given the cinematic quality. She has a black dog who walks with her through the forests and the meadows, and she spends much of her days creating beautiful foods and artwork using natural objects. She’s budget-minded, so I pick up tips every now and again on how to do something lovely with very little money. Her voice is slow and precise with a lovely lilt, and she shares her thoughts and dreams with a focus on living and appreciating the present. The one I watched this morning was about the downsides of living alone in a rural area. She shared about the loneliness of working from home while making the most beautiful caramel apples and zucchini bread. The sun shone through gossamer curtains as her voice guided me through with a song.

I watched this one this morning…..

I honestly just thought I’d share it with you. I find these videos are a meditation for me. I am also getting some ideas on how to fill my time more creatively which is something I’ve been desiring. Yesterday I found myself googling “painting classes near me”. It’s also making me think of lovely spaces. I have some lovely spaces in my home, but where might I create a space that’s less utilitarian and more enchanting? And I’ll bet I could find some Michigan apples that would be great for caramelizing! But most of all I’d like to just sit still with some tea and dream.

Demoting My Inner Critic

I am in a virtual writer’s retreat for the next couple of weeks. I’m committing to continuing writing but I have to find a way to silence the negative voice in my head. My Inner Critic doesn’t just dampen my spirit in writing, though. Mine is male, and I really don’t like him. He’s relentless in his push to drive me off the edge. In some ways it may seem he’s trying to make me perfect but that’s not the case. Annihilation of my spirit is his goal, and it’s weird because he would cease to exist if I was gone. He’s not even helping himself.

In the exercises we’ve been doing, I’ve been exploring what I’m grateful for about myself and what strengths and gifts I have. This morning we wrote a Thank You card to ourselves for who we are. It occurred to me while I was writing that the Inner Critic’s voice is so LOUD. There are many positive qualities I believe I have, but that voice is much softer and much less persistent in getting my attention. Much like the bully at work, the Inner Critic is a lot louder than the many other supportive coworkers I have. They are there. They just don’t necessarily push their agenda in meetings or go out of their way to make their feelings known.

I could tell myself to turn down the volume and that might work. But these exercises are showing me that it’s not just the volume that’s the issue. It’s the effort to ask what these other voices think AND really listen to them. Where am I succeeding? What do you see that’s good in me? Where have I supported you? What’s my superpower? Where do I need to work to be more fully myself? In asking the questions and making the space for these less persistent voices to express themselves, the Inner Critic’s LOUDNESS fades into the background.

When I wrote my card this morning I thanked myself for having the courage to change my life’s circumstances when my voice wasn’t being heard or supported. I was most appreciative for the efforts I took to heal and strengthen my spirit during periods of brokenness. This was not easy work nor was it convenient at the time, but I did it. I am grateful that I educated myself and dedicated myself to having a thriving career so that I could be the maestro of my life. I am also grateful that I’ve spent a great deal of effort in building a community that supports and loves me even without the traditional path of marriage and parenthood. I realized that the things that I’m most appreciative of in myself are directly at odds with my Inner Critic’s goal of keeping me mired in societal norms and my failure or lack of desire to follow them.

There was a physical shift in my body when I read this thank you note back to me. Those quiet voices had the floor, and my body resonated with them. I actually feel a kick of energy much like the jolt of caffeine in a morning espresso. After time with my Inner Critic I never feel energized. My body doesn’t soften. I just feel helpless and am not sure what to do next. But this morning I feel like jumping up to do my yoga practice and even felt like posting a quick blog.

How LOUD is your Inner Critic? What can you do to bring out those quieter voices that are supportive of you? How would that change your day?

A New Year to Explore

Filled with dreams of exploring new options and changing habits, New Year’s morning always feel hopeful. It’s a great feeling to write through. I took a minute to go back a few years and reflect on my hopes and dreams on the past few New Year’s Days and Eves. On New Year’s Eve of 2020, I celebrated the fact that I had released all of my (and others’) relentless expectations. By December 31 of 2020, I was unemployed and in the thick of the blissful experience of not being in a hurry to be employed.

Ironically in January 2020, I decided to commit to a Yoga with Adriene 30-day yoga journey called Home. laughed out loud when I saw the name of the series given that I ended up being sequestered in my home for much of the year that year due to the pandemic.

I don’t have any pressing goals to be skinnier or healthier at this point. And I don’t know yet where I’m going to land job wise so my work goals are a little more undefined. I feel pretty happy with my habits at this point. So there’s nothing pressing that says I need to get a part of my life in order. And, to be honest, if I had a need for that I’m not sure a new year is the catalyst to get me going. It’s usually some painful experience that leads me down a road to change. Other times it may be a vision of something that inspires me to change but much more often it’s the pain thing. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking maybe that’s something I should work on. Why can’t hope and inspiration – or even fun – be my guiding force for change rather than pain? That’s something to noodle this year.

The world is still out of sorts due to the pandemic and the change that it’s driving. I’ve been lucky enough to stay healthy, and I’m very grateful for that. I had a really lovely conversation with my first husband a few weeks back, and he informed me of the death of a friend of ours. Those notifications are coming more frequently, and I’m realizing that not everyone gets to be 60 or make the choice of whether or not to let their gray hair grow out. They don’t get to worry that they don’t have enough money in their 401K for retirement. It’s all a moot point. Those of us able to get up this morning and groan about our 10 extra pounds or soft belly are the luckiest people in the world. We are alive.

And since I’m alive and not sure I’ll be here tomorrow, I grabbed a poboy and gumbo yesterday!

A

So I think 2022 will be a year of exploration for me. I’m in a new decade that honestly took me a year to embrace. What do I want the next decade to look like? What are my interests? What can I contribute to an embattled society? What is fun? What makes me happy? I was talking to my friend Angel the other day, and as we were discussing our past year, I realized that I need a hobby. I have some things I enjoy doing, but nothing I would describe as a hobby that keeps my mind engaged. I’ve always been working or not working. Not working means resting and rejuvenating for working. There is a gap, and I need to fill it if I ever want to be happily retired. And since I’m not retired yet, I have time to explore this.

I’ll start my year like I have many years by committing to Yoga With Adriene’s 30-day yoga journey. This year it’s called Move (and I hope that doesn’t mean relocation). I know if I keep moving and healthy, my mental and physical states will benefit. I’ve been practicing intuitive movement lately. I do what I feel my body needs that day. Sometimes it’s yoga. A few days a week it’s running. Often it’s a hike with my dog to enjoy some nature. Other days it’s a tough strength-training circuit. The variety is working for me. So, I’ll add this 30-day commitment to ADD yoga to my other movement and see what happens. Some years I finish. Other years I don’t. Doesn’t really matter. It’s the attempt that is important.

If you are interested in joining me (it’s free), you can find info here:

I also signed up for a Writer’s Retreat for two weeks in January. I don’t really get to go anywhere because it’s virtual, but I’m really looking forward to it. My friend Marge signed up for it and mentioned it to me because I’ve been struggling with writer’s block. From the description, it sounds like it’s designed to drive some consistency in writing and tools to build back my confidence. That’s exactly what I need so I think it’s a worthy exploration.

I’ll continue to explore career opportunities and am hopeful that I will find exactly what I need. I also want to explore new ways to meet people. The pandemic has made it much more difficult, and I’m missing the old options of adding new hearts to my life. I love meeting new people and it’s hard now. But there has to be a way. I think it’s a worthy exploration.

Today I’m going to take Ashok out for a hike as I do most New Year’s Days and then come home to watch the predicted 5-10 inches of snow fall on my house. We really haven’t had much snow to speak of so I’m looking forward to a snow day. I hedged my bets this year and stocked up on Black-eyed peas and Kale. I tried to find cabbage or collard greens but the shelves were bare. We’ll have to go with kale this year. I hope it works. I need the money.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Day and enjoy whatever you have in store. And let’s figure out how to change things before experiencing pain. That’s just not super pleasant.

P.S. This showed up on my doorstep with no identifying information. If you sent it, please let me know!

Nudgings About Self-Compassion

My Sister-in-Law and niece gave me a beautiful deck of Self-Care cards for Christmas. I used to think that self care was taking bubble baths, getting a pedicure or pampering myself. It can include those things, but it’s really more about an inquiry into what I need and following through on providing what I need. I have a practice now in the mornings or when I’m feeling down where I do a body scan and ask myself “What do you need?” It is rarely taking a bubble bath, getting a pedicure or pampering myself. It’s more often something like forgiving myself for a mistake, giving myself a hug and saying I love you or getting connected with friends. It is truly about caring enough about myself that I will meet my own needs.

While in therapy after my second divorce, I learned that it was more important for me to take care of myself than to find a man to take care of me. It is also infinitely more practical. Whereas I may have been angry with my ex for not being financially responsible, it was more important that I be financially responsible and set boundaries in that area. It wasn’t his fault he was spending my money and imperiling my future savings, it was mine for giving over access to an unreliable partner. I felt so powerful when I made that decision to protect myself and acted on my own behalf. I did not anticipate how that would feel. Setting boundaries and taking charge of my financial future was an act of self care.

When I was running this morning, I listened to a podcast on Hidden Brain about self-compassion. I chose it because I went to bed last night irritated with myself about eating too many sweets the last couple of days. I enjoyed them, but I have to really be careful with sugar. It can make me feel really bad physically and trigger depressive episodes. I was beating myself up for once again going down that sugary rabbit hole. If I’m honest, my run started out being a punishment run and not one based in self-care.

Beautiful Day for a Run….

The guest on the podcast was Psychologist Kristin Neff. She had an affair early in her life that ruined her first marriage. She talked about how she beat herself up for years over that mistake. She was introduced to the concept of self-compassion in a mindfulness workshop. She learned that being compassionate with herself for making a mistake and not being true to her values was more effective in helping her learn from that mistake. We think that shaming ourselves will help us do better but it honestly sets us up for failure, disconnection from others and self-harm. And for all you naysayers, there’s research to prove it. Besides, she says that if we think we are so great that we should never make mistakes, then we are believing we are better than others. Why would I be so perfect that I couldn’t overdo sugar on the holidays like most everybody else? I was just being human and enjoying the gifts of the season.

I got home from my run and pulled one of my self-care cards. My card asked me to be a friend to myself just like I would to others. What would I tell a friend of mine that overate over the holiday and didn’t feel good? I would tell them today is a new day and I, too, overate. I’d also tell them that neither one of us has to be perfect today either. When there is so much sugar around with all of the stress – and celebration – of the holidays, of course I might overdo it. And maybe there is something non-food related I could do that might make me feel more in control and make better choices today. I ran this morning. That helped. I came home and cooked a big pot of chili and made a cup of tea. I don’t feel like overeating right now, and all of that feels like self-care – no bubble bath needed. However, I’m not ruling it out for this afternoon. 🙂

What do you really need for yourself today? How could you meet that need? Would being more compassionate with yourself for your lack of perfection be helpful?

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