Archive for January, 2009

Martha, home alone

Yesterday was one of those extremely rare days when everybody was out and I had the house to myself for a few hours. As any experienced bulimic will know, that would be the perfect chance for a binge — all by myself, with no one to bother me, interrupt me, make me feel guilty, etc. etc. I could just be myself and binge.

I like just the first part of that last sentence: “I could just be myself.” Just being myself has absolutely nothing to do with food, let alone bingeing. Being myself means I jumped up and down, clapped my hands with glee, and tried to figure out what I wanted to do the most.

Of course! I could rehearse for the upcoming concert, experiment with my voice and know that no one would hear me (to criticize or laugh or beg me to be quiet). Since I had enough time, I figured I’d warm up like I never do. Lazy as I am about doing exercises, I thought it would be fun to dance a bit — that would loosen me up and get the breathing flowing.

So I typed in youtube and then a few Abba songs, which had been refreshed in my memory through the film “Mamma Mia”. Over and over again I listened to “Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight” and “Dancing Queen” — singing along, hopping around (I call it dancing, but it doesn’t matter), feeling light and free as a bird.

I’m not saying this is the best plan. And maybe you prefer some other kind of music — more sophisticated, funky, whatever. I just thought I’d mention it as an idea — maybe to spark off other ideas. I don’t even want to try to remember how many times I binged and afterwards had the revelation: “Oh, I could have done THIS or THAT!! If only I’d thought of it in time!”

When you binge, you are doing something for yourself in a very twisted way. There are other options. It’s not about “being good” or “resisting temptation” or “final recovery” or even “being reasonable”. It’s just about taking a break and doing something for yourself that actually makes you feel good — while you’re doing it AND afterwards!

Oh, when I think about the dizzy spells, the headaches, the smell, the cost, the embarrassment, the shame, the paranoia, the helplessness, the disgust…I’m grateful to be able to dance today. Or to sing. Or to go out into the sun room and take a nap, just listening to the radio in the background and petting my cat who lays on the floor next to the couch. Or to write a letter. Call a friend. Read a book. Listen to a CD. Go for a walk. There are so many alternatives to bingeing!!! I bet you can find some to make you feel really good. And as an extra benefit, you don’t binge!

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January 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm 2 comments

To err is human

…but who wants to make mistakes? Not me! I want to be perfect! Well, I’m out of luck as far as that goes. I’ve been at the new job for nearly 5 months already, and I still don’t know everything. (Will I ever?!) Because I don’t know everything and anticipate everything, I am prone to make mistakes. They are generally little, non earth-shattering mistakes, but they are mistakes nonetheless.

On the way home after a short night (night shift), a couple of fresh mistakes as well as less-than-optimal handling of a situation were in my thoughts. Guess what I did? I told myself it’s normal to make mistakes and that’s part of the process. There is no need to take them home with me and fret or obsess for the rest of the day. I’m learning through the mistakes, learning to communicate better — some mistakes occur by forgetting to pass on certain information. It’s similar to the guy driving in front of me who doesn’t signal before he turns, because he assumes I can read his mind. I can’t! Nor can my colleagues know what happened at work and what needs to be done if I don’t give them accurate information.

I’m not constantly making mistakes. It’s more little things that could use improvement for optimal functioning. But this week I did a good one. Ouch! Thank you, Higher Power! I am learning to accept what I did, to explain it without trying to make it sound better than it is, and to simply feel and let go of that inner tension which results. Yes, I made a mistake and I will face any consequences. But that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. Nor does it mean that I’m incompetent. And of course it was not made intentionally.

Driving home, I realized that I haven’t really learned how to deal with such situations appropriately, but that they are part of growing up. I learned to try to deny it, to pretend it didn’t happen, or to pretend I didn’t know what I did. Or if there was something I didn’t understand or felt unsure of, I would avoid it the best I could. A very wishy-washy event, if you ask me!

In any case, I am grateful for this job for this reason as well. It is teaching me that I can’t know and do everything perfectly, nor is it expected of me. It is teaching me to ask questions, to let down the barrier of pride and simply be straight out, be open to the situation at hand. This morning I even shared some of my shortcomings with a colleague. By sharing my insight, I let her know that I am aware, working on those shortcomings, and open to suggestions for improvement. At work it is only expected that I be honest, not perfect. Oh, and of course it is expected that I do my best!

Looked at from a different perspective, I’m actually quite pleased with how I’ve adjusted. I’ve learned a lot, have developed some sense of routine, understand the job better and feel increasingly competent. I recognize my weaknesses and resolve to work on them, but am also happy at the little successes that occur along the way. It is satisfying at the end of the shift to review things and see what I got done — knowing I did most of it right.

By the way. There’s a second part to this saying, remember? To forgive is divine. Not only that we forgive others or they us, but that we also forgive ourselves. (Personally, I find it much easier to forgive others.) When I truly forgive myself, I also accept myself exactly the way I am. When I do that, I feel peaceful, generous and loving. It is truly amazing.

January 23, 2009 at 10:15 am 2 comments

A handful of beans

Someone sent me a handful of beans for Christmas — with the following story about a Count who lived a very long life because he had such an abundance of serenity.

“The Count never left his house without first sticking a handful of beans into his pocket. He didn’t do this because he wanted to chew them. No, he took them with him because he wanted to treasure and count the special moments of the day.

For every little positive thing he experienced during the course of the day — a chat with someone in the street, his wife’s laugh, a delicious meal, a fine cigar, a shady tree in the afternoon sun, a glass of good wine — for everything that pleases the senses, he took one bean out of his right jacket pocket and put it into the left side. Sometimes there were two or three.

In the evenings he sat at home and counted the beans that were in his left pocket. He celebrated these minutes. They brought to mind the wonderful things he had experienced during the day and made him happy. Even on the evenings when he only counted one bean, for him the day was a succes — it made life worth living.”

Last night I read a couple more pages in the book from the Dalai Lama and as I was ready to fall asleep, I said the serenity prayer and then began thanking God for all the nice things that had happened during the day, as well as for all the good things in my life. Well, I guess I have a lot to be thankful for, because I fell asleep before I was finished! (And my thoughts also wandered a bit with each new item of gratitude.) The atmosphere in my thoughts before falling asleep seems to have quite an impact.

This morning I woke up feeling refreshed in a way I haven’t felt for quite some time! I did not dread the day. I did not go back to bed for an hour. I made breakfast, sent the kids off to school, took care of a few chores and then went to work. As I went outside at lunchtime, I marvelled at the blue sky, the sun, the fresh coating of snow on the mountains, and it occurred to me that today had started quite nicely. Wow!

I wanted to share this, and then the above story came to mind. It fits perfectly. What I am realizing these past couple of days is: It’s always good to get some new inspiration, even when you think you have enough or you have it all figured out. (Yes, sometimes I believe that! Ha-ha!) There’s always more to come, and sometimes I don’t realize I needed it until it’s here and I receive yet another blessing.

Another thought occurs to me: New inspiration can also be found in old, familiar prayers. I just need to use them! Just like this little book I am reading. I bought it months ago, but it didn’t help me until I took it off the shelf and started to read it. And what did I find? The good old serenity prayer! 🙂

January 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

Seek and you will find

… what you need, even if you were looking for something else. How many times has that happened? I’m looking for one thing and find another. Perhaps I’d looked for it previously, or perhaps even completely forgot about it — which was the case yesterday.

I found a little book on my bookshelf while looking for copyable overhead pages. It was a book I bought several months ago and indeed forgot about. It’s called Ending the day with the Dalai Lama. I only read part of the introduction, but that was enough. When asked what one needs to be happy, the Dalai Lama said: “Good health, good food, good digestion — and good sleep.”

I kept reading to see if I could find out how to get some good sleep. Just two pages later, I came across some simple advice. “Why worry about it, if it’s a problem that can be solved? And why worry if there’s nothing to do but accept it?” A good night’s sleep can give us the necessary distance to look at a situation more clearly. The author of the introduction surmised it with the following prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I have read this prayer countless times, as I heard it before I went into the “rooms” (12-step-programs), as well as while I was in them. It is a wonderful prayer. Last night as I lay in bed, I used it as a meditation to fall asleep. It took quite a while just to take in the first line: “God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change.” Just focussing on that for quite some time, I felt myself emotionally and physically letting go. Some things simply are as they are and cannot be changed. Whew! What a relief! It’s quite a burden to expect myself to change what cannot be changed, or to punish myself because of it.

“God, grant me the courage to change the things I can.” I kept repeating “grant me the courage” and eventually fell into a deep sleep. I slept straight through, which I haven’t done for quite some time. That is partially to blame on the cat who wants to go outside at 3 or 4 am, but even without him I’ve been restless. I woke up feeling tired, but maybe because I had to get up earlier than usual to go to work.

During the course of the morning, I noticed an inner calmness. Today I had 3 hours of routine work, followed by 4 hours of new stuff. I took it step by step, and it worked out. A few questions were asked when necessary, but otherwise I just went along and did my best. It turned out well and I came home feeling satisfied with the results.

Tonight I’ll do it again and see if I get any further. The wisdom part could come in quite handy! Yet I am not concerned about meditating through the whole thing. I’ll just let go, repeat it, and enjoy the much-needed, restful sleep. Go ahead and try it! Amazing things can happen when you close your eyes, let go, and repeat it again and again — taking in one word at a time.

January 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm 2 comments

You win some…

and you lose some. Oh, well. The possibility of receiving financial aid for the course has gone down the drain. Thus the main benefit of yesterday’s conversation is not material but simply a theoretical exercise in asking questions. That’s okay, too. If I get enough practice, maybe when it’s really important, I’ll think of the right question to ask, the right thing to say. That is my main goal.

I can’t stand it when it occurs to me much later what I could have said. That’s why I was so pleased yesterday: I asked at just the right moment. And I asked enough questions so that I had the information I needed and was able to move on to the next step. That is of utmost importance to me.

Again this has to do with letting go. Just roll with the punches as they say. My faith and trust in the universe are growing. It’s as if I’m just beginning to get the gist of it — what it means to have trust no matter what. What it means not to go by appearances or how the situation seems to be. Just wandering along on this wonderful path, looking ahead as well as all around me, taking it in. By trusting instead of worrying and obsessing, I am more aware. Today I saw the beautiful snowflakes gently falling — the perfect kind of snowflakes that draw your attention and make you watch with delight.

If I’d been full of anxiety, I probably wouldn’t have looked out the window. Been there, done that. I can remember leaving my apartment, rushing off to work, without even looking out the window to see what the weather was like — only to emerge from the building into pouring rain with no umbrella in hand.

Today I am grateful for the way my life is developing. At the moment, I have enough on my mind to drive myself crazy, but today I am free of that. Today I simply focus on the task at hand. That is all I can deal with at the moment, and it’s all I’m expected to do. I know, because H.P. told me so! 🙂

January 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

Getting into shape

I’ve been working on this for a few years now (20?) — trying to get in the habit of exercising regularly. It’s so hard! I like to sit at home. And I tend to put physical fitness down with the low priorities. But it’s not. If I’m not in good shape, it makes life difficult. Not now, necessarily, but in years to come. So I need to really get into the habit now so that I can be in good shape as I get older.

Today I made it to the gym. There is still a certain amount of laziness and resistance, but what has helped the past couple of weeks is to just go — even if I don’t have a lot of time. I decided even if I’m just there for half an hour, that is better than nothing. I believe it will help me ease into doing it on a regular basis. And once I’m there, I enjoy it, and afterwards of course I feel great! In fact, this morning I was almost wishing I had a little more time to spend there. Step by step.

Getting into shape doesn’t have to be done perfectly. I’m just jumping in and doing what I can. That’s the hardest part. Even the outdoors. I like to go out for walks in the woods, and even have a friend who would like to go with me, but I often lack the motivation. We discussed it recently and will try to get organized and go walking this year.

We’re the same age. After a while, youth stops making up for laziness and bad eating habits, and one begins to notice that the body is aging and that it doesn’t bounce back as quickly from a flu or a late night out. That is a truth I have tried to ignore, but it’s there blaring into my face. I want to stay healthy and active as long as I possibly can. Now is the time to get moving!

In the past, I’ve jogged regularly, did chi gong regularly, rode my bike. Then something happened to get me out of the routine (appendicitis, pregnancy, studies, moving to a new town, bike accident, holidays, bouts of depression), and it took forever to get back into it — if at all. For today, I focus on picking myself up, taking the steps to get me where I need to go — just showing up. The rest will fall into place.

January 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm Leave a comment

More news from Higher Power

God only gives me what I can handle. And God is indeed gentle. If I were God, I’d probably give myself a lot more to deal with all at the same time. Thank goodness I’m not. Enough is enough.

Today I returned a phone call regarding something that I didn’t want to deal with. I won’t bother to explain. Let’s just say I hate forms, filling out forms, and official documents, etc. The person at the other end of the line was quite helpful and when we were nearly finished, I asked her about something else. I figured she was the wrong person, but wondered if she knew who I should talk to about getting part of the upcoming training program accepted as official further education? That would mean that some of the time I sit in the classroom would be considered work time. Well, she didn’t know about that, but she asked why I don’t apply to have them help finance the course? It just so happens that someone else who works for the same company is doing that course and she just applied. What a coincidence! 🙂

So it definitely pays to return phone calls, to listen, and to ask questions. I admit, the only reason I asked the question was because I’ve been too lazy to make the call and find out the information myself. This was great! See? Even if I’m lazy or don’t feel like it, Higher Power tends to give me a break. Not all the time, mind you, but especially when I’m a little low on energy, feel shy or uncertain as to how to go about doing something. When I get these helpful gestures from H.P., they encourage me to be braver or more daring. That’s when I ask questions — without worrying that I’ll make a fool of myself.

How many times did I refrain from asking questions because I didn’t want to seem stupid! Then I walked around half-knowing something and more confused than not. I’ve learned to repeat the information that I’m given and ask if I understood correctly. Or today I even asked: “So you’re saying, I just need to …” Oh my goodness, it’s so EASY!!!! Why didn’t I figure out how to do this sooner?!

Things are developing, moving along, without my doing all that much. I just do my work, and keep my eyes and ears open. This is giving me a great sense of support, which I desperately need at the moment. See, my life is kind of turning upside-down in slow motion, and I’m not quite sure what is up or down. In fact, I’m questioning my sanity, but since I know I would never take medication, there’s no point going there. What I mean is, whether or not I am sane is a moot question, because I have to live with myself no matter what.

I have a hunch that it’s just fear creeping in again. So much is happening, new feelings and insights are occurring, and that old fear just isn’t pleased about that. It wants to bring me down again and make me behave and be a good girl. It doesn’t like uncertainty. Yuk! I’ve had enough of that! These days I prefer optimistic uncertainty to certain misery. I have no control over the outcome and don’t know if the optimism is justified, but I have nothing to lose! Today I let go and trust Higher Power and the universe.

January 19, 2009 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

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