Days 69-72: Rising Above it All

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I am going to come right out and say that this week hasn’t been the best for me. From putting hydrogen peroxide in my eyes, to missing my morning alarm, to just feeling crappy in general.

I took a run on Monday and felt great, but not the usual great. I didn’t feel the zip that I usually got from burning some energy. I guess you could say I was in a funk. On Tuesday, I was looking at myself in the mirror, trying to make eye contact and figure out why I felt so shitty. So, what did genius decide to do? Well, I shaved my head. I got sick of my hair, sick of fixing it every morning, and shaved it all off. I felt like I wanted some major change, to break free from…something. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was the constant rain we were getting. Maybe it was the daily, everyday grind. Whatever it was, it turned out to have been a good choice.

The next day at the school, my head drew lots of attention. It didn’t stop the day after either.  My head was rubbed over and over, by colleagues and students. At first I would say,”Yes, I cut my hair. ” The second and third time as well. The sheer (get it?) amount of people who noticed I had cut my hair was overwhelming.  I couldn’t step into any room without someone saying something. Don’t get me wrong, it was never mean. It’s just that, despite liking to teach, and working with the people I do, I am shy. Yes, you read that correctly, shy. It became unnerving. But, while driving home today, still regretting the buzz cut, I realized that all those people felt comfortable enough to joke with me and rub my head. It’s like a family.  I thought, “How fortunate am I to have found a place, so far away from where I was born and grew up, that is my home as well.” I was immediately filled with a warm, safe feeling. I went from the dumps to gratitude in one short drive.

I had another major funk breaker when I Facetimed a friend back home on Wednesday. We chatted for over and hour about anything and everything. By the time we said goodbye, I felt a tinge of excitement and hope again. Sometimes it’s good to just talk and let it all out. Sometimes the person you talk to comes up with better ways of looking at things. Sometimes they give you ideas. I was lucky to get it all. One idea was to look back at some of my first writings here to see if I noticed anything,  to reflect on where I was, and where I am today.  So, I went back and looked. What did I find? Holy shit. I have grown. I am feeling better. Life is better.

That’s some good stuff.

I lived today. It was awesome. 

 

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Days 60 and 61: Heaven

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This project is the best damn thing I have ever done for myself. I am seriously considering writing a book about it. Seriously. I have it all mapped out on my computer and could fill the pages with advice, methods, and thoughts, in a short time. For now, I am focusing on me though.

I was going to spend the evening with my oldest daughter last night. We were going to watch a movie, eat junk food, and hang out. Well, she ended up sleeping over a friend’s house. My youngest went to her friend’s house too. It turned out I had some time alone! So, what did I do? I went to bed at 10.30 and slept for 10.5 hours.  I feel amazing today. My body needed the rest.

A lot of what you read here is only the surface of what I am working on for 100 Days of Awesome. I am doing a lot of personal work to get my mind and body into balance. Part of that was visiting a psychophysiotherapist (spelling?). She was amazing. A PPT focuses on the mind/body connection. I was quite skeptical, but was proven wrong in just 3 hours.  I learned how to properly stand and sit, which has really helped me feel better. What I thought was correct was so wrong, and I really can feel the difference. We did a body scan which facilitates a better mind/body connection and helps with mindfulness. We also discussed mindfulness at great length. At our last session I had an epiphany that is going to change my life, for the better, forever. I am not sure how other people would fare seeing a PPT, but I am open to trying new things, am consciously working on myself, and the woman I worked with was absolutely amazing. We had a good connection and could have talked for 10 hours. We even joked about getting coffee to continue our discussion.

Running is going great.  The running intervals have gotten longer and the walking shorter. At the same time, I am much lighter. Having less fat on my body has given my heart less work to do. I have had to make a new running route and it includes some hills. I’m not gonna lie, it can be a real ball-breaker.

Mindfulness changing my life. The interesting change is how I am doing it. Before, I had to remind myself to be mindful. There would be “chaos” and the normal thoughts flowing through, and I needed to push myself back into the mindfulness. Now, I am just here. Not always, but enough that it is making a difference. It takes time to find what is right, lots of thinking and working with how I think and what I focus and give my energy to. That doesn’t mean I am free from worry or anxiety, just that I am improving my mental state and will continue to do so. I really feel I found the “holy grail,” of what works for me. I will elaborate.

Lets say, during the course of the day, I have a worry. If I envision my mind as a sky then there are clouds, the sun, and the big blue areas. Each one of these clouds are thoughts. Some are dark and rainy, some are light and fluffy. When one of these clouds comes near me, I can choose to let them come down on me or I can let it float by. “Look! Over there! There is a childhood trauma floating by.” Should I let it come near? Or, should I just let it float by and be here in the sun? If a cloud decides to float close to me, I simply let it float through and away from me. It may sound strange, but it is working. Visualizing it this way makes sense in my head.

So, today is some grilling and enjoying the good weather.

I lived, am living, and will continue to live!

Yesterday was awesome. Today is awesome. 

 

 

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Days 57 and 58: Flowing into Awesome

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I am so pressed for time these days. This is more of a speed write.

The good thing is I am getting important things done and  am sticking to my goals. I felt success many times today. I am doing well. Despite setbacks, bad moments, and struggles, I am moving forward and my life is getting so much better. I know now that 100 days of Awesome will continue longer than just until June.

I am getting so close to running 4 kilometers without stopping. The interval training I have been doing has is almost all running now, with short walks in between. Today was really tough. I took a different route with more hills and really felt it in my legs. There was actually one time that I almost tripped over my feet like a drunken sailor. I kind of laughed and just kept trying to get one foot in front of the other. I did it.  I really see 5k by June as a very realistic goal. It is crazy to think that one year ago I was out of breath after climbing some stairs. I also noticed my legs hurt less. I feel lighter and faster. That is a great way to start the day.

I have also been giving extra hours of English help to the students that need it the most at school. I love it. There are so many weeks that I feel I can’t help them as much as I want to. I need to see if I can have something like this every week next year. It has been very effective. I will have a lot fewer students failing this year. Another plus. Awesome.

My daughter had an after school presentation, for all the parents in her grade today. This girl, who used to freak out about speaking in front of people, is now coming into her own. She spoke very well and sounded confident. She even did a Spanish dance. Awesome.

Mindfulness, as I said before, has been the main goal all week. Every single dinner  has been fun. Literally fun. Conversation flows, we share stories of the day, and laugh a lot more than we have in a while. Another awesome.

I also had a good friend help me with something that I was concerned about and am so thankful for that. They know who they are. Another awesome.

This was a great day. I am feeling high on life. I lived today and it was awesome. 

 

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Happy Day 50: Halfway There!!!

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You see that picture at the top of this website? It’s from the movie Rocky, when he runs to the top of the stairs and screams and cheers. As much as I love the montage that ends with him on the stairs, and I know that it isn’t real life, I still yearn for it. It’s day 50 for crying out loud! Shouldn’t there be something climactic?! I may yearn for it, but I know better.

David Foster Wallace saidin a now famous commencement address, much of life is tedium. “There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration.” His speech goes on to explain that you have a choice about how you think.  There is much more to the speech. If I could recommend one thing for everyone in the world to read, it would be this speech, but I digress.

The point is, much of my life will be tedious, uneventful, and boring as hell. Today was filled with it, but I still noticed little things that made the day special. I know that I beat the mindfulness drum often, but it is playing a huge role in making my life awesome. That… and forgiveness.

So it’s day 50. No banners or parties. No shots of tequila or Jager bombs.  Nope, just me in a quiet house, with two sleeping daughters, thankful for my life and what I have, and feeling very glad that I am taking these steps towards… awesomeness. And I know, if I continue this way, the months and years to come may literally have moments where I am actually shouting from the top of a mountain. Either way, I feel like I am winning.

I lived today. It was awesome! Happy Day 50!

 

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Day 25: Just Start

DgbMpv5I love all the comments and private messages I have received.  Just wonderful. Lots of people sharing their thoughts and feelings about the 100 Days of Awesome.  I love every message and comment. Please, keep them coming.

Two days ago a friend commented about Day 22’s post. He said:

 “Why should live (sic) be awesome? There is no richness in that. A robot will always have an awesome day. We are not robots, thank God. Huge like on this post…”

I agree completely. Happiness, or awesomeness, is not just smiling and laughing. It is not just the good times.  It is life and everything that comes with it. Why does the caged bird sing? How did those who survived the Holocaust manage to move forward and even find happiness during and later in life? How do people, despite so many hardships, manage to still have peace, happiness and … awesome?

That’s at the heart of this project. It’s recognizing the beauty even in the worst of times. It’s being present for it all.

I still remember the day I argued with my professor about a short story, by James Joyce from the “Dubliners.” It is called, “Two Gallants.” I am a little hazy with the story details after all these years. What I do remember is that the two main characters are, as my professor put it, “Wretched, anti-heroes. Their character and behavior does not conform to what a civilized society would consider appropriate.”

I looked at it differently. I saw them as people raised under different circumstances than most, and still contemplating their lives and futures. I saw them making the most of their situation despite how they lived. * I looked at them as heroes, in a sense. I liked them.

The point of all of this is that our perceptions of things, regardless of what we face, is the deciding factor in how our lives will be. Good and bad will happen regardless. Every person you know and see faces their demons daily. Why are some able to still enjoy their lives? As much as no one wants it, pain and misery can be beautiful. What I need to work on is seeing it.  I can get lost in what was and may never be. I often miss the beauty of it all.  That is where I struggle. That is why I put so much focus on mindfulness and living in the present. That is a key part of achieving awesomeness. 

With all that, I will spare you the details of the day, only to say that I accomplished a great deal, lived in the moment, and have loved this day immensely.

I lived today. It was awesome. 

*If anyone has read it recently, feel free to correct me. I could be getting the story mixed up. It’s been about 20 years.

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Day 20: !! F#*@ ing Great Day.

It’s Day 20! I am 1/5th of the way there! A Guinness is in order!!!

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In the last 20 days I:

1. Jogged at least three times a week and have a lot more energy.

2. Got an official cheerleader who, by the way, said I write well. I think it may be a cheerleading tactic. Cheerleaders are like cheer ninjas, sneaking motivation in without you realizing it… the good ones at least.

3. Wrote a lot every day. Personally and publicly.

4. Ate very healthy.

5. Was mindful of my life and feel… here now. I am present more than I have been in many years.

6. Figured out a great budget for living well with good savings.

7. Fixed, resolved, worked on personal things.

8. Become a much happier person and have started to find myself again.

9. Have reconnected with my kids. We were good before. We are better now.

10. Read more.

11. Was a better teacher.

12. Lost weight that was weighing me down. That was a bonus. I really don’t care so much about that part.

13. Made new friends.

14. Learned a lot.

15. Struggled but overcame.

Today? Fucking great.

Yesterday I was worried about falling out of my routines. Being conscious of it helped. I ran this morning . Yes, on a Saturday morning. I went faster than any day yet. Not as far, but faster. Oh yeah.

I then went to task redoing the girls’ rooms. It took a little time and effort, but they helped me as best they could. Had to wash the floors really well, and prep it for painting. The floors are 100 years old. I finished the walls when I first moved in, but the floors needed some help. Finished with the first coat today and tomorrow will be a piece of cake. It took all day but looks amazing.

One fun part was sitting there painting while my oldest sat and watched me, asking me questions about life and the universe. It was… fun. Working, scrubbing, and painting, was fun. Seriously.

I am very, very tired now… Going to sleep like a baby tonight.

And that brings us to the end of Day 20. If this keeps up, day 21 will be even better.

I lived today. I loved today. I laughed today. Today was awesome. 

 

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If I Could Show You One Video…

I believe everyone should watch this video.

I hold a great fondness for the, now deceased, writer David Foster Wallace.

In 2005, at Kenyon College, he gave a commencement speech. I was lucky enough to have stumbled upon it not long after. Recently, someone made a short video using part of the speech.

I watch it often. I need to remind myself that this is water.

 

This is Water from Patrick Buckley on Vimeo.

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Walk Yourself a Mile More

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Found this poem great poem today here.  Lovely. I thought it might have been a Frost poem, but alas it was just a random person I found online.

While walking once I found I’d missed
A turn or two along the way.
A clearing stood with Autumn’s mist
Still hanging, gorgeous, gentle grey.
Sad to say, I did not linger,
But walked again back to my home.
I did not stop and sit to sing there,
I did not run and race and roam.
I came to find my house was stolid,
Unchanged, unmarked, unhurt, and known-
What would have passed if it had fallen?
Would I have built another home?
What turned me back from exploration?
What wind blew me back to shore?
What was not worth my exultation?
Would I walk that way once more?
The brave among us wander onward-
They seek a plot untouched by man.
The meek, like me, turn back, but wonder-
Must all our lives be known and planned?
So, travelers, when the night turns dreary
When walking further seems like war
When bones and chest and feet grow weary-
Walk yourself a mile more.

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Day 15: Off and Running

 

Bill MurrayFor anyone keeping track, I missed a running day last week. I am attempting to make it up this week. I have a plan and I need to stick to it. I did 3.35 km today. It is going up each time, little by little. I even ran for a little while when the app was telling me to walk. I just felt the need to run, to get something out. I take that as a good sign.

This quote helped me more today than anything else. I read it 10 times, trying to practice mindfulness more. It’s funny how certain things can grab and connect you to an idea. The Thich Nhat Hanh book is great, but nothing sticks as much as a Bill Murray’s quote, of all things. Who knew he was funny and wise?

Gorgeous day in Norway as well. Bike tomorrow? It’s tough to bike when you are alone with  kids that have appointments around the city, and you need to shop for food. Tomorrow looks like an opportunity.

The first month’s goals are exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep, writing here and in my journal, practicing mindfulness, and being present when I am with the ones I love. So far it has been a great success. Now to continue. 30 days to build habits, 100 Days of Awesome. I think I need a good party on Day 50.

I lived today. 

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Day 12: Pretty Damn Satisfied

3w7RBLsI am really satisfied! This project is a great idea (pats self on back). Making a conscious step towards making my life better has woken me up. I feel alive. In less than two weeks my life has improved, inside and out. 

It’s Friday, everyone’s favorite day. It’s also my errand day.  I made and extra effort to focus on mindfulness as I ran through my list of to-dos. It’s opening my eyes. Things are beginning to look different, better… more… peaceful.

 

While I was running errands today I heard what sounded like American voices talking. I was unsure, and a little hesitant, to ask if they were American. People just don’t talk to strangers very much around here… unless they are drinking, or are crazy. I took a chance and asked if they were from the US. The girl walking with her friends said she was. She asked me, “What part of the States are you from?” I said, “Buffalo, NY”. Her eyes widened. She said, “I am from Oswego!” (That’s about 2-3 hours from Buffalo. Buffalonians would even consider that Buffalo-ish).  We exchanged Facebook info, chatted a little, and went on with our day. Pretty cool. An almost hometown person living in the same little city as me on the other side of the Atlantic. They were headed to a poetry reading, which I thought was even cooler. We are going to have to hang out.

I wrote a lot today about a range of topics. None of them are finished yet,  but will be soon. I have blog posts about mindfulness, running, how to approach 100 Days of Awesome, what to do when you fail, and meditation.

2015-03-20 10.44.27I missed running today. Not happy about it, but am going to make it up tomorrow. Three times a week is the goal. I forgive myself and will do better tomorrow.

I didn’t eat as healthy as I usually do.  It’s 100 Days of Awesome, not 100 Days of denying yourself unhealthy things all the time.

Saw a solar eclipse too. It was just cloudy enough to look at it with some sunglasses on. I even snapped a picture of it on my phone.

The rest of the evening will be homemade pizza, a little candy, a movie, and some serious relaxing with my kids.

Have an awesome Friday. 

I lived today. Life is beautiful. 

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