The Weight

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“The “primary consciousness,” the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment. The ingenious brain, however, looks at that part of present experience called memory, and by studying it is able to make predictions. These predictions are, relatively, so accurate and reliable (e.g., “everyone will die”) that the future assumes a high degree of reality — so high that the present loses its value.”  Alan Watts

 

I am (finally)ready to share what the first 100 days did for me. It has taken 100 more to process everything. Even now, I am discovering new things. Even so, one single aspect of the process had the greatest effect on me. Letting go.

The parlance , “Not giving a fuck,” has gained popularity. . Letting go is similar.

Years ago, someone told me that I was very good at letting go. I can’t remember what had occurred  that made them say that, but as I grew, that ability diminished. Why?  I was afraid. These were my pillows, my excuses, my crutches. If something went wrong I could hold them, like spiny, prickly, teddy bears, as the reason for everything.

Over the summer some friends and I wrote, on chinese paper lanterns, all the things we have held onto. We wrote the things we couldn’t control, people we have lost, the worries we carried, the people who have hurt us, and those we have hurt. It was an emotional but uplifting night.  Writing shit on a paper lantern doesn’t just make things go away. It was symbolic, but the moment is there now, a tangible memory of what I carried, being sent up into the air  and burned away. It was a fitting way to celebrate what I worked so hard on. That memory is always there as a reminder that I have moved on from so much that weighed me down.

Today, I am less afraid of the future and live more in the present…the now. My mind is quieter. My body is healthier. I am okay with my life.  Holding each day as a gift, as if it could be the last, has put a huge spin on what I allow into my life as well. There is some “not giving a fuck” involved, sure.  The distinction is that I haven’t forgotten or stopped caring. The  traumatic moments, the losses,  and  painful experiences, will forever live in me.  The difference is, I don’t feed or lean on them as I had before.

Things are noticeably easier. Life is better.

I want even more life.

Part 2, the real part 2 begins soon.

 

 

 

 

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Days 77-81: Here Comes the Sun

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Everything takes time. I am not losing weight really quickly. I am not just suddenly calm in my mind. My life isn’t suddenly in order. Everything takes time. Keeping track of it, focusing on it, and working each day is what is making the difference. I run out of patience, sometimes, and have to repeat to myself  that everything doesn’t happen over night. Good things take work and time.

May and June are extremely busy months and I have made progress and have had many setbacks. The setbacks have been really tough. Many of them are too personal to share on this website. Let’s just say, I have had some days where the tears are rolling down my face and I have to wipe them off, put on my “game face” and get back to life. I can be extremely hard on myself and need to stop it! Last night, just to feel a little better,  I had remind myself how much I have accomplished in my life, the things I have had to endure, and that I am still here on this earth and more fortunate than most.

First, the setbacks I will share. Time is limited for me now. There are so many things I “have” to do that finding the time has been a challenge. I have been lucky enough to have had people around who have helped me. I have friends that drive the kids to soccer practice and games. I have also had friends who have watched the kids for me so I get a moment to breathe. That I am thankful for. What I have noticed, when I am feeling the pressure and stress, is that I like to eat more than I should. Now, I don’t binge on chocolate and cake. I tend to side with raiding the refrigerator for leftover meals. That has been a struggle for me, especially at night.

The progress. My mind is a chaotic mess when there is so much to do. I have been actively working on meditation, twice a day, for the last couple weeks. It’s really difficult. It takes time and patience. It is helping to calm my mind. The jogging is going well too. I can run 4 kilometers now, no problem. June will get me to my goal of 5.

So what have I learned?

1. Set a time to build a habit. I know most people don’t like running in the morning, but I always have time at the beginning of the day. Starting the day with a good run also boosts my mood. Meditation is the same thing. I do it when I wake up and close to bedtime.

2. Be patient! 

3. Stop being so damn hard on myself!

4, Keep moving forward!

Some days/weeks/months can be a challenge. I need to accept it and roll with it.

I am living. 

My favorite version of this song. Cheers me up all the time. Sorry for the Spanish subtitles.

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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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Day 27: Living Every Day

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One of the smartest things I did in the last 27 days was to start writing again. (I use this app on my phone and Mac. It’s wonderful. Everything is backed up and synchronized. I highly recommend it. ) Writing privately and publicly has re-energized me. Years ago I wrote pages upon pages… everyday. It feels good to do it again. I write about anything and everything. If I have a good fiction story, I write it. If I need to reflect, figure something out, or remember a moment, I write.

I told the kids that today was a “me” day. That meant that I didn’t want to be bothered too much. I cut up a nice pound of Porterhouse steak, threw it into the slow cooker, added some spices, onions, garlic, and broth, and let it cook itself to deliciousness. Amazing Beef Stroganoff for dinner.

I went out on the porch, in the crisp air and sun, and painted the patio furniture. The porch itself is next, but I have to wait for all the stores to open again on Tuesday. Yep, pretty much everything is closed from Thursday-Monday here because of Easter. Some stores were open today with “special” hours, meaning not too long. I like it when everything is closed. There is something comforting about knowing that the whole of a nation is getting some rest and relaxation time to be with family and friends. Sundays are like that here too.  Sure, when I first moved to Norway I hated it. Now I think of it is a necessity. The US should at least go back to closing everything on Sundays. Having a day free to rest can rebuild the moral and personal health of millions of people and families. It’s just a pipe dream, I know.

Just knowing I had the day for me was all it took. I wrote, painted, wrote, cleaned, wrote and even sat in my youngest daughter’s newly renovated room and taught her how to organize her things for the 6 billionth time.. Every step I took, and everything that I accomplished,  I was grateful for. And, when I felt frustrated or stifled, I stopped and breathed a little.  It was an amazing day, yet nothing particularly amazing happened. That’s where I have been trying to get to, turning ordinary days into something special. A new way of thinking has found its way to me. I need to make each day a “me” day.

I lived today. It was awesome. 

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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 23: Not Every Day is 100% Awesome

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I try to follow a writing process. One, write. It doesn’t matter if anything is wrong or jumbled, just get it written. Two, organize, edit, and make sure I explain my day without getting too personal. Three, reread and post. It’s that simple. Most posts take around 30 minutes. There are some days that I am not that meticulous. Today is one of those days.  It’s really late.

Pre 100 Days me would say, “I had a bad day today.” I am still tempted to start with that.

I had a difficult and challenging day today.  That’s better.

Not every day is as awesome as I want it to be. 100 Days of Awesome is not just about how great everything is. It is also about the struggles I have when trying to make the most of each day.

For the last 4 1/2 days I have renovated and worked on my place. The plan was 3 days tops. Even now, as I lie in my bed, there is an old bunk bed in 4 pieces to my left and 6 or 7 empty furniture boxes to my right. The kitchen is a disaster, the dining room is still filled with furniture and clothes, the fridge is almost empty, and one bedroom is still not completed. My home looks and feels like chaos.

Today’s plan was to run, assemble both new beds, put all the furniture back, and do some cleaning. Everything was to be done today. Instead I slept really late, exhausted from the physical activity I had on day 22. I was in catch-up mode from then on. No time for running… just get the stuff done!  My head was everywhere except in the present.

My oldest was also very upset.  I had to make a judgment call yesterday and decide whether to get her the new bed, but with the wrong color, or wait 2-3 weeks and get the color she liked. I decided to get her the wrong color rather than go through putting all her old stuff back in her room, waiting three weeks, then taking it all out again, getting the truck for a second time, and making another trip to Ikea. To be clear, I did try to call her and ask if I should wait or not. She didn’t answer though. Well, holy hell broke loose when she saw the color this morning.  I simply forgot to tell her yesterday.

Now, she is not normally like this and is actually very easy-going. She is also starting to get older…aka changes. I just didn’t know how to deal with it. The chaos I felt from a house that looked recently carpet bombed, my brain whirling like an out of control rusty carnival ride, coupled with her sobbing in the bathroom, fried my brain. Exhausted and feeling low, I did my best to talk with her without getting upset. It was really tough, but I think I handled it well. After that I was in another world.  Nothing felt right and it continued for most of the day.

I did manage to get ahold of myself in the evening. A little quiet time to stop and assess the situation can really help. I am just disappointed that I waited so long before I did something. I just feel exhausted. There is no question I have done too much without resting enough.

So what can I learn from today? It’s 12.40 am and I am not sure I can analyze it too much. The best I can do is…  Listen to my body… Listen to what I need. Rest. It will get done eventually. And, when I make high expectations of myself, it isn’t always going to turn out the way I want it to. It’s kind of like a prom or a wedding that’s been thought about too much. We create an image in our heads of how it will be and end up being disappointed when it doesn’t end up that way. I have known that for a long time, but somehow I let it all get away from me today.

So yes, I did do much of what I planned. And yes, I lived today. I just didn’t live it the way I wanted to. I am still thankful knowing that the struggles I face are nothing compared to what most of the world deals with.

I am going to stop thinking about it now.

Time to forgive myself, get some rest, and try again tomorrow. Forward!

 

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Day 8: The Honeymoon is Over

awesomeThe “glamour” of #100daysofawesome is over. Now it is on to the long stretches of what Awesomeness is really all about. Not all the goals I have are pretty or exciting. Some of them are difficult things to face and deal with.

Today was as awesome as it could be and, to be honest, was really tough.

I awoke to find my body did not want to do any running. Truth be told, embarrassment  got my ass out of bed and on the cold, cold road this Monday morning (and I forgot to wear warm gloves) . Yes, you dear reader, are the reason I ran today. I thought about that quite a bit today. I don’t want anyone to think I am a quitter.  My final thought on it was, “Fuck it.  I did good for myself today. It doesn’t matter how I got myself to do it.”

Everyone has demons, worries, and troubles that they deal with. I am no different. Part of awesomeness is finding peace with those things. Without getting too personal, the demons were out in full force, for brief moments, throughout the day. It seemed to happen during the quiet lulls in the day.

“Hey dude?! Are the kids ok right now? It feels like something might be wrong!” In the meantime, there is absolutely no indication or evidence that ANY DAMN THING is wrong. Thanks brain. I like having you around…sometimes.

What should I do with these moments? Should I try to shove happiness and peace down my throat?

No. I chose to let those moments run their course. I didn’t ignore them, but I didn’t give them any power either. It takes work and can be exhausting, but there is no damn way I am going live with this kind of stuff for the rest of my life.

So no glamour today. Today was just , “slugging it out,” with myself. It was also the best day I have had since this project started. I like a good fight.

I was here today. I lived the best I could. 

 

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Day #4: Take it all

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“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural–you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh

A lot of people keep asking me what this is all about. The truth is that I am still not 100 % sure. It’s an evolving approach to my life. It’s not about just being healthy or eating right, although I am doing those things.

I want to LIVE.  Yes, I am eating healthy and exercising, but I am not going to deny myself a night out with good friends and eating unhealthy either. I believe that taking care of my body will offer a better quality of life in the years ahead. I also believe that being too damn strict about it will make me unhappy. It’s all about the balance. If I need to lay in bed and sleep late, I will damn well do that too… just not everyday.

We all have challenges that we have faced throughout our lives. This, for me, is my way of meeting those challenges in a positive way. I am trying to rewire my brain in a way that approaches the day with enthusiasm, realistic goals, acceptance, thankfulness for what I have, and a clear conscience.

I am casting aside the, ” have a bad moment and the day is ruined”, attitude.  The typical, “bad day” syndrome. Today wasn’t perfect, despite it looking like that on my Facebook page. I had to take my daughter to the emergency room to get checked for an illness. I had moments I got frustrated.  But, despite these moments, I accepted them and worked through them in a conscious way that didn’t ruin the whole damn day. These are moments in a journey. I appreciate them all.

I went into today with one  focus. There will be moments I don’t like, and moments I do. Being prepared for either or both makes a world of difference. I lived today. 

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Why This Piece of Zen Wisdom is Critical to Helping Your Relationships Thrive – Buddhaimonia

Fantastic Article. #100daysofweseome

If you love a person, you say to that person, “Look, I love you, whatever that may be. I’ve seen quite a bit of it and I know there’s lots that I haven’t seen, but still it’s you and I want you to be what you want to be. And I won’t be happy if I’ve got you in a cage. You’d be a bird without song.”

 

– Alan Watts

via Why This Piece of Zen Wisdom is Critical to Helping Your Relationships Thrive – Buddhaimonia.

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