Of facts and attitude is everything

In keeping with the recommendation that I solicit outside opinions to improve my attitude at work, I picked up Growing The Positive Mind by Dr. William K. Larkin. The gist is you can train your brain to feel good and be positive most of the time. He gives exercises to help modify one’s outlook and interaction with the world.

I tend to associate “positive” with “perky”. I’m not sure where that connection came from, but it’s what makes me get a little squicky when someone suggests I “be more positive”. What the book is slowly introducing is you can be positive / optimistic / happy without getting out the pom poms and cheer bows. It doesn’t even have to be spoken. It’s a way of looking at the world and seeing the light rather than the dark. Positive is looking forward using what you’ve already learned. Negative is looking behind you, dredging up the past, and going over it repeatedly. It’s awfully difficult to be optimistic about what’s in front of you when you’re too busy looking behind you at everything that has gone wrong.

The hardest part about the past is it’s both always with us because it’s what brought us to where we are now, but something that we need to accept is behind us and, therefore, unable to change. Getting upset over something someone said yesterday is a waste of time. Getting upset at myself for something I did five minutes ago is a waste of time. “What If” are probably two of the worst words you can use, up there with “should”. I need to write that in giant letters over my computer screen or on my bathroom mirror. Or both.

One of the important parts of the book are 4 things you need to stop doing in order to succeed. They are:

  • Stop Being Critical of Yourself and Others (guilty x 1000)
  • Stop Blaming Others for Your Problems or Any Problems, for that matter (guilty)
  • Give Up Being a Cynic or Critic of the World (guilty)
  • Be very, very picky about what you watch on TV, especially the news (I got this one! Yay!)

I freely admit that I mask cynicism as “realism”.

“But I had all this crap happen! Why should I believe that it’s going to improve? That’s not reality!” [Shut up, Hailey]. Yes, shit happens. Bad shit happens. Shit I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The whole point of this blog is to take the shit that happened to me and learn what I can from it. What did that situation teach me? What does any crap situation teach me? How can I apply what I learned in another part of my life? Can this lesson help someone else if it doesn’t serve me right now? There are facts – which can be proved empirically, then there’s reality. Reality, especially when there are two human beings involved, is pretty damned subjective. Have two people observe the same set of circumstances and you’ll get two different answers for “what did you just witness?”. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I get caught up in my own reality very easily. My reality is someone else’s theory. Someone else’s reality could just be a theory for me. All facts are realities, but not all realities are facts.

I end this entry with a little anecdote. When my dad was going through his cancer treatments the first time around, his oncologist shared something with my mom. He said that what he’d observed in his patients was the ones with a positive outlook did worlds better than those without. If you believe that you’re going to get through it, that’s a huge step in success. If you just give up, sign your own death certificate, and wait then you’ll get exactly what you signed up for. That was something that always stuck with me. Even in a literal life or death situation, if you believe you can live, then you’ve got a start.


Of gratitude and manifestos

I’ve been subscribing to Gala Darling’s Radical Self Love Letters for this year. It’s an email every day on various topics relating to loving yourself (in all senses of the term). I’ve been reading her blog for several years and always found it inspiring. I first stumbled upon it when a friend mentioned her “Things I Love Thursday” posts. This was in 2010 during my strongest self hate period. I’d just been introduced to the idea of a gratitude list from AA. I thought it was silly, it couldn’t possibly work, and didn’t particularly like the idea. Then I read her version of it and thought “Hey, maybe this can actually be fun”. It’s all about presentation, boys and girls. My “things that make me smile” list is my version of that in case it hasn’t been obvious. I have a daily diary at another site and I wrap up each entry with “The Daily Lovefest”. Sometimes it’s a struggle to write it, other days I’ve got tons of things I’m grateful for.

Another writing prompt last week was writing a “Radical Self Love Manifesto”. Everyone should have a manifesto, not just despots. Can’t let them corner the market on that one, can we? So we’re going to play a game in this entry. Let’s write it all out and start the week out on the right foot.

Things That Make Me Smile:

The cat sleeping in a sunbeam * Getting out of bed and making cinnamon rolls * Sitting in a first world country on a laptop with a TV remote, tablet, and cell phone at arm’s reach * Everyone who has hauled me around the past few months * Friends who I would do anything for and who would do anything for me * Laughing my ass off on my Friday afternoon rides with my boss * Having a boss I’m totally comfortable with instead of terrified to say 2 words to * Looking back and being able to see how far I’ve come * Being open to retrying things whether it’s a food, a TV show, or a hobby just to see how I feel about it now * Making people laugh * Stretch class * Being less and less envious of other women’s bodies * Lots of opportunities to travel in the next few months * Getting the chance to be a better big sister * The ability to share my story in the hope that it will help one person avoid the path I’ve walked down or help them see they can come through it all the stronger

My Radical Self Love Manifesto:

Standing my ground and refusing to be bullied into something I’m not comfortable with * Taking care of myself whether it’s washing my hair or going to a dance class * Laughing regularly at myself * Respecting what my body is telling me * Painting my nails, putting on lipstick, and presenting the very best “me” to the world * Sensible spending rather than frittering away money on things that don’t serve me * Not being afraid to let go of things that no longer have a place in my life * Stepping outside my comfort zone, even if it’s just a toe * Not comparing myself to someone else. That’s saying I think they’re better than I am & that’s not true * Setting myself up for success * Devoting time to the things I truly enjoy * Rocking out to Backstreet Boys or Def Leppard because I can * Embracing the 9 year old girl whose ambition in life was to become a drag queen * Channeling my inner drag queen 😀

Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday. For those who have tomorrow off, enjoy!



Of cooking, food, and other things that make me smile

I was reading one of my regular blogs earlier and the post set off a lightbulb in my head.

I love to cook. I learned how to bake when I was 11 or 12 starting with boxed mixes. Then I expanded to making desserts and pastries from scratch (frosting is stupidly easy). Then I expanded into cooking when I lived on my own. Since I’m currently splitting my time between my parents’ house and Boy’s apartment, cooking and eating have become a bit of a hot mess on toast. Lunch is either a frozen meal or bought from the cafeteria at work. I totally forget there are microwaves by the cafeteria and end up eating my lunch at my desk in a rush because I don’t want to look like I’m slacking off. Not the goal. My mother, God love her, is very territorial with her kitchen. The only opportunity I have to use it is when she’s either out of town or asleep. Otherwise, you enter her domain to be served or microwave something if you don’t like what’s on the menu for dinner. She shows her love by cooking for my dad and me every night. Rarely do we get take out or delivery. I appreciate that, but a lot of times I want to do my own thing. Which usually means microwaving something or picking up food. At the other end of the spectrum, Boy lets me have free rein in the kitchen. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and he doesn’t care. I find that I tend to fall back into my old habits even when I’m with him. Something quick and easy, typically that can be microwaved or picking something up on our way back home.

In an effort to save money, we decided to only eat one meal out or get takeout between Friday night and Sunday night. That’s only been moderately successful. Frequently, we find ourselves at the grocery store as an afterthought. We went to Target for something else and rummaged through the grocery section. Trader Joe’s was on the way from Point A to Point B. It’s almost never a case of going to the grocery store with a list and the intention to get all the ingredients for several meals or one recipe that would provide enough for several meals. That’s the first step. The next step is actually taking the time to prepare things. I have several recipe apps on my phone and food blogs I enjoy reading. Trader Joe’s website even offers recipes for all kinds of meals with everything available to get in the store. Boy is a carnivore, I could live happily as a vegetarian. He likes sweet stuff, I can take it or leave it. However, he’s got a very short list of things he won’t eat and I’m the picky one. As the main cook, I have way more control over what’s on the menu. Cooking or otherwise preparing food with intention is the real crux. Lastly, sit our butts at the table, turn off the TV, ignore the smartphones, and have an actual meal with each other. Studies have shown that without those kinds of distractions, you eat more slowly and your body has time to register satiety with your brain. That can take up to 20 minutes. If you’re scarfing down a burrito in front of the TV, before you know it, you’ve overeaten and feel disgusting (totally scientific).

Most of my eating habits have become just that. Habits. I eat a lot in the morning, mostly just because I’m bored. I’ll have breakfast anywhere between 7a-830a on a work day because I’m actually hungry. I’ll have a snack around 10a out of habit. Then I’ll eat lunch around 1130a out of habit.  I’ll have a cookie with lunch out of habit. And I’ll go all afternoon without a snack. Some days, it’ll be 8 or 9p before I eat dinner. I ignore my body’s cues and eat even if I’m not hungry or to the point of feeling bloated and overly full (like right now). I know that’s crappy for my metabolism and general health. If I know I’m going to be doing some kind of physical activity after work, I’ll try to have a snack in enough time to digest before getting the heart rate up. Most of the time, I totally forget that. Then I’m starving after class and way overeat again. Thus the cycle continues. Like any other habit, it will take time to break them. When I’m at work, eat lunch in the cafeteria. Sit at a table while I eat breakfast. If my breakfast is a latte on the way to work, take my time drinking it. Set an alert on my computer to have a snack before I go to class, even a handful of trail mix. If I think I’m hungry, drink 16oz of water, wait 20 minutes, then determine if I’m actually hungry or just doing it out of habit. Time to embark on breaking those habits, experiments in cooking, and not relying so heavily on foods that can be cooked in a microwave or form a grease puddle in a bag.

In light of the news of my coworker’s cancer yesterday, I compiled a list of the things in my life I so often take for granted and should celebrate more often:

I live in a first world country with access to clean water, electricity, food, computers, and smartphones * My family and friends are healthy * Aside from the epilepsy, I’m healthy. All my vitals and bloodwork are excellent. * I have a crazy, weird, mismatched group of friends who I wouldn’t trade for the world * I have the ability to walk, jump, run, dance, and contort myself in unnatural directions * I make people laugh * I have a job with benefits and I boss I love * I can finance my expensive hobbies * My parents let me live with them without the expectation of rent * I have people who are willing and able to drive me around for 6 months so I can still work * My form of epilepsy is easily managed with medication and common sense about taking care of myself * I’m in a happy, loving, and mind blowingly awesome relationship with someone I would do anything for * I have people who are happy to help me and guide me when I find myself in situations I’m not sure how to handle * Kitten cuddles * Getting to watch my (surrogate) nieces and nephews grow up from day 1 * Lush body products * Paid holidays * Waking up next to Boy even at 630a * Ballet classes * Cosmically speaking, having the world by the tailfeathers