Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking Good Now

It was a rough couple of years. First there was unemployment, then there was work stress and financial stress and on top of all of that (I suspect) hormonal imbalances to boot. Basically, I’ve packed on the pounds.

I’m working hard at losing the weight but I’m finding that at 43 it’s not quite as easy as it used to be. What’s a girl to do? I work out. I eat less. I’ve eaten mini-meals throughout the day. I’ve starved myself. I’d drank enough water to grow gills. It’s been, and continues to be, a long and frustrating process.

I look in the mirror and wonder, “What happened to Karyn??? She’s disappeared under a sea of fat!” I don’t feel attractive. I don’t feel confident. I certainly don’t feel sexy. And despite my shopaholic tendencies I don’t feel like shopping either. I don’t want to buy clothes in my current size. I don’t want to be relegated to the ‘Womans’ section or Lane Bryant. I want my old body back or a reasonable facsimile.

It’s gotten so bad that I have practically worn out the few fitting clothes I have. I've had no choice but to do a little shopping. So one afternoon, I reluctantly ventured into Ross and approached my size. I headed into the dressing room with a sense of dread, my head hung low. I tried on what I’d picked out and I was horrified … not just by the size but by the unconscious transformation. I picked out frumpy, style-less, bland clothes. When I looked in the mirror, I felt less like me than I ever had before. I heard the ringing. This was my wake-up call.

I am changing. This is true. I am working on losing. I will not be this size and this weight forever. However, I need clothes now and I need to look good in those clothes now. I need those clothes to be a true reflection of me regardless of the size. So I came out of the dressing room handed the stack of bland clothes to the sales lady and made another pass at the racks.

This time I went for bright, rich and vibrant colors, not just the depressing blacks, grays and browns. I was able to find clothes that had more shape and style, not ill-fitting shapeless mumus. When I made the second trip to the dressing room, I fared better. I saw in my reflection clothes that not just fitted but reflected the woman that I am – funny, quirky and upbeat.

I got tons of compliments on two of the sweaters I’d picked out. It felt good, like I had recaptured part of myself I’d let go. I hadn’t realized how much weight had impacted my life. I had stopped feeling good about myself on the inside and it showed on the outside. I promised myself that day in that dressing rooom that it was going to stop.

The destination is important but so is the journey. So on the way to weight loss, I plan on looking and feeling my best. I owe it to myself.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

When it comes to my work as a trainer and as a life coach, I have the patience of Job. I can go over the same topic again and again and again until a student or client gets it. I can wait until they experience that magical ‘Aha!’ moment when it all comes together. Personally, however, I am as impatient as they come. I don’t want to wait. Ever. For example, when the traffic light turns green, I blast through it leaving the other cars in the dust. Waiting is not my forte.

Yet, I pay a high price for my impatience. I pay that price in the currency of frustration and mistakes made out of haste. I wish I could apply the patience I show professionally, and even personally with others, to myself. When it comes to patience I am definitely a work in progress.

When I am tempted to react impatiently, I try to take a breath and think about all of the times that waiting has paid off. I think about the times I ended up with something better than what I wanted. After my car broke down, I spent a year in a half in a 20-year old car with no air conditioning and no radio. I was miserable in the summer months! I wanted a new car! Yet, after 18-months, I ended up not with the car I wanted but the car that was one grade up from that. Waiting paid off.

I also think about all the times I ended up grateful that I didn’t get what I wanted at the time or when I got what I wanted and would have been better off waiting. I remember jumping into a relationship because I felt I was ready for one. So I jumped into one with the wrong person. Clearly, I’d have been better off if I had wanted and not jumped at the first guy that came along.

I also realize that if I have time to be impatient, I’m probably not focusing on the right thing. Usually, there are some things I can be doing to improve myself, my situation or my outcome. Impatience in those cases is a sign that my focus is off.

Time spent in impatience is time wasted.

Monday, January 23, 2012

On the Way to Milk and Honey

We had a guest pastor in church a few weeks ago. Guest pastors are like a box of assorted chocolates, you never know who you are going to get. He was great, though. Personable, engaging and funny. So I have to tell you that this blog got its impetus in his sermon.

He talked about the Promised Land, a land described as the Land of Milk and Honey. This was nothing new but it was what he said next that set his sermon a part. He said that cows make milk and bees make honey. Again, nothing new here. BUT, he continued, just as cows make milk they make a whole lot of other *stuff* and just as bees make honey, they also sting.

Basically, if you want to get to the milk and honey, you're going to have to walk through a lot of stuff and endure a lot of stings!

He said, the only way to get to the milk and honey is to go through the stuff and the stings. You see, most of us, recoil and take a big step back, when we get a whiff of the stuff or feel the first sting, but if we want the milk and honey we have to keep moving through the stuff and stings.

We need to remember that the milk and honey are on the other side - that goal, that motivation - should keep us moving forward.

Whatever you are going through right now remember that the only way to get to the milk and honey is to keep moving. The only way to get through it is to go through it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Disengage the AutoPilot

All of us, at one point or another, have driven to work, school or even home and realized when we got there that we really didn't know how we did it. In other words, we do it so often that it's second-nature. It's rote. We do it without even thinking about it. We made that drive with the autopilot on.
It's not so bad. We travel that route over and over again. It's natural that we stop thinking about it.

What about autopilot for our lives? We get up, we get dressed, we go to work, we come home, we eat, we watch TV or get on the computer, we go to bed. We travel that route over and over again. Of course, it's natural that we stop thinking about it only it's not.

Kids grow up quickly. We seem to age overnight. If we aren't careful, we'll blink and realize that years have gone by and we barely even noticed it. Relationships come and often they go with the good times becoming faint memories and the bad times remaining vivid and strong. Life happens whether we are watching it or not, whether we are ready or not. We don't have the luxury of autopilot. We need to be present and focused every day. We must live every day and live it fully.

One of the security guards at my job died over the weekend. I will miss her terribly. Hers is the first face I remember even before I started her a year and a half ago. She greeted me with a smile on both of my interviews. When I came in early to take my badge photo, she made me laugh, and that is why I'm smiling so broadly on my photo. She was at that front desk every day until Christmas. None of us knew how sick she was until the very end.

I'm sure just about everyone in a building of over 600 people has a Barbara story. I have tons. She was a woman who had an infectious laugh and a quick sense of humor. She remembered faces and names and had a kind word for everyone. She didn't live on autopilot. She was present every day, experiencing life in its fullness and touching lives everywhere she went. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Five-Minute Challenge

I bet you didn't know this but January is National Organization Month. It kind of makes sense because at the beginning of the year a lot of people want to start off strong and that requires some organization.

I think the main reason most people aren't organized is because of the time commitment they assume is involved. Since they don't have a weekend, day or even a solid hour to organize then they forgo organization all together.

However, this is an area where a little bit of time can make a big difference, let me prove it to you. Here is the challenge. For the next two weeks, I want you to spend five minutes on twoareas where a lot of people need help.

At Work
Spend five minutes a day sorting through your emails. Here's a tip - do not delete them in date order! That is the way you want to receive emails (so new messages are always on top, but to delete messages quickly sort them by Sender. This way you can delete all of your Daily Horoscope messages at once! You can also arrange them in size order so the largest emails rise to the top. Considering saving large attachments and then deleting the message.

If you want to, on the weekend, take a stab at clearing out your personal inbox.

If everything is organized and you run out of time ... try your Sent Items. Almost no one deletes old sent messages!

At Home
Spend five minutes a day in your closet. Have a box on hand for clothes you want to donate. If you finish the clothes in the closet, move on to shoes and then if you are on a roll, the drawers in your dresser.

Five minutes is the commitment. If you're on a roll and have time to do more but if you accept this challenge you can do no less than five minutes.

A little time each day over several days can make a big difference. Trust me. Try it. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Salsa, Anyone?

It’s not really a resolution but I have promised myself that this year I’m going to make an effort to get out of the house. I have a full-time job and I blog and write in the evenings. So, I have developed a very bad habit of going to work and going home. It’s gone from being routine to being a rut. I’ve known for a while that I needed to do something, but as we all know knowing and doing are two different things!

In 2012, I’m going to do. I belong to several Meet-Up groups (through yet, I couldn’t remember the last time I actually attended an event. I revisited the site and retooled my membership. Deleting inactive groups and finding a few new ones. Since my meet-ups are based on my interests (photography, dancing, hiking, socializing) then there is no reason why I shouldn’t go.

The problem was getting over the inertia. I think getting started with anything is the hardest part. We are creatures of comfort and we, as human beings, seem to resist change, even when it’s good for us. Whether it’s a diet, a new software application or a procedure that’s changed at work, we like the old way.

As a life-long list maker, one way I get over the inertia is to put it in my Blackberry as a task. I love checking off a task and it nags at me when I can’t! In the past, I’ve just not put social events on my task list or calendar. If it’s not there, I can’t check it off! So, I’ve started adding those events to my planner process.

The first item on my list – line dancing class – was Wednesday night at 7:00. Normally, that’s when I’m settling in to being home. Now, in order to go to class, I had to eat dinner early, change into workout clothes, leave the house again, in the cold, and drive over 20 minutes to get there. The old me would have passed. This time I made myself go.

It was worth it. I danced. I laughed. I had fun. I had a lot more fun than I would have had cocooned in my house, wrapped in my writing sweater with the dog lurking somewhere in the background.

I really wanted to keep the momentum going so the next night, I met with another meet-up group for dinner at a restaurant I'd wanted to try. The food was okay but the conversation was great.

The hardest part is getting started but I think that after you have had some success or in my case fun it gets easier. Next on my list: meeting with the photography meet-up, Zumba class and salsa lessons!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Focused Fifteen

It is my philosophy that anybody can do just about anything for 15 minutes. You will almost always be surprised at what you can accomplish is a quarter of an hour.

It really isn't a lot of time. You can watch half a sitcom in 15 minutes. You're commute to work is probably longer. Yet, if you give a focused 15 minutes, you will see results. Notice the word in italics, focused. I'm not talking about 15 multi-tasking minutes when you are checking email, cooking dinner, and  listening to voicemail. I'm talking about devoting that little bit of time exclusively to the task at hand whatever that task may be.

For me, the Focused Fifteen is the antidote to procrastination. If there is something I don't want to do, like, straighten up the house, return a phone call, or on some occasions, write, I reach for the timer. I set my kitchen stove timer for 15 minutes. For that time, I clean or make the call or I start writing. At the end of the 15 minutes, I have a choice. I can stop because I have done what I said I was going to do. Or if I have the momentum and the time, I can keep going.

Fifteen minutes is long enough to overcome your inertia and get a good start. It's also enough time to make a dent in a project and sometimes that dent is all you need. I actually swear by this. It works. I'm so committed to it that my first Get It Together Girl book is devoted to removing clutter and getting organized in 15 minutes a day.

Try it. Use the Focused Fifteen for:
  • straighting up the house
  • cleaning out the refrigerator
  • clearing out your email inbox at home or at work
  • sorting through your closet
  • journaling
All you have to do is 15 minutes. Once that timer goes off, you'll feel an immediate sense of accomplishment. If you have the time, keep going. If you don't, pat yourself on the back because you did something (and probably more than you thought you would). And, doing something is always better than doing nothing.

If you want to see some real results, get the family involved. Put on some good music and see who gets the most done. Or set your quarter hour for the  15 minutes before your favorite TV show and you have a built-in reward!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let's Do It Together!

I love setting resolutions. Only , I prefer to call them goals. To me, a resolution is something you want to do, not necessarily something you seriously want to do. A goal has structure, it has a plan. Last year, I achieved several goals. I made a big dent in my debt, I read the entire Bible, I wrote two new Get It Together Girl workbooks. However, I didn't lose the weight and that was a big one for me (no pun intended).

For 2012, I am doing something new and I would love it if you would join me. I'm going to periodically share my progress on my goals with you here in this blog. If you'd like, you can share your goals here and add comments on your progress, when I post my status updates.

I used the process outlined in my own goal-setting workbook; I set three goals and charted a plan for achieving them. Here they are.

1. Lose 50 pounds.
2. Pay off two loans.
3. Write another Get It Together Girl workbook and work at promoting the entire series.

I started on January 1st. I met a co-worker and we went for an hour-long walk. I got the name of a credit advisor from a good friend who has used his services. I also began outlining my next workbook. When you set your goals, try to start working on them immediately. Get your momentum going.

If you are setting resolutions for yourself, comment below about what your resolutions are. If you aren't setting resolutions, hopefully, you'll be interested in seeing how we are doing in reaching our goals.

Here are some tips for great goal-setting:
1. Set no more than 3 goals total.
2. Make a plan for how you will achieve your goal.
3. Make a Plan B for what you'll do when you encounter an obstacle.

So what are your top 2012 resolutions? Will you join me on this journey?

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Legacy of Anger

A few days ago I stopped to pick up a salad for lunch. The drive-thru line was long so I decided to go in. It was just as busy inside. I waited in line behind a group of young boys (about 12 -13). We ended up waiting for our orders together. As the boys got their food, one boy felt slighted. You see, the server failed to give him the cup for his drink.

He indignantly told his friends. “They’re trying to cheat me! He didn’t give me a cup for my drink!” He went back up to the counter and, in an accusatory tone, told the harried server that he hadn’t gotten his drink. Without hesitation, the man behind the counter quickly apologized and handed him his cup. Hardly the behavior of someone who was trying to get over on someone else.

Feeling vindicated, the young man snatched the cup and went to fill it.

It took everything within me, not to say something to him. Maybe I should have. As I left, I wondered where he learned that kind of behavior – to assume the worst, to play the victim and to treat someone so rudely at such a young age? Chances are he learned it at home.

When we talk about the legacy we want leave our children, we talk about life insurance, a successful business or some sort of financial windfall. However, the legacy we truly leave is a lot deeper and more pervasive than money.

The mental, emotional and intellectual lessons we teach our children will be the determining factors in the adults they become; how they live their lives, the choices they make and ultimately what they will pass on to their kids.

This boy was taught to assume the worst. People were out to cheat him, to take from him, make a fool of him. The way he snatched that cup, it didn’t seem like he’d been taught to be polite or cordial. He was angry and he had to learn that somewhere.

Kids listen to what adults say and they watch what they do. If we consistently respond with anger, indignation and suspicion, then we can’t expect our kids to do behave any differently. I’ve heard parents cursing, arguing and just exhibiting all sorts of bad behavior in front of their kids as if it doesn’t matter. It does. It makes a difference.

“Do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t work. Kids will do what you do. Forget about what you say.

If you consistently talk about how your race/gender/... is holding you back, then you child will grow up feeling defeated.

If you constantly maintain dysfunctional relationships or badmouth your partner (or their other parent), your child will grow up feeling that that kind of behavior is the basis for adult relationships.

If you don’t show compassion for others and help them when you are able, can you really be surprised when they grow up to lack compassion or behave selfishly?

If gratitude is a foreign concept for you, it will be foreign to your child as well.

The sad thing is that children are malleable. Parents mold, shape and guide them. I have to say, it scares me sometimes when I think of the shape some of these children are being molded into and where they are ultimately being guided.