Monday, January 18, 2016

Let It Suck

"Let it suck." --B.S.

A few weeks ago I met a new friend for coffee. It was one of those amazing "first dates" where you immediately fall into conversation about important things and time seems to pass so quickly that before you know it hours have gone by and you both need to rush off, late for whatever it was you were supposed to be doing that afternoon.

We talked about life and family, relationships and writing, and I told her that one of the most important things I have learned about writing is the importance of being willing to write a really shitty first draft.

I learned this, of course, from Anne Lamott's book "Bird By Bird," but it took me years - YEARS - to be able to actually do it and it still makes me nervous and twitchy sometimes and I am still a LONG way off from enjoying it.

We talked a bit more about our writing process and then she paused for a moment out of the blue and said, "Let it suck," which was her way of reminding herself to have the courage to write a shitty first draft.

This morning as I was waking and dozing, before really getting up, I started thinking about the phrase, "Let it suck," and I realized it could apply to so much more than just writing.

Apply it to a party you have to attend, but don't really want to. Instead of lamenting how much it is going to suck and how uncomfortable it is going to be, just let it suck.

Apply it to a doctor's visit. Instead of moaning about how uncomfortable a pap smear is and how much you don't want to do it (and how freaked out you secretly are that you might have cervical cancer), just let it suck.

Apply it to your relationships. In every relationship there are going to be rough times. And in any long-term friendship, family relationship or romantic relationship there is going to be some conflict, some compromise, and some - maybe even a lot - of mis-communication. Instead of wringing your hands and wondering if this is the end, just let it suck.

And then it will get better. Or maybe in some cases it won't and then you'll have to deal with it, whatever "it" is, but you don't have to deal with it now. For now, you just have to let it suck and be okay with that.

I can't guarantee it, I haven't tried it myself yet, but I am willing to bet this makes things easier in life just as it does in writing.

Let it suck. 


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A New Year's Realization




"Your job is not who you are, your car is not who you are, your looks are not who you are, not even your body...is who you are. You're simply on a journey, just trying things out, to see what you like, to see what you don't... because you can, because it's temporary, and because it's all on the way 'home.'" --The Universe on Tut.com

My sister-in-law gave me a Fitbit for my birthday. I was excited because I had been wanting to try one and it was a nice surprise. I started wearing it and immediately became obsessed with how many "steps" I was taking each day.

I loved the days when I got the vibrating wrist party that celebrates 10,000 steps and I lamented the days when I didn't quite make it.

It motivated me to take the dog for an extra walk around the block at lunchtime (500 steps) or to do a quick 30 minutes on the treadmill (1500 steps) or even to run around Greenlake more often (6000 steps). It also pointed out how sedentary my life is when I don't do those things (about 5000 steps) and that got me moving more often. But the wheels came off the bus when I started using some of the other features, namely the calorie counter.  

I don't know about you, but middle age and menopause have not been kind to my waistline. I gain about ten pounds every five years that seem to linger no matter what I do (or don't do). I DO exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more. I DON'T drink alcohol. I DO try to limit snack foods. I DON'T eat a lot of sweets. But still, the pounds linger.

So I was very excited when I realized that my Fitbit app has this handy dandy feature where you input your current weight and your goal weight, then tell it how quickly you would like to lose the weight and Viola! a weight-loss program appears on the app, which tells you each day how many calories you can consume. As you exercise the count goes up, and as you eat and enter the calories consumed, the count goes down. If you go over your calorie allotment for the day, it alerts you with a red warning bar. Woo Hoo! I thought, I'll be down to my early-thirites, pre-pregnancy weight in no time.

At first it was great, a Pure bar and tea with cream for breakfast 238 calories. A banana for a snack 100 calories. A Greek salad for lunch 240 calories. Tea and chocolate for dessert 108 calories. At the end of the day I was on track with 200 calories to spare. And I was HUNGRY. SO HUNGRY.

I hadn't noticed all day, because I was so excited about my "progress," but as I sat down to read before bed I realized that I had been so consumed with counting calories that I hadn't really enjoyed any of my meals. I hadn't savored my food. And that left me feeling empty.

I decided to have a couple of crackers before bed and to really taste them. Two crackers turned into four and four turned into eight, and before I knew it, I had eaten half the sleeve. I didn't feel good, but I did feel satisfied for the first time all day.

The next morning I got up and made our traditional Saturday morning breakfast - croissants and fruit. My husband fried up some bacon and I ate a chocolate croissant and two pieces of bacon with decaf coffee, honey and half and half. I didn't open my Fitbit app and I didn't count my calories. I just enjoyed my breakfast. And it was such a relief. After eating, I felt satisfied and happy.

Some people may lose weight using this app, and if that makes them happy, that's great. But I am DONE with the calorie counting feature. In fact, I think I am DONE trying to lose weight.

I am in the normal range for someone my age, my height and my body type. I am healthier and more physically fit than I was in my twenties. I can easily swim one mile, or run three. Maybe it is time for me to start aging gracefully, to realize that my body is NOT who I am, but simply a vehicle to take me where I want to go. Around the block, around the lake, or even out to lunch.

[I am still counting steps and look forward to the "party on my wrist" every day that I earn it!]

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Good Reminder


      A cold winter's day at Greenlake


"This will also change." --From a folktale about two brothers and a ring

I needed this reminder today and thought maybe you might too: "This will also change." A reminder that things are always changing and anything that isn't going well for you today is likely to change sooner or later, hopefully sooner. 

The last time I posted this was last year on New Year's Day (http://www.larasimmons.net/2015/01/9-lives.html?m=1) so I think it's a reminder I often need at this time of year when the world is dark and cold. This will also change. Soon it will be lighter and warmer and greener and perhaps I will even remember these dark cold days with a bit of nostalgia and fondness. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE THIS YEAR?

"I am being, while still becoming." --E.L. in a meditation class

As my husband and I had a late morning lie-in on New Year's Day, we were reflecting on the past year and talking about the year ahead.

I started asking him the standard questions: "What are your goals for this year? What do you want to do or achieve in 2016?" But before he could answer, I kept going: "No, wait, WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE in 2016?" I asked, finally pleased with my own question. 

This is what I really wanted to know about my husband, about myself, and about all of the important people in my life: WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE this year? 

We focus so much on what we DO and where we GO and what we ACHIEVE, sometimes it's exhausting, and often it doesn't really say that much about who we ARE, or who we WANT TO BE.

So, WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE this year?

Someone who loves more and works less? Or someone who slacks less and works more? Someone who hikes, gardens, spends time with friends? Someone who is kind, conscious, and present? Someone who can surrender control, or someone who takes more control of their own life?

WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE in 2016?

Happy New Year!