Sunday, June 30, 2013

For one another, we love one another as ourselves

The reading below is from my daily scripture feed. It brought to mind the need for me to be a servant first. Always. It is so easy to fall prey to gossip and deconstructing others, and where is the return in that. It does not take so much to be open to service and love first and foremost.

Reading 2, Galatians 5:1, 13-181 Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery.13 After all, brothers, you were called to be free; do not use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence, but be servants to one another in love,14 since the whole of the Law is summarised in the one commandment: You must love your neighbour as yourself.15 If you go snapping at one another and tearing one another to pieces, take care: you will be eaten up by one another.16 Instead, I tell you, be guided by the Spirit, and you will no longer yield to self-indulgence.17 The desires of self-indulgence are always in opposition to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are in opposition to self-indulgence: they are opposites, one against the other; that is how you are prevented from doing the things that you want to.18 But when you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Readying the way

I started this post more than a year ago. All that was included was the URL to the "Success Checklist" below. I've gone through myriad change in the past year--haven't we all? Some of the points still resonate, and I have others that should be added to the list.

I'm attracted particularly to item 2 on the list,
Your Skills and Natural Abilities Find Their Purpose
 What a wow statement that is. I look for this each and every day, and sometimes foist my skills and abilities obtrusively on others. I do know one thing is true, I am a natural resource person for others. By 'resource' I don't mean that I have all the answers--God forbid I ever believe that about myself. I know better than to pretend that I know it all (I've been called that before, though). I love being helpful to others.

Using my skills and abilities I also satisfy numbers 3 and 9 on the list:
Your Intellectual Curiosity is Stimulated Daily AND You Pass Your Wisdom Along 
It's timely I found this draft today. I went looking for information on my next course in the IU Gerontology Certificate program. I have one more class to take and then a required practicum. I'm excited by the classwork and the experience I will gain, but I need to be able to manage something I am never quite convinced exists. It's number 6 on the list:
You Master Work/Life Balance
If anyone reading this has done this, and thus, achieved number 10 on the list, "Your Mind is At Peace," then please come see me and help share your wisdom with me. I need it desperately.

Friday, June 14, 2013

And things that are inherently ingrained in me

Over lunch today I talked with colleagues I dont see on a regular basis. We talked a little about work but much about what the weekend would hold for each of us. We had one thing in common: We all looked forward to downtime. Its admittedly been a busy summer.

For one, I need a serious thinning of material objects from my house. My husband works consistently on meeting the goal of "less stuff." The task is a much more difficult endeavor for me, as I was raised by a family who had few monetary resources and unlimited ability to envision how something might come in handy at a later date. Things would be stored in the garage, the basement, the attic or under a tarp. I am not sure the homestead was classified as a hoarder house at the time, but let's imagine that I likely had on the rose colored glasses of a child with strong imagination.

I had few toys. My mom was a crafter. My favorite toy was anything that away available and could be molded into a shape similar to what I wanted to play with. I created microphones out of cardboard tubes, tissues and masking tape. Macguyver was my favorite television show as a tween. I was inventive and resourceful, talents I still value today.

And yet, because anything and everything might be used in the future, I do have challenges in getting rid of things. If that piece of well worn furniture is free,I might just have a use for it. If there is fabric, yarn or other craft materials, I cld do something with that sometime. These whabits Arjun counter to clutter free environments, and I find that it m ready to get rid of the clutter. A dear friend of mine is hosting a garage sale this summer, and I a going as all-in as possible. Please pray for me. Please wish me well. Please offer me an hour or two of your time if you are local to help. I will be so thankful of your time and I will cook for you, mix you a drink or offer you coffee and laughter. I will hope that you let me cry on your shoulder if I have difficulty letting something go. It just needs to go. And so, go, it must.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two monks cross a river....

Yesterday's post pointed to the zen tale of two monks and their outlook on living a virtuous life. I think about my desire to control things as a bit of a virtue. I also know from experience that too much focus on control can lead to a miserable life not open to the graces and opportunities we have available to us.

I wrote yesterday about leaving the excess scrutiny of my life behind. I was all set to do that when I encountered my counselor this morning. We talked about the surface things that weigh on my mind: my family, my work, my weight and health. I let the conversation go as there are things that I hope to let process a bit further than they have come already. So, talk turned to my brother and the challenges he has in his life. One can rationalize the reasons that he is the way he is. And so we did in today's conversation.

Then I was asked to rationalize how and why I turned out so differently from my family. It is a conversation that comes to bear quite often between me and my husband. The theory that resonates with me most is that I began reading at a very young age. Once old enough to read novels and biographies, I learned that life held much more in store than I had at my fingertips if only the path to those places and things could be identified, by the time I turned six and was in kindergarten, I knew I  was going to college. I wanted to be a fireman or a nurse at that age. The job description changed each time i came in contact with a new role model.

With each new opportunity I learned a little bit more about what I would need to succeed. I am still learning today, and I think that is what sets me apart from a lot of my family.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Opening up the gate, leaving it at the river

I've been working with a friend / fitness consultant / trainer / nutrition-health advocate for just over seven weeks now. I'm going to call her Woman of Steel, because she's rock-solid in her support and dedicated to freeing her fellow humanity from disease. Her work is to help me become more educated about me and my habits, me and my body type, me and what's best to feed me. I've grown to know my environment and myself much better in the past weeks. I cannot tell you how much I have learned and continue to learn each day about what is best to fuel my mind and body. Perhaps I'll share more about that as time goes on. As a result of what I've been learning, I've lost between 15 and 20 pounds and I'm feeling great. She strongly suggested that I write about and publicize for accountability. I know I have a small readership here (and I thank you for it--keep with me if you choose, and share if you like).

My days consist of thinking about food and fitness in addition to my work and home life. It's important that it becomes an integral part of who I am. I won't be returning to who I was--and what I was not doing physically to build strength and fitness (not a lot, but some--people think I'm more than eccentric for choosing to be at the gym by 5:30 on workout days). And I also won't be returning to the food that I ate all my life. My body is type A blood type and at my early-middle life age is already glucose intolerant. I've been addressing that and my underlying hormonal imbalance since 1997 with a cocktail of pharmaceuticals that I'd rather not be taking. The effect is living life more 'normally' and yet normal would be not taking anything but vitamin supplements in my book. The food that I love(d) has been killing me. You know that my husband and I tend toward healthy--organic when possible, little salt or oil added when we cook. My food demon is carbohydrate and sugar. Add to that a stressful lifestyle and accepting others' drama, and you've got a recipe for weight gain and central stores of fat.

I have really loathed my physical being for years. I cannot remember when I didn't really feel self-conscious. I was three or four years old the first time I remember someone (family members--not immediate) commenting on my size and calling me tubby or something like that. I still see the bathing suit I was wearing, and that was the last time I wore a bikini. Age three or four. I'm not sure if that was the moment or not, but I've carried that memory with me off and on for decades now, along with the internal battle of beauty v. satisfaction. Outside, I grew smart and funny. Probably saved my bacon many a time, and kept me from succumbing too much to others' opinions of me. I could self-denigrate and laugh it off. And I never really had to think much more about it.

I'd spent the last two years trying hard to lose weight, and yet I kept gaining. I consulted with a nutritionist and counselor for ten months, and sunk a monthly service fee into a national commercial program. Both worked for a few weeks (like six) until I grew bored or thought I had figured out how to game the system. Self-sabotage is what I term it. I would do well, but then get scared of what might come next. How could I change my self from who I'd been since childhood? I wouldn't need to the toolkit I'd built over time would I? If I didn't have the toolkit to protect me from others' judgement, what would I have left and who would I be? These, my friends are serious questions. I am not yet sure I have the full scope of the answers.

And perhaps I don't need them at this point. I'm not sure. I was reminded of one of my favorite Zen koans today when following a link in a favorite Twitter feed: Soulseedz - 5 ways to agree to disagree The other points are well made, but koan goes something like this:
Two monks are walking in silence. They come to a river they must cross only to find a beautiful woman waiting for help to cross. One monk lifts her and carries her across the river and sets her gently on the other side. The monks continue walking, but the second monk grows more and more agitated. He and his travelling companion have both taken oaths which prohibit them from ever touching a woman. An hour or so down the road, the second monk explodes on the first, asking how he could have picked up and carried the woman in violation of the oath. The first monk turns and responds, "Why are you still carrying her? I put her down after crossing the river?"
And so I think perhaps I need to stop re-thinking and over-thinking my source of consternation. I need to leave it at the river until we meet again.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

For all things, I am grateful

I've spent a great deal of time this week researching for my job. There are areas of focus where change happens all the time, at a snail's pace and at that of the proverbial hare. Ongoing. Change. Different. I used to tell my husband I don't like surprises. I think I do now.

Two years ago my life was full of surprises. You know those illustrations people use to show you about space and room...they fill a vase with marbles. Is it full? Yes, but then the illustrator will add sand...and there is more filling of gaps between the marbles. Is it full? Yes, we observe, but then the illustrator will add water...and there is more filling of gaps between the grains of sand.... Lesson? Our perception of 'full' is changed forever. I was under the mis-impression I didn't have room for surprises in my life. Surprises meant finding room to fit in the outcomes, good or bad, from the insertion into my world of control.

Today I read a commentary on the Huffington Post Living section (@HealthyLiving see: ) The commentary was a summary of a session at the Huff Post's first women's conference and the outcome was 26 things every woman should know about success. I was struck dumb by several, and yeah, I knew that these were things I already knew but had been variously too stressed out, strung out, down trodden, head in sand, kicking and screaming to make it go away to notice. No, really. I just had forgotten, I think. So I thank the kind folks for reminders. I posted one reminder in my career blog. The other, I think is more relevant here.

17. Gratitude will get you through a lot. "I am endlessly grateful. Every day I'm grateful," said Sallie Krawcheck, former president of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America. "Yes, I worked hard to have the career that I have and plan to continue to do so, so I don't want to take anything away from that. But how in the world I was born in this time to my parents in this world, right, as opposed to another time, a slum in India -- I am so grateful. I'm grateful for everything.”
That gratitude proved very useful when she was fired from the job that had made her the most powerful woman on Wall Street. “I got grateful when I got fired,” Krawcheck said. “I said, 'How many people get to be fired and it's on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?’"

I certainly was not fired on the front page of the WSJ. In fact, I wasn't fired, per se.  My duties were removed, and I was provided with little guidance on what happened, what needed to be corrected and what plans were there for me in moving on. The best advice I could get was when I received endless requests that I write up positions or job activities for myself to showcase my talents and abilities.

Doesn't that sound like a dream? You get to tell your employer what you want to do and then have the opportunity to do it. Let me share: It's not a dream scenario--and it has potential to fade quickly to nightmare. I realized that though I knew myself, I didn't know enough or the full picture of myself. Or perhaps I had just forgotten.

I did recognize my core values, and for that I am thankful. I know know the gifts that one can behold with commitment to those values, open eyes for opportunity and the ability to persevere. I will tell everyone I can, whether asked or not, that I am blessed with my work. I did not choose the service I provide in my work today, rather it was chosen for me--sort of. It's a long torturous story, but the happy ending is there. Like Ms. Krawcheck, I am grateful and I know I am blessed. I am given surprises in each and every day now, but they no longer scare me, and they no longer control me. For this, I am grateful. I still work to see that full picture of myself, and I continue to remind myself that I still have space, I am not full and therefore I am not all that I will every be.