F is for Focus

Chapter 2 of the book “The Spark” by Chris “SparkGuy” Downie, is all about “focus” as a cornerstone of his program. He describes a lack of focus as something akin to being stranded in the middle of the ocean without a clear direction in which to paddle to safety. And while I can see how this can be true for some people – after all, every good pilot knows the importance of a flight plan – it is most definitely NOT true in my case.

Oh, I’m not saying that I’m focused. Far from it. In fact, at this moment, I’m absolutely positive that I could not muster the ability to focus a camera set to automatic. And it’s not because I’m surrounded by the Big Blue without a lighthouse in sight. It’s because I’m standing in front of a giant Whack-A-Mole game without a mallet and 5 seconds left before a gaping maw opens beneath my feet and drags me into the abyss. There’s just too many things demanding my attention. And while I realize that much of the clamor stems from my unfortunate tendency to procrastinate, it doesn’t make me feel any better now that I’m down to 2 seconds on the Whack-A-Mole clock.

But all that changes today. Right now. All it takes is a slight attitude adjustment, some organizational skills and an existential de-cluttering. Today I simplify, organize, and re-focus my life. Today, I re-evaluate the Standard Operating Procedures of my existence and distill the highlights into a manageable plan. I do this because not only is today a new day, but every good pilot knows the importance of a checklist, too.

E is for Everything

Sounds rather ambitious, doesn’t it? “E is for Everything.”

I thought about “E is for Embrace,” but that’s a little too touchy-feely for me. That’s why “E is for Emotion” wasn’t even a possibility. I’m just not that kind of girl.

Then I considered “E is for Elevation.” Not only did this truly appeal to my aviation background but it reminded me of my favorite story EVER, Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle, about a megalomaniacal tyrant of a reptile bent on ruling all of Sala-ma-sond by building his seat of power literally upon the backs of his miserable serfs. Using this reference, I wanted to point out that the higher you are, the further you can see. When we’re on the runway waiting for takeoff, we can only see the end of the runway. Once we’re in the air, our next checkpoint becomes visible and once we’ve reached our cruising altitude it may still be possible to look back and pick out that tiny speck that our departure point has become. In fact, once we attain the heights, it’s hard to believe that we were once content with our previous existence (hmmm…now there’s an “E” I didn’t consider…). However, as Yertle’s rise to power doesn’t end well for him, I thought it best to avoid depressing anyone with this metaphor. I knew “E” could be more.

That’s where “Everything” comes in. I had tried EVERYTHING in the past to get healthy. That stupid soup diet, joining a health club, Jenny Craig, diet pills, you name it. It always felt like I was trying to build a sandcastle with the tide coming in. I discovered that I simply cannot do this successfully piece by piece. I can’t add one little change at a time and hope to accomplish anything. I had to change EVERYTHING. Only by letting go of EVERY one of my bad habits and simultaneously replacing them with a healthy alternative was I able to make any progress. Instead of making myself crazy trying to build up the portions of my castle that the tide washes away bit by bit, I dumped a truckload of new sand on the beach further from shore and am now sculpting my castle exactly (that’s a good “E,” too) the way I want at my own pace. In that way, I was able to give up EVERYTHING in order to gain EVERYTHING. And I will never be ashamed to admit that I want it all.

D is for Destruction

My first stab at home-ownership turned out to be the house I grew up in. My parents wanted to move and they made my husband and I an offer we couldn’t refuse. But before we moved in, it was a moral imperative that we do something about the lime green 1970s carpeting, matching fuzzy wallpaper and the hands-down, undisputed Uber-Champion of The Ugliest Bathroom in the Galaxy Contest.

A good friend of mine happened to be a contractor and I talked him into supervising our renovation since we knew as much about revamping a bathroom as we did about Space Plasma Physics. On the first day of our project, I was using a hammer and chisel to remove the individual pieces of the green and white mosaic floor tile when my friend (or should I say “Boss”?) interrupted me.

Boss: “What the hell are you doing?”
Me: “Um….taking out the tile?”
Boss: “Gimme that.”

Eyes wide, I gave him the hammer. With a disdainful look, he slammed the claw of the hammer into the floor, yanked backwards with a dusty flourish and messily removed about a 2 and a half square feet of tile. With an unmistakable glint of triumph in his eyes, he informed me, “That’s how you do it unless you want to be older than Methuselah when you finish. The drywall comes down the same way. I want all of this gone when I come back tomorrow. Now get to work.” And he left.

After my initial shock wore off, I followed his example with such maniacal gusto that I may have momentarily been possessed by Kali, the Goddess of Destruction. It was glorious! I felt powerful and free (and maybe a little dusty) and I realized in that moment that destroying the “bad” things in my life in order to replace them with “good” things could be just as liberating.

So, don’t be afraid to take a metaphoric crowbar to your negative self-talk to make way for positive affirmation. Get some allegorical TNT and blow that fudge covered Oreo cookie craving to smithereens so your body can have the Nutella and apple snack it deserves. Destruction can be a very powerful tool in the realization of your dreams by clearing out all the junk holding you back and replacing it with a clean slate on which to build the life you crave and the destiny you deserve. Sometimes we just need to light the fuse to catch the Spark.

Blogger’s Note: No fudge covered Oreos were harmed during the creation of this blog.

C is for Chrysalis

Last month, I took my children (a.k.a. “the boy”, age 7 and “the girl”, age 2.5) to a Bubble Show at our library. It was a really cute presentation in which the performer, known as “The Bubble Man,” slyly demonstrated several scientific principles for the children by showcasing his bubble making skills. And despite my daughter’s fierce pride in being (as she puts it) a “Brat Bubble Show,” we all enjoyed it.

One of stories the Bubble Man told us was about hardship and struggle. He said that when he was a child, he came across a butterfly trying to escape it’s chrysalis and decided to help it. To his dismay, the butterfly died shortly after he released it. He later learned that all the effort expended by butterflies as they struggle to free themselves actually condition them to survive once they finally do escape their cocoons. In other words, their hardship makes them stronger.

Sometimes it can be difficult for us to realize that the pain, hardship and setbacks that we endure are a necessary part of our existence. Our choices and experiences make us who we are and serve to highlight all the great things in our lives. How can we know joy if we haven’t experienced suffering? Love without heartache? Success without failure?

Think about the first time you reached a fitness goal. Would it have been half as exciting if it was easy? Capt. James T. Kirk once said “I don’t want my pain taken away! I NEED my pain!” And I wholeheartedly agree. After all, without knowing my pain, how would I know when I am free of it?

So, accept the struggle and know that not only will it make you strong, but like a butterfly, it will eventually allow you to fly!

B is for Bra

It occurred to me today as I completed Day 3 of Week 1 of the Couch to 5K plan how horribly important a proper exercise bra can be.

One would think that this epiphany would have taken place ages ago with far less effort. After all, I learned very quickly after the onset of puberty that I was no longer able to ride to school in the back of the bus without suffering black eyes from the uncontrollable response of my new golden bozos to every pothole, rock, and insect the bus happened to roll over. I’ve always had to purchase the fugly over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders with the underwire and thick straps which no amount of lace or other embellishments could hide the overwhelming fact that they were clearly not make to be worn by any woman under the age of 150. And, BTW, what is up with Victoria’s Secret (of ALL the companies in the universe) not offering pretty bras in sizes to accommodate my Winnebagos? C’mon, Victoria! Where’s the love?

Why I thought that just any old brightly colored spandex band with thick straps could possibly contain the girls while I ran (ok, jogged) my little heart out, I’ll never know. Not only could I not concentrate on my workout due to the exaggerated motion of my bodacious ta-tas and fear of being seen causing myself bodily harm with them, I grew tired much more quickly.

So, I now pledge to never again forsake my orange Reebok high impact jog bra under any circumstances. I urge all my ladies to do the same and never relinquish your boobs to the uncaring manipulations of gravity during your workouts.

A is for Attitude

Well, my first blog ever didn’t go so bad. Nothing bad happened. No tears. No blood. Nothing falling from the sky. Ok…

Since I’m taking this slowly, I thought I’d do a kind of “ABC’s” of my thoughts for my blogs. That would give me a starting point and maybe even something worth blogging about each time, as I’m still a little fuzzy on the whole “blogosphere mentality” and I’m not very good at sharing. Anything. Ever.

Therefore, today will be “A is for Attitude.” This is something I know quite a bit about, since I’ve been accused of everything from having a good attitude, a bad attitude, and/or simply a lot of ‘tude. From a flight perspective, attitude is the orientation of the craft about it’s center of mass. In a way, it’s a measurement of equilibrium. I think a person’s attitude is the same – a measurement of equilibrium. If you have a bad attitude, events seem to never go your way. But if you have a good attitude, things just seem to click into place without any real effort on your part.

So, how do we keep a good attitude? It’s just like flying a plane (or driving a car, or riding a bike): you keep an eye on it and when you see it going off course, you fix it right away with a small adjustment to keep it from deviating even more. And that small adjustment can be anything. Try it. Take a look in the mirror, make the goofiest face you can think of at yourself, and smile. If that doesn’t give your attitude a bump in the right direction, have a nice glass of wine and call me in the morning.

Warning: Blog virgin’s first time

So, how do you do it?  Blog, I mean.  How do you know what to talk about?  How do you know anyone will care or be even mildly interested?  Will people judge you based solely on your blogs?  Do you care if they do?  Do you do it just for yourself as a kind of electronic cyberspace diary?  How much of yourself do you expose to the universe?  Do you feel nervous?  Afraid?  Fulfilled?  Excited?  Anything at all?  Does it get easier?  Does anything?

So many questions.  I suppose this is a lot like a lot of “first times.”  As such, I have a lot more questions than answers and I have a fear of exposing too much and going too fast.  I think I’ll let it end here, after reaching first base.  I have a lifetime to go further, delve deeper, and dive into the blogosphere.  Be gentle with me.