a girl and her boy

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Category Archives: inspiration/hope

Rules to Live By

12 Rules to Live by Robert Louis Stevenson
Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.

Make the best of circumstances. No one has everything and everyone has something of sorrow.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Don’t let criticism worry you. You can’t please everybody.

Don’t let your neighbors set your standards; be yourself.

Do things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.

Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than actual ones.

Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish enmities and grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.

Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about places.

Don’t hold post-mortems or spend time brooding over sorrows and mistakes.

Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.

Keep busy at something. A very busy person never has time to be unhappy.

* * *

Just a little something extra for today. I hope you are having a fantastic day!


The Power of Intentions – Make Your Life Happen!

“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day. This moment… this day… is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day… each moment of this day… a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity.” Dan Custer.

I seem to have something to learn about the power of intentions and positive thinking as the universe has put opportunity after opportunity to think about it, engage in it, and learn from it in my path lately. The quotation at the beginning of this post was in my email inbox one morning earlier this week. On Sunday at church, the message was about harnessing your power and the power of the Universe to set and achieve intentions, and the chapter in my manual on writing just happens to be talking about intentions and goals as well. Okay, Universe, here we go.

I have made much progress in life. I’m very happy with where I am and what’s in my life, in general. I have two postsecondary degrees in areas I am passionate about. I have a comfortable home and plenty of possessions to keep me entertained, progressing, and developing. I have health, youth, and energy to make big things happen. I’ve overcome some huge obstacles and learned many lessons about love, forgiveness, and faith.

Life isn’t over yet, and won’t be for many years if I have it my way, which means there is plenty left to learn and achieve. (I tell Gabe often that I want to live to be 120. He says that with technology and health advancements that it’s quite possible.)

After doing some financial planning with Gabe, I turned the page in the notebook to a fresh sheet and wrote down in concrete terms the things I am going to do in life. That’s right, no “maybe” or “someday” or “it would be nice if I could.” It’s all about “I will.”

Here is what I intend:

I will be financially independent and responsible.

This one is huge for me. I grew up in a family where money was always an issue. There was never enough of it and it was often misused. When I went off to college, having no real concept of how money worked, I got myself into credit card debt and constantly lived beyond my meager means. It took a long time and many hard lessons before I got myself out of debt, stabilized my finances, and learned how to manage money effectively. While teaching, I did very well to support myself and my former husband on my salary and somehow managed to save enough to live on for the first six months or so of living in Salem when I ventured out on my own after the separation. Now I’m in a financially stable committed relationship, but I wake up worrying at night about what would happen if something happened to Gabe, or if there were an even bigger economic upset. I am actively working on getting myself and our relationship set up so that we are individually, and as a couple, financially stable. I want to know that no matter what happens that we are going to be okay.

I will be professionally successful and secure in a teaching/editing/publishing position.

I want it and I’m working for it. It’ll happen.

I will obtain and maintain good health.

I reworded my usual goals because they were too narrow and I found myself constricted and limited. I have learned that if I focus my goals too much and organize things too well, then I “rebel” and don’t do it. I need flexibility and freedom to achieve goals, especially health related.

One big change I’ve made to work towards a lifetime of good health and physical strength is my “minimum” rule: it doesn’t matter what it is or how much, but I must do something physical every day. I can go on a long walk. I can do few sets of crunches and push-ups. I can go to the gym and lift weights. The goal is to move my body every day. This way of thinking has helped me get up and move every day for the last 19 days. I’m close to the 21-days to form a habit!

Beyond that, I have some very specific running goals for the next 24 months. I had to put off my races this past year because of the health situation, but now that I’m on the mend, it’s training time again. So, my general goals as I haven’t set up a training schedule or found races yet is to run a handful of 5k races this spring and summer, and by fall run a 10k race. Then over the next fall and winter, pump it up to half-marathon distance for the late spring or early summer next year and keep pushing for my first marathon in the fall/winter of 2012. That gives me, I hope, a decent amount of time to build up miles and strength for a marathon. Running-readers, what do you think? Prior to the illness, I ran 4-6 miles a day 3 to 4 times a week and long runs of 7-10 miles at my best. Since then, I’ve managed to get in 7-12 miles a week. Not much, I know, but it’s been something.


I miss running outside! I can't wait until it warms up.

As far as food goes, I’ve had so many different ideas on how to achieve health through food and it’s brought me to extreme decisions in the past. My new and best idea yet: moderation! Oldies are the goodies. I do fairly well getting in a fair number of fruits in a day, and I’m getting better with veggies. I’ve been a whole grain person for years now and had a period where I thought I wanted to dump them from the diet completely. Then I had to go off them on doctor’s orders for a few weeks. Now that I’m healthier and feeling good without the dairy and gluten, and thinking long and hard about my needs, what I want, and about world health trends, I’ve decided to keep them. That’s for me. Everyone makes their own decisions based on their needs and how their body responds. Do the best by your own body, folks! Treat it well!

I’m also going to start yoga! Woo-hoo! I got a great deal on 7 classes in Cambridge through Yelp. I can’t wait to have a yoga booty.

I will live a long and happy life.

This whole post is about intentions. I intend to be happy every day to the best of my ability. I’m choosing it. The long part, well, I’m hoping that by a positive attitude, a fulfilling and invigorating career, and a healthy lifestyle, that comes with some luck.

I will write and publish at least one novel.

I’ve been tapping away at the keyboard for at least 30 minutes each day on a new novel idea this year. I don’t know how good it is, but it’s progressing. You gotta write a novel to publish a novel. The best writing is rewriting and revision. It’ll come.

* * * * *

So what about you? What are your intentions? What are you going to make happen with your life?

Happy Thursday, folks!

February is for Finishing

Yes, I know. I know. The rules for February is for Finishing included having a list up by February 1. Well, I did have a list. A mental one. That list has just one thing on it.

I am *going* to finish this cross-stitch piece this month even if it kills me, which it won’t. It just might keep me sleep deprived, that’s all.

Since this photo was taken in January 2010, I’ve picked it up and worked on the wing and ribbons at the bottom of the piece and they’re now up and around the sleeve just under the earth. It’s pretty much a matter of finishing the ribbons, fixing the hair and wing gap, filling in the earth, and attending to the flowers. I can do that.

I couldn’t find the original photo that came with my pattern and this is the best image I could find for the finished piece online:

When I’m done with it, I have a plan for what to do with it. After I finish and attend to some details, I’ll fill you in. It involves preparing it as a gift for someone who has done a lot for me.

I began this cross-stitch piece in high school, freshman year I think. My best friend’s mom pulled the thread out of her own collection, gave me a hoop and needle, and put the first stitch in for me. I’ve thought of her every time I work on it and thank her for the wonderful person she is and example she was to me as I wandered blind in high school. Emmy, your mom is awesome, but you knew that already.

Emmy’s mom, Susie, is mother to everyone that walked through the doors of her home. Nearly every time I was over, there were a few extra kids in the house visiting Phil, Em’s brother, or just hanging out. People loved being there. I loved being there. I felt loved and welcome. I felt accepted. Em’s mom had a way of making every person feel special and capable of doing extraordinary things with their lives. She showed this love by word and deed:  she made every one of her “kids” a graduation quilt with a special message handwritten and sewn on. I have mine tucked away in a special storage bag in the closet waiting on a home where I can get a quilt rack to display it honorably. And she knew how to enjoy life and laugh. God. I don’t think I laughed as much or as hard anywhere else. Susie Estabrook, you are one of my greatest inspirations. Thank you for everything!

After I’m done with the cross-stitch piece, I have two sweaters, two cropped cardigans, and pair of socks to finish knitting. Hopefully I can keep the voices in the stash silent while I get this stuff done so I don’t add to the UFO list. Speaking of the stash, I have the goal of, other than specific items requested by people and funded, I am knitting and cross-stitching out of the stash strictly this year. As soon as I gather my courage to sort through the basket and two buckets of yarn, I’ll post photos of the stashed goods and post pictures and intended projects. Keep me honest and knitting!

Super What?

Millions of football fans tuned in to the Super Bowl yesterday to watch two teams compete for the championship. Years of hard work on an individual level and a year of hard work on a team level came to fruition yesterday. For a few, their dreams of ultimate success came true.

I didn’t watch. I don’t watch. It doesn’t make sense to me on any level.

Back in high school, I loved sports. I played field hockey and knew how huge it was to have fans and neighbors come out to support the team as we represented our hometown. In turn, I went to the soccer games, football games, cross country matches, basketball games, etc. to support my friends and classmates in their representation of our town. I was proud to be from Skowhegan, home of the field hockey state champions several years in a row and home of the basketball team; home of the drama and speech team; home of my friends and family and neighbors.

I also coached. I coached kindergarten basketball, helped with flag football, track and field, softball, soccer, etc. I had my hands in local sports every season as a fan, a coach, an assistant, as a player. Sports are an incredible resource for developing a person’s character and way of handling the world.

In college, I went to the hockey games and was a proud “Main-iac” with a blue and white painted face. I even went to a few football and basketball games and one cross-country match. Even though the athletes were often recruited and given hefty scholarships to come to Maine to play, they ultimately chose to play for Maine and represent the Black Bears.

Pro sports just don’t have what it takes to keep my interest like high school and college sports. The players are traded and lured with big contracts. Taxpayers foot much of cost of building and maintaining the stadiums in hopes of increasing revenue and tourism for games. The players get themselves into trouble and become questionable role models for youth. I just don’t care about pro sports.

But I could, if things were different. I often wonder what pro sports would be like if they were run the way I think they should be. I wonder what pro sports would be like if the players were actually from the regions they represent.

If the players for Boston sports teams were from the greater Boston and New England area. I wonder what would happen if a player had to live and pay taxes in a region he wanted to transfer to and play for before being an active member of the team, say one or two years, and during that time, be an active member of the community.

I wonder what would happen if instead of taxpayers hefting the cost of stadiums (just one of many related articles – take a look!), if a percentage (10%?) of the profit from ticket sales, merchandise, and endorsements went to supporting local schools.

I wonder what would happen if the players, as part of their contracts, donated time to their communities: coaching youth sports, engaging in literacy and writing programs, engaged in community revitalization projects and home building projects.

I wonder what would happen if a player that gets in trouble with the law is suspended from playing for a season or two for minor offenses and are banned from playing for major ones. I wonder what would happen if communities began owning their teams on a much deeper level than happens now by sending their youth to play for their region’s team. How would it change a region’s identity?

I really wonder what would happen if any one of these things happened. I know that I would have a far greater interest in pro sports if the players for my region’s team were actually from my region. I’m curious. I want to know how the teams would look if the current players out there were actually playing for the team they “came from.” I’m going to work on a project to match players with their home region and see what the teams would look like. Could be interesting.

If you could change pro sports, what would you change? Why?

Anywho. I hope you have a fantastic week. Make today great!

A thought for Wednesday.


“A tree is known by it’s fruits; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindkess gathers love.” Saint Basil

Happy Wednesday!

On Writing: Finding Inspiration.

When I was in kindergarten, whenever asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered that I wanted to be a writer, a painter, a dancer, and a veterinarian. I danced. I wrote short stories and kept a journal, all of which was lost in subsequent moves. I drew. And I read about animals. My grandfather even sent me a birthday card that year with four panels:  a bunny doctor, a bunny dancer, a bunny painter, and a bunny writer. It’s stunning that he found it among the hundreds of cards available. I still draw on occasion; I dance when the spirit moves me; I love animals dearly. The passion to write, however, is still strong and drives me to do more.

I have notes in various forms for a few different stories I hope to do something with sometime soon. While working on this, I look to successful writers to draw wisdom and inspiration from them on the craft and process. Here two videos from TED with some of my favorite inspirational talks.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Discovery: Gluten-free Girl.

While poking around for gluten-free recipes today, I discovered the website Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef that offers great recipes and much inspiration.

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Truth-telling: the Story Behind the Blog

Every journey has a back story, a compulsion for pursuing it. Here’s mine.

My mom had weight loss surgery two weeks ago; she had her stomach stapled. She spent the last two years preparing mentally and physically for it. For as long as I can remember, she’s been big. It’s the family culture. The women, and some of the men, on both sides get big and fast. My brother is big. My sisters are big. My aunts, uncles, and some of my older cousins are big. I love them all and I’m not saying this to be mean or to poke fun, I’m just being honest and telling the whole story. I genuinely hope to connect with them all on this journey and share the inspiration and struggle.

I was pretty normal sized all through high school and early college. Then I hit a period of intense stress and conflict and got big myself. I was living in an upperclassmen apartment style complex on campus and the only time people were around was when they were eating and I didn’t want to be alone. So I ate with them. I gained 4o pounds in about 2 months. I went from 140 to 180. My clothes didn’t fit. I started hiding myself from the world in embarrassment, and I failed most of my classes that semester.

It took me two years of sensible eating and moderate exercise to work the weight off. It took even longer for me to reconfigure my self-image. I continued to think of myself as this awkward overweight girl with nothing worthwhile to hold anyone’s interest. I thought I was boring, frumpy, and not worth the time for social engagements. This damaged a lot of relationships, most importantly, the one I have with myself. I still struggle with this perception. I’m working on it.

Close to two years ago now, I knew that the romantic relationship I was in wasn’t working and it was stressing me out. This time, instead of eating out of emotional need, I went the other way and starved myself. I ate about 500 calories every 2-3 days and that was it. I was manic. I was not eating. I was exercising heavily. I talked fast and moved even faster. It was scary but I felt on top of the world and in control. I lost my winter weight, and slid down to the lowest weight I had been in my adult life.

Now here I am, I’m back in therapy for childhood experiences and a mood disorder, berating myself for gaining weight again, currently at 166, and oscillating between periods of starvation and binging.

It’s time I grabbed the reins and halted this runaway life, habits, and perceptions. That’s where this blog comes in. I tried for years to keep a food and exercise journal in a notebook. Each time I ended up ripping out the pages and tossing the discarded notebook in a drawer. I can’t do that with a blog and I need the accountability for real change.

And that’s what I hope to really accomplish here. Real change for a lifetime. More than that, I want to be real about the struggles of coping with a deeply embedded mood disorder and it’s effects on health, both eating and exercise; I want to be real about life and everything that goes along with it. I want to provide a friend in the quest to live healthier, happier lives that will improve day by day. I want to give hope, an honest accounting of the day-to-day challenges, the insights and knowledge I will gain through this public project and from the resources I seek out to help along the way. This is about confronting the truth of who I am and the perceptions and habits that have landed me here in this uncomfortable place, and the greater truth of how our society and family histories contribute. This is about facing forward and making one small step, one day at a time.

I welcome you on this journey.

So mote it be.

Welcome, 2011! Hello, Rabbit!

Here are a few astrology links you may find enlightening or entertaining for the new calendar year:

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Another's Journey

This is a big motivation and inspiration for my journey. I don’t have 120 pounds of flesh to lose, but I do have “120 pounds of memory and misconceptions” to lose.