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Category Archives: intentionality

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!

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.

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.

Let's Go

I’ve had a song stuck in my head, softly humming in the back of my mind and this refrain in particular has been haunting:  We need a big push / To reach the right conclusion / So we can get there / If we’re really going / If we’re really going / Let’s go. (Lisa Loeb, “Kick Start”)

Action.

Movement.

Power.

If we’re really going. Let’s go.

It’s no secret I’ve been a mess lately. Emoti0nally. Physically. My entire life has felt like one big mess untangling just enough to become another big mess. I don’t want that anymore. I’m sick of it. And it’s made me sick.

Trying so hard / To dig ourselves out / Cause we’re stuck and we’re scared / And we’re thinking / Things have to change

I’ve struggled with fear since I was a child. With the various things that happened, I learned not to trust, and to fear. Everything was always a mess. Everything was a big hassle. And there was always something to fear. And here I am, 28 years old and still TRAPPED by fear and distrust. I don’t want that anymore.

It’s just more of the same / Again and again and again

What we all know about change is that it is SCARY. It takes faith and trust, two things I’ve had to get “injections” of from those around me. And I don’t want that anymore.

So here is my next step. My next chapter.

But first, a quick glance back.

I grew up Mormon as some of you know. I have since chosen to step away for my own reasons, but we’ll get to that later. I was hurt and was angry and because of this, I was blinded to some of the good things about it, blinded from some of the lessons.

For example, faith is like a little seed. Plant it. It will grow. (Action is needed. Results follow. Plant grows and becomes stronger.)

And, “according to your faith, be it unto you.”

And that if you act each day according to what you know to be right, doors will open when you need them.

I could go on. But you get the idea. And I’m sure it’s not new to you.

But I forgot these fundamental aspects of life. That life takes FAITH and and that faith is ACTION.

Indiana Jones would never have achieved his goal if he had not taken that scary step forward. And that’s where I am. On the ledge looking out over the abyss. Sweat on my brow. But I’m going to do it.

So let’s go.

So where am I going?

Well, first off, even though it is SCARY, I am putting my health first and seeking the council and help of professionals to take care of these pressing matters. Then I will continue to follow their advice for long-term health and fitness.

And I’m going to stop putting hurdles in my own way and make the rest of my life happen after that.

I’m going to create a vision of what I want my life to look like at the end of this year, at the end of five years, and at the end of my life.

And of course, how I want my life to look at the end of today. Because how you spend each day is, of course, how you spend your life.

As Dr. Nick, as told by Jen, says:  when you wake up each morning, you have a choice:  you can either say:  “Good god, morning,” or, “Good morning, god.”

Don’t let this decision drag on.

After making that decision, the rest is follow through.

Jen asked me to go with her to morning ritual. I’m going. But I’m starting today.

If we’re really going, let’s go.

One Goal. One Purpose. One Mind.

I spend a lot of time thinking about self-improvement, eco-ethical decisions, and how to best make every day better than the one before for me and those in my life and community. This past month, starting on my birthday, I began meditating and journaling on the year past and the year to come in preparation for my new year resolutions. And this year, I have just one goal. Just one.

Be mindful.

Of my emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical well being. Of my relationships. Of my impact on my community. Of my impact on the planet.

One goal. Multiple beneficiaries.

This one goal breaks down into many little steps. I am taking one small step in January that I hope will be the foundation:  to meditate and stretch every morning before I do anything else. I haven’t thought out the steps for the rest of the year. I figure that will come with the meditation and daily mantras.

To the Future!

"Lonely Horizon" by Adib Roy (Flickr)

"Lonely Horizon" by Adib Roy (Flickr)

I’ve been focused on the past a lot lately. While it is good to be reflective and aware, it is not good to waste today on yesterday when tomorrow is on the horizon.

I am master of this ship. I am captain of my soul. Time to get a grip.

In the past, I’ve tried a lot of goal setting and achievement strategies to varying degrees of success. The one I liked and was most fascinated by was the 101 in 1,001 days project. I began this challenge two years ago and let it fall by the wayside. I’m going to find my old list, dust it off, clean it up, and get cracking!

(Thanks for the kick in the arse, Am!)

Daily Mantra

image from Mangtacio on Flickr

image from Mangtacio on Flickr

One thing I have done for myself is develop a mantra. I’ve been working diligently to cultivate the positive, create an upbeat attitude during these trying times and the mantra has been part of the routine for about three weeks now. Each morning when I wake up, I say out loud to myself:  “Today is a great day, and all is right in my world.” Yes, I have many difficulties, many of which I’ve revealed here on this blog and others I have not yet shared due to the sensitive nature of them, but that makes each day no less great or full of potential. Each day has vast potential.

[Mantacio’s Flickr Stream]

Changes

One of the great things about running is that there is so much time to reflect. And the great thing about running with a partner is that you can share the thoughts with someone in the same state of mind. Amy and I had a conversation that led to a breakthrough in personal development with me.

The last few years have been a spiritual, or lack there of, struggle for me. I grew up Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and never felt like I fit in there. I was always the square peg in the round hole and for so many years I tried shoving myself into the hole. During childhood, I was the model child – I was a master scriptorian by the time I was fourteen (meaning I memorized over one-hundred important scripture passages, some of them several verses long) and I was the leader of all the groups and classes. Looking at me you would never know that I had serious misgivings about my childhood religion.

I remember when I was in fifth grade I was playing over at a friend’s house a few blocks away. I suddenly remembered that I never turned off the oven after I made cookies. The instant the realization hit, I ran home to turn it off. Instead of owning up to the mistake and saying that I suddenly remembered, I decided to use this as a prime time to say that the Spirit had spoken to me and warned me of the danger. I grew up with numerous stories like this.

Mormons believe in smiling even when you don’t feel like it, even when your emotional state is anything but conducive to an upward turn of the mouth: “No one likes a frowning face, change it for a smile, make the world a better place by smiling all the while.” That was one of the hymns the chorister would pick if people were forgetting this particular point of Mormon culture. I was one of the best fakers. I was raped. I was beaten. I was abused. No one had a clue because I was so good at the fake smile. I was so good at covering up the hurt, the pain, the distress, and discomfort; I buried it deep.

As a matter of fact, I was so good at it that when I finally had the conversation with my bishop about some of the things going on at home, he didn’t believe me.

But this is a small part of the spiritual journey I’m trying to pin down for the first time.

When I went to college, I was finally in a position where I could start freeing myself of the fetters of my childhood religion. I stopped going to church and had what is known as “Mormon guilt“. People refer to Catholic guilt, but let me tell you, Catholic guilt has NOTHING on Mormon guilt. I’ll touch on it some here, but I’ll save most of that for another post on another day. You see, Mormon’s believe strongly in the afterlife; so strongly that some believe it is better to be miserable here in this life than to potentially screw up any potential afterlife happiness. When I was in the process of leaving my childhood religion, it was this guilt, not any lingering feelings that it could be true that brought me back, but the fear that even if I don’t buy into it, even if there is no such thing as a God, just in case the Mormons are right, I better get back to it. It’s better to be miserable here and have a chance in the afterlife than walk away and have them be right. If any of you are familiar with Pascal’s wager, I developed the theory for myself before I read any French philosophy.

After I left the church (no, I haven’t submitted a resignation letter, I’m not ready for that step yet) and got together with Allan, the man I’m about to marry this summer, and became happier than I had ever been before in my life, I started having these terrible dreams. I would dream about the afterlife and how I threw eternal happiness away for temporary happiness and, in the dream, I would leave Allan and live out my days alone, miserable, and a husk of a person but with the knowledge, again in the dream, that I was going to do what God wanted me to do. I would wake from these dreams shaking and crying. I had them often for a while.

One time, after being together for about 3 years, I had even packed my bags and was standing in front of the door to my apartment ready to leave behind everything.

But I never did. And I’m glad.

For a long time, from about 2005 on until recently, I thought I was Atheist. Many ex-Mormons make the swing from uber-spirituality to Atheism. Mormonism is such an all or nothing religion that it’s natural to swing the other way, and fast. For a long time any form of spirituality, or connection to something larger outside of myself was too close to the religion I grew up with and so I ran from it.

Recently though, and this came partly from my conversation with Amy tonight, I realized that I’m starting to take a more moderate approach. I’m realizing that I am spiritual, but not in the way I grew up. And not with a theological base of any kind, especially not a Christian-based religion. I have no idea what form this will develop into as the transition is just starting to take shape, but it definitely has an old-world meditative feel to it. I’ve always been an independent soul.

When I was attending church, I always felt more spiritual outside on the grass in the sun (during summer) than inside the church building listening to talks or lessons. I never felt a deep connection to the religion of my childhood, it just never made much sense.

And now, I find myself on the threshold of a new phase of my spiritual journey. It has the feel of old earth-centered Druidic practices, of Zen Buddhism, of Hinduism, of Taoism. It’s a connection with a life-force, an energy that encompasses me and all other things. For me, this connection doesn’t bear the face of a god, but of a connection of the world as a whole. It has the feel of merging myself with the rhythms of the natural world.

Where it goes from here is hard to tell. All I know is that my personal history is ready to come spilling out. It’s been a long time coming

I welcome you, my dear readers, on this journey with me. We’ll go to some dark places to find the light, but it will be worth it.

Stars

While going through some old journals, I found the following. This is from the early DTAV days.

I was sitting in the backseat of Allan’s Eclipse on the way over to visit his brother Justin and I laid my head back to watch the stars as we raced along these Maine back roads at night before the blizzard. We drive along at 60 and the stars do not move. We drive along the road at 70 and the stars do not move. We drive along at 80 and the stars do not move. It makes me think that perhaps the speed at which I move does not matter. I’ve been rushing trying to get from one phase of life to the next and the stars did not move. I have moved 23 times in my 22 years and have never seen the stars waver from their position. I long for the day when I do not feel the need to move so fast, the day that I can be in one spot for long enough to watch the stars move instead of them watching me move.