Day 96

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As I get near the end of my 100 day challenge I’m contemplating whether or not I can classify it as a success.

Did I purge something every one of those days? Did I go for a walk every single day? Have I blogged about my experiences 100 times?

The answer to the first question is yes. I have managed, in a conscious and considering way, to rid myself of something every day. I’m amazed at that. Because purging is not easy. That I have learned.  It makes you look long and hard at yourself and where you’ve gotten to in your life.

A big – no, huge – catalyst in this exercise has been my impending 60th birthday. Add to that the death of my father and the conditions were perfect for some kind of reflective action.

There have been times over these past 96 days that I have been achingly sad, uncontrollably angry, incomprehensibly furious, deliriously happy, boisterous with joy, as well as completely ambivalent about myself, my life and what I’m trying to accomplish.

Whatever I was feeling I forced myself to consider why. In doing that I was able to see that I was carrying a lot of old baggage, stuff that should have been relegated to the trash heap long ago.

I just finished reading a Stephen King short story called The Road Virus Heads North. It’s your typical SK offering – darkly funny, horrific,  and yet, somehow, representative of the reality of life. Weirdly, I think that the ‘virus’ in the story is very much like the bad stuff we carry around with us. Eventually, it’s going to get us, unless we get rid of it. Or, better yet, never pick it up.

Sometimes, like the poor sap in SK’s story, it’s not so easy to get rid of the crap that follows us. You can give up and let it get you, or you can face it and send it packing. It might take more than one attempt, and it may mean accepting some uncomfortable truths about yourself, but, if you want free of it bad enough, you can be.

Am I completely purged of all the garbage I’ve toted around for 50-some-odd years? No. But I have rid myself of a lot of it. Purging, I’ve also learned, is a life-long chore. The good thing is it gets easier the more you do it.

Now, for my other two questions.

I did not walk every day. But I gave it a good try. There weren’t many days that I missed. When the wind chills were in the minus 40’s, when we were busy with company, and once or twice when I simply didn’t want to.

Walking is one of my favourite things to do. I love the feeling of my body moving and covering ground confidently and surely. It’s my time to think and work things out. (See above.)

Currently, I have a steps goal set on my phone of 7000 steps/day. It’s pretty conservative and I generally walk quite a bit more than that; checking on that goal at the end of the day always amazes me. Did I really walk that much? Where did I go and what did I accomplish? It’s a great reminder that I was engaged, that I did something. It also keeps me committed to my weight-loss goals. If i don’t get those steps in, the weight won’t come off. And, if I don’t keep moving, the weight I have lost will creep back on. That ain’t happening.

Finally, I’m at number three. I have definitely not written/ blogged 100 times.

Writing was something I had all but given up on. When I started this I was almost embarrassed to start. It had been so long since I’d tried to write anything. But the moment I sat down to start I knew – this is what I’m made for.

I may not be a successful author, I may not write the stuff that the world sees, but I write. And, I love it. It’s my form of expression, it’s my vehicle, it’s my voice.

100 is just a number. It was a great way to get myself motivated. Whether I’ve blogged 100 times or 10 times,  it’s me, writing.

 

Day 54 – and I’m feeling like I’ve cheated

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When I set out on this endeavour my goal was to write about purging every day for 100 days. I haven’t met that goal, and now I’m past the midway point.

So, how do I address this?  Do I make excuses, recount the partial successes,  or simply say: such is life?

To be honest, I’m happy with what I have accomplished. I’ve got myself back into a habit of writing and because of that am actually considering getting back into other forms of writing. (I haven’t started – but I’m doing some serious thinking.)

The original point of my little project was to see what I could purge from my life that was weighing me down and holding me back. Clogging the arteries, so to speak.

I’ve done a fair bit of that, and it’s been mainly the metaphysical sort. I’m feeling better – stronger, more confident, content in my own skin – for the first time in a long, long time.

Oh, there are days when I need to remind myself to tend my own garden, to leave others’ alone; days when I have to work at being happy and remind myself I’m not responsible for someone else’s happiness; and there have been days that I’ve struggled to get through simply because no matter what I did it wasn’t going to be enough.  That day.

But I knew that there would be a tomorrow and that tomorrow could be good. If I wanted it to be.

I always wanted it to be.

I count that as A HUGE success of this little undertaking.

I’ve also rid myself and our home of some very unnecessary clutter. Doing this in two places hasn’t been easy, or even (sometimes) very noticeable, but the feeling of just letting things go has been very empowering.

The significant other and I have VERY different ideas about what should be purged and what shouldn’t, and that’s something else I’ve learned along the way – how to be flexible without compromising.

As we move ever closer to Spring and that sense of the world renewing itself I feel myself being pulled to do more, to start accomplishing, to work harder at attaining my goals. I have to remind myself – Spring is just a season. It will pass. Don’t get caught up in the rush of it.

I need to maintain my balance, keep going one day at a time. Spring will move towards Summer as it always does, then Fall will return to remind me that Winter is on its way.

100 days out of 365. I can do that.

Purge – Day 10 or, I’m one tenth of the way to making my goal!

20171209_204647.jpgWow.  Ten days. In a row. I haven’t written this much, or this steadily in a long, long time.

For my tenth day of purging, let’s just say I thought about it. If you consider housework – vacuuming, washing floors and dusting – purging, then that’s what I did today.

I did manage to get outside for a short walk. In the -28 degree weather. It was a SHORT walk. Fifteen minutes. But it counts. I figure I must burn twice as many calories walking when it’s this cold because of all the extra layers I put on and the speedy pace I set.

Tim came with me. He complained most of the time. “I thought this was supposed to be a short walk?” “My nose is frozen. I think I’ve got frostbite” “Where are you going!? That way is longer!” “I can’t feel my legs.”

Honestly.  I took him by the hand and told him we’d be okay.

I told dad that Tim was being a whiner. I’m sure he had a good chuckle. But I’m glad he came all the same. It was nice to hold his hand as we trudged through the dark and the cold.

100 Days of. . .

So. I’m going to try blogging again. This time my goal is to chart my progress over the next 100 days, or series of 100 days as this year (2018) progresses.

I’ve been inspired lately by a lot of posts I’ve seen on Facebook of people who have made changes in their lives and who have accomplished some pretty great things, all in 100 days.

100. It’s such a nice, compact number. Not too big, not too small. A reasonable goal to strive for. Whether it be 100 days of push-ups, 100 days of gratitude, 100 days of drinking a glass of water or 100 days of conquering fear. If you can do anything for 100 days, then you can probably do that thing for the rest of your days.

My aim is to document my progress daily. 100 days of recounting how I’m fulfilling my 100-day goals. I’ve been in a sort of limbo for a few years. Not accomplishing much. Abandoning hope, abandoning faith, abandoning happiness. It’s time to reach out, to hold on and to live. REALLY live.

I am turning 60 this year. In a few short months I will be, officially, a senior. Sigh. Sigh. and SIGH. I’ve been feeling that there is no point in trying to accomplish anything, anymore for so long that I’ve come to believe it. I don’t want to believe that anymore. I want to believe that in the time I have left I can make some real and lasting change in my life.

My first 100 day goal is to purge at least one thing everyday.  Something that weighs me down either physically or emotionally or both.

My second 100 day goal is to go for a walk. Breathe. Enjoy air and sun and wind on my skin. (This will be hard, I have to admit, when the temperature is in the -30’s, but we’re into the upswing towards Spring now. Ha, ha, ha.)

I hope my journey(s) inspire others as I have been inspired by others.

March 16th

Day 75 — There’s something about writing Day 75 — seems somehow momentous.  But, really, it wasn’t.  Unless you count my driving in a snowstorm to the far-flung south of Edmonton to go have an infrared slimming body wrap.  And though I had a couple of bad moments on the highway, I have to say the experience was definitely worth it.  The girls at Total Body FX treated me like a queen.  And that wrap!  It was the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done.  I dropped another pound and half because of it, too.  I think once I reach my next weight-loss goal I’m going to treat myself to another one.

Saturday morning

I’m sitting here drinking my coffee with Bailey’s — my usual Saturday morning libation — and I just finished updating my memory jar.  I got a little behind this past week.  So much going on, but it’s always there in the back of my mind and I try hard to remember the little things that made me smile so that I can write them down.

I like this exercise.  It’s been good for what ails me.  Focusing on the little, happy moments in my day has made me see how good my life really and truly is.  There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it into the posts because my goal is to keep them short, but that’s the wonderful thing — I see and feel how much I have to be happy and joyful for on a daily basis.

The things that tended to bother me before are still there, I just don’t focus on them and therefore they don’t ruin my day.  I acknowledge them and then move on, knowing that I’m going to find that something memorable later on, or, maybe I already did and all I have to do is think on that, instead.

Here’s a few ‘extras’ that didn’t make it into the memory jar this week:

– I made homemade tomato soup with peppered goat cheese — yum!
– I lost another pound!- the Grade 5’s gave me a lovely card signed by all of them, plus they gave me a ton of hugs
– Tim worked days this week, no more nights by myself
– I passed the halfway mark in Anna Karenina
– I received a Chapter’s gift card as a farewell gift from my coworkers — yeah!  more books!

That’s it, folks.  Have a happy day!

So, it’s a New Year. . .

. . .  and, as always comes the resolutions.  This year, like last, I’ve resolved to not make any.

There, that’s done.

Now, onward.

As it is a new year, however, I can’t help falling into the trap of looking back and wondering what I can do to improve myself, or make better use of the life I have.  Therefore, I have come up with the following ‘to-do’ list, or perhaps ‘want-to-do’ list, might be a better way of putting it:

1.  Each day, do one thing that makes me happy — this could be to write a poem, take a picture, read a book, help someone in need, write a letter (a dying art, and one that I’ve tried numerous times to revive), post a blog, watch a silly sit-com (How I Met Your Mother; New Girl), visit the art gallery, take a walk in the sunshine, play a game with my grandkids, there are many, many things that make me smile, make me happy — I need only do one a day to keep my balance.

2.  Stay true to my goals — this means WORK on my novel.  I did not spend an entire month of my life writing like a fiend to just let those 50,000 words grow mold.  It also means focus less on work and more on life — at 53 (damn near 54 years of age)  I have come to the realization that work, though necessary, is not the keystone of life.  Life is.

3.  Read a book a month.  I love to read.  Really love it, almost as much as writing.  But, for the past 5 – 10 years I have not been reading as much as I once did.  I have let work, and work-related obligations, my unrealistic expectations of myself and what it means to be ‘successful’ take control of my life and my time and have, sadly, let reading slip away.  I have a small library of books that I’ve been given and that I’ve purchased just sitting collecting dust.  No more!  I will make friends with reading again.

4.  I will waste time looking through home renovation and decorating magazines.  And I will watch HGTV from time to time.  I love reading about ways to make your home beautiful.  Though I may not do any of things I read or watch I can gain excitement and grow enthusiasm from them, and who knows?  Maybe, just maybe I’ll find something that sparks my creativity.  I used to be quite creative  — stencilling tables, walls, furniture, painting old chairs, sewing dolls, making things out of wood — I would love to find that in me again.

5.  Start crocheting again.  Once upon a time I used to crochet all the time.  Over the past 15 years all I’ve done is buy wool and patterns.  Those materials that I haven’t donated or sold at garage sales are sitting in baskets and in cupboards.  The basket of wool makes a nice, ‘homey’ decoration in my living room, but, really, that wool would make a lovely shawl or scarf.  For me.  Ha, ha!

6.  Paint the bedroom my grandkids stay in.  It is such a hideous space right now.  Plain white, ugly grey accordion closet doors, makeshift shelves Tim put up shortly after we moved in.  I envision lovely sky-blue walls with billowy clouds on the ceiling.  I would replace the plastic mini-blinds with a venetian shade and light, cottony curtains.  I would remake the closet into a toy closet and add a small bookshelf for the books I’ve started collecting for them.  It would be a space as delightful as they are.

7.  Become a better, more accomplished cook.  It’s funny.  I’ve always liked cooking, but as I’ve matured I have come to love it.  I’ve always collected cookbooks and recipes — just ask my husband who is constantly telling me there is a better way to organize them than in the one cupboard and two drawers where I have them stashed and stuffed — and I like nothing more than to sit on the floor with recipe books and cut-outs spread all around me reading through them for inspiration.  I invested in a Kitchen-Aid food processor this Christmas — fantastic sale at London Drugs on Boxing Day!  Can’t wait to put it to the test.

8.  Develop a system for keeping my office neat and tidy and actually follow it for more than a week.  ‘Nuff said.

9.  Dream more.  Plan trips I might never get to take.  Fantasize about money I’ll most likely never have (the current Lotto Max commercial?  That’s me and Tim.)  Imagine a bright future for my son and his family in which money, stress and worry is non-existent.  See Tim and I living ‘down east’ temporarily like we’ve talked about ever since our motorcycle trip to visit my brother and his family in Dartmouth, NS.  Actually getting to meet Stephen King and blubber on to him about how great I think he is and how his writing and his life have inspired me.  Be short-listed for a writing prize or award.

10.  Organize my photos!  My lord I’ve got gazillions of them.  Digital cameras are wonderful, but the hundreds of pictures I’ve downloaded that never get erased, shared or printed is ridiculous.  So, I have decided to become ruthless.  And actually take the external hard-drive I bought for storing my pictures on out of its package and use the damn thing!

11.  Exercise regularly.  I walk a lot, but not nearly enough.  Once upon a time I used to walk for at least an hour every day, now it’s a half hour 3 – 4 days a week.  I have a treadmill and free-weights that I barely use.  I will endeavour to use them at least 3 times a week.  Yoga starts again on the 16th.  I bought myself a good mat and am determined to start doing a few exercises each morning before work.  This sounds exhausting.  Don’t know how successful this ‘to-do’ item will be.  Perhaps I’m just getting lazy.

12.  Blog at least once a week, but not more than twice a week.  Trying to blog everyday had become a major source of stress for me.  I was comparing myself to many other bloggers, some of whom post two to three times a day.  In my job I don’t have the time to blog (I’m rarely sitting at a desk) and, even if I did, my employer would not take kindly to me using my work time for personal pursuits.  I’ve tried blogging during my breaks, but that never works because I take my break in the classroom and there are always others in the room and you know what that is like.  No concentration, constant interruptions, etc.   Mornings are too rushed and in the evening, well, if I’m going to work on my novel I need the time for that.  So, once a twice a week it will be.

13.  Visit other bloggers on the days I’m not blogging.  There are so many fine bloggers out there, many whom I’ve subscribed to and yet I can’t seem to keep up with visits.  Currently, my email has over 400 notifications in it, none of which I’ve checked up on.  Two-thirds of these notifications are from bloggers I subscribe to.  I feel terrible that I never get around to reading half of what enters my in-box.  There is a ton of great writing there, I just know it, but I simply don’t have the time.  So, I will read what I can, when I can and comment accordingly.  The blogging world is made up of some of the most amazing, understanding people in the world and I know that this will be fine with them.  And really, it’s only just me.

14.  Worry less.  I used to joke:  If I don’t have something to worry about, then something must be wrong.

15.  Say “I love you” more often.  Such a simple thing, and yet, so often forgotten.  I want the people I care about to know it.  Saying those three little words is all that is needed.

16.  Thumb my nose at 2012 Doomsday predictions.  I read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy a couple of years ago.  It affected me more than I thought.  I have carried a seed of dread in the core of my being ever since finishing it.  I have allowed it to grow and it has spread a noxious weed that has tangled itself throughout my being.  It’s time to yank it out and burn it.  Better to believe in present day examples of the good of humankind when disaster strikes rather than some imagined apocalyptic  horror.

Well, that’s it.  My list of things to do this year and beyond.  I’m printing it off and placing it near my writing station.  On a wall, where it won’t get lost beneath a mountain of paper.  Now wait a minute, what number does that come under?

 

April 11th — Spring has sprung

The road to . . . everywhere

I think, Amy, that you sent me a very strong message today.  Thank you.

I had sought some advice from Amy, aka SoulDipper, about why meditation was so difficult for me.  In her answer she replied that it was hard and then offered this:   “The reason it’s hard? You need to practice it and do it faithfully. It is so worth it!”

I heard something else in her answer, something I desperately needed to hear.

Lately, well, actually it’s been for a long while now, I’ve been struggling with what it is I’m actually doing with my life.  I’ve been doing a lot of running away —  from myself, my goals, my dreams, my expectations.  It’s like I got to this point where I said I can’t do this anymore, I just want to do nothing.  And that is exactly what I’ve been doing.

I’ve had some tear-filled moments of desperate self-pity and soul-wracking self-doubt; nothing I’m proud of, believe me.  It got me nowhere.  Only more confused, really.

So, I picked up a few books and read.  I dabbled in my personal journal, cleaned my house, started cooking again, and planned a vacation.  All of it about running away.  Avoidance.

Last night I decided to check in on some friends and see what was up in their lives (their blog-lives, anyway) and I was wonderfully surprised at how everything was pretty much the same as when I last checked in nearly a month ago.  They’ve been living their lives, posting their posts and sharing their pictures, thoughts, humour and wisdom.  I felt immediately comforted.  And sorry that I had let myself slip away.

Then, while reading Amy’s post I felt moved by what she had written about loving and forgiveness.  As I read on I was struck by her words about the importance of meditation and the peace it can bring to one’s life.  I wondered why it was that I couldn’t meditate.  And the next thought I had was about how this was just one more thing I had failed at.

So, feeling sorry for myself — again — I added ‘can’t meditate’ to my list of things tried but not accomplished.  Then I posted a reply and asked Amy if it was my own fear preventing me from being successful at meditation.  My answer was right there in my question, but I failed to heed it, if I had I probably would have hit delete.  Thankfully, Amy said exactly what needed saying.

I fail because I don’t practice and am not faithful.  It’s got nothing to do with anything but me and my efforts.  For years I’ve been saying how I’m going to achieve success as a writer, and for years I’ve been failing.  But, instead of doing something about it, I hid behind excuses.

I know I get overwhelmed with other problems, with the expectations I have of myself and others (those can be SOOO unrealistic, believe you me!), with my job, my Union responsibilities, my family, my yard, my house, my spare time or lack of it, with impending retirement (HA!), and the list goes on, and on, and on. . .  but the truth is if that I want to be the success I wish to be then it is all up to me.  I must practice daily and do it faithfully.

Thank you, Amy, for your wisdom and your kindness.  I’m so glad I chose last night to ‘visit’.

Wednesday — and I’m runnin’ late!

Well, it’s back to work today.  And. . .

. . . I hit the wrong button on the alarm clock and didn’t get up at 6 like I had planned.  Poor Heather, she was coming over to meet me for a morning walk.  Left her standing out there on the step.  Sorry, sorry, sorry.  So, I didn.t get up until 7:10.  Not a great start, I’d have to say.

My goal this year is to be so ahead of myself in time that I have the last 15 minutes of my  morning, before rushing out the door, to sit and read.  I’m up for the challenge!  Because, as anyone who knows me knows, I’m usually flying to get to work with a minute to spare.

That means that I’m going to have to work something out for blogging.  Because I just don’t see it workin’ for me in the a.m.  Unless I’m up at 5 again, and at this moment, I’m just not sure I want to do that.  6 is fine, 5 makes me a little cranky.

We’ll see, I got used to it last year, even to the point of enjoying that sense of stillness that exists that time of morning.

Anyway, chickadees, gotta fly.  Or I’m gonna be late on my first morning.  There will be no reading today!

(Will answer yesterday’s comments later.  Thanks everyone!)

KLarson©2010

Setting Goals

At the beginning of every new year I sit down and write out some goals for myself — things I want to accomplish, things I think I need to do.  Most of the time they get forgotten, but a couple of years ago I came up with this list of writing goals.  I keep a copy of it taped to the wall beside my desk as a daily reminder of what I hope to accomplish as a writer. 

Have I managed yet to double my income as a writer?  No.  In fact, I’ve made no income as a writer, but I don’t let it get me down.  I have, however, stuck to my goal to write for at least one hour everyday (most days) and I have written quite a bit of work that if I would develop a back bone I could submit. 

No matter how much I write, though, there’s still this nasty little voice inside me that says:  they won’t like it, they won’t buy it, they won’t read it — why would anyone want to read THAT?  I tell it to shut-up and leave me alone, but like all bullies, it’s pretty persistent. 

Still, though, I keep trying.  I’ve had successes in the past, and I’ll have successes again – it’s just about developing my confidence and refusing to give up. 

More than anything I use this list of goals to remind myself that I have to keep trying in order to keep growing.  It’s also helpful whenever I start listening to that little voice as though it’s telling the truth, to weigh what I have accomplished against what it’s telling me I haven’t.  Pursuing goals is tough, hard work and it’s tempting sometimes to want to give in to that little voice that’s telling you you’re wasting time.  Having a visual reminder of what’s important and why has been a huge help to me. 

This little list could be adapted for any goal.  Feel free to ‘borrow’ it and make it your own if it’s something you feel can help you achieve yours. 

Wishing you much success in whatever you pursue.

 

 Writing Goals for 2010

  • I am going to become a successful writer this year.
  • I am going to be making enough money writing that I will double my income.
  • I am going to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and what I was born to do – write. 
  • My focus will be short stories and personal essays.
  • I will target magazines and on-line publications that publish these forms of writing.
  • I will publish my children’s book and write another one.
  • I will spend at least one hour every day writing, but more when I can manage it. 
  • I will make whatever personal sacrifices I must to achieve the above goal.
  • I will make writing my main priority, second only to family, in my life.  Work and school will become third and fourth.
  • I am a writer and I am successful.