Tag Archives: obstacles

We Only Get To Do This One Time…

Take A Risk

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about every tiny move I make. It seems as if the effort to find focus and direction in life has left me a little keyed up. I have been second-guessing my instincts. I have been letting worry get the best of me. I have found myself afraid to ask for the things I want most.

Fear is not an emotion I have a lot of trouble with, usually. Okay, yeah, sure, I have that thing about the dark. But other than that, I usually make a decision, for better or for worse, and I don’t let fear stop me from going after it. Sometimes I have gone after the wrong things. Sometimes my lack of restraint has pushed the thing I wanted further away. But wisdom and restraint don’t seem to be the issues I’m grappling with today.

Today I have been feeling afraid.

When I was a little younger and someone asked me if I thought they should, or should not, try this or that, I would ask, “If you do this, is anyone going to starve to death?” That may be a simplistic litmus test, but you get the point. We often censor ourselves, or keep from taking risks because of how we think other people are going to react, or how we think our actions will affect those around us. But really, most things aren’t life or death. 99.9% of the time, everything works out just fine in the end. You’ll live. I’ll live. They’ll live.

This train of thought reminded me of an essay I read, many moons ago, that inspired me to take up the “no one’s going to starve to death” attitude…

If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

–Nadine Stair

I have no doubt that I will find the balance between planning and discipline and spontaneity and risk-taking. And when I find it, I promise to share.

For more wisdom from the elderly, Check out this blog.

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Moving On

“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” — Thoreau

Walden Pond

Image via wikipedia

Thoreau‘s final paragraph of Walden includes the line, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” I am sure he meant this both metaphorically and literally. I feel like I have a fairly good handle on the metaphor. I’m conscious of and grateful for this precious bit of life I’ve been given. BUT, I have been slacking off on the other part — getting up early. These excerpts from “Walden” always reignite my determination to “make-up with mornings” and even learn to love them.

…All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.” Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour. All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise. To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me…

…We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour…

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Honing my Habits

God Would Let Me Live In His Poolhouse

I feel like God's pool house will have a very Frank Lloyd Wright vibe to it.

I have spent a lot of time, over the last 20 years, ruminating on my reasons for leaving the Mormon church. I had many. Some were big. Others, admittedly petty. But the main reason was because I grew up feeling like shit. There was always a part of me that knew I was going to hell and tried hard to convince the rest of me that I was a monster. At the same time, the bigger part of me was constantly trying to calm down. I would whisper things to myself during particularly offensive sermons things like, “don’t panic,” and, “this guy can’t possibly be right.”

I should add that I DO think that a lot of the “crazy” I was exposed to was because of the radicalism in the tiny town I lived in, and not actually a part of the larger Mormon church.

My leaving the church was based entirely on my gut. For many years, I wouldn’t let myself read any of the many well-documented, historical accounts of Joseph Smith’s time that clearly dispute everything I was taught. Reading of any facts that are not church-sanctioned is forbidden. I was still so indoctrinated that I hadn’t yet realized that no one should shy away from any truth. I don’t just choose not to learn about any other subject out of fear it might change my mind. So, the fact-finding phase eventually came. In the end, it made no difference to me. I knew what I knew. It did, however, spark a fair amount of rage that I was ever subjected to such crazy-making. I wish I had no anger, but there it is. I am, for the most part, over it.

It was my daughter who helped me get over the “hump” about being okay with my choice to leave the church. I would look at my daughter and think, “There is nothing she could ever do, or not do, that would make me withhold my love.” I knew, from the second she was born, that even if she turned out to be a carnival madame, I would never stop loving her or wanting her with me. I knew, that as long as I lived, she would always find shelter in my home.

Knowing this truth led me to the greatest breakthrough I would ever have. I realized it was simply illogical to believe that a supreme being, like the Mormon God (who is said to be all-powerful, all-knowing and who loves us more than a parent loves a child. In fact, he is referred to as our “Heavenly Father” almost exclusively) would have sent down a list of requirements which, upon failing to follow, would result in our not being able to live in his neighborhood. As I watched my sweet daughter sleeping one night I realized that not only was the aforementioned completely irrational, so is the idea that in order to remain in our family units in heaven that there are a bunch of other “to do’s” on God’s list for us.

I used to play out the scenario of me dying, in my mind, and going to God for judgement. I would hear Him saying to me, “Now Rebecca, I told you that if you didn’t get married in the temple to a nice Mormon boy that you couldn’t live up here in our section of heaven and furthermore, you are now stripped of your family.” The whole idea, to me, is completely, totally and utterly preposterous.

I do not base my love or support or affection or shelter or help or anything on a sliding scale of Hannah’s obedience to me. It would be crazy to do so. And if it would be so ridiculous for me to do that, then why does it seem rational that God would do that? It just doesn’t jive. (As an aside, I know there are a bunch of you saying to yourselves, “You just don’t understand the nature of God,” I must interject that, no, I do not, but neither do you. And for those of you who are now adding in, “It is not ours to understand, all will be revealed,” I have to say, I totally agree.)

Nowadays I see others like me everywhere. They shuffle listlessly around Salt Lake area malls with blank faces and bags bursting with RC Willey bric-a-brac. They are good people. They don’t know why they are so depressed. They feel trapped. They double-down on the depression by seeing their sadness as further evidence of their failure to be the perfect mormon. They believe that “living the gospel” perfectly is the ONLY way they will ever feel peace. They are people who are wracked with guilt and who carry the heavy burden of knowing they haven’t gotten God’s To-do list done. It breaks my heart to see their needless suffering. And make no mistake, they are suffering, and it is needless.

Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE MORMONS. Maybe not the dogma, but the people, in general, I like. They are my people, after all. I do not doubt my Mother’s sincere love and belief in the mormon church. I do not judge her faith. It is a pure and beautiful thing. For her, I actually hope it is ALL true. She deserves a house right next to God’s in the hereafter. I am happy for the thousands of mormons out there who find their happiness through the church. I am grateful for their generally positive belief system. I know that one of the reasons I love it in SLC is because a large percentage of the population has taken 2 years out of their lives and given it to the service of humanity across the globe. I think “the church” is, mostly, a force for good — no matter what it’s based on.

But, for those of you who have read this missive and thought, “How sad for her that she missed the message,” or, “She must have read some anti-mormon literature,” or, “God loves us, he just hates certain behaviors,” or, “Women can’t hold the priesthood because they already have the gift of childbearing,” or any other common platitude, let me bear you my testimony:

I know that there is truth in all things, but no one thing can contain all truth. Just as you know, with all your “heart, might, mind and strength” that the mormon church is the only “true” church, I know with equal vigor that, if there is a great white God who sits on high, he and I are good. He loves me. In fact, He loves everything about me. He thinks I am earnest, hilarious, sweet and sincere. He cracks up at my hijinks and cries about my many failures. And if, when I die, I meet Him on the other side, I know He would let me live in his pool house if I wanted to. He would find all my family who had gone before and they’d throw me a party. He would just be glad to see me again. Period.

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I Finally Did It

The view this morning.

After almost four years of never working out, I went “running” this morning. “Running” is in quotes because, at best, I jogged for 4 minutes. Things started out just fine. I was feeling pretty good about myself, headed up the avenues with Christina Aguilera singing in my ears, when I was struck by the headache. I know you know what I’m talking about. The headache that makes you wonder if God is punishing you. It is sudden. It makes you stop and take in more oxygen. It’s the warning you get that you’re just about to throw up from exertion. I dry heaved into the bushes, felt really dizzy, wheeled around and ambled my way up to a grassy spot on the hill overlooking city creek, the capitol and downtown SLC.

I took a moment to snap the photo shown here and headed back home. My head was pounding. It was really very cold and my face and ears were frozen. I must’ve been clenching my teeth, because my jaw was killing me. I was in a quite a bit of pain. And then I started coughing. You know the cough. The cough that comes from years of laziness and intermittent smoking. I welcomed the cough because I knew that even though I hadn’t gone very far, my lungs were already opening up. For that matter, I welcomed the pain. It was further proof I had done something worthwhile.

My “run” was very informative. I am obviously even more out of shape than I thought. I learned I should invest in softer ear buds for my iPod and that I gloves aren’t really optional. I found out that I really need to wear a hat and maybe even a turtleneck. I also made mental notes to wear sunscreen, even though it’s early and overcast, and to never, ever forget my sunglasses. I have sensitive eyes, yes, but mostly I wished I’d had sunglasses to hide my shame!

As part of my larger “Excess Emancipation” project I am committed to implementing a morning routine that allows me to get the most important things I need to do to maintain peace of mind finished up before heading out into the world. The first part of my new morning ritual has come surprisingly easily — I wake up at 5 AM and write for two hours. Sometimes I wake up a little later, but all in all, I’ve stuck to it pretty religiously.

The second part of this rising with the sun regimen has been a bitch. It is very important to me to be physically fit and I’ve really let things slide. So, in an effort to purge some pounds and fire up my fitness level, I decided to incorporate just 15 minutes of running and yoga, each, to my morning momentum. My plan was to be 20 days in to a 40 day yoga challenge by today (which I committed to with some other peeps from Avenues Yoga). And I figured I would also have added in the running portion of my mornings over 10 days ago. But, as it turns out, I am more resistant to exercise than I had realized.

My exercise “allergy” is proving to be one of my biggest obstacles. Regarding the yoga challenge,  the rule is is that if you skip a day, you start over. Well I have started and stopped around 7 times already. I have lots of excuses. And regarding the plan to start running every day? I have not been able to force myself out the door until today.

This week’s class at Outlook Development was on listening to our inner gurus. I participated in an exercise to find a solution to whatever our biggest obstacle was to accomplishing our goals. It was easy for me to identify mine. I want to silence the “Itty bitty shitty committee” in my head that tells me I don’t like physical exertion. It’s simply NOT TRUE. I can come up with tons of examples where I have volunteered for physically exhausting enterprises. But, when it comes to consistent exercise, I balk. After having a guided convo with my inner guru, I decided I would call the person who is most like me, who has overcome this same obstacle in her life. I decided to call Nan.

My sister, Nanette, is number 4 of us 10 kids. I am number 7.  We have shared a lifetime of obsessions with gymnastics, songwriting, performing, bleaching our hair, being hilarious, loving our kids, making awesome rally posters, participating in off-beat arts and crafts (She: tole [tolle?] painting, knitting and rug-making. Me: decoupage, furniture refinishing and collage making), writing and maybelline mascara.

My silly chart with spaces to place gold stars.

I called her to ask what she does to stay motivated to workout. She told me that having a running buddy helped. That’s just not right for me, right now. WAY too much pressure. She said that sometimes she would sleep in her workout clothes. Brilliant! We talked for awhile until we both got really excited about making silly charts to track our progress and agreed we’d both set goals and a timeline that, when achieved, would earn us a prize. We are going to make prizes for each other to send upon completion. I am laughing out loud as I type this. It seems ridiculous, but it’s just what the doctor ordered.

I promised to call every morning as I was lacing up my shoes so I could be accountable to someone. We haven’t worked out all the details, yet, but I’m encouraged. Last night I laid out my clothes and this morning when it came time to get outside and run, I actually got dressed, laced up my shoes, left her a message, and ran!

Who cares that I overdid it in just 4 minutes and almost passed out? I don’t. I’m just stoked I actually did it. I pretty much rule. Thanks, Nan!

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Project “Shuck the Superfluous Shit” Progress Report

The current state of the storage unit. CRH, Model.

I worked most of the day today on pricing stuff for the yard sale. I now have a total of 9 bins full of stuff ready to go. I can see that this is quickly going to get harder and harder. Or easier and easier. I’m really not sure, yet. I was shocked at how willing I was to let go of almost 20% of my books right off the  bat.

I have let go of about 20% of my clothes as well. And probably 40% of my shoes. I need to do laundry so I can sort through all of that “situation.” I bet I have 20 or more loads to do. There’s no washer or dryer in my apartment, so I’ve been doing it just about once every two months. It feels like I’m doing it all the time. Thank GOD for CRH! She’s so nice to go with me. She’s much more organized than I am and doesn’t really need to use the laundromat. We laugh and vent and solve the world’s problems. It still sucks, though.

My hope is to get rid of so much stuff that I CAN’T wait that long between trips to the laundromat. It’s such a pain in the neck and expensive! I think it usually ends up costing me about $60 a trip. This time, I plan to bring my supplies for pricing and tagging with me to the laundromat along with a couple or three bins. That way, the stuff I decide to sell won’t have to be drug all the way back up to the apartment. I can just drop the bins off at the storage unit. That’s incentive enough to get rid of as much as possible!

As I look around my living room I realize that I have about 2 bins worth of miscellaneous stuff to sort through still this week. I’m also suddenly really anxious to get rid of some big items. I love my Dad’s desk, but it is enormous and heavy. It always weighs on my mind. It’s just such a monster to move and soooo BIG. I’m trimming back the number of electronics I have and I really don’t need it. But because it’s so huge, it is going to be difficult to get someone in my family to take it off my hands. Maybe my relatives in Menan (Idaho) would like it… I’ll ask.

I have two medium sized bookcases I don’t need; a huge, four-drawer metal lateral file cabinet; and a giant rolling cabinet-thingy from Ikea I could let go. I just sold my little living room set to my sister, Jenny, and I want to get that up to her (in Pocatello) ASAP. I’d like my living room to be open, sunny and easy to clean. I can’t wait! Maybe a next step would be to clean the storage unit and put some of this furniture in there to get it out of here sooner.

Or maybe one of my siblings will suddenly have need of this giant desk and will want to help me get it and Jenny’s furniture to their new homes… Are you listening, Universe? It’s me, Rebecca.

All-in-all, I’d say things are moving along swimmingly. I’m so excited to finally be shucking all this superfluous shit! If anyone has any great tips, I’d love to hear (read) them.

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Purging Possessions

The Project Illustrated…

This is a “mind map” of the complete Excess Emancipation Project. The daily habits I am integrating; new beliefs I am creating; and the “broad strokes” of my 101 day journey are depicted here.

I committed to this vision on December 11, 2011 and it will be completed on March 21, 2012. This future I am creating is really an integration of habits I once had and/or things I’ve always wanted to do.

So far, it hasn’t been particularly easy. I see a lot of blogs out there about this person’s great new life on a raw food diet or that person’s successful purging of the possessions and I get a little frustrated. It seems like these things came easy to those people. Maybe I’m not reading far enough. Maybe they just didn’t talk about the crying.

One thing is for sure: As I look at my Dad’s desk from when I was a kid, or his galoshes from when he was a kid, I am acutely aware of tough times ahead. I am so habituated to attributing sentimental value to inanimate objects, it feels kinda like I’m getting rid of him, not just some stuff. Granted, I will be hopefully giving any/all family heirlooms to my sisters and brothers, but I know there will be a few things left over that I will have to face selling or giving away.

And it’s not just stuff from Dad and Mom (like her tin dollhouse from the 50s) a lot of my stuff are things I have picked up during my travels to Paris, Morocco, Indonesia, Costa Rica and more. Or they bring back memories of hijinks or lost loves. I suppose this is the inevitable crux of the issue.

I am committed to getting free of having to “tend” all this stuff, though. It’s so much work to dust, house, store, maintain and care for and about this inanimate menagerie. I have always fantasized about being free of it — about living a life more like Thoreau at Walden Pond — and I am determined to get there.

(Dear Universe, Please don’t infer that I want to be put in a position where I have to build my own house with just an axe and old nails from my neighbor’s shanty.)

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Totally Freaking Out…

Seriously folks, I am totally freaking out. I want macaroni and cheese, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or chips with cheese so bad! When are the cravings going to stop? Are they? They have subsided some, just not at night. And I have less resolve at night. ugh!

I know I just barely posted about how awesome the raw food diet is going, and it’s all true, but the real world started again today (school) and all the old habits were there to smack me in the face.

I made it through, though. Me and my first world problems, right? Perspective! Hannah and I are going to an all day ropes course event with the Outlook Development team tomorrow. I’m excited. It’s sounds like just the thing to help me redouble my efforts.

This would be easier if I had lost some weight, but I really haven’t. It’s true that I don’t have TONS to lose, but I do have 25 or 30 extra pounds on these bones.

Everyone was so worried I’d lose a bunch of weight super fast. I knew it wouldn’t be super fast, but I had thought I could count on losing a little by now. I do see my face looks thinner and brighter, and I know once the daily running habit gets implemented (not long now…) that extra weight will come off.

I am going to continue to focus on the fact that I’m doing this for my health, not my vanity! To life!

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Freeing the Fat, Going Raw