My Seven Daily Sanes

I’m so different than I was ten years ago. I am reminded of this daily when I look at the top shelf in my office where the shadow box sits that Grant made me for Christmas ten years ago. It contains  pictures of me finishing my first marathon complete with my hard earned and nearly died trying to acquire necklace medal. Honestly it was all I could do not to put that thing around my neck and saunter around every day ALL day for people to see. I’m not a jewelry person but THAT bling? It has stories to tell! Like when I thought my friend Bill was a medic on a bicycle at the top of the hill nearing mile 13. There he was practically shimmering like an angel and I thought “Thank GOD because things are not going how I planned.” It turned out he was Bill instead, which was even better, offering flat Coca-Cola and inspiration. “Meet you at the next mile marker and you can have another drink of this.” My friend, without a doubt is responsible for helping me cross the finish line, one mile at a time with sugar nectar and pep talks for incentive, so that I could experience Grant and our cheering kids waving and clapping  at the end like I was some kind of princess warrior. My eyes still water over that feeling. 

I think it would be funny for Grant to make me another shadow box at the end of this year to show how hard I have worked to reshape my marathon mentality and physicality. There would for sure be a picture of me first thing in the morning showing off my Fitbitch that says I already burned 636 calories and I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN OUT OF BED YET! I mean, how great is THAT? I’m awesome without even trying!

I’m currently not running due to a very long battle with bad ankles. Right now I have frozen peas strapped to both sides of my ‘good’ ankle that I sprained when I fell down the bleachers when I was trying to take a picture of my son David at the end of his last home JV Football game. It was below 30 degrees that night and I forgot I had a blanket wrapped around me. I went down with a very large and painful crash. I’m pretty sure Grant was trying to pretend like he didn’t know me because he just kept walking. Two lovely older-than-me people tried to help me up but I was literally frozen solid and would have taken them down with me. “No. I’m good. I’m pretty sure I sprained my ankle but my husband will eventually notice I have fallen and literally can not get up, and come back for me. He promised until death parts us.”

Some days it’s easier said than done to not comparison shame myself to the me of ten years ago. Sometimes I dream about it, the running.  Long distance running is a powerful thing and the experiences of my marathons have taught me so much about myself and continue to give me insights and new perspectives in my daily life. The other day I had an ‘aha’ moment that I will share before I get to the point of this post, which I’m pretty sure is not about marathons. 

I was reading this beautiful novel that was just…mmmm…so yummy….see? I was deeply absorbed in the words and the story and the magic it takes to write a novel when I felt my left brain say to my right brain something really nasty “You will never write a novel. Blogs are easier. Short.  Simple. Not a lot of effort. You’re just not smart enough or disciplined enough to write a whole book, especially a novel. You should give up on that idea.”

WTF left brain? First of all, you are an overly analytical naysayer. Second, I  can remember when blog posts were super hard to write. Mainly because it was YESTERDAY that I was struggling to get one finished before the WSU Cougar Football game started. But here’s the thing:  I can also remember how hard it was the first time I ran three miles without stopping: huge accomplishment! A marathon is simply a series of short runs, that when gradually and methodically put together, becomes a marathon. Perhaps novels are of similar nature. So fuck you left brain.  

Which brings me to the point of this post, though without much logic (because I just pissed off the non-dominant side of my brain):  my seven daily sanes. 

At the beginning of the year I made a pact with myself to try and adhere to seven simple daily actions to at least keep me PAR with my current state of being a content and mostly at peace, inappropriately tight size fourteen, moderately energetic, non-running,  successful business owner, hippy chick goddess. I call them ‘My Seven Daily Sanes’.   

  1. Pages
  2. Grats
  3. Yoga
  4. Medication (whoops I mean MEDITATION)
  5. Veggies
  6. Water
  7. Walks

Now I’m not gonna lie, this list has been much harder to check off each day than last year’s list: 

  1. Grow my hair

I have been doing number one of the seven pretty regularly for over 14 years. Julia Cameron taught me in “The Artist’s Way” how important it is to check in with myself with morning pages (or what I sometimes refer to as morning vomit). Three pages of handwritten words unedited (especially by the asshole left brain) and unfiltered. I notice, on the rare days I skip this ritual, that I feel like I do when have two different colored socks on or a black bra with white panties: off kilter. The first two pages are almost always whining yucky stuff, but usually by page three I have some kind of weird little break through, like “maybe I should stop eating cookies at midnight” or “you really need to quit this job and form your own business and here is the first step toward that”. 

Grats is a newer thing that has helped center my thoughts on positive things in my life (especially after the nasty brain vomit). Every day: ten things I am grateful for. Then I write thank you ten times at the bottom of this list. I think these journals will be a good thing for my kids to read when I’m dead. Unlike the morning pages which really need to be burned. My grats contain things like: “I’m thankful I didn’t kill Grant yesterday because today he is so much nicer.”

Everything feels better when I practice yoga: my brain, my bones, my skin, my muscles, my joints, my soul. That’s all that needs to be said about that, except that it is my running from ten years ago: life saving. 

I have written a few posts about meditation as holistic medication. Some days I have time for a nice long guided mediation. Most days I just try and remind myself to breath in and out: 4 counts in, 6 counts out. Repeat until calm again. As a catholic, I have found the rosary to be a good form of prayerful medication. Keeps a person off the ledge.

OH VEGGIES. I know I need to eat more of you gross fuckers. It’s a quest I’m still working on. When I feel shitty I consult the last few weeks’ checklist and say to myself: “dummy, cheez-its are not veggies. This is why you feel bad.”

Water is often on my daily grats list but it’s usually in the form of being grateful I can wash my hair or take a hot bath/shower whenever I feel like it, something so many people don’t get to do. Those very people would willingly hydrate every day if they could. So this needs to be something I never take for granted. I have rarely known real thirst. But when I don’t drink water my face looks like a dried up old hag. So.

I added walking to the list because my Fitbitch is a total nag. She says I need to move more. Plus I have this new puppy Bella who needs to move or she gets grumpy. Right now I’m a gimp but the walking thing is wonderful. She and I have these amazing conversations about the best places to poop when you are a dog (she prefers the middle of the street with cars coming for a nice adrenaline rush), the scary house that she refuses to walk past (we now go around), and how some day soon she and I will maybe do some running but for now we will just piece the short walks gradually into longer ones. 


The Art of List Making

I am a compulsive list maker. My mother was a list maker. I get it from her. Her last list before she died had these three items on it:

·         Dog food
·         Toilet Paper
·         Vodka

Clearly she had her priorities straight. This is what lists help you do: keep a clear picture of what is important to you. As I write this post I am looking at a quote I have taped to my motivation wall:

“Create the world you want, and fill it with the opportunities that matter to you.”                      –Alicia Keys

Some people can do this (have a balanced, well thought out, intentionally focused life) without making lists. These people are either master minds (whom we should be afraid of or perhaps put in charge of our country) or simply do not suffer from “I want/need/have to do everything” syndrome like I do. The opportunities that matter to me often come crashing into my life, like forty-two runaway freight trains headed to the same location (my brain) at once.

So, in order to avoid an aneurysm or a visit to the psychiatric hospital I make a lot of lists. I have two kinds of lists: linear lists and non-linear lists.

Linear lists are nifty top to bottom items written in a nice, neat orderly fashion…

speaking of neat and orderly, I hate when one of my kids or husband messes with these lists and writes something like: “Duncan was here” or “Pay attention to your husband”…then I have to crumple and start the list over…

…but I digress…what is comforting about linear lists is you get to cross things off (which for compulsive list makers creates a sense of ‘I am in control of my life’ euphoria). In my years upon years of journals I have several regularly repeating linear list titles which are pretty standard: Groceries; To Dos; Things to Write About. Interestingly enough I just now pulled out journal from 2009 and the first page had a “Things to Write About” list:

·         Diamond Lake
·         Grandma’s coffee stained saucer
·         Mom’s purse that still smells like cigarettes
·         Lists! (See? List making keeps you focused. Here I am                     writing about lists after only four short years!)

Side note: Maria just walked into my office (it is 10:30 am on Sunday, yeah we missed church-this will end up on a list I am sure) saying her head was about to explode from stress. She suffers from runaway freight trains too: three tests on three different subjects for Honors English tomorrow but has to go spend 3 hours speaking to potential incoming students at the open house at Gonzaga Prep. She does not know how she will fit everything in! Oh my daughter, step into my world and let me show you how to spend two hours making a list  on how to best prioritize the next eight.

Here are a few additional linear “H Street” lists of note:

H Worries
It’s interesting to look back on the things that worried me yesterday or a few years ago. When there is an item that continues to stay on the list I know I need to zero in and eventually contend with the worry. I look forward to the day when ‘money’ isn’t on the worry list but with the size or my family this may never happen. Silly worries like contracting the bird flu and cutting myself with the lids of tin cans only show up on this list every so often. It is still soothing to know that so far these things have not yet happened. But I did finally conclude that the word ‘clutter’ has been on my list since kids got here (its a personal space issue). It was this realization that made me finally decide I was NOT going to make a super awesome sculpture with the 26 or so empty laundry detergent bottles I had collected over the course of a year. The idea (though super cool in concept) was kind of hoarderish (that is not a word) and added to the household clutter so I finally sent them to the recycle bin. But I have to say, seeing that many empty bottles made me realize something: one bottle does NOT do 100 loads because that would mean I did 2600 hundred loads of laundry this last year and I think it is theoretically closer to 1095. List making can help uncover false promises.


Things I Would Do if I Did Not Have so much CRAP on My To Do List
Not ONE of the items I have on this list is practical. Case in point: I am probably never going to hike the 2500 mile long Pacific Crest Trail. I don’t hike much…at all. Plus the “To Do List” will always be filled with crap. But this is still a fun list for fanciful free time possibilities.

Things I Did Not Know Were Important Before I Watched “The Oprah Winfrey Show”

I did not actually watch the Oprah Winfrey Show enough when it was on the air to have a acquired a really long list here but I feel it is very important to make note of a couple things: a good bra really does make a difference. Also, one probably should rotate pillows that are older than ten years OUT of the house and into the trash. At ten years, they contain icky things…and smell bad…and look worse. I never noticed before Oprah told me.

Diets that Do Not Work

This is a perpetually growing list for me. It is important to review regularly (and accept) that certain methods of weight loss attempts simply do not work (at least for me). For instance: the “Slim Fast for Breakfast, Big Mac/Large Fry for Lunch, Lettuce for Dinner” Diet left me feeling a little funky and with zero weight loss. (Plus I do not much like lettuce.) As someone who has been on/off/on diets for almost thirty years, I can tell you it’s best to just not BE on any kind of diet. Yet the list continues to grow. I hope to eventually gain clarity (and not weight) on this subject. Perhaps this list will someday help.

New Years Goals and Resolutions

It’s funny to compare manic years when this list has had (take for instance 2010) 42 items on it including “run four marathons” and “write a couple of books” to other years (like 2012) where my list had intangible goals like “be authentic”, “bloom where you are planted” and “give”. I crossed a larger ratio of things off the list in 2010 but had a hell of a lot more fun in 2012.

Pros and Cons

This is a list making tactic I resort to when I need a more carefully thought-through approach to decision making than the magic eight ball or ‘eeney meeney miney mo’. It’s a clear cut way to end obsessing…or grow it, depending on the pro/con balance.

Neat Looking Words I Need to Either Use or Look Up (a.k.a. ‘WORDS’)

From brainy books like “Crime and Punishment” to books that make me feel happy even at 46 years-old, like “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” there are always new words…all the time…I so love words. For instance, how did I ever live without the word titular? Or yink? (Dr. Seuss is my make up your own words hero.)

But once in a while I turn to non-linear lists when I feel scattered and unable to think in an orderly linear manner. These lists are almost always in color and usually quite haphazard but very satisfying, especially to the right side of my brain. Usually I just start with some ink pens and start writing words….

Sometimes they are prayer lists:

Sometimes they are cheer myself up with positive thoughts lists:

Sometimes they are new attitude lists:

These non-linear (I like to use the word cattywampus) lists are as close to meditation as I will probably ever get on account of the fact that I don’t sit still well unless I am doing something. This kind of list helps me create a state of being instead of doing or should be doing.

Whether linear or cattywampus (interesting note: this word is not in my 1988 Merriam-Webster dictionary from college, nor in my iPad spell check but IS in the 2013 Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary), list making helps me redirect some of the incoming freight trains, hop aboard the ones that are important, and scrap the rest, like well intended (but empty) laundry bottles.