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Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Show & Tell

Lindy - Decatur, GA

The Register Twins - Gayle and Gwyne
What are they up to? Hands raised. Big smiles if not outright laughter. Are they emulating a roller coaster ride? Did the home team just get a home run? Is there a spooky ghost on this side of the camera? What do you think?

*****

Megan - Roswell, GA

My 5-year-old's painful little toes.
Admit it. You've been aching for us to post a photo of toes. Rejoice. The day has arrived. This photo is of my son's little piggies (try not to weep with joy). The poor kid - who of course loves to run - has naturally ingrowing toenails on both middle toes, with slightly less aggressive ingrowing on his big toes. We've tried everything: trimming the sides of his nails, "turtle bites," you name it. Any suggestions? Please?

*****

Pam - Dacula, GA

Wasabi Green Seed Bead Mix
I bought this to make ankle bracelets, intending to place the beads randomly on the wire to create unique, one-of-a-kind designs. Sounds easy, right? Well, it was a great idea in theory but quite difficult in practice, as I am apparently obsessed with symmetry and pattern. 
In the end, I was able to let go of my need to control the outcome of this project and create a lovely anklet that any abstract peace loving wasabi eater would love. And I think I learned a little something about myself in the process.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No More Sorry, No Regret

It's sad, so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
~ Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Did I confuse you with these introductory lyrics? Were you expecting, maybe, Billy Joel? Billy has the day off today. Don’t be too disappointed, though. As you can see, his tour-mate, Sir Elton John, has kindly agreed to partner with me in Billy’s stead to help me capture the essence of today’s post.

You see, while this week we’re talking about making No Apologies – and Pam gave us an exhaustive list of things we for which we should never apologize – I have to admit I’m a big fan of the Sorry. I’m a huge proponent of apologies when someone has done something wrong. I’ve trained countless customer service people to start with “I’m sorry” when dealing with an irate customer, the kind of sorry that simply means no matter what caused you grief, I’m just sorry that you are experiencing frustration. Heck, I’m the Mom of two little people! “Tell him (her?) you’re sorry!” is part of my hourly existence!

Apologizing for who we are or for the way we engage with the world, of course, is an error so many of us struggle with. We’re often made to feel as if we should apologize when in fact we should be our own strongest advocates, when we should be shouting our uniqueness to the hills! (Not sure why the hills would care, but it sounds good, right?)

One might assume we regret these Halloween costumes from 2001. One would be wrong. But here's the kicker... WHAT WERE WE??? (I challenge you to guess...)

But did you know that Sorry has a twin? Oh yes, an insidious, evil twin that lurks in Sorry’s shadow: her name is Regret. Sorry truly is one of the hardest words to say, but Regret follows in Sorry’s path with slithery grace and ease. In fact, Regret can find her way into your heart even when Sorry hasn’t managed to claw her way out of your mouth.

Think about it for a minute. Regret is kind of like an inward-turned Sorry. If you have wronged another person, for instance, whether or not you have apologized you likely feel Regret. Close your eyes and imagine that feeling. That Regret. In essence, Regret happens when the part of you that decided to do the Regretful deed apologizes to your conscience. Over and over. And over.  It’s an in-your-gut ache, isn’t it?

Here’s the key with Regret: almost 100% of the time, Regret doesn’t accomplish anything. Regret doesn’t turn the clock back. Regret doesn’t right the wrong. Regret just aches and festers.

I decided about 15 years ago that I was going to do away with Regret in my life. I was banishing her for good. It wasn’t easy. But there are two tenets I follow:

  •        Don’t do anything I will Regret. (I hear you LOLing. I will not SMH but rather will continue…) Seriously, this one decision has helped me make very deliberate decisions and to ensure I have the confidence to stick by them. Do I take longer to actually make a decision than I used to? Not really. I’m one of those annoying people who makes a decision quickly – way too quickly for my husband’s liking in so many cases. Poor guy. But by making the conscious decision to avoid Regret, I’ve committed myself to make decisions and take actions that will not cause me to Regret.

  •        Don’t allow Regret entrée into my heart. When something happens that would typically be Regret-Full, and when I start to feel a bit Regret-Esque, I try to remind myself that feeling Regret will do nothing but make me feel terrible. Which will lead to an irresistible desire to eat an entire pan of brownies while watching an endless loop of “Steel Magnolias.” At that point, I have two choices: become heartless (not an option) or take action. You’d be amazed at how quickly Regret flees when you take action. Do you Regret doing something negative to another person? Go make it better. Do you Regret something you did long ago, too long ago for a simply make-good? Do something today to improve the life (or even just the day!) of someone else. Do you Regret something huge like having so much when so many have so little… well, that’s an easy one, but I’ll let you figure it out.

    The key here is to Stop Regret. No More Inward, Useless Sorrys. Be. Do. Act.

    The almost-not-quite-irony of this post is that last week I wrote a post on my personal blog reminding people that there is no statute of limitations for I’m Sorry. But let’s be clear: that kind of Sorry is an outward Sorry, not a Regret. There is a difference.

    Just let me out of here
    Before that sentimental music starts
    And your regrets
    Fall like empty lines
    Like the lies we write on Valentines

    No Valentine
    ~ Elton John & Bernie Taupin

    By the way, if Sir Elton John and Billy Joel ever do agree to tour again, go see them. Fabulous concert. You won’t Regret it.

    P.S. Tell me… am I the only one who saw Pam’s photo in yesterday’s post and, before learning that she was in a porthole, wondered where she found such a gigantic washing machine?

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    47 Things You Should Never Apologize For

    Yes, that's me. In the porthole of a cruise ship. I make no apology for this.
    Do you ever apologize for things that you shouldn’t? I have been known to apologize for: forgetting to put on my make-up; the condition of my thighs; wearing a dress my date didn't like; the weather; making mistakes in a piano performance; having fun when someone else wasn't.

    Resolved: From this day forward, I apologize ONLY for the things I do wrong, NOT for being my imperfect, quirky, occasionally outrageous self. Here, in no particular order, is a list of 47 things YOU shouldn’t apologize for, either.
    1. Doing what makes you happy.
    2. Using big words.
    3. Using bad words (in the appropriate context).
    4. Going out with your friends.
    5. Staying home when everyone else wants to go out.
    6. Your lack of education.
    7. Your less-than-marketable graduate degree.
    8. Struggling financially.
    9. Being successful.
    10. Feeling how you feel.
    11. Stating your true feelings.
    12. Crying when you need to.
    13. Your penchant for the color purple.
    14. Your tiara.
    15. Your closet full of impractical shoes.
    16. The feather extension in your hair.
    17. Walking away from a job that makes you unhappy.
    18. Walking away from an abusive relationship.
    19. Doing your best in a relationship that didn’t make it anyway.
    20. Being single.
    21. Going to a restaurant and dining alone.
    22. Your tattoo.
    23. Your belly button ring.
    24. Taking risks.
    25. Telling the truth.
    26. Wearing your pajamas all day.
    27. Listening to 80’s rock.
    28. Watching a chick flick.
    29. Reading a romance novel.
    30. Avoiding people who have hurt you.
    31. Not being attracted to someone who is attracted to you.
    32. The extra ten pounds you are carrying around.
    33. Demanding respect.
    34. Not putting up with bad behavior from others.
    35. Having high standards when it comes to relationships.
    36. Being frugal.
    37. Treating yourself to something special.
    38. Not knowing how to do something.
    39. Being really good at something.
    40. Telling the truth.
    41. Refusing to compromise your integrity.
    42. Changing your mind.
    43. Resting when you are tired.
    44. Your crazy family.
    45. Being proud of your children.
    46. Helping others.
    47. Your faith.
    Can you think of anything else?

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    I’m Sorry *shrug* It's Who I Am. No Apologies!

    To walk a mile in
    another's shoes...
    When I was in my early teens my dad had me take the Myers-Briggs type assessment. In all honesty I don’t recall why, at such a young age, he wanted me to assess myself in this way, but I recall vividly that I was a high “F”. Though I was something akin to an INFJ, the range probably pegged “feeling” as my strongest, if not only, characteristic. My dad told me that meant I was overly empathetic. I was so young I didn’t truly understand the meaning of empathy or the difference between empathy and sympathy and at the time I recall feeling like he was slamming me for being too soft.

    Twenty years later when subjected to the same assessment I don’t think “F” factored into the equation at all. In corporate life I preferred to operate in the ENTP range – settled, logical, always looking forward. I will never forget the day I learned this about myself. Much like the day my dad called me overly empathetic, now I felt like I couldn’t relate to people at all; like I didn’t care one iota about what others were experiencing in their lives. I remember sitting in my shared office with friends and coworkers Robin and David discussing the outcome. The two of them seemed so sensitive and caring compared to my cold, business-like matter-of-factness. I felt like the Grinch with a heart two sizes too small. It hurt.

    Thinking on these two occasions in my life, I had to question which of these personality profiles was most like me. Had I changed so much over the course of twenty years? What had caused the upheaval? Does everyone change this dramatically? Was this business, or was this me?

    After leaving my cold, career-focused life behind and spending two years at home in an effort to change me, my marriage, raise a healthy daughter, write the great American novel (I could go on and on but you’d go to sleep) I began to see that there is a healthy balance between the two that make me who I am. It took me a while to disengage from the business attitude and adapt to being the new, softer me. Once I did, my emotions were cranked into gear and I became that person who could put herself in just about anybody’s shoes. Though I haven’t quite reached the same point of emotional abandon as my dear friend Robin, who will cry in response to all of the Hallmark commercials (I can only shed tears for a couple of them), I have grown to realize that being empathetic, even overly so, is an amazing gift. It gives me a granite foundation of understanding others, which leads me to have faith in the good in the world, which subsequently leads me to forgiveness – maybe not necessarily in that order.

    In recent months, during trying times, I questioned my ability, even my interest, in empathizing with others especially my soon-to-be ex, but ultimately I find sticking to what I know, or just being me, is an okay thing. It’s easier to bear the pain of loss than it is to endure the hatred that ensues after being left behind.

    “We must accept life for what it actually is - a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.” - Ida R. Wylie

    I may be empathetic, much to my wise father’s chagrin, but I make no apologies for the number of times I have uttered the words “I’m sorry” over the years because it’s who I am, and thanks to my unwitting father, I learned it early. Thanks Dad! And thanks to my dear friends, ones like Robin and David, I rediscovered it before it was too late.

    Have you ever felt the need to make apologies for who you are? Is there one characteristic or trait you feel more accountable for than another? Join the conversation.

    Life in Penned Perspective by Lindy Chaffin Start

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Friday Show & Tell

    Megan - Roswell, Georgia


    You know how you think you've taken the perfect photo? And then you know how something can just throw that photo all wonky? I love this picture of my friend's little girl, particularly the flower (weed?) tucked behind her ear. But the photo is just a smidge off. Three words: Empty. Plastic. Bottle. Ah well. Babies and their toys.

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    Pam - Dacula, Georgia


    My brother Greg and me, August 1981
    My brother Jim, born two years after me, died in an auto accident on July 18, 1981, the day before my brother Greg's 18th birthday. July 19th was also my maternal grandmother's birthday; she and Greg are gone now, too. And my dad told me yesterday that his father passed away on July 20, 1961.
    That's a lot of sadness packed into three days.

    * * * * *

    Lindy - Decatur, Georgia
    If you need a plumber, don't go gettin' any ideas.
     This is how I spent an hour this week - replacing my kitchen faucet. A little black bra wisdom ladies: if you don't have power tools or if you have them yet don't know how to use them - LEARN!

    You silly men, if you are asking why I needed a screw gun to replace my kitchen faucet, then you obviously don't know what you're doing. Happy Friday!

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Billy, Me & Your Second Wind

    Pam and Lindy have done a wonderful job this week of discussing the challenges and trials of rejection as well as how to overcome a rejection (or several rejections) to ultimately feel empowered. They’ve provided solid advice as to how to keep rejections of all kinds in perspective. Truly, they’ve covered the subject quite thoroughly, and I don’t think I have anything of relevance to add that would significantly expand the topic.

    And if there’s one thing I don’t like to do, it’s to ramble without adding something to the conversation.
    Instead, Billy Joel and I plan to talk about some of the responses that the Big No (rejection) elicits in us.  You didn’t know that I’m tight with Billy Joel? Oh, yeah, we go way back. I’ve known him for most of my life – his moods, his feelings, his ups, his downs. Sure, he has not a clue who I am, but every friendship has its hurdles. So anyway, Billy Joel and I came up with an acronym to aid in remembering the 5 primary emotional responses to rejection: D’PASH. What does D’PASH stand for? Read on:

    ·       Despair:And every time I’ve held a rose it seems I only felt the thorns” ~ And So It Goes
    Well, despair might be overstating it slightly, but sometimes when we experience rejection, our first reaction is to feel sad. Sometimes we feel a little sad, and yes, sometimes we do feel desperate. This is often the emotion that’s easiest to overcome, as long as you allow your friends to comfort you. That’s a skill set most friends have in spades – the ability to make you feel happy again. Let them practice this amazing skill on you. You won’t be sorry.

    ·       Pride: “Because you had to be a big shot, did ya. You had to open up your mouth.” ~ Big Shot
    Where sadness can be easiest emotion to move past, pride is probably the most intractable. And who among us hasn’t felt at some point that the person rejecting us has no right to reject us or clearly has absolutely no sense whatsoever? But what’s more critical here is pride’s ability to close our ears to what the person rejecting us has to tell us. Sure, they may simply not like what we have to offer for reasons that have no bearing on anything, but they also may convey something to you that you can use in the future – to help avoid future similar rejection (from publishers, from potential employers, from Billy Joel), to understand another point of view that’s unfamiliar to us, or even to use in a plot line someday!

    ·       Anger:Give a moment or two to the angry young man, with his foot in his mouth and his heart in his hand. He’s been stabbed in the back, he’s been misunderstood. It’s a comfort to know his intentions are good.” ~ Angry Young Man   
    Closely related to pride is anger. Have you ever been rejected by a loved one when you needed him or her most? Have you been let go from a job for unfair reasons? In such situations, it’s easy to feel flat out
    pissed. Furious even. Move over pride, anger’s taking the stage. Be careful when anger subsides, though, because if self-acceptance doesn’t assert itself, despair can wander in.

    ·       Stress: “But you will come to a place where the only thing you feel are loaded guns in your face and you’ll have to deal with pressure.” ~ Pressure
    Depending on how much you are counting on someone to accept what you had to offer, a rejection can really kick your stress into high gear. If you’re struggling financially, a job rejection can make impending bills loom like skyscrapers. When you’ve put your heart and soul in to a manuscript, every “no” letter may make you question all the time you put into writing and can stress you out over possible “lost time.” A rejection of a more personal nature – a spouse, a significant other, a friend, a family member – can simply increase worry about ending up alone without a support system. When the stress piles on, take a deep breath. Stress won’t help you overcome your rejection, and it won’t help you move on. It will just make you… stressed. So while it may not be just that simple… chill out. Do whatever you need to do (think: healthy) to relax. Seriously.
    I shouldn't have had that second carafe of coffee before reading the rejection email... or maybe I should have another.

    ·       Honesty: “Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue.” ~ Honesty
    The healthiest reaction (read: the least common reaction) is honesty. Self-directed, truthful assessment of ourselves. It’s the toughest reaction to have, and often it takes a huge, conscious effort. Think about it. If the person rejecting us can teach us something of value in his or her rejection rationale, then listening openly to and learning from their reasoning can only make us stronger. Conversely, if we listen attentively and honestly to the reasons the person rejecting us has to share, and if we can conclude that he or she is full of it or is flat out wrong, we can be that much more confident in ourselves and what we have to offer. It’s a win-win! It’s so difficult to manage, but if we can do it, the benefits are so worth it.

    I hope that you’ve enjoyed the wisdom and fine lyrics Billy Joel and I shared with you, and I hope that we’ve managed to contribute something of value to the knowledge provided earlier in the week by my co-bloggers. And next time you face rejection…

    Don't forget your second wind
    Sooner or later you'll get your second wind
    ~ You’re Only Human

    * If it wasn’t clear, all lyrics in this post are from Billy Joel songs.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Don't let the bad guys win

    Photo courtesy of http://www.freepicturesweb.com/
    We first learn about rejection as children. Whether we are the last to be chosen for sports teams, are assigned to the chorus instead of the starring role in the school musical, or earn a “C” instead of an “A” in a class despite putting forth our best effort, we learn what it means to “fail.”

    Then it gets personal. The boy you desperately wanted to invite you to prom asks a cheerleader instead. Your spouse has an affair with a colleague. Your best friend ditches you when you make a decision she cannot handle.

    But the patterns of our youth do not have to become the truth of our adulthood. The actions and opinions of others have little bearing on who we really are.

    Unless we let them.

    Those of us who aspire to be traditionally published authors set ourselves up regularly to be rejected. Just for fun, I invite you to take this little online quiz.

    But rejection is serious business. When I contemplate the word rejection, my body reacts physically. My chest tightens up; my breath becomes shallow. I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    Rejection can do one of two things: it can make us stronger, even more determined to succeed, or it can destroy us, giving us an excuse to achieve far less than we are capable of. “I never do anything right,” we tell ourselves. And we don’t. “Some things never change,” we sigh, and that becomes self-fulfilling prophecy.

    One thing is for sure: rejection feels like a door slamming you smack! in the face. But Alexander Graham Bell, who failed countless times before finally succeeding with that little contraption we call the telephone, said, “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

    Yep. If we hang our heads in shame and slink into a corner every time someone tells us we are not good enough, we are sure to miss our next opportunity. Which might even turn out to be a better one. 

    Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.
    ~Ross Perot

    Maybe you have tried out the past six years in a row, but what if your next audition will be the one to get you a solo part in your church choir’s Christmas cantata? So you have filled out a hundred online job applications; what if the next one is the one that results in you landing your dream job? Maybe you have gone on blind dates with a dozen horny toads, but what if the next guy you meet turns out to be your Prince Charming? So you have a drawerful of rejection letters; what if the next editor you pitch to falls in love with your story and wants to sign you for a multi-book deal?

    I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.
    ~Sylvester Stallone

    Wake up, my friends. Get going. Never. Give. Up.


    Author: Pam Asberry
    Website: http://pamasberry.blogspot.com
    Facebook: http://facebook.com/pamasberryfanpage
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/pamasberry

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Go Ahead...Reject Me!

    Yikes!
    How many times in our lives do we face debilitating rejection? Mortgage applications, job interviews, manuscript queries, invitations, date nights, play dates – we face each of these stamps of disapproval differently, at least, I do.
    
    Well folks, today I am throwing down the gauntlet! Go ahead…reject me! I dare you.

    Reject — vb
    1.  to refuse to accept, acknowledge, use, believe, etc
    2.  to throw out as useless or worthless; discard

    In my infinite wisdom (ha!), I want you to understand one thing about you (because I know you so well). You are the only person who can reject you! Sure, there are countless ways others can reject - refuse to accept, acknowledge, use, believe (Source: Dictionary.com) - you, but in the end, you are the only one that has the power to let another’s rejection hold you back. Today I challenge you to join me in letting go of other’s attempts to dishearten you. I challenge you to abandon rejection and instead see “no” as a call to action. No matter the source, let another’s lack of belief propel you down a better path, a path that gets you closer to who you are. Let go of fear! Practice, practice, practice! And, when all else fails, try, try again!

    “I am not afraid…I was born to do this.”
                                                         - Joan of Arc

    As a woman I have been rejected by men who think themselves superior, men who believe their opinions, thoughts and feelings are the only ones relevant. To those men I say, “You aren’t worth my energy”; not the energy I could waste fighting back and certainly not the energy I might expel worrying about what you think of me. I am my own person and if you don’t like me for who I am…fine. You are missing out!

    “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
                                                                           – Margaret Thatcher

    As the mom of a three and a half year old I am constantly faced with rejection. It’s not a kind of rejection, when recognized for being what it truly is, that is painful. Instead, it is the rejection of mommy’s thoughts and opinions, guidance and direction, as my daughter spreads her wings in her first efforts to gain her independence. Every day she grows closer to becoming a girl, not a baby, and nothing could make me more proud, or more eager to receive rejection. Sometimes I have to lock myself in the bathroom and cry, but at least I see it for what it is.  

    “What you don’t do can be a destructive force.”
                                                         – Eleanor Roosevelt

    As a writer I cannot count the letters written by editors and agents not interested in my current work(s). That’s part of the game. Do I let their current interests and opinions stop me from writing what I love to write? No. Do I let the market’s needs dictate what I am to write about? Heck no! Does this mean I am inflexible and unwilling to change? Absolutely not! What it tells me is that I know who I am and what I am capable of. It tells me that when I query the same project in another three years that someone will pick it up. Their rejection today won’t stop me from believing in myself.

    Facing rejection is how we learn from our mistakes, take constructive criticism, identify patterns of behavior in ourselves, and determine who we are and what we want to be when we grow up. So, another’s rejection today won’t stop me from believing in myself.

    Sure, support from friends and loved ones, a good laugh and a penis joke shared between friends, and the venting about potty accidents, sleepless nights and embarrassing comments in the grocery store regarding our latest procurement of tampons that accompanies motherhood all help us to overcome it; no doubt. But, if I look in the mirror in the morning and think I can’t face another day of rejection, then I just didn’t learn enough the day before.

    Life in Penned Perspective by Lindy Chaffin Start
    http://www.unstoppablestart.com/

    *****

    Shameless marketing for Monday – Read! Comment! Share! And, come back tomorrow and Wednesday for more rejection perspective from Pam Asberry and Megan Stanish.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Friday Show and Tell

    Lindy - Decatur, Georgia
    Tryst in the Garden
    I came across this in my neighbor Linda's garden. Absolutely had to snap a picture of  - wait for it - the excited garden gnome playing hide 'n seek with his mistress. Happy Friday!


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    Megan - Roswell, Georgia
    Evening on the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia.
    This is the Chattahoochee River, which winds through metro Atlanta; here it's about 2-1/2 miles from my house. Thick wisps of mist flowing over parts of the water. Two people floated slowly along in a small, pink dingy. So serene...


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    Pam - Dacula, Georgia
    Isla Roatan, Honduras
    Have you ever had a monkey pick through your hair looking for seeds?
    I didn't think so.


    * * * * * 


    Ever had an agent turn down a manuscript you knew was destined to be a New York Times Bestseller? Do your teenagers roll their eyes every time you walk into the room? Did your last boyfriend dump you for no apparent reason? Be sure to come back Monday and check out our Writers LiPP on rejection. Oh, yeah, we know a thing or two about THAT!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    One Step At A Time

    Both Lindy and Pam have written wonderful posts this week listing helpful information and realistic guidelines to help us live a healthy lifestyle without feeling overwhelmed or deprived. I’ve adopted and tried to internalize several of their suggestions already.

    For me, being healthy – particularly physically – is both an instinct and a struggle. I love to exercise. I have always enjoyed the feeling of exerting myself, of my heart pumping and my muscles flexing and my breath coming more quickly. I even love to sweat! All of it together makes me feel alive, vital, strong and even intensely mortal in that “I may be here on earth for a limited time, but I’m HERE NOW” sort of way.  Even so, getting started with an exercise program (for the first time, after a hiatus, with a new program) can be frustrating or even downright disheartening.

    I spent my older childhood and early adulthood trying and failing several times to get healthy, to become a regular exercise devotee, to eat better, to establish a work-life balance… the works. I’m still working on it, but here are four tips I follow that I believe can help anyone who wants to make a positive change of just about any kind:

    ·         Set Bite-Sized, Short-Term Goals: It may feel really motivating at first to declare something impressive like “I’m going to lose 50 pounds!” But the challenge with setting inflexible and generally huge goals of that nature is that they are destined to leave you feeling like a failure when they take a long time to accomplish. Instead, if you want to lose 50 pounds… well, first make sure you should lose 50 pounds. Then set yourself a goal of 5 pounds. It’s a more readily attainable goal, and once you hit that goal, your sense of accomplishment can sustain you should you decide to go for another 5 pounds. And another. And another… You kind of have to lose 5 pounds at a time (or 1 or 7 or 10), so why not?

    ·         Walk Before You Run: I know it sounds trite, but it’s true. Your body needs time to adjust to any new exercise regime – strength, endurance, flexibility, movement. You may be eager to get started with something new, but if you start too quickly and aggressively and end up injured, you may end up unable to do much of anything. Even fun stuff. When I was 20, I started walking a few miles every day. After a few weeks, I felt antsy and energetic during my walks, so I started running for short stints interspersed with my walking. I kept slowly building up my running, and at the age of 27, I ran my first marathon. Do you see that span of time? 7 years. (Okay, you don’t have to build up that slowy…)
    My budding runner. He walks a lot during his races, taking things at his own pace.

    ·         Reward Yourself: Pam touched on this in her post. Essentially, unless you have a medical reason to do so, try not to deny yourself your favorite treats. In fact, you can use them to your advantage. I happen to be a huge milk chocolate addict with a particular affinity for plain M&Ms. When I was in my early 20s, I was still in the early stages of my budding running habit, a habit that had yet to really stick. So I made a deal with myself: during the work week I would eat only healthy foods and run at least 4 days, and on Saturday and Sunday I would allow myself rest time and as many M&Ms as my heart desired.  Not only did I stick with my running routine, but my general eating habits improved and the number of M&Ms I felt compelled to ingest slowly declined. (Don’t get me wrong… I still eat them. Nightly. No joke.)

    ·         Listen To Your Doctor: This one is vital, my friends, at so many levels. Get regular check-ups. Like Pam, I have a poorly functioning thyroid. I take my medicine every morning like clockwork and follow the instructions to the letter. It took over a year for my condition to be diagnosed, and I don’t want to feel like that ever ever ever ever again. Speaking of which, if you feel off in any way, don’t try to be a hero, don’t be a martyr – go see your doctor. Soon. On my personal blog, I just wrote what amounts to a eulogy for my mom’s best friend, a fabulous woman who would tell you herself, if she could, that she’d likely still be here if she’d gone to the doctor earlier. But I digress. What does this have to do with kicking off a new exercise regimen and sticking with it? Well, if you have an underlying condition (like my thyroid condition), knowing about it and regulating it could help ensure you can continue your regimen once you start it. And let’s face it, some diagnosable conditions threaten not just your exercise regime… Get. Checked.

    Get regular check-ups or I'll send my daughter after you...
    Before I close, I want to mimic my good friend with an honorary mention about Jaycee Dugard. It’s fitting for this post and the topic of health, because in my opinion all the exercise and healthy eating in the world are generally pointless if you have a crummy outlook on life… and after all that Ms. Dugard went through during her years of captivity, she still maintains an amazingly upbeat, positive attitude. I’m going to wrap up with a condensed version of her lessons on being a survivor in life:

    1.       Hold On To Hope

    2.      Find Meaning in The Day, Even if it Is a Day in Hell

    3.      When There Is No Way to Escape, Adapt

    4.      Do Not Forget What Real Love or Goodness Is

    5.      Stare The Past Down With Strength, Not Shame

    If she can do this, can’t we all? What do you think? Are all of these tips realistic? What have you done to help yourself kick off new exercise goals or to maintain a positive attitude amidst adversity? We’d love to hear from you!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Laying the groundwork

    Yours Truly at the conclusion of the Peachtree Road Race last year
    The groundwork for all happiness is good health.
    ~Leigh Hunt

    As Lindy pointed out yesterday, there is a plethora of information out there about health and well-being. Do I really have anything more to contribute to the conversation?

    Well, I don't have credentials as a weight loss expert and I am certainly no fitness guru. But I AM an expert on my own experience as a human being struggling to live a reasonably healthy lifestyle in a world filled with junk food, tobacco advertisement, and mind-crushing stress. The fact is, every day I am faced with a series of choices. Do I eat the doughnut or the oatmeal for breakfast? Do I go to the gym or do I skip it, just this once? Do I stay up late watching Letterman even though I know the alarm will go off at 5:30 the next morning?

    I believe the secret is tipping the scales in favor of choices that lead to overall health and fitness. Here are a few of the rules I strive to live by:

    1. Eat healthy. For me, this means never skipping breakfast, limiting portion size, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoiding foods with ingredients whose names I can't pronounce. I do treat myself - at least once a day - but I have learned to be content for the most part with a Nonni biscotti (110 calories), a fat free fudgesicle (80 calories) or a small McDonald's pineapple mango smoothie (210 calories). I have struggled with my weight all my life; I weigh ten pounds more than I would like right now but I am good according to the charts, so I am trying to learn to love this post-menopausal body the way it is and not obsess about a number on the scale that I may never see again.

    2. Exercise regularly. I try to hit the gym at least five days a week (Fitness 19, $14.95/month) where I do 35 minutes on the elliptical machine. I also have a body bar workout DVD that I like to do a couple of times a week, but that tends to fall by the wayside during the summer months. For the record, I do NOT love going to the gym, but I force myself to go anyway. It's kind of like brushing my teeth at night or washing my hands before eating; I don't really give myself a choice in the matter. And yes, I do miss a day now and then, but I try never to miss two days in a row.

    3. Drink plenty of water. I start every morning by drinking a big glass of water with my thyroid medication - I have an mildly underactive thyroid - then I fill a 32-ounce container with water and try to finish it by the end of the day. I also take a bottle of water with me to the gym.

    4. Get plenty of rest. I am an insomniac AND a morning person, meaning I often find myself burning my candle at both ends, a direct path to burnout and illness. But this summer I am making a sincere effort to get at least seven to seven and a half hours of sleep each night; it will be harder after school starts again, but I am hoping by then this will be a fully formed habit. And I have eliminated caffeine after noon, which seems to be helping with the insomnia.

    5. Wear sunscreen. I have never been a sun worshipper, but I do enjoy being out in the sun and I tan easily. But last year I had a "pre-cancerous" mole removed from my stomach, and my dermatologist warned me to be careful. "You have great olive skin," he said, "but you're not invincible." Point taken.

    6. Practice preventive maintenance. I am always appalled when I find out that someone I know and love hasn't had a PAP smear in ten years, or had a mammogram EVER. Go to the doctor, people. Get those checkups. What you don't know can kill you.

    7. Don't smoke (duh) and drink alcohol in moderation. Enough said.

    8. Develop a spiritual practice. Whether it's going to church on Sunday and worshipping with a body of like-minded believers or sitting in the lotus position doing breath work and meditating on "OM," find a way to center yourself and explore your connectedness with the Universe, whatever you perceive it to be. This does all kinds of good things for your head.

    9. Find work that you love. 
    10. Purge toxic people from your life.
    Both mind-numbing work and soul-crushing people make me want to eat potato chips and drink gallons of wine while staying up all night watching infomercials; in other words, they make me care less about myself and making positive choices. Do you hate your job? Then find your passion and make it happen. Is someone making you crazy - or worse, harming you or making you feel like you are stupid or worthless? Do yourself a favor. Say goodbye and don't look back.

    It has taken me literally YEARS to figure some of this out, but what I know for sure as that the more positive, healthy choices I make each day, the better I feel, and the better I feel, the better I function. Each of us faces unique challenges as we travel our paths across this planet. What is your number one tip for good health? Leave a comment - we love chatting with our readers! And remember come back tomorrow and find out Megan's perspective on this week's topic. Three writers, three points of view - that's what Writers LiP.P. is all about!

    Author: Pam Asberry
    Website: http://pamasberry.blogspot.com
    Facebook: http://facebook.com/pamasberryfanpage
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/pamasberry

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Healthy Li.P.P.s and Recipes too

    It's hard to imagine what in the world I might add to the host of blogs, news reports, articles, and advice you already receive each day that empores you to follow a healthier path. But I truly do believe that we are the masters of our own destinies and we must take charge of our own health and care. The daily grind can rob us of the time that we need to care for ourselves, so adding to that the Martha Stewart approach probably sounds painful. Why not just go to the spa and get a facial? Why not meet with a dietician and work out a new lifestyle plan? I don't know about you, but this slump of an economy we're in doesn't leave me with much extra to spend on trips to the spa or a to a nutritionist. So, here is what my healthy Li.P.P.s want to share with you today:

    At the dining table - I don't have to tell you that what you put in your body can affect not only your metabolism, but your mood, your energy level and, helloooo, your health. Here are some ideas for healthy choices.

    Breakfast:

    There is nothing easier than low fat vanilla yogurt, a handful of granola, and fresh berries. You have all you need in one bowl to fuel you through the morning - whole grains, fruits with natural sugar, and the yogurt cultures for appropriate digestion. Easy peezy.

    How about a smoothie? Have you seen those awesome, as-seen-on-tv bullet blenders. I love mine! Pam Asberry, one of my Writers Li.P.P. partners told me one day about freezing peeled bananas to form the icy base for your smoothie. Best tip ever! So take a frozen banana and add your favorites - berries, yogurt, juice, milk, stone fruit - whatever strikes your fancy and crank up the bullet. One of my recent favorites is one frozen banana, enough fresh blueberries to fill in the gaps, and cranberry juice. Antioxidants that keep your pipes working smoothly. Who can beat that?

    Let's talk lunch:

    Lunch is a killer for me. I always find myself craving what I really don't need, or in a time crunch and unable to do anything healthy. My go-to option...salad.

    I love fennel as a salad option. It adds vitamin C, fiber and folate to your meal along with a fresh yet subtle licorice flavor. If you aren't familiar with fennel, it looks like a giant stalk of celery. I like to slice it nice and thin for a salad and one of my favorite combinations is Mediterranian. Blood orange segments, fennel, black olives, olive oil, salt and pepper. Yum! Here's a link to another favorite - Escarole and Fennel Salad with Pears and Gruyère.

    Let's not leave out our friendly whole grains. Couscous, barley and quinoa are high in fiber but also add lots of protein to your salad. Not to mention using these healthy grains are a great way to use up the leftover side dish from last night's meal. I especially love quinoa. It's nutty (like me) and a wonderful high protein alternative to starchy old rice. One of my favorite quinoa salad recipes is Quinoa Salad with Vegetables and Tomatillo Vinaigrette.

    Edamame is another great add on. It's packed with as much if not more protien than most meat without all the saturated fat. Studies show a diet rich in soy means increased weight loss and a decreased risk of breast cancer. One little green pea with lots of healthy advantages.Why not add it to your salad? Triple Pea Salad With Creamy Tarragon Dressing is one of my favorites.

    Alright, there's one last topping worth talking about - seeds. Seeds are a great alternative to nuts. They both have similar amounts of fat and calories, but you get more seeds in two tablespoons so you get more crunch per yummy bite. Seeds offer high levels of zinc, but pumpkin seeds give you more than four grams of iron per serving. A fabulous cancer fighter. This is one I enjoy year round - Roasted Squash Salad with Bacon and Pumpkin Seeds.

    Getting out and about - I am not here to lecture you about the benefits of exercise. I shouldn't have to. If you are reading this you are a grown person and can make your own decisions about your lifestyle. At the very least, please take the stairs instead of the elevator. Fair enough?

    The do-it-yourself kitchen witch - I am a big believer in taking care of yourself and one easy way to do that is to relax. I love lavender oil for its relaxing qualities. It has been known for centuries to calm frayed nerves. I even took it into the delivery room with me and rubbed it on my temples when struggling with the pain of labor. Now, I use it to take a breather. Taking care of yourself doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Here is a recipe I use for homemade bath salts.

    There are lots of recipes for exfoliants, age defyers, face masks, bath salts - anything you need to take care of your skin, your body, your mind, and ultimately your soul - right online. Poke around and see what you can find then come on back and share it with the rest of us.

    Life in Penned Perspective by Lindy Chaffin Start
    http://www.unstoppablestart.com/
    Follow me on Twitter: UnstoppableLCS
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    Blogging about being a writer, mom and individual - http://unstoppablestart.blogspot.com/

    Visit again tomorrow for Pam's perspective.