My Leap List

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye Meraki, Welcome Ubuntu

For the past two years I have picked a word to focus on throughout the year because of the idea that where my thoughts and focus go will create this in my life.  2016 was the year of Meraki - doing something with total love and pure soul.  It is leaving a little piece of yourself in your creative work.  Meraki helped me through leaving Blackridge and starting over at another new school.  It helped me finish my dissertation and graduate.  It helped me through the mundane days when I wondered if anything was making a difference.  It reminded me to do whatever needed to be done with love and soul, no matter what that task was.

     This year's word is Ubuntu - I am what I am because of who we all are - compassion, kindness, and humanity that connect us together by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us.  There were lots of words I considered for 2017, but picked Ubuntu because of its focus on humanity.  2016 was a year of tearing apart, of finding ways to separate us, judgements, racism, sexism, and all the other kinds of "ism"s.  This year I want to focus my energy, thoughts, and intentions on what makes us human.  To know that everything I accomplish in my life is because of so many other people who have made things fall into place in that moment.  To know that authentically sharing myself, even the imperfections, makes me human and helps other people who think they are the only ones struggling.  To know that I can make a difference in other people's lives in small ways instead of waiting for big gestures and missing daily opportunities.  To know that injustice and suffering in someone's life affects all of us.  To look for ways to connect to others on a deeper level.  To inspire, to lead, to motivate, to help, to heal, to love.

If we joined hands and helped each other reach the end instead of racing ahead to take everything for ourselves, what a world it would be.  I wish we knew how much power we have to change the world.  Ubuntu - I am because we are.      

Changing Good Intentions into Verbs

     I am infamous for doing well on a goal for a while, falling off the wagon, and then taking weeks or months to get back on.  I've been battling giving up Pepsi since 1984.  I give it up for a while, then reward myself with a drink or console myself after a rough day.  It has been so long it doesn't even taste good anymore, but somehow it leads to another and another until I am right back where I started.  I started walking in July and only missed one day, but when August arrived, I took a few days off that stretched into weeks.  I only walked 8 days in August, 7 in September, 4 in October, and not at all in November.  I managed 30 days in July and then 19 days in the 4 months that followed.
     I am also really good at accomplishing other things I've set my mind to doing.  One year John and I made a resolution to wear our seat belts.  Neither of us ever wore seat belts before that day, but we have done it every day since then.  I worked two jobs and had two little ones at home when I went to school to get my master's degree and later my administrative license.  I finished my doctorate degree while I worked full time.  I walked 50 miles in December, all outside of walking at work, home, stores, etc.  They were 50 intentional miles with no other purpose besides getting healthy and challenging myself.
     As New Year's Eve and Day come around again, I've been deeply pondering what the differences are between the two because I need to make some important changes in my life that will be permanent.  I've realized that a few things make a difference for me:

  • My friend Melanie asked me if I ever get a "runner's high" from exercising that makes it feel worthwhile.  I told her that I honestly hate it.  Our conversation made me realize that this is true of most of the things I want to change.  I hate exercising.  I hate giving up foods I love.  I hate giving up Pepsi.  When I give myself a choice, I pick the easy way out.  When I just look at it as that's what I do or that's part of my routine each day, I don't let my mind talk me out of it.  It becomes a habit that doesn't get easier, but gets done.
  • Being accountable to other people helps me stay focused.  I don't share my achievements along the way because I am proud or want people to notice me.  I do it because I know people will ask me about it and I don't want to have to admit that I haven't been doing very well.  People asked about school or how I was doing on the walking and that kept me motivated to keep working on it.  When I was working on my dissertation, we would have days we would have to meet and share our progress with everyone.  I worked harder at those times so I wouldn't be embarrassed in front of the other people, even though they were my friends and wouldn't think any less of me if I didn't have something to share.  
  • I also do better when I am part of a team or a group, even when our progress isn't dependent on each other.  I always got team assignments done first because I didn't want to let down people who were depending one me.  It also ties back to having a support group to cheer me on and people to be accountable for my results.  I did a great job in July because my friends were doing a Diet Bet and cheering me on and challenging me to do even more than I thought I could do.  
  • I also realized that I do better when I break bigger goals into smaller goals or measurable goals, like walking 50 miles instead of just saying I will start walking again in December. 
With all this in mind, I've decided to set an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual intention for the year.  Each intention will have smaller monthly resolutions to keep me on track and focused.  I will share my progress so I stay accountable.  I will also involve others in my goals so that I will do it for them even when I don't want to do it for myself some days.

Emotional:  I am most grounded when I express my feelings, so I will refocus on my writing.

Mental:  Reading is one of my favorite things to do, but I am not a reader anymore.  It used to be school got in the way but now it is the Internet, games, Facebook, etc.  I want to refocus on reading and learning, not on the other things that don't really matter but are good distractions.

Spiritual:  I want to do something for someone else each month.  I always feel better when I am focused on others instead of myself.  My word for the year will help me focus my energy here.

Physical:  I need to lose weight and do better with my diet so I don't keep moving into diabetes.  I enjoy sedentary activities and being in my head, so this is my weakest area.  I will make this a bigger priority this year.  I will join up with my brother and daughter to work towards 2,017 combined miles for 2017.  I will work towards 673 miles this year towards my part of the team effort.

Monthly Goals for January

  1. Emotional:  Post 4 or more entries in my blog.
  2. Mental:  Read 5 or more books.  
  3. Spiritual:  Begin working on a baby gift for Brittany, and look for other opportunities to serve.
  4. Physical:  Walk 50 miles in January and only have 2 Pepsi's a day.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

Saying Goodbye to the Strangers I Loved in 2016

     It is complicated when you feel grief for someone you never met.  You know the person you love isn't who they really are, but the love you feel is no less real.  That person touched your life and changed it for the better.  Their songs, the person they played on the screen, the books they wrote, mattered.  They were there for you when the rest of the world turned away, or they made you laugh when real life was anything but funny, or they helped you be strong when you were afraid.  We find solace sharing our grief with other people who felt the same love.  It is magical to think of how much of a difference we make in each others' lives in ways we can't even imagine.
     This has been a year of many of those moments for me.  It started with the loss of David Bowie.  For me, he will always be my Goblin King.  When I was a teenager, I wanted to live in this movie.  I wanted to wear the dresses and dance at the masquerade ball and live with the Goblin King.  When I was struggling with anxiety and depression, I would listen to some of the songs from the movie and get up the bravery to go to school.
     Gary Shandling was another person I miss from that time in my life.  His humor made me laugh when the real world was dark.  I loved his way of looking at the world, of laughing at himself, and never using his humor to hurt others.  He taught me that humor doesn't have to hurt.  Watching the Gary Shandling Show was my reward for getting through each week.  I saw him the other night on an old rerun of The Tonight Show and laughed just as hard as I did then.  I miss him.
     Alan Rickman was loved by so many as Severus Snape, but for me, I fell in love with him in Truly, Madly, Deeply.  His performance made me believe that true love was possible.  He gave me hope.
     Gene Wilder will always be my Willie Wonka.  He was delightful in so many movies, but this was the one I loved.  He was one of the best parts of my childhood.
     Florence Henderson and Alan Thicke made some amazing parents.  Their understanding and love for their kids influence the way I am as a mother to my own kids.  I'm sure they had weaknesses if I watched them now with my older eyes, but as a kid, I thought they were pretty perfect.
     Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker were my summers.  Sitting with my brothers and sister in the movie theater watching Star Wars over and over was one of the highlights of my childhood.  We spent many summers playing different characters from the movies and creating our own epic adventures.  Watching Princess Leia cry when Han gets frozen always makes me cry, even now.  Kenny Baker was an amazing R2D2.  You know you are an amazing actor when you can get us to fall in love with a droid and forget he isn't really alive.  The emotions he shows when fighting with Yoda and talking to Luke always touch my heart.
     Garry Marshall created the shows that I loved most as a kid - Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy.  His characters felt like friends.  Henry Winkler and Robin Williams were loves that I took with me as I grew up.  
     Harper Lee will be missed as the author of one of the most inspirational books I have ever read.  Every time I read it, I find something new to take into my life and become a better person for it.  Her work is still timely and relevant in so many aspects.  Sadly, I wish that I had stuck with To Kill a Mockingbird and not read the sequel because it ruined part of my vision of her.
     George Michael has been the voice of most of my life.  I remember the first time I saw him on MTV singing "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and wearing his shirt that said "Choose Life."  It seemed like a message sent directly to me.  From the Wham days to his solo career, I grew up with his songs on my playlist.  They cheered me up, gave me solace, and his voice soothed my troubled mind.  His death this year has been the hardest for me.
     As I say goodbye to these strangers I love so much, I hope they are in a better place of love, laughter, and peace.  Thank you for making me the person I am and making such a difference in my life.