New Year’s Resolutions you can keep: The least you can do.

Last week we talked about making New Year’s Resolutions you can keep, by focusing on things you actually WANT to achieve rather than beginning the year with a laundry list of drudgery.

But what if you really have to make a change, even though you don’t especially want to?

And you need to take advantage of the momentum of the new year to do it?

Maybe finding some way to work out is your last hope of avoiding an especially icky medical procedure that you really don’t want.

Or it’s only a matter of time before your spouse leaves, or a judge removes any choice YOU have about dealing with that drug or alcohol problem.

 

Alas, Big Hairy Intimidating Changes won’t always wait until you’ve built up a cushion of wellbeing to carry you through them, will they?

But, Big Hairy Intimidating Changes, by their very nature, are overwhelming to attack. If they weren’t we’d have vanquished them 5 years ago, the FIRST time we resolved to change, right?

So here is my slightly-less fool-proof, but still pretty darn practical method for making tough resolutions stick:

1)  RESOLVE to do the least you can do

Why?

It makes change less overwhelming. It practically ensures successful resolutions instead of yet-more-failure.

AND if you work it right, it starts a little snowball effect that can lead you to big-deal changes.

And that beats yet another staggering defeat at the hands of a HUGE, GRIM RESOLUTION.

Let’s say you really do have to find some way to exercise.

But you hate working out. And you’ve tried this 100 times before. And it never works.

Heck, maybe at this point you hardly can work out!

So, what CAN you do?

Start there. Can you walk? Resolve to walk around the house for 1 minute each day. Or the yard, if you prefer it. The office, if need be.

Or to do arm curls with whatever weight you CAN lift. Only one pound? All good. Two pounds? Splendid. You can only curl the weight of your arm? Do one minute of that!

You can handle one minute, even if that’s all you possibly can handle. 

Resolve that if that goes well, you’ll up it to 1 minute a couple times a day. Or to 2 minutes. Keep going from there: keeping it manageable, but keeping at it. 

Now, clearly this isn’t going to drop you three dress sizes by Valentine’s Day. Probably won’t get you a beach body by summer. 

But it WILL get you moving in the right direction.

It will prevent Resolution Failure.

It will start to make a difference.

If you can do more, DO! But starting is better than not starting, and succeeding at some is better than failing at  lots

And you can up the progress with a NEW (but small and manageable) resolution ANY month of the year!

Or maybe you need to deal with that alcohol problem.

You COULD resolve RIGHT NOW to NEVER. DRINK. AGAIN!

But if you’ve made that resolution several times before (whether at new year’s or not) you know the success rate on this one.

That’s a huge, overwhelming resolution and it probably drives around with a lot of bright red baggage that screams FAILURE! every time you see it.

Instead, maybe your resolution is that on 3rd January from 11am to 1pm you will research recovery and treatment options to find out which are successful.

Or that by the 15th you will have spoken to your doctor about some options. Or talked to a friend who’s been sober for 12 years, about what worked for him or her.

2) Revolve to do it the easiest, most successful way    

When facing something you don’t really want to face, do it the easiest, most successful way you can. Torture yourself some other time, right now spend your energy on effectiveness. 

For example, back to losing that weight: say you passionately hate going to a gym, but you LOVE dancing.

Then don’t resolve to hit the gym 3 times a week!  Resolve to go dancing once a week! 

If the mere thought of salad makes you cringe don’t resolve to eat salads 2 meals a day! Eat blueberries, or watermelon, or carrots. 

Focus on what you CAN do, instead of what you have proven you can’t.

Or maybe you’ve GOT to get help for that eating disorder, or gambling problem, but you KNOW your family is going to go through the roof at any hint of imperfection.

Seek help from someone who ISN’T going to make it harder! 

Maybe your Doctor.

A helpline.

A colleague who has been there, but gotten help.

A friend who you know is truly concerned and won’t let you stay stuck – but won’t condemn you either.

What is the least intimidating way you can get the information or help you need to get? Resolve to learn that.

Then resolve to take the first step. Maybe to attend one AA meeting. Or schedule a doctor’s appointment. Or search online for successful programmes for whatever your need is.

Whatever the next, bite-sized step may be for you.

3)  Don’t do it alone.

Hiding problems, trying to pretend you have it all together, muddling through something that’s way beyond you –  just drains your energy.

It makes more sense to find someone who has already been there and gotten through, or whose job it is to help people get through.

If you’re not a mechanic, or plumber, or electrician, you probably call one when you need one. Or at least call your brother-in-law who IS one. Same thing here.

If you want to get this resolved with the least pain and hassle, resolve to decide who you need to ask for information, help, or advise. Then resolve to do it.

4)  Try to have two resolutions you really want to keep for every one you MUST make.

This one is pretty simple. Don’t ONLY tackle the tough stuff. Build at least a few minutes into your week, EVERY week, where you build yourself up so you can tackle the draining things.

And don’t make too many resolutions! We can have different resolutions next year (even next month!) but having a laundry list of resolutions is a full-time job, not an inspiration to succeed.

 

Be well.  

The last Monday of the year!!

My goodness, what a year this has been!

I hope this last Monday of 2016 finds you well.

As this year comes to a close,

What are you thankful for? 

What are you excited about? 

What concerns you? 

What is your most delightful memory of 2016? 

What is your greatest hope for 2017? 

 

I am thankful for SO many things! For my friends and family, for my writing project, that I had enough savings to weather my job disappearing, that my health is improving, for tea and bread, for BOOKS, for the blessings my gracious God has showered upon me. The list goes on…

I am excited to see where this next chapter in my life will take me! I was distressed to lose my job, but I trust that it still can be a blessing in my life. I am excited to finish this manual I am writing and see it in print! I am looking forward to visiting my family and friends back home after the first of the year. This list too, can go on and on…

Yes, of course this coming year is one of many concerns. Will the new Powers That Be in my country do as much damage as I fear? Will my hopes for a modern healthcare system be dashed utterly for 2-4 additional years? Will I find my next work quickly, or will it take a long, frightening time? Where, oh where, will I live 6 months from now?!?!

So yes, I have concerns. But I have hope again, too. 

 

My most delightful memory of 2016 is a hard one! While things have been tough this year, I tend to have a lot of delightful experiences! Well, one that comes to mind:

After I started on this medication and began to feel SIGNIFICANTLY better, it was raining and I opened the door and just stood and listened to the rain.

For once no one was driving by, or making a racket; there was only the gorgeous sound of the rain, the glorious colours of the courtyard against the grey.

After being so sick for so long, I couldn’t even remember when I had last just stood and listened to the rain with nothing wrong, nothing to worry about, and nothing urgently needing to be done. It WAS delightful.

And my greatest hope for 2017? For the blessing of more and more evidence that my trust in God is a safe bet, and that this last few years truly IS a part of his loving plan. Not the most noble hope, perhaps, or the most profound, but it’s important to me just now.

 

Be well. 

Make New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep

New Year’s Resolution time!

Don’t you just love the fresh-slate feeling of a new year?

It’s like the first page of a delicious new book! I love slowing down a bit in the final days of the year to reflect on the months just past, and ponder those just coming.

And I LOVE New Year’s Resolutions!!

As with many things in my just-not-like-the-other-kids life, I was shocked to learn that many people don’t share The Delight of the RESOLUTION! 

I finally traced at least part of this startling revelation to one curious fact: People set resolutions for things they don’t want to do.

What an awful way to start a year!

Oh sure, maybe they want to look the way they think they’ll look 10 pounds lighter. But they don’t want to eat differently, or go to the gym 8 days a week, or run ten miles before breakfast each day.

So they don’t. At least, not after February 19th.

Yet another Resolution FAIL. And they feel guilty about that.

And worse about themselves. And this does not help at all with the extra 10 pounds!

Especially if they drown their guilt in Ben & Jerry’s.

So here is my patented, nearly fool-proof, indispensable method for making New Year’s resolutions that you can actually keep:

Make resolutions you actually want to keep.

Really.

If you want to lose weight, but you HATE the gym, and you definitely have no interest in changing your diet, don’t set those as your resolutions!

Instead, make resolutions to increase things you DO love.

Things that add to your life, but perhaps get pushed aside in the hurry of the day, the stress of the week.

Or things you think you shouldn’t get to do until you meet some imaginary goal or conquer some arbitrary quantity of shoulds.

Devote your New Year’s Resolutions to things that build your soul, not things that are already crushing it two weeks before the year officially starts!

What do you not make time for that you delight in when you get to do it?

THAT is the thing that sustainable Resolutions are made of!

So resolve to make time to drink coffee at a proper coffee shop.

Or walk in the park.

Or watch chick-flicks or action-adventures once a week.

Whatever your thing is.

Maybe you’ll resolve to talk on the phone more. If that is what feeds your soul, GO FOR IT!

Maybe you’ll resolve to train for a powerlifting competition. And if THAT, really, and truly, is what feeds your soul, GO FOR IT!

Or what is something you have been longing to try?

Not an “I know I should starting doing that.” but a “Man, how I wish I had time for that.” ?

THAT is the thing sustainable Resolutions are made of!

But don’t stack the deck against it! If you’ve never tried painting, or horseback riding, or origami, don’t resolve to master it by February, or do it three times a week for the rest of your life. And definitely do not buy a horse!

No.

Resolve to try painting.

or get an origami book from the library and see if you like it.

or schedule a trail ride at the local stable, or ask a horsey friend to show you what it’s all about.

Resolve to set aside a little time each week just to inch closer to trying it, if you need to! 

Then, even if your new passion turns out to be not your cup of tea, you’ve kept your resolution perfectly! GREAT JOB!!

CAUTION! Be sure you are adding things that you really delight in!

Things that really feed your soul; NOT just the things you usually do to compensate for your poor soul’s hunger-induced fatigue!

So, if surfing channels or scanning Facebook all evening REALLY is what feeds your soul, resolve to devote one or more evenings to that GUILT FREE! Write it in your calendar! DO IT!

BUT.

If that is just a filler because your soul needs downtime and isn’t getting what it REALLY loves, then resolution time is about TAKING BACK YOUR DOWNTIME!

Sure, we’ll all still do the mindless surfing from time to time, but make your RESOLUTIONS about the really good stuff.

Sacrifices will need to be made from time to time, but make those after you’ve built up a reserve of delight by succeeding with resolutions you WANT to keep!

 

Okay, but what if you really, really, do have to make a change even though you really don’t want to? And RIGHT NOW, for whatever reason, is the time you have to make it? I’ll cover that next week.

I wish you a safe, blessed, and happy Christmas, Hanukkah, and Holiday Season.

 

Be well. 

Shalom

Shalom.

I love the concept of shalom. I wish we had an equivalent word with the same richness of meaning.

Peace is how it is most commonly translated into my language, but there is so much more…

Peace.

Wholeness.

Harmony.

TRANQUILITY.

Health.

Fullness.

REST.

Prosperity.

Completeness.

Each with the implied modifier “Perfect….” in front of them.

When I started this journey toward abundance, a friend asked me what an abundant life looks like in practice. Of course I couldn’t give her a universal answer… I’m still working on how it actually looks for just ME.

But SHALOM, is what I seek:

To be completely, wholly, well; in perfect harmony.

One thing I find in many other cultures that I miss in my own is the habit of greeting people with words that mean Shalom.

What a wonderful way to live; wishing fullness, wholeness, tranquility on each person you meet, and having it constantly rained down on you as well!

So, on Monday, more than ever, I wish you

SHALOM. 

 

 

Be well. 

 

Abundance in these United? States

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.*

I had the opportunity to visit  Dachau at a rather impressionable age. And it made a profound impression on me.

I encountered the above quote much later, but because of Dachau, it too left an impression. It is my icon of the truth that we are either all in this life together – or we are ALL alone.

I’d rather err on the side of together. 

I’ve never doubted that my abundance depended on and required others’ abundance as well. But it was one of those vague, impersonal concepts.

Now it is a very clear and specific one!  (And here I thought I’d  derive no benefit from a Trump Presidency.)

Millions of people are now at risk, in my own country, of atrocities I prefer to think could never happen here, and want to think can no longer happen anywhere. It still inspires a moment of deer-in-headlights incredulity from time to time. 

So, I’ve had more than a little struggle, these past weeks, pondering:

“How do we build lives of peace, joy, and abundance in this current reality?’

 

While a Trump presidency will make that more difficult for most  Americans, that doesn’t mean we can’t do it!

Which brought me to another favourite quote:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. **

 

So, I’m thinking I’ll need to commit what energy I have to being part of the revolution my country needs.

First, of course, I need to have that energy! The main value of abundance is that you can’t really contribute out of anything else  … not for very long anyway. Or you burn out.

And that doesn’t help anyone.

What, then, do I need to build into my life, to be able to contribute well? 

Getting further past the illness and stress that saps my energy is foundational.

Getting settled in a more healthy environment, seems necessary.

And CERTAINLY finishing my current work project well, then finding a new job or set of projects that not only pay the bills, but also allow me to live an abundant life, makes sense.

But then, in what areas can I contribute BEST?

Because let’s face it, there are far too many needs in the world, and now in these United States, for any one person to invest meaningfully in more than a handful!

So, what inspires my very best effort?

Not letting the future look like this past year. More than anything this election has shown me that I need to contribute to the efforts of normal people just like me to wrench back our country from the control of the powerful and wealthy.

And standing with my fellow Americans, who, like so many before them, find themselves targeted because of nationalistic politics. (That one may not be my best area of contribution, but it just has to be a moral imperative.)

Working toward the systems and structures that support living an abundant life.

Beyond those I’m still working on it.

What about you?

Are there concerns, realisations, musings, or decisions that this last year(ish) has inspired in you?

Are there fears or concerns you have because of it?

Has it affected your views of what abundance looks like? Or how we achieve it?

Are there any changes you see yourself making as a result of it?

 

Be well.

 

* First They Came written by Pastor Martin Niemoller, who spent several years in Nazi Concentration Camps, including Dachau.

** Most commonly attributed to anthropologist Margaret Mead, though original source is not certain.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Musing: What if it’s not as hard as we make it?

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Do you secretly think the life you really want to live is too much to ask for?

I’ve kind of always thought that way.

I have no idea why.

It’s not like God has certain contractual obligations to me: ANYTHING I ask for is a gift, no matter how small or large!

Recently I found myself wondering… 

What if my gifts, passions, and deep needs and preferences are meant to lead me into God’s intentions for me?

Okay, sure, all of these can be corrupted by my selfish human nature. But maybe I shouldn’t just assume that they are!

If I’m obeying God, and seeking his will, perhaps my first thought should be that he’s given me these as markers to light the way.

I know that he wants me to use the gifts he’s given me. So, why don’t I also assume he wants to meet the needs that he has given me? 

Or that he  might just have designed my passions and interests to haul my lazy self to his goals for me?!

In my pursuit of abundance therefore, I’ve added a new criterion:

If a need or preference is sustained, consistent, and not inherently opposed to God, I will faithfully, prayerfully consider whether it is part of God’s direction to me.

I’m kind of excited to see the results! 

Be well. 

Then Standing Rock happened.

I gotta tell ya, I’ve been struggling to figure out what the path to abundance looks like in this post election reality.

Having a billionaire nutcase, who wants to destroy darn near everything I see as critical to abundance, become my elected representative to the world, and fill a Cabinet with people like him…. well it’s not been the strongest few weeks on my optimism front!

Not to say I was giving up hope; by the grace of God I just don’t have that capacity most of the time. (Been there once; hoping never to be there again!) And, I’ve definitely seen many pinpoints of good shining through the turmoil.

But let’s just say the hope muscle’s been working overtime with less than stellar results.

Then Standing Rock happened.

Now, no, I am not naïve enough to think that the recent events at Standing Rock change everything. We’re still in a time of great risk.

But they give me a much needed shot of hope.

To have the protestors at Standing Rock go from being dangerously abused in the middle of winter for a peaceful demonstration, to being victorious is a remarkable answer to prayer in itself.

But for me, the pipeline victory, which I realise that Donald Trump’s administration can, and almost certainly will, wipe away as soon as he takes office, is not what renews my hope for my nation.

My hope has grown from the changes these past couple weeks of Standing Rock are working in the people participating in and watching it.

That, effectively, an honour guard of American veterans would kneel before Native American leaders at the Standing Rock protest, repent, to ask for forgiveness for our government’s historical treatment of native people is astounding.

The kind of reconciliation and repentance that symbolizes can’t help but to change the individual hearts of these veterans and the people with whom they served in the Standing Rock effort.

Those involved in the Standing Rock victory can’t possibly go into the rest of their lives seeing each other only as other, as the enemy.

And many of us watching from a distance are changed too.

And our transformed hearts will create people whose lives transform many others with whom we interact.

I’ve also noticed that this action has forced people not only to view the Water Protectors as victors, or those veterans who went to support them as heroes, but to view prayer, and reconciliation, as valuable.

Now obviously a lot of us already saw these as enormous values!

But since the Standing Rock Victory, that has grown. I’ve seen calls for further prayer in one of the most liberal magazines I ever read, and in posts I never would have expected to ponder prayer at all.

Prayer, repentance, reconciliation, these concepts are bigger, more alive, more REAL for people in the United States than they were three weeks ago.

And if you happen to believe in their power, as I do, that is HUGE.

We’re going to go through a lot of damage if, as seems probable, this Trump presidency goes through.

But the interaction of prayer, victory, repentance, and forgiveness played out between two very different sets of warriors transformed into one group of warriors at Standing Rock …

Now THAT gives me hope for us all! 

 

 

Be well. 

Monday holiday survival guide

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Happy Monday!

How you holding up out there?

I know,  it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.

But let’s be real: the holidays can dredge up pain, flare up tempers, magnify loss, and drown us in overwhelmed fatigue.

I hope sincerely that is not you! I hope you’re that person harmonising with Bing Crosby while adding touches of tinsel to any last neglected corner!

But on the off chance that some part of your holiday season tends more toward grim than glittering, two reminders:

During the holidays, if at no other time, take good care of yourself!

  • Drink plenty of water! (Yes, coffee may be needed, and vodka considered, but add the water in too. Really.)
  • Exercise. “WHAT?!?!”, you say, “Has the girl gone mad?!?” I’m not talking about an hour of powerlifting. Stretch decadently for 5 minutes, stroll aimlessly for 10. Dance through White Christmas. (Or White Wedding, if like me, you’re already far beyond your carol endurance.) Just anything to move your body. It heals your mind.
  • Be REAL. About who you are, what you like and don’t like, and how much you can handle just now.
  • AND about what you can afford to spend! Debt never lightened anyone’s heart.
  • Say no if you need to! (It’s absolutely fine.)
  • Do one less thing. (If you find that works for you, do it again!)
  • Or perhaps do one MORE thing, but only something that feels like a glorious escape for your soul. (And cancel something draining to make the time! Repeat as needed.)
  • Cut yourself a lot of slack.
  • Cut other folks some slack too, if you can manage it. Perfect people don’t happen, and requiring them just ups your cortisol.
  • Avoid people and things that drain the life out of you. (Yeah, even if they are relatives.)
  • Pause, meditate, pray –  whatever looks like peace to you  – once a day. Even if it’s just 3 minutes.
  • If you need more support than you have, during this season, PLEASE reach out for it! Here are a few options.
  • And if you’ve already hit crisis level, darlin’ this is SO not the time for stoic endurance! Save that for late spring or something. Here are some  more immediate options.

AND we are not in this alone:

Be well. 

Gone Fishin’ – Taking some time to ponder.

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Good day and Happy FRIDAY!!!!!!!

I am still noodling over what ABUNDANCE looks like in this current US reality, so rather than post a half-baked (and perhaps drearier than one should really prefer) post, I shall take a scandalously unplanned holiday this week!

I wish everyone a delightful weekend and a lovely beginning to December.

 

Be well.