It only matters what works for you.

Archive for January, 2013

Where is the value?

I really admire Lissa Rankin. I respect the education that she got, I respect her ability to break out of the mold her profession put her in.

I really, really respect her ability and determination to be very transparent about what she learns about life.

Her latest blog is about the price you have to pay for success. What are you willing to exchange for it?

For a very long time I’ve always tried to balance things between long term planning, and short term joy. I believe those trite cliche’s that say things like “no one on their death bed ever says I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

The timing on this is significant to me. Just last week I finally put together a list of my ‘core values’. I’ve looked into them many times, but never really felt like I understood how to pick them out. It’s one of those annoying ‘simple, but not easy’ things. I printed out a list of core values from the internet. I stared at that stupid piece of paper for over a week. I circled things in pencil. I erased. I circled some things in pen. I wrote different lists all over the margins. I added a word that wasn’t there. Eventually I came up with something that just felt right.

I know. That’s so nebulous. It’s all I have though.

Anyway.

I’m really glad I finally took the time to do that, because now as I ponder the price I’m willing to pay for success in my business, I can look at that short list of words and have a basis for my decision. Does it contribute to one of those values? Does it conflict? Is cuddle-the-cat-time interrupting my day, or is it a highlight? (I’ll give you one guess.)

I’ve already decided for myself what is important and where my priorities need to go. I just need to remember to own those decisions and make my choices accordingly.

It was totally worth staring at that stupid list for a week.

And the winner is…

In this case, supermodel Cameron Russell. She did a TEDx talk

It’s only 10 minutes and I urge you to watch it and share it with young women. She talks honestly and openly about the fact that her modeling doesn’t actually have anything to do with her. Models don’t really look like models, the pictures they appear in are artificial constructs created by a team of people.

I want to highlight 2 of her points. The first is that when she first started modeling, she wasn’t even menstruating yet. So the image that we are being sold of the ideal, sexy woman, is still actually a child. Not even a young woman, but a girl who hasn’t even finished puberty.

The second point is, even though she won the genetic lottery and looks exactly the way we are told we are supposed to look, and has ‘the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair’, she’s still insecure.

Remember that post I made about Oprah, the one where I asked how the average woman is supposed to achieve the perfect body if she can’t, with all her support and economic advantages? Well now I’d like to know, if the average supermodel, the icon of everything we’re supposed to recognize as beautiful, is insecure about her looks and her value, then where is the hope for the rest of us? How did we build a society where everyone is completely insecure about everything, and even the icons can’t live up to their own image?

That is so messed up.

When No is Yes

As I get older I find myself a lot more willing to say ‘no’.

No, I would not like to do that. No, I would not like to buy what you’re selling. No I would not like to change my beliefs for yours.

So what I’m really saying is ‘yes’. Yes, I will think for myself. Yes, I will believe as my heart dictates. Yes, I will claim responsibility for my own actions.

I think this takes practice.

It can be so easy to follow. To believe what we’re told because we perceive that someone is more knowledgeable, more qualified, more important that we are. Because we are taught to always ask “who am I to be the expert”.

If not me, then who?

Only I can decide what I really believe. That requires looking around, trying things on, research and learning, and being willing to say “I was wrong” when you get new information. Or at least “I have better information now.”

Why are we so afraid of change do you suppose? Not changing can be comfortable, or not, depending on the circumstances. But only by changing can we open ourselves up to some really great things that we can barely imagine.

So I encourage you to think about saying No to fear and stagnation and being a follower, and say Yes to figuring out who you are, what you think, and what path you really want to be on.

Inside out.

Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got. So do it differently.

This is my mantra for the year.

Obviously if it’s working and I like the result I’m getting, then I won’t be changing things. A great many things in my life are absolutely fantastic. But some, I want to change.

Change is hard. To quote my Russian neighbor “people would rather be lazy and comfortable” than change. Our thought patterns get ingrained, little worn grooves in our self talk that make it very difficult to change the tape.

One of the things I’m changing this year is how I think about losing weight.

Do what you’ve always done. I’ve been taught that the ‘only’ way to lose weight is to change the way you eat, specifically to diet. To restrict food. To do it from the outside in. And that works, kind of. Most everyone can lose weight by restricting food enough, for a while. And the statistics are perfectly, unequivocally clear that most of the time, it’s temporary.

Did you see Lissa Rankin’s amazing new TED talk about the scientific evidence for self healing? I’ll be blogging about that here soon. The placebo effect is real. It’s documented. So why can’t we learn to harness that to our advantage?

If you can meditate on the success you want to see, the outcomes you envision for business and relationships, why have we decided that approach doesn’t work for health?

Health. Not fitness. But a feeling of pervasive wellbeing. A wanting to get up and enjoy life just because it feels so good. A deep seated ability to make the best choices for your physical body because they are the ones that feel good and make you happy.

People in my country are sicker and fatter and less energetic and less happy than ever. Obviously our medical/empirical model of what illness is and how health should be achieved isn’t working.

So let’s do it differently.

Something different.

Apparently, Albert Einstein did not say “The definition of insanity is going the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.”  It is sometimes also attributed to Ben Franklin, who probably didn’t say it either. I don’t know who said it, but I think it makes a very good point.

We have, as a society, decided that there is a ‘right way’ for certain things. We persist in believing that this ‘right way’ is right, even when it is quite obviously Not Working, because at some point ‘the way’ was handed down by, apparently, God. Except that doesn’t seem likely, so someone we have endowed with the power to decide Truth from Not-Truth.

Or, wait. Maybe we  just persist in believing certain things because someone, often the news media, said it was true and we all picked up the sound byte and ran with it.

It’s January, and that’s the traditional time of year for thinking through plans and goals and making decisions about new directions and ventures. (It’s also traditionally the time for making resolutions about diet and exercise that we won’t keep past March.)

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is rethinking my approach to thinking. It’s very easy to have an idea, start to think it through, and suddenly have any number of ‘should’s and ‘will’s and preconceptions about how it will go based on nothing but what has happened before.

I was speaking to my Russian neighbor this morning about doing things differently. She said it is the hardest thing because people would rather be lazy and comfortable. My Russian neighbor doesn’t do politically correct.

So this year I really want to focus on thinking differently. Not doing the same thing because that is what is expected. Not believing things just because that’s what we’ve always thought, or done. Let’s take off those every day spectacles and give the lenses a good cleaning because I think they’re pretty smudgy.

Voltaire actually did say “Lorsque l’on effectue une action, atteint un mauvais résultat, puis répète l’action plusieurs fois attendent un meilleur résultat, on est un peu fou de singe, non?” or “Once one has implemented an action and gotten a poor result, then repeating that action multiple times in hopes of a better result is a little crazy, isn’t it?”

I want to do things differently. What will that look like?

Raise a fuss!

How many times have you put aside your needs for the sake of ‘not raising a fuss’?

Yeah, I’m pretty much done with  that. You see, if we don’t raise the fuss to do what is necessary to care for ourselves, then it will Never Happen. When we don’t care for ourselves, we not only short change our own lives, we limit our ability to care for others and make a difference in the world.

You deserve to be cared for, however that has to happen. Just so you know.

I just came back from the best vacation I’ve had in a very long time. Because for the first time, possibly since I found out I had food sensitivities, I raised the necessary fuss and got exactly what I needed. On a cruise ship, the people there really are there to serve you. And everyone else, but you too, and not as an afterthought. So I did my best to make it easy for them to take care of me. They did a great job. I think at this point they probably have a whole crew behind the scenes who just manage the special needs patrons, I wasn’t the only one.

Raising a fuss doesn’t have to be negative. I followed their procedure, I was clear and prepared with what I needed. I made it as easy as possible for them to support me.

I’ve stopped pretending that I don’t have special needs. I do. Pretending just short changes me, and by the way makes me irritating to deal with. I need special chairs sometimes (Is it sturdy? How wide are the arms?), I can’t walk as fast as some people, and I can’t eat ‘normal’ food, at least the way it appears here in the US. No amount of pretending will change it, so I’ve just gotten to the point where I can embrace it. Or at least acknowledge it.

In exchange for being clear about my needs, I had the most relaxing vacation I can remember. I don’t think I even remembered what it was like to not have to worry about what I ate. It’s really hard to have to be on top of something so basic every meal, all the time. At home of course I keep my home safe, but that means doing my own cooking and shopping and planning. Vacations are complicated. I either bring and plan all my food, making vacations a little less relaxing, or I spin the roulette wheel every time I eat, which isn’t as fun as it sounds because the risk is possibly ruining the rest of the vacation.

I encourage you to raise a fuss. Just a little one to start. State your needs. Be clear, but unapologetic. The more I do, the more I find that people are delighted to help, if they just had the faintest idea that you needed it. And when they aren’t? Well, you’re no worse off than if you didn’t ask, and you’ll know how to plan differently next time.

My new un-sexy friends.

They’re called compression stockings. They aren’t sexy, but I can’t believe it took me so long to try them out.

A number of years ago I fell through a rotten board in an elevated walk way. Personally, I think I’m very lucky that I was so big at the time because I believe if my leg had been smaller I’d have fallen much further and likely snapped a bone as I fell over. As it was the size of my leg kept me from falling too far. What I did get was a really bad case of cellulitis and a permanent crimp in the vein in my leg.

What this means is, when my legs swell a little from sitting at my desk on a long day, as most everyone’s do, the damaged one doesn’t deflate when I get up and move around or when it is elevated when I sleep at night. It is inclined to stay swollen. And over the years the skin has stretched and it can get very swollen. Both unsightly and uncomfortable.

What to do? Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time working from the recliner on my laptop. It lets me keep my feet up. That’s not a bad solution, but not all of my work (ghostwriting and editing) can be done efficiently from a laptop that’s actually propped on my lap. My typing speed suffers for one thing.

I don’t know why I never thought of compression stockings before. Maybe I did but a cursory look in the local pharmacies never found ones that would fit. Welcome to the world of Amazon.com. Where you can buy just about everything. Including compression stockings in the size I need.

They work brilliantly. They aren’t the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn. I have a lower level of compression on order to see if they’ll work as well without binding. On the other hand, having my leg horribly swollen wasn’t comfortable either. Emotionally, its very reassuring that now I can do whatever I need to do in the most efficient way without always worrying about leg-elevation time. Or without suffering the consequences.

Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago, before my trip. They made a huge difference while traveling. I have another post about them coming soon.