Snowmaggedon 2015! Eeeek!

I have a confession to make: I love a good snowstorm. When I say that, people usually look at me like I’ve grown three heads instantly in front of their eyes. For me, winter isn’t a winter without at least one day of snowfall and with at least one snowfall of 12″ or more.

Looks like I’m in the middle of getting my wish. Normally, the NYC area gets considerably less snow than the Boston area. This time, we’re getting about the same. The National Weather Service blizzard warnings today have estimated between 20″ and 30″ by the time all is said and done by midnight on Wednesday.

WOO-freakin-HOO!!

I understand that snowfall like this is not everyone’s idea of fun. When snow falls, people work. Essential personnel have to go to work and stay there. They don’t get to stay at home and have a snow day while the rest of us do (and this is one of the reasons that I don’t have those jobs). It can be a hassle and difficult to shovel the snow.

But for someone who doesn’t ski or like spending all day out in the cold, I sure do love winter and snow. I do go for walks in wintertime, though, because I’ll be damned if I spend three months indoors. I love winter and snow and wearing down jackets. I love piling blankets on the bed and snuggling next to my husband to warm up. I love the way fresh snow looks as it sits on the branches, the bushes, and the houses. I love roaring fireplaces and toasted marshmallows and watching a good movie with freshly made popcorn. I love not being too hot to sleep at night.

There is something about the extreme contrast of seasons that I love. I can enjoy winter for the cold and seasonal opportunities and enjoyments that it brings, just like I love the heat and the humidity and biking outdoors and swimming in the ocean. Remember how long it’s been since the last time makes me enjoy the present all the more, whatever the weather.

I’m not really freaking out about the weather, but this guy does a great job of what it feels like other people are doing when you hear the news report about an impending snowstorm. Enjoy!

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Follow Your Dreams Using The Gym Principles

I have learned and relearned a number of positive things since I began working out with a trainer in August. In my post “5 Truths I’ve Learned from Working Out” on October 23rd, lesson #5 was that I need to treat my writing like I treat the gym, but I didn’t give specific details on how to do that beyond committing to doing it.

In today’s morning writing, I thought about my trainer repeatedly telling me that he likes the way I work, that I’m motivated. He tells me that every time he tells me how many reps to do and I try for the higher number – every time. I think he’s saying that he likes that I’m always willing to give it a try before I decide that I can’t do it.

I began to wonder: What else about my attitude on going to the gym has been helpful?

Then I realized that I could take these principles and applied them to my creative life, too. I’ve long struggled with pursuing my heart’s desires, using logic to talk myself out of things I yearned or loved to do. Take it from me, people, that’s no way to live.

I am calling these lessons The Gym Principles, but you can apply them to any area of your life where you are feeling blockedThese principles are not in any particular order.

Approach your next step or task with an open, nonjudgmental, positive attitude

When Leo tells me I can do 15-20 reps, I shoot for 20 reps every time. Why decide ahead of time that I can’t do something? I won’t know what I can do until I try. If I stop short, then I only did what I told myself I could do. If I try for 20 and can only do 18, that means I challenged myself.

So often in life, we get derailed by others. Why do you want to be one of those people, too?

Set gentle goals, both large and small

My large, long-term goal for the gym is to get moving and stay healthy. Going to the gym and training are two ways in which I move myself towards the long-term goal. It’s a goal with a line that doesn’t exist because I will never be done. I am OK with that, and you should be, too.

Any day in which I’m exercising for 30-60 minutes is a better day than one where I didn’t. I want to get to the gym at least 4 days a week and train at least 2. On the other days, I do what I feel I can do (fibromyalgia pain can limit that) or take a class. Today’s a high pain day, so I’m going to walk slowly on a treadmill for 45 minutes.

Celebrate each day’s accomplishments and challenges

When I’m done at the gym, I feel better. The endorphins are pumping to whatever degree, and I can feel it. Since my goal was to get to the gym and do something, I am able to meet my goals on a regular basis. But I’m not detailing it to the most minute degree where any deviation is unacceptable.

Life is hard enough. Don’t join that team.

Instead, feel good about feeling good. You’re endorphins are running? Good. Did you challenge yourself? Great! So maybe you’re making slower progress than you like, but so what? Who says we’re entitled to anything going any way that we’ve already decided it should go?

Let it go. It’s OK to be proud of yourself.

Enjoy yourself

Yes, you. I’m talking to you. ENJOY YOURSELF. Are you working as a civil rights lawyer? Fantastic! But you should also be enjoying where it is you’re spending your time. Enjoying what you’re doing doesn’t mean that it can’t be serious or have a positive impact.

What more positive impact on the world can you have than being healthy? The world needs YOU and all the enthusiasm you can muster. You can be a force of positive change in the world simply by being positive. You can’t help but feel positive when you’re enjoying yourself.

So what are you waiting for?

An Ordinary Life

American society places an enormous amount of pressure on children to be extraordinary. You know what I’m talking about.

Prodigies. Child business owners. Child actors. Self-possessed teens who quit school at 16 to go build an empire or play guitar. Toddler musicians. Anyone who followed their hearts desires, persevered, and became famous at the last second.

You know, those people who, by virtue of their birth and inborn talents or with the kind of family support that most people can only dream, somehow get catapulted into the public limelight as a paragon of ingenuity or talent or success. Or all three.

Then there are the rest of us.

I include myself in this category. I have not found my life’s work’s calling. I have not switched into that mode where I am utilizing all my strengths to put forth a confident version of myself in the public life we call employment, whether artistic or otherwise. In comparison with the rest of the American public, no one knows me because I do not stand out.

Truthfully, I am OK with that.

All my life, I have desired to find the one thing that I could do to bring myself into the realm of the extraordinary. I did not want it because I wanted to be better than anyone. But I deeply desired the kind of commitment and the experience of flow that people who know where their hearts lie experience.

Here are some things I truly enjoy: Being with my family, friends, husband, and cats. Working out at the gym. Being outside. Walks on the beach. Riding my bike with my husband.

I hate that this world asks us to look at the things and activities that we love the most and find ways to make money out of them. Being paid to do the things we love means we enjoy them less. It’s called the Over-justification Effect. External rewards reduce one’s internal enjoyment of a particular task.

If I am asked to spend 40 hours a week working, then I cannot think of a job as just a job. The need to truly enjoy the work increases, but the likelihood that the enjoyment will be as much as it can be is reduced. So I am stuck. I have tried a couple of different routes, but my heart wasn’t in it.

This year, I took on writing, and I am failing, by my own standards. However, I also wanted to get healthier, and I seem to be having success in that area by regularly committing to working out. But no one’s going to pay me to go to the gym and feel good.

Right now, I am not working outside the home. I am in a situation where it is not required so I can concentrate on getting healthier. I want to be able to give it my all, but my fibromyalgia pains suck so much energy out of me that doing is not possible. Without real health, I will chronically be exhausted as I work, and that’s no way to live, in my opinion.

I have not completely accepted that I am an ordinary person who will live this life only as ordinary. I grew up hearing about how smart I was. But being smart is not the sole answer to make it or living a happy life. Intelligence is not the only means by which goals can be achieved.

And thank goodness! Otherwise, the world would be quite the boring place.