Private Tutoring *or* I Made Out With a Monk Last Night

22 11 2010

Current Habit: Meditation/Yoga Day 4

Deryn: Well technically, a former monk, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  We have officially started practicing yoga and/or meditating every day. I’ve really enjoyed the reaction my body has to yoga in the past (sleeping well, feeling blood flow throughout my body, the loosening of my muscles) and was looking forward to practicing both yoga and meditation more often. In other news, I have recently started dating someone that I’m actually really excited about.  As Sophie so aptly put it, “Yay! You’re not dead inside!” When Zen* asked what I was up to the first night of this habit, I told him that I was trying to meditate for 30 minutes – the longest amount of time I’ve ever attempted to meditate. He texted back, “Did I tell you I used to be a monk?” My first thought: Oh god. I recommended a monk read The Tao of Pooh! My second thought: Score! Private tutor! We began the first of many conversations about his 3 weeks as a monk (it’s a coming-of-age, cultural thing).

Last night, Zen and I meditated together and the only word to describe it was amazing. I have never experienced calm like I did while following his directions on breathing and releasing my thoughts. Previously, I thought that meditation had come naturally for me. It hasn’t been too much of a struggle to breathe slowly and stop thinking, but now I know that I hadn’t been meditating correctly. I learned last night that meditation isn’t about turning your brain off – it’s allowing your brain the quiet it needs to listen to your body. The way I understand it is that your brain only has so much bandwidth, kind of like an internet connection. When there are so many thoughts and sensations happening at once, your brain doesn’t have the space it needs to focus on what’s happening internally.  As a white girl from Texas, I never would have thought that I’d be spending time on a date meditating with a former monk! 

The combination of learning to meditate while slowly but surely coming alive inside again feels amazing. Today I woke up refreshed after very little sleep, relaxed during a very stressful week, and ready to take on what I know will be a very long day.  I think meditation has been the first habit that feels like the results are almost instant.  I know there is still a lot to learn, but it’s really exciting to be seeing and feeling the results!



*No, his name is not really Zen.





Grief *or* Pushing Through When Life Gets Hard

4 11 2010

Current Habit: Exercising, Day 11

Sophie: I have found that there is an excuse for everything.  The most common reason that our good-intentions aren’t enough is that life got in the way somehow.  “I got sick”, “I was really busy at work”, “I’m just too tired” blah blah blah.  I even, for the first time in my life, established a pretty solid workout routine last summer: Do whatever I want to workout, but my minimum was to run/walk 2 miles every other day.  And it worked!  For 6 weeks….except that week my best friend came in town to visit….AND that week I got sick…which ended it altogether, because I didn’t really “get better” for another 2 weeks (you know, the residual sick).

The point is, there is always something, and the excuses are only going to hurt me.  This is what I had to repeat when, on Day 1 of exercising, I found out that Boyfriend’s grandmother was dying (we really only had about one week’s notice that she was even sick – stage 4 breast cancer).  I’ve been with Boyfriend for 4 1/2 years…his family is pretty much my family, and I love his grandmother very much.  It hit me really hard.  On top of that, this meant we would be dropping everything to make the 4 hour drive to her hospice the next day, and spent who-knows-how-many days out of town.  Of course, at this time, I’m overcome with grief.  I’m also jumping into my game plan – “I’ll work out before we leave tomorrow, bring workout clothes and weights with me for Wednesday’s workout, and we’ll probably be back by Thursday.”  Admittedly, if it weren’t for the blog, that thought would have been “So much for working out, I’ll start it next week.”  But that’s the point – making room for it, because life is ALWAYS happening, you just have to plan ahead to enable follow-through with this stuff.

So I worked out Tuesday morning, we drove to the hospice, and we spent Tuesday evening and Wednesday with her.  She passed away at 3:00 Wednesday afternoon.  We drove back to Dallas shortly after.  Correction – I drove.  I held it together through driving 4 hours, dropping Boyfriend off at home, going to my parent’s house to pick up Rufus, driving BACK to Boyfriend’s place, and suffering through a 30 minute workout that seemed like torture, before I finally got to sit down and grieve at 9:30 on Wednesday night.  I haven’t experienced the death of a loved one as an adult, so it was exceptionally hard on me.  It’s been over a week and I’m still depressed…and (of course) now I’m sick too.  I could just make that another excuse, or I can be reminded why we are doing this: To live the best life possible, and be the person I want to be.  Losing a loved one only reinforces that.  At the end of the day, I would rather have a list of accomplishments than one of excuses.  So I’d like to end this post with a toast to Grandma:

To the woman who:

  • Graduated from clown school at age 63
  • Took her grandson to Cancun at 64 (We have a wonderful picture of her at Senor Frogs)
  • Went skydiving at 69
  • Went to the Glenn Beck rally in D.C. at 73, just 2 months before passing away
  • Never cared what anyone else thought about her
  • Went dancing every week until she went into the hospital
  • Was surrounded by a ton of loved ones until the very last day

You lived an inspirational life, and I am lucky to have known you.

Cheers.





Exhaustion *or* 5 Things That Really Get on My Nerves When I’m Short on Sleep

23 10 2010

Current Habit:  Waking Up Early, Day 18

Sophie: So I have learned that I really enjoy waking up earlier – the morning is a whole new time of day that I never knew existed.  It’s peaceful, quiet, relaxing, and dark, and my days are finally not starting off with the immediate rush of being late.   I have also learned that it’s hard to go to bed early enough to get 9 hours of sleep when waking up at 6 A.M.  I’ve ALSO learned that when I don’t get 9 hours of sleep, I get a little cranky, and some things just really get on my nerves…Here are the top 5:

1.    Wal-Mart – I angrily swore off Wal-Mart 3 times in the first week of my waking up early.  Why 3 times, you say?  Because I was so tired, that I repeatedly forgot I had sworn it off until I went back and was unnerved all over again.  Seriously, and I swear by this mantra – Wal-Mart never fails to disappoint.  Whether one cart wheel is pulling severely to the right, some woman’s 5 screaming kids are running around unattended, they’ve discontinued my organic whole grain waffles to make room for the 18th variety of Eggo, some mysterious sticky substance has found its way onto my hands, or 15 employees are standing around doing nothing while I wait in line for 30 minutes, it’s ALWAYS a miserable experience.  Target, I’m all yours.

2.    Poor Timing of Stop Lights – There are companies out there that you can pay to take care of this for you, Dallas.  I should never hit all 10 stop lights on my way to work. Ever. You fail.

3.   Kids in My Apartment Complex – Dear Parents: Yes, I know my apartment is uber-awesome with its view of the pool and enormous grass area just outside the patio.  This does not mean you should come hang out there with your screaming kids every single day.  How about I come sit outside your window and sound a Vuvuzela at 7 A.M. on Saturday?  Because that’s how annoying I find your kids.  You’re lucky I’m already awake, or your kid would be learning some new words.  And just because they’re outside does not make it ok for them to scream.  If they were being bludgeoned to death, I wouldn’t know, because it sounds exactly the same as your Saturday morning Frisbee game.  ITS.NOT.OK.  If you don’t go away, I will “forget” to pick up my dog poop for the next few days.  Good luck with that.

4.    Boyfriend’s short attention span – And I’m not exaggerating, he can barely let me finish my sentence before he’s spurting out his next, completely unrelated thought without even attempting to engage in the conversation that I was having.  I officially have no more patience for this and have begun calling him out on it.  This is probably good for our communication, but in the meantime I’m just annoyed.

5.    Stupid People – I know, they’re everywhere, they’re taking over, and we really just need to come to terms with this inevitability.  But there’s still a part of me that wishes my favorite TV shows weren’t repeatedly canceled because they’re too “high brow” for the majority, and Jennifer Aniston’s dates weren’t considered front-page news.  But alas, it appeals to the masses, and the masses are stupid.

End Rant.





Positive Changes *or* Sophie Gets Deep

10 10 2010

Current Habit: Waking Up Early, Day 7

Sophie: So this whole habit-creating idea is having a ton of positive effects on my life and relationship that I did not expect, and it’s kind of awesome.  Apparently, if you take a little time to figure out what you want out of life, then map out a game plan to accomplish that, it makes you happier!  I know, right?  It’s like some crazy novel idea…or not.  But I, and apparently a ton of other people, have forgotten this simple concept.  I think this happens easily with the instant-gratification mindset of a lot of Americans today…along with busier lifestyles, demanding jobs, families, etc.  Or maybe people just aren’t teaching their kids the value of a little focus and determination anymore.  But to be honest, it didn’t take a whole lot of effort to make some changes.  It was thinking about making the changes that was so overwhelming.  Really, I just sat down one day and thought “Who do I wish I could be?” wrote it down, wrote down some things I needed to do to become that ideal person, and jumped right in!

Focusing on this blog is the first concerted effort I have made to really improve my life since graduating college 5 years ago.  My career hasn’t really gone anywhere, I haven’t returned to grad school, and I’ve been with the same boyfriend in a static relationship the whole time.  Quite frankly, I’ve been pretty unhappy and lost without school in my life – some sort of goal to always be working towards.  I’ve been aware of this void, but haven’t been able to figure out how to repair it.  When I set out to start this year long quest and associated blog, I didn’t think it was going to be the solution; it was just something to do.  Now that I’m 3.5 weeks in, I think this is the best thing that could have happened to me.  Well, it didn’t really happen TO me, I just took the initiative to start something.  Nevertheless, it’s had some fantastic effects, and I thought I would share.

First, and I may be completely off base here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten smarter since we started this… maybe not Stephen Hawking smart, but I’m definitely a little more articulate, slightly more quick-witted, have a better memory, and am able to focus more easily.  This might be a result of the specific habits I chose (so far: reading, and waking up early), or it could just be a benefit of being happier in general.  Taking time out of every day to focus on myself, being able to tell Boyfriend that his ‘needs’ have to wait until I’m done with mine, and having a brighter, constantly improving future to look forward to is a natural mood booster, and it’s reinforced every day.  Being in a better mood just has a domino effect on every other aspect of life – I’m more fun to be around, nicer to Boyfriend, motivated to do things (like clean the apartment – which has bonus benefits),  and I’m a hell of a lot more social than I was before.

On top of all that, there are aspects of my relationship that have improved drastically (*wink*wink*….just kidding…kind of).  For example, Boyfriend said to me the other day that he really respects and admires my motivation to improve myself, and it makes him want to strive to be a better person too.  This is INCREDIBLE coming from him, as I’ve never known him to think about self-improvement, or even the future beyond the upcoming weekend for that matter.  This, in turn, has given us more topics of conversation – a huge plus, because after 4.5 years with someone, you pretty much run out of stuff to talk about.  Also, as I mentioned before, he wakes up at the ass crack of dawn.  He’s done this since he was a kid and can’t sleep in even when he tries.  This results in about a 4 hour gap between when he gets up and when I get up, which in turn results in him getting bored and resorting to “natural remedies” to entertain himself, which pisses me off, and gets the whole day off to a bad start.  It’s an endless cycle, that was only broken when I started waking up at 6.  Now, instead of what has been happening, we have the early morning time to cuddle, drink coffee, talk (with all our new conversation material!) and just spend some quality time together that we have never had before.  I never would have imagined that all the time we spent talking about what we can do to fix our relationship could have been spared if I had just made myself a priority for a minute.  I highly recommend trying it





Self-Realization *or* What Do You Mean It’s Not Normal To Be Dead Inside?

28 09 2010

Current Habit: Reading, Day 16/5

Deryn: I’ve always been an observant person.  For as long as I can remember, I would watch people and then use their experiences to make decisions about my life and how I wanted to lead it.  The best example I can think of is watching my two older sisters go through high school.  I saw how both of them acted towards their friends and our parents and thinking, “Wow.  That is definitely not the best way to go about things at all.”  I realized that if I got good grades and was up front with my parents about my plans, they generally had no issue letting me stay out past curfew.  I’d been using this Observe and Decide method for about 25 years and it had gotten me through some rough times.  I decided long ago – so long ago that I don’t actually remember when – that I would not close myself off to love.  I would probably get my heart-broken and would probably be hurt plenty of times, but that wouldn’t stop me from keeping an open mind and heart when it came to someone new in my life.  After all, that’s what starts people on the path to becoming an Empty Shell Person.   So, in efforts to stay true to the point of Habitual Me and become the person I want to be, it is time to decide to be open again.

In “Friends” there is an episode where Monica reveals to her husband that she has been keeping stuff locked in a messy closet for years and nobody ever knew about it.  My emotions and feelings definitely live in a locked up messy closet.

In college I had a boyfriend, my own Mr. Big (up to the last season of the tv show, before he was capable of commitment).  I loved him.  We went through a lot of drama to be together and he was a great boyfriend.  Sweet, fun, caring, intelligent and funny.  We both said that we had neither felt anything like it before.  Then he dumped me.  He was wanting to focus on his career and couldn’t commit to our relationship and his career at the same time.  We tried to stay friends, but that was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done.  He didn’t love me, but I loved him.  He didn’t want to be my boyfriend, but didn’t want to date anyone else.  He still came over, kissed me, made me dinner, but wasn’t interested in being anything but friends.  It was all so confusing and so painful that I forced myself to stop feeling.  I rationalized that I would rather be friends with him than nothing.  It was better to have him in my life in some way than not at all.  For the next 2 years it was a roller coaster of us being friends or being a couple, all the while I got better and better at locking my emotions in the closet.  Eventually, I realized that he would never be able to treat me the way I felt like I deserved to be treated in a relationship.  This was especially hard because I never thought Mr. Big would be interested in me in the first place.  It’s contradiction in the purest form: Mr. Big is everything I thought I didn’t deserve because I’m not good enough for him, but when I realized he was treating me like I wasn’t good enough for him then he wasn’t good enough for me, even though I desperately still wanted to be with him.  It was just too much.  My already fragile self-esteem just couldn’t take anymore so I broke things off very abruptly and stopped talking to him.  He didn’t seem to care.

A few weeks later, I started talking to Joe*, a friend of a friend from high school who lived in Dallas.  I had decided that I wanted to be in Dallas,  and Bob was trying to help me get an interview with his company.  Bob had a crush on me all through high school.  He had me on a pedestal, he thought I was the most amazing girl ever and didn’t understand how everyone couldn’t see that.  He was the opposite of Mr. Big in so many ways and we started talking more and more.  I felt so much better about myself as a person again.  It grew in to more than friendship and by the time I moved to Dallas, we were a full on couple.  That lasted 3 months.  A guy who had a crush on me for 12 years got over it in 3 months of actually being with me.  There is obviously more to it than that.  He wasn’t my ideal either.  We fought a lot and we both know that we weren’t right for each other.  Still, it’s hard to not think that I did something wrong.

To comfort me during that break up was this amazing guy, Christian*.  He was beautiful, smart, funny, and made me feel beautiful.  He was also my boss.  Christian and I started to spend a lot of time together for about 3 weeks.  Then, he just stopped talking to me.  I, to this day, don’t know what happened.  He stopped calling, stopped texting, and even avoided talking to me at work.  Logically, I know that I didn’t do anything wrong except trust him too soon and allowed the relationship (in the physical sense) to move faster than was a good idea.  A few weeks later, I was fired for not hitting my sales goals.

Too much of my self-esteem has been wrapped up in guys and by doing Habitual Me, my goal is to be happy with myself for who I am and for who I have let myself become.  I joke with my friends that I’m “dead inside” because I don’t feel things anymore.  Last week, I was driving with a friend and an 18 wheeler was merging into the lane.  It was coming too fast and it was going to hit us.  My friend, the Marine who has been on three tours over seas and shot at numerous times, was screaming obscenities in fear for his life.  I was calm and thought to myself, “So, I guess this is how I’m going to die.”  I was able to swerve the car and get out of the truck’s way so we were fine, but I had an epiphany.  I don’t want to be dead inside.  I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to let this happen to myself, and I failed.  It’s time to do something about it.  I’ve observed myself and have decided I need to feel things.  If I’m going to become the person I want to be, that means letting someone in to my life who may hurt me.  Now I just have to find the key to that pesky closet…

* Gotta love the anonymity of pseudonyms.





Truth and Consequences *or* Back to Day 1

23 09 2010

Current Habit: Reading, day 11/1

Deryn:

The Truth:

What I know of last night is a lot of cheese, a lot of wine, laughing hard, and making a phone call.  What I don’t remember is getting home, what I was laughing at, or what I said on that phone call.

I didn’t do my reading.

The Consequences:

The research shows that to establish a habit, the action must be done every day for 21 days.  According to Psycho-Cybernetics, if a day is missed you have to start back at day 1 or you won’t reap the benefits.  To be honest, we knew the day would come that one of us wouldn’t be able to accomplish our daily task.  If there weren’t consequences for our actions, there really wouldn’t be any motivation or incentive to follow through when things get a little difficult.

So, I’m starting over and it’s back to Day 1 of reading.  Reading (for me) will now overlap with the next habit.  I’m annoyed with myself for having not stuck with it better.  I have a lot of excuses for myself (work, mostly), but know that none of them really matter.  But if I really am trying to be a different person, then that means I have to put in the work.  These new habits won’t happen magically.  After working a solid 8 hours at the office and then another 3 from home, I’m not excited about having to do anything else with my brain tonight.  That would just be another excuse.  Instead, I’m going to try to look at my reading tonight as a way to help myself wind down after a stressful day and mentally prepare me for sleep.





Communication and Relationships *or* Telling the Boyfriend

17 09 2010

Current Habit: Reading, day 5

Sophie: So, as posted in my bio, it should be known that I am private to a comical extent.  Deryn thinks this is hilarious, as apparently other people don’t do it to this extreme.  The first time the two of us hung out alone (we met through mutual friends) was on the way to a roller derby bout.  Neither of us had watched a derby bout before and were excited about the idea of doing something new.  This led to a whole conversation about “having adventures”, keeping life exciting and not becoming “Empty Shell People” – deep stuff for a first interaction :).  Because of the ease of conversation with her, I opened up pretty quickly – but to be honest, this is stuff I haven’t even told my boyfriend of 4 1/2 years.  I was surprised to discover THIS IS NOT NORMAL!!  At the time, it was really funny, but after the fact I was a bit concerned for the state of my relationship.  This sets a good foundation for the topic of this post – introducing Habitual Me to Boyfriend.

When Deryn and I first decided to move forward with this idea, she jokingly asked “So….how long before you tell Boyfriend about the blog?” umm….when he realizes I’ve made an awful lot of drastic changes recently?  I took this as a bit of a self-challenge, and decided I was going to *gasp* tell boyfriend *doublegasp* before we even started the blog…  After all, I am trying to work on my communication skills.  So about a week later (yes it took me that long to work up to it) I nervously sat at a mexican restaurant across the dinner table from the man I’ve shared my time with for so long, preparing every word I was about to say…”So, umm, Deryn and I were talking the other night….and apparently I don’t tell you things, and I’m sorry for that” gee, how eloquent.  But he expressed appreciation, and I proceeded to tell him about the blog.  It couldn’t have been more awkward on my part, and I think that made it awkward for him – but at least it’s progress!!

When it came time to actually start our habits (the first being reading every day) of course my concern went to – what will I do on the nights I spend at his house?  I work with him – out of his house – and spend about every other night at his place, so I will need to be doing a lot of these things there.  This means A) My habits will not be enforced by doing them in the same environment every day (which apparently helps reinforce them), B) I’m really going to need to prepare ahead of time what I will need to stick to this commitment and C) I’m going to have to tell Boyfriend about every one of these habits…. I think I’m up to the challenge.  The first habit is simple enough – I just need to read for 30 minutes a day.  As Boyfriend sat on his couch playing video games, I picked up my book and began to read…and Boyfriend began to talk.  Reading and listening don’t generally happen at the same time. Coincidentally, at the same time I was reading in my book (“Brain Rules”) about how your brain cannot multitask and wastes so much time switching from one task to another and back…so I explained to Boyfriend the importance of sticking to these habits that I value.  I was shocked at what happened next…

…he said “OK, thanks for letting me know” and continued playing his game.  Wow, that was easy..  So communication isn’t so bad, and keeping things completely private isn’t that great.  Day 2 and this is already improving my life in unexpected ways.








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