Monday, June 28, 2010

10 Truths I Wish I’d Known Sooner

You know those things you wish you wrote? Well, here's another one for me to add to my list. These are fantastic lessons that, yes, I wish I had learned earlier in my own life. You can find the original article by Amy Bloom here at Real Simple.
1. Events reveal people’s characters; they don’t determine them. Not everyone with divorced parents has terrible relationships. If two people are hit by a bus and crippled for life, one will become a bitter shut-in; the other, the kind of warm, outgoing person (cheerful despite everything) whom everyone loves to be with. It’s not about the bus, and a dreadful childhood is no excuse. You have the chance to be the person you wish to be, until you die.

2. Lying, by omission or commission, is a bad idea. I cannot shake my dependency on the white lie, because I was brought up to be nice. And I’ve never figured out the nice way to say, “I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than come to your house for dinner.” But the meaningful lie, the kind that involves being untruthful or deceitful about important stuff to those you love, is like poison. Telling the truth hurts, but it doesn’t kill. Lying kills love.

3. Sex always give you an answer, although not necessarily the one you want. It’s possible to have very good sex, a few times, with a person who shouldn’t be in your life at all. Have fun, and hide your wallet and your BlackBerry. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that a grown man, however nice, will become much, much better in bed than he was the first five times you slept with him. And if you sleep with a man who is unkind to you, there will be more of that; long after the sex is humdrum, the cruelty will be vivid.

4. Most talents are transferable. If you can raise toddlers and teenagers with relative calm, you can be a CEO. If you’re a good driver, you can probably steer a cab, fly a plane, captain a boat. My years as a waitress―serving food to demanding people in a high-stress environment without losing my temper―served me equally well as a mother, a wife, and a short-order cook for my family. And if you have the teaching gene, you can teach anything. (I mean it. All you have to do is be one lesson ahead of your students. Sole meunière, Latin and Greek, algebra―you can teach it!)

5. Fashion fades; style is eternal. Not only do you not have to wear torn jeans, a barely-there tank top, and a fedora, but you probably shouldn’t. The point of fashion is to indulge briefly in something fun. The point of style is to have one―whether that’s a sheath and spike heels or slouchy jeans and your husband’s T-shirt―and it should last you a lifetime. All you have to do is think you deserve to look and feel your best and spend some time figuring out how to do it. Don’t know? Find a woman whose style you admire and ask for a little advice.

6. You can’t fake love. Staying in a love relationship when love is not what you feel isn’t likely to end well. If you know that what you crave is security/disposable income/child care and not the person next to you in bed, do the right thing. It’s true that one can learn to love someone over time and often through difficult circumstances. But unless the two of you agree to wait until you’re old and all the storms have passed, in the hope that love will kick in, it’s better to bail sooner rather than later.

7. Mean doesn’t go away. Some people get better looking with age; some don’t. Some people soften; some toughen up. Mean streaks tend not to disappear. A person who demeans and belittles you and speaks of you with contempt to others is probably going to be that way for years. The first time it happens, take note. The second time, take your coat and go.

8. No one’s perfect. I knew that I wasn’t perfect; I just didn’t realize that this also applied to the people I fell in love with. The object of your affection will always turn out to have huge and varied faults. The smart thing is not to look for someone flawless (which is why Elizabeth Taylor married eight times), but to look for someone whose mix of strengths and liabilities appeals to you (which is why she married Richard Burton twice).

9. Ask for help. It’s possible you’ll get turned down. It’s even more likely that you’ll feel vulnerable and exposed. Do it anyway, especially if you are the helpful sort yourself. Those of us who like to offer assistance and hate to take any are depriving other people of the opportunity to be generous and kind; we are also blinding ourselves to the reality of mutual dependence. You wouldn’t wear pink hot pants and pretend they were flattering. Don’t pretend you don’t need help.

10. Keep your eye on the prize and your hand on the plow. It’s easy to lose sight of what you want, especially if you haven’t gotten it. I know it’s less work to put the wish away, to pretend that the wish itself has disappeared. But it’s important to know what your prize is, because that is part of who you are. Whether it’s financial stability, two children, a collection of poetry, or a happy marriage, take Winston Churchill’s advice and never give in. Never give in. Never give in.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I gained a pound?! Oh, my gosh! AAAaaaaahahhhhh!

I weighed myself this morning, as I am doing every morning during my 30 Day Challenge, and I discovered I gained a pound from yesterday. I went from 207 to 208. Yes, despite being perfect with workouts and eating, my weight increased.

So what? It doesn't mean anything. I'm still focused on my challenge, still working out the same each day, and still making healthy food choices. Gaining a pound in one day means absolutely nothing, and it certainly has no impact on my actions or attitude.

Why am I blogging about it, then? Because this 30 Day Challenge is about more than losing weight. It is about reestablishing my confidence in my ability to make a plan and see it through. I know that sometimes, with any plan, there are setbacks. There are unexpected obstacles. There are moments where quitting seems the thing to do. And it's okay to feel like quitting. But it is not okay to actually quit.

So I am capturing every moment of this challenge, the highs and the lows, as a reminder to my future self that I can do any damn thing I put my mind to.

Go me!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thoughts on my 30 Day Challenge

I went to sleep last night at 9:30 and slept right through until 4:00 this morning. Wide awake, I hopped out of bed and headed to the gym. Knocked out 90 mins on the bike (33 miles) and another 30 mins on the treadmill (1.75 miles). Now, I'm at the office and bouncing off the walls with energy and motivation. It's going to be a good day, indeed.

Things I've learned so far? The trick is to be prepared. As soon as I get home from work, I unpack and re-pack my gym bag. When the alarm goes off (if I ever slept that long, anyway), I'm ready to go without delay. After I work out, I hang my clothes and my towel in my car so they can dry and air out during the day. Then, right after work, I'm ready to go again. No delays and no excuses.

I have also learned that an iPad and a subscription to NetFlix are invaluable if you are going to spend any time on the bike at the gym. So far I have only watched old episodes of "Bones," but it makes the time fly by. It's about 42 minutes per episode, so I start my hour by watching that and then I switch to upbeat music videos for the last 20 mins.

Things I already know but haven't dealt with yet? My weight loss. I was 212 on Monday morning, 210 on Tuesday, 209 on Wednesday, and 208 this morning. Obviously, that can't continue. I won't drop a pound or two every single day. My body is going to react to the reduced calorie intake and the greatly increased physical activity and start to hang on to every bit of fat it can. I know this. I am prepared to work through it and not freak out. I might go days without losing a pound. Heck, I might even gain weight in the interim. I know it. It will bother me, but I will not let it derail me from my goals.

I also know that I will not be able to do 2-3 hours at the gym every single day. My goal is to work out at least one hour per day, so I am telling myself right now that I will NOT feel like a failure if I just go and ride the bike for an hour. My over-achiever nature cannot beat me up if I do just enough to meet the goal one day. It will happen, I know. I'll accept it as a natural part of making huge changes, ride it out, and get right back the next day for more.

And most importantly, I know that I am entirely too dependent on the affirmation and support of others. I accept this as part of who I am. And that's why I posted about my 30 Day Challenge on my blog yesterday. If you are reading this, thank you. I appreciate your interest and your support. And you are invited to cheer me on when I do well and push me should I falter.

I can do this. The 30 Day Challenge is going to be more than just a quick-start to my physical fitness. It is going to be my own proof to myself that I am capable of setting goals and working hard to reach them.

And onward I go!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

John's 30 Day Challenge

I'll be honest. I'm a "lots of energy upfront" guy who quickly loses interest or motivation. I struggle with taking a good idea and seeing it through to completion. And with physical fitness and a lifestyle change, that sort of stop-and-start undermines success. So, here I am with a plan.

I'm calling it my own 30 Day Challenge. The idea behind it is simple. I can do anything for 30 days. I just need to clearly define my goals.

For 30 days, I will get to the gym for at least one hour of cardio each day. It can be running, elliptical, or the bike, but it has to be every day and it has to be a minimum of an hour.

For 30 days, I will use the Spark People Nutrition Tracker to record my food intake.

For 30 days, I will drink at least 8 glasses of water each day.

For 30 days, I will not drink caffeine after 5pm.

For 30 days, I will not drink alcohol. The empty calories are bad enough, but when drinking, I often make poor eating choices.

For 30 days, I will eat portion controlled, nutritious meals.

For 30 days, I will get enough sleep to allow my body to recover from each day's exercise. I will not stay up too late. I need at least 6 hours each night.

For 30 days, I will make myself a priority. I will reset my attitude on physical fitness and health, and I will emerge on the other side of this with a renewed sense of accomplishment and a seriously improved attitude.

For 30 days, I will remember what it feels like to be the best person I am.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Consequences You Sow

As often happens for me, leading a charmed life and all, words and messages come to me just as I need them. Apparently, today is to be no exception.

I've just enjoyed a fantastic few days with my extended Marine Corps family, and this morning I discover this in my email courtesy of the Daily OM:

June 15, 2010
The Consequences You Sow
Action And Effect

Every action you take has a cause and effect. The influence we wield is infinite.

All motive and action affects the cosmos in some way. The principle of cause and effect is the truth that allows us to change ourselves and the world around us for the better. However, this same universal law is also at work when change is not at the forefront of our minds. Our intentions flow forever outward in the form of energy, affecting both the people closest to us and billions of individuals we will likely never meet. For this reason, we should strive always to speak, think, and behave with great thoughtfulness and compassion. The virtues we choose to embody can inspire joy and integrity in the lives of countless people, whether we touch their existence directly or not.

The influence we wield is infinite. In an effort to internalize our conscious understanding of the nature of cause and effect, we can never truly know how our thoughts, emotions, words, or actions will manifest themselves on the larger universal stage because it is likely that the furthest-reaching effects will fall outside the range of our perception. We can only look to the guidance of our conscience, which will help us determine whether each of our choices is contributing to humanity's illumination or setting the stage for unintended troubles. When we are in doubt, we need only remember that the cultivation of altruism inevitably leads to a harvest of goodwill and grace. Motivated by a sincere desire to spread goodness, we will be naturally drawn to those choices that will help us express our commitment to universal well-being.

Nothing you do, however minor or mundane, is ever exempt from the rules of cause and effect. From the moment of your birth, you have served as an agent of change, setting forces beyond your comprehension into motion across the surface of the earth and beyond. You can exert conscious control over this transformative energy simply by examining your intentions and endeavoring always to promote peace, positive energy, and passion in your ideas and actions. While you may never fully comprehend the extent of your purposefully heartfelt influence, you can rest assured that it will be universally felt.

Clearly, in another time and place, I must have done something amazing. And whatever those actions were, they still echo through my life and return as the wonderful people I still call friends today. And I will strive to remember that my actions have consequences, my choices impact others, and I have the power to influence others. Knowing all of that, I will make every effort to only use my powers for good. Because ultimately, all of that good returns to me many times over.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up.

It's from Salon and definitely worth passing on:
Congrats to Rush Limbaugh on his fourth traditional marriage.

Rush Limbaugh, October 6, 2009:

Look, we found another Obama oddball. Obama's nominee to become commissioner for the equal opportunity employment commission is Chai Feldblum. She's an outspoken gay rights activist, Georgetown University law professor, and she has praised polygamy and contended that traditional marriage should not have privileged status.

MSMDC News, yesterday:

Conservative radio man Rush Limbaugh is taking a fourth stab at marriage with a weekend wedding to Kathryn Rogers, an events coordinator 26 years his junior, according to various reports. Limbaugh, 59, will reportedly marry the 33-year-old Rogers at his Palm Beach compound. . . . The childless Limbaugh's first two marriages were over by the time he rose to national prominence. His third wedding, to Marta Fitzgerald in 1994, was officiated by his friend, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. They divorced in 2004. Before beginning his courtship with Rogers in 2007, Limbaugh was romantically linked to then-CNN anchor Daryn Kagan.

So as Newt Gingrich does while standing next to his third wife (who, as was true for Gingrich's second wife, was previously known as his "adulterous mistress"), Rush Limbaugh will now crusade for Traditional Marriage with his fourth wife (and counting) at his side.  As is so often the case, the Traditional Marriage movement is led by people who discard their wives and get new, younger replacements the way most people change underwear.  That's how so many Americans sit on their sofas next to their second and third spouses, with their step-children and half-siblings surrounding them, and explain -- without any recognition of the irony -- that they're against same-sex marriage because they believe the law should only recognize Traditional Marriages.  And it's how Rush Limbaugh can hide from his followers that, by demanding state recognition for his fourth "marriage," he himself  believes "that traditional marriage should not have privileged status."  As usual, all of the actual rules of Traditional Marriage are casually discarded when it comes to the law (all that dreary, annoying stuff about "till death do us part" and "in sickness and in health" and "for as long as we both shall live") and the only one that's maintained is the one that is easy and cost-free for most Traditional Marriage proponents people to fulfill (the one about needing "a man and a woman").

As the gay Wired writer Steve Silberman wrote yesterday:  "Between them, Gingrich and Limbaugh have had 7 marriages. And they want to abolish my one."  On that note, The Boston Globe highlights how this Traditional Marriage hypocrisy is not merely vile in its own right, but breeds serious oppression for countless Americans, as it reports on the harrowing experience of an American citizen who has been barred from living in the U.S. with his foreign national same-sex spouse (as a result ofthe Defense of Marriage Act's ban on granting the same federal rights to same-sex couples which opposite-sex couples are entitled to receive, such as immigration rights).  The latest "marriages" of Gingrich and Limbaugh (as well as their 5th, 6th, and 7th ones which, if history is any guide, will take place as soon as their most recent "wives" age a bit) will receive the full panoply of rights under American law, while -- as a result of this twisted, self-serving definition of "Traditional Marriage" -- gay Americans are denied all such rights even for their first marriages.

Why I Love Texts From Last Night

Because they make me laugh. And sometimes, that's reason enough to love something.

(409): We're listening to the crystal method and doing bong hits for jesus

(1-409): How are you texting me from 1998?