Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Four Agreements

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I am currently reading The Four Agreements as recommended by Coach Krista well over a year ago. My "to read" list is long and varied, and frankly, anything in Kindle version is much more likely to be read. My iPad goes with me most places and is a multitasking tool, and it is its own light source which helps me be able to read before bed since that light doesn't wake the hubby. Regardless, I recently decided to bump it up in the list and have been glad that I did.

The four agreements are simple.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally. i.e. Nothing is personal.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Do your best.

The book further elucidates these agreements in a way that is a bit "froo-froo" but is valuable nonetheless when read with an open mind.

The first agreement is described as the most important, and when it's fully explained, I can see where it could be. To be "impeccable" with one's word on the surface seems to mean to always be honest, and while I'm sure that's included in its scope, basically, it intends to say to always be positive with your word--even the "words" in your mind--because our words, our thoughts, are the things that create our worlds. Miguel Ruiz explains that the words of those around us and the rest of the world are what create our worlds from the very beginning.

For quite a long while, now, I've been working with the premise that "With Out Thoughts We Create Our Worlds," a premise that I've heard all my life, starting with my dad when I was a little girl. All the different applications and translations of that, however, are still coming to me over time, as is the depth of its truth. While reading about the first agreement, I had another small revelation about the power of words/thoughts and how they form our lives.

I have the distinct memory of being about six or seven years old and asking my mom for gymnastics lessons. My asking for anything, especially something so expensive, was unusual because we didn't have much money, and I knew the expense would be a hard thing for my parents to spare. I wanted those lessons, though, more than I had wanted just about anything--ever--and in my heart I believed I could be more than just a good gymnast. I could be a great one. I could, after all, turn better cartwheels than any other girl in school and do the splits in any way possible. So in my memory, I am standing in the kitchen with the afternoon light streaming through the window, looking up at my mom. I have just asked her if I could take gymnastics lessons, and I am anxiously awaiting her response when she says, "Oh honey, you're too fat to take gymnastics." I told this story once in earshot of my mother, and she was appalled. She swore that there was no way she would ever tell me such a thing. My argument always was, "How could I have just made up such a clear memory?" In her defense, she did always seem to believe in my capabilities despite her seemingly endless pessimism. Whether it was a true memory or not, it was a part of my reality, and I am beginning to wonder if that moment shaped my future more than I have previously thought.

Maybe my "I'm a jump retard," "I'm not an athlete," "I'm a chubling" thoughts were seeded in that six or seven year old girl.
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Monday, August 20, 2012


Sometimes doing just for doing's sake is just not quite enough. Sometimes I need a little bit of extra incentive to help me along. When I'm seeing progress (a.k.a. movement on the scales or measurements or the fitting of the clothes), I don't feel as much of a need for "extras." For me, though, those numbers move s....l....o....w....l....y, and here lately, staying the course has been hard. I've turned to nuts as a comfort food (BAD f'n idea!), and I find myself making less-than-optimal decisions elsewhere--small indiscretions that make for bigger impact on the physique.

To help get myself back on track, I have begun to give myself habits specific to me to follow for 2 weeks at a time. I am currently finishing up my "No fried foods" habit. (Yes, things have been that bad.) Specifically, this one was to encourage me to stay away from the tortilla chips at the Mexican restaurant which are a trigger food for me right now. With Marc's business, we often go out with others to eat. Most often, that is to one of the local Mexican restaurants, thus the tortilla chip temptation. My goal is to be 90% compliant with each habit, and if I am, I get my reward. I'm doing well with this particular habit, and my next one is, "No nuts unless they are part of a prepared dish."

My reward, you ask? I've started another Pandora bracelet. For this one, I plan for the charms to be all about my perception of myself. The first charm is a feather. We'll see what I get next.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Focus, and its power for progression, is underestimated--in my humble opinion--and I have been working on this particular aspect of training lately. My time in Gym Jen is my sacred time, a time when I am able to do something just for me. You folks know what I mean about that. The kicker to that is that for a long time that has meant that it was my time to ponder life. I would work out and think about work or ongoing projects or the weather or any of a hundred other things. Don't get me wrong, I'd put effort in--LOTS of effort--but I glossed over that concept of really F-O-C-U-S-I-N-G on each individual movement, pattern and muscle. Here lately, I've been working bringing my monkey mind back to the action at hand and giving myself a rating 1 to 5 for each workout. I have yet to get anything higher than a 3, but the 3's are at least getting a bit more consistent.

Evidence of the effort, my sweat skull:
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Luna Petunia:
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A few weeks ago we joined a local range and have gotten back into the habit of shooting regularly. I hadn't realized how much I missed it the last few years until we got back out there. Today as we were shooting the steel range, I WAS focused, perfectly focused. It occurred to me then that I need to be working on focus in ALL aspects of my life.

My first time back to the range in three years:
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My hunny does some shootin':
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Yes, I look like a goober, but it's an effective shooting stance:
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Presence in each moment...another worthy goal.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
---Emily Dickinson

I have been away from blogging for a while--since March to be more precise. May first marked the one year anniversary of my father's death which sent me into a bit of a dark place, and then my mom died somewhat unexpectedly May 24th (at almost 81-years-old the imminence of death is always apparent). Thrown further into the darkness, I was just beginning to see light when the older of our two girls, the golden retriever, became suddenly ill. We laid Abbie to rest July 8th. It has been a dark, painful summer.

Despite it all, I've only gained about 5 pounds. At other times in my life, I have gained as much as 20 or 25 pounds in 6-8 weeks of much less stress. My nutrition hasn't been perfect. Neither have my workouts. But I have stuck to the basics as much as I could, and that has been my saving grace where my weight is concerned.

Over these months, I've found myself in a bit of a strange identity crisis. I am almost 39-years-old, but losing the last of my parents somehow felt like losing what was left of my childhood. Suddenly, with a few heart-wrenching words, I was thrust fully into adulthood as crazy as that sounds. The two people to whom I would always be a child were gone. I no longer had the safe haven of their unconditional love and acceptance, their glowing pride in me. I no longer had their wisdom or their friendship. I no longer had the one thing on which I could depend, no matter what, to catch me if I went into free fall. Or so my heart felt at the time. In truth, my dear hubby provides all of that, but in a different sort of way. That truth, however, was clouded by the sorrow and a feeling of utter isolation. I miss my parents and my babygirl every single moment of every single day. My heart often feels like a sucking wound, a hole swallowing up the light and goodness and joy around me, and I am ready to leave that feeling behind. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot do that while standing still. I must place that package of pain on the ground and walk away from it, keeping the goodness and happiness and wonder of parents who did it as well as they and a dog who taught me about love and the joy that can only come from a lack of expectation in only the way she could.
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Part of walking away from that pain is getting back to some of the things in my life that I enjoy. Posting here is one of them. So here's to new beginnings...