March 2010


Here’s the first definition of “exercise” from dictionary.com:  “bodily or mental exertion, esp. for the sake of training or improvement of health: Walking is good exercise.” Just what I had in mind. I don’t like to exercise. I’m not the one you see walking daily at 6AM. Nor am I the one who braves the cold weather in Cleveland, Ohio, all bundled up to walk, just for “improvement of health.”

However, put me in a warm, dry climate, don’t give me a car, and I start walking. It’s actually enjoyable under these conditions. I do errands. I actually notice the scenery. Walking is a great way to see people as I move along my route. And, yes, there is some bodily exertion so that I can improve my health.

There’s also a side benefit: I now have rosy cheeks (and probably some more freckles)!

Today would have been Herschel’s birthday. I would have hung up the “Happy Birthday” streamer. I would have bought him a card and a gift. And I might have made a nice dinner.

I didn’t do any of those activities. This year, I celebrated Herschel’s birthday by visiting his grave.

No streamers…yet streams of tears.

No card…rather prayers for him to enjoy his new hard-earned home.

No gift…instead requests for him to guide us from his enlightened place.

No dinner together…rather moments in prayer, feeling his spiritual presence.

It was a different sort of birthday celebration.

In my last post, I mentioned taking small actions toward my goal. The way I make sure I take those small, measurable actions is by creating a weekly action plan. I keep my plan to 5-10 items. Then I share this list with a buddy, so that I am accountable to someone. Here’s my home-grown procedure:

  1. On Sunday, type up a list specific actions and due dates.
    • For example, “Balance checkbook by Friday, March 19.”
  2. Copy the list into an email to my buddy at the beginning of the week.
  3. Print the list and post it near my computer.
  4. As I complete each task, check it off and enter the date completed.
    • If I cannot complete an item, note date and reason.
  5. On the following Sunday, send my buddy an update.
  6. Back to Step 1.

Try out this method. Let me know how it works for you.

I attended a bumper crop of networking events this week. I came away inspired, energized, and excited about my projects. The common theme was “the rule of three” (my phrase): three strengths, three weaknesses, three beliefs…you get the idea.

I learned that when I break a project into three parts, I:

  • identify my abilities.
  • remember what I’m tasked with.
  • take small actions that move me toward my goal.

The rule of three keeps tasks manageable.

I first sighted this year’s robins a few weeks ago – in the middle of a snow storm. What a brave bird! What a joyful sight!

Since then, the weather has warmed up and has melted the snow. There are robins all over the neighborhood. One was in my backyard today picking out the best leaves for his (her?) nest.

Spring is definitely on its way. And with Spring, comes new beginnings and the ability to really see the bright side.

It’s time to follow the robin’s example: set some new goals, find the best materials, build a new nest (or remodel last year’s abode), and get a fresh start.

Between the change in family structure and my career search, this is certainly the year to create new holiday traditions. With each holiday, I decide where to celebrate, how, and with whom. Since my schedule is flexible, I can choose to go away and be with friends or family. I can combine the trip with exploring career possibilities in that place. Or I can stay home and celebrate with new friends, old friends, or host a group.

For a recent holiday event, I chose to stay home and celebrate with a group of young new friends. They were sweet and lively. The children were adorable. And the food – well, of course, it was fantastic. What a treat!

While it’s all exciting to experiment, there is some sadness as well. I’m experimenting because my situation has radically changed in the last several months. There are times I simply don’t want to stay at home for a holiday because I’m reminded that I’m alone.

I’m trying to look at the positive side: the changes have opened new doors. Do I choose the “Celebrate with Neighbors Door?” What about the “Host at Home Door?” Or maybe I walk through the “Travel Door.”

The good news? I get to choose in the moment, which door to walk through for each event.

Last weekend it snowed and snowed, and then it snowed some more. Nothing really unusual about that. After all, it was February in Cleveland. It’s what I did with the grey skies and snow that was unusual.

Initially, I succumbed. “Nah – I’m not walking out in that weather!” I had great excuses for not walking to my friends’ home Friday evening (I’d been invited for dinner). It was cold. It was too dark to see – there might have been ice patches. I might fall. You get the picture. I rationalized that I was better off at home alone than going out in the snow.

Then suddenly my brain snapped. “Oh. That’s that dark side talking. It’s talking me out of doing something fun. The dark side wants sadness and depression.”

“Oh no ya don’t,” I countered. “I’ll beat you at your own game.”

“Hah! I’m outta here.” And I bundled up and faced the snow head-on!

[P.S. I had a great time!]