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Posts tagged ‘Lifestyle’

Learning to be Thankful again

I’ve added Thankfulness to my goals list (again) this year.

I was seeing the world in a more positive light after I started being Thankful in 2011. It was awesome, I loved it.

But by 2012 I thought I had it down pat. So I switched from recording my thankfuls every day to writing a weekly thankful. I thought I was ready to do less. I even wrote a huge recap post about my thankfulness journey, ending with how it was time to move on to the next step. Basically meaning it was just too much of a hassle to keep track of a daily thankful list any more. You know, because I’ve got so many other things to do that I really needed that five or ten minutes of my life back each day. 

Did you know that if you don’t keep practicing something you’ve just learned to do, then you’ll slowly forget everything you thought you’d already mastered? Well, you will. 

Cue another post about how I needed to get back in a thankful frame of mind. I decided I would go back to writing daily thankfuls in September of 2012. Then I promptly stopped doing any thankfuls at all. *sigh*

I really miss them though. I miss feeling thankful and being reminded every day of all the good I have in my life. I miss immediately seeing the positive in every situation, and that’s how far I had gotten before I let it all slide away. 

So I’m trying again! If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Right? So I’ve started my Thankful in 2014 page and I’m going to do my best to keep it updated. I’ve pretty much got to start all over from scratch and get myself in the habit again of finding great things in my day. And as Puddleglum said, you’ve got to start by looking!

Do you have anything in your life that you have to keep learning over and over and over again?


Is Cyber Friendship Real?

When I was writing about her  for the MQM post, I kept going down all these rabbit trails of questions and thoughts. So, I finally tore it all apart and just posted the simple version. But I didn’t want to scrap the rest, so I’m posting it here.

Her  filled me with questions and observations. But what resonated most for me is a question Samantha asked, “How do you share your life with somebody?

In a non-science-fiction world, Theodore and Samantha’s relationship resembles a long-distance couple who have no hope of ever meeting in person. But is that really sharing your life with another person? Or is it just sharing the abbreviated notes and emotions of two lives lived separately?

What does real intimacy look like?

Theodore and Samantha’s relationship is entirely emotional, with no physical intimacy. Samantha was very real to me, but I found myself picturing Scarlett Johansson when Samantha spoke. I craved to see the expressions on her face, even though I could imagine them all well enough from the emotions I heard in her voice. Director Spike Jonze created an intimate connection between Theodore and the audience through the use of facial close-ups and torso shots, but we had none of that with Samantha. Close your eyes and think of someone you love. What do you see? In the end, I felt a loss over never seeing Samantha’s face or being able to look in her eyes.

Can you maintain a relationship with someone who will never be physically present? Is that a real relationship at all? For me, this is not about a physically functioning body, but about being there. Being present, showing up. Being able to look in each others eyes, whether you’re laughing or arguing. Not being able to check out with the click of an off button.

In the relationship of Theodore’s friend Amy and her husband, we witness physical intimacy without a great deal of emotional support. Almost from the moment you meet them, you get the sense of this separateness. They live together and have the benefit of a physical intimacy that Theodore and Samantha can never have. They get to look in one another’s eyes when they laugh or fight or cry. And yet they don’t click with each other’s personal passions, either finding fault or simply not “getting it”.

But is being present, being physically accessible, in the same city, house, room, more important than being fully present emotionally, listening to one another, communicating well with one another? Is being there in a physical sense enough to maintain a relationship if the emotional component is lacking?

Is intimacy about communication or cohabitation? Does sharing your life with someone mean being fully present emotionally or physically? 

When Theodore’s ex-wife finds out that he’s dating an OS, she exclaims: “You always wanted to have a wife without the challenges of actually dealing with anything real.” And as much as Theodore considers Samantha real, as much as he loves her, this statement throws him into a tailspin. He wonders to his friend if he’s even capable of a “real relationship”, to which she asks, ‘is your relationship with Samantha not real?’

What constitutes a real relationship?

Before he starts seeing Samantha, Theodore meets a girl who basically says she wants to date him. But he can’t or won’t commit to even the prospect of future dates. I can understand how having that physical person in front of him, and thinking about adding a person to his life, might be daunting for Theodore. This is someone who’s going to make demands on your time, someone you’re going to have to accommodate. You’ll have to incorporate their friends and family and routines into your life. It’s a whole big deal. It’s serious business to bring a person into your life.

But there’s an additional piece to that for people who are less social. When Theodore is first setting up his new OS, the computer asks him if he’s social or antisocial, and Theodore doesn’t quite know how to answer that. I’m like that. I’m social in that I need people, and I genuinely enjoy people. I’m antisocial in the sense that I don’t want all the trouble that comes with incorporating more people into my life in a physical way. That idea fills me with anxiety. So there’s an attractive aspect to a non-entity relationship. Cyber relationships, long distance relationships, voice relationships…those are appealing in their way.

But is there something wrong with preferring to add non-present relationships, as opposed to inviting new people into your physical life? Is Theodore – am I – emotionally stunted in some way? That’s what Theodore was asking himself, and doubting about his relationship with Samantha, when his wife reacted the way she did. She was saying that something was wrong with Theodore since all he could handle was non-physically-present relationships. It made him wonder, “what’s wrong with me that I can’t handle a relationship in real life? Am I not giving all of myself?”

Like Theodore, what her  made me wonder is if those non-present relationships are real relationships at all. I have many great cyber relationships, whether from blogging, Facebook or Twitter. My job requires me to speak by phone with dozens of people every week, and many of those people feel like friends, even though our relationship only consists of these phone conversations. Are these relationships less valid because they don’t happen face to face, or in some cases even in real time? The truth is that those relationships are easier to maintain because of their limitations. They don’t have any of the extra “physically showing up” requirements of an in-person relationship. In a cyber friendship, you can take days to answer someone; it’s not even rude. After all, the other person knows you’re just busy leading your real life.

It takes less effort to maintain cyber relationships, but does that equate to less intimacy? 

I guess what I’m really asking is am I truly friends with all the people I think I’m friends with? Are you and I real friends? Even though we may never meet in person, I may never hear your voice or even see what some of you look like? Is this real life too?

To answer my own questions, I say yes and yes. Yes, these friendships are real, and yes they lack the intimacy of an in-person relationship.

But that’s okay too, right?



Okay, so I’m doing resolutions again this year. A little late, haha, but that’s me all over. I did okay with my goals in 2012 – not as well as I’d like, but my failures were in those giant goals I set for myself that would require a radical overhaul of my 43-year-strong habits. Cause, you know, that’s not too much to ask of myself, right?

I spent a lot of last year beating myself up for those failures, and the rest of the time learning how to suck at something without hating myself for it. (If anything, I’d say that’s the real lesson I learned.) At the end of the year, I wrote a big long post about what I thought  I’d learned. Basically, that for those major life change, long term goals, I really needed to plan out steps and smaller goals along the way. Which is not a wrong idea, in and of itself. You know, if I knew how to do small steps like a normal person with good sense and a modicum of patience.

So, naturally, at the beginning of 2013 I did the typical Michelle thing: I made the work of goal achieving harder and bigger than it already is. I mapped and planned and plotted and charted and listed. Same old thing; biting off more than I can chew and overwhelming myself before I even really get started. All my charty listy mappy plans were just too cumbersome and added more work to already difficult (for me) goals. My checklists fell by the wayside almost immediately, and I struggled all last year to get my act together goal-wise, not getting any further ahead than I had been at the beginning. 

I did accomplish a lot in 2013, I really did. But I missed the simple resolution process that I’d started in 2012. I wanted to do many of those same goals again in 2013, but without the reminder and prod here on the blog, I let a lot of the smaller things, like visiting family and taking an outing each month, fall by the wayside. I missed doing those things, but they don’t come to me naturally. Without my resolution list, I simply forgot to aim or plan for them.

This year I’m going back to the 2012 method of setting and tracking my goals here. Some of those not-so-simple goals are back, but I’m working with a life coach to help me learn to set reasonable steps, or goals-within-a-goal. But I think the main thing she’s going to help me with is to slow down and not bite off such big chunks. Patience. And to enjoy this whole process, because it should be fun and inspirational and a kind thing I’m doing for myself.

So here are my 2014 goals:

  1. healthy budget
  2. healthy diet
  3. exercise 
  4. spend time with family or friends I rarely see
  5. go someplace different or go to an event each month
  6. keep a daily thankful journal
  7. Write at least 6 Queries for the blog this year
  8. re-paint my kitchen and put up shelves
  9. take a computer class
  10. go to bed at the same time every night
  11. get up early every morning

So that’s it, my 2014 resolutions. I’m excited to get started, or re-started, as the case may be! I hope 2014 is a great year for me and for you, too!!

My First Session with a Life Coach

On Tuesday you met Lamisha Serf; isn’t she nice? Lamisha is a Life Coach who was my guest on the podcast yesterday, and she’s helping me get a grip on the goals I want to accomplish in 2014. Or really, she’s training me how to make and accomplish goals at all!

I promised to tell you about my session with Lamisha, but I think the first question to answer is why I would hire a Life Coach in the first place. The answer to that is pretty easy: I need help!

I have all these things I want to accomplish, ways that I want to improve myself and my life, but I just can’t seem to get it done on my own. Last year I worked with my friend and Health Coach, Vicki Manual, and she did an amazing job of changing the way I viewed my successes and failures. Basically, she got my mind in the right place. Now I need help with the logistics part. I struggle to maintain long-term success with the goals I set, and even though I know some of the reasons why, I still keep making the same mistakes over and over. So after talking with Lamisha on the podcast, when she asked if I wanted to do a free session, I said “Yes, I would love that!”

And I’m so glad I did! I had my second session today, and it’s been a great experience so far. Here are some thoughts about why I like working with a Life Coach, and specifically Lamisha:

  1. Lamisha is a professional. She has experience and training, therefore she has thoughts and viewpoints that I wouldn’t come up with on my own. And when she gives me suggestions and ideas, they’re right on target. In short, she has more knowledge and insight than I do. She’s teaching me new things.
  2. She listens with a practiced ear and hears what I’m really  saying; she’s able to dig through all my yammering very quickly and pull out the pertinent information. She’s making me aware of things I’m saying that I wasn’t even paying attention to. And she’s reminding me of things I said (just a few moments ago) and how I can apply that to this other thing I’m talking about right now. It’s like I’m learning that 2+2=4. I feel like I should have known it already, but somehow I just wasn’t putting 2 and 2 together! It’s pretty cool.
  3. She’s asking me questions that I’m not asking myself: Why do I want to accomplish this goal? What does the end result look like to me? Where do I find inspiration? How can I make the things I don’t want to do more fun?
  4. Just by talking about them, I realized I had fuzzy goals. Even though I had a list item, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to accomplish. When Lamisha said, “tell me about that,” I had to think about it to put it into words. 
  5. She talked about inspiration, and that was a big one for me. I’ve viewed goals as tasks, and my self-worth has been wrapped up in whether or not I could be motivated and disciplined enough to accomplish those tasks. So a big part of where she’s helping me is to adjust my thinking about goal setting, to think of it as a fun thing, something that I want  to do, not have to do or need to do. It is something that I can be inspired to do. 
  6. The other big one is how important it is to take small steps. I always bite off my goals big chunks, and then it’s too much to chew, much less swallow. Vicki really worked hard to get me to see the accomplishments I was overlooking because I was only seeing success and failure in terms of the entire goal. She would say, “What about this good point and that good point?” Lamisha is working with me to stop taking such huge bites in the first place.

The overwhelming feeling after my first session was that it was all focused on me. I kind of felt guilty for monopolizing everything, even though it was supposed to be about me. I felt a little selfish because I was so happy to have that individualized attention. The feel of the second talk was really like a strategy and training session, building on the foundation and “homework” from the previous chat.

I felt very positive after each session, which is what you’d hope for of course. But after each talk, I had at least one tangible thing I was going to do next. And Lamisha re-enforced what I need to keep hearing, that I don’t have to do – and can’t do – everything at once. I had a lot to think about and work with, and through, between the first and second sessions, and I’m feeling good about my homework for the next two weeks. 

As for Lamisha personally, she’s a very nice person and very easy to talk to. She has good tips, strategies, and feedback, and she is clearly listening to me, which feels amazing. And she’s excited for me and about what she can help me do. It’s great not only to have a partner to work with, but a professional who is focused on me and my growth.

I just thought it would be interesting to share what Lamisha does and how Life Coaching works. Listen to the podcast too, she gives some great ideas on there!

Items of Interest:
5 Ways to Give Your “Resolutions” a Fighting Chance
Life Coach Lamisha Serf – podcast
Food Issues; with Vicki Manual – podcast
photo credit: Brett Jordan