Just What Makes Those Little Wins Epic

What’s that behind me? In an instant, my non-visual senses pick up on it. But my Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum amygdalae just gape at one another, offering up that mere fawn response between fight and flight—I’m frozen. Cuss! Then it slowly comes into my peripheral view. Phew! It’s just a deer grazing through the woodland.

And she reminds me, maybe even inspires me. The teen love and I, after a 3-mile hike around our neck of the woods yesterday, talked about taking our show on the road, much more hilly trails that is, tomorrow.

Tomorrow is now today. And I’ve come to an understanding of the idiom talk is cheap, again.

But do you realize what it takes to get there, to look around at the piles of paperwork, the loads of laundry, and the soot sprites snickering at me, to take this holiday off from work, to just walk away on a day when I might actually get something, anything accomplished around here?

Who am I kidding?

The chores’ll wait.

The sheer slothenly stronghold seems insurmountable at times like this, though not unusual.

All I have to do is get there, just download a couple of podcasts, put on my trainers, drive a few miles to the trailhead car park, and step onto that path. The rest is a walk in the park, literally.

You see, I have this lofty life goal, this daunting dream—to be active and fit, even in old age.

It’ll be an epic win.

If I work at it now.

You see, it’s going to take little, itty-bitty intentional steps, small, short-term goals, to do it.

This epic win is going to take some doing too because there’s this little gap (that today feels sort of like a chasm) between who I am right now (actual self) and who I want to become (ideal self) when it comes to keeping this body shipshape for the rest of my days.

The struggle is real.

And we all struggle.

But I’ve learned a few things while battling exercise procrastination over this half-century of living, things that apply to many of life’s epic wins.

Start with and even stay with small goals that are reachable in a week, a day, an hour, or even minute-by-minute.

Have some sort of plan, thinking through the logistics of how, when, and where you’ll take action, preparing ahead.

Just start and carry on, hemming and hawing if you must, but carry on. Those itty-bitty steps do lead to small victories.

Expect and accept challenges, changing it up if need be (the goal, the actions steps, your mindset, your expectations).

Celebrate the smallest of victories, all of those itty-bitty steps, even when the small goal somehow seems to elude you.

But here’s the clincher—and there always seems to be a clincher—you have to actually want it. You have to be willing to be upfront and honest with who you are now. And if who you are now is willing to do the work it takes to meet up with who you want to become, it’s a cakewalk.

What are your epic wins? What are the itty-bitty steps you take to get there? And how do you carry on after taking a tumble?

This Ain’t No Fender-Bender Beer-Bottle Tailgate Party

The teen love is a happily busy little being, which means she’s in need of safe transport, time and again, day or night. Last night was one of those times. And I was happy to be her late-night cabby.

So happy. No worries. Not now.

You see, earlier in the morning, I’d received a telephone call from her teacher, letting me know that they’d been in an auto accident, and that everyone was all right. The show would go on. Bravo!

Now I kept in close text contact.

Finally! They were 10 miles out. I hopped into the auto and carefully headed down the dark hill, brights on. What’s that glittering in the middle of the road? A beer bottle standing straight up?

Judgment was standing now too.

No bother, I’d stop and pick up the beer bottle for its recycling adventure on the way home. I didn’t want to be a late late-night cabby. The teen love was expecting me and I would be there for her.

The lot was dark and deserted.

Whoops! They were actually 20 miles out now. And sorry! No worries, I’ll just read a little on my little phone here. (Note to self: Take new and not-so-improved eyeglasses in for a re-lens experience.)

What’s that shadowy figure?

An alley cat struts past, completely unconcerned with this quiet eeriness. He’s safe on his turf while I double-check that the doors are locked. Isn’t it strange that being alone can reach such extremes?

This time the shadow’s big.

A young man in a hoodie sulks past, hands tucked into its muff on this chilly spring night. I make up his story right there on the spot. It’s a sad, short tale. And just when its climax is about to be resolved…

Did that cop just do a doughnut?

Yes, after speeding into the lot and scaring the sweet bejesus out of me. The snark rises up to cover up for the scaredy-cat so I jest, What is it with cops and doughnuts? I’m a lone-woman stand up now.

Quick script: Good evening, officer.

I’ll just crack the window a bit, in case of a worse-case scenario. But he doesn’t mosey on over. Another car pulls in, an unmarked vehicle. And then some teens pour out. Thanks pour out too.

And lickety-split, they all soon split.

I rarely loiter or lurk about in dark lots late at night. Is this what a small-town-America Saturday night is like? I recall reading the police reports in the local rag and realize it’s typically worse, way funnier.

This time it’s them pulling into the lot.

As we’re traveling along the dark and deserted road home, complete with a dramatic retelling of the day’s events, I suddenly spy an uninvited guest. It’s a tailgater. And I mean a really good tailgater.

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It’s an accident just waiting to happen.

I tap on the brake pedal, quickly yet gently, just enough to kindly signal by way of brake light, “Give us some space here, please and thanks.” Pops taught me that one many-a-year ago. I miss him.

But now the tailgater’s closing in on me.

Now it’s turned insult upon possible-injury. The defensive-driver road warrior within me awakens. Cuss! All sorts of thoughts race through my mind while I think of a new problem-solving stratagem.

So I brake harder, with a little heave-ho!

Double cuss! She (possibly a sexist assumption, based solely on a quick glance at her raised middle finger) advances her attack. I quickly wonder if she’s the one who stood the beer bottle so proudly.

I pull over. She speeds into the darkness.

Our adventure ends well, as I notice some other and kinder driver has already retrieved the beer bottle. He or she deserves the 5₵ refund and my gratitude, sent out into this dark yet starry night.

And so we’re tucked into the loving fold.

photo credit via photopin (license)

Optimize Me

A friend joked with me the other day, “What’s your blood type, B Negative?” We laughed out loud, but inside I was sort of feeling “Ouch!” because she was so spot on. I do lean toward the negative side, too often.

For the sake of happiness, some of us seek to learn optimism.

Whether it’s a genetic predisposition (nature) or frenetic upbringing (nurture), or the cursed double-whammy, some of us work at the lifetime habit of responding (not reacting) more positively to life.

We play the Glad Game, though we are the unlikely champions.

Pollyanna

Learned optimism isn’t about forcing oneself to be happy. It’s about seeing, stopping, and changing the negative reactions that seem to be rooted in automaticity—learned and practiced.

With learned optimism, I can still be realistic. I can even be cynical (such fun!). I just practice responding to life’s setbacks in more positive ways, ways that bring peace and happiness.

Learned optimism doesn’t make me a Pollyanna (although I do see the allure).

It’s just another practice, like mindfulness, coffee and conversation, or walking in the woods, that helps me to be a happier human being. And when I’m happier, I can share happiness with others.

I’ve heard tale that optimism is infectious. So may I strive to spread such happiness.

Slightly-related & somewhat-humorous link:
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life—Monty Python

Weeding Right Along in Life

They blow in with the warmest of spring winds,
awaiting me, hidden from my own awareness.

In this ignorant bliss, I till, and toil, and nurture,
making way for the unknown nature I’ve invited.

I wonder what such beauty might take root, grow,
noticing my own delicate hope, such simple trust.

And, as if the conditions I’ve set to are just right,
they sprout up, in secret, somehow, such stealth.

They push on through, grabbing the opportunity,
at first intrusive, then obnoxious, noxious weeds.

Bearded Creeper

One doesn’t expect a bull thistle or bearded creeper,
having never witnessed or known its noxiousness.

The shock settles in slowly, throughout a lifetime,
Until the day arises, the moment of true reckoning.

Oh, the work that must be done, willingly, to rid you,
not only from sight, but from the depths of the soil.

In the wilds, a home for you, else you wouldn’t exist.
Live as you will, but not in my garden, not in my life.

photo credit Crupina vulgaris * Flor via photopin (license)

Joy Story 3

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Our first-born peep has returned to the nest, and just her hanging about the place has brought me such happiness. I’m just basking in joy. I daresay, we’re basking in it.

So last night, just as my eyes tell me that it’s way past time to close up book and get some shuteye, she and the kid sister stroll in and then nestle in, each on either side of me.

There’s no way I’m heading upstairs now. Moments like these are rare these days, what with this half-empty nest that’ll be deserted in another year’s time. I’m not budging.

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