Posted in hope, motivation, tips

Resolutions?

Please, if you are going to make the effort to make a New Year’s resolution, please take some steps to make it more likely to be successful.

(If you have no intention of keeping it, don’t bother making it.)

Some steps:

Make it something in your control: “The garage will get cleaned out,” when what you mean is, “My spouse will clean out the garage.” Make it something you are going to do.

Make it one thing. You can’t focus on three or four or five things at a time.

Make it realistic. If you’re not already in pretty good shape, you’re not going to run a marathon every month.

Make it concrete. “I want to be healthier” is vague and can mean a lot of things. Weight? Sleep? Stress? Food? Drink? Interpersonal interaction? Mental health? Exercise?

Make it actionable. “I am going to cut dessert down to once a month and go to the gym three times each week” is more useful than “I’m going to lose weight.”

Put it on paper. Make a chart or use a notebook (or the electronic versions thereof). Write it down. Put it where you will see it every day.

And if you start to avoid the paper… figure out why. What guilt or shame is stopping you from actually doing this thing? It is something that someone else wanted for you? Is it tied to so much emotional baggage that changing this thing unleashes a cascade of other issues? (For example… I heard a bit on a podcast a few weeks ago where women in one particular study lost a substantial amount of weight and gained it back because they were getting male attention that they didn’t want; they liked the invisibility of being heavy.)

 

Posted in mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness

The culture in your home

I got a lot of feedback on one phrase in my post on throwing away junk food: “we have a culture of healthy food in our house.”

It has been interesting talking to people about the culture at home.

First: yes, your home has its own culture. This is why there are so many adults who say, “I never thought xyz was weird until I went to college” or “I had no idea everyone’s family didn’t do that.”

Home is the place where we have the most control. These are things we do and don’t do here. These are things we eat/drink and don’t eat/drink here. This is how we talk to people and expect to be spoken to. These are activities we do and don’t do. This is how we spend our time. This is how we spend our money. This is how we organize our stuff. This is how we take care of each other. And on and on.

These are all things that we have a large degree of control over. The more adults there are in the house, the more difficult it might be to set this if not all adults agree, or if adults have different default settings.

To mesh these things:

Sometimes it works to talk about ideals: “How would we do this if we had no obstacles?” and work from there to set standards and figure out ways around or over obstacles.

Sometimes it works to talk about goals: “This isn’t how I/we want it, but it’s something I/we want to get better at, so let’s create a culture in the home to help us get better.” (This is HUGE with eating, with screen time, with texting while conversing, etc.)

Sometimes it works to talk about kids: “This isn’t how we are but it’s how we want our kid(s) to be, so we need to change how we do it so that it’s just normal for the kid(s) (and, as a result, becomes part of us as well).”

The bigger the kids are, the more they’re going to need to be part of the conversation.

In the case of us having a culture of healthy food in our home, there was no conversation to set it up—it existed before The Kid did. We’ve had conversations about it explaining the why many times, but he’s never known anything different—it’s just how we do it—and there has never been resistance to it.

If it was something we wanted to create now, there would need to be conversations and a plan mapping out how that would go, what would change, what wouldn’t, etc.

But it applies to all aspects of living. With the three of us living together for only a year at this point—and with the adults being in independent states of flux besides—there are still aspects of family/household culture that we’re working out.

If you live alone, you can still address many aspects of all of this for daily living and interactive aspects for when you have people into your home.

Create your culture.

Posted in food, know better do better, motivation, thoughtfulness

Mindless snacking

I’ve been doing intermittent fasting (IF). That’s not what this post is about, but it’s directly relevant.

I eat all of my food for most days in a roughly 8-hour window, starting in the early afternoon.

I’m home on break.

I’m suddenly very aware of how often I wander into the kitchen looking for a snack. Or how much I pick on what I’m preparing. Because I “can’t” do it now. (More on “can’t” another day.)

I made oatmeal for the others for breakfast today. I didn’t pick off a few of any of the toppings I was adding to either. (Diced frozen mango for The Kid; dates, raisins, slivered almonds for The Climbing Daddy.)

When The Kid didn’t finish his, I didn’t finish it.

When I was chopping apple rings for another recipe for later today, I didn’t eat any of them.

Without IF, I would have eaten all of those things.

If you’re spending time in your house, make note of how much you’re wandering into the kitchen because you’re bored. Or procrastinating. Or any other reason that isn’t “hungry.”

Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Voices in our heads

I saw a meme that said:

May you never be the reason why someone who loved to sing, doesn’t any more. Or why someone who dressed so differently now wears standard clothing. Or why someone who always spoke of their dreams so wildly is now silent about them.

May you never be the reason of someone giving up on a part of them because you were demotivating, non appreciative or – even worse – sarcastic about it.

There are details we could squabble about (is sarcastic worse and/or different than demotivating?), but the point is: don’t be an asshole.

Decades later, I can still hear my mom’s criticisms of how I look when I look in the mirror sometimes. (I have the skills to shut it down most of the time.)

“What makes you think you could…?”

“You know This Other Kid is really good at This Thing You Work Really Hard At.”

“Why don’t you spend your time on something worthwhile?”

In some cases, I can see where I was standing or sitting, where they were positioned in the room, where the furniture was.

Don’t be that parent. 

I’m not saying that telling your kid that they’re great at something they suck at is the answer. But the “you suck, other people are better, why bother” attitude is soul-crushing. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving. (It’s been how long since my parents have said any of these things to me??)

You’re the adult. Be the adult. Nurture the kids. Help them discover what they’re interested in, even if it’s not what you’re interested in, or what you’d like them to be interested in.

It’s your job to help them be them, not to help them be who you wish you would have been.

I have been told by dozens of people that they can’t sing, that they were told by their music or choir teacher that they can’t sing, in some cases, being told to lip sync.

People who, as kids, were explicitly told by their art teacher that they’re not good at art, and they believed it and don’t do it any more.

People who were told in school that they’re never going to be a writer, to choose something else.

Don’t be that teacher.

Your job is to teach kids and to help them the best you can given where you are in the moment. Even if you can’t help them—some circumstances make that so—don’t hurt. Don’t blame them for things that are out of their control or shame them for not being more responsible than a kid their age should be expected to be.

I remember conversations with people with regards to any of my leaps: switching from flute to trombone in college; moving across the country; starting a business; getting National Board Certification; writing a book; going back to school. It’s not always easy to find people who are supportive. (It’s not always difficult, either, though the larger the stakes are, the harder it is, from my experience.)

Don’t be that friend. 

In short: apply the campsite rule — leave people better than you found them. If it was you who was learning to dance or starting to paint or offering a new service or playing basketball for the first time or opening a store on Etsy, would you want the people closest to you to be supportive or dismissive? Would you want the people in your class or in your niche to be helpful or to snicker?

(Same rule applies as to kids: there’s a difference between “I think it’s cool/brave/amazing that you’re starting/trying this” and “Wow—you’re really good at [this thing that you’re not at all good at].” One is at least potentially sincere; the other is known by all to be insincere.)

Take care of your own baggage so that you don’t take it out on the people around you.

When you find yourself being critical, see if you can find what part of yourself is made vulnerable by their endeavor.

For example: my mom was one of the people I know of who was told she can’t sing. My mom was one of the first to make fun of how I sounded when I practiced singing for auditions. My endeavor brought up whatever hurt she endured by being put down by her choir teacher.

Easier said than done, for sure. But if we all endeavored to be a little more emotionally generous—with people we incidentally interact with, with other drivers, with people we interact with regularly, with people we like and people we don’t—then we would all be a little better off.

And if no one around you seems to be doing that, why don’t you take the lead and demonstrate how it’s done?

(And thank you to all of the people through my life who have modeled this for me, both before I was aware of it and since and still. You help me to make myself better.)

Assume you’re going to be the voice that sticks in someone’s head. What do you want to be remembered for?

Posted in food, mindset, physical health, tips

Throw it away—it’s not really food

(If you haven’t read The disclaimer post, or need a refresher, please read it here before proceeding. Thanks!)

We went to a cookie decorating party.

We hosted a Christmas Eve Eve party with sweets provided and sweets brought by guests.

We had family dinner and dessert with both daddies on Christmas Eve.

We had family brunch and dessert with the three of us Christmas Day.

The day after Christmas was wonky and we weren’t home much, and when we were home, we weren’t eating. *whew*

By today, December 27, we’re getting back into more normal health habits.

This morning, this conversation happened:

Kid: Can I have a cookie when I’m done my breakfast?

Me: No. There aren’t any.

Kid: Who ate them all?

Me: No one. I threw them away. We’ve had enough cookies.

Kid: OK.

Now, because we have a culture of healthy food in our house, it wasn’t a big deal when there weren’t any more cookies.

The holiday is over. The sweets were fun. We enjoyed making them. We enjoyed sharing them. We enjoyed eating them. But we don’t need to eat all of them. Last night, I threw the rest of the leftovers away.

It’s not wasting food, because it’s not really food.

If you’re worried about wasting food, dig the fruit and veggies out of the fridge and eat them before they rot. Or the leftovers from recent dinners gone by. Or the unmarked parcels in your freezer.

Cookies? Cake? Ice cream? Brownies? Pie? Whipped cream? Carmel corn? Chocolate? Candy?

Pitch it.

(The best stuff got eaten already anyway…)