Posted in cancer, connections, differences, ebb & flow, mindset, socializing, thoughtfulness, tips, vulnerability

Talking to people going through hard things

A friend’s father-in-law is in his final hours. I would not text her right now to complain about … anything.

Thinking about that led me to realize that perhaps people get situations confused. Or just aren’t able to find out what direction to go in other difficult situations.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was inpatient at the hospital, had a seemingly endless string of tests and procedures, one of which landed me in ICU overnight, and was somewhat overwhelmed. But within two weeks, I was home.

Despite being home, cancer treatment often lasts a long time. I was admitted to the hospital in mid-May and finished treatments in mid-January. I’ve known too many people who tally up years of treatment.

Once the initial storm settled, socializing was really important, because I couldn’t do most of the other things I was accustomed to doing.

A relative had gotten a flat tire, and started a conversation with, “Well, I know this is nothing compared to what you’re going through, but …”

And no, it’s not, but in real life, that doesn’t matter. I mean, I wouldn’t complain about what my spouse made for dinner last night to someone who was food insecure, but the people in my social circle are, for the most part, all secure in food, housing, and other basic needs. (Except healthcare. Welcome to America.)

OK, I got off on a tangent there, but what I’m saying is—the majority of my people share similar annoyances, with the occasional life-shaking event.

Is the life-shaking event finite? A death, the onset of serious illness or injury, loss of a job, for example?

If yes, they’re not in a good place for you to bug them with minutiae. (“I was just diagnosed with cancer.” “OMG really? Can you believe I got a flat on my way to work today?”) Choose another friend for that.

If their life-shaking event is chronic (whether permanent or temporary) and the initial blow has passed, then you need to know, in response to a story about the flat you got on the way to work, would they say:

Must be nice to be able to go to work/have a car to get a flat/etc.

or

Oh man! That sucks! Why did it take AAA so long to get there?

And base your decision on that.

If you don’t know, ask.

“Hey, I know you’re going through xyz shitty thing right now, and I wasn’t sure if you wanted to talk about that, if you were looking for conversation just to be kind of light, or if you were looking for just normal conversation.”

Or something like that.

Then people who really need you just to be there and hang out have you there and hanging out (um, maybe not literally), and people who really don’t want to hear about your shit won’t be offended by your insensitivity.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, tips

Making just a little time to let yourself feel better

I found a good reminder for myself. Something that I was doing that I shared with my online world a few years ago that maybe will help you, too.

Here’s the context:

I was working part time, teaching band. The schedule was brutal, many of the classes were brutal, and there was very little professional fulfillment.

I was taking Anatomy and Physiology online at the same time. Super-interesting, but also brutal.

And parenting a 5-year-old.

That semester, The Climbing Daddy (who was not yet my husband) and I were also house-hunting and ending up buying (we closed in December, shortly after finals, in the midst of concert season). Because, y’know, there wasn’t already enough going on.

But I was using Duo Lingo, a language-learning app, and doing a bit each day, among other things, and apparently, it helped the overwhelm.

This is what I wrote:

So there’s work, which is … less than amazing.

There’s A&P, which is interesting but sucking out whatever life blood work leaves.

Meal planning and prep has gone to hell.

Exercise is still happening—almost exclusively running and climbing—but not as frequently as I’d like.

But I’ve done a little bit of Spanish every day for almost three months, and I’ve recently started playing my uke most days just for 5-10 minutes (F is learning, too, so we play together), and these things help me feel a little bit like I have free time. Which makes everything else a little more bearable.

 

In conversation surrounding this, I mentioned that our eating was still relatively healthy, just more pre-made foods which I wasn’t excited about, partially because of quality, and partially because it was causing a lot more trash.

But the point is—if you’re feeling like you’re at your limit, take 10 or 20 minutes and do something you enjoy. It’s not that much time, you can totally find it some days, even if not daily, and it will help your mental game.

And it’s nearly all a mental game, isn’t it?

Posted in connections, know better do better, marriage, mindset, parenting, podcasts, thoughtfulness, tips, vulnerability

Apologies

Apologies.

We tend not to be good at them.

We tend to force children to mutter them insincerely.

We get in the habit of muttering them insincerely, if we mutter them at all.

The first place I heard an excellent, clear explanation of what an apology should be was in Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture at Carnegie Melon. (To be clear: I wasn’t there; I saw it online.) It was given and recorded in 2008 and the linked video has almost 20 million views. But the one I saw was a reprise on Oprah. It’s much shorter; you can watch it here. (It has a lot of good stuff in it.)

He says (starting at 7:40 in the shorter clip) that a proper apology has three parts:

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. It was my fault.
  3. How do I make it right?

A long time later, I heard an episode of Radiolab that was all about apologies. Legal, religious, secular. The history of apologies. It was fascinating and infuriating and frustrating and well worth the hour. (There’s about 5 minutes of business at the front end that might not interest you.)

But what prompted me to put this out to you today was this article from the Harvard Business Review that a friend texted to me the other day.

Like Pausch’s lecture, it includes three components of a good apology. The three pieces are a little bit different:

  1. Admit you were wrong and you’re sorry.
  2. Show them you understand the effect it had on them. (This would be amazing as a receiver.)
  3. Tell them what you’re going to do differently in the future so it doesn’t happen again.

But what really made this article impactful was the story it told prior to getting into the general “this is how you do it” part. (As per yesterday, it’s always the story we connect with…)

In the end, with mediation, someone at work apologized to someone else at work for being a jerk, and the man being apologized to broke down and cried. Because he had never been apologized to. For anything.

Part of me finds this hard to believe, but much of me sees life as it is, sees people as they are, sees my own experience, and believes that this is true.

So … own your shit. (This seems to be less and less lately.) Acknowledge it to the appropriate person or people. See what you can do to fix it, whether in the present or in the future. Make the world better by making your connections better.

Posted in exercise, food, mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health, tips

Goal-setting, goal-pursuing, and real life

With most things, there’s a fine line between “not hardcore” and “too many excuses.”

Setting a reasonable, realistic goal is critical in walking this line.

For most people most of the time, “hardcore” is not the way to go. It’s not sustainable. If you’re in a situation where it’s critical to be all in and right now, then do it. But that’s not most of us (psychologically) most of the time.

For most people most of the time, setting small goals—goals that maybe even seem like not goals at all because they’re so small—is the way to go.

Set a small goal. One small goal.

Relentlessly stick to it. No outs. No excuses.

Once that’s a habit, repeat the process.

In time, you have a whole new set of habits. It takes time, but it’s doable and it’s worth it.

Imagine you started that process a year ago. You’d have three or four or six small changed habits. You’d be so grateful to yourself for starting.

Imagine yourself in a year. Do what you need to do to make one-year-from-now you as grateful as you would be now to one-year-ago you if you had started then.

 

Posted in food, mindset, tips

Evolution hasn’t solved this food problem

We know that we shouldn’t eat unless we’re hungry (a few health issues aside–there’s always an exception, isn’t there?). All of the ins and outs of that is another post for another day.

But when should we stop eating?

It’s a national pastime to eat until it hurts. We plan out which pants to wear so we can overeat with less discomfort.

I think we know that this isn’t healthy.

But (I think) the majority of us don’t do this the majority of days.

On a normal day-to-day basis, when should we stop?

When you’re no longer hungry. When you’re sated.

Not when you’re full.

“Enough food” isn’t the same as “no more food.”

Eat slowly. Chew a lot. (I’m bad at both of those.)

If there are many foods that all look good, like at a buffet or a big holiday meal, take literally one or two forkfuls of each. When you’ve slowly finished eating those, enjoying each, if you’re not done, pick the one(s) that were the best and have another bite or two of that.

Advice I should take for myself: put your fork (or spoon) down between every bite. Chew and swallow before you pick up the next bite.

Also, it takes time before the stomach registers that it’s full, so eating slowly helps you help yourself not to overeat. It leaves time for signals to make it from the stomach to your brain, and then for you subsequently to decide to stop eating.

It’s easier to stop eating if there’s not food in front of you. If you’re eating at home, serve from the stove or the counter instead of putting all of the food on the table. If you’re eating out, split a meal or bring a to-go container (or ask for one up front).

How fortunate we all are to have the problem of too much food. It just means we have different problems to solve. Instead of “where is my next meal coming from?” it’s “how do I not kill myself with the abundance of food?”

Eat only when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re not hungry anymore.