Category Archives: Psychology

Anger’s Blossom

I’m reluctant to share this one. While my heart was in the right place, I felt a flare of righteous anger. That type of anger feels right at the moment but often sours with consequences. I am not a hero in this story.

About two weeks ago, I was driving about 35 mph in a way that made me feel alive. Music high, smiling. Not in a hurry.

Her green sedan pulled alongside me in the lane to my left.

She held her phone, crying.

Her black hair reached her shoulders.

She tossed her phone in the passenger seat.

And unexpectedly looked toward me.

Tears on her face.

She nodded and wiped her eyes with a sleeve.

I let off the gas, and she raced away.

Five minutes later, I pulled into the lot.

And saw the green sedan there.

Life reminds me there aren’t many coincidences.

As I parked, I noted she was next to the store.

Cigarette in hand, nervous.

I watched a man pull up and exit his truck angrily.

He hissed at her in a way I couldn’t hear.

She flinched and looked down to the ground. Because of my childhood, I saw the backstory written plain. I already knew what her private life was like. This wasn’t the first time, nor the tenth.

The man gesticulated and shook.

Without thinking, I walked toward them.

“How are you?” I asked her.

She looked at me in surprise.

The man interrupted, “Who are you?”

I replied, “I am the man just in time.”

“For what?” He hissed at me.

“To do what I need to.” The anger flared in me.

I prayed he’d move toward me.

I walked to his truck and opened the driver’s door. “Get the eff out of here, sir.” I smiled like a predator. I admit that it felt good. I’m not sure what that says about me.

The woman watched, fearful of what her man might do.

She should have feared what I might do.

A man in Canada filled my head, his volatile narcissism unchecked, his multiple victims attempting to regain normal lives in his wake. The law does nothing to aggressively meet the abuser’s behavior in kind, even though that is what is needed. Another man was using his long familiarity with control and emotional abuse to impoverish his fleeing wife. Both honestly deserve a measured dose of Southern Justice. This might be my surrogate, one to catch my vengeance. I hoped so. Waiting for ‘someone’ to help might lead to never. I’d felt the burn inflaming me for some time.

“Get home in ten or else,” he told the woman.

“She won’t be there in 10. Or 60. Go.”

He paced around me and pretended to lunge as he did. I didn’t flinch. Ninety percent of all aggression fails to materialize. Had the ten percent emerged, Bobby Dean laid in wait, anesthetized against anything except immobilizing pain. I wanted him to lunge and make contact. The law allows us to defend someone else. If it penalizes me for acting on impulse, that’s fair.

He got in the truck, slammed the door, and roared away. He put down his window momentarily and shouted the redneck equivalent of whatever angry, stupid people say. I laughed purposefully and ignored him.

The woman cried again.

“You know what you need to do,” I told her. “Today, before it’s too late. Do you have someone to go to?”

She nodded.

“Go there. And don’t go back to that. Do you need anything?”

“No,” she murmured.

“Go now in case he comes back.”

I didn’t enter the store.

I watched the black-haired woman get in her car and depart.

I saw a green car today and wondered if the woman was safe. And I wondered who the man’s next victim might be. That there will be is a certainty. I hope there’s a future me waiting for him. It’s evident that I will pull the curtain back and summon Bobby Dean.

My idle pacifist hands are anxious in an unexpected way.

Days later, I’m still thinking about how close I had to get to really hurting someone. And how the realization that the same Bobby Dean inside me was as guilty of the same misbehavior as the man was with his wife or girlfriend. He was a chronic abuser; ironically, I can channel that same energy to obliterate my doubts and step in on the other side of the situation.

There are no easy answers. But I do know that sometimes raw anger is appropriate. Sometimes it’s the only way. It’s not right, proper, or even intelligent. A lot of men need to spit blood to learn their lesson. And some men, men like me, ones who earned their abuse badges when younger, probably need to be more willing to violently be the one to administer a reminder.

PS I know that we’re supposed to call the police. But I also know that they constantly fail to protect people. The law exists to inhibit behavior, but it often does not remedy the need for immediacy. A few weeks after my surgery, I got a reminder of how precarious the idea of safety can be. The flare that lit inside me of me hasn’t abated. As I said, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about this admission.

Love, X

Never Veer

I love sharing on social media. I do. It’s personal, revelatory, and I try to be honest without stepping on people. I tend to step on myself the hardest.

I learned to play the game of Chicken with my crazy dad. Do you know what his secret was? NEVER veer, even if you’re going to get killed. He told people beforehand, “I’m not going to veer. I’m not kidding.” And he never did, even when it could have killed him. People learned not to play Chicken with Bobby Dean. Not in cars, not on tractors, not ever. Never veering is a stupid way to play chicken – unless your goal is to stop people from challenging you. There is no truth I will not confide if it is in my heart to do so.

I wrote very personal posts on the 23rd and yesterday. Both were honest and revelatory. The one from the 23rd was an admission that I’m as guilty as anyone about being a revisionist. I’ve not hurtfully crossed the line needlessly about anyone – including my ex-wife. That’s not to say I couldn’t. Two of the components of my post were to mention that I appreciated the good years, as well as to mention that I could have engaged in a flame war during the divorce, even though I bore the responsibility for the mess. It’s okay to need to gain perspective and distance. Even if it makes me the villain. It’s not okay to wipe away the good times, the good things, or the concessions I made to mitigate my self-made disaster.

With my level of humor and stark, combined with my willingness and ability to literally say anything, it would be manifestly easy for me to shatter a lot of illusions and break eggs. Even while still admitting I’ve behaved like a lunatic at times. I’ve been considerate after-the-fact. I can’t erase the past. It’s unwise to argue with someone who buys ink by the gallon, or with someone who will respond to accusations by admitting even worse truths himself. No one can win a “let’s share secrets” war with me. I will go there – not out of spite, no matter how someone pushes me to inflame or respond to fire with fire. It’s a fool’s game, especially after the final whistle has blown. The players should exit the field, hopefully with the goal of learning from what happened. Even if they fouled forty times during the game. An examined life always yields lessons.

People trust me not to reveal secrets they share. Believe me, one of the most satisfying aspects of social media is that many people have shared some of the most intimate things possible using it.

As you’d guess, I caught hell privately for the things I shared. Even the post about my wife who died brought out a level of accusation that surprised me. None of those accusations touch the truth, though. Everyone was kind, loving, and supportive to me for both posts. Well, almost everyone. And I love that. Worrying about the critics is another fool’s errand. Because I’m a fool, I’ve been guilty of that at times.

“You’re the villain in someone’s story” has always been true.

Equally true is that telling me I can’t tell my story isn’t going to end well. I’ll be respectful – but not silent. Trust me to be both honest and responsible.

If you play Chicken with me, I will not veer, now or ever.

Love, X

My Sermon On Being The Right Weight

Disclaimer: This post doesn’t touch on eating disorders, serious mental health concerns, or medical conditions with which people struggle.

There will always be sickness, death, job loss, or other surprises. Prolonged periods of stress or anxiety. There will never be a perfect time to start your journey. You might as well open the door now and step outside into your goal. Just five minutes a day to start, or one small habit. By way of personal example? Stop assuming that just because you open it, it’s a single serving. Yes, I’m talking to you, giant bag of family-size Doritos or large pizza.

Hard truth up front: dieting doesn’t work. Keto, low-carb, supplements. Why: anything you do that isn’t permanent isn’t going to work. You will lose weight doing them. Statistically, though, you’re going to go back to a normal diet. And when you do? Bam! Thighs and stomach again, and probably larger than before. You will feel helpless and as if it’s impossible. Until you accept the fact that the first part is the hardest, you probably won’t succeed.

If you’re a heroin addict, you can do a little bit of coke instead. You’ll get over heroin. You’re also stuck with a cocaine habit. You’re replaced one negative for another. You are in theory a little better off. Food is the same way. You can’t avoid it and it’s ridiculously delicious. If you want to be the weight you want to be, you have to experiment and figure out a different way to eat. It’s that simple. Any other method will not work long-term.

You do not need gyms or weird, complicated eating methods. You can get to the weight you want by learning to eat differently. Choose your hard. It’s going to be hard to adapt. But if you can learn new eating habits, it’s sustainable.

If you need to do something extra for a while to get a taste of success, do that. It doesn’t matter what ‘that’ is if it’s temporary. Just be prepared to shift to another gear when it’s time to try to eat differently whenever you stop doing whatever program or supplement you’ve been using. Metaphorically speaking, if you have to do a little coke to replace the heroin, so be it. You’re moving toward progress. Stop worrying about doing it all at once or if you experience setbacks. One day or one week isn’t your life.

Many people wrote to me on my blog, telling me that my approach to weight loss was the wrong way to do it. Some of my posts were read an incredible number of times. To their surprise, I told them, “Yes, I know.” There was always a ‘but’ from me. I know my way wasn’t the right way. It worked for me, though. And it didn’t require expensive supplements, detailed metrics or counting, or any equipment at all. All in all, that’s about the most basic approach anyone could possibly take. Did I mention it worked for me? 🙂

When I started, I wasn’t trying to lose weight anymore. I was DOING it no matter what. For me, that required a 180 compared to everything I’d tried before. Different results demanded different efforts. I’ll never forget that early October day when I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “I’m over this!”

I KNEW I would succeed. So much of my ability to eat healthily was simply a reflection of almost external willpower. I started experimenting with food and quickly dropped all pretense of counting calories, protein, or anything else. I just ate “healthy” food almost all the time. I used certain foods to offset the need to feel full, even when I was eating things that allegedly weren’t good for weight loss. The idea of bad or good food is mostly stupid to me now. It all is dependent on how much and how often you consume it. It’s possible to eat entirely normal food if you’re diligent. I ate half a container of coffee gelato yesterday. That’s where I knew I wouldn’t succeed if I started eating a lot of smaller portions of what was my previous diet. So, I skipped past that part and stayed firm on my eating. For me, I knew that portion control of the foods I love would not ‘get me there.’ It was a certainty, much in the way a cocaine addict doesn’t just use less cocaine to break his or her habit. I had to punch my diet right in the throat. So I did. I know it’s not the optimal method to lose weight or to keep it off long-term.

Note: I do take fiber supplements and drink a strong protein drink in the morning. They worked wonders for me. I resisted the science of them both but discovered they are essential. At least for me.

I don’t mean to sound boastful about knowing I’d lose the weight. I knew I’d get down as low as I’d been in decades; 150 wasn’t on my radar. The battle once the weight is off only really begins once you’ve reached your goal. Entropy and laziness tend to creep into everyone’s intentions. Food is good 365 days a year, no matter the hour. Pizza? Forget about it.

As for the rapidity and calorie restriction of my chosen diet, in the back of my mind, I compared it to bariatric surgery without the surgery. A friend of mine found success out of necessity going that route. All of those procedures demand severe restrictions. Even so, a large percentage of those using it gain the weight back long-term. That’s pretty much the case across the board with substantial weight loss. I gave myself a year benchmark; I surpassed that in October. No matter what comes at me, I know that my weight loss issue was 100% mental for decades. My success proves it.

If you’ve lost the weight before and gained it back – don’t worry. You’re still alive and can do it again. The only thing stopping you is your own mind. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail if you ultimately succeed. Your mistakes don’t matter as much as your destination.

Having such a huge success on my part would be foolish indeed if I let myself choose the wrong hard and fall back. I knew that if I didn’t get the weight off ferociously, I might lose my nerve before I ever had a chance to succeed at it for the first time in my adult life.

I didn’t add ANY exercise to my routine. It was all based on calorie reduction. After several weeks of eating differently, I had to confront the truth: I’d been eating way more horrible food (and more often) than I believed I had. And that my weight was much more intensely a psychological problem than a physical one.

In short, I was the problem.

In June, I got addicted to pushups, a habit I loved until my emergency surgery. After surgery, I started with dumbbells. I’ve increased the weight twice since I started. Although I do them very carefully, I do a couple of hundred pushups a day now to complement the weights. Looking back, I can’t tell you how important the routine of pushups had become to control my anxiety. When I could no longer do them because of the huge surgical wound on my abdomen, I recognized that I’d lost one of my most successful stress management tools. Not being able to do them had a direct impact on my weird anxiety levels. Walking and more running have helped.

I appreciate everyone who told me to be careful. I really do. Equally true is that being careful won’t guarantee that I’ll be healthy or safe. That’s another part of my anxiety; even though I’ve always known it due to some nasty life surprises (which we’ve all experienced), the emergency surgery happening at the highest point of my physical success knocked the wind out of me emotionally. The message that I’m mortal no matter what shape I’m in was received loud and clear. I don’t need another such lesson. I get it. It’s just a variation of the quote, “You can do everything right and still fail.” So if perfection can still yield failure, perhaps it is okay to accept the challenge to mix it up and try it your own way?

If you do nothing, you’ll be stuck where you don’t want to be. But if you try? Maybe you will succeed. If you get motivated or pissed off enough, I know you will. The crazy secret of discipline and motivation? You do it anyway, even though you are not motivated. And you repeat that bs until it is a habit.

Recently, walking out of work, someone who hadn’t seen me in a couple of months said, “Wow, you’ve kept the weight off!” He was enthusiastic and encouraging when he said it. He’s seen so many people revert to their old habits because of his job. I told him that I was never going past my setpoint again, no matter what. It popped out of my mouth with confidence, probably too much confidence.

But that is where all of y’all come in. You all have eyes – you can see what I’m eating and if I start to forget the lesson of maintaining this success. We don’t have an acceptable way to lovingly and effectively tell someone that their weight is a problem. That in itself is a problem.

I’m giving you permission to call me out if I start sliding. I can’t imagine that I will – but I couldn’t have seen my current life even a year ago. So anything is possible.

If I can turn a switch on in my head and do this, anyone else who is committed to doing so can do it, too. You can’t do it without changing the amount of food you eat. You can do it without driving to the gym or keeping detailed food logs or buying supplements that won’t work long-term. You do it by deciding. You can still eat a LOT of food. We’re all smart people yet make this food-weight relationship so complicated. It’s why there are so many books and experts arguing about how best to do it. Most of them are selling you something.

Exercise has its own rewards and benefits. I highly recommend it. But science proves you don’t have to exercise to lose weight. You just have to choose less and better fuel for your body.

I’m not selling anything.

You can do it if you really want to.

Take it from a random internet weirdo. There’s nothing special or secret in my approach. Nike already stole the “Just do it” quote.

Love, X
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Two Blogs Worth Reading…

If you’re like me, you read a wide variety of blogs. Not all are created equal.

I have two to recommend to you. Both are written by the same “clever girl” mind. She’s smart, focused, and also writing through her experiences as a human being. She isn’t a writer by profession; that will probably change over time.

The first is a blog dedicated to her ordeal, anguish, and recovery as she deals with her life intersecting with a villainous human being.

The second is one she recently started in response to the amassing stockpile of creativity she fills her head with. I expect great things to blossom from her second blog.

https://peskymuses.wordpress.com/

Enjoy!

Arborcast Whispers

I’m stealing a moment. Sitting by the creek and the trail. Though I love all types of weather, with the breeze on me and the sun on my head, it’s hard to imagine a better moment. I’ve had a few surprises, each of them making me wonder why I ever doubted my optimism. The beautiful vista doesn’t negate any of the valleys I have walked through  ~ each of them temporarily giving me pangs of self-doubt. Were y’all sitting here with me, I would tell a stupid joke, one which would hopefully make y’all snort. We might look up at the arborcast sky and know that the moment will pass. The shadows under the trees are just that: the sun will soon turn and glancingly illuminate the previous shadows, each in their own time. Like I always do, I pause for a little bit of gratitude. Meanwhile, the breeze passes over me, a whisper of things to come.

Love, X
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From The Bottom Of The Well To The Top Of The Sun

Every once in a while, you get a compliment that goes beyond the kind we often exchange. Today, I got more than my share: “You are sunshine on legs.” It wasn’t about my appearance. It was about the energy I radiated. Whatever energy I had prior to the kind words, it doubled.

To be called “weirdo,” in a true and opposite way. “Dork,” too.

Prank pickles, spoon brooches, hugs, laughter, and the expectation that literally anything could happen: these things comprised a good day. That it’s in the mid-50s and the sun is shining is a dash of cinnamon to make it great.

I had something to complain about, but for the life of me, I can’t imagine what it might be now. A lot of people in my life have obstacles that make any of mine seem inconsequential.

My tribe grows and apparently we speak the language of snark and laughter.

We all get a turn waiting at the bottom of the well for the bucket to be lowered, don’t we?

The way I feel right now, were I at the bottom of the well, you’d hear me whistling or singing. I’m not alone down there in the bottom of the well. None of us are if we are but capable of remembering our turn at the bottom seldom lasts.

Love, X
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Red Snow Bothers No One

justice delayed is justice denied
victims remain, anxious prey,
each precious life adjourned

it was an accident, they intoned, shyly winking
he resisted and found himself restrained
cuffs on the cold bumper
he was an unrepentant menace
who found his home along the road

red snow bothers no one

the inevitable thaw comes
erasing all vestige of his faint echo

everyone sighs, alive and free

red snow bothers no one

A Mixed Message (A Wild Variety Of Me)

“Life is like looking for your phone. Most of the time, it’s in your hand.”

Today’s brooch was made from a very old badge my manager discovered last week. I wrote “252” on it. That’s how much I weighed in the picture. I’m 105 lbs. lighter now. The part that continues to remind me is the new people who come into my life. They didn’t know me as fat. A couple of them had to be convinced. That’s a strange, wonderful thought. None of them have inaccurate misconceptions of me, either, so they look at me as if I’m just X. That’s wonderful, too. It reminds me of decades ago when I changed my name; it allowed me to easily identify those who loved me for who I was without regard to my name. Not a day passes that my name doesn’t bring a question, a laugh, or a story. Having a ridiculous name saves me the trouble of needing to tell people I’m probably eccentric. (Whether I look like a professional bowler or curler is up to you to decide.)
*
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“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low
Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know”
“You Say,” Lauren Daigle

All of you who can feel God’s love are fortunate. I mean that without snark. All love is housed in one’s heart. Believing that you’re loved in any form is something to strive for.

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Because of my blog, people find me and read the ridiculously long and circuitous path of my life I’ve left there. It’s told higgledy-piggledy, with huge omissions and P.S.-sidepaths; it’s just the way I like it. It is both consoling and astonishing when someone discovers it and finds something worthwhile in it or me. When you commit things to writing and especially publicly, there is no return to privacy or withdrawal. It’s both faith and lunacy. As direct as I’ve been, there are hundreds of stories that I haven’t shared, mostly because of the overlap in other people’s lives. A lot of my joy and anguish are difficult to share for that reason. It’s not that I don’t want to. I’d prefer to spill it out. I can’t imagine that I’ve experienced much that a lot of other people haven’t – that’s the joy of peeking behind curtains in life.
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“State your truth” is such a vulnerable thing to do. Or say. I’ve become so open about it that I’ve forgotten that people need camouflage. We are all so similar in our vexations and pleasures. Knowing this at 54 is almost a superpower. But I do revel when I am able to witness someone letting the wall down and just sharing, even if it astonishes them as they do so. Sunlight and revelation bring peace. So many people are carrying secrets or thoughts of a different way to live. They don’t see the options until they see no way to continue.

“Buried emotions are always buried alive,” someone smart told me once.
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“Some people are empaths. I’m a telepath; people want me as far from them as possible.” – X
*
^

“Hey X, do you smoke marijuana?”

“No, I prefer the natural flavor.”

That one took him a minute to understand.
*
^

I think I’ll forego a regular walk or run today and see if I can run 100 floors of stairs. That seems fair, doesn’t it? My heartbeat objects. Maybe it knows the inventory of my allotted steps in life? Either way, my heart owes me a debt for liberating it from the sheath of excess that I put on it for two decades. And I owe it an apology. I’m lucky I didn’t give up, even as I constantly failed. Until I didn’t. It’s not the path that matters so much; it’s where you end up.
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To a specific friend, if you read this post, a phlebotomist I met at my doctor’s appointment LOVED your catchphrase: “Nothing tastes as good as this feels.” His eyes went wide and then he laughed. “Exactly!” he said. “I’m going to steal that without question. It’s perfect.” He’s a bodyweight fitness nut and looks like a flattened barrel in his upper torso. He wanted to know my story and secrets – and I shared both your phrase and The Blue Dress Project’s catchphrase, “Choose Your Hard.” He couldn’t believe my transformation and I told him that between the bell going off in my head and seeing people like you do it with a lot more obstacles than me, that I knew I was supposed to succeed. He understood, having done it himself. Don’t be surprised if it ends up on social media.
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The man who taught me one-on-one how to end an altercation quickly (and violently, if necessary) recommended a browser-based productivity timer. It works crazily well. I can set it for 5-minute increments. When the alarm of my choosing sounds, it’s time to do another interval of weights and/or stairs. Because I do most of my writing sitting at the computer, it’s a great way to create thoughtless and repetitive chunks of exercise. Because of the law of increments, I can artificially get a lot of movement each hour instead of relying on my motivation. The cat hates it though, especially if he’s perched on my lap as I type.
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The Lexapro is working very well. So is therapy. And time passing. As the curtains of other people’s lives continue to open to me, I realize that my problems are real – but inconsequential compared to the complexities that other people are living. It’s great that some parts of my life are a motivation to people. It’s also okay that some parts should serve as a warning. None of us are pristine or untouched by trauma, loss, indecision, doubt, or wanting.
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My “Ask” project is working well for me. It’s failed consistently, but that failure is changing me. I can feel it and observe it as it works its way into my nature. Some of the ongoing “No” has hurt me in a way that surprised and upset me. But I’ve kept asking, feeling the wave of “No” click a meter in my head. I don’t know where the true fulcrum of some of it lies; I’ll trust my instincts when it does. Once the meter has run to zero, we have to accept the truth of whatever we’ve been asking.

Ask
Ask for what you want or desire.
If you don’t, it is a certainty you’ll never get it.
Ask of life and ask of people.
The answer, though bitter or not what you sought…
It’s at least the truth.
Everything starts from there
Ask
*
^
I walk past the place where the deceased are kept until they are retrieved for their funerals and remembrance. I walk past a lot. I’m surrounded during the day. By love, concern, fear, hundreds of individual stories unfold. How odd it is that such finality and drama barely pierces people’s consciousness. I know we have to protect ourselves or otherwise be flooded. Sometimes, though, we need to remember the hourglass sifting sand invisibly behind us. It’s a valuable motivator to know that your day is not a promise. It’s a gift, one which many of us waste on triviality.
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Somewhere In Time

I had another life, a Lowenstein of my own.
She walks the planet, fulfilled, and not alone.
The lesson is that everyone has a tightly drawn curtain.
When they fling it open, there is beauty and assertion.
To see someone from within their own head is a joy.
It’s agony when the curtain closes again, a closure that can destroy.
Every nuance and experience in life will change us,
if not derange us.
There is no return to the before.
There is only the after and absence,
paired with infinite reenactments.
Time does not cure us; it erodes us.
To know that somewhere in time,
that your life did not branch away from you,
is a breathtaking comfort and inner chime.

Out there, somewhere in time.
*
^

I know this is an unusual post.

And that’s okay.

Love, X

Me By Default

One of my favorite things was my Die Hard ventilation shaft Xmas ornament, one I made. It even had a hole in the back of the fake ‘shaft’ to illuminate John McClane’s outstretched lighter as he crawled through. Because one of my neighbors is a Die Hard fan, I walked over and gave it to him. His face lit up. Even more in the Christmas spirit, as much as he was surprised and happy, he said, “Oh man, my mom LOVES Bruce Willis.” Without hesitation, I said, “Give it to her then and pay it forward. We can’t stand between Bruce Willis and your mom’s infatuation.” My neighbor’s son celebrated his first birthday yesterday. I’d already given him the decorated and painted ornamental box I made, for when his son is old enough to put his special things inside. I love imagining some future day when someone sees something I made and thinks about the randomness of strangers. And I think all the time about much I misjudged those neighbors when I was first around them. I like to be surprised and reminded that appearances can be so deceiving.

In my personal life, I am struggling so hard with another variant of “Choose your hard.” I’m stuck at the nexus of a decision that it is intolerably emotional. My therapist told me once to imagine that if I had died instead of surviving my emergency surgery. And from that vantage point, how hard would such a decision seem from there? She’s right. Have you heard this saying: “If you’re okay with something you shouldn’t be okay with, you’re not okay.” Experience tells me that it’s true but wisdom tells me that I’m weak. Such self-knowledge is not something that warms me.

Yesterday, I gave everything I had to try to run a mile in under six minutes. I didn’t quite make it; I missed by six seconds. Though I failed and for the last half of the mile I was sure I was going to make it, I look at six seconds and know it’s a stupidly small amount. P.S. My heart was trip hammering so hard I could s-e-e it beating through my shirt like a drum.

One of the advantages of living upstairs is well… the stairs. Between sets of exercises, I can go out and do ten floors at a time. It doesn’t take any time at all to accumulate a LOT of floors and stairs. I like to watch the law of increments add up. My goal is to do at least 50 flights of stairs by 9 a.m.

One of my favorite people recently compared me to another person and described us both as obsessive-compulsive about goals. She’s not wrong at all. This Fitbit accentuates it because I can see it in real-time.

Do y’all know what “you by default” means? It’s used by some interviewers now and it helps you figure out where not only you are in your journey, but also to measure other people in your life.

You By Default

A lot of people haven’t heard this line of thinking regarding behavior, usually involving exercise and sometimes healthier eating. It was powerful the first time it was explained to me by someone who walks the walk.

If exercise takes a lot of effort – or adds procrastination or stress to your routine – it’s not you by default. It’s something you’re doing rather than what you simply do. If you miss a day or several, it isn’t important in the scheme of things. You’ll go back naturally to it and without stressing that you might not ever return. All of us have weird and surprising enthusiasm and commitment cycles in every aspect of our life. Exercise. Diet. Love. Irritability. Dark chocolate.

If you need willpower and constant self-talk to avoid eating chips at 10 p.m. or fast food twice a day, it’s not you by default.

“You by default” becomes your natural process, one that doesn’t require a lot of cognition or secondary support to maintain. You’re active because you are an active person. You eat healthier because you are a healthier eater. You behave kindly, well, because you ARE kind. You’ve internalized natural or learned behaviors. It is possible.

You show love and lovingkindness because it’s “you by default.”

Find a way to become whatever goal or attribute you want in your life. It’s now a part of you, never to be stripped away or requiring intangible willpower. It is a type of discipline turned to automatic.

Whatever it is that you want to do or become, practice. Even if you don’t know the vocabulary to describe it. If you can overcome the natural reluctance slope that allows new behavior to become permanent, you will find that you can do this in other areas of your life, too. You will have shifted your default.

It’s also interesting from an interpersonal point of view. If people haven’t shifted their internal values, their behavior isn’t their default. They’ll revert almost every time and abandon their attempts to change. It’s not impossible, but it is a rarity.

Love, X

You’ll Get There!

Odd that we expect life to be linear, one foot in front of the other, with a clear view of how to live our lives. Everything is circuitous, convoluted, and seen imperfectly.

With goals, we forget that one day or three doesn’t derail us or our commitment.

Science teaches us that we all fight a reluctance curve with results.

Wisdom teaches us to be patient with the ridiculous setbacks we’re all going to encounter.

You can drive around the roundabout 247 times if you need to.

It’s the final turn, the one that gets you where you need to be, that matters. Our path and past are still a part of our story, but it is where we end up that gives us our measure.

Love, X