Archives for posts with tag: what gets measured gets managed

It is a lovely morning. I woke rested and feeling content and comfortable in my skin; it’s a nice feeling with which to start the day. I breathe the cool morning air deeply. I sip my coffee. I think of friends. I think about my traveling partner, wishing him well wherever he is this morning.

I eye my fitness tracker suspiciously, irked by an obvious lie; it says I slept well, continuously through the night*. I didn’t at all. I was up a number of times because I foolishly drank 3 glasses of water in the last hour I was awake! I start down the path of troubleshooting that, reading user reviews and forums, and finding myself “inactive” on my tracker – so much so that a hummingbird lingers for some time at the feeder, watching me not doing anything. I have a thought, at that point… am I really investing time teasing apart this puzzle, now? Does it matter that much? No, seriously – am I actually going to require atomic-clock accuracy from a value-priced piece of wearable technology I bought on a whim primarily to count steps and monitor activity? (Well? I’m really asking here…) Do I actually need that to achieve my goals? (No.) Is approximate relative precision enough for my own purposes? (Of course it is.)

This image is not "accurate"; it was taken on a different day, at a different time, and it is not "now".

This image is not “accurate”; it was taken on a different day, at a different time, and it is not “now”.

It’s funny/not funny how easily I can be tempted by discontent. How quickly “enough” can become seemingly inadequate – over expectations and assumptions. I was surprised by the sleep feature yesterday, because of the level of detail. This morning I woke having assumed it would reliably do precisely that, daily. It didn’t. I could curse the device, become dissatisfied, cling to wanting more until it feels like I need more, then rush to spend more money on a more expensive device because it seems like more is necessary to achieve “enough”. It’s a trick. A lie. Enough is actually enough – that’s sort of how sufficiency works, actually. 🙂 For me, and it is very much an individual thing, it is enough to be mindfully aware of how my devices are actually working, and account for that in my understanding of the data they provide. Done. Troubleshooting over. Satisfaction with my morning restored. So easy. 😉

(No, it isn’t easy. Yes, it takes practice. Sure, there are verbs involved. Of course, your results may vary. It may  not be obvious, but it  is worth the practice…well…it has been for me.)

Isn’t it funny how easily misled we are by marketing, by the media, by the stories we tell ourselves about what is, what isn’t, and what we think we have to have to get by? Something to think about…

Today is a lovely day to let go of untested assumptions. Today is a good day to be aware that my expectations have no effect on reality. Today is a good day to walk away from arguments – even with myself. Today is a good day for brunch with a friend… It won’t change the world, but I do like brunch. 🙂

 

*Followup note: as of some three hours after I woke (well, that’s when I noticed), my devices are now all fully synced, and the sleep tracking has updated. I’m pleased by that, and more pleased that I managed my primate drive for immediate gratification with some skill this morning. We become what we practice. 🙂

I woke last night abruptly, sometime in the wee hours. My brain was working overtime on something that was on my mind; my weight. I find managing my weight difficult. It’s a common enough challenge, and I won’t bore you with bitching and fussing, we’ve all got our own Tale of Awful with regard to beauty challenges of one sort or another, and other writers write well and powerfully about how our self-image is affected by culture, advertising, internet trolls, our upbringing… all that. I won’t bother to re-hash it.

I had gone to bed irked because I gained some weight that I’d fought hard to lose. Again. I woke up because my busy brain continued to contrast, compare, filter, collate, and sort information from a number of areas of life where I have (or have not) progressed and how I understand things to have worked in that instance. I woke because my brain got finished with that project and urgently needed to get my attention back on it asap. lol Peculiarly (encouragingly) I woke feeling hopeful and aware – aware of how I affect my progress (or lack of it) – and how I can get control of it (and myself) and make more powerful gains toward my goals. Nice.

Yeah. There are gonna be verbs involved. 🙂 I can even sum it up pretty briefly; I need to eat mindfully. No kidding. It could be literally that simple – and will likely be every bit that difficult. I know the quantity of calories I must limit myself to, daily, in order to lose weight. I have a decent understanding of my nutritional needs, and what the content of those calories must be. I want very much to be both healthier and more attractive, and I like it when my feet don’t hurt just from hiking a couple miles. I have the means to ensure my pantry has the type/quantity of basic ingredients needed to meet my needs day-to-day. I miss my goals when I fail to approach food and meals mindfully. It’s so easy to take my eye off good portion control simply by being casual about it, eye-balling something I’m ‘sure of’ now and then… which quickly becomes ‘so much easier  than’ measuring things all the time… which ends up with portions easily three times what I need to be healthy. The small mistakes add up in pounds. Damn it.

I dislike constant oversight, and living alone I don’t have any… but oversight is something that has value, if I am not willing or able to manage my life with that level of detail… so… can I do this, or do I need help? My brain says I can do this – and what woke me is how similar what needs to be done is to all the other tasks and processes I’ve worked to improve on over the last couple years. Mindfulness matters. It’s not even fancy or complicated – be here. Now. Show up. Be attentive. Be present. Enjoy the thing I am doing, in this moment I am doing it, awake and aware. Mindful. It’s the opposite of ‘mindless’ – it’s the opposite of ‘auto pilot’, and the opposite of ‘eye-balling something I’m sure of’. Mindfulness requires that I step through each routine, and handle each task, so entirely committed to it that those ‘I didn’t realize I…’ moments are minimized.  Before I go to far down this exciting garden path of feeling encouraged… It’s clearly not ‘easy’, or no one at all would need to have it pointed out, or would need to learn mindfulness, or practice it – we’d just do it!

I woke up realizing that a lot of what I struggle with in life would perhaps less difficult, less trying, less awkward, less painful, less embarrassing, less regrettable, less aggravating altogether if I were more mindful. It seems a given simply because at each opportunity to be more mindful on which I have been indeed more mindful, there has been a lot less struggle. Case in point; shortly after the new year, my new physician was fairly blunt that I need to take off some weight to overcome some of my pain management challenges. That’s pretty motivational… if that’s all it takes… right? Well, and for about 8 weeks I reliably lost 2-4 pounds a week, seemingly without real effort, by being very mindful about all matters related to food. Then… I got distracted, took my attention off the details, and gained some of that weight back. Again. Damn it. Fuck this gets frustrating. I went to bed last night being pretty hard on myself about it. I woke remembering very specifically that the emotions that surface through ‘being hard on myself’ about my weight quickly undermine my progress; depression wants calories, fancy soothing dessert-y calories. So does loneliness. So does yearning. Shit.

Practicing mindfulness with regard to food and eating allows me, as an emotional human primate, to feel what I am feeling, and continue to practice good practices. There are, as it happens, verbs involved. Yep – and my results vary. It’s why I’m still practicing – and probably always will be. It’s why I have to begin again. Again. 🙂

This? This is not a tale of failure – it’s just a few words over coffee about a common source of frustration in a very human experience, and what I will do about it, myself. It’s the doing that’s the real challenge, and it can be done. I’ve done it before. I’m eager to begin again, and I’m feeling fairly fearless about approaching the matter. I take a moment to appreciate that I know what needs to be done, and what works for me – that’s an excellent starting point on any journey.

An obstacle - or something to see along the way?

An obstacle – or something to see along the way?

The sun is up… Time to begin again. 🙂

 

I’m sipping my coffee and staring at a blank page, waiting for my brain to kick in with actual thoughts. So far… nothing. It’s not a lack of thoughts lurking in the background waiting their turn to be given a moment, or a lack of living metaphors, or whimsy. There is surely no shortage of photographs of this and that, out and about, useful for illustrating some point…or just being a lovely image or image of a lovely moment. Quite the opposite; my head is full of things to do, thoughts, notions, observations, yearnings, fleeting illustrative imaginings, and some of the best poetry I’ve never written, too… It’s a noisy mess in here, and frankly some tidying up is in order!

I slept well last night and rested deeply. I even ‘slept in’ some, having not set the alarm and waking at the time my eyes were most inclined to open and face the day (still quite early in the morning, sun not yet up). But what is there to say about sleep, besides noting the obvious value in being well-rested? Certainly it is worth taking the time to go to bed early enough to get a needed night’s sleep; no late night programming is truly worth passing up sleep. I’ve already used more words than needed on the topic of sleeping. Waking well-rested is an excellent start to any day that may have verbs in it. 🙂

There’s the thing, right? There are so many verbs from which to choose! I could meditate – and tidy up the mess within. I could do some housekeeping and tidy up the mess that surrounds me (it is limited to my studio, and is both inconvenient, and an impediment to working creatively). I could finish getting moved in – which tends to have a tidying up effect both internally and externally (it’s just that sort of process). I could ‘mix it up’ and spend some measure of time on a variety of tasks, ‘getting ahead on things’ in a more generalized way. I could choose to do something less obviously useful, like going for a long hike, or having an at-home “spa day” and really taking care of me on a whole other level, or spending the day bird-watching from my patio, or catching up on my studies by reading (and finishing) one or two exceptional reading selections I’ve been finding highly useful and haven’t yet finished… The point I am making (for me as much as anyone else) is that there is a fairly large variety of verbs I can choose from – in most any moment, on nearly any day – and the day is only begun. I am unlikely to make ‘relaxing’ and ‘sipping coffee’ last for the whole of the day, and not only are there more hours ahead of me (as far as I know) there is ever so much more to be done…

It’s down to choices. Choices and verbs.

I sit awhile, sipping my coffee and looking at those words, “choices and verbs”, and giving myself time to consider my choices and the verbs required more fully. I open my “to do list” and my “list of things” (which is a willy-nilly ‘as it came to me’ unsorted vast sort of list of all the many things I might like to have or ‘need to get’ to improve my day-to-day quality of life, or to resolve some small household issue or another), and make an addition here or there. I continue to sip my coffee. I consolidate the two lists into one, for convenience. I continue to consider the options – and the opportunities. As I review the list, add to it, and remove items that have been completed, I find myself feeling more organized, more aware, and less at loose ends. I feel more purposeful, and more mindful of my long-term needs. I remove some things from the list that are no longer relevant; needs and plans change. Change is. This individual day facing me in this moment is mostly unaffected by the changes I make to my lists, but I feel more organized, more clear-headed, and more present in this moment, being less burdened by the lack of ‘sense of direction’ that had occurred as planning broke down in the face of change. Change is – that much is entirely unavoidable, and fighting it is an unworthy use of precious limited life force, particularly when harnessing the power of change can be such a powerful ally on a much longer journey.

It’s still about choices and verbs, and my coffee is down to one last, cold, sip. It is a rainy day beyond the window, and the sun is apparently giving all the light and warmth it can. The gray rainy day nudges me in the direction of indoor choices, limiting the list just a bit. It’s still plenty to choose from. I pause, and notice a serious omission from my list, and make a point to add it… “Enjoy the day and take care of me.” I smile. I’m eager to check that one off every day, and recognize the value in making it a priority, and taking the time to fulfill my obligations to myself.

...Making a list... checking it twice...

…Making a list… checking it twice…

Choices. Verbs. The day won’t wait for me to keep up… Today is a good day to embrace change, and to take care of me… I’ve got a list, and I know how to use it. 😉

 

This is a busy week. Doctor’s appointments, work, life, errands, decisions, choices, practices – and love – it’s a very busy week, indeed. Some of my appointments will bring me face to face with long-time concerns, some will require emotional presence – and emotional work. Work and life and errands and all the things that feel urgent or important or necessary may result in some stress to be managed. The love will be there, in background supporting me, in the foreground as something to be nurtured and invested in with good choices, consideration, and some verbs. I am a bit pre-occupied, particularly with the doctor’s appointments, and while I am hopeful that results may lead to quality of life improvements and a reduction in day-to-day pain… I don’t know what the outcome will be, really. I have questions.

I have rather a lot of questions. Maybe this queuing up of questions is more to do with any perceived feeling of being busy than all the things I am feeling busy with? Today seems a good day to ask questions. I can get on with answering them another time…any time. Some of them may not need answers at all – funny how some of the questions we ask work that way.

I list a bunch of questions. I mean seriously – a lot. Then I realize it really comes down to just a handful of questions that mostly cover it all.

What do I really want out of life from this perspective? Am I making the choices I need to in order to head in that direction? Am I willing to make different choices, or take greater risks? Do I have a good understanding of what my choices really are, and what the outcomes may be? Have I considered how each possible choice affects other areas of life – and people who matter most to me?

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

I “come up for air”, returning to this present moment, reminded how very ‘now’ life really is, as I consider questions that look forward. I missed two important [for me] questions…

What is enough?

Am I okay right now?

Isn't it enough to find balance?

Isn’t it enough to find balance?

Today is more about questions than answers. I am okay right now. Answering the others needn’t be rushed.