My name is Linda. I turned 50 years old this past February. I have nothing and yet I have everything, and still I want more.
That’s an odd place to be at my age, I think. It’s definitely not where I expected to be at this point in my life.
I expected to be happily married, with a wonderful loving family, and a fantastic career, with lots of money in the bank, planning my next worldly adventure.
Instead, I am living with a man that I truly adore, who runs terrorized from the room when the word marriage is mentioned. I have 2 adult children who don’t like each other, one of who is living with us. My man has 2 semi-adult children, both in college, who don’t like my two children, and the feelings seem to go both ways. I have a house over an hour away that I am trying to rehab and it’s taking me much longer than I ever anticipated. I am currently unemployed, searching for a job that is creative and one that I will love for the rest of my working life. The only money I can claim as my own is about $400 in stock, that if cashed in would only be a droplet in the sea of my overwhelming debts.
So that is my nothing.
I have my health, a little dented for the wear I’ve put on it. I have my mind, that is still cranking out creative thoughts every day. I have my positive outlook on life. I have my man, who loves me, and lets me wander aimlessly looking for what ever will make me happy. I have my children, who love me. I have a grandson who is the sparkle of my world. I have a huge extended family that I love and if nothing else adds lots of entertainment to my life. I have a life full of happiness and opportunity.
So that is my everything.
I have been a huge fan of self help books since I discovered them 30 + years ago. My nephew’s wife once saw my bookshelves full of these books and told him she was very sad for me. She felt I must be very unhappy to need to read so many of these books.
Au contraire! I am very happy. I have read these books, because they give me incite in to how successful people believe they became successful.
I may have been around for 50 years, but I am far from an expert at this thing we call living. I am open to the idea that maybe somebody else out there may have found a better, easier, way to live it.
So after 30 years of studying this topic I have come to the conclusion that the answer is discipline.
Not the nazi, goose stepping, rigid kind of discipline that may come to mind.
Once when I was 8 or 9 years old, I decided that I wanted to organize my day. So I wrote down everything I wanted to do that day, along with the hour of the day and the allotted amount of time I would give to that activity. Right down to how much time I would play in the sand box and swing on the swing set. (Franklin Covey eat your heart out!) By about 2 in the afternoon, I was feeling quite restricted, and a little pouty, over not being able to do what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it, and for the amount of time I would enjoy doing it.
That was my first real experience with self regulated discipline. Kind of sad really, because to this day, I feel restricted every time I set a specific schedule for myself.
I need a more generous, loving discipline. One that allows me to feel the ebb a flow of my life, my moods, my health.
I once saw a movie in which a Japanese man prepared for tea. Every move was choreographed with a gentle, purposeful flow. Nothing was rushed. It was almost ritualistic. Every movement, every moment, was lived, not glossed over. That to me, is what discipline is.
The root word for discipline is disciple. I want to become a disciple of my own life.
There is a quote that is attributed to William James that I love. “To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.
I have always interpreted this to mean something along the lines of go big or go home. Correspondingly, any changes I have tried to make in my life have always been big.
One time I signed up for this service that would help me to meet my goals. I would set my goals and then once a week I would have a telephone review session on my accomplishments of the previous week.
One of my goals was to be able to drink one gallon of water a day. This is supposed to be a healthy amount. So I tried drinking this amount for 3 weeks and never reached that amount. Every week I would have to tell my reviewer that I had failed, once again. Finally, she asked me, “Why aren’t you doing this?” The implication being, “It’s one of your goals, just do it.” (Thank you, Nike!)
I am not a drinker, of water or any other liquid. I am a sipper. I can make 8 ounces of anything last 8 hours or more. If I drink large quantities of anything quickly, my stomach, isn’t happy and I feel, well...yucky. Trying to drink a gallon of water, after drinking next to nothing, made me feel as if I were drowning. Who likes that feeling?
Here’s what I have determined. The whole go big or go home mantra is crap. It’s not in our nature as humans.
We are creatures of habits. Whether the habits are good or bad for us we stick to them, because it’s tough for us to change them. We get comfortable in our routines, and changing them is stressful for us.
On the other hand this doesn’t mean I am stuck in my own mire of unsuccessful habits until the bitter end. I plan to live to 102, so that is way too long for me to hang on to useless behaviors.
So I have a plan. My mother says that if we do a little bit of work every day toward a big project, it makes it easy and only takes a little bit of time. (Or something like that; she’s my Mom, so I do tune her out quite a bit, but that the gist of it anyway.)
I am going to make a list of 365 little things I can do each day, to improve how I am living my life.
I am going to add one thing from this list to my daily routine...so by the end of a year I will be doing 365 things differently than I am today.
I am going to be gentle with myself. I am not going to add drinking a gallon of water to my day, tomorrow. But I may add drinking an ounce of water, and then a few days later, I may take it up to 2 ounces...I am not going to drown myself this time.
As William James suggests: I am going to start immediately, and I am doing it flamboyantly.
Day one: Blog every day.
Can’t get much more flamboyant that putting my life onto the internet, can I?
If you are out there reading this and would like to give me your supporting thoughts and comments, please feel free to do so.