I just picked up two grocery bags full of icky litter!
I hate litter, but you know what whining about it does? NOTHING. (Unfortunately.) On the other hand, going out in the fresh air and doing a little dirty work? Well, it might not save the world, but it at least makes an immediate difference!
This post was made with the specific intent of encouraging you to also pick up litter. Even just one coffee cup missing from the landscape makes an improvement.
It goes without saying that I’m thankful the clocks went back this weekend. I am trying to do this early morning thing, and it was getting harder and harder getting up in the dark. The extra hour makes all of the difference when you are trying to force yourself out of bed and into being your best self. 🙂
The initial days following the roll back are always a little curious. You keep half-panicking, thinking that it’s later than it is. And then you get to relax. You’re ok. It’s 4:30. Not 5:30. Big difference. The body just gets so used to having its rituals at particular times. Even the change of an hour feels like enough to knock something in the primitive brain slightly askew.
Speaking of rituals, I have noticed that I’ve been developed another little, rather unwanted one. One I’m actually partaking in as I write this to you right now. You see, every evening, around 5:30 or 6 o’clock, I find myself craving a glass of red wine.
I feel the immediate need to clarify this. This craving is specifically for wine, and I drink a maximum of one-two glasses. You’ll never see me drinking a rum and coke, and I cannot imagine putting away a half case of beer. Just not my thing.
I also feel the need to tell you that I am not a “drink to get drunk” kind of person. Yes, in my younger years, I drank quite a bit more on weekends, and yes, I made some regrettable decisions. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten a little older, alcohol has lost most of its luster. Now, it’s more about the timing of it. About the flavour. About the rituals of creating and enjoying food, and how well they happen to pair with a glass of red wine.
I’m not interested in embarrassing myself, I suppose. Or in two-day hangovers, which seem to be how mine go. Not worth it to be sick, while my mind turns anxious circles over everything I said and did the night before.
I’m glad I don’t do that, but this post is about what drinking has become for me, and how it’s still managed to become…unsettling. I am uncomfortable with it, even if my drinking is not considered to be societally overboard.
I mean, I might be freaking myself out, but it’s practically an ingrained joke that women love wine. I am doing exactly what is expected. You can go to any home décor store and pick up cutesy little “wine-o-clock” signs and assorted other wine-themed crap. That stuff is very normal. Very accepted.
Just like how easily I accepted red wine into my life.
And why not? I had bought into the idea that it was healthy. Or at least…healthy-ish. An indulgence that the new, fitter version of myself was “allowed” to have. Besides, it’s kinda classy, right? A little goth? Somewhat European?
And now I’m seeing that I glamourized it too. It’s hardly something that marks one out as an intellectual or “special.” There are rows full of wine in every liquor store. Real exotic.
And, although I hate to admit it to myself, it’s not that healthy. Or, it’s healthy in the same way chocolate is healthy; in a tiny amount, and in a variety that probably doesn’t taste very good. I highly doubt that I get many health benefits from my hearty glass of cheap Cabernet sauvignon. Maybe I’m wrong, (please, prove me wrong!) but I don’t think so.
By my own logic, I feel like I should just see it as the “junk food” it clearly is and cut it. Like potato chips, or sleeves of Oreos…just keep it out of the house. Simple.
But when I’m driving home after work, I never crave extra cookies or mountains of pasta. I think about stopping off at the store for a bottle of wine.
And THAT’S what I don’t like that. I don’t like that there’s this little bug in my brain that reminds me about wine. As if that’s what’s important about my time at home. It makes me so uncomfortable that it’s causing me to examine my relationship with alcohol. Causing me to revisit those earlier held assumptions.
You know what? I can’t really find a bonus. I have no solid reason to drink red wine. It costs me money. It’s probably harming my health, at least a little, it’s a whole bunch of extra empty calories every time I pop a cork, and it’s probably making my mornings harder.
So…I guess I don’t drink anymore? I’ll let you know when/if the bug in my brain dies.
I had a nagging little thing going on in my life. I’m ashamed to say that I lived with it for a few weeks. Just a small, nagging little thing; something that needed to be done that I somehow couldn’t get myself around to doing.
You know how anxiety can make the slightly unfamiliar seem insurmountable. This thing was on my “To-Do” list, but I still managed to avoid it. In my case, my “nagging little thing” was a slow leak in the left rear tire of my car.
This is the kind of stuff that isn’t a big deal until it is. Obviously, I can’t go around with a flat tire, but it wasn’t flat. Just a little low. Inconvenient. The first time I noticed it, I buzzed by the gas station to put in some air. I have sensors on my tires, and I’ve had a slow leak before, so this part doesn’t intimidate me. (Due to prior tire experience, I know that in the time that it takes for me to say “one-one-thousand” slowly to myself as I inflate my tire, I gain about 20kp of pressure.)
I didn’t rush out and properly address the tire issue. Instead, I became even better at inflating my tire by feel. I can put in the air, hop back into the driver’s seat, turn the key to check the tire gauge on my dash, and be right where I want to be without overfilling, all in a matter of seconds.
So I just kept doing that. Every couple of days I had to make a date with an air hose to get my tire back up where it needed to be. Real cool.
So, why not just get it seen to right away? Like a sensible person? I could tell you that it’s because I work full-time, making it a bit of a hassle (true!), or I could say that I wasn’t keen on maybe having to buy a new tire (also true!), but mostly I was just procrastinating about having to do something mildly uncomfortable. I mean, to fix my tire, I had to take action. I would have to find a garage to look at my tire, find a time during which they could do that and not leave me stranded, physically drive to the garage (a place that I know shockingly little about), and then maybe buy a new tire. Car stuff is always a whole thing.
So I repeated the every-two-day tire-filling process ad nauseam. It almost became part of my routine.
Well, Friday morning I stopped for air at the gas station. Again. On my way to work. Again. I told a guy there that I was going to get my tire fixed or replaced over the weekend. I guess I only blurted it out because I felt awkward, knowing he had seen me come by for the exact same thing many times before.
Well, damn. That changed things a little. I might have had it on my ‘to-do’ list, but it’s different when you say something out loud, even to a stranger who probably doesn’t care about it one way or the other. Add in any accountability at all, even accidental, blurted accountability, and it changes the pressure in your mind.
I would recommend that all people with a “nagging little thing” build in some kind of accountability. It really lights a fire under your ass. Even if that fire is only there to convince you that you don’t want to have to go back on your word, or back to the hose at the gas station again, because now you’ll feel stupid.
Saturday I had some errands to run, and you know how crazy it gets driving around on Saturday afternoons! I wound up trying to turn left onto a main road at the height of traffic. When I realized the futility of this attempt, I changed tactics, indicated to turn right instead, and planned to use the next available street on my left as a way to turn around and join the flow of traffic in the opposite direction.
I turned right and headed up the road. I came into the next available turning lane on my left, and made my way onto a side street.
Right in front of a garage.
I mean, seriously, even I knew I would be silly to pass up this opportunity. Briefly, I imagined having to once again pull off the road during the Monday morning rush to inflate my tire. In front of that same gas station guy. Ugh. No thanks. Before I had a chance to convince myself that I was ‘too busy,’ or whatever, I pulled into the lot, headed for the reception desk and managed to get booked in for a couple of hours later.
I got my mom to come back out with me, and we actually turned car time into coffee and quality time together. Not half bad. We headed back to the garage together later, and…
It was only a dented rim! They knocked it back into place and everything was fine. I dropped it off and had my car back in a little over half an hour. No new tire required. Simple. Shoulda done it ages ago.
Have you also got a “nagging little thing”? If so,consider this your ass kick to make that call, book that appointment or take that next step. You’ll feel so much better when you do! Start by building a little accountability, (i.e. tell someone), and then take that action. It might be a whole lot easier than you expect!
Ok, before I say this, let’s just accept that this is a statement of fact, and it is NOT a complaint, ok?
This shit is hard.
I am still riding the ‘no-complaint’ train. I know, I know, it’s been a while. Today is day 3. Again. I have changed my bracelet since then, and yes, I still have to restart every few days. I changed the bracelet because the little string that I was wearing was too unnoticeable. It even fell off one day and it took me a little while to notice. Not very good for keeping it top of mind or giving the project importance. I still have to restart often because…this is me we’re talking about and I’ve got shit to say. 😉
But boy, I have really honed in on those triggers. It’s all pretty much like I was saying previously; the same old shit pisses me off, and a happy healthy, well-rested Jennnq doesn’t bitch very much at all. Subtract a little sleep and get me underfed, and I’m under my own personal little dark rain cloud. The little dark rain cloud overhead makes this bracelet thing that MUCH more challenging. I’m still here. I’m still working on it.
In other news, I am doing more with running again, or trying to. I have my sights set on finally running the “Hypothermic Half,” which is a half marathon race run here in Newfoundland. In February. So that’s 13.1 miles, in potentially icy, snowy, and definitely hilly conditions, while the good ol’ Newfoundland wind whips the snot outta ya. Sounds pretty badass to me!
It’s been a while since I have run more than a few miles, and a feel slow, and I need to kind of get back, you know? I hope to let you guys in on my progress. It’s going to take me a bit of goin’ to get myself from 3 plodding miles to 13 much faster ones. Let’s do this!
Lastly, I am working on a new project! I’m not going to tell you what it is yet, but I am excited! It’s going to be tied to this blog, and you shall be seeing evidence of it shortly. (Part of me is already mortified, and part of me can’t wait!) I do hope you like it!
It looks as though I will be fortunate enough to have this lesson last for a loooong time! It is…somewhat challenging to never complain.
I have finally arrived at day 3. Honestly, this is the furthest I have made it so far without having to reset. I have high hopes of making it to day 4.
Since this is going to take a while, once I finally get through with this, I might just have reprogrammed my brain. The repeated practice has already been more eye-opening than anticipated. I had assumed that my complaints would be extremely varied. About random stuff. Instead, I have found that they fall into a few main areas. Here are some typical things that might elicit an involuntary complaint, and have me switching over my bracelet in short order: a mild disagreement between my partner and I about how things should be done around the house, being a witness to poor driving during my commute, and any time I am feeling unsatisfied with myself.
Other than all of that crap, I’m golden. Clearly the solution is live alone in an isolated hut, doing nothing but eating salad, running, writing, singing, sleeping and practicing yoga. Problem solved.
Well, since that doesn’t exactly seem feasible right now, I suppose that I have to work with what life has given me. I can see that my complaints seem to spring from the places where I am rigid. The places where deviation is not desirable, and where I will protest a movement from the status quo. Interesting.
I know that I value needlessly rigid methods of organization. I can only load a dishwasher in neat lines. I believe that there is a “correct” way to fold towels. I read and follow laundry tags. I clean in a pattern. And then Jason comes along and he does things differently. And sometimes, I guess I resent that he has disrespected one of my precious systems. And, I don’t know, I suppose I wind up bitching because I take it personally. Game plan: Realize that everyone is different, and be more grateful that my partner is good at housework! Let go of what I can; the dishwasher isn’t personal.
As for driving, well…that’s obvious. I really value safe driving because I am an anxiety-bag and I really like not dying. It angers me when people are needlessly reckless, or they’re distracted, or they’re throwing coffee cups out the window. Ok. Logical enough not liking bad behaviour isn’t crazy. Buuuut, complaining about it doesn’t help either. Game plan: Maintain a positive attitude while driving. If I see someone doing something truly inappropriate on the road, I can do what I can to get their plate number and report them.
I also know that I am more likely to complain if I feel like I am not achieving my fitness goals, if I’ve slept in too much, if I’m wasting too much time, etc. I need to take care of myself to be in the right frame of mind to do this. Game Plan: Do my best to live my best life. When something goes wrong, forgive myself. Also, take the time to work through/acknowledge negative emotions. Meditation=Better than bitching.
Is this enough to get me through 21 days? I hope so! It’s at least got to be enough to get me to Day 4!
Full disclosure: I had to switch my bracelet over half a dozen times yesterday, so…today is my new Day 1! We’re off to an auspicious start! (That wasn’t a complaint, I swear!)
Actually, this is completely ok and somewhat expected. Proponents of this challenge, including Will Bowen himself insist that there is no shame in Day 1. Here’s a video of him doing/struggling with the challenge. (It’s only 3 minutes long!)
But still, having to switch it like, 6 times? Even I was a little surprised. I did notice that the complaints that surfaced were these bitchy little throw-away thoughts. They were grumpy impulse vocalizations about little things around the house, for the most part. So, at the very least, I would say that I am already becoming a little more aware. We will see if that awareness pays off today!
On a totally different note, Jason brought home a foldable craft table yesterday! I am very happy about this, because it gives me a space to set up my candle-making supplies in the basement! Candles are fun to make, but a they are a bit time-consuming (they must be left untouched for many hours while drying) and always a little messy. Up until now, my candle-making operations have been very limited. NOW I can definitely get a few going at once. Look at me, not taking over any kitchen counter space!
I am currently making a “Goddess” candle for myself. It contains scrap wax from the last one I had, and I think it’s turning out to be a bit of a smokey blue. I have zero complaints about that! (I use God and Goddess representation candles in my spiritual practice.)
Anyway, having a little time right now to do things like make candles and putter around the house should put me in a very positive frame of mind. Hopefully making it easier to cut out any and all complaints?
Either way, I am anxious to get the hot plate heated up and to get that second pour on the go! I can’t wait to get this one out of the mold and onto the altar.
Overall, I would have to say that I am grateful. How could I not feel fortunate? I am healthy and mostly happy. I have a partner who is also my friend. Things with the new house are going well. My teenage offspring and I continue to enjoy a good relationship. (That last bit is not something I take for granted. I am well-aware that not every parent has this!)
Yet, despite all of the light and love present in my life, I would have to say that I am an EXCELLENT complainer.
I am a sarcastic and critical over-thinker. I am extraordinarily capable of poking holes in things. Sometimes, those skills are actually great! I can take a piece of fiction and deconstruct it six ways from Sunday. It’s also good to have a grasp on the possible pitfalls and risks, which is something my mind goes to automatically. (In a group of friends, I tend to be the one nagging people to reapply sunscreen and make sure they’re hydrated!) But sometimes… sometimes it just turns into me being an anxiety-bag, and picking the whole world apart, only to wind up annoyed because it doesn’t come up to my exacting standards.
Useless complaining doesn’t help anyone. Although it may feel good in the moment, It doesn’t resolve the situation. It doesn’t endear you to the people around you either, and I feel like…sometimes, it can actually stress you out. If you allow yourself to ruminate in that energy, there is no way you’re going to be a positive person. I would reason that complaining a lot makes it harder to be happy.
I first heard about the 21-day no complaint challenge through productivity guru Tim Ferriss’ blog. Tim, in turn, had been influenced by Will Bowen, who is a minister, author and motivational speaker. He is the founder of the “Complaint Free” Movement. (You can find out lots more about that here.)
The idea is so simple; you wear a bracelet as a reminder on your wrist. Any time you complain, you switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start over again. Eventually, you succeed by surviving a full 21-days complaint-free.
SO SIMPLE. Yet…the challenge is obvious. I mean, I’m a positive-thinker, but…I don’t think I know ANYBODY who doesn’t complain, at least a little. Imagine how your mind would change if you never complained. I mean, talk about cultivating a positive mindset!
Suffice it to say, I can’t really see this particular challenge as anything but positive for an over-thinker like me.
To clarify, I know that sometimes what could considered “complaining” is actually useful. The classic example is ordering something in a restaurant and not getting what you wanted. In this instance, yes, you should (nicely) complain! The difference here is that the complaint is constructive. You deserve a meal that’s to your liking, and bringing the problem to someone’s attention allows it to be resolved. Constructive complaining, where steps can be taken to resolve a problem, is ok. The complaining that isn’t helpful would be complaining to pass the time, to shame someone else, to make yourself feel better, or to reaffirm a negative belief.
I suppose that I love a good challenge EVEN MORE than I love a good complaint-filled rant, so I’m going to take today as my DAY 1. I am not going to purchase a special bracelet from the website, but there are bracelets/packages available, and they appear to come with a variety of supports and extras. You can support the movement and get an official bracelet here: acomplaintfreeworld.org Instead, I am cheaping out, grabbing a magenta piece of string, and ta-da! a bracelet that I can easily wear without having to take it off at night.
I’ll be posting updates as I move seamlessly and easily toward my day 21. (Sarcasm is still ok!) Each vocalized complaint means that I have to start again.
The other day, I spoke to a wonderful, kind and gifted woman who lives all the way across the country from me. Despite the miles between us, she still managed to kick my ass. (In a good way!) It’s always an honour to speak with Donna, the incredible “Mountain Medium.” The fact that the universe works in mysterious ways is no shock to me. Donna and I met by chance, in Toronto as contestants on the set of Canada’s Smartest Person. (Just being on that show was a surreal experience…I really am grateful!) Anyway, Donna was on the show, and they were touting her as a professional medium. Of course I was fascinated, and we got to talking. Donna and I seem to have a fair bit in common, and so we’ve kept in touch. Recently, I had a few questions on my mind, and she very kindly agreed to lay out some cards for me. (Although she did warn me that her readings were more about what her clients NEEDED to hear versus what they WANTED to hear. Fair enough.) I wanted to ask her some very sort of “square” questions about planning for the future. It’s important life-stuff to be sure, but right away Donna and her cards saw right through me. She knew that I hadn’t written a creative word in months, and that my creative side was damn near ready to explode. She saw my urge to write as pent up and unfulfilled; kept eternally at bay by the commitments of work, family, housework, and fitness. I am a writer who doesn’t write. Donna and her cards took about two seconds to get to my root. She was adamant about my deep inner need to write RIGHT NOW. The trouble is, lately, it just hasn’t been a part of my days. “I have no time” I explained aloud to Donna, and perhaps, more so to myself. I heard how it sounded as I said it, too. Like an excuse. A committed writer would make the time. What the heck was wrong with me? Why was everything coming between me and this thing that I supposedly love? Somehow Donna and I got to the root of that as well: unrelenting perfectionism. I feel like if I write something, it must be at a very high standard, and that it must serve a purpose. Like, if writing was my day job, of COURSE I would do it, but it’s NOT my job right now. Beyond my lack of having any professional reason to write, on a personal level, I also feel like I “should” be writing a novel. Therefore, ANYTHING outside of novel-related ideas is likely to be pushed aside. Oh, and on the novel-writing front, I don’t really have all that many ideas! That’s a steady stream of little ideas coming in, and because I don’t think any of them are really any good, a big fat nothing going out. So yeah…my writing right now is at a total standstill. Writing doesn’t even have all that much to do with the questions I wanted to ask Donna. She just caught me out; my soul is sad, and I have to remember what happens when I neglect my creative side. If something inside of me is screaming that I need to write, then something about my current life must change. And here we are. I’m writing y’all something. It’s not up to some crazy-high standard, nor does it serve a huge purpose. It’s not even what I’d been planning to write next on this blog. (Then again, my grand plans are why I write ALMOST NOTHING.) I suppose this post is just a reminder that you really really need to do what you’re meant to do. You also need to be kind enough to yourself to not judge every attempt you make at it incredibly harshly. If you don’t follow your heart, your favourite sensitive souls will call you out, and you just might get cosmically bitchslapped. 🙂
Hopefully I’ll see you around these parts more often.