Well, that was fun. Not really.

I feel like I’ve dri­ven across the state, when I real­ly spent very lit­tle time in the car today—for an Atlantan.

We went to see Katie’s doc­tor, fill­ing out the inevitable “It’s Jan­u­ary!” paper­work. Do they think peo­ple always move from one Janau­ry to the next, or what? I mean, when we sign in, there’s a form that asks if there’s been any change in our con­tact infor­ma­tion or insur­ance, and we say “No,” unless the answer is “Yes,” in which case we ask for the forms so that we can update the records. Appar­ent­ly cur­rent admin­is­tra­tive thought is that clients can­not be trust­ed that far, so they make us do all the forms again every Jan­u­ary. In every office. Between me and Katie, that’s a lot of extra forms being filled out for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son.

We picked up pre­scrip­tions in two places. We dropped off pre­scrip­tions. We went to the bank. We dropped off a util­i­ty pay­ment to avoid the elec­tron­ic pay­ment fee. I know we did some­thing else, but my mind is gone.
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Poetry: Robert Frost

The Arm­ful
For every par­cel I stoop down to seize
I lose some oth­er off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slip­ping, bot­tles, buns,
Extremes too hard to com­pre­hend at once.
Yet noth­ing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best.
To keep their build­ing bal­anced at my breast.
I crouch down to pre­vent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the mid­dle of them all.
I had to drop the arm­ful in the road
And try to stack them in a bet­ter load.

By Robert Frost

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The Challenge and a challenge/invitation

A few days ago I referred to the Change Your Life Chal­lenge, but I didn’t real­ly explain much, as I was in a bit of a rush at the time. I’ve been so excit­ed about it, too, that some part of me thinks that of course every­body knows what it is!

Not so, sil­ly Cyn.

So let me back up, and explain a lit­tle more about WHY I want to do it, and why I’d think any of you would have any rea­son to plunk down mon­ey to do it, too.

Every morn­ing, no mat­ter what else my email brings, I know there’ll be an uplift­ing mes­sage from Brook Noel. I’m hon­est­ly not a big fan of most gener­ic affir­ma­tions or inspi­ra­tional newslet­ters, but some­how Brook’s dai­ly Good Morn­ings don’t annoy me. They avoid glurge, and I fre­quent­ly add her quotes and affir­ma­tions to my Pop­Up Wis­dom file.

I first “met” Brooke through her book, The Change Your Life Chal­lenge, which I found at a local book­store a few months ago. I learned that the book is actu­al­ly based on a suc­cess­ful online pro­gram, looked it up, and was intrigued. It promis­es to teach:

  • A step-by-step sys­tem for con­quer­ing clut­ter and keep­ing your home clean
  • How to recre­ate the din­ner hour and man­age meal­times
  • How to make time work for you —instead of against you
  • How to dis­cov­er and live by your core val­ues and beliefs
  • How to imple­ment the sim­plest “diet” in the world
  • The “key” to nev­er for­get­ting any­thing
  • How to improve your rela­tion­ships with the “5-Minute Mir­a­cle”
  • How to end pro­cras­ti­na­tion
  • How to imple­ment a bud­get and man­age your mon­ey
  • And much more!

I was wor­ried because of the “70 day” part, though. What busi­ness did I have sign­ing myself up for yet anoth­er cal­en­dar-bound thing that I’d end up hav­ing trou­ble with?

Well, I list­ed to Brooke’s pod­cast last Mon­day, and she hap­pened to say that if she could go back and change any­thing, she would reti­tle the pro­gram as “A 70 STEP Life Makeover Pro­gram” and toss out the idea of tying it to the cal­en­dar. For­ward motion is impor­tant, but mak­ing it fit your life is more impor­tant.

So yes, the Chal­lenge is very much doable for any­one, includ­ing those of us who have chron­ic ill­ness­es. It’ll be even more so in a small group of women who under­stand each other’s issues.

So here’s my chal­lenge: I’m going to begin the 70 Step Chal­lenge on July 15. I’ve set up a pri­vate group for any­one who joins up to do it with me. You’ll have all the nor­mal (exten­sive!) sup­port of the orga­ni­za­tion — there are thou­sands of peo­ple on her lists! — as well as a chance to build friend­ships with­in a small­er group of peo­ple in my group. We’ll do some chats, set up “bud­dies,” and use oth­er tech­niques to help each oth­er suc­ceed. We won’t get tied up in rush­ing through the chal­lenge as much as in work­ing it with a sense of bal­ance.

Won’t you join me? I’d love to get to know you bet­ter, and it’s always good to have more friends and a bet­ter sup­port net­work.

I’m tak­ing the Challenge.….are you?
Take the Change Your Life Chal­lenge:
A  70 Day Life Makeover Pro­gram for Women


If you join through this link, I’ll be informed and will invite you to the pri­vate sup­port group with­in 24 hours. I do hope to hear from you soon!

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The ManDiet

I have referred to The Man Diet sev­er­al times as some­thing I have done and rec­om­mend. After explain­ing it sev­er­al times, I’ve decid­ed to write it up here and just refer peo­ple to the arti­cle.

I call it the Man Diet, but that’s real­ly a mis­nomer. It should be an SO Diet or Rela­tion­ship Diet or some­thing like that. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well, so just take it as giv­en that I’m refer­ring to women, men or who­ev­er you would nor­mal­ly have romantic/sexual rela­tion­ships with.

There was a time when I went from one rela­tion­ship to the next. If I didn’t have one or more SOs, I felt incom­plete. I didn’t have incred­i­bly healthy rela­tion­ships, but I was sel­dom alone! I derived much of my self-esteem from being in rela­tion­ships with oth­ers.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that led to “set­tling” for peo­ple who didn’t real­ly meet the stan­dards I thought I want­ed in sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers, and often to accept­ing treat­ment that ranged from unpleas­ant to down­right abu­sive.

Right now, I do not tru­ly remem­ber what trig­gered the real­iza­tion that I’d nev­er have a tru­ly healthy rela­tion­ship if I felt that I absolute­ly had to have a rela­tion­ship with some­one oth­er than myself—that, in fact, cul­ti­vat­ing a healthy rela­tion­ship with myself, being com­plete in myself, was vital.

I didn’t think all that out so clear­ly at the begin­ning. I was just tired of the crap. I was tired of going from one rela­tion­ship to the next and hav­ing the same crap come up over and over again. I was tired of the mer­ry-go-round. I didn’t hon­est­ly count on hav­ing any more sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers. I just decid­ed that I was done. I swore off men for a year.

At the begin­ning of that peri­od, I felt anx­ious. I felt lone­ly. I felt more than a lit­tle des­per­ate, because hon­est­ly, I have nev­er been alone unless I chose to be that way. I’d spent my life using rela­tion­ships to avoid hav­ing to deal with my own issues in a deep way. If I hadn’t told sev­er­al friends what I was doing and asked them to help keep me hon­est, I don’t think I would have stuck with it.

In the next few months, I seemed to meet poten­tial SOs every time I turned around. It was tru­ly rain­ing men! That was dif­fi­cult. It was real­ly tempt­ing to just make a lit­tle excep­tion, because hey, he was just so nice! Or so smart, or fun­ny, or what­ev­er. But there’s noth­ing like true friends to kick your butt when you need it.

To be hon­est, I’ve nev­er had a prob­lem deal­ing with most prac­ti­cal things—balancing check­books, basic home repairs, even sim­ple auto main­te­nance. I didn’t need a man to take care of any of that. No, I looked to SOs to keep me com­pa­ny, to keep me occu­pied, to suck up lots of ener­gy. I felt beau­ti­ful because they said I was, because they want­ed to be with me.

So I found oth­er ways to use my time and my ener­gy. I went out with friends as friends. I devel­oped new friend­ships that were much bet­ter because I wasn’t putting any­thing into won­der­ing whether or not the rela­tion­ship would move into oth­er areas. If nobody else want­ed to go see a par­tic­u­lar music event, I went alone.

I final­ly faced up to some of the issues I was avoid­ing when most of my ener­gy was going into inter­ac­tions with an SO—like why did I need a man around to feel worth­while? Why did I accept treat­ment that I wouldn’t want any of my friends to accept—that I had, in fact, told oth­er peo­ple to walk away from? Why wasn’t I hold­ing out for the kind of per­son I want­ed? Hell, why hadn’t I sim­ply become the per­son I want­ed?

While I was real­ly count­ing the days at first, by the end of that year I didn’t even real­ized it was done. I didn’t think about it until a cou­ple of months lat­er when a friend men­tioned it. Hey, it was over! I real­ized that I didn’t feel an urge to run out and start any­thing new. I was just fine with being me, with­out a man.

I won’t pre­tend that I’m all past all of that stuff. It comes back at times, but not near­ly as strong­ly. It’s much eas­i­er to insist on the kind of treat­ment I deserve from an SO, because I don’t fear being alone. I can be alone, and be hap­py. Not a prob­lem.

I think spend­ing at least a year alone as a tru­ly inde­pen­dent adult is a good idea for absolute­ly any­one. If pos­si­ble, live alone. Be sole­ly respon­si­ble for your­self finan­cial­ly. Devel­op a healthy social life that has noth­ing to do with whether or not you have an SO. Do any­thing you’ve been putting off. Were you wait­ing to take a vaca­tion until you had some­one to go with? Go now. Go back to school. Change jobs. Vol­un­teer. Learn to dance. Just do it, and enjoy it.

Dur­ing that year, prac­tice celiba­cy. That means not only do you not have SOs, but you don’t have “friends with ben­e­fits” or one-night stands. Just be with your­self. Hon­or your­self. Love your­self. Treat your­self as you would some­one you tru­ly trea­sure.

Tell some­body what you’re doing. Tell peo­ple you can trust to help you con­tin­ue on to your goal. If some­one isn’t sup­port­ive, dis­tance your­self from that per­son. I don’t care if that per­son is an imme­di­ate fam­i­ly mem­ber. You need to main­tain bound­aries, and you don’t need any­one tear­ing you down. Seek out new friend­ships with peo­ple who are sup­port­ive.

It may take some peo­ple longer than a year to get past the “ohmigod I’m gonna get old and be ALONE!” pan­ic. That’s fine. Take what­ev­er time you need. I promise that you will be health­i­er and hap­pi­er for it. The world, and all the men and women in it, will still be there when you’re ready.

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