Flexibility and Habits

I have been learning a lot about habit formation lately. It seems like it may be the key for me in putting my self-care and healthy habits front and center. Although, it may not seem to make sense, I am learning that some flexibility is required when creating habits. Let me explain what I mean.

A couple of the habits I am working on are daily meditation and daily physical activity. When it comes to my meditation practice, it has come along pretty easily, this time. Past attempts have not been as successful. I believe this to what I have learned about habit formation.

From my understanding there are 3 main parts to a habit. The trigger, the habit, and the reward. The trigger is the thing that lets your subconscious know it is time to do the habit. The reward is what you get for preforming the habit. When it comes to my meditation habit, my trigger is when I wake up in the morning. I go to my designated meditation space, light my meditation candle (a reward) and mediate for 20 minutes. At the end of my mediation, I track my mediation in my Adidas running app. (Side note: I love this app, it will track all kinds of activities and allows for live tracking as well as manual entries.) Tracking my meditation in the app is my reward. From what I have learned instant rewards are best. If we have to wait too long for a reward our brains won’t associate them with the habit.

So where does flexibility fit in? In order to create a habit you must do it consistently. I can’t say, “I don’t feel well” or “conditions are not perfect”, I have to find a way to get it done. For example: when I travel for work, I do not have my designated space or my candle with me. I have to allow for flexibility in my practice. I meditate with out theses things.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs I am working towards running a 5k. I am using the C25K app from Zenlabs. I love this app! It works great. I prefer to run outside. The fresh air and beautiful scenery are a part of my reward for running. This past week it has been cold and icy. I have severe osteoporosis and can’t afford to slip and fall on the ice. This past week I had to do my running on a treadmill. Running on a treadmill and running outside are not even close to the same experience. I am dedicated to creating a habit of daily activity and training towards the more far off reward of running a 5k again. I have to allow for the flexibility of running inside on a treadmill some days.

Another thing I have learned about habits, is that they are easier when stacked, habit on top on habit. For example: trigger – I wake up, habit – mediation, habit – run or yoga, habit – shower, habit – brush teeth, and then it is time to go to work. By stacking habits I am gaining momentum from things that I am doing anyway. When I choose a hike as my daily activity, I can’t get that done in the morning before work. It has to wait till the workday is done. I can not benefit from my morning habit stack. In this way, I must also allow for flexibility that on the days I am going to hike, it will not happen at the same time as my running or yoga will.

What healthy or self-care activities would you like to add to your life? What existing habits could you stack them onto? Where can you see the need for flexibility and grace in you habit formation? What will you choose as rewards?

Thank you for reading my blog today! May you develop many helpful habits that support you taking care of yourself.

Books to learn more about habit formation:

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan

Hello Habits by Fumio Sasaki

Don’t Judge Yourself by Others

With today’s social media it is easy to see what is going on with friends, family, acquaintances, and even total strangers. It is so easy to look at what everyone else is doing and feel discouraged about your own progress. How we judge our progress, our life, our success, or our value needs to be compared only to what we did in the past up to now. If we are making progress by our own measures, against our own past performance, or even according to our own goals, then we are a success. We will always do better than some and not as well as others.

My husband and I joined a Spring Fling Trail Challenge. The goal is to hike 75 miles from March through May. With this there is a Facebook page for everyone to post and share their hikes. People all over the United States have been excitedly showing their progress. People are posting that they just did a “short” 4.5 mile hike. There are a lot of people who are sharing 7+ mile hikes. Some post only pictures and no mileage and still other are posting hikes just over a mile. It is easy to understand how those who are clocking shorter hikes could feel less successful than those who are marching away on much longer treks. In light of this the only person any of us should be comparing ourselves too, is ourself. It is the only true gauge of our progress or success.

What really matters for Marty and I is that we are getting outside and enjoying the beauty of nature. The challenge keeps us motivated to get out there. We are improving our bodies strength and endurance with each hiking trail we complete and we are getting to see some of the most beautiful scenery. The State Parks near us look very different in the snow, then they did in the bright light of summer. Slowly but surely we are making gains. In December we didn’t hiking. January we only did 3 hikes with less than 3 miles logged. February, we got out there 15 times for almost 20 miles. Now in March, 5 hikes has us just under 7.5 miles. We could compare ourselves to those individuals who have done in one hike, what it took us 5, or we could look at how much we have progressed since December and celebrate our success. We’ll celebrate us.

Another thing to look at, with all of this, is the amount of effort. A hike along a flat clear trail, is not the same as a hike with multiple elevation changes and rough terrain. This is true of all areas of your life where you may be making progress. Everyone is different and just looking at one aspect of something, like mileage, does not tell the whole story when it comes to effort put forth. If my goal was to cook a homemade lasagna dinner, that is great. Though there are many of things that play into this. Is homemade, to you, defined as putting it from the freezer into your oven at home? Is it using boxed noodles and sauce and assembling at home? Are you making the sauce by simmering it for hours? What about the noodles, homemade or store bought? Did you raise the meat and vegetables? You see that not all home cooked lasagna meals are created equal. Also, if I have been making lasagna for 30 years the effort for me will not be the same as someone who has only cooked a few things from scratch. This is why it is important to only judge your improvement based on yourself. Otherwise the comparison is just not fair. Have you seen the posts on social media of the cool looking cakes and then someone posts what theirs turned out like when they tried to make it? It wasn’t an apples to apples comparison because the original cake maker has likely made hundreds of cute cakes.

There will always be someone able to do more, have more, have a better life, be more fit, have a more seemingly glamorous career. It is important to remember the things we see on social media are snapshots in time. They do not tell us the whole story about someone else’s journey through life. Trying to compare our life against theirs is not fair to us or them. It is not a good measure of the progress we are making and have made. It does not help our happiness. A wise young woman shared with me that she decided to leave social media and since doing so she is so much happier. She is no longer inundated with everyones perfect appearing lives.

You are amazing! You make progress and grow everyday. Look at where you were last week, last month, 3 years ago! There may be areas of your life where you have lost some ground, but that is okay. It means there are areas of opportunity for improvement. What are the areas you want to improve? Take small bites at progress towards your outcomes, it makes for an easier time. Pick one area or maybe a few small areas, look realistically at where you are, were you have been and then where you want to go. Then set a realistic goal. For example, it is realistic that I can hike 75 miles between March first and the end of May. It would not be realistic for me to log 15 miles of hiking every weekend, although that is perfectly realistic for others. So your goal needs to fit you.

Know yourself, be true to yourself, and judge yourself on your own progress and no one else. Be proud of where you are, compared to where you have been. Set realistic goals for yourself. Remember that 3 steps forward and 2 steps back is still a step ahead of where you were. Slow and steady wins the race. You can do this. The only race that is worth it in the end is the race against your self. Your journey does not need to look like anyone else’s. Your journey is your journey. Be proud of your progress! Share it on social media if you like, because it is something to be proud of. Share and celebrate other peoples’ success! What a beautiful world it is when we all celebrate each other but not judge ourself against them. A rose and a daisy are both beautiful flowers. No point in comparing them. Just enjoy the beauty of each of them doing their own thing.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you have many successes to celebrate, that feel good to you. Your success is for you and you alone.

How Do You Eat an Elephant or (in this case) a Dinosaur?

**First Marty wanted to say no dinosaurs were hurt in the making of this blog or above picture.

A friend recently reached out to me because of a meme on Facebook that said, “Your diet is not only what you eat. It is what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang out with and the things you subject your mind and soul to. Always be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually, and physically.” It was from @aNewKindofHuman. The reason she contacted me was because this seemed so overwhelming to try and change all of these things at once. Of course being a wise woman, in her own right, she already knew the answer. “How do you eat an Elephant?” “One bite at a time”.

There are so many things in life that we can be doing to improve our life, bodies, minds, situation, performance, and ourselves. It can feel very overwhelming if we try and focus on them all at once. I am currently on a sabbatical from alcohol, working on 21 days to be complaint free, wanting to walk 10,000 steps a day, maintain a low sugar intake, intermittent fasting, and be a faithful pescatarian. On top of all that, I would like a daily yoga and mediation practice, to read more books, start running again, journal, return to my Toastmasters groups, blog more, volunteer more, offer online classes, and learn some new healing modalities. There are probably several other things I would like to do as well to improve myself and be the best ‘me’ I can be.  It is easy to see how quickly all this could be very overwhelming.

This is precisely the reason, when another friend with my best interest at heart, encouraged me to give up diet soda I told her not right now. I know, that the ways I am currently working on myself are enough for me right now. I cannot improve everything at once. I have to eat the elephant, one bite at a time. I can start to try to add a bit more water to my day, in hopes that it will replace some of the diet soda naturally, but to give up diet soda right now would increase the chances of failure. Not only failure in that but maybe some of my other initiatives as well. I do believe that soda is not good for me and in time I will stop, but today my mouth is full and I am not ready for the next bite.

Yes, what we put into our bodies, minds, and spirits does matter. Trying to be the best ‘us’ we can be is a very noble journey. It is important to continue to move forward, step by step, along our path. But, we are human. This is a human experience and we cannot strive for perfection all at once. It takes a slow, methodical approach. Just like walking across the street. You cannot jump over the street. You must cross it step by step. I am proud of you for the improvements you are making to your life. You should be proud of yourself too! Go ahead, it is okay, celebrate your successes! There will be time for more successes in the future.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you have many successes (big and small) to celebrate, as if by magic.

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters
Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board
Emy For House Twitter
Emy For House Facebook Page

How Are You Improving Yourself?

I am always trying different things to improve myself. Are you also obsessed with becoming the very best version of you? I have multiple ways that I am working on myself at any given time. Some are very successful; others take more effort and require that I try again and again. I often think about the goals I have set for myself. Which ones are realistic and which ones are more grandiose ideas.

Currently I am working on going 21 days complaint free. Despite the fact that I have been working on this for several weeks I am still on day one. But with this I am finding that I am becoming more aware of my complaining. I am finding that, depending on who I am around and what I am talking about, makes a huge difference in how many times I need to change my bracelet. To learn more about this, please read my blogs: Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining? and OMG! Read This Book! It will take you places you didn’t know you need to go. (An update on my Complaint Free Adventure)

It is the first of October as I write this and I am thinking of writing a blog every day in October, sounds like a great idea, right?! This maybe one of my more grandiose ideas for a couple reasons. Blogging everyday takes time and that is not always a luxury I possess. Another is that, Adventure Sister Emy and I make sure not to post blogs on the same day. This avoids overwhelming our readers and helps make sure both of our important messages are heard. But what would be realistic number for me? To write 20 blogs in October? That certainly seems reasonable and I can write them without posting them. Just save them for a day when I don’t have as much time but need a blog. Okay – that is “now” my goal for October.

Continuing to improve my health with intermittent fasting is another. Somedays I do better with this than others. It remains my goal to start eating somewhere between 10 and noon and complete my caloric intake for the day by 6pm. It is a worthwhile goal to me and I have lost somewhere between 10-20 lbs. doing so.  I remain horrible about keeping track of my weight but maybe that is not such a bad thing.

I’m also trying 28 days without having an alcoholic drink. I feel this is also a worthwhile goal. I like the way a glass of wine helps me relax and causes the stress of the day to role off my shoulders. I like the way I can decompress and the stress seems to melt away after a glass. Specifically, because of the way wine helps me not have to deal with my things, is precisely why 28 days without it is a great goal. To remind me that I don’t really need it and by working through the lessons of my day is really better for me.

Another goal I have is to start running again. I cannot say I am currently really working towards this goal… unless you count reading How to a Lose  Marathon by Joel Cohen. I keep planning to start training again but so far it is all just talk. I need to overcome the fear that my knee injury is permanent.

Doing a really great job at work is always a goal for me too. I want to continue to improve my skills at my job, learn more, and be more of an asset to my co-workers and boss. Sounds like a lofty goal perhaps but one I feel strongly about.

With all of these goals, I move forward little by little, step by step. I can make big strides in one, while the others may stay stagnate for a time. At other times I move all goals forward in someways. Of course I have many more goals than those listed here. I wanted to convey to you that it is “okay” when goals do not go according to our plan and that when it comes to being the best version of ourselves, we can work on several things at once.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you make progress on all you goals, as if by magic.

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters
Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board
Emy For House Twitter
Emy For House Facebook Page

Nature Will Always, ALWAYS Take Back What Is Hers

Have you ever noticed that when humans step away from things, Mother Nature is quick to say “Ok, I’ll take that back”. Sometimes she even takes it back before we might be ready to give it up. This thought has occurred to me several occasions over the last year or so. In the end, all that we think is ours, (including our bodies) will belong to Nature once again. IMG_1612

Have you seen where a store has closed and no-one has gone into the parking lot for awhile? It doesn’t take long before there is all kinds of green grass and weeds growing up through the blacktop. I tried to look up how long it would take for New York City to revert to nature if humans disappeared. The answer was not as easy as I thought it might be. Somethings would happen rather quickly like wildlife returning, vegetation growing up, and things starting to decompose. Within 10 years Nature would definitely have an eco-system functioning quite well within the city. Give it another 50 years, 100 years or 200 years  and it would be nothing more than ruins among the wilderness.

IMG_9435

Sometime the human race doesn’t even need to step back. Sometimes Mother Nature decides she wants something back and will force herself on a certain area until once again it is hers. Sometimes we can do something about this; like fill in a sink whole, rebuild after an earthquake, or divert water to another course. Other times there is nothing we do can to persuade the natural world to give us back what we “think” is ours. IMG_6458

When you really think about it, if Mother Earth decided that she was no longer going to tolerate us, and wanted to take back all that we think is ours, there is not a thing we can do to stop her. Have you been through a natural event? Hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake? Have you ever truly seen the power of nature? Have you been there when she swoops in fierce and angry? There is nothing we can do to stop her when she is like this? DSC_0231

Even when she is not full of turmoil and destruction, even when we think we are living in harmony with her, she is slowly taking back what is hers. It is only through our constant maintenance, presence, and a pushing back, that we maintain a delicate hold on our corners of the world.

So the next time you see a crack in the sidewalk filled with “weeds”,  an IMG_2702abandon building that is over run by vines, or the pigeons sitting on the head of your favorite statue; realize that this is Mother Nature. Patiently waiting for her opportunity to take back what was once hers, alone. Remember to thank her and offer her blessings for allowing us to coexist with her. Respect her and try your best to take care of her and the creatures that are part of her. Keep in mind that she could wipe us from the face of the earth at a moments notice, if she so chose to. Nature will always win in the end. She will always take back what is hers.

IMG_7998

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you easily and happily coexist with Nature, as if by magic.

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters
Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board
Emy For House Twitter
Emy For House Facebook Page