Let Go Of The Checklist

Dear Readers,

I have been wrestling with this for a while now and thought it might add value to your life if I shared that struggle with you.

How many of us have a checklist? I don’t mean a to-do list. I mean a life checklist.. Yours might look different but here is a few of my “checklist items” that I have been discussing and other friends have been kind enough to share.

Finish College

Get Married

Have a Baby

Get a job that feels like a vacation

Get over the fact that my family of origin leaves much to be desired

Win an Oscar

Get out of debt

Win a Grammy

Run a marathon

Moving to a new city 

Okay so there are a few problems with a check list – One you feel hemmed in by it.. like that box waiting for the check is alone and chanting at you, “Jennifer, you aren’t done with me yet., when are you going to win that Oscar? Why are you still in school? Why haven’t you had a baby yet? and it all sounds like noise till you realize that this is self-imposed.. No one gave you a checklist.. you wrote it up and are being bound to something that is completely 100% of your doing. Two, its usually too long. There is a finite amount of time you get so a reminder that you should focus on what is truly important is not out of line, I think.

I am not saying goals are not important. They are, but I think its worth examining our expectations and getting them more aligned with reality so as to avoid disappointment.

Case in point, I wanted to run a 1/2 marathon this year. I planned to do it and was excited and scared at the prospect. I decided in March (after running 10 miles) that I could do it. For those that don’t know a half marathon is 13.1 miles which sounds really daunting when viewed that way. Well, as you might imagine, I started to try break this into baby steps. (run a 5K in September) and then do a half marathon by January.. well life (as it so often does) intervened. I pulled my back out of joint in May (but kept stubbornly on running even though I was in pain) and didn’t actually acknowledge how much it hurt until June so went to see a doctor and got muscle relaxers and the orders not to run.. but I could still walk.  On doctors orders, I had to give up running. I could have walked but found myself so depressed I didn’t even want to do that so for a month and a half I didn’t walk, and ate lots of junk food trying to feel better but it wasn’t until last week that I worked out again. So, what has this to do with the checklist idea?

I need to let it go! I may run a marathon but I need to heal my body first and I have to let got of the checklist because it is going to look different than I thought. That is not a bad thing. One of my original checklist goals was to marry in 1999 and had I married the person I was with then, my life would look much different than it does now.

The Checklist can be a help but I find sometimes it can really hurt you to keep comparing yourself to your goals and finding yourself lacking. Progress, not perfection!

Think about it…

“My mom makes the greatest cakeballs!”

My cake balls are important. I don’t make them often, and especially now that we are doing paleo 95.4% (yep I did the math) of the time cake balls are usually not on the menu. So it is special when I make them and my husband is always telling me how good they are. I love that man.

This is what I hope my kid will say one day because I will make cakeballs and he or she will bring them to school for the bake sale or some other such moment. For now, I can make them for my nieces and nephews when they ask and that makes me smile. I hope they will ask (but in case they don’t) I will post it here–

Future Son or Daughter:”How did you learn to make such great cake balls, Mom?”

I will smile wistfully and say, “Your Aunt Alexandra taught me”

I may or may not choose to tell them that I didn’t know how to cook until I turned 32 and this was the start of that….  (will depend on my mood) You can’t really plan these things.. but I digress.. back to the present day–

I made some for my team today and I could feel a real lift in the general “mood” of the day.. I mean who doesn’t like cake.. which got me thinking……

If I feel that good about making something for my team, how much better is it going to be to do it for my own flesh and blood? So this is sort of a nod to the future me, no, I am not pregnant, thanks for asking! but I did send a copy of this post to http://futureme.org/ (which lets you send an email to your future self one month or many years into the future which I think is awesome..) Think how vastly changed your perspective changes in just one year, and then five and so on… How valuable will that email be ? I think that it is very easy to get short-sighted and just focus on what things look like RIGHT NOW and get tunnel vision but if you look carefully and shift that kaleidoscope a little, you get a different view and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Think about it…

It’s not hard after it’s done- she says… 10 MILES LATER!!!

Dear Readers,

On Sunday, I ran a 10 mile race. It was harder than I thought and easier than I thought. It should be noted that like so many other things in life this is a baby step of many to get me to that marathon status which is down the road for me.

First of all, I should clarify something, up till Sunday, I had only done 5K’s but after Sunday, I have now done a 15K!!!!!!

a brief recap

Vern’s No Frills- January 18, 2014

Biggest Loser- March 29, 2014

Color Run- May 24, 2014

Casa 5K-September 21, 2014

Holiday 5K Zilker- December 6, 2014

Austin 1020- 10 Mile Run Walk– March 29, 2015

That is 6 different events spanned over several months.. but its worth mentioning that each time I ran (this weekend being no exception) it was different– Vern’s No Frills was crazy cold and and we walked more than we ran but, baby steps. The Biggest Loser was great weather and the run went really well, my partner Susie said she had NEVER seen me run that fast. The Color Run was a LOT of walking.. I just wasn’t in shape for that one.. It was tagged as a FUN run and that was more about me getting out of my comfort zone (see I hate being messy) than a run… CASA was crazy hot and the worst race conditions.. but it was my husband’s first run and super fun to have him there along with Jessica and Adam, Susie, Keely, Michael and CJ.. our team also raised a lot of money for CASA so it was lucrative in other ways. Holiday 5K was actually a 3K but I kept going to make it a full 5K, wasn’t ready for that one either and it was a pretty rough “trail run” and at night.. won’t be doing that again.

So, 10 miles — what can I say about that.. First, I found myself thinking pretty nasty thoughts about the runners ahead of me when I was on mile 4 and they were on mile 8…. ( I think its pretty natural to hate the runner ahead of you sorry but its true… ) Second, the people behind me, I felt pretty good I was ahead of them but was working on keeping myself motiviated.  Flashback to before the race, you know how when a big event is looming and you go back and forth between looking forward to it and dreading it/ getting nervous about it? What do you do about that?

I employed several devices. I asked for support from all my “fans” on facebook and twitter and asked some people for some support and motivational messages. It is HARD for me to ask for help but I really needed it. The response was overwhelming. I had people post to support me that I don’t even know that well and tell me how much what I was doing was inspiring them. It really helped drive home the fact that one person really does make a difference. I also drank water and made the decision that while it would be slow (turtle trudging through mud) I would do it and finish. It wasn’t an option to stop and it wasn’t an option to quit.I also had Susie and Jessica who kept encouraging me through the weeks before the race that I could and would in fact do it.

As I say so often, because it is so true, It is allllllll about the baby steps-

I compare it to our debt-free journey. We have been doing lots of things to get debt-free but there are no short-cuts and slow, plodding, step by baby step, dollar by dollar, mile by mile we WILL get there. At one point during the race, I thought to myself it is funny, when you are in it, it doesn’t seem that hard, but before it you build up all this anticipation about how hard it is GOING to be. Mental note to self- Think less, do more. The person who got me through it when the going got hardest was Jessica, she had a running commentary about how I was getting my money’s worth by taking it slowly and not “racing” to the finish. She joined me at mile 4.2 to keep me going, support me and NOT LET ME QUIT. She told me she was proud of me throughout and it really helped to move me through it. At the last mile, (she went above and beyond by pretending to be a cheetah coming to “get” gazelle me (with sound effects) which helped me put some extra bounce in my final steps. As they say, you want to run to the finish, not walk.

JMac finishes 10 miles!
JMac finishes 10 miles!

I told her I wanted to finish by myself and I did. It FELT INCREDIBLE to take that last stride and finish. I feel extremely accomplished but its important to note, I did not do this alone. I had support and that made all the difference.

Think about it……… and go support someone’s goal today. And if you are pursuing a goal, ASK for help! Sometimes that one encouraging word, phone call, or note can make the difference.

Step outside your comfort zone.. its not as scary as you think!

Dear Readers,

I have signed up to do a 10 mile walk/run at the end of March and I am scared but I am doing it. Between now and then I need to run longer and faster but work myself up incrementally, I know that I can do it but it seems a daunting task at the moment. I got sick right after my birthday which impeded my progress but I am back on it now. I will work out tonight no matter how late it is or how tired I am when I get home. I know that sometimes you have to let that go and sleep instead of work out or sleep in instead of working earlier like you planned but there is also something to be said for accountability and the fact that I have told the 1087 of you following my blog that I will do it means that I have to.

A note about that, I started this blog 3 years ago and it astounds me that I have that many followers. Lots of people have a lot more and lots of people have a lot less. It’s not a measuring stick, but a factoid. If I am going to accomplish my goal of world domination it is nice to know I have that many people’s rapt attention.

I tell you this because I think it is very important we do things that scare us – To paraphrase the great director Baz Luhrman- “Do one thing every day that scares you” — I am not talking about crossing the street without looking both ways or purposely doing something you know will endanger you. I mean step up to do something that scares you because its “unfamiliar” and “unknown”. You will never truly know what you can accomplish until you try. If you don’t believe me, try it and see and then argue with me about how I was wrong. Even if you don’t succeed, you have lived a little more fully than you did the day before. We all hear those platitudes- “Seize the day” “Do one thing a day that scares you” but what do we really DO about it? Well I will tell you beyond the 10 mile walk run, I have volunteered to do a work presentation which may not seem scary but I have not done one before so I am scared and it represents a major step as well putting myself out there for an even bigger opportunity all in aid of getting to my Ted Talk.

It’s scary to type but there it is in black and white. Ted Talk, I will do a Ted Talk.

In the world of doing the baby steps I inquired and found out that you can’t even apply to give a Ted Talk till Summer 2016. I was disappointed, a big part of my “but I want it now” and the total impatience that does not go with delayed gratification but as my darling husband pointed out, this gives you time to be perfect. Well, if not perfect at least the most prepared. One more thing about that, I started realizing that if I have a long-term goal like that I need to go from that goal and work backward and develop a game plan for “getting there” much like my “steps to a marathon” coming up in March!

Think about it!

1. What represents stepping outside your comfort zone to you?

2. What is something you say that you want to do but never take any steps toward? (mine was learning French as an example)

Health is a gift…. Do not SQUANDER IT!

Dear Readers, Some of you may have noticed a post missing last week some of you may not have.. Well I was sick which really made me mad because I got a flu shot, am exercising, (not as much as a should) but exercising, drinking water.. getting enough sleep.. (well again not as much as I should) ah wait, I am beginning to see a pattern here.. are you?

There is nothing like a bout with sickness to make you appreciate health. We all know what we are SUPPOSED to do for good health.. but we don’t do it.

Get 8 hours a of sleep.

Drink 64oz of water day.

Eat good for you food.

Exercise.

So when I did a personal inventory I have to admit I was pretty lacking in all of these areas, so I am renewing that effort with a vengeance. I know, I know, its not always possible to get 8 hours, kids (kids sickness), work demands, life demands but try. I tell you what, just do one thing on the list. Hydrate more.. even if it is just one of the things. Exercise– Take the stairs once a day, and take them slowly but take them. Yes, the elevator is faster, but what is your hurry? It’s your life, ticking away one minute at a time. Don’t rush, take your time. Stop and smell those roses.

I see people around me dropping like flies so I fought the good fight, I drank orange juice and did all the things I do when I get sick but I truthfully think it was my body saying, ENOUGH! I will force you to take care of yourself and if this is the only way, SO BE IT.

Don’t let this happen to you, do something to embrace your health today, its a great gift we ALL take way too much for granted.

Think about it!

It’s all in how you look at it-

Dear Readers,

Roughly a year ago, I decided to buy a treadmill to take away my excuse to not workout and actually get in shape and be healthier. We already had the healthy eating thing going and were actively working on eliminating debt from our lives.

On Saturday I ran what turned out to be a 3K not a 5K but because my goal was a 5K, even though I saw the cheering fans and signs for beer and water I kept running till I got the 5K done. This sounds really inspiring and it is, but it took someone else saying it to me to get me to see it. Why is it that someone else has to say, “good job” or “Congratulations on that presentation” for us to recognize our worth?

So on Saturday, I walk/ran the 5th 5K I have done in a year. When I consider where I was this time last year, that is nothing short of amazing– a brief recap–

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. -Zig Ziglar

The first one was January 18, 2014 – Vern’s No Frill’s 5K- I walked more than I ran but I did run for a while and hey as the guy writing times down said, “last place is asleep”

Second 5K was “The Biggest Loser 5K” and I ran it and walked it with my good buddy Susie Gidseg- my time for that was a little shorter and I felt exhausted after it was said and done but very accomplished

Third 5K was the color run which I ran walked with Jessica, Adam and their son Pierce which represents just a lot of fun, but for me, I hate being dirty or messy so I was breaking past a comfort zone on this one so it was less about exercise and more about mess but came together to represent both–

The Fourth 5K was “CASA Superhero 5K which was a huge milestone because my husband decided to do that with me for his FIRST 5K ever so I actually walked it with him and we created a Team “Haston Helping Hands” to help raise money for CASA http://www.casaforchildren.org It was very hot and probably the hardest 5K I have been until the 5th one.. which just happened-

The Fifth 5K was the “Trail of Lights Fun Run” which I don’t know how I got the notion it was a 5K but it’s not. It was a 3K which I discovered much to my chagrin as I saw the signs for the finish line when the voice in my ear said, “3K completed” “2 to go” so that was frustrating, it was at night as well which made it very hard to see, I was worried I was going to fall down at any moment and it really became the struggle to find a place to run amid strollers, walkers and gawkers! (it is Trail of Lights after all, some of that I should have expected) but I will know better for next time-

At the end of the day, my takeaways from all these are they each represent a 5K that I have completed, I intend to (deep breath) eventually run a marathon but its still pretty far off but as my life of late (baby steps, baby steps) have been celebrating the small steps that we take as we walk nay run in the journey of life. I need to make sure I stop along the way to appreciate that which I wanted to do and worked towards and not keep looking ahead to “the next thing”… very easy to get discouraged doing that so this is my attempt to avoid negativity and be positive. It’s worth noting that this time last year (I checked my social media log) I wasn’t working out consistently and now I work out 3 times a week most of the time.

I could get down on myself for not being further down the track but I am choosing to focus instead on the fact that tomorrow is Workout Day 89 and I am going to keep at it, because every baby step I complete gets me closer to Mile 26.

Think about it! 5KTrailofLights

Baby Steps, young grasshopper, they will lead you to GOLD!

Dear Readers, I had a phenomenally successful acting class last night.

I have been in a 2 year program for acting with the Meissner method and this is the 2nd month of the 2nd year and last night things clicked .. but it was NOT magic. It was a series of habits done over and over and with precision that led to me acting “in spite of myself”. If you don’t know anything about Meissner, don’t feel bad, it’s not necessary for you to know it unless you take this class. I have had so much frustration, angst, and finally joy from this class and it has made me realize how passionate I am about being an artist from head to toe.

I am an actor. Period. Really. There used to be a “Yes, I am a an actor, but you know, not working right now or yes I am an actor with a sideways glance and a hint of not shame but a little bit of embarrassment because its hard to explain what you do when you are actor to people who aren’t actors. Not to generalize, but most people think acting is easy, I am here to tell you it is not  but the truth is, I am working harder than I have EVER worked and its wonderful. It’s hard, trying and soul-discovering work. I didn’t realize how many parallels there are to good acting and good living.. Let me explain. Since taking this class I have learned a few things about myself and I will bet they apply to you too.

1. Be patient with yourself and curious about others-

My acting teacher said this last year over and over and I didn’t really understand it but now I do. Being patient with yourself is the nicest thing you can do for yourself. Being curious about others allows you to learn about them and not judge them or if you judge them, figuring out why.

2. Baby steps yield you a harvest of gold.

Last night’s success was built on many baby steps of learning lines, doing character analysis, rehearsal, flubbing lines, being in the moment, really listening to my partner to hear what she was saying not just picking up cues making it real for myself.

3. You are not perfect, stop trying to be.

As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, this one still sucks. I want so much to be perfect or have the best scene but all I can do is show up and see what happens.

I think this is good life advice too, show up and see what happens.

Think about it…..