Present Tense

A new day….everyday

I was informed by my sister that my last post was a little too maudlin and that I needed to perk up and be a tad less morose.  We lovingly refer to her as ‘the general’ and so when she speaks, I listen.  She’s a middle child, as is my husband and they are known for looking out for everyone else in the family.  As a youngest child, I am somewhat self-absorbed, although I do have that youngest child charisma and “march to a different drummer’ thing going for me.

So, how do you drag yourself out of the doldrums or bad habits or a case of the blues? Do you have strategies?  One of the first things that I do is get myself right, physically.  A routine is key for me, particularly since I’ve spent most of the last 3 decades getting up in the middle of the night to do a morning radio show.  It requires a fair amount of discipline just to get out of bed and then a regimented plan for the rest of the day in order to ensure that I’m functional.

My approach is quite basic and the foundation is diet.  If you haven’t read Michael Pollan’s bestseller, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto”, get a copy and read it….today. It’ll change the way you look at food and your diet and what you think is ‘conventional wisdom’.  Our diets and eating habits are crap in this country and I’m convinced it’s the biggest health issue of our time.  The government and the food and farming industries have colluded to addict us to lousy, unhealthy food. Obesity and obesity-related disease is an epidemic, as are emotional afflictions.  The foundation of good physical and emotional health is what you eat.  Period.

I’ve also been following Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint” and his website, which is basically a less-restrictive Paleo diet.  I started eating this way to see if it would help alleviate the horrible, miserable allergy symptoms that have ruined the past 3 summers for me.  So far, allergy symptoms are minor, I’ve lost all cravings for junk food, I am slimmer and have developed much more muscle tone.

I do 25 minutes of yoga every morning and 20 minutes of meditation in the evening. I do a bit of weight training most days and I walk a few miles everyday. Sharing a house with two rowdy Jack Russell Terriers ensures that we never miss a walk.

My point is this:  we all go through phases where things just aren’t clicking in our lives.  Many times, it’s based on our unproductive or unhealthy reactions to things that are out of our control.  It can be health issues or family issues or work issues or money issues or political issues or blah, blah, blah. We can always find something to hang our depression and disappointment on.  Particularly, if you are like me and have a tendency to focus on those gnarly things in your life, rather than the good stuff.

Look, for some of us, being happy or content or grateful is hard.  It takes work and discipline and commitment.  We allow daily stresses to run our lives, which is unhealthy and it compounds the problem.  I know it’s so much easier to come home, pour a few glasses of wine and veg on the couch to a lousy TV show.  I get it.  But, tell me how you feel after that?  Invigorated?  Inspired? Content?  Strong?  Doubtful.  You drag yourself off to bed and do it again the next day.

I’m far from perfect.  Any of you who’ve read just a few of my posts know that.  But, if I didn’t make these commitments to my physical well-being I’m convinced that my emotional health would be in shambles.  We get a new shot at our lives every single day; it’s a string of new starts and new opportunities to alter our behavior and our mindset.  Yeah, it’s hard to change old habits.  It’s hard to change your diet.  It’s hard to turn off the TV or the computer and move after a long day.  I get it.  But, you have to.  Simple as that.

One more thing:  you have to feed your soul.  What stirs you emotionally?  Art, music, dance, nature, great books, playing, learning, cooking healthy meals, volunteering, writing.  Find some time everyday for these things.  Again, it’s simple:  diet, exercise, feed your soul.  Start now.

May 19, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Reset, reboot….reject

resetWhat if we all had a reset button? Maybe in the middle of our forehead or more subtly placed behind our ear. You wouldn’t want to press it too often; maybe never.  But if you did, you would go back to your default settings.  Back to before you screwed up.  We could go back to how we were as children.

Imagine that.   No bias, no guilt, no pre-conceptions, nothing.  Just a clean slate.  I kind of like that idea.  I like it even though I’ve often proclaimed that everything that I’ve done in my life has gotten me to this very moment; lessons learned, mistakes made, success achieved, along with pain, guilt, and failure.  We are all the jumbled events of our lives and our choices and sometimes that results in a lot of unhappiness, doesn’t it?

Or maybe that’s just me.  I’m trying mightily to expunge the demons of my past.  Alcoholism and the pain and mistrust that it infused into my relationships are central to my struggle. So much from that part of my life still dogs me, even though I hope that I’ve put it behind me.  But, you never can because people don’t forget.  I don’t forget.  I can’t.

So, there are times that I’d like to jab that reset button and make it all go away.  To open my eyes after my reboot to a fresh slate.  To see things for the first time, the way a child does.  With amazement and curiosity and freshness.  No reflexive defense mechanisms, no automatic responses to anxiety or insecurity, no fear of being hurt or burned or rejected, no manic need to try and control the world and make it bend to my needs and will.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  But, life on earth means that we are forced to carry the burdens we’ve wrought and of course, to celebrate the goodness and happiness we’ve achieved. The reset erases everything good, bad or inconsequential.  So, most of us wouldn’t want to sacrifice the good stuff to get rid of the bad.  Some of us might consider it, though.

I mentioned my idea to my husband and he was unequivocal, “no, all that stuff has made me who I am”.  He’s right, but there are times when some of us aren’t too keen on ‘who we are’.  I look at who I was as a child and who I am today and I marvel at the stuff that seems to have glommed onto my psyche and has made me so different from the 5 year-old me.  Or the 10 year-old or 15 year-old, for that matter.  Let’s not mention the 25 year-old.  She is dead to me.

These experiences are like barnacles on a rock; after awhile, you can’t see the rock.  It becomes covered and misshapen and completely overtaken by the foreign organisms. The rock is no more.  But, it’s under there just like our essence or soul is there, buried underneath our life experiences.

So, how to break off the barnacles? How to re-emerge as the fresh, open, trustful, happy, innocent, loving, curious ‘me’?  I’m not sure, but I do know that it’s a process and it takes time.  I feel like I’ve at least recognized that I’m covered in barnacles and maybe I’ve been able to slough a few off with introspection, time and a little counseling.  The process continues and I guess we all have to reach a point where we just live with our past.  We acknowledge that being human, means screwing up.

The Buddhists say that as humans, we are born to suffer.  It’s unavoidable and so we must learn to deal with it, regardless of whether it’s self-imposed by bad choices and behavior or is dropped onto us by other suffering humans.  Being born means we need to expect it, accept it and do what we can to lessen our own pain and the pain of others.  Rather than push away the discomfort, swim in it, observe it, feel it deeply.  The alternative is probably not as healthy, particularly if it involves drugs, alcohol, food or other self-medicating behavior.

So, no reset button.  We all have to live with our choices, even though a lot of them suck.  Here’s to moving forward with better choices, eh?

May 13, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , | 7 Comments


I think I found a cure for the restlessness that I’ve written about over the past few months.  It’s a 10 acre farm in Northern Michigan.  Kind of drastic I know but, it’s done the trick; I’m no longer restless, I’m frantic.

The zen-like calm and ‘letting it go’ philosophy that I’ve been carefully cultivating has crumbled over the past few weeks.  I won’t completely bore you with a long story, but once I saw this beautiful property I had to have it and that’s when it took an ugly turn.  I obsessed about the price, about the location, about the neighbor next door, about an easement into the property, about how I could make it MINE, MINE, MINE!!!!!

I analyzed, over-analyzed, called an attorney, drove my realtor nuts with questions and demands and this was all before we made an offer.  Once the offer was made, we were told that someone else had also stepped up and since this was a bank-owned property, we’d have to come up with a ‘last, best offer’.  This was it: how bad did I really want it?

More obsessing, more phone calls to my real estate broker friends, more pouring over our finances and investments, more calls to my mortgage broker and banker.  Gotta get this perfect property.  So, we made our last, best offer:  full price, cash, no contingencies.  High risk, high reward;  it was exhilarating and scary.  I have to admit, the full-contact competitor in me kind of enjoyed it.

Our offer was accepted (YAY!) but unfortunately, that has resulted in even more bad behavior for the past two weeks.  I’ve lost weight, I can’t sleep, I’m driving people at various banks crazy with my push to GET THIS DONE!   We’ve been packing up stuff in our current house to take to the second house that we don’t even technically own yet and the move won’t occur until late June.  That’s right:  I MUST HAVE ACTION!

So, let’s get to the point of this story:  I’ve spent two years scrubbing this kind of thinking and behavior out of my life.  Writing, meditation, yoga, turning things over to the cosmos and suddenly, within a couple of weeks, I’m right back where I was:  In full-blown control freak mode.  It’s absolutely exhausting.  Sound familiar, fellow control freaks?

I’ve learned that if you just let life evolve, it all works out; maybe not in MY time frame or in the perfectly logical way that I envision it in my mind at 2 a.m., but life does tend to just unfold, if we let it.  I broke my own rules and I’ve been miserable for a couple of weeks.  It feels like trying to pull a very heavy load up a slippery slope of gravel.  Gravity and the universe are telling me to go around the hill, even though it might take a little more time and patience because in the end it’s much easier; much less hard work.

So, this weekend, I’m chillin’.  The loan will get done when it gets done; the closing will happen and in two months none of this angst will have made one iota of difference.   If I’m philosophical about it, this experience is a microcosm of our lives.  It’s a process that unfolds every second, where infinite numbers of people and circumstance affect little old me and there is really not a whole lot that I can control in that process.  I can control me and my reactions…period.

Did I mention the farm is across the street from a lake? And that it has an apple orchard and that it’s 1500 miles from where we live?   Breathe, Jane…..breeeeaaathe.

May 5, 2012 Posted by | Musings | 7 Comments


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