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Severine Should Start Listening...


Severine

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Hello! I'm Severine. I've been here for just over a year. I've had both successes and failures, and lately I've started to feel like they're cancelling each other out and the result is stagnation. It's why I took last challenge off and just did a battle log instead: I was messing up most of the challenges in a repeating pattern, stuck in a rut. I'm basically working on all the same fitness/health stuff I was working on last year. I don't like it and it's frustrating. And let me be honest: the problem is not lack of knowledge. The problem is not lack of time or equipment. The problem is follow-through, adherence, discipline, and persistence. The problem is me repeatedly making excuses and finding reasons not to do the stuff I know I need to do. 

 

The time away from challenges was helpful and I feel ready to tackle a challenge again. And the theme came to mind sort of by accident: something that keeps coming up in my threads is the fact that my grandma is a badass who I really love and respect despite her flaws, and many of my problems would be solved by listening to the things she used to tell me when I was a kid.

 

A recent picture of my mum and grandma. At the time they were 54 and 82:

Spoiler

zONZXSQ.jpg

 

My grandmother and I are extremely close - she basically raised me, and I lived with her instead of my mother for a long time. My childhood was complicated and the details aren't relevant here, but suffice it to say my grandmother was more like a mother to me, and my mother was more like an irresponsible older sister.

 

So what's the advice I need to follow? Well, my situation is that I know what I need to do and the problem is just bloody doing it. And here's what my grandma would say about that:

 

1. Cultivate Self-Command

Grandma is a big fan of what she calls self-command: "doing what needs to be done without stopping to think about whether you want to do it or not." My grandma had many years in her life when the question of what she wanted was not something she had the luxury of considering. It made her miserable sometimes, and she had some terrible coping mechanisms, but she always did what needed to be done. And I should be able to avoid misery and other bad side-effects, because my situation right now is so much more fortunate than hers was back then.

 

More than anything else right now, I need to cultivate self-command. I have found in the past that it's self-perpetuating, and various scientific studies have shown the same: we have a finite amount of willpower in a given day, but over time our pool of available willpower is something that increases with use. 

 

This means doing the things I know I need to do every day:

  • Exercise every day, even if it's just a half hour walk (1 POINT)
  • Morning routine (glass of water, stretching, Hobonichi) (1 POINT)
  • Track my food (1 POINT)

 

It also means tackling procrastination: every day I need to cross one thing off my to-do list. I get 1 POINT for doing anything on the list and 1 BONUS POINT if the thing I do is something I really don't feel like doing.

 

2. Reject the Victim Mentality

I remember so vividly when I was 13 and something really bad had just happened to the family, and I was pretty distraught. And my grandmother was consoling me in a very loving way. But then when she started to talk about me going back to school the next day I started to cry and said I couldn't. I said I could get a note and everyone would understand because of what had happened. And she said, "Oh yes, everyone would understand. But many times in your life you will have to choose whether you want to be someone whose failures are understandable given what you've been through, or someone whose successes are surprising given what you've been through."

 

I have never forgotten that, and although I do believe in having compassion for yourself, I think that sometimes the strongest expression of self-love is expecting the best of ourselves, believing that we're capable of carrying on despite difficulties, and pushing ourselves to be better than anyone would expect given the circumstances.

 

This part of the challenge is mostly about anxiety. I have it, and it's a problem. But I don't want to let it define me or limit me. I don't want to become less capable or more fragile. And currently it is affecting my health adversely, because I have emotional eating issues and a lot of why I'm overweight is that when I'm stressed or anxious or sad, my impulse is to eat for comfort. 

 

I'm in therapy, which is helping, and I just started meditating a couple weeks ago and I am finding that useful too. 

 

So here's how this will work:

  • Going to therapy once per week is worth 5 POINTS (except the one week I'll be on vacation, which doesn't count)
  • Meditating is worth 1 POINT every day
  • Every day I am tempted by emotional eating and I do something else to cope instead (music, tea, walking, writing, etc.) I get 1 BONUS POINT.

 

3. Face Up To My Mistakes

If past challenges have taught me anything, it's that I am going to have days when I screw up. My past pattern is a lot like this: things start off well. I feel awesome and I'm engaged in the challenge and my enthusiasm is high. Then something happens and I miss a day or two of goals, and then I feel guilty because I am no longer perfect. (Perfectionism is a real problem for me). So I decide I'll just not post until I get myself back on track and can report success instead of failures...but being absent from the boards and having lost my streak of perfection makes it easier for me to feel like it's okay to make exceptions and fail some more. And then I avoid the forums more because of the guilt. Sometimes by the end of the challenge I'm posting on everyone else's thread but not my own.

 

My grandmother made a lot of mistakes in her life. Serious ones that, in some cases, really hurt people. I remember as I grew up and found out stuff about her past, I really struggled with integrating it into my image of the woman I knew, who was very different. She was ashamed, but she never hid it or denied it or tried to get people not to talk about it. She believed it was important to face it, to bear the discomfort of confronting it and the pay the price for her previous actions by letting people know about what she had done. She also had an immense amount of compassion for people who had screwed up: she believed in second chances and helping people make amends. She volunteered in prisons, and she took homeless acquaintances and friends-of-friends who were detoxing into her home for weeks or months at a time, to help get them back on their feet. She understands fallibility and she understands that people are complex and that you can't completely judge a person based on a single moment or action. 

 

So the final requirement is that I post every day, no matter what is happening, and report on how that day went. 1 POINT per day and, although this may sound counter-intuitive, I get 1 BONUS POINT for reporting in on any day when I have met less than 50% of my goals. 

 

Okay! So that's the challenge. I'm going to make another post with details of my grandma's life for those who are curious.

 

Also I will continue to update my battle log if there are details specific to OCR training - I'm working to get ready to run the Fenway Spartan Spring in November!

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This is excellent!! I'm so excited to hear how it goes!

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My epic quest | MEATBALL WARS

You don't get better at anything unless you start doing it.

Being alive is heckn swell. 

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Here, reason reading later. 

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Details about my grandma's life (long read!) for those curious: 

Spoiler

 

My grandma is a complicated woman, both flawed and admirable. She and her siblings were raised during the depression by my great-grandmother in a tiny mining town in northern Ontario after their dad (a miner) died of black lung disease. They were all really malnourished and things were difficult, especially after they were kicked out of their house because it was owned by the mining company. In order to get the house back, her older brother started working at age 15 in the same mines that killed their dad because it was that or starve. She got into trouble a lot as a kid. At about 13, she dropped out of school and ran away - she moved to the big city (Toronto) with a friend and got a job as a clerk in a shop and lived in a boarding house. She partied a lot - I am not wholly clear on what partying looked like in the late forties but I know there was drinking and a string of men. She got pregnant at 17 and married the guy because of course she did.

 

Her first husband, my Grampa J, wasn't a bad guy but he wanted their life to be traditional and they fought a lot as a result. He wanted her to quit working but she refused. Eventually there were five kids (one of whom was seriously ill on and off) and she was expected to do all the childcare and housework and cooking on top of her job. She said she never once complained to him because she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of reminding her that she could quit her job and just focus on things at home. She wanted to learn to drive, because Grampa J had epilepsy and wasn't allowed. He forbade it. She did it anyway, learning on a friend's car in secret until one day she got her licence and bought herself a used car using money she had been secretly saving from her job (Grampa J expected her to hand all her earnings over to him but she hid as much as she could) and just showed up with the car and parked it in the driveway and said, "Now I have a car." Grampa J was furious and they fought for days. He came around when he realized that now he could get her to drive him places. He wouldn't let her spend money on getting the car fixed, so she'd fix things herself (she befriended and/or dated mechanics and got them to teach her stuff) or she'd stash money away secretly and get it fixed without telling him. The neighbours used to call her a hussy because she worked outside the home and drove herself around whenever she pleased. She was a social outcast with most 'respectable' people and a lot of her friends were on the shady side, mostly people she met through work or at bars. 

 

She didn't like being a mother. My grandmother wasn't particularly nurturing back then, and she resented having to spend all her time taking care of her kids and husband. She drank way too much and was a high-functioning alcoholic for years. She hit her kids - she has very little patience and took out her anger and frustration on them. She also fought constantly with her husband. My mum said as a child she found my grandmother terrifying. She said grandma always provided for them materially but was never loving or kind, often distant, resentful, even mean. My grandma regrets this more than anything and often said that she tried to make up with her grandkids for the mistakes she made with her kids. With us she was strict and sometimes intimidating, but always loving. She was never scary or violent with us.

 

She also cheated on Grampa J a lot - when I was about 14, I found out that my Grampa J isn't actually my biological grandfather. My mum and two of the other five kids were actually the children of another man, with whom my grandma had a 15+ year affair. My grandma says he was the love of her life. He died a few years after I found out the truth, and I never met him. My Grampa J knew, but my mum said he never treated her or the other two kids any differently than the kids who were really his, which made me respect him a lot more than I had before I knew that.

 

My grandmother divorced Grampa J when the youngest kid, my aunt, got to high school. She stopped drinking and finished raising the kids. Grampa J didn't pay child support, so finances were tight for a while, but she was still working so they managed. She met her second husband, my Grampa R, a couple years before I was born. To me, he's my real Grampa, and when I talk about my grandparents, I mean Grampa R and my Grandma. Grampa J wasn't very involved in our childhood and I never really clicked with him. 

 

My Grandma had bad relationships with most of her kids (now all adults) because of how she had raised them: when I was born none of her three sons talked to her, and her two daughters (my mum and my aunt) did talk to her but it was a fraught relationship with a lot of mistrust. By the time I was old enough to remember, however, Grandma was on much better terms with my mum, as Grandma and Grampa R were the main support for her in getting things together after she became a single mum. Grandma has since reconciled and rebuilt relationships with all her kids except the oldest boy.

 

Over the course of the ~20 years she'd been married to Grampa J, my Grandma had held a lot of different jobs: store clerk, taxi dispatcher, dry cleaner, and then finally she got a job as a secretary, which she did until the early 90s. She still only had a grade 7 education but she was smart enough that it wasn't obvious. At first she lied on resumes, and then once you're old enough people stop asking about it. In the early 90s, she was laid off when her company closed its local office and she couldn't get a new job because she was nearing retirement age and had no computer skills. She went and bought herself a cutting edge computer (a 386!) and she and I learned how to use it together. I was living with her by then: her and my Grampa R had taken my mum and us three kids in after my dad left - at first, we all lived together in their apartment. Then my grandparents got us an apartment in the same building as them, and cosigned our lease so the landlord would agree to rent to a single mother. They bought our groceries and clothing, made sure we got to doctor's appointments, etc. Any stability at all we had during that period was because of them.

 

She had become an Avon lady for extra money when she got laid off, and she got really into it and became really successful. She used the computer to set up spreadsheets and track all her sales and make flyers and such, and within two years she was #4 in Canada for sales. She got flown all over the country by Avon to give seminars to their salesladies about how to grow your business, etc. She loved having her own little business and sometimes said that being laid off was the best career move she ever made. When I was 10 she gave me my first job: she paid me $2 per box to stamp her name and phone number on the back of Avon books which she'd distribute all over the city, and then she paid me $5 per hour to help her sort the giant orders for distribution when they came in every month. She taught me the importance of having my own money and being independent.

 

She later ran a daycare business, after retiring and then deciding that retirement was boring. My mother said she found it hard to believe that the same person who had been such a cold mother to her was so warm and loving and patient with the daycare kids. My grandmother is one of the people who made me really truly believe in the ability of people to change and be better. My mother had a lot of problems while raising us and was unreliable, sometimes not coming home for days, and my sister had a lot of issues too. I don't want to go into the details, but it was really bad at times. Eventually my sister was put into a group home, and my brother and I went to live with my grandparents. A couple years later, when my mother was a little more settled, my mother convinced my brother to move back in with her, but I stayed with them. Without them, I wouldn't have had the stable and happy high school experience I had. They're the ones who came to my concerts, my graduation, drove me off to university, etc. Basically my parents.

 

When my uncle was struggling with alcoholism, my grandparents took him in and helped him get clean. They did the same thing for at least a half dozen other friends. After my brother died, they took my mum in again and helped her get sorted out. When one of my friends left home in high school because his mum was a drug addict and he was scared of her boyfriends, they let him stay with us for almost a year. When my great-grandmother, who had been living with my great-aunt, was told she was too much work and had to go into a home, my grandparents took her in and cared for her until she died. They've helped friends and friends-of-friends who've come down with Alzheimers, and they helped men whose wives died learn to cook and take care of themselves. I can't count the number of people they've helped.

 

When I came out to them as queer they didn't even bat an eye. Whenever I made unconventional or drastic decisions like changing careers or moving countries or getting married to someone I had only been dating for six months, my grandma was the one telling me to be brave and ignore the critics. She always told me she didn't care what I did as long as I was good to people and I was happy. She has always encouraged and supported me and called me out when she knew I could do better. She gave me good advice as a kid, and then stopped giving me advice as an adult unless I asked first. And I do ask her advice often.

 

 

I miss her, and my Grampa R. Being far from them is the hardest thing about living in Boston. They are coming to visit for a week in November!

 

Things I love about my Grandma: she is friendly and compassionate, but doesn't put up with bullshit or bullying. She speaks her mind, but she thinks about people's feelings before she does. She doesn't let anyone tell her what to do and she definitely doesn't let anyone tell her what she can't do. She's not afraid to be unconventional if she thinks convention is wrong. She has taught herself so many skills over the years it's mind-boggling. She's stubborn as hell, but she's honest about her failings, and she has the courage to let everyone see them and then work for redemption. She has seen a lot in her life and she's wise because of it. She's honest about everything she doesn't know or understand, and she has always been open minded. And she's not afraid to let the world be dark and complicated and confusing: she doesn't oversimplify things or try to sugar-coat the truth. She knows everyone has a dark side and she doesn't pretend otherwise, and she doesn't judge; she just tries to help people who are in a bad period get back to a better version of themselves. She is brave, and not afraid of hardship because she knows it's part of life and part of what makes us who we are. And she is the strongest person I know.

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First day report! A strong start. Which is to be expected - starting strong is my strong suit :D

 

d6HSNiV.png

 

 

Morning routine doesn't count for today since I started in the afternoon. And I didn't have to fight off cravings or face up to making a bad report, so I don't get those bonus points but since they're meant to be bonus points for pushing through when I'm flailing, it's a good sign if I don't need them.

 

For productivity I did get a bonus point because I really didn't feel like cleaning the tub but it needed to happen so I did it anyway. Voila! One tub scrubbed to sparkling:

Spoiler

7h1dQO1.jpg

 

And now I am exhausted so it's bedtime.

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Nice strong start!! I love this challenge. I will read the full story later when it's not midnight and I'm not about to head to sleep, but definitely interested!

 

Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman, and I love that you've modeled your challenge after her :) Best of luck for the challenge, and I'm looking forward to following along!

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Current Challenge: Starting from the Start

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Such a lovely challenge! Following, I could take note of a lot of these goals too :)

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Second day off to a good start. Did the morning routine as soon as I woke up. Today was therapy (5 points, huzzah) and we talked about some perfectionism/anxiety stuff and some strategies for sticking with a plan (like the plan to mediate daily, for example) even after I have "ruined" it by missing a day or otherwise messing up and thus no longer having a chance to be perfect at it. It was helpful, I think? The proof will be in the pudding as I try to implement the approach we discussed.

 

News is making me hella anxious. Happy with myself for recognizing it, stepping back from the computer, and doing my Headspace meditiation. It did help me feel a little calmer. 

 

I reeeeally did not feel like batch cooking after work was done, but I had told L that I would roast all the beets I brought home from the farm so I DID IT because what would my grandma do? She would do exactly what she promised. So we have a lot of tasty roasted beets now.

 

Before:

Spoiler

DzdTTos.jpg

 

After:

Spoiler

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I also did a bunch of laundry and helped an old friend with some translations, which was fun. 

 

Food today has been good, and I want to eat dinner before going out because tonight is pub trivia and the food there is both unhealthy and also kind of gross. My plan is to walk home from that (about 2 miles with some nice hills) for the day's exercise. Not exactly a feat of athletic prowess but it's a good fit for my schedule today and how much I feel up for. The key is just to be moving!

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How long/ at what temperature do you usually cook beets for? They look yummy!

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Gargoyle Ranger | Level 46

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My epic quest | MEATBALL WARS

You don't get better at anything unless you start doing it.

Being alive is heckn swell. 

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2 hours ago, NeverThatBored said:

How long/ at what temperature do you usually cook beets for? They look yummy!

 

425 F (or 220 C for those living in sensible metric lands) and I toss them in olive oil and season with pepper and salt and whatever other spices I feel like - today I used garlic powder. Spread out in a single layer on the nonstick cooking sheet, or as close to a single layer as possible. They'll caramelize better and cook faster if they're not packed ultra tight. I put them in for 15 minutes, then jostle them around a bit with the spatula so different sides are touching the bottom, then back in for 10-20 minutes (with another jostle somewhere in the middle of that) depending on how soft I want them and how many are in the pan.

 

That same method and temperature works for a lot of veggies with cooking times that depend on the veggie. I do the same approach for sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower (seasoned with cumin and coriander!), squash, green beans, carrots, etc. Basically I am lazy and roasting with garlic and olive oil is my default solution to every veggie.

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There is also a method involving wrapping each beet individually in foil and then baking them in the oven that works very well. It's a good choice if you're making beets for a variety of dishes at once and don't want to spice them all the same way. I will poke my father about it tomorrow and see if I can figure out the specifics if anyone is interested. 

 

Also @Severine your beets look (and sound) delicious. Om nom nom. And way to go on getting them done!

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Following along for sure!

 

Also, your grandmother is one fascinating lady. I'm happy to hear she managed to turn her life around so much from a tough childhood to super grandma!

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Introduction (where I started, May 2016) ~*~ NF Character (dormant)

 

 Progress as a Nomad: Battle log where I do my own challenges

Useful posts on my battle log: Useful Links and Travel Schedule, Future Challenge IdeasGoals for 2017 as a whole, Assorted Goals (not on rotation), Elements W1D1, Last Quarter Goals

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7 hours ago, Bookish Badger said:

But where is the photo of your pink-and-purple stained hands after all that beet prep? :D 

 

I considered it :D

 

The important thing is for me to remember I ate a lot of beets so I don't think I have stomach cancer in a day or two. Some people out there have to know what I'm talking about...

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So, unfortunately today was not a very good day and I'm giving myself the first +1 bonus point for making a daily report on a day that didn't go well. On the bright side, though, I'm actually showing up to report a failure, and because that's a goal and I know it's something I need to work on to improve myself and my resilience, at least it gives me something to feel good about! My grandma would admit when she screwed up.

 

Today is my birthday (I'm 36 now) but in the busyness of the morning routine, D and L both forgot. I tried not to let it get me down but, let's face it, it got me down. All I ever really want for my birthday is for the people closest to me to remember, and to show in some small way that they care - a hug and some kind words, or a little note or something. Anyway then I spent most of the morning trying to focus on work and beating myself up for being sad about it, which just made things worse because then I felt simultaneously sad and guilty.

 

Part of how I dealt with this was by having unhealthy food for lunch that I find comforting. I tracked all my food so at least I stuck with that goal, and tracking probably made it less of a calorie nightmare than it would have been otherwise, but I feel crappy about falling back into that coping mechanism. I was planning to go for a nice hike by myself in the late afternoon/early evening but I was feeling sad and drained so when I got home from teaching I just took a nap instead. So no exercise today either, which I feel ugh about. Also nothing productive, so no points there. 

 

I talked to D and L once they were home, which helped even though it was tricky because I have a lot of guilt about being trouble and I really don't want to make them feel bad. Plus there's the whole issue of how I want people to do kind things because they genuinely care and want to, not because I asked for it or because I get sad if they don't. It's just rough because I am always the person who remembers people's birthdays and anniversaries and other special days and prepares little surprises and things, but people forget my birthday almost half the time and the last time anyone did anything special for it was like...more than a decade ago? Sometimes I wish nobody even knew when it was and then I wouldn't have hopes that then get let down, you know? But logically I understand not everyone has the personality to plan gestures, and that they show affection in other ways, and I try to remember that.

 

Anyway I did meditate today, and I tracked my food like I said. And I did the morning routine before everything went off the rails. Bad eating, didn't cross anything significant off my to-do list, and didn't exercise. So I get my bonus point for reporting a crap day. Hopefully it's the only time I get that bonus point...

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image.jpg

 

It's alright to feel sad about having your birthday forgotten. Whatever you feel at any given time is alright.

 

I hope the talk with them went well. <3

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Introduction (where I started, May 2016) ~*~ NF Character (dormant)

 

 Progress as a Nomad: Battle log where I do my own challenges

Useful posts on my battle log: Useful Links and Travel Schedule, Future Challenge IdeasGoals for 2017 as a whole, Assorted Goals (not on rotation), Elements W1D1, Last Quarter Goals

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8 hours ago, Severine said:

All I ever really want for my birthday is for the people closest to me to remember, and to show in some small way that they care - a hug and some kind words, or a little note or something. Anyway then I spent most of the morning trying to focus on work and beating myself up for being sad about it, which just made things worse because then I felt simultaneously sad and guilty.

Happy birthday!!! I too turned 36 this year and was determined to not let what you described above happen to me for another year. I know my family and friends love me, but life gets so busy so I knew if no one could make me a priority I’d do it myself. So I took the day off work (THIS WAS SO WORTH IT), took myself to a fancy spa for a massage and pedicure, treated myself to fancy herbal teas and fancy salad, and fortunately my husband had time to take me out to dinner in the evening. It was one of the best birthdays on record, solely due to my own planning.

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