Monday, January 18, 2016

Life lessons learned from watching Phineas and Ferb

A few years ago, Jack and Sam attended the Discovery Center summer camp together, and their favorite counselor called them Phineas and Ferb. I didn't realize at the time how appropriate that was. 

Fast forward a few years, and Ben has discovered Phineas and Ferb on Netflix. It has dawned on me that the premise of the show is two brothers figuring out the most fun ways to spend summer vacation.

(My most favorite character on the show is Isabella, and I've taken to saying, "Whatcha doin'?" in the same sweet little sing-song voice she uses. It's completely adorable.)

The life lesson that recently occurred to me was compliments of Candace, Phineas and Ferb's older sister, who spends so much time being irritated by her brothers that she misses out on multitude opportunities for enjoying her own life.

Like so many of us, she often gets caught up in her own petty jealousies and is so focused on what she thinks she need to prove that she fails to see her own talents and gifts and joys and misses countless opportunities to live and appreciate her own life, whether it be her awesome singing ability or the boy she has a crush on who actually likes her back.

So, my observations for the can learn all sorts of lessons if you pay attention...even from Phineas and Ferb.  Also, life is short. Stop wasting your energy being annoyed by and feeling  critical of others. Focus on your own situation and what you have to offer the world, however simple and small.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Three Revisited a Year or so Later

I kicked off this blog a year and a half ago by talking about three small things I did that ended up being big things:  I returned to Weight Watchers, I returned to church, and I returned to the public library.

I am less regular about attending WW and have gained back some of the weight I lost, but I am still making better choices about what I eat and I still exercise regularly.  More importantly, I like myself more than I ever have.  I dress my body better.  I am more comfortable in my skin.  I love myself more and am much kinder to myself.  My focus is more on health and well-being and less on a particular number on the scale or a smaller dress size.  That said, I still grapple with self-control and struggle to understand why I sometimes fall back into my old bad habits.  The good news...I rarely beat myself up anymore and am more able to take the long view.  Life is short, and I am ok.

The news on the faith front is better.  I still love attending church regularly, and I absolutely adore singing with our little church choir.  My choir friends have become some of my closest friends.  We gather every Tuesday for practice, and the joyful music and laughter we share is always a highlight of the week.  We gather again on Sundays, and the noise we make is truly joyful.  The church said good-bye to a beloved pastor and welcomed a new one who has already endeared himself to us with his sincere faith and hilarious sense of humor.  I've transitioned from the Board of Trustees to the Staff Parish Committee and am appreciative of these opportunities to serve.

Finally, I am still a library and book addict.  I read at least a book a week, and I track them faithfully on Goodreads together with a little blurb/review designed to trigger my memory of what I read.  This has also served to connect me with other readers/book lovers, and I enjoy sharing ideas for what to read next.  So many little times.  If I could read 100 books per year for the next 50 years, that's only 5,000 more books.  So I choose wisely, track religiously, and enjoy completely.

In addition to continuing with my fundamentals, I've set a few goals for the new year:

1. Striving to keep my work in balance with my real life.  I love my current job, but it is stressful and would overwhelm me if I allowed it to do so.  My main focus is to stay positive, to develop my servant-leadership approach, and to replace angry and overly critical rants with time for reflection and a focus on all that I have to be grateful for.  I am also blessed to have found another possible avenue to explore, as I recently interviewed for an adjunct professor teaching position at our local college and am in the process now of completing the required hiring packet and looking forward to the possibility of teaching my first college course this summer.

2. By starting this blog, I wanted to develop my commitment to writing.  I began with great enthusiasm, only to write fewer and fewer blogs as the year progressed.  I dabbled in ghost-writing and quickly determined it wasn't my thing.  I have been most faithful in keeping up with my mini-reviews of the books I read, but even these are rarely in depth.  So, I have committed to something small for 2016--writing at least one blog per month.  I can do that.  Sometimes I wonder if I set the bar too low for myself, but in truth, small commitments seem to be the only ones I can keep long-term, and although they are modest goals, the benefits seem to be immeasurably large and rewarding in unforeseen ways.  So, I'm good with this, and we'll see how it goes.  I think pressuring myself less about writing may end up freeing me to do more of it.

3. I do want to regain and then maintain a healthier weight, and I am doing so by recommitting to tracking my food, exercising regularly, and returning to my weekly WW meetings.  The only things that have ever worked for me!  I would also like to incorporate some weight training and yoga into my exercise routine.  Right now, I just walk/run around the neighborhood, which is great for my cardio health, but I'm not getting any younger and I think the benefits of strengthening my muscles and improving my flexibility will help me feel better.  I've been having a lot of muscle spasms and lower back pain, which is my body's way of telling me, I need to take better care of all aspects of myself.  The back injury I suffered as a thirteen-year-old is finally catching up with my 45-year-old self, and it's important to me that I manage this and don't end up with serious issues as I age.

My number one goal always is maintaining a good balance in my life.  My husband and children are the greatest joys in my life, and I find I appreciate and enjoy them more and more.  Life is far too short, and I want to look back knowing that I made the most of it and especially of them.  They are my heart and soul and absolute joy.  I do worry and nag at times, but I more often focus on staying connected with them in positive ways and being open to enjoying each of their unique personalities as they develop and grow into the most awesome people I know.

The biggest sadness of the last years has been watching my sweet dad decline, but I am fortunate to have the means to travel to visit him regularly and to have been able to include my boys in the last years of his life.  He barely speaks now but he still smiles and responds to warmth that is shown to him.  He needs great assistance to move and walk, but he still enjoys food and has even been able to express appreciation for those who provide his daily care.  As painful as it can be, it would be much more painful to have declined to participate.

So, the state of the world is pretty darn good from my perspective.  Here's to a love-filled 2016!