Monday, December 17, 2018

Progress, not perfection: lessons from #last90days

I’ve been thinking about the progress that I’ve made during the #last90days effort I started in October.

Unfortunately, I don’t have double digits of weight loss on the scale to show for it, but I honestly think what I have learned is worth more than looking my best in Christmas pictures. (And that's saying a lot.)

Image result for demotivational quote posters
Theory I do not subscribe to ;-)
  1. Renewed sense of effort. Trip-ups don't completely stop me anymore -- or at least not for long. Turns out that when I'm focused on being the best version of myself, there isn't a lot of room for mental and emotional self-mutilation. Who knew?!
  2. New love for motivational quotes. No, they’re not for everyone, but I love them. And good news: no one is making the people who hate them follow me! What has been fun is having people I've known my whole life and people I haven't met come out of the woodwork saying they needed some encouragement right then. Happy to help!
  3. Education on habits. I don’t want hard or harsh lessons to apply to me, and yet... they do. So when I heard Rachel and Dave Hollis talk about how to break bad habits, I gave it a shot. And I’ve learned — and am learning — that when I do stop and think about how I react to triggers and make a conscious choice to take a different action than what I’ve taught myself, I am starting a new habit. A better habit. I can’t change *what* makes me reach for chocolate, but I can change how I react to what has always driven me to reach for chocolate.
  4. Less concern about what other people think. As a chronic people-pleaser, this may be something I'll be working on for the rest of my life, but even baby steps have been HUGE for me. I'm not sure where I got the idea that making others happy equated kindness, but it's deeply entrenched in everything I am and most of what I do.

    But the fact is: happiness is temporary. Circumstantial. Fleeting, even. And because everyone is different, it takes something different to bring happiness to others -- especially when you surround yourself with a wide range of personalities and skillsets. So my not making sure every person in my life is happy with every interaction every second of the day is not rude. The only person I can truly please is the only person whose expectations and sources of joy I implicitly know inside and out. And that's me. So when I'm showing up for myself and becoming the best Rebekah I can be, the people around me will benefit, too. Long-term. 
So yes, I still want to lose weight as a result of exercising and eating right and drinking water like a fish. But I'm learning that the end result isn't where the valuable nuggets are learned, and that I can love myself in the journey.

Progress is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My week with 41.

The week before George H. W. Bush died, I looked forward to our chats every time I got in my car.

I mean, I was only listening to his audiobook of letters, but still. That sequence of events had me feeling oddly close to our 41st president when I heard he'd passed away.

My interest in presidents' lives was piqued after I read an article about Bill and Hillary's communication style years ago. Since then, I've read a little on Reagan, Obama, W., and FDR. I realize I have several to go, so I'm working my way down -- or up -- that list, in no particular order.

And that's what lead me to listen to All The Best, George Bush -- a collection of letters and diary entries from the former president from the time he celebrated his 18th birthday and enlisted in the military to the early 90s, when he was still meeting up with Ronald Reagan for lunch anytime he was near L.A.

Something about this book struck me, even before this recent news of his death.

You hear phrases about "the last gentleman politician" and "the last of the greatest generation," and y'all, I really think there's something to that.

His cadence, his tone, even the vocabulary used in those readings were so incredibly...respectful. It took me back to conversations with Pop Ball, the Air Force Colonel who entered our family by marrying Nan when I was in high school.

I've been trying to pinpoint the difference between the underlying tone of what this generation said and did, and I honestly feel like it's respect. I admire sarcasm with the best of them, but man -- even GHWB's humor was in check. Fun but not biting. Cheeky but not self-promoting. Happy without being jaded.

This definitely isn't an "Our generation is the worst, the world has gone to pot"-type post. I love technology. I will voraciously consume whatever (sarcastic) humor Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling throw out into the world. And Lord knows we are all always learning that we do, indeed, have to look out for our own selves.

But 41 did all that, while keeping respect for others (and patriotism and satisfaction in a job well done) at the base of all he did. And wow, did he ever do a lot.

I was encouraged last night while watching 41 on 41, a documentary that features his friends, family and even former competitors voicing their experiences with the senior Bush. (And this was made before he died, so it can't be chalked up to the posthumous sainthood we're so inclined to give the deceased.)

Clinton became friends with him -- or rather, he sought friendship with Clinton -- after Bush lost the presidency to Clinton. Obama doesn't have a bad word to say about him. Members of the opposite party still respect how he handled compromises, and decisions, and communication.

His children and grandchildren respect him, and in my most humble opinion, Jenna Bush Hager and Pierce Bush (and maybe others) have inherited or learned his and their grandmother's firm but gentle communication style.

I'm not petitioning to take our world back 20 or even 40 years ago, and certainly not 80. But these widespread, consistent reactions to the death of someone known for his respect and honor are certainly encouraging.

I don't hate social media or smart phones or geomapping. But I am encouraged, more than ever, to use the innovations of today to uphold what's good and right, and to make the world a better place. I know why Bush's generation was called the greatest one -- and it was for good reason.

But we can be known as a compassionate, strong generation, too. For using technology for good. For finishing the job. For humbly accepting when we win, and honoring our team. For laughing at ourselves when we don't win. And above all, for our love.

As the Navy tweeted, we have the watch. Thank you for your example, 41.