Monday, February 27, 2017

Good Sportsmanship is Elementary, my dear President!

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about good sportsmanship.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve been super competitive.  I remember in elementary school being so excited to run a relay, that I didn’t pay any attention to our gym teacher’s instruction.  When he blew the whistle, I just took off.  Realizing I was a good length ahead of my peers, I was so proud of myself…until I realized I had no idea which way we were supposed to run.  I ended up taking us around our school a good half-mile longer than we needed to run and my classmates were not too thrilled.  I learned that day that you could lose the same race you win.  Being a good teammate and a good sport is more important than almost anything else.  Even my third-grade self was able to grasp the concept.  It’s been baffling me all week how the leader of our country missed this school playground fundamental.

It’s Elementary, my dear President…no one likes a Bully, no one likes a Cry Baby and no one likes a Bad Sport.  This past week, watching He Who Shall Not Be Named “take his ball and go home” when it comes to the media has reminded me that it’s important, at any age, to be a good sport.  We can’t always get our way.  We can’t always win. Life is not always going to be fair and sometimes we will work hard for no reward.  It’s called being an adult.  Reading about credible news sources being blocked from press conferences and rhetoric of media brain washing is the epitome of a political temper tantrum.  As adults, we should be reminded that at any age,  sportsmanship plays a role in our daily lives.  How we carry ourselves at work and at play matters.  Any opportunity we have to “play the game” of life with integrity is an opportunity for growth.

Part of growing up means sometimes doing things you don’t want to do, with people you don’t want to be with, and accepting you control your own actions and not necessarily those of others.  Our president’s decision that the media is not relevant because he feels attacked is not only embarrassing, but is putting our democracy at risk.  Refusing to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is not a strategic move of strength. It is bad sportsmanship in neon letters.  If you are still in training pants, I think it’s acceptable to throw a tantrum; if you are a world leader, I’m afraid it’s time to grow up. I’m “simply positive” his bad example for our country will serve as exactly that.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happiness is an Attitude...Do the Work

Each Sunday I sit with myself and reflect on what I’ve learned about myself that week or what is a driving theme in my journey of living positively.  This past week I just couldn’t muster the energy to write.  I’ve been struggling lately with my inner four-year old.  You know the one that has a temper tantrum when things don’t go her way?  For years, I’ve been struggling with a painful injury that finally needs addressing.  I’ve bitten the bullet and agreed to surgery….. and ever since this decision; I’ve been a cranky, whiny mess.  All week long, I have been the anti-Dena.  I’ve been focusing on the pain and focusing on what’s to come and it’s been dragging my under. 

What’s interesting, is that while I am usually the family cheerleader, my darling husband sent me a quote mid-week that was such a “Dena quote’ I promptly wrote it on my chalk board in my kitchen.  I’m staring at it right now and it is making me laugh.  While I wrote it down with the intention that I would absorb it like a mantra and live it, I let it rest on the surface and just resisted it all week.  I was too busy concentrating on my misery.  Here is the quote:  “Happiness is an attitude.  We either make ourselves miserable or happy and strong.  The amount of work is the same.”  Let that one sink it a bit – the amount of Work is the same.  It takes such work to be in pain and to complain and to be a whiney pain in the ass.  I’ve spent so many years making such an intention to live positively and with kindness and you know what?  It is work.  I’d like to say I am an angel or a saint and it is just effortless, but sometimes it takes effort.  Sometimes I don’t want to be the bigger person.  Sometimes I don’t want to put forth the energy to do what’s beneficial for someone else…. but in the end, it’s what feeds me.  It is how I need to live my live and, selfishly, it brings me an immense amount of joy.  Being mean and cranky and in pain is just draining the life out of me.  I know I will have a long road of it ahead and I can deal with it if I remember that the work is the same.  I think we all can agree that we’d rather live happy and strong, than miserable – I’m “simply positive” I’m ready to put one foot in front of the other and start again. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spending More Time in Airplane Mode

Lately I’ve been fantasizing about a beach vacation. Far away.  With no phones. No computers.  No televisions.  No radios.  And no people.  Just me and the sand and the waves.  No influx of emails asking for more petition signatures, or donations or emergency actions.  No sound bites from crazy politicians.  No CNN alerts.  No impending doom looming.  Just sun and sand and serenity.   

In my fantasy, sole vacation, politics just don’t exist.  The only decision facing the nation I’m visiting is whether to drink my pina colada before or after dinner.  Am I anti-American for just wanting to get off the crazy train?  Just for a few days? Every day brings something more and more outrageous and I can’t help feeling we’re about to fall off our comfy couch.

I like to think I am well-informed, have strong opinions, and am ready to fight the good fight.  I watch the news, I read and until this week, truly wanted to hear and understand others’ opinions on the world we live in.  Lately, however, I feel like I’m living on a merry-go-round that I’m not allowed to get off of.  I’ve been feeling anxious and have been having a terrible time sleeping; the evening news and social media hysteria have been repeating it’s maddening loop until dawn. I’m just exhausted from it all, figuratively and literally.

A few days ago I decided to give myself a much-needed break from it all.  Three days of peace.  I wasn’t able to escape to paradise, but I did take a break from my addiction to NPR, Facebook and the news.  Just peace and quiet.  As much as I craved this break, it was harder than I thought it would be to resist.  The absence of it emphasized how much I was addicted to it.  Like many, I was controlled by the “need-to-know” coupled by the power to obtain it in almost real-time.  I also became acutely aware of how rare idle hands had become to me.  How often do we stand in line at the grocery store with idle hands?  How often do we sit and have coffee with idle hands?  How often do we wait for a movie to start with idle hands?  Here is what I learned in three days.  Never.  But I’m ready for a change.  

This weekend I went to a cooking class with my husband.  I didn't even think about bringing my phone. For two hours I cooked and learned and interacted with human beings.  I was fully engaged. I did not photograph my food.  I did not take selfies with the chef.  I did not feel the need to "check in" to my location or notify the press that I made an earth-shattering risotto. Being connected online can seem important, or can be mindless entertainment, but the opportunity cost is bigger than you think.  It takes more effort to connect on a human level than it does to disconnect and the phone just makes it that much harder. 

In three days, I enjoyed being 100% present in conversations and activities.  That is healthier for relationships and for myself.  Disconnecting a bit from the news for just a few days was cleansing and much-needed.  By not being so connected to the world around me I was ….wait for it….connected to the world around me.  I am "simply positive"
that’s a world I could get used to.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Roll With It, Baby!

I’m a super laid back chic.  I can say this with certainty.  I go with the flow, adapt easily to change, and I don’t resist drastic switches or moves.  Once a change has been made, I don’t overly mourn for what once was, nor do I obsess over the work it will take to adapt to a new situation.  It just IS what it IS, ya’ know?  Take this blog, for example.  I literally have no idea what I will write about each week until I sit down at my computer.  I check in with myself and let the words flow until a common theme sets in.  Here’s what my thought bubbles conjured up this week:  I am “simply positive” that life is hard, so don’t fight it. It’s important for me to move with, and not against, change.

It’s possible that part of my easy-going nature works hand-in-hand with being an optimist.  I don’t know too many negative people that are relaxed or open-minded.  Let’s take a look at that notorious glass of water. I recognize that the glass is half full and not half empty, but I also recognize that if the glass were half empty, it’s fine.  I’ll just get another glass.  It’s all about how you look at the world around you.  What do you make with the lemons you are given? Are they even lemons? 

Living with change isn’t easy for everyone. I know many people who adhere to strict schedules….the Type A-personality that wakes at 5am to beat their personal time at the gym;  the Pack The Same Lunch Every Day-person who won’t exceed their 1200 daily calories; the Goes To Disney Every Winter Break-family.  This works for some people, and I’m not knocking it….but I know for me, it is the definition of insanity.  Variety is the spice of life, right? I mix up my workouts – I would literally go crazy if I had to run every day, or cross train at 6am sharp every other morning.  I move, as my body needs to move, when it needs to move.  I watch what I eat, but as they say, “life is short, so eat the cake!”  Vacation is great, but once I’ve been somewhere I can check it off the list and explore another part of the world – so much to see and so little time! 

Before you make a decision to act or react, have you taken the time to ask yourself "why?" Do you care a little too much about what others are thinking? Are you making that choice based on your own thoughts and needs?  Do you have someone's opinion or judgement in mind?  Are you trying to impress someone or live up to someone's expectation?   Are you making decisions based on your own principals and your own needs and your own happiness?  When you let go, and start to roll with life a bit more, it's incredible how little you start to care about what others will think because you are living for YOU.  You are living your authentic life.

The world is always changing and sometimes it’s scary.  Nobody loves the unknown.  There’s a great quote:  “Life is like a roller coaster.  You can either scream every time there is a bump or you can throw your hands up and enjoy the ride.”  I’ve realized that I’m happiest when I ride the ride.  I don’t actually always enjoy it, but I’m all in and that’s called LIVING.  Enjoying variety, excitement and spontaneity adds richness and joy to my life.  Allowing myself the freedom to “flow” and move forward with life is a gift I give myself.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying live a selfish life, or ignore responsibility.  I’m just saying don’t fight it – face life head on and feel things deeply.  I’m saying move yourself through things and move forward.  I’m saying roll with it and have a little fun while you’re doing it.  Live your life with passion and maybe try not to think too much about it.  Plan what has to be planned, but just try to flow a little bit more….maybe you’ll find your living just a little bit more.