Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When a Reason Becomes an Excuse

A little while ago, I wrote a blog post about how too often shame is used to dismiss legitimate reasons for not making or taking time for exercise.  (You can read that post here.)  I wrote about how shame is not empowering and does not motivate anyone to make healthy lifestyle choices or changes. 

There are times, however, when reasons take over and become excuses.  It’s an easy trap to fall into. 

Recently Rob hurt himself while protecting Snowdoll from a dog attack.  (I wrote about that here.)  Because the pain was in his back, he was unable to do many things.  No morning walks with Snowdoll.  No exercising with me.  Not that he had been anyway.  We were on a roll, for a while, exercising together on a regular basis.  When I want to visit my family, however, he stopped exercising and, when I returned, he did not join me as I recommitted to my daily workout.  He said he would start “on Monday.” 

I don’t know about you but I know what “on Monday” typically means.  Typically it means that, between then and now, I can do what I want to do, or avoid doing what I am not yet ready to do, until Monday.  Eat what I choose.  Sit and watch television all day.  Whatever. 

And then he hurt himself and his excuse actually became a reason for him not to exercise.   Of course, one can speculate that he might not have hurt himself had he been exercising still.  There is no reason to assume that would be the case.  Rob was careful and even went to see a doctor when the pain was prolonged.  He eventually, and gradually, joined us for our daily exercises.

I share this story because it’s important to recognize the difference between a valid reason for not doing something and an excuse to avoid doing that same thing.  Pain is a reason.  But pain or even discomfort can be an excuse as well.  When I was stung by a bee, I had just started doing my Plank Challenge and I could not see how I would continue with the challenge.  (Yes, I wrote about the bee sting too here.)  After all, the bee had stung me on my toe and how does one do a plank without allowing the toe to touch the floor. It didn’t help that the sting was right on the bottom of my toe, precisely where the pad touches the ground.  Oy, it hurt.  Then Rob suggested I try a reverse plank and I was delighted to have found a way to convert my reason (bee sting) into an excuse.  While I had a valid reason for not doing a regular plank, there was no reason I could not do a reverse one.

Now that seems like a rather obvious and uncomplicated paradigm shift, I suppose, but here’s one I hope you will find remarkably inspiring.  I know I do.  On Leslie Sansone’s Walk, Eat, Lose dvd for the 2 mile walk, everyone in the room has lost 100 lbs using Sansone’s simple walking method (and modifying one’s diet, no doubt).  In the group is one man who is in a wheelchair. 

Yes, the man in a wheelchair lost 100 lbs “walking” along with Sansone. He moves his body as if he were walking even as he sits in his stationary wheelchair.  He raises his arms, pushes them forward, and moves along, albeit in a limited manner, with everything everyone else is doing.  He has lost 100 lbs and this is a man who obviously has a reason to not exercise but doesn’t let a wheelchair become an excuse.

As I said in my previous post, most of us have reasons why we can’t make or take time to exercise but the truth is we also owe it to ourselves not to allow those reasons to become excuses.  Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, try to think of things you can do.  Can’t do a full body push-up?  Try doing a push-up supported on your knees.  Have knee problems?  Do a cobra pose as though you were doing push-ups, exhaling as you push up and inhaling as you lower down. 

But I get it.  Believe me.  I get it.  Sometimes it’s hard to see what you can do when you know what you can’t.  So don’t be shy.  Talk with your doctor, if you have a physical limitation, and see what a professional has to say about what you can and cannot do.  Keep an open-mind about other ways of doing things.  When I could not do a sun salutation, I created a series of asanas that moved my body in a similar manner as a traditional surya namaskar.  From a hero’s pose, I would rise to a kneeling position, inhaling as I lifted my arms over my head.  Then I would move forward, lowering down before rising up into a cobra from which it’s easy enough to lift up into a downward dog before lowering myself back down to my knees and then back to hero’s pose. 

Do you have a reason (or reasons) that may be in danger of becoming an excuse?   Have you ever found a way to shift from letting an excuse get in your way so that you had no reason not to do what you needed to do?  If you’re struggling with an “excuse” share it in a comment and let’s see if we can’t find a way to redefine things.  Or share your successes in shifting an excuse out of your way and maybe you will help someone else find a way to do the same.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Wonderfully Quiet Week

Matt let me borrow this.
Took me long enough
to watch it. Sorry Matt!

This has been such a quiet week there isn’t much to share.  Monday and Tuesday, Rob and I focused on getting him ready for his trip and on Wednesday he left for a gig in Chicago.  I was pretty excited that he would be going to Chicago because I was hoping he would be able to see Marc.  Yes, I knew he would be working and, yes, I assumed Marc might be busy trying to find a place to live, but I still hoped they would/could at least have dinner together.

Not only did they have dinner together, Rob crashed on Marc’s couch!   We weren’t even sure if he had a couch but apparently he does because Rob slept on something other than a floor and I’m almost positive they didn’t share a bed.

Part of our preparing for his trip including making sure I had food and I took advantage of Rob’s being out of town to make foods I like, including tofu and sautéed cabbage.  On my first day home alone, I totally trashed the kitchen table with an eye to clearing it off the next day.  I also had hopes of clearing off the great room coffee table for Shira’s birthday.

This is the kit I bought
for Isabelle and her grandmother,
my mother-in-law.
So Thursday I was bouncing between entertaining Snowdoll, organizing the chaos on the kitchen table, and exercising.  That was pretty much the what I had done on Wednesday too, although I was creating the chaos on the previous day, and on Friday I added the only drama of Rob’s time away.

Friday, I wanted to wrap all of the birthday gifts.  We have a few things happening.  Isabelle, our niece, has a birthday coming up so her gifts were gathered.  I also wanted to wrap Shira’s birthday gifts and, although her birthday isn’t until October, we had a gift for my mother-in-law as well.  Why?  Well, I got the idea of giving Isabelle a Smash Book and, when I saw that they had a kit that included two books and different types of ephemera, I had another idea.  Not only would we give Iz a book but we could give one to Susan as well.  I thought it would be a great project they could share. 

When the kit we ordered arrived, I knew I had made not only a good call but a great one because the pad that was included had ten different designs, three copies of each.  There were also stickers, seven different designs with ten each.  But one person doesn’t really need three of the same thing let alone ten so it seemed natural to divide them between Iz and Susan.  Now they could share the whole concept of the books and have some of the same elements to glue into the books and see how each uses these things in their unique ways.

Not sure why but blogger
keeps flipping this pic.
What’s more, there was a third book that was on sale which I picked up for myself so I could share in the fun.  So I divided the pad into thirds and used a ribbon to hold the pages together.  I found some more things on sale at Michaels and we added some tags and clips to the kits I’m making.  I even have some extras to create a second kit for Christmas. 

I love this idea.  I hope they love it as well.

After I had done all the conquering and dividing, I started the wrapping and that is where the drama came in because I had misplaced a book I picked up for Shawn and Veronica, Isabelle’s parents (aka, my brother-in-law and his wife).  This book is a parent/teacher resource for some math manipulatives I insisted Rob get when Shawn told us Iz was losing interest in math.  These Cuisenaire Rods are something I not only remember from my own childhood but my children remembered from their childhood because I bought a set for them.  Even Erin remembered them from school. 

I started looking for the book.  And looking.  And kept looking.  Then I gave up and started wrapping.  Then I looked some more.  Then I wrapped some more.  Then I looked some more. 

Clips and such.
Believe it or not, Saturday I woke up and my first thought was, “Where did I put that damn book?” 

As it turns out, I had given it to Joe to look over and he took it home.  We have another book for Bibi because we bought her a set of the rods as well and I had apparently invited Joe to look at the wrong book.  Insert a huge sigh of relief here, especially because I knew that Joe & Co were coming here on Sunday.  But I wouldn’t find this out until Sunday morning, that I had passed the book to Joe, so I made a bit of a chaotic mess still searching for it.  I never got around to really cleaning the coffee table although I did try to clear the room out for Sunday when we would be celebrating my daughter’s birthday.

Stuff we picked up on sale
and the stickers from the kit.
Saturday I baked cake, made lemon curd, assembled most of the cake, and tried not to stress the then still missing book.  I’m glad the mystery of its disappearance was resolved.  I only wish I had actually managed to get some more housework done while Rob was still out of town.  He won’t be home until tomorrow which means there’s still time.  We’ll see how much I can accomplish.  It was a good week, a quiet week, and I know Snowdoll will be almost as excited as I will be when Rob comes home tomorrow.

I wonder how much mischief I can get into between then and now.