Skip navigation

Category Archives: self-improvement

The purpose of this post is two-fold: an update on the
ankle and a lead-in to the next two posts I have planned.
First off, the ankle is finally starting to heal in ways that I can
see and rejoice over. For about two weeks, I was sinking into
a depressed state and was growing quite bitter, especially toward
those around me. OK, toward people in general. I’ve
lost my sense of humor about not being able to walk – quite
honestly, not being able to walk for 2 months is no laughing
matter. It’s challenging, painful, and embarrassing.
Coworkers and even complete strangers will act like they’re going
to kick or trip me, or make some kind of comment that just isn’t
necessary. Even though I know it wasn’t out of malice, it
started bothering me so much that I really couldn’t keep it
together at all. Lots and lots of tears. If you’re any
kind of decent person, don’t stare at or tease someone who’s
injured, help them. So, I’ve started physical
therapy. Three times a week (I pushed it to 4 last week) for
an hour after work. Immediately after I have to get home and
ice my foot (by then it’s 8:00), eat dinner, take a shower, and
then it’s straight to bed. Not much room for a social
life! Still no weight allowed on the foot without the boot
on, so it’s all working on getting the fluid out of my foot,
rebuilding muscle with electronic stimulus, range of motion, and
flexibility. The progress is slow, but the physical therapist
did show me how to “walk” with one crutch, and I have even been
able to get around at home without crutches. I can only put
weight on my foot with the boot on though, and only indoors where
the floor is nice and flat. I don’t have any stability at all
and the tendon that does most of that work is still reattaching
itself apparently. Still, it’s progress. I can carry
things!!! I think the worst part of crutches is that you
can’t carry ANYTHING. I’ve been using a small backpack as a
purse (oh how I miss my cute purses), and if it doesn’t fit in
there, it doesn’t go. It’s also extremely tiring. Just
going across a parking lot has me out of breath – I’m not very
athletic anyway, but hauling your lower body weight around on my
scrawny arms has been truly exhausting. I know grown men who
are in great shape that say the same thing, so I think I’ve done
pretty good to do as much as I have. But being able to just
use one crutch at the office has made my life a lot easier
already. I also have to watch that I don’t hyper-extend my
right knee. It is very weak and taking a full stride is quite
painful if I don’t watch how much I am extending it.

Day
48

The
result of 2+ months of being on crutches.

Today was
day 53. I see an end in sight, and things are looking
up. I certainly learned a lot about myself and what I
can/can’t deal with. I also learned that when I injure
myself, I should take care of it! Blasted high threshold for
pain….I always have to learn things the hard way. So, moving
on…I made a list of goals last year and I did complete a lot of
them. You can read that list here
and my follow-up here.
I’m ready to update my list and add some new ones. Most will
obviously be short-term goals concerning the foot, but I’m
considering some longer-term goals as well. Before I can
update my list though, I need to finally write my “This I Believe”
essay (that was one of my goals). If you don’t know what that
is, you should check it
out
. I just love the concept and being a person
with very strong beliefs and ideals, I think I’ll have a lengthy
entry! I’m looking forward to getting my convictions and
beliefs into written format and sharing them with others, and
looking forward to setting and achieving new goals for a new year
that is already looking to be full of possibilities.

Advertisements

I was never any good at saying “I’m sorry.”  As a kid, I just never got in trouble.  My mother spanked me ONCE in my entire life (for coloring on the walls after she had asked me repeatedly not to).  I never got suspended, or written up.  I remember being grounded once – I skipped school and my mom caught me (of course) and I was accordingly punished.  The second and only other memorable time that I got in trouble (as a kid) was on a band trip to the Texas coast, where my pal Kristin and I had invited two boys to our room after midnight.  Don’t look so shocked!  We just played with a Ouija board, and the Ouija board told David that he was looking forward to a future in gynecology.  David was pleased.  In any case,  we got busted by the sponsors (parents) and I was again punished accordingly.  So with only three notable punishments until the age of 18, I was on my own with no experience in apologies because I rarely had a need to.

Come to find out, I probably needed to apologize more than I realized.  But this is in the past, and nothing good comes of dwelling on the past.

In any case, in having to learn the art of a sincere apology, I have had to learn to accept one as well.  Learning to forgive and forget has been by far the most difficult lesson of all, but also the most rewarding.  Intertwined in this lesson is learning when it’s appropriate to forgive, and when it is appropriate to move on with your life, sans one person.  For a while, dropping people that I didn’t care for was my M.O.  I even bragged about it.  I adopted the line (thanks to an old friend), “I’ve got enough friends, I don’t have to deal with someone that is anything less than what I want.”  It makes sense on the surface, but looking deeper, most people deserve a second chance.

My current theory?  The punishment should be proportionate to the offense.  What good does it do you to hold grudges and remain angry?  In my experience, it makes me a very unhappy, unfulfilled person.  Granted, there are some people and situations that you just don’t want in your life.  My pet peeve is demanding, pushy personalities.  If you don’t like that I can’t (won’t) spend 3 days a week with you, I’m not the person for you.  If I’ve told you no once, asking me again and again will quickly push me away.  We all have things that we know we can’t deal with.  Even so, these grievances don’t equal an enemy in my book, you just won’t be my number one.

No, I still can’t school anyone in the art of an apology.  I can tell a good friend from a bad one, I can tell you when to cut someone loose and when to give them a cautious second chance.  I can tell you to be sincere, and hope for the best but understand if your apology is not accepted.  I can tell you to be calm and never make sudden moves (sleep on it, as I like to say).  Never be hateful, no matter how much you are provoked.  Take the high road, etc… I’m a firm believer in what goes around comes around, and one day when you have to ask for forgiveness, your forgiving nature may be rewarded in kind.

I have been accused of being “too nice” many times, as if there were such a thing.   There are much worse things to be accused of, I suppose.  What scares me, is that the accusers seem to think that my generosity is a flaw, and have the audacity to criticize me for my actions or sometimes poke fun at them.  If you know me at all, you know I’m anything but a bleeding heart.  Might the criticism be to cover your own guilt for not acting in kind?

These “nice” things really aren’t putting me out – no one is sleeping on my couch (except me when I crash watching tv), and I rarely give money away unless it’s for a good cause that I have researched thoroughly.  We’re talking about things like picking up my trash at the movie theater – my date says, “What do you do that for?  They pay people to do that!”  Not that I should have to give anyone a reason, but it’s as simple as “because I can.”  Bonus: it makes someone’s life a little easier (it can’t be fun to pick up trash at a movie theater for minimum wage, I don’t care how young you are).  Going further, perhaps movies wouldn’t be so damn expensive if they didn’t have to pay extra personnel to clean up after able-bodied movie-goers.  It seems silly to NOT clean up your own trash if you ask me.

Perhaps the only negative things to come of being “too nice” is that I acquire some strange acquaintances, and sometimes others abuse my patience.  I’ve been known to hang out with some rather socially awkward people, thinking that they just need a chance, or they’re not that bad.  I’m usually wrong about that… As a rule, I am not nice enough to handle social awkwardness or anyone being rude.  Apparently not everyone has the same tolerance that I do.  I don’t want to be known as “the girl that invited the weirdo.” *cough*Bora*cough*

I read somewhere once “It is better to be kind than to be right.”  I wish I could attribute the quote to someone, but I haven’t been able to locate it.  I want to say it’s from a Richard Carlson Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book, but I’m not sure.  How true is this?  I know there are some who disagree, but really what pleasure do you get out of being right?  I only get pleasure from it when someone is being obnoxious and petty trying to prove their point of view.  Other than that, there are very few situations where pointing out when someone is wrong is imperative (wrong altitude on a plane, someone believes that doing meth is good for his health, etc.).  It’s kind of like tattling.  Is it going to hurt this person to keep believing this?  No?  Let it be.  Live and let live.  No sense in making that person feel bad.  They’ll figure it out eventually.

Anyhoo, back to my actions…what’s the big deal if I want to go a little out of my way for someone else?  I’ve always believed that good things happen to good people.  Pay it forward, what goes around comes around, Karma, all that stuff.  It may not be true, but if it is, I think I’ll be set.  Think about it: how much of an imposition is it to you if you help a woman with a fussy baby unload her grocery cart at the checkout?  What does it hurt to say “I’m sorry” instead of “excuse me?”  If you know something to be untrue, but in the interest of avoiding an argument, you keep quiet?  Or if you see someone drop a whole pile of papers, how can you just walk by?  What does it cost you to smile at a stranger that looks like he’s having a rough day, or to be genuinely friendly to a cashier?  How much are you going to be set back if you leave extra room for someone to merge in front of you on a crowded highway, or if you let someone with only a few items go ahead of you at the store?  Thirty seconds maybe? If you are financially stable, isn’t it worth a few extra bucks to pick up a friend’s dinner – ooh better yet, a stranger’s dinner.  I could come up with ideas for days…

Making others’ lives easier makes me feel good.  Perhaps if you don’t criticize me for it, you will be a recipient one day.

As always, if you are viewing this on Facebook, it looks much better in its original form.

Grace

1. elegance and beauty of movement or expression; “a beautiful figure which she used in subtle movements of unparalleled grace”

2. seemliness: a sense of propriety and consideration for others

It has taken me most of my life to learn this thing called “grace.”  It never even occurred to me that I had it until someone told me that I handled a situation with more grace than he could ever hope to have.  I certainly was not born with it; grace had to be learned the hard way (as have most lessons truly worth learning).  A lifetime of overreactions, road rage, tantrums, throwing things across the room,  and stomping my feet (yes stomping my feet) when things didn’t go my way had finally segued to thinking before acting, calmness, and this thing I like to call “sleeping on it.”  I’m not going to say that I always do the right thing, but it has made me much more aware of people who act on their emotions and thus burn some very important bridges that could have taken them somewhere really special.

The easiest example that comes to mind is rejection.  Rejection sucks.  We all know it.  We’ve all experienced it in all sorts of forms – interviews, school applications, love, friendship…hell even a pet can reject you.  So when you’re rejected you have the choice between grace and bridge-burning.  Let’s play it out:

“Hey Tim, I really like you.  Would you like to go out sometime?”

“Well, I’m actually seeing someone right now.  I think you’re really nice but I just can’t.”

Bridge-burn: “What the hell?  You’ve been flirting with me for months!!  It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it?”  Then you completely avoid Tim, severing any kind of friendship you had.  Tim feels like a jerk and is completely uncomfortable around you.

Grace: “Oh jeez!  That’s great!  I’m so embarrassed…well best of luck…”  Then when some time has passed, you and Tim are back to being friends.  He introduces you to some of his cute friends, he remembers how mature you were and recommends you highly.  OR – things don’t work out with the other chick and he can’t wait to see how things will turn out with you since you were so cool when he had to turn you down.

The same thing is true with most things in life – you get turned down for one job, but maybe a month from now the interviewer has a friend at another company that needs someone with your exact set of skills.  Your wife comes home from work in a terrible mood and is rude to you – you can react and be rude right back, or you can give her some time to calm down and ask her if she wants to talk later, maybe even confront her about how rude she was.

Luckily I have had some good influences over the last few years that showed me what it’s like to be graceful in a tough situation.  Unfortunately, I’ve been at the receiving end of some not-so-graceful behavior as well.  After my experiences of the last year and the experiences of my friends,  I’ve decided the worst part of dating is having to tell someone that it’s not going to work out.  You just never know how they are going to react.  For me, hearing those words is a blessing, a relief of sorts.  Being honest is a good thing.  I’d much rather have someone tell me that he isn’t into me than to just stop calling, or worse – keep up the facade until I come to the same conclusion (that’s also known as dishonesty by the way).  Sure, it sucks and it’s disappointing, but isn’t the alternative much worse?  For some, that kind of honestly is SO disappointing that they become hurtful and mean.  These people burn bridges without thinking, and lose the respect of their peers in short order.

Food for thought: In a game of chess, you have to think 2, 3, or even 4 moves ahead.  If you do the same with your relationships and the choices you make every day, chances are people will notice.  Practice grace in all that you do.

My friend Lauren is always asking people, “what are your goals?”  At first, I just pulled some answers out of my you-know-what and said what I thought I should say.  I’d say “have a family and own a home.”  Then I thought of “get out of debt.”  Then I thought of “volunteer more.”  As I started coming up with more goals, I started actually making moves towards accomplishing them – volunteering more, making an extra payment on my student loans, etc.  I started asking the people I care about what their goals are.  Sure I get some stock answers, but I can hear the gears turning.

It didn’t surprise me at all when Lauren got me a motivational book for Christmas.  It did surprise me, however, at how quickly I have gone through it.  The book is based on the website 43things.com, and it’s a bunch of ideas, suggestions, tips, and success stories all geared towards accomplishing goals.  For example, under the chapter “Be a Better Person” (my favorite so far), are the ideas: don’t give up, recognize my faults and accept them, have better manners, always be prepared, keep my promises, be a better friend, etc.  The chapter also includes a section on being polite during business transactions (don’t take calls on the cell, be gracious to the customer service rep, make eye contact).  This is one of my pet peeves – these people didn’t choose to interact with you, so perhaps you could make their day a little more pleasant by just being friendly.

Anyway, you get the point.  I am inspired.  I have goals now – short and long-term, and I feel like I can achieve them.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner – a list of goals is what got me to finish college later in life , something that was incredibly daunting.   It was unbelievably easy to come up with 43 goals – in fact I could probably set 100 goals for myself, but you have to be realistic.  The list is ever-changing – there’s no penalty for changing your mind, which if you know me, is a big deal.

Part of the deal is to share your list with others so that you have someone to be accountable to.  So here I am, airing my dirty laundry and somewhat personal dreams to my 400+ Facebook friends and whomever should choose to stumble upon the blog in its original glory.

Without further adieu, here is my list as of 12/23/09.   Check back at my 43things profile to see changes!

December 23, 2009
1. Get rid of all of my recycling “problem”
2. Write a “This I Believe” essay
3. Build up a personal savings.
4. learn more about wine
5. drink more water
6. Figure out why I’m so tired
7. learn yoga
8. learn how to fall asleep
9. learn to garden
10. identify 10 strengths I am proud of
11. Take a cooking class
12. visit the Taj Mahal
13. Train a guide dog.
14. Stick to a budget.
15. Learn conversational French and/or German
16. Learn to ride my mountain bike.
17. get buff
18. Visit the ancient ruins in Greece.
19. visit Petra
20. find true love
21. learn to invest
22. Purchase a home
23. Learn to be less reactive.
24. Stop interrupting people when they are speaking.
25. Volunteer for a local political campaign.
26. learn about local politics
27. Learn to enjoy being part of a “pair.”
28. improve my manners
29. keep a plant alive for one month
30. stretch every day
31. check my blood pressure once a week
32. rebuild my six-pack
33. live with integrity
34. decide what “honor” means to me, and be an example of honor for others
35. live passionately
36. Be a better friend
37. give more to charity
38. set career goals
39. Be completely ruthless about getting things done
40. resist the temptation to settle
41. get up when the alarm goes off
42. Live in the present
43. be more self-reliant