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Thursday, March 8, 2012

10,000 Painful Steps/Every Hand's a Winner

Thursday. Last night a pleasant evening.  James came over and we played Scrabble.  I lost big or as James said, "that was a spanking!"  In all fairness, it was amazing that I got over 250 points with the letters I had.  There were at least 6-7 hands where I had nothing but vowels. Fun though...we're just the right amount of competitive, enough to take it seriously but not enough to make it tense.  Tonight Christ comes over to work on music.  He plays guitar and the thought is for us to put together a set. Tomorrow we'll perform together at Schaller's.  No, it's not a date tonight.  I don't date these days, still not ready.  Every now and again I'll dip my toe into the dating arena, but it's really unfair to the suitors.  I'm like Jerry Seinfeld, picking them apart (remember when he broke up with a girl because she ate her peas one at a time?).  I have found fault with every single man who has expressed an interest me - most recently a guy whom I refused to meet because he mentioned frequently helping his elderly mother.  I concluded he was a mama's boy.  Like I said, not ready yet.

New habits.  I've decided Day#3 is the hardest.  Today is Day#3 of me wearing a pedometer and logging 10,000 steps a day.  For me to accomplish that number, I have to do 1/2 hour on the elliptical , and take a very long walk, in addition to just being overall active. The first day of a new initiative is exciting - you've got a head of steam.  Day #2 you are still rah-rah.  Day #3 you ask yourself why the hell you started it.  Day #4 and Day #5 aren't much better.  By the end of the first week you've got an accomplishment under your belt and there is a sense of achievement and the launch of a new, lovely habit.

I remember it was that way when I quit smoking in my '20's.  I knew it would be terrible so I let everyone know I would be impossibly awful for a week and not to take it personally.  I steeled myself for a week of hell and hell it was.  I remember bolting from my desk at work and rushing into the bathroom and sitting on the toilet crying.  I remember long, fast walks around the block, around and around until my mind quieted.  There was one fellow, one of the managers where I worked, who was very encouraging and supportive.  In retrospect I recognize his strategy for helping me.  Each day, he would come up with a "new statistic" that would help me get through the day.  "Day #1 is the hardest day because the drug is still powerfully in your brain."  Then, the next day, "Day#2 is especially tough because you've gone over 24 hours without the drug and your body is panicked." "Day#3 is the day that most people quit.  It's the day that separates the mice from the men."  Then as the week progressed, "It's the first week that you have to get through. By Week#2, the drug will be mostly out of your system and you will feel much better.  Etc.  He would even cite percentages that he pulled out of the air, "67% of people quit on Day#3 but I know you can be one of the 33% who don't".   I will always be grateful to Peter for getting me through that awful experience.  I wonder what he's doing now.  If you know someone who is giving up something difficult, maybe you can try the same approach.  It made the difference for me to have something to hang onto each day, little mini accomplishments.

So, 10,000 steps.  It's noon and I am already over 7,000 because I front loaded the day and did the elliptical and walking back to back.  Since I have dinner plans I knew I would be busy in the evening shopping and cooking.  I walked on the lakefront and it was a lovely blustery spring day that I almost enjoyed if it hadn't been that every single step hurts due to the tear in my right knee.  I think I deserve kudos for taking this on when every step I take hurts.   It's a Catch-22 thing - physical pain. If you give into it, you atrophy and with atrophy comes more pain.  They say, "motion is lotion".  I tell myself that as I wince with each step.  I have to think that the fitter I get the less the pain will bother me.

The other initiatives are humming along:  the no drinking anything other than an occasional glass of wine is easy.  It was just a matter of making that choice.  Dieting is excellent - I love the way I feel when I'm eating healthy and properly.  Getting up at the crack of dawn and getting to the office early is still a work in progress but good.  Embracing solitude and not seeking comfort from others is also going well.  Personal victories.  The first three of the 7 habits.  A dignified life.  (OK, maybe not so dignified given yesterday's post and my therapy admissions!!).

This is a day of just putting one foot in front of the other, staying the course.  Ah, I'm reminded of when I moved to Chicago as a young woman.  It was a scary time.  I had just divorced my first husband, gotten a promotion from a secretary to an assistant V.P.  I moved into an apartment in Lincoln Park, sight unseen, I knew almost no one in Chicago.  What's more, my boss despised me and had fought my promotion.  Each day I dreaded going into the office in the Loop. I readied myself with a heavy heart, feeling like I was a lamb to slaughter, not sure if I could succeed in my new position with people gunning for me -  no one had my back.  As I dressed each morning, I put on the song, The Gambler.  Seriously!  It was that song that got me through.  The lines,
If you're gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.  You got to know when to hold 'em know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away and know when to run.  You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.  There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.  Now every gambler knows that the secret to survivin' is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep.  "Cause ev'ry hand's a winner and ev'ry hand's a loser, And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep."
After fortifying myself with that song,  I would trudge to my office and do battle.  Despite the adversity, I did good.  I made the company a lot of money, my boss came to admire me and be a friend of sorts, I was promoted again to full V.P. and I made a very good living and was very proud of myself.  You gotta love the line, "every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser."  How true is that? It's that whole glass half full or half empty lens from which we view life.

Today=trudge.  It's not time to count the money yet, there'll be time enough for that.  Your challenge today could be to give some thought to this rebirth time of year and the new habits or initiatives you might want to take on.  The hardest part is deciding.  And if you DO start something new, remember Day #3 is the hardest.


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