Fulfilling The Potential

I was listening to the Nerdist podcast yesterday (How many of my entries start like that? What can I say? He interviews some great people.) and he was interviewing Ron Howard and he was discussing his creed and work ethics and he discussed the idea of “fulfilling the potential” of any given project and IT BLEW MY MIND.

I’ve spent the last day really thinking about this idea. Whether it’s a work task or a moment with the kids…I’m trying to think about what the potential is in that moment. It was hard yesterday because I was functioning on 4 hours sleep, but I did try to think about it when I wasn’t fuzzy from sleep deprivation.

I had about an hour of time yesterday between work and soccer and I was really having trouble with a lack of sleep and I thought to myself, “How do I fulfill the potential of this hour?”

And I took a nap.

Because the truth was, I was useless and foggy and unable to really focus on anything important because I was SO TIRED. So, while “potential” could be defined by accomplishments or tasks completed, I chose to interpret it as: BEST USE OF TIME IN THIS MOMENT. And that moment? Was a nap. AND IT WAS GREAT.

There’s a lot going around now about how we tend to use “busy” and “exhaustion” as badges of honor or even signs of success. The first article I read about this hit me SO HARD because I am SO BAD about that. So yesterday, in that moment? I decided the badge of honor was to be rested. Not to brag about minimal sleep like it made me somehow better. No. I took a nap on a Thursday evening. AND I AM PROUD OF THAT NAP.

I fulfilled the shit out of the potential of that nap.

I really like the idea of figuring out the true potential of something and trying to maximize that potential. But there are a lot of different kinds of potential.

Wesley woke up with leg cramps last night. He doesn’t wake up as often but I got up, gave him a bath and some ibuprofen and then crawled back in bed with him rub his foot to get him back to sleep. I thought about the potential of those moments and I tried to give him more love and affection instead of groggy irritation that usually rolls out of me in those moments. Groggy irritation just makes him feel guilty, but love and affection helps him fall back asleep without the burden of guilt in his heart.

I’m going to be thinking about this one for awhile. It’s such a simple concept, but I feel like it can shape moments…and days and weeks and years…in a much more deliberate fashion. Which is something I’m really trying to be: More deliberate.

Thank you Ron Howard. For this and for the movie: Splash. It’s still my fave.

IMG_0665

There’s Power In Admitting You’re Wrong.

My daughter is a perfect combination of the most stubborn parts of my husband and I. We are both stubborn and argumentative and are very RARELY wrong, and she has both of those parts of both of us making her the most correct person in the history of all time.

Well…let me back up a little bit. I used to be that way. I have gotten better and better over the years because I learned very quickly being married to someone like me, that it’s kinda annoying. Donnie has gotten better over the years too, but the nature of our personalities means that I was faster to reach the, “Okay. So sometimes I am wrong.” point of existence.

To which Donnie would snarkily reply, “That’s because she’s actually wrong more than I am, so it was easier for her to learn the lesson.”

So, now I’m seeing Nikki show those same stubborn tendencies and I’m trying to help her learn the lesson earlier than I did.

There is power in knowing you’ve been wrong before.

I used to be point blank in favor of – like – 100% of gun control measures I’d ever seen proposed. Even the ones factoring in mental health. And then I heard an interview with someone worried about how the “national database of crazy people” might be misused if it was established for these efforts. So, I’m now 99% supportive but I’m a little leery of the legislative language used in some proposals of widespread mental health records being used before issuing gun licenses. I was wrong with that 100%.

I was also – at first – against some of the legislation proposed to make changes in the US Department of Veterans Affairs – mainly because the democrats opposed it and I initially always side with that side of the argument. But then I listened to someone discuss that when a system has failed categorically on every front…sometimes you have to make radical changes to “start over” and the ability to get rid of people easier can help with that and THAT MADE SENSE. I listened to a conservative and a liberal discuss something and I sided with the conservative. I was wrong.

I’ve cited the times before where my language has been corrected. The embarrassing time I had to be told in my VERY EARLY adulthood that “oriental” should not be used to describe people. Then there was the time 10 years or so ago where I was informed of the offensiveness in some circles of my casual use of the word “retarded”. Both of those times were embarrassing but I learned from it and walked away saying, “I was wrong.”

And here’s where the power is: NO ONE IS RIGHT ALL OF THE TIME. No politician. No professional. No educator. No one. No where. Is right all the time. So, if you can’t list out times you were wrong, then you should be pretty certain you are wrong about something you don’t realize.

But you see, since I can easily cite times I’ve been wrong? I have MUCH MORE confidence about being right the rest of the time. I fear falling into the trap of cognitive dissonance or willful ignorance but each time I see that I’m wrong about something, I’m more confident I won’t fall into those traps.

I get into spiritual and political and social conversations with people with differing opinions quite often. Sometimes, I’m corrected. And every time that happens I’m embarrassed and it becomes one of those things that causes me retroactive shame every time I think about it. I HATE BEING WRONG. I had to be corrected about my own white privilege once on Facebook and it still embarrasses the crap out of me to think about it, but I thank the girl who helped me see the light every chance I get. BECAUSE…I remind myself of that moment whenever I worry I’m being biased to my own beliefs. “Kim, you had no problem admitting you were wrong that day, if you were wrong now, you would know.”

Because I see people time and time again frame things in a way that allow them to be right when I JUST CAN’T SEE IT. How can they look at it like that? How can they not see things how I see them?

And sometimes I worry I am that person. That willfully ignorant person.

BUT! Because I’ve been very open to being wrong in the past, I can be confident in present that I’m not willfully ignorant. Two people might be disagreeing because of fundamental differences of opinions. For example: I do not belief “life” begins at conception so certain types of birth control that prevent implantation are 100% not killing a baby. Whereas many fundamentalist Christian conservatives do believe life begins at conception and so therefore object to anything that keeps a fertilized embryo from implanting. In that case? The Right v/s Wrong is not clear because it’s just a fundamental difference in the definition of “life”.

But in many cases, I feel like people are willfully ignorant in order to hold fast to their views. And my past history of being able to (very begrudgingly) admit I’m wrong, gives me confidence in the fact that I’m not the willfully ignorant.

If you can never tell me a time you’ve been wrong about something? Then there might be a problem.

So that’s what I explain to Nikki. Every time she has to admit she was wrong, provides her with more confidence in the times she wants to stand her ground. If you’re willing to open your eyes to the possibility of being wrong, then you can trust your viewpoint when you feel SO VERY STRONGLY that you are right.

She’s not there yet. She’s very VERY stubborn.

VERY STUBBORN.

But I’m hoping every time she sees/hears me admit I’m wrong, she’ll see the power in that. Learning the lesson over the years has really shown me THAT I AM WRONG A LOT. I’m feeling really guilty for the adult years before I was willing to admit I was wrong. WHAT A ASSHAT I WAS!

I’m certain there are still times I’m holding my ground when I shouldn’t be. But there are also many times where I can trust my viewpoint not to be too immovable because of the times I’ve been willing to see things from the other side. So if we still disagree, I can trust it’s a fundamental belief difference and not me simply being willfully ignorant or suffering from cognitive dissonance.

Shortest. Trial. Ever. (Plus a November Bullet Journal Printable!)

IMG_0637

If you follow my bullet journal instagram you know that I was trying something new this week: Week-In-View planning pages. And while I loved making the spread and I love looking at it, I have missed having my brand new daily pages every day so I had to wake up this morning and do a Wednesday page, just to shake off the monotonous funk I’ve been having over not having a brand new page to look at every day.

IMG_0638

I think I still might do the week-in-view pages, because honestly I really like having it and I like setting goals for the week instead of for the day. I’ll just do it ALONG WITH the daily pages. And while I know that’s a lot of repetitive listing (which was why I was trying the week-in-view thing to begin with, too much transferring from one page to another when tasks didn’t get done) it seems that – emotionally – I just need to have a new page to look at every day. So…2 days! Shortest trial ever.

From now on? I’ll do both. That’s the great thing about the Leuchtturm1917 journal – it comes with TWO bookmarks!

FREE PRINTABLE!

NovemberColor2015

You can still download my horizontal monthly pages for 2015 and 2016 from my sidebar, but I’ve been playing around with vertical pages. Some say when they print this and trim it for a standard moleskin there’s extra space along the border, but I’m not seeing that when I print it. If anyone wants to download it and check it out – I’d appreciate it. I want to perfect the template so I can do all of 2016.

And that’s your bullet journal update for this week! I know you love it when I talk planning.

Scheduling Time To Reflect

I remember when I first started boot camp in 2010 that I realized the reason why it was so good for me, is that it was pre-scheduled exercise time. Something about my personality holds to something better if it’s scheduled. Same thing goes with how I kinda failed at my efforts to become a runner in 2006-7 but not in 2011, because in 2011 I did it with a group that had a schedule I had to stick with. Saturdays, Tuesdays, Thursdays. Boom. I got all of my runs in no problem.

And it doesn’t have to be someone else’s created schedule, it turns out. I think this is also why I’ve been doing my weekday runs more religiously this year. They’ve become part of my morning schedule/routine. So much so that, even if I’ve got a “rest day,” I have to convince myself it’s okay to disrupt the schedule and NOT do my morning weekday run. It was easy to convince myself yesterday because I was sore, but it’s not always easy.

SO…all of that brings me to this idea: How do I make time to reflect into part of my daily schedule or routine?

I am an introspective person. I always liked church because it was this organized ritual allowing for reflection. I found myself even attending some weekday services before school in high school, just because that quiet time just refreshed me. I loved prayer time because it was designated to for me to quietly consider how to do better, to be better. And those types of reflection are all things I still love to do, even though I’m no longer a believer. Blogging gives me a little bit of that, allows some catharsis as I parse through ideas…but it’s still something active which is a little counterintuitive to reflection.

I find myself doing it sometimes on trail runs, but part of me is always also focused on not breaking my neck, so my meditation is not always getting my undivided attention. I’ve tried scheduling meditation time in the mornings, but that’s not working. It doesn’t seem to fill my need to “reflect” because – like many people who need meditation, I can’t quite do it because I’m always so stressed about whether I’m doing it right. (I KNOW. I’M THE WORSE.)

The closest I’ve come is with my doodling and my bullet journaling. Doodling is nice because, once I kinda commit to the next set of patterns, I can zone out and color allowing enough of my mind to remain clear enough to reflect. Planning in my bullet journal is interesting because it’s such a chronicle of my day, that it is just the perfect stimulus for reflection. On days where I can really sit down with my bullet journal and plan, or document, or doodle…those days seem to be the best all around days because I’ve done some solid reflecting, even if that wasn’t my intention when I opened up the notebook and broke out the pens.

I just need to figure out how to schedule that into my day. I’ve been trying to put it in my “morning” routine but it feels like such a crammed pack routine already and I refuse to get up any earlier than 3am! I’ve had a few nights where I’ve brought the supplies into bed and kinda made that a “pre-bedtime” routine, but now that I have a book to read, that’s not always what I grab for that “pre-bedtime” part of my day.

What I need is a church where that has a giant sanctuary with stained glass (it’s my jam), but where I don’t have to believe, I can just bring my bullet journal supplies and plan and color and reflect. I have actually considered popping in on a mass someday, but I’m concretely not there for religion, I’m just there for reflection…so it feels a little like cheating and a lot like manipulating something important to the people around me, simply for my own gain.

“Hi. I don’t believe in anything this church teaches as it relates to God or the Bible or Sin or Salvation or Afterlife…BUT!…I really like the atmosphere for reflection. I’m just going to sit here in the back with my pens and my notebook and soak up the energy while I reflect on how to be a better person outside the dogma you’re teaching.

Is that okay?”

During my last pregnancy (the one that ended in my final miscarriage in 2012) I was very anxious (as I always was with pregnancies) so I found myself going to one of those paint-and-drink classes as a way to center myself. (I didn’t drink! I promise!) I think I painted four paintings during that short-lived pregnancy, and those classes are like $35 a pop! But I found it was really handy – not because I was doing it as a social outing like so many other people – but because it was quiet reflection time. If those classes weren’t expensive I’d probably put those into my routine. And I can’t just sit down and paint because the act of TRYING to figure out what/how to paint is counterintuitive to reflection…but someone telling me what to do and me just doing it seemed to be the perfect formula.

Do you have quiet reflection time built into your day? Do you think I just need to make it a priority and set aside time like I do with running? Or is it better to just be in tune with my spiritual needs and when I need time to step away and reflect – just do it then? Somedays I really feel a pull to find a quiet corner to just color…but rarely am I able to do that. So maybe the trick to really effective centering is to do it when my soul seems to call out for it?

IMG_0627

Sometimes the First Mile Isn’t The Hardest.

I’ve said many times that the first mile of any run is the hardest. I mean this in two ways: 1) Because you have to convince yourself to start the run to begin with…you have to get dressed and get out the door. and 2) The older you get the stiffer you are so it takes mile or two (or four in my case) to even loosen up or warm up to settle into a run.

But this weekend? It wasn’t the first mile.

I really love trail running and since I am always meeting friends for the trail runs (there’s always someone needing trail miles this time of year) it’s no problem getting out the door to start the run. It’s easy! Trail running is fun! I get to see my friends and spend time in the woods and for X amount of hours the only thing I can think of is: Where Do I Put My Foot To Keep From Tripping? So the first mile of a trail run is EASY!

But as soon as you’re around 75% in on your desired distance? It gets much harder. Whatever distance that is! If you’re going for a 5-mile run? Everything after 3 starts to be daunting. 10-mile run? Mile 7 starts to get ugly. If you’re going for 20? It’s mile 14. You find that your legs are getting tired and maybe you’re stumbling more because you’re not picking them up as high and sometimes you’re cold and wet and you just want to be DONE.

The course my friend and I had planned for Saturday was 23 miles and when we got to the bottom of our last climb of the day we stopped to stretch and I said, “Okay. I have to be honest now that we’re finally to the bottom of this climb. I spent several miles trying to stop myself from suggesting another climb out so we could cut the run short.”

And do you know what she said? “Me too.”

Turns out we both spent a few miles after that 75% was done, considering a quicker way out and back to our cars. But we both kinda knew that if we suggested it OUT LOUD, we’d both end up cutting the run short so we were trying to convince ourselves to not even pose it as a possibility. It wouldn’t have cut too much off the run and it would have had us doing another terrible climb out, so it wasn’t too hard to resist the urge to take that “shortcut” – but either way. WE WERE BOTH DOING IT. We were both fighting that internal struggle to bail out earlier than we had intended.

Miles 1-17 were easy. It was those last miles where it took all sorts of mental gymnastics to keep from cutting the run short.

Sunday I had a similar issue. I wanted at least 13 miles for the day, but would have loved 16. This was going to mean I’d have to take on some miles after the big group was done and that’s always tough to do. But then I got a panicked text from Donnie that Nikki’s slumber party had run out of donuts, so I had to just leave when everyone else did. This meant I still needed 3-6 miles even AFTER I got home. So, I decided I’d do it on the treadmill where I could at least zone out to a podcast to make it through. I kept moving at home so as not to get too stiff, I got all of the girls fed and then sent home and then I headed to the YMCA where all 6 miles took mental push to crank out.

BUT I DID IT.

featuredTwo days where getting out the door was easy. The first 75% of the miles needed were easy. But both days I had to really dig deep to stick with the plan and get the full day’s miles in. I did 40 miles in 2 days and while I’m hurting and sore today in ways I’ve never been sore before (I did 64 miles for the whole week) – I’m super proud because I pushed past those VERY STRONG urges to bail and got all of the miles in that I needed.

But it’s hard. Every part of me was giving me every excuse to cut the miles back…and good excuses too! We had slumber parties and family dinners this weekend. I already had a good high-mile week but was exhausted from wedding and travel stuff from the last week. I NEEDED A NAP. But I stuck it out. I pushed through. And I’m more proud of the last few miles of both days than I am of a lot of running accomplishments.

I guess Dad’s favorite saying applies to race training as well as live: The Journey is the Reward. I know I’ll be proud of myself come race day(s) – but it’s the training days along the way that were hard that are much more of a reward than the race day itself.