Step by step

How is health achieved? One step at a time. You just have to get out there and do it.

You have to be active about your health. It’s not something you can find in a pill. The simplest thing you can do is to go for a walk. There’s no special equipment to buy, no gym membership required.

Sometimes I come up with every excuse possible for why I can’t go on a walk. I’ll tell myself I don’t have enough time. I’ll get lost. I’ll be too far from the house when I want to pee. I’d rather make art. I want to sleep in.

I don’t like exercising. But I do like that I have exercised. I like how I feel in my body after I’ve moved it in a purposeful manner. But I think more importantly I like how I feel in my head for having made a commitment to myself, to my body, to my future, and having gone through with going on a walk.

Some mornings I don’t have a lot of a lot of time to go for a walk but I realize that even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Even five minutes is better than nothing. And then I resolve to get ready earlier to go out earlier the next day. And I forgive myself if I don’t. And then I try again.

Taking care of your body is like putting money in your bank account. It is worth every step. It pays you back double in a stronger body and lower stress levels.

My work schedule has changed so that we go in 30 minutes later and therefore leave 30 minutes later. Rather than lamenting getting out of work at six, I have chosen to celebrate going into work at 9:30 because that gives me 30 minutes in the morning I didn’t have before to go for a walk.

I could have used that time to make art. I’ve chosen to walk instead because it’s important. I know people who say that they don’t have time to eat well or exercise. They don’t get that if they don’t do both of these things they won’t have any time to do anything because their life will be a lot shorter and a lot less worthwhile. Who cares if you live a long time but your body is feeble because you didn’t take care of it? The years of your life are important, but the life in your years is important too.

We only have one life.
We only have one body.
It is your choice how you use them.


(This picture was taken by me on my walk this morning. I recited all of this into a dictation app on my phone so I could encourage you.)

Why wait for new?

Monday does not have to be the only day a new week starts. Any day is a good day for January 1. New weeks and New Year’s can happen every moment.

So many people think the day will go bad if the morning goes bad. They want to give up by 10 AM. Does this mean that if you have a bad childhood you have a bad life?

Every day, every moment, is a new one, independent of the others that preceded it. You can start again right then. It never is too late to reform, return, rejuvenate. It never is too late to start over.

You don’t have to wait until you find a new forest to turn over a new leaf.

Making a fire

Have you ever made a fire? Starting any new good habit is a lot like starting a fire. I don’t mean starting a fire with a fire log and a lighter. I mean starting a fire from scratch.

You have to gather together all the wood, kindling, and your matches. If you are really roughing it, you’ll use a flint. You have to have all the ingredients ready and nearby. Then you have to spend a lot of time getting it started. You’ll have a lot of failures, and maybe a lot of blisters. With a lot of hard work, you’ll have a fire too.

Then you have to keep it going. You have to pay attention to it – feeding it just enough wood at the right time. You can’t put in too much – that will smother the flame. If you put in too little, it will go out.

Starting a new habit or project that is meaningful is exactly the same way. You have to prepare before you even start. You have to work on it every day to get it going. You’ll have a lot of failures along the way, and it may not seem like it will ever get going. If you try to do too much at once, you’ll stall your project just the same as if you put too much wood on the fire. If you get too excited about how you’ve started, you’ll forget that you need to keep feeding the fire to keep it going.

Will power and won’t power

It isn’t will power.
It is won’t power.

I won’t eat another piece of pie.
I won’t get a second plate at the buffet.
I won’t let other people control my emotions.
I won’t buy that thing to make me happy.
I won’t blame other people for my anger.

But when you give up something bad, you need to fill that space with something good. Otherwise the bad habit will come back even stronger.

For example –

I won’t waste my lunchtime. I’ll go for a short walk first.

I won’t watch TV all evening – I’ll write or read instead.

Your life is yours to control. Everything you do is your choice. How you respond or react is your choice. And there are repercussions for every choice you make.

Choose wisely. This life is yours, but it is short. There is no reset button.

Happiness is a front

A Volkswagen bug is a car that brings smiles to people. People smile when they see it. I notice this every time I go for a drive. I think it brings back good memories from their childhood. I also think there’s something special about the shape – all curves and no angles – that is soothing to see.

But the new Volkswagen bug is very difficult to repair. It isn’t as easy as the original ones were. Apparently you have to take almost the entire engine apart in order to fix anything. The designers who created it didn’t think that it would ever break down, so they didn’t make it easy to repair. This means it costs hundreds of dollars in labor every time I have to take this thing in.

So behind the smile there’s a lot of pain for me. The bystanders don’t know this.

This is very true for a lot of happy people. They aren’t happy because nothing bad has happened to them. They’re happy because bad things have happened to them and they’ve grown through them and because of them. The bad things made them stronger. Other people see their happiness and it spreads to them. Meanwhile, they don’t know how much work was required to get to that point.

Weeds or flowers?

What do you pay attention to, the weeds or the flowers?

If you were gardening, sure you have to pull the weeds out. If you don’t take the weeds out they are going to crowd the flowers and you won’t have healthy flowers.

But if all you do is notice the weeds then you’re not going to pay any attention to the flowers. The flowers are going to wilt and wither. They’re going to get eaten by worms. They’re not going to be strong.

Also, all you’re looking at your whole time gardening is the stuff you don’t want to look at. You’re not looking at the stuff that you started gardening for.

Likewise, with your feelings, your emotions, your life, anything that you pay attention to is what you’re giving attention to. You’re giving your energy away. So make sure you’re giving it away to the right thing.

Thoughts on water aerobics and being uncomfortable.

Water aerobics is one of the best forms of exercise for people who are overweight. It is low impact, easy on the joints, and fun. You don’t get overheated. It provides resistance and cardio work at the same time. It can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it depending on how fast you move. If you need to slow down nobody will know because they can’t see your body while you are in the pool.

It is getting from the changing room to the pool that is the problem.

The sad truth is that people who are overweight have a hard time doing water aerobics because of the outfit they have to wear to do it. They often feel uncomfortable because they have to wear a swimsuit. A lot of large people have a problem with their body image. Swimsuits are very revealing and it is hard to find a swimsuit that fits you if you are very large. In all reality, it is hard to find a swimsuit that is modest no matter what size you are. This is just the nature of swim suits.

I’ve seen “modest swimsuits” sold online and they somewhat do the job. The people who buy them seem to be fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. They both believe in not showing a lot of flesh. While the suits certainly do that, they still show of the basic shape of the body, and that is the problem for women who are overweight. They don’t like the basic shape of their body and want to hide it as much as possible.

The thing is though that taking a water aerobics class means that they are going to be improving the shape of their body. It is a conundrum. In order to get healthy they have to wear something skin tight, that shows every curve and fold. It isn’t fair.

Now, some women wear t-shirts and shorts on top of their swimsuits while in the pool. That helps somewhat, but then they stick out. Because they are wearing something different, they are unintentionally calling attention to themselves. That is the last thing they want. They are trying to deflect attention.

But then again, this is all part of self-transformation. If you want to make any change for the good in your life you have to get a little uncomfortable. Just deciding to get a gym membership is uncomfortable. Making time to go exercise is uncomfortable. Sticking with the new routine is uncomfortable.

Sometimes uncomfortable is good. It means you are growing. Comfortable sometimes means complacent.

Morning meditation

I know many people who say “The whole day is blown” when they’ve had a bad morning. I like to think of it as the bad stuff has gotten out of the way early. It isn’t a foretaste of the way the day is going to go.

It is the same thing with your week or your year or your life. Just because it starts off bad doesn’t mean it is going to finish that way.

If you look for the bad then that is all you will see. The more energy you give it, the more it will have. There will always be bad things happening, but do you really want to give them your time and attention?

I know plenty of people who think that bad things always happen to them, that they are victims. They think there is some cosmic joke and they are the punchline, or the punching bag. The interesting thing is that the same events, or worse, happen to other people and they just let it roll off of them.

Just because you have always thought in a certain way doesn’t mean you have to continue thinking that way. Just because your parents and their parents and their parents were gloomy and doomy doesn’t mean you have to be. Attitude is not genetic. It isn’t like a tendency towards heart disease or diabetes. And even with those, a genetic weakness doesn’t mean you will get the disease. It just means you now know what to watch out for and prevent against.

How do you prevent against an unhealthy attitude? Isn’t it just like a reflex? Something bad happens and you react to it. You get hit in the knee and your leg pops up. You get hit with a subpoena and your blood pressure pops up.

Attitude is controllable. It isn’t easy. It takes a bit of unlearning. But this is true with everything. The first step is knowing that there is a way out, that you don’t have to stay in that mental space.

Then, every time you find yourself getting angry at an event, try to notice yourself doing it. Observe without judgment. This is hard, because judgment is all you had going for you for a long time. Just look at your reaction as if it is a small child having a temper tantrum. It isn’t you. It is a thing outside of you. Forgive it, because it is a childish thing. It doesn’t know better.

This will take a while to get to. Forgive yourself for not doing it right. Nobody makes a change instantly. It isn’t possible. Forgiveness is essential. And if you can’t forgive yourself all the time, forgive yourself for that too. Being thankful is helpful too. Be thankful for the bad situations, because they are teaching you how to change. They are opening you up to a new side of life. They are your way in.

Soon you will be letting things just roll off of you. They will happen, but they won’t affect you. You’ll be like a boat in the sea, moving with the waves but not toppled by them. They won’t wash over you and drown you like they used to.

Then, because you have a better control of your reaction, the event won’t have as much power as it did over you. Instead of events controlling you, you have control. Because you have control, the events don’t seem as bad.

Poem – pain

There is nothing about pain
that is easy.
There is everything about pain
that is beautiful.

When we are lost
and hurt
and angry
and tired

and just plain sick of it all

there we are, stuck again
with pain.

We might as well pull it up a chair
and make it some tea
and get to know it

Because it isn’t going away.

Pain lets us know we are alive.
Pain lets us know we are transforming into,
evolving into,

The be-ing that we are.

We are human be-ings.
Not human do-ings.

We are who we are.

And sometimes what we are
is a big old bundle of nerves
wrapped up in feelings
that cross over and under
our past and our present and our future
and it just hurts to be alive.
But this pain is our awakening, our beginning, our opening.

Pain is how the Light gets in.

Give thanks for pain.
It is the bell that calls you to yourself.
It lets you know it is time to pray.
It lets you know it is time to make a change.
It wakes you up.

Give thanks.

Hair philosophy.

I cut my own hair. I’ve cut my own hair since I was in college. My brother’s wife at the time was a hairdresser and she happened to mention that she cut her own hair. I’d never even considered such a thing. I always thought that was something that you had hire someone to do. How many other things are possible if we just hear that we can do it ourselves?

Fortunately when I first started cutting my own hair I was in college, where it didn’t really matter what my hair looked like. I had a job on campus to pay off my student loan, so it wasn’t like a real job. If my hair looked weird I wasn’t going to get fired. Plus, having strange hair is part of being in college. If it looked really strange I could wear a hat.

I cut my hair like I trim shrubbery. I whack at it until it doesn’t bother me. Just like shrubbery, it will grow back, so there really isn’t too much that can go wrong. Well, there was the time that I cut off way too much and had to trim up the rest to match… It turns out that I look good with a Mohawk. It is more about attitude than style. If you carry the “yeah, I meant this” attitude, you can get away with any style.

I have gotten my hair cut professionally before and it always seems to be done wrong. I have a weird random cowlick that starts about four inches down on my right side. I know where it is but the hairdressers never do. I’ve decided that it is just easier to cut my own hair. Why pay to get my hair cut, and have it done badly, when I can screw it up myself for free?

If you are a highly sensitive person, cutting your own hair is the way to go. Going to a hairdressing salon can be a very overwhelming experience if you have sensory processing disorder. No more dealing with a stranger touching your head. No more feeling trapped in that uncomfortable chair with a person standing behind you. No more smelling the strong chemicals in the salon.

After all these years I’ve gotten pretty good at cutting my own hair. It takes a bit of practice to get right, because I am working backwards in a mirror. The trick is to cut a little bit at a time and make small adjustments. Also – have a simple hairstyle.

I used to cut my hair as a study break in college. I studied a lot, and when the stress would get to me I’d cut my hair. I guess I got in more practice that way. It didn’t look that bad. In fact, a friend wanted her hair cut like mine and I cut her hair for free. She looked like me and also worked on campus. It was funny dealing with people in the bookstore where I worked who would stare at me and say “Weren’t you in the computer lab?” I’d assure them that I wasn’t. They wouldn’t believe me. I’d ask – was I really quiet and shy, or energetic like I am now? The quiet and shy one is Beth, not Betsy. Plus – her hairstyle wasn’t exactly like mine – it was the mirror of mine. It was a funny summer.