Signs of Success

I’ve been working on myself this year, much of which has been chronicled in this blog! Now that we’re approaching autumn (not like you’d really know it with the south Florida heat still drenching me with sweat), motivation is a little tough. I find myself getting a little whiny and grumpy, because I want to reach the finish line.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?    

Nope, Operation Tighten Up 2015 is for the WHOLE YEAR. That’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions. It means I am committing myself for a year to a goal of basically solving all my problems and making my life more streamlined and awesome (click for blog soundtrack). Yo, I’s gots this.

Because, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your entire life together: to feel really put-together, to look put-together, to make really smart decisions because distractions don’t exist. Getting my life on a narrow track was like pointing a laser beam of (love)light directly to a future of success.

I have lost this crystal so many times, and it keeps coming back to me! The last time it took a walkabout, I found it months later at the bottom of my closet. Stoked!
I have lost this crystal so many times, and it keeps coming back to me! The last time it took a walkabout, I found it months later at the bottom of my closet. Stoked!

So, to back up , this life-changing undertaking started toward the autumn of 2014, when my new love and I were wining and dining, laughing and loving, partying and losing things, surfing waves and not caring about much else beyond each other’s eyes. It was fantastic! I had just finished months of fun traveling via airplane to visit fabulous friends, and I basically did everything on my 2014 vision board. Party! Pizza Party! But by the time 2015 rolled around, with its four nights of Phish in Miami, the vision that created that vision board started to blur. It was time, as they say, to tighten up.

I embarked on the mission with full-force determination, first acknowledging that my 1,400-square-foot home was busting at the seams with stuff. I organized! It felt great! Things were so tight!

Then a month in, I found myself sitting next to my boyfriend over a truly Sublime vegan dinner in Fort Lauderdale, wistfully stating that I was ready for an adventure. He said, “Well, I have the perfect tool for that.”

And suddenly Operation Tighten Up 2015 kicked into high gear, as I agreed to move on to his sailboat and embark on a journey around the world! Weeee!

I ended up selling all my possessions and, amazingly, actually getting my entire security deposit back on the rental home of the last eight years. I’ve been living on the boat now for a few months, and we’ve been super-busy getting her ready for our travels.

And that’s when things got real. Operation Tighten Up 2015 wasn’t even CLOSE to being over. Know why? Because I needed to also tighten up my waistline. I needed to tighten up my career. I needed to tighten up my mind. I still needed to get it together, baby!

“It’s a process!”

My man and I started to repeat the phrase, “It’s a process!”

Do we ever really have it all together? Those people who seem to … I don’t know, my guess is either they have a crew of professionals working for them or they are good at bluffing. Doesn’t it feel like there are always endless things on the to-do list? When is the car NOT messy? I don’t even have kids!

Last month, I joined a gym for group training (holy crap, squats!). I started walking the bridges over the rivers. I stopped with the endless treats (boo!) and embraced healthy eating. I take naps. I drink a lot of water. I meditate and read Yogic texts. I spend a least an hour or two each day in front of the computer, working on freelance writing.

And suddenly Operation Tighten Up 2015 is three-fourths finished. I am really ready to see signs of success.

It’s important to remember that change is not a linear path. Change is exponential in nature, which means there is that point at which it feels like you’re even going backwards before, wham-o!, you shoot forward and realize your goals. We like to think it’s all Point A straight to Point B. That way we could look on our map and see, indeed, we are almost there. It’s not like that.

Thanks to the Moonshot Moment of Indian River County, Fla. for first showing me this wonderful graph.
Thanks to the Moonshot Moment of Indian River County, Fla. for first showing me this wonderful graph.

Instead, when wallowing in an irritating plateau that comes right before the big leap toward success, we must look for signs of success along the way.

OK, yeah: My things are gone and guess what? I don’t miss them at all. That was a success. I can do push-ups when a month ago I really didn’t think I could. (And, wow, Pam made my day this weekend by asking if I lost weight! No, the scale isn’t budging but I’m feeling stronger. That is a success.) I am in talks with a national magazine publisher who wants to run my feature story in the next issue. That is a success! And when people aren’t meeting my expectations, she writes nicely, well, I am working on adjusting my reaction. That is also a success.

We still have a lot of work to do on the boat, but we’re getting there. I cleaned up all the dusty foam from the fire extinguisher. That was, indeed, a success.

I’m ready to sleep in, instead of going to the gym in the morning. I’m ready for a big coconut milk ice cream sundae. I’m ready to lounge about on our sailboat, preferably off the coast of an island I’ve yet to visit. I’ll get there. I know I will.

To change my paradigm from the whiny Are we there yet? kid to a successful adult, I’ve reinstituted my daily list of Ten Things I Am Grateful For. That’s a big number, and it forces you to dig deep. Sure, I’m thankful for cuddles from my furry companion and deep, real love from my boyfriend. By focusing on those types of things, I give them energy. I increase the numbers of things I am grateful for. I see more signs of success, because I am utilizing the help of my mind to solve my problems and Tighten Up.

Meanwhile, anyone want to join me for Operation Big Fun? I don’t think I need to wait until the end of the year for that, and – believe this – I don’t think that is mutually exclusive of getting it together, either. Maybe it’s time to add fun to the current to-do list … right under “file blog entry”!

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Rushing Slowly

What a great line in Sunday’s New York Times from adventurer Tim Cope: “There’s a wonderful saying among Kazakhs that if you have to rush in life do it slowly.”

Faithful TLLP blog readers know that I’m always on time for my own life, but now that I no longer find myself rushing to and from my previous four jobs, I’m really letting this wisdom sink in.

Yes, you read that correctly: Four jobs! Hey mon! Gotta go to work! Before I finally left a politically stressful job passing a

Oh my, do you know how many times I stood behind a table, wearing that shirt, talking to people about children's programs? A LOT.
Oh my, do you know how many times I stood behind a table, wearing that shirt, talking to people about children’s programs? A LOT.

referendum to continue funding children’s programs, I was working 30 hours a week in the office, then teaching six or seven Yoga classes a week, writing freelance articles for magazines whenever they were thrown my way (which was a lot) and also doing energy work as a Reiki master for those who came into my life in need. On top of this, yes, I also was fairly active as a marketing consultant, helping non-profits and small business owners rework their web sites and envisioning success beyond their current sights. And I had a life! I surfed, dated, met friends out for drinks, traveled and petted my kitty.

But once I decided to slow down, I realized how unmanageable that all was. For starters, I wasn’t healthy. My adrenals were all messed up. In my 30s, I had stress acne, which wasn’t helped by my obsessing over the imperfection. I didn’t get my period for a while. And no, I wasn’t pregnant. Sheesh.

It was beyond feeling unhealthy. I wasn’t me. I was rushing from me, rushing as a way to avoid being. It’s part of our smartphone culture now: When you have a moment to breathe in your fast-paced world, you better be checking in with social media or your email. With your face in your device, no one can accuse you of slacking off. And yet, of course, nothing really comes of that.

I saw my friend Jim out tonight while roller skating, and he told me another good quote by James Taylor (you know, with the whole “Suzanne the plans you made put an end to you” b.s.): “The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time.” I’m on it.

View of my marina from the Roosevelt Bridge, where I was totally walking during rush hour and making my former self jealous.
View of my marina from the Roosevelt Bridge, where I was totally walking during rush hour and making my former self jealous.

Living on the boat now with only two jobs, really – I’m still teaching Yoga, mostly privates and subbing whenever needed since I let go of all my regular daily classes, and also freelance writing – I have more time to myself. I exercise now, everyday. I’ve become one of those people walking the bridges of whom I used to be so envious while speeding from here to there, usually late. I take daily naps, sometimes for 20 minutes and sometimes for two hours. And you know what? That’s helping me lose weight because I’m not desperately trying to fuel up to continue a crazy pace. I allow myself to take a break.

I’m also moving slowly as I learn how to sail and live on a vessel. Clamping the extra sail on the bimini won’t work if I’m struggling and cursing, but taking my time makes it possible. Bundling up the main sheet, storing foodstuffs, maintaining the composting toilet … sometimes I feel like I am SCUBA diving, moving in slow motion while I complete a task. And then it’s done right, I’m not injured and I’m relaxed.

It’s not easy to slow down. Yoga tradition teaches us about the gunas, three ways of being that describe life around us. Basically, you’re either tamas (the couch potato), rajas (the go-go-go) or sattvic (with your head in the clouds). So by slowing down, I’m able to balance all of these ways of being. Like today, I went to the gym, then met a publisher to work on an upcoming editorial calendar, then over to a private Yoga session, then back home for a nap before writing. That’s pretty rajas. But then on Sunday I allowed myself to lounge about and read the New York Times and listen to Ethio-jazz. (Ohh, that link is the soundtrack for the blog!)  And Monday I spent time reading Be Here Now to plan a Yoga class. Now when I realize I’m all go-go-go, I stop and be-be-be.

American culture doesn’t give much value to being. What a shame. We’re so worried about making money that we don’t

Me and my boyfriend's skateboard. It's fun to travel slowly -- except when it's so slow that you zone out and the board trips on a crack in the sidewalk and you scrape your knee right on US 1. There goes looking cool!
Me and my boyfriend’s skateboard. It’s fun to travel slowly — except when it’s so slow that you zone out and the board trips on a crack in the sidewalk and you scrape your knee right on US 1. There goes looking cool!

register the negative impact that makes on our lives. By slowing down, I’ve found that I’m more patient with myself and those around me. I’m not so demanding. There’s no need to shoehorn everything into one moment; instead, I can honor the moment just as it is.

The key to this, of course, is recognizing the abundance of time. During the busy day today, as I was heading into the shower in between the gym and my meeting, I saw a friend who told me a long story about what’s going on with her. And I stopped and listened. She needed someone to listen. I was glad to be a sympathetic ear for her. Then I looked at my watch, and booya! Right on time for my life, baby.

Do I have a long to-do list right now? You betcha! I’ve got four writing assignments, going to bake a cake for my friend’s birthday (did someone say rum cake?) and I have to finish the bimini project on the boat. But I’m rushing slowly. I know I don’t have to do it all immediately. And if you have someone in your life that makes you feel that way, I encourage you to reevaluate your relationship with that person. Especially if that person is you!

On Being an Adult

So I have another saying: I can do whatever I want, because I am an adult! Yes, I have to remind myself out loud that I am a full-fledge, actualized adult – and announce the joys of being so to whomever will listen (or read, hi!!).

The fantastically ironically named soundtrack for this blog post is definitely Ship of Fools, for the line: 30 years upon my

Talk about doing what you want! Capt. Trips would have been 73 yesterday. We miss you Jerry!
Talk about doing what you want! Capt. Trips would have been 73 yesterday. We miss you Jerry!

head/to have you call me child. (P.S. Happy birthday, Jerry!)

There’s something about being an adult who is petite and cheery, who likes to roller skate and hula hoop and has only one key – for a bike lock – on her key chain: Simply, I’m not always taken seriously. But that’s OK, because I’m an adult and I can do anything I want to.

Not like I’m a little kid, of course. I woke up crazy-early this morning and went to the grocery store, and I totally was not carded for my wine because no one underage would go to the grocery store at 7:30 a.m. and buy cabbage, tofu and one bottle of wine.

I’m an adult! And if I want to go to New York City for the weekend to visit my boyfriend, because I’ve got some money in the bank from selling all my personal possessions, why not? What else would I use it for besides wonderful experiences? I took in a Frida Kahlo exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden and watched a fantastic, interactive art video/spoken word piece at the Bronx Museum all about trying to get to “Plan B by any means necessary!”. My man and I danced around on skates in Central Park in a pop-up skate jam, and I ate fruit on

Frida was another fully realized adult, burdens and all. A treat to see this original self-portrait on display!
Frida was another fully realized adult, burdens and all. A treat to see this original self-portrait on display!

the High Line thinking about Jung Uk Yang’s solo exhibit at the Doosan Gallery I happened upon. I bought a shirt at Patagonia. I was kissed on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I did what I wanted.

Of course, this philosophy extends well beyond vacations. It’s everything we do, all the time. We carve our own path every day. Mom and Dad no longer get to tell me what to do and where to go (My parents always prioritized independence any way, to a fault, perhaps). Do you have kids like so many of my friends? Isn’t it funny to suddenly be the one to tell someone else what to do all the time? At what point did it switch?

I think it’s when we got … cue scary music … RESPONSIBILITIES! It’s when we started taking up the burdens of the world, to move society forward in some way, to evolve and “figure things out” that we become adults. It’s also about that time that life starts to beat us down.

So, scary stuff: Two days ago, a fire erupted on the S/V Tortuga, my boyfriend’s sailboat. I was tidying, writing and doing chores – being a very good little girl! – when I smelled something amiss. Seconds later, I saw a thin sliver of smoke coming up through a cabinet behind the chart table. I turned off the A/C power switch and probably wasted 30 seconds being in denial and confused. I opened the cabinet door under the chart table and saw a LOT of smoke! OH SHIT! I grabbed the fire extinguisher and emptied it to no avail. I saw flames. I grabbed a pitcher of water nearby and emptied it over the flames, which persisted. Thankfully there was still a little water pressure to fill up the pitcher again at the sink. I dumped it again over the flames, and it went out. It was the inverter. It spontaneously combusted! My guardian angel ensured I was right there to save the boat, my kitty and my life.

It was traumatic, of course. I’ve been total PTSD Central since it happened, crying and being upset. I was walking down the dock when I realized that my shoulders were slumped forward in defeat. Ugh. Adulthood.

YES I am a superwoman ... cinched waist and all. Sheesh, way to make her all Barbie, free Internet clip art.
YES I am a superwoman … cinched waist and all. Sheesh, way to make her all Barbie, free Internet clip art.

Wait a minute! There is a reason that I say time and time again that I get to do anything I want to! That’s because I do. And that also means taking control of my mind and not letting the bumps in the road (at sea?) get the best of me. I’m a superwoman!

So, with the power restored surprisingly easily (thanks to my friend Michael and also, hey, my quick thinking and fortitude), I’m working on normalizing. And that involves doing whatever I want to do all the time.

Because here’s the thing: I WANT to help society move forward and evolve and figure things out. That’s what is so awesome about being an adult. It’s a mighty responsibility, one that shouldn’t be shouldered lightly, but a wonderful opportunity to do good in this world. It is the very heart of The Lovelight Project. I’m grateful I have another day to be an adult. Are you?