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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Aim Low: Tips from Stonewall Jackson & Other News

Did you miss me, Readers? Or did you note with relief the absence of posts from me? I know one person who probably felt relief. I’m talking about my friend - let’s call her X - who told me she preferred one post a week from me. Ouch! She said two per week are too hard to keep up with, considering everything else going on in life. And I get it. Oh my lawd, has it ever been like trying to get out of quicksand around here this week. School finally ended this week. Thank goodness, I must say, because both kids are going away this weekend. So this week I've been preparing for both kids to go to their respective camps. In opposite directions from one another and at the same time, of course. One thing that's flowing easily around here is money. It's flowing away like water, not like quicksand. Hiking boots, underwear, mini fridge, luggage. Both children’s clothes suddenly fitting them like sausage casings, and while they might not mind the look, I do. So, clothes. Toilettries. Why am I telling you this, Readers? Well, that’s the stuff that’s on my mind. 

So, a collection of random thoughts for you, some related just to my life, some to the topic I purport to focus on: success.

Last weekend we took a family trip to the Poconos to celebrate my father's 90th birthday. "We" were  his lady friend, my sister-the-psychoanalyst, her husband-the-psychoanalyst, and their cute children, and the husband and the 13 and 16 year-olds. Here are a few highlights:

  • My father sinking balls at the pool table. Definitely a favorite. 
A ringer at 90

  • My nephew having a hilarious tantrum when he realized he had to wait longer since his grandfather had sunk a ball. Tantrums are funny, Readers. Sometimes they’re even funny when they are your own children. I am fortunate that nowadays the only person who has tantrums in my immediate family is me. 

  • Riding a horse called Pedro. Then trying to stand up and walk afterwards. 
The view from Pedro

  • Watching my sister-the-psychoanalyst trying to stand up and walk after horseback riding. 

  • A Belgian Draft horse named Junior. As I mentioned on Facebook, Junior triggered my latent girl-horse love affair, on hold since preadolescence. 

One of us weighs 2,400 lbs.

In other news, avocados have no protein. Just fat. Good fat, but no protein. This is according to the nutritionist. And I need more protein. Also according to the nutritionist. So, yeah, I have the good fats covered, but not the protein. Also the bad fats, but that’s another story. 

I am so stuck in quicksand here. At this very moment, I am trying to write a blog post while making dinner and answering questions about how to address envelopes, since the 13-y-o will have to communicate by snail mail whilst away at theater camp. 

Just a reminder about successfully developing and maintaining good habits. Yes, I was right, Brian my Pilates teacher was quite taken with the 5 Tibetan Rites and has been twirling ever since. I’m patting myself on the back here, although there is really no reason to do so. After all, how much credit can I take for introducing a fitness enthusiast to another fitness regime? It’s not as if I invented the 5 Tibetans. But we take our successes where they come. Aim low. 

Which brings me to the email that arrived in my inbox today from who knows where. Some fitness newsletter that sent a tip on losing weight that applies to successful habit forming of all kinds. Here’s the link. Anyway, the upshot is: Have a Fallback Plan for your goal. This is apparently based on Stonewall Jackson’s way of running his army. They never retreated and called it defeat. There was always a fallback point to which they could back up - and still attack. “Stonewall Jackson never told his troops to 'run away.' Before he ever went into battle, he picked a spot on the map to retreat to that was also a great attack position.” Psychologically, this was very astute. No one had to feel like a failure. Backtracking and scaling down were in the plan. 

I endorse this idea. The Fallback Plan, a.k.a Aim Low strategy. For example, take my morning routine. It used to be very long and complex and I got overwhelmed. Waking up and facing it became burdensome, and because I am a human being, I tried to avoid the burden. Now I have scaled it back to a minimum. It’s something I can do even when I’m running late, or sick. Just 5 Sun Salutations. Once I do those, I’ve succeeded. If I have time, I do more. I do the 5 Tibetans, or lots of physical therapy stretches for my hips and pelvic floor. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. All that matters in terms of calling it a success is getting those Sun Salutations done.  Apparently, Stonewall Jackson would agree. 

The best part is that once I do those Sun Salutations, I often feel inspired to go on and do the other stuff. But in the immortal words of my Inner Child, “I do it ‘cuz I want to, and not because you told me to.” I'm not overwhelmed by my goals, and that makes me want to try harder, rather than run away. 

Psychological games, Readers. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. 

For some reason, this reminds me of a conversation we had in the Poconos. My father and his lady friend were interested in some golf tournament that was happening. Talk naturally led to Tiger Woods, who has been playing very badly but keeps on going. My father's theory is that Tiger was trained from so early on to focus on only golf, he never developed any other resources or interests. It was just golf and his father, and now that his father has died, he has fallen apart. Instead of moving on and trying other things, he keeps screwing up at the only thing he knows. Which is a lesson to us all about the price of single-pointed success. It is too high. We have to have other ways to define it and ourselves. 

So, if you missed me, I am sorry. And if, like my friend X, you are relieved there has been a break in the onslaught of blog posts from me, then I am pleased. Next week, I intend to be back on track. 

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