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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stick Dreams

I noticed some interesting new landscaping the other day. There was a large mound of soil, surrounded by nicely done circular brickwork. In the middle of this 4 foot circle was a tiny tree. Really, it looked like a stick. I laughed out loud because, honestly, it looked ridiculous.

I remembered how silly my tiny hostas looked when I followed the directions and planted them 12-18" apart. Now, three years later, they still look a little too spaced out, but I can see they're coming along nicely.

Then, it hit me. When you plant a tree, you have to plan on what it WILL be like. You have to know and expect it to change. Too little room and you will stunt the growth, never knowing its true potential OR it could cause structural damage to things around it. The tree grows because it has the 3 elements it needs. We can even visualize what it will be like when water, soil and sun do their thing, despite the wind storms and bugs.

Planting a tree requires a "knowing" that it will be bigger and better, given the right stuff. Starting down the journey of weight loss, or of fulfulling a dream, requires a "knowing" too.

We can't short change ourselves because we think we look like sticks. We WILL grow, we WILL change and we have to "know" it. We can't poison ourselves with negative thinking, because that will stunt our growth or cause damage to the people around us.

We have to treat our lives like that little stick in the 4 foot circle of soil. We have to get a vision of what we WILL look like. This is especially true with weight loss, but really applies to all dreams. We have to see it and put it in front of our eyes every day. It's easy to lose heart when the focus is on the details. There is always housekeeping, birthday parties, grocery shopping, errands, etc, but putting the big picture front and center in the middle of those things will help catapult us towards our goals.

"The road is long
There are mountains in our way
But we climb a step every day"
- lyrics from Up Where We Belong

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Next Thing on MY List

Jill Smolinsky wrote a book that will be a movie in 2009 called The Next Thing on My List. Like the movie Bucket List and the ever popular Ellen Show, this book focused on completing items on a life list.

Before I read the book, though, I checked out the author's website to learn a bit more about her. What I found was pretty cool. In 2007, she decided that every day would include something new, fun or challenging – and practically every day, she blogged about it:
(THIS is where I found the DON'T-nut picture in the previous blog)

At a Weight Watchers meeting a while ago, we discussed how writing goals and dreams puts legs to them. I left that meeting inspired, but couldn't think of what to write down. Instead, I wrote my mission statement. I felt that would give me a starting point and ensure my list had a general direction. Well, the list still didn't come and my pretty pink notebook that I bought just for that occasion began (literally) collecting dust on my nightstand. I started covering it up with books to bury the ugly un-done thing.

Then, along comes Jill's blog. Then, a friend of mine actually handed me Jill's book to read. THEN (yes, I'm yelling!), in my latest issue of Self magazine, there's several pages dedicated to life lists, their new-found popularity and how to write one.

So, instead of writing another blog, reading another chapter in my book or article in my magazine, I dusted off my pretty pink notebook and found a pen.
There are several side effects to writing a life list:

(a)You are allowed to dream. This is brainstorming at it's silliest, if you want. If I really felt passionate about donuts, for example *wink*, I could write down "Eat a fried Twinkie (just ONE!)" This is the time to ignore what you think it means to be an adult and let your mind wander – minus the worry of the how, when, where and money.

(b)You learn what's really important in your life. It's not so much what you write down, but the motivation behind it. By writing "Stay at my goal weight for 5 years" I realize what a long-term, scary goal that is, but it was the first thing on my list – and it's not about the weight. I also wrote down "Take Caleb to Disney World". Although I secretly want to go back, I can't wait to see it through his eyes.

(c)You can add any skill set you've envied in others. I wrote "Learn to parallell park." And under that was "Learn to spell parallel," which I was able to cross off as soon as I Googled it.

I keep my pink notebook dusted off these days. New things come to mind, some things I get to cross off – and I love checking things off immediately.

Do you have a life list success story? Leave a quick comment and let me know!

New to writing a list? Check out Jill's blog, watch Bucket List, get some pointers from WebMD:

Oh, I ate a fried Twinkie last weekend at the fair. It wasn't good at all. But now, I know (13 points later).