Archives For What I Know

This post was inspired by Michelle

Sometimes we all need help.  We all know deep inside when our spirit might be bruised, or energy extremely low, and it seems difficult to keep our head in the game of “taking care of self.”  The problem is never the needing of help, it’s the not asking for it that becomes the problem.  Why don’t we ask for help?  Hmmmmm, I’m having to believe that the answers to that question could be varied and plentiful.  Generally, I would have to say that we don’t ask for help for one of these three reasons:

  1. We’re afraid of looking weak or vulnerable.
  2. We’re convinced we should be able to solve our own issues.
  3. We don’t even know what’s really wrong, so we don’t bother exploring the issue.

As I said, there could be many reasons, but I do think that these are the big three.  I generally fall into reason “2.”  I usually think that I have the answer to my problems–even if I’m wading in the dysfunction of producing no positive results–I’ll keep telling myself that I will “get it” eventually.  In other words, my perceive own experience being enough and I don’t need to seek the advice of others to help me find a solution.  Nine out of ten times this might be true for most of us, but there are those times when reaching out to others is the definitive answer.  But why?  Why is reaching out for help, at times, important?  There are two important reasons:

helping_hand(1) We define and understand who we are in the world through dialogue and discussion.  There’s a very true statement we all have uttered at least once or twice in our lives.  The statement is, “I just needed to talk it out.”  Talking it out is key in becoming self-aware of our situation and understanding if we have become cause in the matter.  Somehow talking out loud about what’s going on inside you with another person becomes much more productive than working it out in our own head.  To that extent, journaling, a form of talking it out on paper, has always been, for many, an amazing way for discovery and self-actualization.  Talking it out helps us see what is really going on.  It assists us in helping us distinguish that facts of the matter versus the stories we’ve made up about what happened.  When we keep all of our concerns, fears and frustrations inside, they ramble through our brain in non-linear form.  We can go from sad to mad without any logical connection.  The mind is where emotion and fact become fused and indistinguishable from one another.  Talking it out help us to make sense of our own thoughts.  Others can offers us feedback and ask us questions that place our experiences in perspective.  We  are social creatures who define ourselves in relationship to others and the specific roles we play in their lives.

(2) Inner strength developes from the synergistic and regenerative nature of assistance.  Did you know that we all have something in common with a hybrid car?  Well, we do.  Humans have a kind of regenerative breaking.  What is regenerative breaking?  Here is a standard definition:

regenerative brake is an energy recovery mechanism which slows a vehicle or object down by converting its kinetic energy into another form, which can be either used immediately or stored until needed. This contrasts with conventional braking systems, where the excess kinetic energy is converted to heat by friction in the brake linings and therefore wasted.

So in simple terms, when you put on the brakes, the energy you use to stop is converted back into energy to move you forward. Humans have regenerative breaking too.  When we take the time and put on the breaks to slow down and ask for help, that energy converts back into energy we will use later to power our transformation forward. Just look at it this way, when you slam on the breaks because you are going in the wrong direction, the energy you use to stop is waiting for you to power up your moving forward in the right direction.

We all need help at sometime.  Asking for help and receiving help is an extremely powerful experience.  It’s quite instinctive for us to want to help others and to ask others for help.  What gets in the way are the conversations in our head…the ones we make up…about what asking for help means.  Asking for help is simply asking for help.  Period.  It encourages your own self-growth and validates both parties in their unique abilities to contribute to society.

Big picture:  Ask for help when you need it.  It’s a WIN WIN for everyone.

Maya Angelou“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes – it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.”

~ Maya Angelou

A stack of my white bath towels.  A little bit of heaven!

A stack of my white bath towels. A little bit of heaven!

The question I pose today is, do you take the time everyday to create a bit of luxury in your life?  Back in 1995, I happen to be watching the Oprah show.  Well, I didn’t happen to watch it.  I regularly watched Oprah.  There, I said it and I’m proud of it.  Anyway, Oprah’s topic for the day was how to bring everyday luxury to your life on a minuscule budget.  I was all eyes and ears!  I’m always up living better on a budget.

Oprah had several special guests on who were famous in the field of catering to the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  They offered many tips on how one could bring a little bit of lavishness to everyday life.  Oprah then shared something that has stuck with me to this day.  Oprah said that when she was a young reporter trying to make it in the news business, she would sometimes buy fresh flowers to cheer up her mediocre apartment.  However, buying fresh flowers weekly was rather expensive.  Oprah’s resolve was to fill a pretty bowl with fresh fruit and display it in her apartment.  Fruit was cheaper and it gave the same feeling of freshness and beauty.  She said that on really hard days when she was feeling discouraged or “less than” in a world that seemed to beat her down, just looking at a fresh bowl of fruit reminded her that she deserved to have something beautiful and rewarding in her life.  It was a simple luxury that made her feel human.

That concept really hit a chord with me.  You see, I had just moved back to the Bay Area to help my mother care for my father who had suffered a massive stroke.  The stoke left him unable to speak and paralyzed on the right side of his body.  Before his death a year later, there were so many stressful and sad moment for us.  There were days when I didn’t know how I was going to get us all through this ordeal.  There were days when I felt “less than” and not part of the real world.  Money was extremely tight and it was a constant struggle to stay afloat.

That moment when Oprah said that simple everyday luxuries make us feel human…the moment she remind me that we deserve something special and beautiful in our lives…it was that moment I decided to create a simple luxury for myself.  Something that would be my private escape form a sometimes crazy world.  I though back to times in my life where something so simple made me feel special–something that didn’t, in actuality cost much money, but made me feel like a million bucks.  And then it hit me…showering at a hotel.

Now growing up we never stayed at a hotel.  We could only afford a motel or inn.  Nonetheless, I remember being fascinated with the stacks of white towels.  Motel towels always seems to be in abundance.  They were folded nicely and always smell crisp and fresh.  It seemed like magic when I would leave my dirty towels on the floor and, sometime while we were out sightseeing, all fresh towels, neatly stacked and folded, were in put in their place.  I remember distinctly always taking a fresh towel for a shower.  A very different experience than what I was used to at home.  First, our towels weren’t white.  They were various colors and various stages of age.  Some towels were fraying at the edge.  My mom would cut the stray threads off so they didn’t look so bad, but they still kinda looked bad.  We did have one set of nice towels, but those were for company.  God forbid we should use those!

So it was easy for me to come to create my everyday luxury.  I would buy all white towels, in abundance, display them in an orderly, organized manner, and use a fresh towel for every shower.  To this day, this is my ritual, my personal daily luxury regime.  I can’t tell you how many times a fresh white towel after a hot shower has been the simple cure for all.  Yes, maybe I have to do more laundry than normal, but it’s a small price to pay for that moment when I grab that crisp, clean white towel and I feel all anew.

My stack of white towels has come to mean more than just personal daily luxury.  It’s come to represent taking care of myself; taking the time to step back and be thankful for all the blessings in my life.  It’s so very easy to get caught up in the rat race.  It’s easy to forget that we need to celebrate the now and be proactive in creating moments in our lives where we treat ourselves well.  Treating ourselves well and creating personal luxury is never about spending money.  It’s about…and I’ve said this before…validation.

So I pose the question again.  Do you take the time everyday to create a bit of luxury in your life?  If the answer is no, I suggest you take the time to discover that special thing that causes you to connect to your humanity and make you feel a little bit special everyday.  By the way, there’s a wonderful side effect to reminding yourself of your specialness…you tend to remind other’s of their own specialness…and it’s that one of the best things about being human after all.

My first 30-day challenge has been over for just about two days now.  However, my daily routine has not changed.  For all intents and purposes, I’m continuing on with the challenge.  As you can see to the top right of this blog (as of 6-6-13) I’m keeping it going with another 30-day challenge.  This time I’m on my own.  There won’t be any coach and there won’t be any other people in the same Paleo boat as me.  It’s not scary at all…but it is rather quiet.  I don’t know why it seems quiet, but it does.

Do you know what’s not quiet?  Other people’s opinions about me taking on a Paleo diet challenge, or for that matter, my approach to getting healthy.  I’m lucky.  For the most part people have been amazingly supportive.  Friends and acquaintances have generally been waiving their banners of “GO MARK!” along my virtual route towards good health.  I know some people have been worried, quietly, behind closed doors about my somewhat rapid weight gain and my inability to get it off in the last two-and-a-half years.  They haven’t known what to say to me or they worried I’m going to get upset and hurt my feelings.  At least for me, this is untrue.  If you care about me, say something.  Don’t pretend you don’t see the elephant in the room (oh, maybe not a good weight loss analogy) But again, that’s me.

what_people_thinkAlthough I welcome loving encouragement towards health, I don’t give any energy to those who want to criticize and judge me.  I learned some time ago that people’s judgements and criticisms have nothing to do with me.  Their ideas, concepts, and view of the situation are all based on their experiences and how they see the world.  It’s their past and their interpretation of that past which moves them to making a judgement or criticism in the present–towards me or anyone else in their life.  I don’t own any part of that.  I’ve been a longtime believer of what other people think of me is none of my damn business!

I would dare to say that many people are similar to me when it comes to support.  I don’t require the people in my life to set off fireworks and hire a marching band for every accomplishment I make along the way, but I do need to be noticed.  I do need to know that someone is paying attention and they care enough to say “good job” once in a while.  It gets down to being validated; we all need it in some complicity.  What I don’t need is other people’s own self-doubt and insecurities wrapped up in a trojan horse named concern.  In other words, don’t come to me with concerns for my wellbeing when in actuality you are just projecting your own fears and anxiety.  We all know people like that.

It’s clear when someone who is really concerned for you expresses their feelings.  You feel good and uplifted.  You gain strength and you feel supported.  Their words aren’t laced with critical euphemisms.  Their comments are usually reinforcing their commitment to you.  Sometimes the most supportive sentence that packs the most positive effect is a simple “I love you.”


The challenge is over!  How did I do?  Drum roll please…I dropped a total of 22.8 pounds in 30 days!  Wow!  It just feels amazing.  I could feel that I lost weight in my face and core, but it became very apparent from the before and after pictures.  I have to say I’m so thankful to Christine, Kevin and Michael for supporting me in this challenge.  It’s been a great experience.

The best part?  I’m going to keep going and going.  Today begins a whole new 30-Day challenge for me!  My goal is to drop another 10 pounds in June.  I will continue to share more recipes and let you in on how I’m doing, in detail, with my exercise program.  I promise that if I feel it or think it, I’ll put it down in my blog.  Okay, here I go now…

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

~Confucius, Confucius: The Analects

The man who…

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

~Jacob A. Riis

Look at the stone cutter…

Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.

~ Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Self-control is…

Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.

Your beliefs…

Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.

~ Brené Brown