Monday, April 28, 2014

When you don't feel like a winner, try to UNDO

Happy Monday!  For a lot of people, Monday is the dreaded “go back to work or school” day, and is often met with groans and grumbles. On some occasions, I feel this way too, however, today I’m actually glad it’s Monday because I’m hoping that it’s the beginning of a much better week for me.  Last week was a really rough one for me all the way around. I’m guessing you may have figured that out by the limited posts. But…today is a new day….a new week….a new opportunity to “get back on track!”

My last big project for school is due at the end of the week. It’s worth 150 points and is a group effort, meaning my grade is determined by the actions of others. I don’t like group projects. My efforts on this final presentation will determine my grade for the whole semester. The next few days will be pressure-packed, but by the end of the week, I’ll be feeling a lot of relief and will begin the transition in my mind to “summer…. (I chuckle as I write this because it was in the 20’s again last night and there is still not even a bud on a tree around here)….and the more relaxed pace that comes along with the warmer weather. But first, the project….then…the preparation for the two large speaking engagements (the first on May 9th, then on the 16th at the Soaring Eagle).  The Great Britain magazine is due to be published before May 15th; the other very soon as well. I’ll keep you all posted.

In an attempt to escape the swirling emotions in my mind and the stress of the week, I sat in the lazy boy yesterday afternoon and wasted a bit of time playing solitaire on my laptop. It’s rare that I do that because there is always too many other things that I need to do, but yesterday I was just not in the mood to think!  So… I played the silly game, but I wasn’t successful in the “not thinking” part. I wasn’t really concentrating and immediately lost three games in a row.  What???? I play Spider Solitaire and usually I win quite frequently on that game because I have the game set on the “intermediate” settings so I can typically win at least 40% of the time; often much more often. I get no enjoyment playing a game that I can’t win occasionally. There is no satisfaction in doing something that doesn’t produce a positive outcome, and yet, I often put myself in the same situation in my own personal journey. 

I began to think about those choices I’ve made in my life that leave me feeling frustrated, agitated, and “like a loser” in spite of my best effort. I done it professionally for a lot of years….going into work an hour early and staying late… (off the clock) or taking work home, only to have it go unnoticed or unappreciated.  All it ended up doing is leaving me resentful and cutting into the time that could have been spent on myself or my interests.  I don’t do this nearly as much anymore. I still go to work early each day and give 100% when I’m there, but on most days, I leave when the office is closed.

I do it in personal friendships when I choose friendships in which I allow others to “emotionally drain me” and am left feeling resentful, drained, and unfulfilled. Some of these individuals are no longer in my life. These days I am making better choices and are attracting friends who are mutually enjoyable and give as much as they take. Sometimes, like this week, I realize that a relationship is worth the effort it takes to rebuild and repair so that it can become life-giving once again. It’s a painful process, but hopefully, worth it in the end.
In my own personal journey to lose weight, I’ve done it multiple times in the past when I bought into those unhealthy “latest and greatest, sure-fire diet plans” popular in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the late 80’s, I went on a diet called “Stillman’s” and lost a significant amount of weight in year, eating nothing but protein and fats. I called it the “hot dog” diet because I could eat as much as I wanted…..often thousands of calories each day…of things like hotdogs, hamburger, steak, cottage cheese, butter, etc…but no bread, sugar, fruit. I’m guessing it’s sort of like the No carb plans today, although back then, I knew nothing about a carb.  I lost a lot of weight (about 90 pounds) but at what cost? I ended up developing ulcerative colitis and had to carry a roll of toilet paper in my car. I hate to even think about what consuming all that fat and meat did to my cholesterol.  When I went off the plan because my body became ill, I gained the weight back and then some. It was like playing a game that I could not win, even though it appeared at first that I had.

Later in the late 90’s, (my last attempt to lose weight before this life-changing journey), I bought into the “low fat” craze, and again lost a lot of weight, although I never got below 250 pounds. This one consisted of eating all I wanted of “fat free” or “low fat foods”. It was easy for me to follow, and I lost about 80 pounds or so….but I learned nothing. I became addicted to sour-dough hard pretzels and Snackwell’s fat-free cookies, both of which were high in calories, low in nutrition, but not fat. I could all I wanted of them; and I did! In fact, I even ordered the pretzels by the case and had them sent to me at home directly from the company because I could only find my favorite brand in my “up north grocery store” and I closed up my cabin for half the year.  I had a box of pretzels by my bedside, in my car, at my desk at work, and by the chair in the living room. I initially lost weight, but at what cost? I learned nothing about nutrition, portion control, or calorie counting, and I gained it all back…. and then some.  It was like a game that I couldn’t win.

After losing five Solitaire games in a row yesterday, I decided that “this was just a stupid waste of my time” and I had two choices: Either I could sit there and waste another half-an-hour of my precious weekend playing a game that I was losing, or I could figure out how to beat it!  I had already invested time into the current game that I was about to lose, and I was sick of being a loser, so I was going NOT GOING TO LOSE that stupid game unless I had done everything in my power to win. 

SO… I found the “UNDO” button and kept clicking it over and over and over, undoing my moves one-by-one, until I got to almost the beginning of the game. I then made different choices, different plays…..and low and behold….my choices led to different a different outcome. Sometimes, I discovered that I slipped back into the old moves….and played the same cards that I did previously, and ended up in the same “stuck” place… I hit UNDO again and went back a few more plays, undoing the moves that threatened my ability to win.  I was determined that I was NOT GOING TO GIVE UP ON THIS STUPID SOLIATIRE game and that I would sit there all day if I had to, undoing my previous moves, AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN….because I was sick of losing a game that I know can be won.  Undo…play….see some progress, (Ha! I’m going to win it now) and then “out of moves” and then Undo again, try something different.  Over and over again I did the same thing……UNTIL…..I began to see progress.  Suddenly, I was winning!  My effort was paying off and I was seeing progress. Each play led to other plays and before long, I was getting closer and closer to beating that silly game.  Eventually, I won and was awarded with those computer animated fireworks that are displayed after a win.   I felt smug; I felt victorious; I felt motivated and determined! Sure those feelings were initiated by a silly computer game, but they really had a deeper meaning to me.  Once I won that game, I turned off the computer and got on with the rest of my day.

All day long, I couldn’t help but think about how many times my journey has felt like that game. No matter what I do, things don’t’ go as I intend. Sometimes, I would stick to my plan faithfully, but the scale didn’t cooperate. Sometimes I would go out of my way to do something special for someone, and it wasn’t appreciated. Sometimes I put a lot of effort into putting together a special outfit to look great and it would go unnoticed.  Sometimes I work exceptionally hard at work, going above-and-beyond the expectations of my supervisors, and the idea or proposal is “shot down.”  Over and over again, my efforts do not have the outcome that I desire, and I end up feeling like a loser.  Sometimes, especially when I’m weary, the weather is dreary, or I’m not feeling well physically, I buy into that mentality.  Just like that stupid solitaire game, I begin to believe that I am a loser.  BUT THEN……I realize that I have a choice!  I am NOT a loser…. (well, at weight loss I am!)….and I have the option of UNDOING…REDOING...MAKING DIFFERENT CHOICES… that that outcome is different. 

Last week was a difficult one, but THIS week is going to be different. It’s time to get back in the game of life; to get back on track; to focus my energy on those things which I can control, namely MY attitude, choices, and actions.  It’s time to go back to doing what I know leads to peace and joy; to spend more time in prayer; to get out and walk/ride my bike if the weather cooperates; to surrender my life to God; to write, think, and surround myself with people that are life-giving and uplifting.  That solitaire game did more for my spirit than any self-help book could have; it renewed my determination to succeed and it made me realize that sometimes, even when it appears that we are losing the game, we don’t’ have to accept the loss and feel like a loser….we can UNDO…REDO…UNDO again…and REDO….until we get it right. AND…if after our best efforts, we still fail, we can chalk it up as a “loss” can START A NEW GAME!  My friends….we are not losers; we are WINNERS!!!  I can do it….and you can do it.  We can and we will….do it together!!!!