Scarlett’s Letter June 10, 2013

Monday. Started off like such a Monday.

I worked on the phone with a client, a firm, who wanted a “customized” question and answer session. I’d traded emails with the person in charge about topics, order, etc. They were to have two consecutive days, four hours each. I sent out my draft agenda for the day one and day two on Friday, as promised, and heard nothing in response. About ten minutes into my presentation, I get an “urgent” email from the client saying it was “all wrong” and we needed to change the whole thing immediately. I called for a break, called the client, and he was looking at my draft agenda, for the first time. I reworked the whole plan, while delivering the information, no problem. Except I have to do the “exact” same thing tomorrow for another whole set of folks. I sure hope I remember! Because I was shooting from the hip! Typical.

I had problems on the home front, too. I recently signed up for and paid for iTunes Match. My poor MacBook is chronically clogged with data, mostly music and photos, and to make a short video requires about two days of deleting and shuffling stuff to external hard drives to free up enough disk space. I finally decided to put all my music in “the cloud” and free up my devices for photos, videos and articles. Having done this, I haven’t been able to access anything from the cloud and I’ve been afraid to delete the music files from my computer. Emboldened by beer last night, I backed all my music files up to an external hard drive and deleted them from my computer. When I go to play a song, now, from iTunes, it gives me some “I don’t know where that is” message. In a panic, preparing to reload all my music, I clicked on some setting, and volia! The cloud! Everything is there, all 8,000 songs! Hooray! I was in a cold panic there for a moment. Now I can access any of my music on any of my devices and I don’t have to store it all any my MacBook! So worth the $25 a year! Right?

I ran a couple of errands after work today, and I just felt rather sluggish. I’m not sure why, I think I slept well last night, maybe my harrowing morning took it out of me. But, I knew, if I didn’t make myself do something active, again, today, I’d be super disappointed in myself. I loathe and despise that feeling. So, I put my running clothes on and ran five, fast miles in the cool, late afternoon. It had been overcast all day, perhaps lending to my lethargy, but at soon as I set my running shoe clad foot on the pavement, the sun broke through and it was a perfectly warm, not hot, sunny, not scorching run. It. Felt. So. Good.

After running, with that whole “push up” challenge thing, I did my four minutes of planks. I’m pretty sore from my first attempt the other day and was only able to pull off two push ups before dropping to my knees. Then three more. 355 days to go.

I made a monstrous meal. I should never be allowed to cook for myself after running. Of course, I should probably not be left with a menu and a credit card in a restaurant after running. I made about fourteen pounds of braised greens, peppers, and zucchini. I had an avocado for a salad, and about four ounces of beef sautéed in my greens. For dessert, my favorite, an artichoke. With organic mayonnaise. Organic, not orgasmic! About the only time I ever eat mayonnaise is if it’s organic and only ever on artichokes. Or with a spoon, a childhood habit I’ve long since broken, except to clean the spoon off before putting it in the dishwasher.

I had a lovely chat with my love tonight. Tomorrow is his birthday, wish I could be there to spoil him. Oh well, soon enough.

Let's talk about serving size! I had yogurt for breakfast and an apple (and peanut butter) for lunch. I ran five miles. I was HUNGRY!
Let’s talk about serving size! I had yogurt for breakfast and an apple (and peanut butter) for lunch. I ran five miles. I was HUNGRY!

Let Me Slip Into Something More Uncomfortable

Comfort, we think of this as a good thing, something we desire, something we seek. We look for comfort in clothes, shoes, beds, chairs, couches, cars, climate, friendships, relationships, our income and standard of living. I have a hard time thinking of a place we wouldn’t desire comfort. And, yet, comfort can be the enemy. I’ll explain.

There seems to be a fine line between comfortable and too comfortable, in life. When we are comfortable, everything is going well, or well enough. Often, once we’re comfortable, we slip into a state of “too comfortable”, which is stagnation, or even complacency. This is where we fall into a danger zone.

Complacency and stagnation imply a lack of concern, a staleness, an absence of movement. Yet, the world continues to move at a very rapid pace all around us. We may soon fall behind if we do not pay close attention. This can jeopardize our career, our fitness and health, and our relationships.

Career wise, think of the job skills and the technical skills that are necessary to be competitive now compared to ten years ago. Compared to twenty years ago. I know people who were “comfortable”, career wise, twenty years ago and became stagnant and complacent. As technology advanced, they clung to their comfortable ways, and in so doing, became less than competitive and unmarketable in their careers.

In our fitness and health realm, becoming comfortable can be very detrimental to our long-term health. While we are young and our metabolisms match our young, hearty and often unwise eating habits, all is well. As we become older and our metabolisms slow, we begin to accumulate extra pounds. Often, as our career and family interests and demands increase, our activity level decreases, yet our food intake does not, and the problem worsens. Soon, we are “too busy” with life to imagine how we’ll ever fit exercise and healthful food preparation into our schedules. We won’t, unless we make the effort. But, I have to ask this, if you don’t have time for fitness and healthful food preparation now, how in the world are you going to be able to manage illness or disease with your “too busy” schedule? That is often the consequence.

Comfort in relationships is also desirable, but once it becomes stagnation or complacency, the relationship is doomed to unhappiness or demise unless corrective measures are taken. Relationships, successful, enduring relationships, take as much effort and energy as an effective fitness program. Relationships involve two people, each of whom are growing and changing, learning and advancing, with time. It is important to always be focused on those changes and how they impact the relationship. It is important to allow the relationship to evolve along with the changes, the evolution of the parties involved. If a relationship is comfortable, stagnant, or complacent, and doesn’t evolve as the people do, it will suffer and become strained. A certain level of consciousness should be paid to your relationship, as much or more as you pay to your personal and career advances.

To grow, to change, to evolve, to advance, we need to get uncomfortable. Metaphorically speaking, and in reality, if we are sitting in our recliner every night, veg’ing out in from of the television, it is very hard to foster meaningful change. Heck, it’s hard just to stand up again. We will never accomplish anything greater by repeating the same, ordinary behavior over and over. To accomplish anything greater, we need to do something greater, and this is usually something that will be, at first, uncomfortable. One of my favorite home workout videos is Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown. She is quoted in one particularly tough section as “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

John Assaraf , author, lecturer and entrepreneur posted this on Facebook “I find that so many people nod their heads and say yes ‘I want this or that’ but when it comes down to really doing what it takes to do ‘this or that’ another part of their personality kicks in. It’s the ‘I’m too comfortable’ doing what I am doing right now part of their unconscious that kicks in and they allow their old comfortable self to rule and keep them away from the possibilities of a better future. To succeed beyond where you are, you must be willing to do what you aren’t comfortable doing for enough time so it becomes easy.”

I have shared some of my challenging experiences in the past, experiences where I had to get uncomfortable to progress in a direction that was necessary for me to go. In my current job, I teach groups of professionals how to use any of several accounting and auditing softwares. I must speak for eight hours at a time, standing, in front of an often unenthusiastic audience. I was never one for ANY kind of public speaking, I was once even shy speaking to professionals one on one. This job came to me at a time when my family was in great financial need. I took the job and overcame my limitation out of desperation in order to keep a roof over our head for a few more months. As you know, this job requires a great deal of air travel and when I took this job I was a very nervous flyer. I overcame that nervousness out of necessity. I have also told of my decision to begin running in an effort to overcome another self-imposed limitation I’ve harbored for many years. I became comfortable with running out a desire to challenge myself personally. We can change in any manner we seek by putting ourselves in situations where we are uncomfortable, this fosters growth and evolution, builds self-confidence and self-esteem

I truly believe we can do anything, that we can overcome any self-imposed limitation we choose, but, to do so we must do that which makes us uncomfortable. We have to push ourselves to change and to evolve. An immovable object will not just begin moving without some force to dislodge it. We are often that immovable object. We are also the dislodging force if we desire it. Dislodge yourself from complacency and stagnation. Slip into something a little more uncomfortable.

I challenge you to slip into something a little more uncomfortable. Take a moment or two and figure out something, however minor, however major, you’d like to accomplish. Assign a timeframe to it. Let’s do this together! Tell me what you want to accomplish that makes you a little (or a lot) uncomfortable) and I’ll tell you what my new challenge is. Push-ups make me uncomfortable. I can do about one. I want to be able to do more. I remember a young lady in my son’s fifth grade class who could drop and do 100 push-ups. I want to be able to do THAT, but it’s very uncomfortable, for me! I know this is no major, life altering ability, but, to me, it is. I have always had inferior upper body strength, a limitation, perhaps even a self-imposed limitation. Just to prove that limitations, of any sort, can be overcome, I am going to work towards being able to do one hundred push-ups, non-stop, one year from now. We’ll round down to June 1st to make it easier to remember. By June 1, 2014, I will post a video of me doing 100 push-ups, non-stop. How uncomfortable! What’s your challenge?! Let’s all slip into something uncomfortable!