Does it really get easier?

I’m doing my best and every day it gets a little bit easier.

So it’s only Day 3 of the 30-day Loving Kindness Challenge and already I have a hard one! I have to admit I’m a little bit stumped on this one. I’ve been staring at this screen for a while, trying to decide how to approach this post.

My husband doesn’t agree with this particular affirmation, claiming that if you are really doing your best, it should get harder as you go along because you are moving forward.

I guess it depends on what it is that you are doing your best to do. In the case of losing weight, I think that if you keep doing your best every day, it gets easier. For a while. Then you reach a point where the things that were working before are not enough. In order to keep losing weight you may have to change things up a little: increase the intensity or frequency of your workouts, or change up the diet slightly or even dramatically to keep from getting bored.

If you are doing your best at work, maybe the reward for that is more work. Or a promotion with new, more challenging work. That’s not exactly easier.

But if it’s something as ordinary as writing a blog post every day, or taking a picture every day, or even writing in a journal on a daily basis, maybe it does get easier. It gets easier for the simple reason that you get in a routine; it becomes a habit.

In the case of my paella manifesto, it is getting a bit easier. I’ve tried several recipes, some very complex with many ingredients, and some a little bit simpler. What I’ve found is that my first attempt was definitely the hardest (I’m sure mostly because it was the first attempt) but alDSC_5597so, my favorite so far. It was also the recipe with more “from-scratch” ingredients and techniques, and had the most variety of seafood. So does this mean that my best wasn’t the easiest?

Now that I’ve rambled for a while and probably lost anyone attempting to read this, I really have no conclusions to offer, nor do I think that I’ve accomplished the goal of focusing on what is supposed to be my positive affirmation for today. But in the end it did get me to thinking about whether I really am doing my best. Is this post my best work? Not by any means. Did I do my best at work today or was I just going through the motions? Did I do my best to work out hard in my Zumba class tonight?

Today’s affirmation may not have succeeded in making me feel great about myself, but I think it did cause me to evaluate how I do everything I do every day: to take stock of the level of effort I’m exerting. The truth is I haven’t always tried my best. So tomorrow is another day, right? I’m going to give “my best” another shot. I’d better take my vitamins.

I Don’t Mean to Brag, but…

It’s Day 2 of my 30-day Loving Kindness Challenge and today’s affirmation is:

Today I recognize the many good qualities I have.

When I told my husband, he said that I have so many that one couldn’t possibly scroll far down enough to see the whole list. All right, go ahead: roll your eyes. It’s OK. I’ll wait.

It’s very sweet of him to say that and I hope he honestly does feel that way. I have a feeling that he really does.

It was a very busy day for me so I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about my good qualities, except while driving to and from work. I find that I do some of my best thinking in the car. And in the shower. Neither of these is well-suited to making notes as the thoughts come to you.

But because I said I was going to write a post with every affirmation, I’m going to do my best to come up with a few right now.

  1. I’m a generous person, both with my time and my money.
  2. I’m loyal.
  3. I learn things pretty quickly and usually complete tasks ahead of schedule.
  4. I’m a good cook although certainly not an expert in the kitchen. At work I’m famous for my homemade salsa — my salsa gift basket has been known to cause bidding wars in the office benefit raffle.
  5. I have an eye for composing shots despite not being a technically-savvy photographer.
  6. I’m easy going and get along well with almost everybody.

It’s harder to come up with good physical qualities, but I guess that’s part of the whole idea, so here’s what I came up with:

  1. I have pretty hands: long, thin fingers with small wrists.
  2. I have lots of thick hair; while not the easiest to style and every day the streaks of gray become more prominent, I’ve got lots of it.
  3. I lost forty pounds last year and I have managed to stay within five pounds or less of that for a year now and I have a “normal” BMI.
  4. i like my neck. Not really sure why.

So while you probably didn’t have to scroll that much to read this list, I was able to come up with ten good qualities. Not too bad.

Have you made your list yet? What are your good qualities?

A Different Type of Challenge: It’s all about Attitude. And a lot of Writing.

It’s funny how all of a sudden everything you see and read is about the same thing. Whether it’s just our karma, coincidence, a Higher Power answering a prayer you may not have realized you had invoked, or we subconsciously seek it out, sometimes life has a way of sending you the same message over and over until you “get it.”

Take this last week for example. My husband brought home a library book titled “The Writing Diet” by Julia Cameron. It’s a different sort of diet book, meant to re-focus your life around creative pursuits, such as writing, instead of around food, with tools such as daily writing, walking, journaling food intake and feelings about food. There is a focus is on writing yourself out of negative thinking.

Yesterday while looking for inspiration and catching up on the Daily Post I found a recent post about using writing to make lemonade out of lemons. The post encouraged us to set a timer for seven minutes (time can vary) and just rant and rage about whatever has us bothered, upset or depressed. When the timer goes off stop, and then set it again for fifteen minutes or so and write from a different point of view or outlook on the same situation, with the goal being to write your way into a better frame of mind.

Also yesterday, one of my favorite food bloggers shared a link and image on Facebook that really caught my eye:

Shared on Facebook by skinnytaste; originally posted by Heather K. Jones.

I checked out the link and it led me to another blogger’s challenge using daily, positive affirmations to overcome fear and self-loathing. It got my attention because someone in my life has spent the last couple of days mired in doubt, guilt, worry, and probably a low level of self-esteem and morale.When I shared the post about writing yourself out of a negative situation, this same person asked what was the last thing that dragged me down; labeled me an eternal optimist.

I know I do have the reputation of being an optimist, always laid-back, seeing the bright side of most any situation. And most of the time, yes, that’s me. Not ashamed to admit it. Does that make me somewhat unrealistic? Maybe so.

But I’m also very insecure about many things: my body, my cooking, my photography, my parenting. These are all things I’ve been judged on in one way or another, obviously some a little more lightly than others. Rather than dwell on those issues though I will risk being accused of burying my head in the sand and focus on continuing to find a positive outlook every day. I will participate in the challenge presented by Heather by using one of her positive affirmations as the prompt for a post for the next thirty days. As far as the actual and possibly difficult issues that I do need to deal with and help my family with, I will try to be as supportive as I can and come up with real and practical solutions or suggestions.

Last night I printed out the thirty affirmations and cut them out as instructed. I even found a cute bag (thanks Mom!) to stash them in and put them on my nightstand.

Today is Day 1 and this is today’s affirmation:

I choose thoughts that make me feel supported.

Today I am choosing thoughts about the support I get every day at work. I am thinking about the love and support I get from my husband, who is constantly encouraging me to pursue everything in which I express an interest.

What makes you feel supported?

Are you willing to try this challenge with me? What’s your positive affirmation today?