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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slowly But Surely - Making Changes & The Words of Others

Wow!  I can't believe it's been over a month since my last entry.  Well, actually, I can.  I never realized I am such a procrastinator.  But, the truth is, I am.

All is not lost, however, since the last time I logged in and wrote.  I have some accomplishments under my belt (if you can call them that).  On a measurable level, for the last three weeks I've been walking for at least 20 minutes for at least three days a week.  Now, I know that doesn't sound like much to you healthy and active adults out there but this is a huge step for this obese, couch potato.  I just happened to open my big mouth while getting my hair done by my neighbor, Nada, who owns and operates her own hair salon from home.  We were talking about our expanding bellies, among other things, and I said, "do you want to start walking in the morning?".  As soon as the words left my mouth I had a sense of dread and the feeling of, 'oh shit, I'm making a commitment'.  But, Nada was very receptive to my offer.  We decided to meet every morning at 7:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, and walk through our lovely neighborhood.  I warned Nada that since I am so obese, inactive, and fighting high blood pressure that I may not make it very far.  We agreed that something is better than nothing. 

The next item is not really an accomplishment, per se, but something I would label as a significant change for the better.  I cut my hair...off.  Not all of it but it is a drastic change from my previous hairstyle.  Before Nada moved her magic scissors she said, "Are you sure?" and I said, "Yes, I'm ready for a change.  I'm sick of the same old style.  Besides, it'll grow back.".  Now, it wasn't like I had a long mane and would be able to donate my hair to some great organization like Locks of Love or anything like that.  Basically, I was going from an outgrown, angled bob that just about hit my neck (no bangs, just hanging around my chin).  My new style?  Over my ears (gotta show off my double piercing), close to the neck, and bangs.  Yup, very short.  I didn't care if I looked like a dike or man (besides, I have makeup, jewelry, and for the most part I always wear lipstick).  I wanted something new, fresh, and light.  And let me tell you, when Nada was done, I felt relieved; like a monkey was lifted off my back.  I never really had 'long' hair.  My hair has always been 'fine' (now it is on the thin side).  Every time I've tried to grow out my hair I just couldn't take it.  I'd chop it off and be done with it.  When it was in vogue I had the Dorothy Hamill, I had the curly perm, and I've even had a punk-style with a 'tail'.  I've had every typical hair color under the sun sans green, pink, or blue.  Right now, my short hair fits my personality and makes me feel young and rejuvenated.  Can't ask for more.

During the last few weeks I have been doing quite a bit of reading.  I am a slow reader.  I've always been a slow reader.  When I was in first grade I had to sit with my mom and read to her while she tape recorded it.  Not sure how this was supposed to improve my reading but it did make me embarrassed to hear myself.  So, nothing has really changed in the speed department but when I do read it has to be something I am truly interested in or can benefit from.  This is why I tend to stick with non-fiction self-improvement types of books.  Occasionally I will fit in a fiction book but a good 80% of the material that I read is non-fiction.  Even when I go to the library, which is once per week, I go straight to the non-fiction new release shelf.  So, here is a short synopsis of what I've been reading and a mini-review, if you will.

Women Food and God by Geneen Roth:
Endorsed by Oprah.  Curious about the title although turned off by the word, 'God', because I'm not very religious.  It was actually stating obvious things like, "Eat what your body wants...Eat until you are satisfied".  So, while restating the obvious I really didn't have a lot of notes taken for this particular book.

The Joy of Appreciative Living - 28 Day Plan to Greater Happiness in 3 Steps by Jacqueline Kelm:
This book is one that happened to call to me from the local library's new release non-fiction shelf.  The title is what got me.  A bonus was finding out that the author is local to the Raleigh, NC area.  Now, this book generated quite a bit of note-taking on my part, which is a good thing.  There are a few thought-provoking exercises in the book which is always a plus when you are on the journey to self-discovery.  I like how she is relatable and makes the steps easily achievable.  She doesn't berate you if you slip up and relates that she is human and has slipped up before.  She offers ideas for staying on track.  What are the three steps you ask?  Well, I don't really want to spoil it for you (because I do recommend this book) but I will say that you will be able to appreciate your life more, increase your joy, and express your gratitude.  If you are aching to make a change in your life, set some goals, and accomplish them this book will help you sort it out and motivate you to get started.

Getting The Pretty Back by Molly Ringwald:
Okay, yes I admit, I am a fan of her work and her teen-angst movies spoke to me.  I still enjoy watching them and was lucky enough to see her a couple of years ago when she was touring with Sweet Charity.  She's always been 'classy' and maybe even a little 'snooty' which I kind of like.  This is not your typical 'former-child-actor-sob-story-former-addict-in-recovery' biography.  And believe me, I've read the recent Valerie Bertinelli, Mackenzie Philips, Jody Sweetin, Melissa Gilbert, etc. bios (which I've enjoyed - my guilty pleasure).  Molly shares her life from childhood to adulthood but weaves the stories within her tidbits of advice for how a 40-something-year-old can recapture her "essential self".  It is a good message and there is some 'pretty' good advice but some of the references are out of my price range and lack relatability (this is where the snooty comes in but only a little bit).  Read if you are a fan.

If You Have to Cry Go Outside - and other things your mother never told you by Kelly Cutrone with Meredith Bryan:
Yes, even at 45 I must admit that I still watch MTV and have been a victim of the addictive series which include:  Laguna Beach, The Hills, and The City.  It is sad but true.  I have no life and therefore choose to live vicariously through younger, wealthier and better looking women.  Oh well, at least I admit it.  But, Kelly Cutrone, whom I believe first popped up on The Hills, totally made these type of reality shows realistic.  She put the 'real' in reality.  Her demeanor and refusal to treat these pampered, privileged kids with kid gloves just melted my heart.  I love her honesty and caustic style even though it is a little harsh.  But that is just her being her and to me if she is living her authentic life then I want to know how she does it.  I love how she doesn't apologize for herself and gives many good doses of tough love.  This is the kind of book that I would have benefited from when I was in high school or college.  Perhaps I would have mustered up the courage and self-confidence to go for it and fuck everyone else.  But I guess it's never too late, is it?

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay:
How did I come across this book?  My niece who is a successful model in New York shared a list of books and this was one of them.  Yes, it is an older book but it is still relevant today.  This is an excellent book if you are truly serious about overcoming your past, delving deeply into your pain, doing hard introspective work, and begin to truly heal.  It is a book that allows you to be your own therapist at a much cheaper rate.  If you are stuck in the past, like I am/was, and desperately want to move on and stop using excuses this is the book to read.  Commit to doing the exercises.  Spend the time thinking and being honest with yourself.  Allow yourself to shed the shit that is holding you back and move on with your life.  This book is highly recommended.

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker:
This is another book that will motivate you into the right mindset.  It will pump you up and make you realize that what holds us back in life are our thoughts about ourselves.  It also makes you realize that we have the power to change our thoughts so that we can get the most out of our lives.  We can overcome the past and create a new, fruitful future with the power of our thoughts.  Understanding the difference in thought patterns between rich people and poor people and realizing where you fall leads you to believe in the age-old saying, "mind over matter".  I believe this is a pre-cursor to The Secret  and a lot of the inspiring dialogue which makes you believe anything is possible resonates in this book.  This book is like a cheerleader rooting you on toward a touchdown.

Happy - Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of Life by Ian K. Smith:
What attracted me to this book was obviously the title.  I also knew of Mr. Smith through his appearances on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club (yes, I am a reality-show junkie).  I was surprised to read that he grew up in Connecticut.  He even referenced going to the Danbury Fair as a happy moment in his life.  So, this book had a comfortable point of reference for me since I grew up in Connecticut as well and I remember the Danbury Fair.  The book comes off a little more clinical than I would have liked.  I didn't take that many notes and did not finish this book.

Is It Just Me?: Or Is It Nuts Out There? by Whoopi Goldberg:
So, why did I order this from the library and wait for it?  Because I watch The View daily and have read most of the other co-hosts' books.  It's not that I am a 'fan' of Whoopi; she's okay.  Yes, I liked her in The Color Purple and Ghost.  She does well as moderator on The View and is more even-keeled than Rosie O'Donnell, that's for sure.  But, I watch her mannerisms and expressions on some of the topics and with some of the guests and she comes off as elitist and stand-offish.  I notice she bites her tongue an awful lot and sometimes I see the frustration building up...this is kind of fun to watch.  So, all those things that she's kept bottled up have been put to paper.  Like I really need to hear her kvetching about little annoyances that we all have to deal with.  Yes, some are valid complaints (like drunk driving, out-of-control- kids in public places) but in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "you can probably buy your way out of some of these circumstances while the average Joe has to deal with this crap".  If her intent is to reach the people who are the offenders of these offenses I doubt she'll reach them; they probably don't read too many books.

So, as you can see I've been quite busy this past month.  No, I haven't been raking in the cash.  But, I have let go of a lot of extra baggage, crappy thought patterns, and woe-is-me excuses.  What I've gained is a new commitment to improve my life, happiness, and quality of life.  Has my reading speed increased?  Probably not, but I will continue to seek insight and answers in the words of others.