When you really, really want something

When you really, really want something - like the stuffing - don't deprive yourself.
When you really, really want something – like the stuffing (or dressing) – don’t deprive yourself.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the US. Happy Thanksgiving to my readers! I am truly thankful for you! Traditionally it’s a day of football, eating until you’re too stuffed to eat any more, and then collapsing in a turkey coma on the couch. As I wrote last week, Thanksgiving for me is truly a day of gratitude for family and friends, and food. Ours was a very small celebration yesterday – just two of us. But we had all of our Thanksgiving favorites – turkey, dressing (it’s dressing not stuffing because we don’t stuff the bird!), cranberry relish and brussels sprouts (yes, we love our sprouts!). And dessert. And I had everything. Because when you really, really want something, it’s perfectly OK to have it.

Everything in moderation

I’ve written about my “everything in moderation” philosophy. I never deprive myself. If I really, really want something, I have it. Perhaps just a little bit of it, but enough to satisfy the craving.

I love our stuffing – or dressing. It’s really a savory bread pudding with minimal herbs and spices. We salt and saute a few pounds of onions and a whole head of celery in vegetable oil until they’re nicely browned and caramelized (this takes a while). We mash a loaf of stale (or lightly toasted) egg bread with a few eggs and a quart of warm milk. Add a little more salt, mix everything together, turn it into a casserole sprayed generously with cooking spray and bake it for a few hours, stirring to get the maximum amount of crustiness every half hour or so. I’m making myself hungry writing about it.

I don’t skimp

When dinner time comes around, I give myself a regular sized portion. When I finish that, if I really, really want more, I give myself another spoon. It’s Thanksgiving, after all. 

I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t second guess myself. I know there are lots of calories in it. But it’s worth it to me to work out extra the next few days.

Because if I didn’t have exactly what I wanted, I’d think about it. I’d mope about it. I’d overeat in another way. I’m doing myself a favor in eating exactly what I want.

Food, family and gratitude

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the US. It’s one of my favorite holidays of the year, because it’s all about food, family, and gratitude.

Finally in person

Food, family and gratitude all lead to greater optimism and resilience.
Family gives me the warm fuzzies.

During the pandemic isolation we’ve tried to keep in touch with loved ones, but there’s nothing like seeing the people we love in person. After a long 18 months, my sister and I were able to get together with cousins last month for a wonderful afternoon. Being able to give a vaccinated-safe hug was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a long while. A cousin flew into town from the East coast and she probably won’t be able to make it for Thanksgiving, so that October afternoon get-together was our Thanksgiving. 

We shared laughter and recipes. And we commiserated with our cousin’s little boy who got sick from too many sweets (given by his doting Grandma in the morning). We talked about old family stories, and shared some new ones. It was a relatively small gathering, but my sister and I were overjoyed to be with any family.

Warm, fuzzy feelings

The food was great, but that afternoon its importance was diminished by the warm feeling of being surrounded by family. We don’t live very close to family any more – the closest is an hour or more from us. So the opportunity to get together in person on a Sunday afternoon was not to be missed.

Both my sister and I were unspeakably happy to see family. And we were grateful to be able to do so safely. We definitely had warm fuzzy feelings that day. And remembering that sunny afternoon continues to bring happiness and gratitude.

Gratitude => Happiness => Optimism => Resilience

And when we’re happy and grateful for what we have, optimism naturally follows. When we’re optimistic, we look to the future rather than the past. And being able to look optimistically to the future builds our resilience. With resilience comes motivation to meet our goals.

With food, family and gratitude, we can accomplish anything.

Everyone has their own stuff

Everyone has their own stuff, so they don't care what I'm doing now.
Even if anyone is watching, they don’t care. Everyone has their own stuff

It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Really. Everyone has their own stuff that they’re going through. And you probably don’t enter into the equation. As I’m writing this, today has been a frustrating day. Internet issues, financial institution frustrations, dog training problems. It seems like most things that can go wrong have. I work with my sister – our desks face each other. Our monitors are back to back. I’m having my issues and she’s having hers.

The important things get done

Sometimes I’m a little hesitant to work on certain things during the business day because they don’t contribute to our shared businesses. It doesn’t matter that I’ve done the tasks on those businesses that I’ve set out to do for the day, I’m still hesitant. Stupid, but there you are.

She knows, though. And, you know what? It doesn’t matter. There will always be more to do. Today? The crucial tasks are completed. Tomorrow is another day for the rest of the stuff.

She’s got her own stuff

My sister doesn’t care. She’s got her own stuff to deal with. 

And if I’m focused on what others are thinking about me, I’m not getting anything productive done. Nothing on that to-do list is getting checked off. That article is not getting written. The website changes I wanted to make are not getting done. I need to focus on what’s in front of me.

They don’t care

Just like exercising – if you’re at a gym, no one is watching you. Just about everyone feels self-conscious in their workout gear, even though some will never admit it. Everyone thinks that they look stupid doing some of the exercises. A while ago I wrote about this: “No one is watching” And it holds true for most areas of life.

People, unless they actively ask you to participate in it, are so busy with their own activities that they are not paying attention to others.

They don’t care what you’re doing. What video you’re watching. If you’re listening to a business podcast or a steamy romance audiobook. Unless they ask you a question and expect you to focus on them, they don’t care that much at the moment.

It’s natural that we care what others think

Of course, in the larger scheme of things, it’s totally natural that you care about what others think of you. People are social creatures. We want to be with others, and we want others to want to be with us. It follows that in order for others to want to be with us they care about us in some fashion, so we want others to think well of us. We want to do everything we can to foster our relationships and not alienate anyone.

But for the tiny minutiae of everyday life, no one cares that you’re watching a YouTube video and not doing a crossword puzzle. 

So stop wasting time. Get the important stuff (or the distasteful stuff) done first and then figure out what’s important to you. Decide on the steps you need to take to get there, and do it. If today the thing that’s important to you is regaining your focus, go exercise (because exercise really does increase focus), decide on a plan and get to work.

You’re worth it

Last week I asked if it had been a while since you focused on yourself. And I was kind of surprised that the answer for many was, “Yes.” Because you’re worth it. You’re worth the effort of focus and determination. And certainly you’re worth taking the best care.

Like those oxygen masks

It’s been a while … OK, quite a while … since I’ve flown anywhere. But during the safety announcement they always tell the passengers to put their own oxygen mask on first, and then put a mask on their child. Because If you pass out from lack of oxygen, no one will be there to put a mask on the child.

It’s the same point with focusing on yourself. Make time to exercise. Learn how to prepare healthy meals. Pay attention to your health – both physical and mental.

Take care of yourself first so that you can take care of your family. If you take care of yourself , then you’ll be around to enjoy family and friends.

My family thanks me when I exercise

An intense workout improves my mood. I'm worth it.
An intense workout improves my mood. My family is thankful and you’re worth it.

Exercise will keep your muscles and heart strong. It also helps flexibility. And, it may seem counterintuitive that an activity that makes you sweat, pant and turn red in the face will make you happier, it’s true. (More reasons to exercise.) Those post-workout endorphins are real. When I’m in a bad mood, or feeling tense and anxious, an intense workout helps my mood. My family thanks the DVD player for that when I’m done…

You’re adding years

Maintaining a healthy weight will add years to your life. Or, certainly, keep the years you’re around healthier, according to the American Heart Association. When you maintain a healthy weight, you’re less likely to develop certain chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and you may be less likely to get cancer. How do you get to that healthy weight? It’s mostly what you eat! So figuring out that nutritious yet delicious meal plan is essential.

So, if you’ve let yourself come last – it’s time to change that! Focus on yourself. You’ll thank yourself for (hopefully) many years.