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Monday, December 30, 2013

I can do anything! (kinda...)

Luxorium, Flickr
Time to drink Champagne!
A bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin is what I had to buy my mom
the one time I took a bet with her (and lost).
The nice part: she allowed me to drink it with her.

2013 is about to end! As a New Year's present, I feel like offering a few pieces of wisdom that I managed to glean here and there this year. If you feel like adding some more in the comments, please do so! After all:

“The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have.”

  Leonard Nimoy (better known as Spock)

The Holidays as a life lesson

I hope everyone's holidays were pleasant! They were pretty good on our side of the planet.

We unfortunately did not get to see any family (bad weather, terrible road conditions), but we did get to party with loads of friends, and I feel very grateful for that. We did have a flood in the basement, but we did resolve it rather quickly (with the help of 2 of the aforementioned friends); I feel very grateful for that as well. We did not go to the swimming pool, but we did go ice skating (superb cross-training activity for runners by the way), and to watch a basketball game. Guess what? I feel very grateful for that too!

In short, the holidays were just a concentrate of real life: some disappointments/frustrations/sources of stress, and some joy/pleasure/meaningful connections. I did as usual: I chose to focus on the positive. 

Speaking of which...

Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre: All things come to him who waits
(French origin, generally attributed to François Rabelais)

Those thirty-something years of life have taught me that nothing is ever completely over, or final, and that there is always room for hope. The most extreme example of this is that I still occasionally have "conversations" with my deceased father. If you find that esoteric, that is perfectly fine. There are other, more down-to-earth cases. Many a time we will be convinced that all hope is lost to obtain something (or someone, for that matter)... but nice surprises happen. I promise. They do! Just don't hold your breath. Patience truly is a virtue. Keep hope!

In a similar vein, I really want to share a comment I read somewhere in the blogosphere:

Bloom where you are planted

Yes, bloom where you are planted. So simple. So wise. So true. We can pursue dreams and goals, but we also have to learn to deal and make the best of what we have and where we are at the moment. (Great wines could teach us a few lessons about that!)

But what if that place is the workplace, and you'd rather be somewhere else?

Work-life balance: let's have fun in the process

I had to work a lot in the days that preceded the holidays, and again right after. I granted myself a full week of rest, but the everlasting supply of translation/copy editing assignments could not wait any longer. I never thought my profession belonged to what they call "essential services", but apparently, it does!

Faced with a long day of work (while the rest of the family had fun), I was sitting at my home office desk trying to gather my enthusiasm and focus. To do so, I declared out loud, to myself, arms up and fists closed in triumph: "I can do ANYTHING!" I really needed the boost, and no one else was gonna give it to me (in those extreme cases I have concluded that it's acceptable to talk to oneself).

However, my seven year-old, who was walking by at that precise moment, judged adequate to reply. "No you can't", she said with her candid voice. "What do you mean?", I asked, kind of deflated in my delusions of grandeur. "Well, she said, you can't lick your elbow..."

She was right, the little monkey.

I shooed her out of my office, and as soon as she had disappeared...

Well I tried to lick my elbow! What do you think!

(It didn't work. On the bright side, I guess it means my tongue is of reasonable proportions.)

I'm sure HE can lick his elbow!!! (Scott Cromwell, Flickr)

Speaking of balance...

Fellow blogger Roy, from Contemplative Fitness, recently shared his lovely and comprehensive definition of fitness. He says: "The term fitness to me, means the sum of balance, flexibility, strength, stamina, aesthetics, independence, and prevention.  As these values have evolved, one other term has framed them, sustainability" .

When I read those wise words, my first thought was that they also apply to psychological fitness. Every day I try to cultivate my mental and emotional balance, flexibility, strength, stamina, independence, sustainability... and apply preventive measures so that "the machine" remains well-oiled. I also keep providing my kids with tools and skills that will last them a lifetime. Recently I directed my "prone to anger outbursts" little angel to the following child-friendly anger-management website: http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/anger.html# 

Are you making the right choice right now?

This question has become very popular among those who work with children: Are you making the right choice? Instead of scolding, we try to bring the child's attention to his/her behavior, emphasizing the fact that it is always a choice, and that another choice might be a better one.

Well, this theory of choice applies to grown-ups as well. I know I constantly remind myself to just make the right choice. Because, come to think of it, everything is a choice in the course of one day. It's important to look at the big picture, but it's also easy to get lost in it. How often have you told yourself "Okay, as of tomorrow, I'm doing this differently"... only to keep the bad habit in place yet another day? I know it's happened to me plenty of times. Nowadays I really try to ask myself "What are you doing RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW", that will help you reach your goal? Tomorrow is too far, and yesterday is already gone. Right here and right now is the place and time to make that right decision. Depending on your personal "temptations", it could be to have an apple instead of a candy bar, to go for a walk instead of lighting a cigarette, to take a bubble bath instead of another glass of wine (moderation, always!)

Which brings me to resolutions.

One month, one resolution

Resolutions are nice as long as they are realistic and as long as we implement them one at a time. We all tend to do the same: we make a list of a dozen resolutions on December 31st. Well, that would be okay... if we devoted 1 month of the year to each of those resolutions! There is just no way we can implement all the changes at the same time. No way. So let's start with one. A small one, ideally. Like: "I will have a glass of lemon water as soon as I get up in the morning" or "I will go to the gym at least 3 times a week, no excuses allowed". Once January is done, and that we have mastered that goal, we can add a second one for February, and so on.

My new habit, that I have already started to implement, to help reach my fitness goals: at the end of the day, I give myself a green light, a yellow light or a red light for each of the two: food and exercise. I know I can only hope to achieve improved fitness if I accumulate green lights!

Bethany Wears, Flickr

Behavior is always there for a reason

The one thing to keep in mind as we are trying to change (or trying to help someone else change, like a child) is that every single behavior has a reason to exist. Before we attack the behavior, we need to know its cause and function! We do things because we get something from them! Once the root cause is identified, we need to replace the undesirable behavior with another, more desirable one.

I know, it's a lot of work! But so worth it.

Some resolution ideas

My suggestion for your new year resolutions: getting rid of a phobia. I see too many people go through life with an unresolved fear. I think the main reason is that, counter intuitive as it may be, the best way to deal with our fears is to face them (slowly and gradually, of course). Most people understandably do just the opposite: they avoid the source of anxiety/fear. Maybe you'll want to explore that this year? Expose yourself to something that scares you? It is so empowering to get rid of a fear!

One of my personal resolutions this year is to stop misinterpreting English expressions that I don't know (my first language is French). I have, for example, been very perplexed by salespeople who ask me "How are you making out?" I always want to answer "But I'm not making out!" "Do I look like I'm making out?" "And with who, anyways?" Another example that left me speechless was when a woman I had just met proudly shared the following rather personal information: "I'm anal". This is not something we say in French, so I was speechless to say the least. I'm not gonna lie, my first thought was to wonder why she wanted to exchange about such personal preferences so early after meeting me. Luckily I said nothing, and later asked a friend what she had possibly meant.

New Year resolutions... they do work apparently! Watch the video:

Happy New Year everyone!


  1. Happy New Year Julie. I love your idea for a resolution a month... Much more motivating to tackle one thing at a time. The type A in me wants to do it all at once though! Will start with getting my runs/workouts in and the rest will hopefully fall into place:)

    1. Happy New Year A! :-)

      I'm the same, I start like crazy, and abandon half of my goals within 3 weeks. Do as I say, not as I do... ;-)

      Happy running to you!

  2. I love this idea!! I don't tend to set resolutions but I have a list of things that I want to do/try this year. Maybe breaking them down and just assigning one or two per month would be more manageable!
    Happy New Year!

    1. You encourage me to make my own list! I'll put it somewhere where I can see it. But one goal at a time, for sure. It's too hard otherwise, and I don't want to fail.

      We can do anything! ;-)

      Happy new year to you Kim.

  3. Many Happy New Year Wishes to you and your family Julie.

    Loved reading your post - and raising a glass of wine to you

    All the best Jan

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Jan! Thank you for coming by! :-)

  4. I like your red/yellow/green light method for workout and fitness! I need to implement that for myself!

    1. Yep, I like it, it's simple, visual... and it does not lie!

      Good luck, tell me how it goes! :-)

  5. Love "bloom where you are planted" and you totally cracked me up with the non-native English speaker's take on "I'm anal."

    Some great resolution advice and I totally agree about not trying to tackle everything at once! Even though I always do just that and am shocked every year when I can't make tons of progress on all fronts. It's just too tempting to think we can change every aspect of our lives on that Magic New Years Day, and I hate to leave anything out. :)

    1. I feel the same about New Years Days supposed to be magic! Unfortunately, we are still human! So... baby steps it will be! :-)

      I have stopped counting the number of times my twisted mind made something inappropriate out of a novel English expression. It's bad! LOL But I am learning.

      Happy New Year Crabby!

  6. SO many good things here, but I really loved what you said about the holidays. They're real life. Good, bad. Surprises and disappointments. Thank you for sharing with us all!

    1. Thank you Monet for coming by and commenting! :-)

  7. BLOOOM WHERE YER PLANTED has been my mantra for the past 365 days :-)
    I bloomed! I bloomed!!

    1. Great! Glad to hear it works! I'll try it too! :-)

  8. Hi, excellent posting. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Happy New Year to you, wish you all the best in 2014.

  9. Loved the last video, wonderful! Like the others I like the green, yellow, and red lights. I like to suggest to people, and I may have even written this here before, but win 2 days out of 3 and you're ahead of the game. Win 3 out of 4, and that much better. Win 1, lose 1, game over.

    Good stuff, Julie, as always. Well thought.

    1. Exactly, Roy. The long term results are directly proportional to each days's small victories! Thank you for your comment!

    2. As a point of clarification, it WAS actually Stroodle who left the comment, but I want to offer a sincere thank you for the shout out. Very humbled, sincerely.

  10. Hi Julie, I personally *love so much* that my fitness projects are hard and take a long time...because the hope thing, as you mentioned. I go to the gym with hope and anticipation. Anticipation involves patience and settling into the moment instead of chasing the future. Anticipation is much more fun than reaching goals. Happy new year to you! <3

    1. I have to agree with you, Marion. An old sage once told me that we should never completely attain our goals. Getting close, according to him, is best. :-)

  11. I agree that it is difficult to tackle so many resolutions in one go, especially if they are not realistic! Good luck with yours and hope you had a great New Year!

  12. Still practicing at the "bloom where you are planted" one-- but I love that advice. Happy New Year!

    1. I think it helps us remain centered. :-)

      Happy New Year!

  13. Those are worthy phrases to live by!!

    I think the Buddha said that about waiting. Whether or not anyone was listening is questionable :-)

    I've done many tongue releases for ankyloglossia! And that's all I have to say about that :-)

    "On the other side of your greatest fear is your greatest joy!" -- Dr. J

    1. Oh, then many nursing mothers (and their babies) must have been very grateful!

      And I imagine that must be one easy part of your job: Snip! Done. :-) (I might be omitting a couple details.)

  14. I love your one evry month resolution idea..and also the one about facing fears...that's one of my resolution ths year...facing a few of my fears :)