Loving Yourself – Kicking the comparison habit once and for all!

“Suzy is so attractive.” My mother would remark.

She would then offer helpful suggestions as to how I could be more like poised and perfect Suzy, which we both knew was impossible.  I was a late bloomer who wore a superfluous training bra until the age of 19.

But that didn’t stop me from trying to be like Suzy.

I went on diets featuring grapefruit and popcorn. I tried to get a tan using sun reflectors – which is why I am on a first name basis with my dermatologist.  I even took a Dale Carnegie course to help me “win friends and influence people.”

I also became a comparison junkie.

My current Suzy’s include those who pray out loud more eloquently than I (even though I know God doesn’t care about such matters), those who have a better backhand, those who are more extroverted, better read, friendlier, funnier, braver, better at Suduko.  Etc etc.

Such wasted energy!  It’s time to get my mother’s voice out of my head.  I will never be Suzy and nor should I be.

Psychology Today offers some helpful suggestions to help us drop the comparison habit.

-Know what our triggers are and avoid them.  For instance, we may choose not to read  People magazine or watch Entertainment Tonight, or gaze at Facebook’s vacation  photos.

-Remind ourselves that what we see on the outside may not match what is really happening in people’s lives.  All of us like to project images suitable for social media.

-Use the comparison trap as motivation to improve on what is truly important.  Do we want to be as kind as Marguerite?  As generous as Donna?  As humble as Brett?  Look for those who are honest, fun, giving and emulate the qualities we admire.

The author,  Dr. Susan Biali Haas, ends the article with this —

“Imagine if you could elevate the comparison game to a useful art form. Stop falling prey to its dark underbelly, which does little more than increase feelings of misery and lack in your life. Use comparison, instead, to become a better person and maybe even make your little corner of the world a better place. ”

Great advice, I’d say.  For ALL we have is our little corner.  And the  responsibility to make it better — one constructive comparison at a time.  I may not be as attractive as that Suzy, but I can work on being more generous, kind, and loving.  To try to be better today than I was yesterday.  The only comparison that matters.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Limit your scrolling through social media, especially if it tends to  trigger that comparison junkie in you.

-Take a walk instead.  Make a gratitude list.  Tidy up your corner.

 

And enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I need 12 pairs of jeans? A Decluttered Life is a Happier Life

Well, there’s the calf length jeans, the ankle pair, the boot legs, the ones with the tears at the knees (so current).  There’s the skinny jeans and the ones you wear when you’re snuggled on the sofa watching the 2 hour Bachelor finale.  Not to mention black jeans, washed jeans, and jeans with different waists.  (Mom jeans are coming back for sure…remember, even Barack was caught wearing them!)

Seriously, though, if your closet is overflowing with work clothes you won’t ever wear again, bikinis that you have no business  wearing, and jackets that were cute in 1975 but STILL have not returned to the runway, then your closet is not adding to your happiness.  It may even be robbing you of joy.

Decluttering expert Kathi Lipp says, “Clutter is a part of life, but when clutter stops your life, that’s when you need to make some changes.”

Ms. Lipp says that clutter is a “physical manifestation of overwhelm in our lives.” And the the root of clutter, she adds, can be traced to fear, guilt, and shame.

Fear What if I need this some day?  GuiltThis was a gift from my mother; how can I discard it?  ShameI spent money on this item and I shouldn’t have and so I will keep it for the rest of my life.  

She cites a fascinating statistic.  In the U.S. there are more storage units than there are McDonalds and Starbucks.  We are drowning in STUFF.  Think of what we Baby Boomers are leaving for our adult children to sort through??  (I rather doubt that Alex will want my comfy jeans…)

 

A few caveats though…

Stuff is not inherently bad.

And a lot depends on your season of life.  With little kids afoot, your house is taken over by Little Tykes toys.  As it should be.

But we Baby Boomers are in a season of paring down.  We know all too well we won’t be taking a darn thing with us at the end of the day.  And in the words of decluttering phenom, Marie Kondo, we should retain only that which sparks JOY.

So even though I’m certain mom jeans will be coming back to fashion (as attested by Barack Obama), I can say thank you and farewell to at least 9 pairs of jeans, leaving me the 3 that spark joy.

Ms. Kondo suggests that we start decluttering with our closets, taking EVERYTHING we own and tossing it ALL on a bed, in full view, where we can begin sorting.

If we are uncertain about a particular item, Ms. Lipp suggests we ask three questions.

 

Do I love it?    Do I use it?    Would I buy it again?

We love our jackets.  But we wear only 3 out of 10.  So bye-bye to padded shoulders and fringy leather.  If we haven’t taken up motorcycling by now, it likely won’t be happening.  And as for disco, it had its 15 minutes of fame.

 

Ms. Lipp’s website has a plan for decluttering FAST.

And Ms. Kondo offers a method that WORKS.  Here is a summary from Good Housekeeping.

6 Principles —

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first. Before getting rid of items, sincerely thank each item for serving its purpose.
  4. Tidy by category, not location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself it it sparks joy.

And five categories to tackle in order:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (a.k.a. Miscellaneous Items)
  5. Sentimental Items

 

 

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So,  don those comfy jeans, curl up on your couch, ignore the time-sucking Bachelor, and binge watch Marie Kondo’s viral Netflix show.  Joy awaits.

 

 

And speaking of Joy, my co-blogger will be continuing this topic for Wednesday.   Stay tuned!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Don’t forget to thank your stuff on its way out.  Those ribbed turtlenecks served you well.

-Do a little bit each day.  Decluttering is a way of life. Savor the process.

 

Enjoy the ride!   And get rid of the storage unit!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

In my grandmother’s trunk, I packed a…

Remember that memory game where each person adds to the accumulation in Grandma’s trunk?

My friend, Mary Rose, offered this advice as I prepared for a trip, “Don’t forget to pack your love, joy, and peace.”

My suitcase brims with such each morning.  But come evening, reflecting on the day gone by, I note a lack of love, a shortage of peace, and questionable joy.  My suitcase has snuck in self-promotion and a loose tongue, partly the result of one too many glasses of wine.

So with time at a premium for us Baby Boomers, join me in packing a trunk focused on love, joy, and peace.

Many faith practices entail prayer rituals exercised three times a day.  How about setting our phones to remind us to pause periodically for a moment of gratitude, or simply an acknowledgement of surrender, a look outside of ourselves?

Amy Morin in Psychology Today writes about 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

We will sleep better, have higher levels of self-esteem, enjoy deeper relationships, and experience satisfaction with life. In short, there will be more love, joy, peace.

“We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.”

In my grandmother’s trunk I packed –

Gratitude, Love, Peace, Joy

And a timely cell phone reminder to get over myself.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Psychology Today also tells us that gratitude helps us stop comparing ourselves to others.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

-Hey Loose Tongue, why not spurt out a compliment or two.  The sincere kind.  It wouldn’t kill you!

 

Enjoy the Ride!  We are grateful for YOU!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

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Christmas Messiness

 

One Christmas I proudly mailed out our family Christmas card, only to realize after the fact that 4-year-old Jared’s hand was placed comfortably (yet firmly) on his crotch, center stage.

Then there was the time Grandma and I were happily preparing a feast, wine in hand, when she looked out the window at our neighbor’s Christmas lights, and exclaimed “Look at the donkeys!”  To which I responded, “Perhaps they are reindeer.  But I could be wrong.  Maybe Santa uses donkeys.”  We still giggle at our inebriated discussion!

And I’ll never forget the Christmas I briskly drove our SUV to the tree lot, fuming that I was doing this chore all by my lonesome.  And in this state of angry self-justification, I subsequently plowed this same SUV into our garage, forgetting the small fact there was a tree tied to its roof.  I can still hear the violent crunching sound.

Another year Alex and I brought home a complete Christmas village, with snow, miniature people, benches, trees, and intricate buildings lit up from within.  “We have to be very careful,” we said.  “They are so fragile”.  Upon the word “fragile” we turned at the exact same time and crashed the village churches into each other, teeny windows, roofs and doorways falling on the living room rug.  They were indeed fragile.

And finally there was that Christmas night we went to the movies, a certain-family member having selected the film.  Imagine sitting next to your daughter’s boyfriend, age 25, and watching the first (close-up) scene from The Wolf of Wall Street – it is not A Wonderful Life.   That certain-family member still gets teased about this selection.

Do you have some messy Christmas memories?

Well, take heart that the very first Christmas was also messy.   A teenage mom.  Stinky barnyard animals.  Straw.   Refugee status awaiting.  An evil ruler.

 

So don’t let a ruined tree, an embarrassing card, drunk cooks, or an awkward movie experience get in the way of marveling at the miracle of Christmas.

God coming down.  Messy and marvelous.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Read Joy’s reflection.  My Favorite Christmas Memory (still)    Relish the messiness!

-And don’t forget to marvel!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ye Ole Comfort Zone

My daughter, Alex, needed to produce a favorite quote to be published in her company’s news periodical – alongside a photo and an interview.  She selected one by Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In.

“What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”

When I googled Sheryl Sandberg, I discovered a plethora of inspiring quotes that someone like me needs to heed.

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Here’s my favorite –

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If offered such a seat, let’s just say I’d be running the other direction!

I love my Comfort Zone.  And now that I’m retired, it’s all too easy to bask in it.  To be a lazy bum and then condemn myself for being so, then open the freezer and reach for a Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Chocolate carton to seal the deal.

You get the picture.   Ms. Sandberg is not exactly my doppelgänger.  (Never used that word before.  How’s that for risk taking?!)

As we age, we need to guard against social anxiety (my middle name), self-induced isolation, and lazy bum-ism.

We don’t have to board a rocket ship, but we do have to MOVE.

In fact, the word, MOVE, can be a Rules-for-Life acronym for us Baby Boomers who are leaning-in – just not as Ms. Sandberg advocates.

M =  Mindful (THIS is our one life; And Time, she’s a mover.)
O =  Own your age (As you thinketh, so you are-eth – a loose Proverbs translation – by moi)
V =  Volunteer (even just a smile or kind word; a note; an hour a week with the elderly, the homeless, the “least of these”)
E =  Exercise (remember Peggy in her high heels?)

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We of an introverted nature may need a kick in the butt.  Reuters News published this 2017 piece that could be our butt kick.  Check it out if you have a minute.

Exercise linked to lower risk of premature death in older women

So goodbye, Comfort Zone, I’m heading out to play paddle tennis.  Then Codie wants to go to the nursing home.  And then I may meet a friend for a beer while Codie contemplates her canine life (food) alongside.

No need for a trip in a rocketship however.  Sorry, Sheryl!

Today’s Takeaway –

– MOVE – Be mindful of your days; own your age; volunteer; and exercise.

-Take that seat in the rocketship if that’s your thing.  I’ll drink my beer and applaud you from a safe distance!

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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Living in the NOW

In her later years my mother endorsed Eckhart Tolle’s best seller, The Power of Now.

Peggy saw no reason for dawdling in the past and rehashing the Done.  She grabbed each day – waking with the sun and attacking her projects – prepping for Bible teaching, planning the next party, volunteering at the day care center.  In her immutable style, she was fond of saying, “You have to get off your ass”.

Tolle would agree. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

The Bible also speaks about living in the present.  “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”

“THIS is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The latest buzzword for living in the present is “mindfulness”.  And we retired Boomers have ample opportunity to practice this practice.

But first I have to admit – I am lousy at this.  I have befriended anxiety;  fear is my longtime pal.  And my glass is usually half empty.  God must look at me and sigh.

SO, in the interest of evoking a smile from God, I’m going to be intentional about living in the NOW. Want to join me?  Here are some “tricks” offered by  Health Line  to reduce anxiety and promote mindfulness.

 

Set an Intention

“Setting an intention can help you focus and remind you why you are doing something. If something gives you anxiety — like a big speech at work — set an intention before it takes place. You can set an intention to take care of your body before heading to the gym or to treat your body with kindness before eating.”

Turn Household Tasks into a Mental Break

“Instead of obsessing over your to-do list or clutter, let yourself relax into the moment. Dance while you do the dishes or focus on the way the soap runs down the tiles while you clean the shower. Take five slow breaths while you wait for the microwave to stop.”

 

Wish Other People Happiness

“You only need 10 seconds to do this practice from author and former Google pioneer Chade-Meng Tan. Throughout the day, randomly wish for someone to be happy.  You don’t have to tell the person, you just have to send the positive energy.”

 

The author of Health Line, Mandy Ferreira, also suggests we take walks, look up, pause at traffic lights, take a break from social media, lose our phones for a bit.

And then she adds an interesting point.  We can actually feel anxious about  not being mindful enough!  She says that Netflix has its time and place.  (Phew…I’d hate to forego the next season of the Bachelorette!)

So let’s channel Peggy and Eckhart and  enjoy the gift of NOW – while we get off our asses.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

  • Don’t let worry rob you of your NOW moments.
  • Pick one trick and give it a go.  I like the one about dancing while doing the dishes. No one’s looking.  Well maybe my golden retriever, Codie, will turn away in horror.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

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