Sunday, November 17, 2013

#34 - Less complaining

If you have read my blog since I started doing DayZero, you may recognize this goal from my first 101 list - Don't Complain about Anything for a Week.  My first experience was such an interesting lesson in being mindful about my words that I wanted to try it again - you can read the first post here.

The experience was different this time, but I learned some equally valuable lessons.  I did find it encouraging that this time around I only needed to start the week over twice (as opposed to three starts last time).  However, I feel like I made a lot more borderline comments this time around.  And, due to the restarts, I ended up having a significant portion of the complaint-free period occur when I was not at work - which lowered the bar significantly.

The biggest change was where I felt the seeds of complaints starting from.  Last time, I noticed how many negative comments I hear randomly (often about things that I have no control over) during the course of my day.  This time, I heard the negativity inside myself.  My inner critic has certainly been quite vocal recently - telling me all of the things that I am doing wrong myself, worrying over stuff that I can't change, and generally crabbing about the minor inconveniences of any particular day.  I know that negative inside voice has been getting louder for various reasons - stress and burnout at work, frustrations with a plateau in my weight loss strategy, etc. - but taking the time to listen to what I say and how I express it for a week showed me that I am not very happy with what's happening in my life right now.

At the same time that I was making this discovery, one of my friends posted something on Facebook (thanks, Thad!) that helped me stop and think about one of the areas that I generally criticize myself on fairly severely - my appearance.  Take a look at this great video that he posted of Amanda Trusty dancing (note that it is burlesque, the clothes come off); I am inspired by this woman's courage in freeing herself of the labels that come along with not being society's ideal image.  And, I think she looks great!

It was a great reminder that all of those critical thoughts that I hear when I look in the mirror aren't necessarily what everyone else is thinking when they see me.  In fact, I challenged myself to go glamorous for Halloween this year and received tons of positive feedback on how great I looked.  I tried to find a shots for before/after to add to this blog post and realized that I have been so uncomfortable with my weight that it has been quite a long time since I've allowed anyone to take a photo of me that I could use as a "before", so you're only going to get the after ...

How I look now (the glamour version)
I'm not where I want to be with my weight, but I'm telling myself that I've come a long way and need to recognize that and shut up that little voice that says "but you haven't lost any more in the last two months".  And, I need to take a look at some of the other areas of my life that I'm criticizing myself for and decide on steps to make myself either happier or more accepting of what is happening in those areas so I don't drive myself nuts.  It's easy to complain; it's harder to change ... but I think the changes will make me a lot happier in the long run.

Monday, November 11, 2013

#58 - Wardrobe purge

I don't think of myself as a fashionista or even a girly-girl, so I am always appalled when I realize how many clothes I have.  Since I have recently been losing weight, my closet has been even more crammed than usual with 4 - yes, you read that right - sizes of clothes accumulating since the last time I even briefly looked through more than just the stuff on hangers by the door.  People seem to fall into the categories of "tosser" and "hoarder"; I am in the latter camp.

This goal was to motivate myself to get rid of some (at least 25) items that I no longer wear.  Over the last month, I have spent over 6 hours simply cycling through trying on clothes - one drawer or closet bar at a time - to see what fits.  I probably have twice my goal in the boxes to go to Goodwill (I stopped counting at the 25 mark), and I took out of the closet and dresser a number of things too worn to go in those boxes as well.  I still have far more clothes than I probably need.

However, doing this sort of purge when you are losing weight is more emotionally rewarding than the opposite - I thought I had one pair of jeans that I could currently fit into; I have seven.  Plus, it was good to reflect on the fact that I used to wear skirts and dresses fairly regularly to work.  I'm not sure why I stopped; I did get compliments when I wore them.  So, I moved some of those items towards the front where I would see them (and consequently wear them more often).  And, though I don't plan to wear it soon, it was fun to realize that there are items like my (graduate school era) interview suit that I can fit into again after 20 years.  Plus, I now have many extra hangers, so I won't need to spend time searching for empty ones each time that I do laundry.

I still am not quite finished, though I am counting the goal as done.  There are 10 items I'm calling "maybes" that I'm going to get a friend's opinion on to decide whether to keep.  And, I did not go through my t-shirt/sweatshirts that I wear around the house - perhaps later in the winter ...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

#40 - Kickstarter

I discovered the Kickstarter community about a year ago and was instantly addicted.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept ... the Kickstarter site allows individuals to help fund projects that they are interested in.  First, a person with a project writes a campaign pitch and posts it on the site.  Then, people from all over the world can contribute if they desire to help the project succeed.  If the pitch does not raise a specific amount of money in the time frame, none of the contributions are given to the project.  If the monetary pledge goal is met or exceeded, all backers are automatically charged for their pledge.  Often, backers receive some sort of incentive based on their level of support to the project.

I first heard about Kickstarter through a game company that I follow - Looney Labs.  They were doing a campaign to make a better version of one of their games.  I started looking through the site and found MANY campaigns that looked interesting.  Over the past year, I've mostly been supporting gaming campaigns (and have gotten an advance line on some great new games as a result) with a few publishing, food, and design projects in the mix.

The site uses a wheel graphic to show what sort of campaigns you have supported, and when I was writing this set of DayZero goals, I decided it would be fun to fill all the colors in on my personal wheel with a donation in each category.  Today, I pledged to my last two unfilled categories: dance: supporting a non-profit dance program for children with physical disabilities and film: where I'm backing a short animated film about Tesla (the inventor).  Although neither campaign has ended yet, both are above their minimum funding levels, so I am confident that they will go forward.

Kickstarter is a lot of fun.  Even if you don't choose to fund a project, it's a great way of seeing ideas that people are working on.  I usually can't afford the design or technology category projects at the level to get the incentive level I'd like, but some of them are fabulous things.  Also, if you are interested in the arts, there are many projects in those categories that may spark interesting ideas for your own work.  Plus, there are a few great humanitarian ideas mixed in as well - one of the projects I supported early this year was building a remoter controlled sensor to find forgotten active landmines in previously war-torn areas.  Take a look at what's out there ...