Sunday, January 1, 2012

Make a Fuss

This weekend my Dad turned 90. Not a whole lot of people make it to 90. I would say it’s pretty damned special. When Dad turned 80, my sister came down with family and cupcakes and made a fuss. We have pictures. Dad is wearing a hat and looks a lot like a cat who is forced to wear a hat and have its picture taken: PRICELESS.

This year, I thought we’d expand the family participation. I’ve been posting little Dad Updates on Facebook and have been receiving lots of positive feedback from cousins who love the Dad Stories. The man is funny. Apple does not fall far from tree.

For his birthday, Dad got every kind of pie he could ever want, and he ate about three pieces or so, washed down with some coffee. He got to talk to nieces and nephews he usually only gets to see at the June family reunion. Dad was gobsmacked by all the attention and fuss. After all, it was only a birthday. “We didn’t celebrate birthdays when I was a kid,” he explained. “It was just another day.”

But the thing is a lot of things feel like that. Graduating college. Getting married. A job promotion. Hell, probably even getting published. It’s exciting, but I’m sure it feels a bit surreal…and ordinary. You’re still you, after all.

And then there is writing. Sometimes being a writer is shameful. I spend a lot of time feeling sheepish and apologetic that I’m not more prolific, consistent, or making money hand over fist. I also feel like I should apologize for being eccentric and not quite sane. Having this attitude tends to carry over to other markers in your writing life, probably because like birthdays, you’ve been writing long enough not to be emotionally invested in the outcome or expect too much. You finished a book. You might squee to yourself; you might share with a few knowing friends; but it’s unlikely you’ll share it with the general population who’ll immediately start peppering you with questions like when it’ll be published and can they borrow some money from your big advance.

This year, I want to make more of a fuss. About everything. Celebrate it all. Not everyone writes a book or enters a contest or makes presentations. It’s not the end result (getting published) that is the only thing that matters. It all matters.

At Weight Watchers, we talk about why we come every week. I always say I’m there for the stickers. I love being rewarded for the little things—like sticking with the program, losing 5 pounds, losing 5% and losing 10%. And what’s great is that they’re “little” things, but they’re not little things to Weight Watchers. They’re important things and they’re worth celebrating. You’re worth celebrating.

Positive reinforcement—from the pats on the back from the group support and the success you see in the mirror or feel in your jeans—it feeds your motivation to stick with the program. I’m learning that Positive Reinforcement earns me more of the results I’m looking for than punishing myself and mocking my goals when I don’t do things. Shame and guilt are clearly demotivators. I need to stop feeding them.

So this year when you’re thinking of your resolutions on what to improve in your life, do try to focus them in a positive way. Positive begets positive; and negative mainly finds you next December 31 working out a new resolution for the same old thing.

The other thing I learned this week: set small measurable goals with small measurable time limits. Like lose 5 pounds in a month. That’s reasonable, realistic. Basically eat your elephant one bite at a time. It can be done. Break it down and keep with it.

This year my goals are to focus on the positive, make a fuss over the “small stuff” because it does matter, and keep with it because eventually you will get there. And I think I’m going to start printing pages of my manuscript just so I can see the pages pile up. It’s not the same to see the pages in the word document. A lot of the time I think “Oh, it’s only 50 pages or maybe 100…” but that’s actually a nice amount of paper. And there are your words on the page. You wrote them! Yeah, I think that is another thing I’ll be doing this year.

What are your goals this year? Do you work for stickers? Fan of diet plans or “lifestyle changes”? Favorite pie? Any and all conversation is open today. Let’s go.


2nd Chance said...

I do want more than writer's goals on my list this year, but most of my goals do seem to write around writerly things, even if they involve losing weigh. (For RT/RomCon/RWA...assorted steampunk cons, pirate fests... Gods, I'm gonna be busy this year...)

Personal goals...well, only one online jigsaw puzzle a day. That is honestly a positive goal.

Exercise more... I know, I need specifics. Uh, walk everyday and do my bicep PT at least every other so my arms quit hurting.

Take a yoga or pilates class.

Little ones?

And congrats for your Dad's making it to 90. I wish mine were still around to celebrate those things. Mom hits 80 this year and we're planning a party for her!

And glad WW is working so well for you!

Quantum said...

Well done Skipper. You sure do have loads of stamina. Your blog is like a dose of alka seltzer after all the Christmas/New year celebrations.
*BANG* another loose cracker goes off.

After reading this, my New year resolution is to re-stock the drinks cabinet immediately, to be ready for the next celebration! :lol:

It's great that your father has reached 90 in good health. Mine was in a home at that stage and whenever I asked how he was feeling, the response was usually "Still kicking my boy"

When you reach 100 in the UK you can expect a telegram of congratulation from the Queen.
Would your father like such a telegram in due course?

If so, perhaps your president or state governor could be persuaded to adopt the custom ..... as a new year celebratory resolution! *smile*

Donna Cummings said...

Hellion, I like this philosophy a lot, and I've been trying to adopt it the past few years. I think we use the "demotivators" to protect ourselves from future disappointments if things don't turn out as we hope they will. But then we miss out on all those great celebrations!

Congrats on your dad's 90th. That is a spectacular achievement!

And my favorite pie is cherry. And pecan. Oh wait. I also like banana cream pie. Is there a pie buffet here today? #fingerscrossed

Janga said...

Hellie, I loved the pics you posted of your dad on FB. You are so blessed to be able to celebrate his 90th birthday. I hope he has a blessed 91st year.

Q, the President will send personal greetings to any U.S. citizen on their 80th bithday or beyond upon request. My mother was delighted with her card. My dad, who thought good presidents ended with FDR and Truman, was totally unimpressed. LOL

No pie for me, thanks. My favorites are pecan and my grandmother's chocolate pie, which nobody has time to make anymore. But my plan for 2012 is to substitute fruit for sweets--at least until Thanksgiving. I adhere to the belief that it's what I eat from the day after Christmas to Thanksgiving that matters, not what I eat from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Keeping with it is a goal I should definitely adopt since the lack of persistence is one of my major flaws. I have great ideas at least once a week, but my top distance is closer to the corner streetlight than to a shining star. If I make persistence my goal, I've covered food, exercise, writing, and positive thinking--all areas I need to work on.

Hellion said...

2nd, a lot of mine seem to center around writing as well, even if they're not about writing specifically. I think whatever your passion or profession, it tends to color itself in all areas of your life.

I heard about the jigsaw! *LOL* Last March I deleted my Farmville and Frontierville games because I was spending too much time on them. It was difficult, but then after a while, I didn't miss it so much and I had freed up so much time I'd been wasting. At Christmas when everyone was gone, I opened up one of the games for a few days, but was so obsessed in playing it, I deleted it again. I understand. You need something small to distract your brain and feel you can complete--but it can't take over.

I'm glad your Mom is still well and you're planning a party with her. I'm glad you can still enjoy her company.

WW is working, but I'm only kinda doing it during the holidays. And as they say, when you kinda do it, it kinda works. If you really do it, it really works. I'm going to go back to really doing it.

Hellion said...

Q, yeah, when I reading over this last night, I was concerned about how all over the place I was. *LOL* But then I thought, "They can handle it." *LOL* I'm glad you enjoyed it.

My dad is fortunate to still be kicking around his home farm. He's still pretty hale and with it, though I know he would do really good if he had a companion around to talk to and help him at times. Or at least reassure him he hadn't forgotten anything. He worries a lot he's forgotten about something.

But my dad sounds a lot like yours--he can't complain. He's still living and feeling okay.

That's awesome if you live to be a 100, you get a message from the Queen. I would love it, myself. I'm a fan. But Dad is staunchly patriotic, as if he had been one of the original Revolutionary War soldiers. I have all things British in the house a lot, and he is always shaking his head. After all, we fought a war to escape England and I keep funding you guys. *LOL*

As for the President, he's not a big fan of him either. *LOL* He worries that America will never recover from all the bad stuff that's happened in the last 40 years. I still think whatever happens, we'll work something out and improve.

Hellion said...

Donna, I totally agree. We are protecting ourselves from "disappointment", yet we're missing so much by doing so. Oh, humans are such odd little creatures. *LOL*

Dad had THIRTY pies at his party. And he had all those pies you mention. I think he only ate: Jefferson Davis pie, chocolate creme pie, and mincemeat. I tried to get him a variety, but I also didn't want him to keel over from eating that much pie either.

I had some pecan pie...and it was GOOD. *LOL* I still have some gooseberry left, but it needs a bit more sugar sprinkled in it. I didn't put in quite enough sugar for as many berries as I had. Still, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it, it works out.

Hellion said...

I'm glad you liked the pictures. My cousins had really fancy cameras and kept shooting at us like they were papparazzi. *LOL*

But my plan for 2012 is to substitute fruit for sweets–at least until Thanksgiving. I adhere to the belief that it’s what I eat from the day after Christmas to Thanksgiving that matters, not what I eat from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Great plan!! Weight Watchers now does something like this--all fruit is zero points on their plan as are most of the veggies, because they want to encourage more healthy eating. It does help tremendously. It's nice to fix a sweet tooth craving with a piece of fruit that would have "cost" you in the past and you would have subbed for some ice cream if you were going to "spend" points. *LOL*

And that is true: it's how you eat the other 48 weeks of the year that matters rather than those 4.

Persistence--and forgiveness--those are great goals. You don't have to be perfect. You just have to keep at it!

Donna Cummings said...

Thirty pies? I didn't know there were that many varieties! LOL I need to know what's in the Jefferson Davis pie. And I can imagine how tart the gooseberry one would be. :) Good save though, with the ice cream.

Dang. Now I want pie. And ice cream.

2nd Chance said...

I had a counselor the last time I tried WW, before they revamped the poinst system, who said no one got fat from eating zuccinni. She didn't care if we ate three a day, as long as we didn't drown them in fat... I'm glad WW adopted her philosophy!

The puzzles...they are evil. I'm working on one a day. Period. Knock on wood, I can do this!

I'm thinking...I used to say, "If I expect the worst than I'm often surpised when it all goes well and not disappointed when it doesn't."

Of course, I know now all that does is attract the worst, so I don't say or believe that anymore. Usually. It's sneaky.

Di R said...

Happy New Year, Pirates!

I think I'll print this post out and hang it on my writing board. It's definitley one that should be re-read.

Congrats on your dad's birthday, sounds like a wonderful day.

I need to get back to writing. I really miss it. Last year I felt like a pinball bouncing from one incident to the next leaving me unable to focus on writing.

Thanks, Hellion for an inspiring post.


Hellion said...

Donna, a Jefferson Davis pie has butter, sugar, eggs, and some sort of dairy product: milk, cream or buttermilk. It's like a cross between a custard pie and a pecan pie without the pecans.

We had several repeats. *LOL* But then again, we had some originals too! We had butterscotch cream pie, coconut cream pie, cherry pie, peach pie, apple, apple crumb, as well as the others I've mentioned. Oh, and blueberry!

You should get a piece of pie. *LOL*

Hellion said...

2nd, some of the older programs of WW were rather nutty. *LOL* Like the one with the fish. ICK. When I had done WW before (it was still a points system), there was a lady who ate grapes. A cup of grapes was 1 point, I think, at the time, and she said she'd stuff the cup with grapes. Cram them in there. Because she wasn't fat from eating grapes. *LOL*

And that's exactly why I usually look for disappointment; and also why looking for disappointment is not a good idea. After all, if you look for something, you'll find it.

Hellion said...

Hi Di, I hear you. I haven't been writing much this past year--I admit it, but like you: I miss it. Last year when I was trying to encourage myself to write though, I think I was doing a more negative approach. At least when I didn't do it, I felt very guilty and ashamed...and jealous of others who were writing. This time, I want to be more forgiving so the negative spiral doesn't get control. We all have bad days...and bad years. It only matters that we keep plugging along. So I say: Hug yourself, Di, and press on. It's all good!

Enid Wilson said...

Happy New Year! And congratulations to your dad's 90 and your win. This year, I hope to be more creative, to write more stories to make people laugh. Need to add the measurable component there soon. Perhaps 2 books a year.

The Spinster’s Vow

Bosun said...

I've been trying to read this for more than 2 hours and finally got through the blog. I LOVE IT! But I can't keep my eyes open enough to read the comments and add my own. I'll do that tomorrow!

Hellion said...

Bo'sun, I'm so glad you're home safe. Talk to you tomorrow about the blog. :) *LOL*

Hellion said...

Enid, Happy New Year to you too! And thanks!

I add my hopes to your endeavors--the world needs more stories that make them laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. I read medical articles all the time suggesting that.

Two books a year is ambitious! It will make a really great success story for the year! I'm hoping to write some blogs about creativity this year--I played a game over the weekend that I think would be great for writers to play, but I just have to find a blog for it. :)

Bosun said...

I finally read all the comments. If I live to be 80 or 90 or 100, I want a letter from the queen. Of course, by then it might be from Kate Middleton, and I think that would be awesome. LOL! NOT that I want anything bad to happen to Elizabeth. Really. MI5 need not take this as any kind of threat or ill will.

*moves on before she gets in trouble*

I have several goals for this year but have yet to write them down, so here goes.

1. Paint my living room. I've chosen the colors so now to buy the supplies and get to work. I think it's going to make a marvelous difference, especially the red accent wall!

2. Revise the current MS and get the next one written and revised by Dec 31, 2012.

3. Submit more short stories, both to WW and various epubs looking for them.

4. Get my house organized. I have a file cabinet and piles of papers. Must get the papers INTO the file cabinet.

5. Actually review and apply the multitudes of notes I have from various awesome ecourses I've taken over the years. From Mary Buckham to Margie Lawson and more.

6. Attend Nationals in Anaheim. If possible, find a way for kiddo to come. That's the longest shot of all, but I'm keeping it on the list. (Disneyland, don'tcha know!)

7. Lose another 10-15lbs. I managed to lose 10 in the last 6 months. In that time, I should have lost at least 25 but no beating myself up. I'm going to celebrate those 10. Damn it.

8. Get more sleep.

9. Be more open and outgoing. (I'm sure this sounds odd to you all, but it applies. Trust me.)

10. Budget my money better.

Guess I'd better stop there. I didn't realize I'd have such a long list. I'm going to copy this over and print it out so I can hang it in the house!

Irisheyes said...

Awesome sentiments, Hellie! Very, very happy for you that you were able to celebrate your Dad's 90th with him. That is a huge milestone.

My mom is 85 and slipping further and further into dementia. But as the DH likes to point out - she deserves to live in her own happy little world for a while before she passes after all the hard work she's put in over the past 80 some odd years. When I look at it like that it makes it easier to let her slip away slowly. She's healthy as an ox too, so that makes it easier. I'm tired of doing the whole cancer deathwatch thing - been there, done that, would rather not do it again.

As for 2012 I'm actually going for the lifestyle change thing. Trying to get myself and my family a little healthier. It's working for the DH and I - now to work on the teenagers! The two of us have changed our diet and eating habits over the past 2 months and kept it up through the holidays - miracle in itself. So, now I'm pretty confident we can keep it going indefinitely. I think I've handled the food - now for the exercise! I'm thinking of getting creative and maybe taking a country line or big band/swing dancing class or something. We may need to get the DH a new knee for that, though. LOL

Of course, I'll always toss in get more organized and throw out a bunch of crap we don't use or need. That happens a little bit each year but not as much as I'd like.

Anaheim is exciting, Ter! That's my old stomping grounds. So. Cal is a fun place to visit - Disney, the beachs, Hollywood, etc.

2nd Chance said...

Uhoh...if kiddo comes to Anaheim w/Terri...and we three share a room...I have to watch my mouth.

I can do this! And it would be fun to share Disneyland with more than my kid self...and Terri's kid self...but an actual kid...


Bosun said...

Mo - If you heard what this kid hears when I'm driving, you'd know you have no need to watch your mouth. LOL!

Irish - Sounds like you're well on your way. I need to do better with the food and exercise, mostly because these days everything I eat makes me sick. I'm really tired of feeling like crap.