5 Things to do instead of Complaining

There’s been a lot on my plate lately – professional changes, things not going exactly as planned, needing to pivot and scrap plans without much notice, hard decisions having to be made with which direction to head in.  But even as I type this out, the voice inside my head says very calmly, “that’s life, that’s work.” And isn’t it true? Whether you horribly love your current situation or currently despise it, there will always be ups and downs, things to complain about, obsess over, stress about. If you let things build up and don’t take action.

Hear me out….this isn’t a unicorn and rainbows rant about loving wherever you are in the journey and seeing the good in every situation. Ok, maybe it is, but here’s what I would suggest instead of festering over it, complaining incessantly about it or worse, letting it take over your life. Take action on it. Make a plan to conquer the complaints with concrete steps forward. And be honest with yourself about these things. Often times I’ll think, well I’m just venting…only to catch myself talking about the same thing over and over in my head, to a friend or Mike (who will call me on it every time). I’ve come to the realization over the past few years that being honest with yourself about the items you’re mulling over is really the first step – and once you’re there you can take action. Sounds so easy in theory…I’m saying this mostly to myself, who has felt lost a bit lately, overwhelmed and anxious in some of my current situations. Here’s what I’d suggest you do (and what I am in the process of doing):

  1. Write them down. Think about all of the concrete things in your current situation that are getting on your last nerve. List them out on a notepad, in a column or spreadsheet. Getting them out of your head, in black and white will often stop the swirl and allow you to see them as actual things to be dealt with, as opposed to concepts that you keep brushing aside.
  2. Solution brainstorming. Once you have your list of complaints, think about solutions; real, tactical things you can do to improve the situation. Example: Problem: It’s so loud in my workspace, I can’t get any work done! Solutions to Try: Bring in headphones to listen to music, move your space (if possible), have an actual conversation with your co-workers about the noise. MIND BLOWN!
  3. Begin each day with gratitude. Last year I read the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta that spoke about bringing a gratitude practice into your day. When I sit down in the morning and write out three things I’m grateful for, my thoughts are now pointed on a positive trajectory. It’s such a simple exercise that has immediate and lasting impact.
  4. Get outside. When I’m in a yuck mood, or just spinning in the same direction over the same problem, I literally need to get outside as soon as possible to be in the open. Movement allows stagnant energy to get shaken up. While this may not solve any problems, it puts my headspace in the right place to handle the situation calmly and often will give me a new perspective.
  5. Remove yourself from the situation. Let’s be honest, sometimes the one thing you can do to improve a situation is to leave it. Knowing when this point has been reached can be tricky.  A few signs I’ve come to recognize include losing sleep, self-doubt, and arriving at the same unpleasant outcome, despite different approaches. This step can seem like giving up, especially if you don’t have a post-situation plan. I’d caution that getting to this step should be work; you have given a valiant effort towards making things work, they haven’t, so you have made steadfast steps to improve your situation by moving on.

 

Hope these steps are useful – I have to remind myself of them every now and then!

Happy Action to You!

7 Lessons Learned Post Surgery

It has been 10 days since my ACL/Meniscus surgery and I’ve learned quite a few things. Not only about myself, but my relationship with my husband, the patience that comes with a personal setback, and the mental strength game. Here are a few lessons that have surfaced over the past week post ACL surgery – I hope anyone going through a similar situation, whether it’s a surgery or a personal setback, can take something from this.

  1. Set your mind on the next step, not the next mile. Much of the recovery road boils down to mental fatigue; getting so focused on the huge obstacles you still have to overcome, the long road you still have to travel. This is a waste of time and will not help speed things up in any way. What I’ve tried to focus on is where I want to be in the very near future, what the next few days will look like, what I should expect and prepare for. I’ve done lots of research on outcomes of ACL/Meniscus surgery, have asked a LOT of questions of my surgeon and Physical Therapist, and put the work in at home. Skipping the needed steps won’t speed things along and could possibly set you back. So, be where you are and know it’s where you need to be.
  2. The work you have to do will be painful. You just need to prepare for that. It hurts. A lot. But the work I’ve done over the past few days has gotten me to where I am now. I’m at 90 degrees and can straighten my leg almost completely. There’s definitely more work to do and my knee feels like there’s old wood hinging it together. But, I’m not even close to being done. So I will put in the work, no matter how painful.
  3. Ask for help. My husband and I have a great rhythm down when it comes to home duties. He takes care of outside and I take care of inside. Which can seem lopsided at times – let’s be honest, a lot more work needs to go on inside the house than outside on a per day basis. BUT he really stepped up over the past week, filling ice buckets, moving my CPM machine, cooking dinner & lunch (that I pre-made/ordered, but still!) being patient as I hobbled around the house, feeding the dogs, doing dishes, grocery shopping.  I’m really thankful to have someone who’s willing to pick up the slack when I’m unable. My mom also offered to come and help, clean, do whatever I needed….and I took her up on it! When your mom offers to help in a time when you could really use it, no matter how old you are, you should take her up on it!
  4. Keep your problems in perspective. Thinking only in terms of your tragedy can leave you feeling quite pitiful. Believe me, what happened is awful and it is ok to feel down. But wallowing in your own misfortune will mentally drag you down to a place you should not visit often. Think about how fortunate you are to have what you do. In my case, I thought how lucky I was to not have broken my leg, to still have my limbs, to have insurance to be able to get healthy. There are always worse cases and the sooner you lead your thoughts with a grateful perspective, your outlook changes.
  5. Be patient with yourself and grateful for where you are. You can’t compare yourself to anyone else on this recovery journey. Do your research, get informed, follow people on social media who are in similar situations, but know everyone heals differently and gets to certain points at different times. I asked my Surgeons’ PA (who’s had ACL surgery) if he could bend his knee to 90 degrees 3 days after his surgery. I asked my PT what he thought about being on crutches still 6 days after surgery. I asked one of my best girlfriends when I could/should start doing hamstring exercises, cause I saw a girl on instagram who was doing them. They all told me to stop comparing my healing and progression to anyone else. Be patient in the process and don’t push yourself to reach someone’s milestones.  The human body is amazing and if you’re working everyday at pushing the needle (without pain), you are right where you need to be.
  6. Celebrate the small milestones. From taking out my drain, to not needing to take painkillers, to taking steps without crutches, I have been very vocal and excited about the milestones I’ve reached. Allowing yourself to feel proud of your accomplishment, you set yourself up for success over the next hurdle. Sounds silly, but these little milestones get in bedded in your sub-conscious, giving you confidence when you need it most.
  7. It gets better everyday. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, so I’ve really needed to pace myself mentally and physically. You can not compare yourself to where someone else was at this time. You should know if you are working on it, tomorrow you will wake up stronger.

Be Grateful

Gratitude

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

-Joni Mitchell

Day 2 of the Minful 21 challenge and my gratitude cup runneth over. Seriously. Stop to think about all that is good in your life. All of the wonderful things you have going on. The gorgeous place you live. The home you can call your own. Your loving friends and family that surround you. The life ebbing through your veins, pulsating in your chest. The mere fact you woke up and were able to take a breathe.

Ok, this wonderful Norman Rockwell painting of life may not be an everyday occurrence. Life can be messy, and stressful, and chaotic, and we don’t get all of things accomplished we wanted to, and that shouldn’t be what we focus on, yet sometimes can be the only thing glaring us in the face. But try to put it aside, whatever is getting in the way of you seeing all you have. Be grateful. For everything on your plate.

I wanted to start the Mindful 21 challenge to bring awareness to how I am living, how I’m spending my time and energy. Being mindful starts with being present so once we can be in the now, out attention can be tuned in to all we have, right now.

Today, I challenge you to sit quietly in meditation for at least 5 minutes and focus on what you are grateful for. Sit somewhere you feel grounded and calm. Come to a comfortable seated position, perhaps taking your hands to your heart, pulling the loving energy in. Be still with your breathe, without distraction, and be grateful for the air filling your body.

With the holidays fast approaching, the timing couldn’t be more fitting, although this act of being grateful should be a daily practice. We are all given 24 hours. What we choose to do with them, how we choose to focus our energy, our thoughts, our behavior, is up to us.

Go into this day, or perhaps you are ending it, with a full, grateful heart. Cultivating abundance within will lead to good things. And being grateful will allow your heart to go out to others.

What are you grateful for?

Happy gratitude!