Category Archives: holidays

Bird Signs and Progress!

Craig and I just finished our taxes this past weekend. Not fun.  Especially when I have to write out a check to the government.  It was nothing I didn’t expect, though.  I knew I’d owe – I just didn’t know how much.  Working as an independent contractor for Patty had minor drawbacks like that. 

I went to Hot Yoga on Friday.  Scratch that  – I dragged myself go to Hot Yoga on Friday.  All these months suffering with back pain has made me focus solely on caring for my back.  In the process, strengthening my legs have not been a priority.  My instructor had us do so many squat-related poses that by the time class was over, my legs felt like spaghetti. Nothing that would hurt my back if I didn’t do them – just my ego.  I used to be able to do all of those poses this time last year.  Now, not so much.   I have no choice now but to go every Friday and strengthen this wobbly body of mine.  Come on, muscle memory; show me what you’ve got!  Whenever I’m feeling like I’ve regressed I need to remind myself that progress comes with every little step, regardless of how small. 

A good example of such progress: my skills as a painter are indeed improving. I see it.  I feel it.  I’m more confident and I look forward to creating and sharing my work with others.  Birds seem to be my obsession lately.  I bought my first bird – a canary named Lady, when I was a sophomore in college.  She lived almost 12 years and was completely blind before she died, but that girl could warble her heart out.  Since then I have had a love affair with them and recently decided to paint a series of some favorites. 

I’ve been having run-ins with a few of the birds I’ve been painting.  Odd but wonderful run-ins.  Remember my sandhill crane?

 

A few days after I painted him I was walking the dogs at the park and noticed a flock of cranes swirling over my head. If you’ve ever heard these birds communicate with one another then you know they are impossible to miss (they’re quite loud!)  On two separate occasions later the next week when I went out to get my mail from the mailbox, there again were cranes hovering overhead long enough for me to stop and watch them for as long as I wanted before forming their traditional V pattern and moving on. Each time I saw them I think my heart swelled to twice its normal size. 

My second run-in happened right after I finished painting my red-winged hawk this weekend.

watermarkhawk

I put away my watercolors and grabbed my coat so that Craig and I could go grocery shopping.  While heading down the road a red winged hawk flew right in front of our car and into the woods, carrying a mouse. We both screamed out, ‘Did you see THAT??’ 

Tell me – when does that ever happen!?!?  To me, never!

This week’s oriole will likely be my last bird of the week because I am hosting Easter this weekend at my home.  Those of you who were here with me over Christmas will remember that I vowed never to have another holiday at my Mom’s again because whenever a certain family member is in attendance, I tense up and know that he will become angry, say hurtful things, leaving me sad and melancholy for the remainder of the day.  It took 42 years to step up and say ‘no more’ to my mother but I did, and now I’m actually looking forward to hosting Easter this year.  I’m even looking forward to Christmas already – words I’ve not uttered in over 30 years. 

And that’s progress.  When you’ve got it, grab on and run like hell.   

Christmas Eve in Chicago and Hate-Loss Challenge Info

How was your holiday weekend?  I hope each one of you had a joyful yet peaceful one. 

 

 

 

My husband and I spent Friday evening in Chicago and had a nice view of the river (and the gargantuan new Trump Tower) from our room, as well as a giant window seat where we spent the majority of our night sitting side by side, sipping wine and looking out at the festive lights all across the city.

 

 

 

I received exactly what I wanted for Christmas this year: 24 solid hours with no phones ringing, no bosses calling either one of us into work, no dogs demanding to be petted, walked, entertained (sorry, dogs – you know I love you!) and above all else, being able to sit together and talk about anything and everything. 

We did walk up and down Michigan Avenue for a couple of hours and let me tell you, it was insane!  So nice to come back to our quiet window and watch the madness from up high!

 

 

 

On another note, I’ve been receiving a few emails and comments from readers asking for more details regarding our upcoming Hate-Loss Challenge.  Today I thought I’d give you a good idea on what to expect should you decide to join – we begin in only a few days!

 

1.  Positive Reinforcement Sheet:

If you were part of the Challenge last year, you remember that our month was entirely focused on mindfulness.  I asked participants to create a Positive Reinforcement Sheet (or use the one I had made) that contained positive, affirming words, and spend time each day repeating those words to themselves.  I kept my copy in my car, on my mirror and on my refrigerator.  This gave me several opportunities to think and/or say positive thoughts about myself (which is not an easy exercise if you’re used to putting yourself down all of the time.)  After the first couple of weeks, the words came easier and I actually began thinking differently about myself as a result. I received a lot of positive feedback from those who used this exercise and was told that it turned out to be very helpful.

We will be using a Positive Reinforcement Sheet again for 2012’s Challenge.  Being mindful will allow you to meet each moment with full-awareness.  Filling your mind with these positive thoughts will serve as a reminder to be more compassionate with yourself.   Eliminate insecurities that are weighing you down by giving yourself the love and respect you deserve.

 

 

Positive Reinforcement Sheet:

————————————————————-print———————————————————-

Hate-Loss Challenge:

During the month of January, 2012, I am vowing to make a resolution to have pride in myself, no matter what size I am- each and every day. January will be the month that I set in motion a healthy habit to rid my vocabulary of words that aim to destroy my self-esteem. By the end of January I hope to have set a permanent habit into motion as I continue to feel better about my value, importance, and place in this world.

Rules: At least once a day I must attempt to use one or more of these words in my vocabulary about myself:

I am….

strong, courageous, beautiful/handsome, creative, kind, better, unique, remarkable, open-minded, intelligent, confident, conditioned, fascinating, pleasing. I will say the words out loud. I will listen to how they sound as they are defining me!

Off Limits: Words I will try to refrain from using: failure, undeserving, incompetent, lazy, no-good, fat, unattractive, stupid, sloppy, defeated, unworthy.

One Final Consideration: It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to have off-days, but I won’t let negative thoughts consume me. I will pick myself up, dust myself off and make an effort to never, ever let destructive words define who I am.

————————————————————————————————————————

 

There will be a permanent copy of this sheet along with all of the other information you need on the Hate-Loss Challenge tab at the top of my blog.

 

2.  Weekly Topic List:

In addition, I will have a specific topic prepared for each Thursday update. I will post that week’s topic every Monday morning. This will give you a chance to think about and write your post for Group Therapy Thursday.

 

3.  Group Therapy Thursday

This is a virtual meeting place to come together and work through our concerns, feelings, frustrations or breakthroughs that we’re experiencing during the challenge.  It’s also where we can support each other and offer advice.  All participants will post about their progress on Group Therapy Thursdays.   You may write about the challenge on your blog as often as you’d like; just remember that everyone will meet back here at Fat Girl Wearing Thin every Thursday where you will do one of two things:

If you run a blog: share with your readers about your involvement in the Challenge.  Post about your interaction with the Positive Reinforcement Sheet as well as that week’s topic.  You will then visit my blog and leave a comment with a link back to your progress post so that other participants can read, visit, and connect with you on your blog.

If you do not run a blog: Simply submit a progress report in the comment section of my blog each Thursday. 

 

Summary:

  • The official start of the challenge is January 1st, 2012 and will run until January 31st, 2012.
  • At some point before January, create your own Reinforcement Sheet or print out a copy of the one I’ve created and keep it in a place where you will see it every day: on your bathroom mirror, in your car, in your purse, in your gym bag, on your nightstand. These are the words you will use to describe yourself for the month.  When you say the words, I strongly encourage you to say them out loud. It is important to hear the positive words being used to describe you, and it validates the word(s) you are saying.  This is not an easy exercise.  You may feel self-conscious, foolish or ridiculous at first, but it’s important to keep saying them.  Who better to shower you with praise than you?  Eventually these words will become easier to say and negative thought patterns will hopefully begin to soften, making you more aware of the many exceptional things that define you.
  • Weekly Topic Ideas will be posted on my blog every Monday.
  • Group Therapy Thursday dates are: January 5th, January 12th, January 19th, January 26th

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Have a great Monday!

Ellen