Last Friday I went to the American Council on Exercise, a place where I worked from January 2006 to November of that same year. I had to pick up a book for school, show off my son and have lunch with an old co-worker. Although I only worked there just under a year, it was by far my favorite place of employment. The people there were great, I still maintain friendships there and the organization itself is just amazing.
Now, I'm pretty sure anyone can relate to being anywhere from their past and old feelings come up, good or bad, or even music can bring up past memories. For me, when I hear "Sister Golden Hair" by America I instantly get goosebumps and think of being a little kid, being in the old Dodge Van with my parents and can even smell the carpet from that van. Or the smell of Ponds Face cream always makes me think of my mom. It's like these things are linked up and can never be broken from our brains.
I haven't stepped foot in that office since my last day there, over 2 years ago. Before I went, I hadn't even thought about that, or what might happen when I got there. But let me back up for a moment. When I first started there, I had just moved out and separated from my first husband. I was in school full time and had to get a job to support myself and pay for my apartment. I immediately loved the job and the people there, but couldn't get away from my personal problems. It was pretty obvious I was going through a tough time and a little embarrassing as well. As the months progressed my friendships got tighter, but my life fell apart more and more. I discovered my husbands infidelities, and the drama that surrounded that ensued. I was served divorce papers at work that summer. I had also started a relationship with someone that was intense and drama filled from the get-go. I remember going into the bathroom at least twice a week, sometimes every day to go into a stall and cry. I was a mess. My personal life was a disaster, but I loved the people and the job, which kept me sane. I left the job because the person I was in a relationship with talked me into moving up to the bay area, so I quit. A month later after we broke up they had already filled my position, so I couldn't come back.
I guess I had forgotten that the entire time I worked there I was in a monumental life changing place in life. When I look back at my time at ACE, I remember the people, not how I felt in my heart. But when I pulled into the parking lot on Friday....it all came back like a tornado. My eyes fell on the front doors of the building and the parking lot and I immediately said out loud, "oh...my....God". I could vividly remember having screaming arguments on the phone with my ex-husband, being so angry my whole body shook, thinking even though I was outside, my co-workers might still be able to hear me, and knowing I had to wrap it up in a couple minutes and go back inside to be a professional. I quickly pushed it from my memory and went inside. Walking through the halls of the building I passed by the bathroom where I used to go to cry. I literally felt like I walked past my old ghost at that moment. There she was, dressed in her perfect outfit from the Banana Republic, looking gaunt and lost. She was sad and confused. She was a completely different person than I am today. It made me very uncomfortable to be there for a few minutes. I could feel all the tension I felt once before, as if I had left unfinished business there and it re-entered my body.
I went to lunch with my friend and was planning on going back in to visit a few more people. But as I sat in the parking lot, I really just wanted to leave. As the day went on I couldn't stop thinking about how I felt and what a strange, physical and emotional experience that was. But, I'm grateful it happened. It reminded me of how far I have come and how much I have grown. At one point I was in a place where I only had a tiny sliver of hope at best that things would get better. I couldn't fathom "take it day by day", so I chose to take it "hour by hour". I made a choice to love myself when I felt that no one else did and that is what carried me. That, and a yellow post-it that was on my bathroom mirror that read, "When you are down to nothing, God is up to something". I've said it before in previous posts, that I had to go through all the grief and turmoil to get to the much better and healthy place I am in. And for that, I say "thank you" to my old ghost.
Ah, January. The time of year where we all get out our pens and write down our resolutions yet again. They talk about it on the news, the gyms are packed, it's as if we all got two new double A batteries loaded into our brains and we're ready to tackle our list!
Wait a minute....what do you mean you're not organized, in shape, done reading all those books, remodeled your kitchen, gotten in touch with lost friends, found a new job, had quality time with your significant other and made scrapbooks of your kids by December???
Because thinking about resolutions or even writing them down on a crisp piece of paper just doesn't cut it, my friend! So, (cracking knuckles), keep reading to find out a better way.
First, acknowledge that conquering a goal is difficult, but not impossible. If it were easy, we would all be endlessly happy and rich to boot. So, don't beat yourself up for past resolutions or goals that you have failed at. We've all been there, even Tony Robbins, (I think. He's human, right?) so move on.
Second, make your list and leave lots of room in between goals. Think about what you want your new year to look like. Where do you want to be 12 months from now? Even if it's the scariest, hairiest goal ever, WRITE IT DOWN! The scarier, the better. Go back and with the space you left, write down the reasons you have not made these goals happen in the past. Then, write down why this goal is important to you. (For example: Resolution- start working out. Reasons I haven't done it- don't have time, too tired, it's boring. Reason it's important- lose weight, live longer, I love spandex.) Lastly in this space, write down HOW you will do it. Be specific! (I want to walk 2 miles in my neighborhood in the mornings twice a week for 2 weeks, then 3 times a week thereafter). Make sure this is attainable and realistic. We've all been taught to "reach for the starts", but sometimes, we gotta start with reaching for the doorknob. Make sure that your goals are measurable. Try to stay away from general statements like, "I want to lose weight". How much weight? And by when? Re-read your list and pick ONE goal at a time to tackle. If you see one where your intuition tells you "that's not going to happen" really think about it. Are you self-sabotaging yourself? Or, is this the one goal that you are ready to be proud of that you finally accomplished it?
Third, and this is where you may need to be a little organized, plan it out. Just writing down, "I will walk twice this week" isn't enough. Plan it in your week. If you have a day planner/organizer/tech gadget figure out when you will have time, and schedule it in. Put it somewhere where you will have to see it.
Everyone is different when it comes to attaining goals. For me, the more people I tell about a goal, the more I strive to attain it. Accountability is a great way to get things accomplished. Life is too short to sit around and just talk about what we want to do. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some goals to write down!!
Photo courtesy of flickr by brownhorse