On Purpose

I have a morning ritual. Bruce the Cat wakes me up at 5AM. While the kettle boils he and I go outside for a breath of fresh pre-dawn air. When he completes his ‘check of the perimeter’ (and after he is thwarted in his attempt to munch on a nasturtium leaf) we come back in, I make a cup of coffee or tea and sit down at my desk to begin my day. I write a few words in my journal and then open all the emails that arrived while I was sleeping.

Last Friday, in between taking the New York Time’s Weekly Quiz (I scored 10.67!) and watching Seth Meyers’s Closer Look (his impersonation of Mike Lindell the Pillow Guy is hilarious!) I opened my newsletter from Medium and scanned the page with my finger ready to ‘delete’ until I saw this quote from the actor Wil Wheaton: “Whenever possible be the person you need(ed) in your life. Do it on purpose.”  

On the surface it reads like one of those sickly sweet pseudo-inspirational phrases that show up on our Facebook feed. The ones written in a graceful, italicized font over a soft focused image of a field of flowers or the sun setting over the ocean.

It’s the second part of Wheaton’s message that struck home for me: do it on purpose

What the little guy from Stand by Me is talking about, I think, is intentionality. 

Back in the day I was in an acting class taught by Ed Hooks in the basement of a local church. Each week we’d perform a short scene with a partner which would be followed by critique. I can’t act my way out of a paper bag (I’m way too self-conscious) but I remember the question Ed posed to us again and again about our acting choices we made for our character: What is your intention? 

In the pre-pandemic Before Times, when I found myself contemplating something new, I often asked myself the same question: What is my intention? Knowing why my choices mattered to me helped me commit more fully to the process.

But the shut down changed all that. My spirit grew as soft as this new roll around my middle. I lost sight of my purpose. I forgot how to live on purpose. I forgot how to choose with intention. Did you?

As we begin to stretch our legs and make our way out of the den after a long COVID winter we might remember Wil Wheaton’s words: Be the person you need in your life. Do it on purpose

Live with intention. 


Death by Sugar

d689d520cd3e2d7653c5e1469e50ff90--liquorice-allsorts-floppy-hatsMy mother craved licorice while carrying the child who would become me. I blame her for my addiction.

Last week a client who eschews quests asked me if I would purchase a box of Barrett’s Licorice All-Sorts for her as she could not find them where she shops for groceries. This was a little bit like asking someone avoiding alcohol to pick up a box of pinot (a box, not a bottle – no cork screw required).

I giddily agreed.

I love licorice all-sorts and I know for a fact they are available for purchase at the store across the street from where I live. I know this because when I see them near the baked goods or stacked in the candy aisle I stare longingly. I marvel at the confection’s bright colors. I remember with affection their sweet and bitter taste. And I know that should I give in to temptation and bring a box of the candies home they will be eaten within the hour. I also know that it will be less a slippery slope and more an oil slicked slide. I won’t be able to stop and will continue to buy and eat licorice all-sorts until the inventory at Mollie Stone’s is decimated. Or I’m in a sugar coma. Whichever comes first.

Sugar is poison.

Is that true? The media loves an extreme headline almost as much as I love licorice all-sorts and as powerful as it is to label sugar a poison, it may not go far enough. I prefer to think of sugar – and by ‘sugar’ I mean sweeteners we add to foods as obvious as cookies and as surprising as spaghetti sauce – as a passive aggressive bully gaslighting me to ill-health. I’ll admit it, more often than not sugar can sweet talk me into those Panera chocolate chip cookies in the pain clinic’s staff room, the chocolate covered macadamia nuts at the yoga studio and even the half-pint of sorbet gathering ice crystals in the back of the freezer.

And while sugar is tickling my taste buds with sweet nothings it’s also contributing to weight gain and tooth decay, placing stress on my liver, heart, kidneys and pancreas, aging my skin and inflaming my joints.

The most recent nutritional advice is trading the theory that a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from for the more obvious and intuitive notion that it’s quality, not quantity.

In other words, one thousand calories derived from a balanced combination of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will beat one thousand calories derived from fruit rolls, potato chips and donuts hands down.
I told you it was obvious and intuitive.

A box of Barrett’s Licorice All-Sorts will not kill me. Death by sugar is more insidious. All it takes is a little label reading to discover sugar shows up in places we’d never expect.
Why am I firing up my sweet tooth with all this thinking about sugar? It’s New York Time’s David Leonhardt’s fault. He wrote this, which lead me down several internet rabbit holes to this and this.

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Last week I stood in front of the Barrett’s Licorice All-Sorts and weighed my options. In the end, I didn’t buy them. I didn’t even pick them up. Instead, I came home with a bag of Pontefract Cakes.

And I ate them all.

Nobody said it was easy.


Fear Trips Us Up

I like WordPress.  Have done since the leader of a seminar I was attending encouraged all of us to write a blog as one step toward building a platform.  At the time – this was about three years ago – I was only beginning to understand how our lives were being impacted by the growth of social networking.  I’m certain I didn’t understand how to set up a blog (although I had fumbled around a bit with Blogger) and I hadn’t grasped the long-term influence blogging might have on my writing future.

But now, thirty-six months later I’m quite comfortable spilling my inner demons for the world to read.  I’m happy to share the struggles of an aspiring writer.  Let me correct that.  I’m not aspiring to be a writer.  I am a writer.  I’m aspiring to be a “successful writer”.  What is that?  How do we judge success?  Is it the first paycheck?  If it is – well – I managed that last year.  Or maybe it’s finding an agent.  Am I not a success if an agent wants to spend time selling the words I lay down on paper?  Ah yes, but I know it won’t be enough.  The book will have to be sold to a publisher.  And even then I won’t be happy until I’m on Oprah.  Or listed in the New York Times.  Or win a Pulitzer.

I dream – as the cliché goes – big.  I can see how long the road is, and, since that first and only paycheck just about filled my CRV’s gas tank – I can see how far I have to go.

So – getting back to wonderful WordPress:  as part of their commitment to the “post a week” concept they’ve been providing suggestions for topics.  I’m generally able to come up with my own – case in point my lambasting of the Yoga Journal Conference in my last two posts.  But today’s suggested topic intrigued me:

What’s the most important thing you’re putting off?

And why haven’t you done it yet? What do you need to make it happen?

I’ve been putting off making the kind of commitment it takes to be the successful writer I know in my heart I have to potential to be.  I blame my insane schedule.  I blame my raging hormones.  I blame my age – I really should have begun all this fuss earlier in life.  I blame the day of the week and the fact the sun shines on my computer screen at an awkward angle.  But none of those excuses are credible.  This is what it boils down to:

fear

Not fear of failure – I’m had plenty of failures.  I know how to brush myself off and climb back into the saddle.  I’m talking about fear of success.  What do I do then?  What happens if I actually succeed?

In the past, when I’ve thought about what success looks like, it has always involved being over-committed, flying back and forth to New York, rushing about.  Having to find my inner extrovert.  The pressure of always being good enough.  That’s the picture I painted in my head of success.

What if I paint a different picture?  What if the picture includes being able to afford a home of my own and a secure retirement?  What if the picture includes a schedule that allows me to teach the yoga that I love but also gives me solid days of secluded writing.  What if the picture includes – wait for it – a yearly vacation?

I feel better already.  Now I’m motivated.  But the question remains, how will I make it happen?

By taking the first step.