The first two weeks of the year are really a bit of a picture of our modern life, wouldn't you say?  Some people are working hard on their goals, some people have already fizzled out, and some are still wondering when the magic of motivation is going to kick in.  I feel like I bounce back and forth between these three on the daily.  Well, not so much the working hard on my goals, unfortunately. 
I have been seeing a lot of people doing healthy things, drinking tons of water, going to the gym, watching carbs, etc.  And I am seeing a lot of articles lately about heart attacks and cancer.  I am listening to my coworkers complain about how hard it is to eat salad when they really want a burger and fries.  We are bombarded with so much information every day, how does anyone make sense of any of it? 
To make it all more confusing, there have been some problems in both my parents' families.  My dad lost his oldest brother right before Christmas, and just days after Christmas, my mother nearly lost her brother when he passed out in the cold at work and was not found for hours.  It turns out he blacked out from Carbon Monoxide poisining at work, and when they got him to the hospital his body temperature was so low that he was critical.  They discovered blockages in his heart, but his veins were too weak to put stents in so he will have to have open heart surgery.  My dad's side is filled with cancer, my mom's with heart disease.  It scares me like crazy to think of it.  I turn the idea of either one in my mind, I'd rather have a heart attack and just be done than suffer endlessly with cancer.  Then again, maybe by the time I get it someone will have discovered a cure.  Wait!  I don't want either one of those, and thinking about death is not a place I really want to dwell for long, but it's inevitible.  Then, over the past few days, I have twisted my foot a few times while taking the dog out, walking over lumpy,uneven snow and it just swells up and I have new pains to go along with the ones I already have, I feel really uneasy about aging and I feel like I am not doing it very gracefully, and a lot of that is on me.  I don't eat nutritiously and I don't stretch and I don't meditate...  Sigh.  All the negative stuff makes me want something sweet to take my mind off the dark stuff.  Something to make life feel happier than it is sometimes.  I am not down, I have actually been feeling more positive and happy lately, but if we never look at the inevitible darker stuff, it blindsides us. 
On my way to work today, someone was tailgating me (one of my biggest pet peeves) and I was annoyed to the point where I actually slowed my speed even more just to "get back" at them.  When the road finally split into four lanes, they sped past me, all inconvenienced and angry I presume and I noticed I was frowning and thinking things like, "Yep, go ahead and go 15mph over the speed limit, in an area where kids are crossing for school, idiot!"  And then I spent a moment realizing what I was doing, allowing that moment, their emotional stuff to become my emotional stuff, and in doing so I was focusing on the negative.  Then I reframed that moment for myself, excluding them and realizing that there was nothing to emote about.  No one got hurt, we did not crash, they eventually got out from behind me and got to go speed off, that stress is going to follow them, but I don't have to let it follow me.  Wow, they must really be stressed.  After I reframed that moment I felt a lot more relaxed and even felt bad for them, the unkown speeding car, for having all of that burdensome stress just sitting on their back, following them all over. 
Then I thought about how this little traffic annoyance isn't the only time I focus on the negative and react emotionally without finding deeper truths.  I like to say that I inherited the love of comlaining.  Boy, if there were an award for complaining, I might be hard to beat!  I have mellowed in recent years, but it is really a gut instinct, especially with change (especially at work).  I do it by rote I think.  And I have worked with people who like to complain and it drives me nuts!  When I am around someone who loves to complain, I immediately feel like I have to counter-balance the negativity or try to help them see things differently.  I probably annoy them as much as they annoy me, and when I complain I probably annoy everyone else.  I think it's the result of feeling like I'm being shafted somehow.  It sort of has the feeling of the sibling rivalry or the whining battle cry of Mom always liked you better!  (Marsha Marsha Marsha!)  It's petty.  I don't like that part of myself.  Not only does it not serve me in any manner, it actually makes me and everyone around me more stressed out.  So maybe a small part of my inner peace can be reclaimed by being my own Devil's Advocate in those moments when I feel like complaining about something, and thinking it through before spouting off.  Just yesterday my boss was saying that they were thinking of making a change that would re-direct people coming out of the Dr.'s office to my department (usually staffed by me alone) to have them get charged for their exam and to try and sell them contact lenses.  I immediately snarfed, " Well, they better also be planning to hire another full time person because there's no way I can take on even more when I work alone.  How are the eyeglass shoppers going to get good service, when every 15 minutes we have to be interrupted for another person coming out of their exam?!"  My boss, of course, agreed with me and said he already mentioned that and they are "looking into the posibility of hiring more staff".  I just automatically go into 'pushback mode'.  I've worked here 7 years and changes of that magnitude are irritating to me.  But when I think about it more, if they truly do have the offices double-staffed there probably wouldn't even be a problem with carrying this out, and we might end up selling more contact lenses.  In the end, I should be happy to have a good-paying job and great hours and benefits.  The stresses I face in my job and even my personal life are largely caused by me reacting emotionally to something without thinking it through enough.  When I realized that, I immediately felt a little less chaos and a little more peace.  It's not impossible to change mindset, you just have to be willing to examine what you're doing, and that applies to most things in life, including overeating or compulsive eating.  About that, I will say that I have some of the process down but not all of it.  For instance, the whole middle part of thinking about what you really want when you are thinking about eating for any other reason than physical hunger.  I understand that.  I understand the eating slow and not distracting myself, but the little key I am missing is the true desire to be kind to myself, and having that as the driving factor.  I'm still working on it.  Sometimes I am so lazy that I don't even want to think about being mindful, but really it's just looking for the exit so I don't have to try and interpret the show going on behind the curtains in my head.  Maybe it's time to stop avoiding emotions; my attempts to do so get me in trouble.  And maybe the way to do that is to stop always assuming the worst or most dramatic outcome of things, or taking the negatives away from a situation that doesn't really affect or change me.  I have heard a saying that goes something like, 'Don't worry until it's time to worry.'  Maybe it's the anxiety stuff in me, but I pre-worry and even worry during a situation when I probably don't have to.  Like the tailgaiting car today, I was a little worried they'd crash into me or take out road rage on me, the thought of which made me mad and then I emoted.  Nothing that I worried about happened, the incident wasn't worth the energy I gave it; I won't think about it later, it won't matter in 5 years, it is meaningless.  But it did teach me.  That is the real jewel of the situation, and I believe everything we go through has one of those jewels. 


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