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What Makes You Awesome?

Have you ever considered the answer to the question, “What makes you awesome?” I hadn’t, at least not until a couple friends asked me during a phone call about my latest project. I couldn’t immediately answer their question.


At some point in our lives we’ve all spent time wondering how someone else sees us, but how often do you consider the good things others see in you? If your life was an open book for a stranger and they were looking for the things that make you awesome, what would they see?

Little girl looking up at you

I’ve made asking myself what makes me awesome a habit. As I answer that question each day, more often than not I find myself being grateful for the people who taught me the skills and habits that others now see in me and admire.


Larry Schumann taught me to keep my eye on the ball. Your reflexes will play tricks with you if the ball is moving slower or faster than you expect, but if you keep your eye on it, you can overcome those reflexes and catch the ball, knock it out of the park, or duck in time to avoid a nasty bruise…even when the ball unexpectedly curves.


There are some highly stressful things in my life right now, and they’re resolving much slower than I’d like. Because of Larry’s advice, I know I just have to be patient and remain ready for opportunity.


Nancy Van Donge, Brad Butler, Kenny Thomas, Jim Childs, and Roger Brown taught me that when the ball left my hands or my personal event finished, I played an equally important role in supporting my teammates and helping them succeed. I did much better at implementing their knowledge after I graduated, but it doesn’t change the value of the lesson.


In life, each person we interact with influences us. Sometimes we admire them and sometimes we don’t want to be like them, but either way, they influence us…and we influence them.


It feels a little strange to hunt for things in yourself that other people find awesome, but everything that’s awesome about my personality, I learned from someone else. For all of our society’s talk of being individuals, not one of us would be who we are without reacting to the influence of others. We all have our own definitions of success and awesomeness, and we build most of those definitions by our experiences with other people.


What started with a question that made me feel uncomfortable has become a daily habit of gratitude for the people in my life. It’s also a daily reminder that I want to be awesome. Sure, it’s cool and feels good. More importantly, though, I want to be awesome because even when I’m not trying, I’m influencing someone else. I make plenty of mistakes and do goofy stuff I later regret, but the more I practice the habits I associate with success and awesomeness, the more likely it is that most of my influence will be the good kind.


So, what makes you awesome?



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Last week we talked about five key questions that help us focus so we get greater rewards faster and with less effort. The five questions are:

  1. What do I want? (What are my goals?)
  2. What gets me what I want fastest?
  3. Does this item on my list fit into both of those categories?
  4. What’s stopping me?
  5. What can I do to get rid of what’s stopping me fastest?

We already covered 1-3. Let’s get to work with 4 and 5.


construction barrel

What’s Stopping You?

You know what you want and you know how to get there. Now it’s time to get to the bottom of why you don’t already have what you want. It’s possible you aren’t there yet because until you really thought about it, you just didn’t know. However, it’s a lot more likely that there are other factors involved.  Make a list of the major things that have stopped you from living the life you want.

External things like money and education can certainly be part of your list, but internal things should be consider too. Things like fear (of failure or success), self-esteem, and motivation. It’s all too easy to forget that part of your circle of influence includes you.


Are You Under The Influence?

People said things to us while we were growing up, and those comments created the picture we have of ourselves. The problem is, sometimes the things people said weren’t true…you just accepted them as true because you were a kid.

So, when you look through the list of things stopping you, look closely. How many of the “deal breakers” have to do with how you see yourself? Regardless of what anyone else thinks, some of the “that’s just me” that you’ve accepted really isn’t you at all. It’s a limitation you can remove by changing your internal chatter and learning new skills.


What Can I Do To Get Rid Of What’s Stopping Me Fastest?

We’re all pretty good at seeing why things don’t work. But it takes a bit of practice to learn to see how to turn non-working situations into workable solutions. The more often you succeed at turning things around, the better you’ll get. But that doesn’t help you now, does it?

Let me share a few things that have worked for me.

1) Look at your problem, and then pretend that the problem isn’t yours—it belongs to a character in a book, TV show, or movie. You know where the character is now and what the happy ending is; be creative and fill in the rest of the story. Often even seemingly silly solutions present ideas that only need some tweaking to make them realistic. Sometimes just looking at it as though it isn’t your problem makes it easier to come up with solutions.

2) Imagine that your success is someone’s dying wish and they don’t have much time. If you find a solution, you know that you’ll help them smile one more time.

3) Just before you fall asleep, think about the problem you want to solve, imagine yourself being successful (in detail with sight, smell, feel, sound, and taste), and then go to sleep. This one works less frequently than the other two options, but I’ve been surprised with the solutions my dreams present.

4) Ask for directions, preferably before all else fails. You aren’t alone in this world and there are bound to be people who’ve been in similar situations. Ask them how they did it. You just might be in someone else’s circle of influence in a way that allows them to help you while benefiting both of you.


Take Action

Now that you’ve figured out what you want, what’s been stopping you, and how to succeed quickly, get to work and make your dreams come true. The best plans are nothing without action.



After I realized that damage from a parasite infection left me physically unable to return to practice and treat patients, I missed helping people feel better and get better. Writing a fiction book was a lot of fun, but I didn’t find it as rewarding as helping people. So, I went to work with a couple of friends and created Indestructible Desk Jockey. It’s a great downloadable program designed for people who sit for long periods of time, and I think it can help a lot of people.

Figuring out how to get the word out is one of my current problems. One of the fastest solutions I can think of is simply to ask you all to go check out the sales page for Indestructible Desk Jockey and tell other people about it if you think Desk Jockey might help them. You can even set up an affiliate account and earn money when someone buys based on your recommendation. I don’t mind sharing the profits…I just want people using the program, getting results, and feeling good!

Take care,

Kathryn 🙂


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Memorial Day Weekend here in the States is a holiday dedicated remembering those who are no longer living.  For many people it also marks the beginning of summer, includes a yearly adventure to the lake or some other get-away, and is a highly appreciated 3-day weekend.


I don’t want to take away from remembering people who are dead.  It’s just that every time I think of those who are already gone, I realize how fast a lifetime can pass.


We all have those, “One day I’ll get to it,” things.  It’s easy to think that we’ll be less busy or have less responsibilities, but everyone I know seems to feel busier and more tied down as time passes.


Be thankful for those who paid a large price for your freedom and for those who impacted your life to such a great degree that you know you are who you are because of them.  But this Memorial Day Weekend, do something you’ve been putting off.


Get in touch with that old friend you don’t talk to enough.  Call family who are still living and let them know how much they mean to you while they can still hear you say it (or show it if you visit).  Do something you’ve been talking about but haven’t yet “found the time” for it.


Make it a memorable Memorial Day Weekend!

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We’ve been talking about some pretty intense subjects.  Today I’d like to lighten things by sharing some of my favorite quotes.  Feel free to post some of your own favorites in the comments section.  🙂


“Food is an important part of a balanced diet. “
~Fran Lebowitz


“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”
~Lily Tomlin


“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down…”

~Abraham Lincoln


“A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.”
~ David Stevens


“What we think or what we know or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence.  The only consequence is what we do”
~ John Ruskin


“It’s never too late to become the person you might have been.”
~ George Elliot


“Simple kindness to one’s self and all that lives is the most powerful transformational force of all.”
~ Dr. David Hawkins


“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

~ Mark Twain


“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”

~Henry David Thoreau


“You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?”

~Richard Bach


We’ve arrived at the final post in the “lemons vs. turds” series about handling difficult challenges in our lives.  I promised you something powerful that you could put into action today, and I’ll get to that soon.  First, I want to tell you a story.


My father died last December, but in his last few days he gave me a valuable gift.  This is the story of that gift.


My father was a very proud and private man.  Frankly, I didn’t feel especially close to him for most of my life.  Had he suddenly died early last year, I might not have shed a tear or felt much of a loss.  In an odd twist of life, my father didn’t die suddenly; I’ve shed multiple tears and felt the loss that results from his death.


Treatment was harder than my father expected.  He was very used to things going his way and to being able to force change.  Cancer, chemo, and radiation don’t really care what you’re used to.


I walked into my father’s hospital room one morning to find him in a terrible mood.  He didn’t say hello, and he wasn’t happy I was there.  He asked me to call one of my brothers to tell him not to visit.  I made the call, but wish I hadn’t.  The moment I closed my cell phone, I was told to leave.


“No.  I’m going to stay for a bit,” I said.


‘No’ is not a word my father liked.  A string of curses and anger directed at me spilled from him.  I let him rage.


Him yelling was nothing new, although it hadn’t been directed at me in years.  The things he said weren’t true.  Part of me wanted to scream, “This is not how you treat someone who’s helping you!  What’s wrong with you?”  But another part of me realized that what was really going on was that he was scared and didn’t want anyone to see him this sick.


I walked to his bed, calmly put down the rail guard, took the hand that was pushing me away, and wrapped him in my arms.  I explained that I was staying regardless of how much he told me to go, that I didn’t care that he couldn’t make it to the bathroom or that there was crap in his bed, that I knew he was scared and felt awful, and that I loved him regardless of all of that and always would.  I held him until he stopped fighting (which wasn’t long because he was really weak), kissed him on top of the head, and then set about getting him cleaned up and comfortable.  Within an hour, he was a lot more comfortable and a lot less grumpy.  I talked to all of his doctors and went with him when he had tests ran.  He held my hand for support a few times and checked to make sure I was right there when tests were being performed.  At the end of the day, he asked me to come back in the morning.


The next day the doctor came in and went over the results.  My father didn’t understand what the results or the follow-up tests meant, but I did.   Sometimes being a doctor isn’t fun.


Later that day, my father was talking to me about what he was going to do when he got out of the hospital and was done with treatment.  I did my best to smile and let him talk about things that would never happen.  There was no way to know how fast he’d go, but it was obvious that the end was in sight.


And then out of the blue, he apologized for being a bad dad.  It was barely audible, but he told me he was proud of me.  In 42 years I don’t think I’d ever heard him apologize for anything, and he’d certainly never said words of praise to me.


We spent the rest of every visit from then on out talking about things he’d never even mentioned before.  He talked about his childhood, his hopes and fears, and he talked about his regrets.  He also told stories about good times.  He asked me about my life and really listened to my answers.  We laughed and cried together, we talked about what it was like to be so sick, and we got to know each other in a very different way.


I did my best to encourage him to have similar conversations with the rest of the family, but he struggled with it and only got a little of it out with another brother.  “I’ll get to it later,” he said each time I asked him.


My father died less than a week after the above.  Nearly 300 people came to the visitation and told us stories about their experiences with him.  It quickly became clear that although he wasn’t always great with his family, he was a good guy (maybe even really good) to the rest of the world.  And he was a prankster.  My brothers and I never realized we got it from him.  We picked up many things from him without realizing it.


In the months after his death, I’ve thought a lot about my father and the conversations we had during his last week alive.  What made those talks possible when they’d been absent for a lifetime?


My father’s dad died when he was three, and his mom died when he was 20.  His step-father was an alcoholic, and my father hated him so much that my brothers and I didn’t even know he was still alive when we were kids.  My guess is that my father never knew what it was to feel loved unconditionally.  I’m not saying that he wasn’t loved unconditionally.  I’m saying he never knew he was or felt it.  He constantly worried about how other people saw him, and he never really felt like he was good enough.  He saw his faults much more than his strengths.


Because my brothers and I (and even my mom) were his, he felt that way about us too.  He’d tell other people good things about us if we weren’t there to hear it, but otherwise we were often criticized and never praised by him.


The morning in the hospital when I refused to leave and told him I loved him no matter what…that morning changed everything between him and me.  It wasn’t me that made the difference, though.  I’ve hugged him and told him I love him hundreds if not thousands of times.  So have other people.  What changed was that he chose to believe it that day.  Once he believed it, he let himself be loved, give love, be vulnerable, share dreams, get and give forgiveness, seek help, and be himself without guard around me.  The moment someone else was in the room, it all disappeared.  But when it was just the two of us, I got to know my dad.


I can’t help but think what a different life my family would have had if only he’d been able to look at himself through loving eyes sooner.  What would have happened if he’d learned to practice forgiveness and to realize that he was good enough?  What would have happened if he could have loved us because we were his and he’d learned how to love himself instead of feeling like we would never be good enough because he felt he wasn’t?  What if he could have seen faults and helped find solutions instead of feeling that faults had to be denied, hidden, or ridiculed lest you risk abandonment?  My father did a lot in his life (he bought a farm, raised six kids, was married 58 years, etc., etc.), but how much sweeter would his life and our lives have been if only he could have enjoyed it instead of feeling like he didn’t deserve it and that it could all be yanked away at any second?


Those questions are the gift my dad gave me right before he died.  They’ve changed my life and added value.


That brings me back to my promise to you of an action you can take today that holds the power to positively change your life.  I want you to stand in front of a full length mirror, look at yourself from head to toe, and then look yourself in the eyes and say, “I love you and know you’re worthy of a really good life.”


Snicker, fidget, giggle…whatever it takes to find the courage to do it, but go try it right now and then come back.  Seriously, go!  And say the words out loud.


Was it harder than you thought?  Did some part of you want to look away, call you a liar, point out a flaw, feel restless to uncomfortable, or try to hide?  Or maybe you asked yourself, “If that’s true, then why is my life like this?”  Some of you never left your seat.


Maybe you’ve always wanted the approval of a parent and never got it.  But my father’s parents had been dead for 73 and 56 years the day my father got the approval he wanted.  Your and my worth comes from inside, not outside.  It’s you who needs to love you.  You who needs to believe you’re worthy of a good life.  Regardless of how good or how bad your life has been, regardless of what anyone else thinks of you or says about you, what you think of yourself is far more powerful and a much greater indicator of how you will live, love, and learn in this world.  Like it or not, how you feel about yourself will also affect everyone you interact with.


Tell yourself every day.  If there’s resistance, concentrate on something that is good about you and try again.  You didn’t learn to walk in one day, what makes you think that you’ll be able to love yourself that quickly?  If there isn’t resistance, saying it will help reinforce your better points and remind you to live up to the life you deserve.


You’ll learn to identify the “turds and lemons” in your life more quickly.  People trying to push your buttons won’t get reactions and you’ll experience less drama.  Friendships will deepen.  Family dynamics will change.  You’ll treat yourself better and other people will start treating you better too.  You’ll find that you really do have the strength to get through challenging things because you’ll be able to recognize and appreciate the good things in your life.


Not bad for something as small as a perspective change, eh?  I realize it isn’t easy, but each of you is capable.  If my dad could do it at the age of 76, you can do it now.



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Last week we explored the difference between lemons and turds.  Lemons can be turned into lemonade, but turds are what they are.  There’s no way to sugar coat them, but they’re part of life.  So, what do we do?


I’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s be really open about those things we can’t change.  And let’s stop calling those life events turds.  You get the metaphor by now, and I don’t want that label being applied to people who present challenges to you and me.  They’re not turds, even when they act like one.  It’s the situation that is the problem.


What kind of stuff am I talking about?  Illness, injury, addiction, relationship issues, abuse, neglect, death, the loss of a job/income, natural disasters, accidents, etc., are part of the list.


Many of you read through the above paragraph without much emotion.  But others read the word “illness” and felt the pain of having a loved one change so much that you barely recognize them, and they don’t recognize you.  You’ve felt the absolute exhaustion from caring for someone who will never get well but needs constant monitoring—the child or parent who is no longer safe without 24-hour supervision, but who you feel like you are abandoning if you place them where they really need to be.  Perhaps you watched someone go through cancer treatment…win or lose that battle, either way it’s a tough road during the treatment.  Or maybe you’ve been so sick that the only thing that kept you going was the thought of leaving your kids without a mommy or daddy.


Others have watched children, parents, siblings or even themselves turn to alcohol and drugs.  You read about it and watch stuff on TV, but it’s a whole different world when it’s your chest the barrel of a gun sits against.  You want to believe the person on the other end wouldn’t hurt you because they look like your family member, but you don’t really know the drug-raged person they are now.


I could keep going…the violation, anger, and shame of being molested; the sudden and permanent absence of someone you thought would be there forever; the marriage your spouse no longer wants; your home, pictures, and clothes that were turned to ashes or splinters and rags; the child who died at birth; the approval your parent never gave…things seem a lot more personal when there’s a little more detail or the situations aren’t just words on a screen, don’t they?


This is a pretty intense post, but the reality is that all of us will face pain along with life events we can’t control.  And for most of us, we didn’t see at least one of those situations coming.  We feel totally lost that we can’t make it better or can’t get someone else to make the choices that would make things better.  And it might even come to a point where it feels like every single choice (when it comes to the situation you are dealing with) is wrong and will hurt.


What’s the right answer?  I really wish I could give you a neat little list of solutions.  I wish it for me as much as for you.  Remember when I said that you could tell a lemon from a turd because the lemon could directly be impacted by your actions while the turd couldn’t?  Those things in life you can’t impact are things you can’t impact.  There is no right answer and there is no action you can take to change those things.  That’s kind of crappy all by itself, isn’t it?


Fortunately, your and my lives are layered and filled with all sorts of experiences.  So while we can’t change some things, we can learn to cope and to find the resources and skills to get through the tough times.  And even better than that, we can stack the odds in our favor so we can have a happy and rewarding life that allows us to thrive despite the challenges and troubles we face.


Next week I’ll share something very powerful and positive with you as we wrap up this mini-series of articles.  It’ll be a suggestion you can put to work immediately, and I think you might be surprised by how helpful it is.


Until then, here’s wishing you much health and happiness.


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We’ve all heard the saying, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”  But some of the lemons in life can’t be fixed by watering them down and adding sugar.  Let’s face it.  No matter how much sugar you add, a turd is still a turd and it’ll be hard to swallow regardless of how it’s presented.

I know people are going to find this controversial, but there are things in life that suck and there is absolutely nothing that you or I can do about those things except to accept that there isn’t anything we can do about them.  Some of those things might be changeable, but not by us.

That’s good and bad.  It’s bad because those parts of life are really hard.  It’s good because if we are willing to accept that we have no impact in those areas, it lets us save our energy for the things we can change.  And that ultimately makes our lives better.

{Steven Covey calls that concept our circle of influence.  That circle is such a powerful thing that it deserves a full post.  Stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks.  We’ll also come back to dealing with the things we can’t change.}

For now, let’s talk about lemons and turds.  Seriously.  This is important.  If we’re talking about actual lemons and turds it’s easy to tell one from the other—bright yellow fruit vs. smelly brown poop is a no-brainer.  But the figurative versions aren’t as easy to differentiate and sometimes they both stink.

If you’re treating a problem like a lemon and it’s really a turd, you’re wasting precious energy trying to change something that is out of your control to change.  And if you’re treating a problem like a turd when it’s really a lemon, you’re missing an opportunity to make your life better and more enjoyable.  Life is short and you don’t want to be making either mistake when you can avoid it.

So, how do you tell the difference?

What it really boils down to is this:

  • If your actions can directly result in a change, then the problem is a lemon.
  • If there is absolutely no action you can take that will directly result in a change, then consider the problem a turd.

For example, next month there will be an auction to sell a lot of my father’s stuff.  I walked into his garage (a large, free-standing building) with my mom and looked around.  All of the stuff was there for anyone to see, but what a stranger would never have seen were all the invisible memories that also hung on the walls.

I sat in that chair and talked on that phone to the guy who was my first prom date.  I practiced my jump shot and free throw, shooting thousands of baskets in the hoop hanging over the doors.  I went sledding with friends and family on those sleds.  I spent hours handing those tools to my father as he worked on buses.  He and my brothers taught me to change my own oil, fix a flat, and clean a carburetor with those tools.  That saddle is the one I always used when we rode horses.  Etc., etc.

For a couple weeks it really bothered me that people were going to come put a price on things my father held dear and that housed so many memories.  It felt like his life was going to be auctioned off piece by piece.  It stunk…but it was really just a lemon.

All of that stuff is going to find a new home and will either serve a purpose or create new memories for someone else.  And really, it is just stuff.  The memories are mine and they can’t be auctioned off, so they are safe.  With a slight perspective change, I was able to shift from being upset about it to being happy that my father’s things are going to find new homes with people who will get as much use and enjoyment out of them as he and we once did.

The action of re-framing the experience made a direct difference.  Instead of fretting about it for the last few months, I’ve been able to let go and focus my energy on other things—lemons to lemonade.

Are there things in your life right now that are bothering you?  If there’s something you can do that will directly impact those issues, do it.

But what if there’s nothing you can do?  What if you’re looking at a turd instead of a lemon?  Check back next week and we’ll go over ways to handle those situations.

Until then, be happy and be healthy.


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The last few posts have been food for thought.  This one is actual food…Chinese food…the first really good Chinese I’ve had since going gluten-free!  Doesn’t it look yummy?


GF Chinese Chicken and Vegetables

While I should have documented the whole thing with more pictures, this was a last-minute dinner idea.  You know.  One of those where you open the fridge and cupboards hoping for inspiration that can be created in less than 30-minutes.


Nothing reached out and grabbed me unless you count Nado’s tail smacking my leg.  That caused the chimes in my pocket to ring.


(Yes, I carry chimes in my pocket.  It’s an old habit from my days in practice.  Little kids will be amazingly quiet in order to hear the chimes of a tiny metal ball ring when it’s rolled.  After 15 years in practice, I grew accustomed to their soothing jingle.  So, I still put the harmony ball in my pocket most days.)


Getting from the chimes to Chinese food was a bit like a Family Circus cartoon, but one thing led to another and suddenly my mouth was watering for food I’ve not had in years.  Not only is everyone in my house gluten-free, there are also corn, dairy, and soy allergies.  Try finding Chinese food without one of those ingredients.


But tonight I was not going to be thwarted.  I needed to turn frozen veggies, chicken, eggs, and some spices into tasty Chinese food in less than 30-minutes.  At the end of the meal, the only complaint from my husband was, “Where was the rice?”


So without further ado…



  • 1 bag of California Mix veggies steamed to desired firmness and placed in a medium sized bowl
  • Cooked chicken breast (I seasoned mine with onion, garlic, Real Salt, and black pepper)
  • 2 eggs scrambled
  • Sauce (recipe below)
  • Soy sauce (optional—San J makes a gluten-free version)



  • 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons of onion and garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of honey
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of an oil of your choice (I used safflower because of its relative lack of flavor)
  • 2 cups of water


When the chicken and veggies are mostly cooked, mix all of the above together in a small sauce pan (no heat yet).  Add small amounts of water until the mix has fully dissolved. Add the rest of the water.  Set the heat to medium and stir constantly until the sauce thickens.  If you don’t stir constantly, you’ll end up with lumps or burnt goo on the bottom.  It only takes 5-10 minutes to thicken, so it’s worth it to just stand there and stir.  Once the sauce is at the right thickness, remove it from the heat.  Pour half of the sauce over the cooked veggies to let the flavors blend.


Scramble the eggs, spread them equally on each plate, and top with steamed veggies and chicken breast.  Drizzle more sauce on top if desired.  Add some San-J gluten-free soy sauce if desired and not allergic.  Mix together and enjoy!


If you’re a fan of rice, feel free to add some.  I had about half of the sauce left.  On a night with more time, I’ll probably cut some fresh peppers and pineapple to sauté, cook some more chicken, steam some rice for my hubby, and then rewarm and pour the sauce over the whole thing.

Gluten-free Chinese Chicken and Vegetables

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We don’t even realize it most of the time, but for every holiday or special gathering, there’s a food (or at least food-like substance) we expect to eat.


We’re so conditioned that we don’t hope for a grilled bratwurst washed down with cold root beer and followed later by watermelon and maybe onion rings on July 4th; we expect it.  You might have a different set of expectations then me, but you have a set even if you aren’t aware of them.


Until gluten and corn were gone from my diet, I couldn’t have told you that Easter was associated with peanut M&M’s, New Year’s was summer sausage and cheese on crackers, Valentine’s was decorated sugar cookies, etc.  None of those are things I crave or eat on a regular basis.

Bunny Faces

But once gluten and corn were gone (I have celiac disease and am allergic to corn), it became obvious that eating those foods during “their holiday” was deeply imbedded in my emotional memory.  I’ve not eaten even one M&M since 2006, but each Easter I fiercely want them.  Every year I repeat some version of the following:


  • The week before—search the internet for a source of gluten-free and corn-free peanut M&M’s…no luck.
  • Easter—consider eating some that are gluten-free even though they have corn, but decide against it.
  • The day after—content with the thought that a safe substitute might be found by next year.
  • The rest of the year—M&M’s never even cross my mind without seeing them, and even then, I rarely want to eat them.


As strange as it may sound, if someone had set a safe version in front of me Monday, I’m not sure I would have eaten them.  But on Sunday?  Sunday I would have snarfed down the entire bag or bowl and maybe even wished for more.


I don’t remember looking forward to M&M’s as a kid.  I think they must have been in my Easter basket each year, but I don’t have any fond memories where they played a prominent role.  I know I had some every Halloween too, but I don’t want them on Halloween…only Easter.


Weird, right?


Egg fight

Egg fight! (With empty plastic eggs.)

There are lots of similar stories from people who have restricted their diets due to food allergies, intolerance, or even just personal choice.  Within a year of giving up a specific food or food group, it becomes unquestionable that we all assign meaning to food; meaning that goes far beyond fuel and nutrients.


Everyone tries to tell us that food is just food:  it is fuel; it’s just nutrients; and we should cut all emotional ties to what we eat.  That’s like saying that sex is only good for reproduction.  Technically it might be true, but realistically, that isn’t how we live.


So what do we do about this contrast between what is technically right and what realistically exists?


Let’s face it, if you’re craving a food that isn’t nutrient dense, it isn’t because you literally need it.  You just want it the way I wanted M&M’s Easter weekend.  If you don’t eat what you’re craving, you’re still going to wake up on the right side of the dirt tomorrow.  And a few days (or maybe even hours) from now, it’s likely that you’ll completely have forgotten the craving regardless of rather or not you ate what you wanted.  Since that’s true, and you know it is because of your experience with it, what do you think would happen if we learned more about hunger and stopped obsessing so much with food?


How do you deal with triggers for various food items when you either can’t have the food in question or don’t want to eat it?


Very soon I’ll post another person’s take on hunger and how he approaches food so that he maintains the body composition and level of health he wants.

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Do you, like me, find yourself wishing you had more energy and more hours in the day to get things done?  There’s work I need and want to do, people I want to spend time with, and new things to explore and enjoy.

Should the urgent things on our to-do lists always win out over the important things we hope we’ll eventually get to do? If we always give way to the urgent, will we wake up one morning to realize that something (or someone) truly important has forever slipped away from us?  (Yeah, all that scares me too!)

There have been pivotal moments when I realized that something in my life really needed to change.  Some small thing seen, said, or done becomes a tipping point—an unpleasant or irritating situation, person, or thing is no longer tolerable and we decide right then and there that something is going to change.

Maybe it’s a relationship that’s all one-sided.  It could be the toaster that either burns or pops too early every time.  Or maybe it’s the boss who consistently asks for more without ever giving more pay.  We’ve all been there, right?  The process goes on for a while, but one day we suddenly realize that we’re no longer okay with how things are.

If we’re lucky, we can just toss the old toaster and go buy a new one that does work.  But sometimes multiple bad choices (even if they were bad choices for good reasons) led us to the situation we want to change.  What do we do then?

As tempting as it is to cover our ears and close our eyes while yelling, “La, la, la, la,” doing that isn’t very effective.

Do we think big, go all out, and reach for the stars?  That might get one or two things checked off our lists, but it will take all of our resources.  We’d still have important things on our lists with no time or energy dedicated to them.

My latest attempt at getting more of what I really want has been to distill and categorize.

“Distill and categorize?  Are you opening some sort of micro-brewery with off-label drinks?”

No.  You’ll have to find tasty beverages elsewhere.  I’m working to define myself and my priorities, so that I can get rid of all of the stuff that doesn’t really matter to me…distilling myself until just “the good stuff” remains.  We’re talking ideals here.  I realize I have several flaws, but in order to move away from those flaws, I have to know what I’m moving to or I might just slide into something else I still consider a flaw.

Once I’ve defined myself, then my to-do lists and goals can be categorized into:

  1. Urgent and Important
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Urgent but not important (or not urgent or important)

In the same way that assigning people to an inner and outer circle allows me to shift priorities, assigning the items on my lists into categories makes it easier to see where my time should go.

Anything that falls into the third category can be removed from my to-do lists and goals. If it isn’t important (even if it is urgent), then why spend time on it?

The rest of my energy and time is spent on the first two categories.  Since both categories are important, even if there are lots of urgent items, I make sure to dedicate at least a portion of my day to both categories.  It might end up being 80/20 or even 95/5 some days, but if something matters enough to make my important list, then it matters enough to give at least a bit of attention to it each day.

I’ve only been using the ‘distill and categorize’ process since the first of the year (and it’s still a process I’m working through).  But so far, it has been very effective.  My productivity has improved, my health is improving, my relationships are benefiting, and I find myself being happier as I handle day to day details.

Are there days when I struggle?  Of course!  But having taken the time to define who I am and who I want to be, even those tough days can be dealt with.  It’s not always easy to ask myself how the person I want to be would handle a tough day, but when I do, the day often gets a whole lot easier.

Do you have any special techniques you use to help make sure you aren’t doing busy work when there is important work that needs to be done?


Other resources related to this article that you might enjoy:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – I read this book years ago, but just keep coming back to it.  There’s a lifetime of learning on those pages.

One More Thing Before Setting Your Long Term Goals – A great article a friend recently sent my way.  It helped me to further define what’s really important.


(Photo credit to: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1786)

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