Thursday, February 19, 2009

8 Steps to Conquer the Beast Within

This article is from O, The Oprah Magazine
February Issue. It jumped out at me after my previous post today. Article By Martha Beck

It's been tailing you for years—depression, a hot temper, an irresistible urge for cupcakes—appearing here and there, with no rhyme or reason. Or so it seems. Martha Beck calls this a bête noire, and she's developed an easy way you can track it, tame it, and vanquish it forever.

Right now I have two cliché pains: one in my neck and one in my butt. Both are the result of my learning to ride—and I use that term loosely—a horse. The butt pain is no big deal; just chafed skin. I'm told it can be avoided by wearing a padded undergarment, brand-named Comfy Rump, which I'm sure they carry at Victoria's Extremely Dark Secret. My neck pain, on the other hand, could mean trouble. It started when my horse jumped a little, causing my head to lash around on my vertebral column like a bowling ball on a Slinky. Though this was a new experience, the afterpain is all too familiar. You see, I have Fibromyalgia , a chronic pain syndrome no one really understands. My neck may heal normally, or "fibro" may be triggered by the bruised tissue, making the injury debilitating.

Fibromyalgia is my bête noire, a French term for "black beast" that has come to mean something to be avoided because it frightens us or can cause us harm. Many of us have bêtes noires: dark moods (Winston Churchill called depression his "black dog"), addiction, self-loathing, a tendency to lurk in the shrubbery near former lovers' homes holding a machete in one hand and The Complete Work of Keats in the other. Whatever your bête noire might be, you may think it will ruin your life. I beg to differ. Like other wild animals, your bête can be studied, understood—even tamed. If you want to be the handler of your beast, instead of its prey, grab a pencil and prepare to learn a bête noire tracking exercise that I call the Lifeline.

Download The Lifeline Graph Here

(if the above link does not work click here to go to O Magazine and download it)

Step 1: Learn to call your bête noire by its real name.
Many magical traditions hold that you control a monster by speaking its name. My whole world changed the day a doctor flipped through his medical school textbook and found the label for my illness, which had been misdiagnosed for years. Knowing my condition's name allowed me to track, understand, and manage it. The power of naming is why so many lives have changed with the first utterance of words like "I'm an alcoholic" or "I'm over my head in debt" or, simply, "I'm unhappy."

One of my clients, a diabetic, told me, "If I talk about diabetes, I'll attract it. If I never say it, it isn't real and it can't hurt me." Actually, avoiding a scary topic means your subconscious mind is riveted on it. To let go of something, you first have to admit you're holding it. True freedom starts with absolute honesty. So be brave: Say the words. "I'm lonely." "I have an eating disorder." "My marriage isn't working." The moment you call the problem by its real name, you're already learning how to make it less harmful.

Step 2: Start filling in your lifeline by rating your bête noire at this moment.
On the Lifeline graph you downloaded, the numbers across the bottom reflect your age. The numbers on the left axis indicate the intensity of your problem. Begin filling in the Lifeline by answering this question: On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 indicating "no problem at all" and 10 "the worst I've ever experienced," how bad is your problem today? Put an X in the column above your current age, at whatever level feels appropriate (if your suffering is at 10, mark the topmost box; if it rates a 9, the second-to-the-top, and so on).

Step 3: Remember (and record) the worst of times.
Now recall when your bête noire was its very worst—the time you were fattest, most nicotine-addicted, most socially incompetent, or whatever. If you don't remember your age back then, think of other things that happened around the same time: "Oh, yes, that was the year I [got pregnant/bought a Yugo/tried to learn pole-vaulting]." These events will help you place your worst bête noire periods in the correct year on your Lifeline. Mark the "level 10" box above each of the years when your problem hit its maximum. For example, my pain rated a 10 when I first developed symptoms, at age 18. It came on strong again during each of my pregnancies, and stayed at maximum force when all three of my kids were tiny. That means that on my Lifeline, fibromyalgia pain scored a 10 at ages 18, 23, 25, and 27 through 30. Mark your Lifeline to represent your personal Dark Ages.

Step 4: Remember (and record) the best of times.
Now it's time to look on the bright side. Recall occasions when your problem eased up or temporarily disappeared. Remember what was going on in your life, and above each year of low beast activity, mark the box that shows the level of intensity back then. For example, my pain levels dropped from a 10 to a 4 when I was 31, after I quit my academic job and started writing books. They rose a little the next year, but at 33, when I began life-coaching former students, my pain dropped to near 0. When was your beast at its least? Give it a score for each year that applies.

Step 5: Fill in the gaps.
Once you've marked the best and worst of times, fill in the gaps, scoring your bête noire levels at every age. You won't have total recall. The numbers will be too fuzzy for physics. But social scientists know that charts like the Lifeline can be extremely useful—and as you fill in the boxes, you'll automatically start thinking like a social scientist. Which brings us to the most powerful Lifeline step.

Step 6: Take note of correlations and casual links.
You describe correlations and causalities every time you observe, "I eat more when I'm tired" or "I feel wonderful near the ocean." Many of the causal links in your life are obvious to you, but others are invisible. The Lifeline exercise helps you see these. To begin noticing connections between your bête noire and other life experiences, answer the questions below on another sheet of paper.

A. When your bête noire was at its worst...

1. Where were you living?

2. Where were you working? (Note: Raising kids at home is work.)

3. What did you do on a typical day?

4. With whom did you spend time?

5. What did you believe?

B. Now answer the five questions above in regard to the times your bête noire was least bothersome.

C. What did your worst times have in common?

D. What did your best times have in common?

E. Other than the bête noire itself, were there any factors that were present at the worst times but not at the best times?

This exercise has sparked thousands of lightbulb moments for me and my clients. I spent years trying to figure out what triggered my fibromyalgia pain, always focusing on things like diet or medication. But creating a Lifeline revealed something surprising: Each and every time my pain flared, I was doing something that I later realized was steering me away from my life's purpose. The pain attacked when I tried to write academic journal articles, receded when I wrote books for a popular audience; worsened when I tried to be my idea of a "perfect mother," lessened when I was simply myself around my children; spiked when I taught college, vanished when I started life-coaching.

If you mull over your Lifeline, you, too, will find unexpected correlations and causalities. My client Janice realized that her beast—alcoholism—was less severe when she spent lots of time knitting. (Yes! Knitting!) Benjamin realized that he made disastrous business decisions around intellectual snobs. Colleen's self-esteem dropped like an anvil whenever she stopped doing yoga. These clients couldn't believe such factors were really aggravating their bêtes noires —until we tested them. Which brings us to...

Step 7: Test your discoveries.
If you think you've spotted a causal link in your Lifeline, experiment. Create the life conditions that correlate with a calm bête noire —and see if that's what happens. This may seem strange, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating: When Janice hauled out her yarn and started clicking needles, her whiskey-thirst actually did diminish. Benjamin spent less time with intellectuals and more with his blue-collar employees, and sure enough, his business sense surged. Colleen found that down dog really did make her buck up.

Step 8: Tame the beast.
Though I still have fibromyalgia, I rarely have symptoms. That's because, using a Lifeline, I realized that my body uses "fibro" to send messages from my soul to my brain. "Your destiny's not here!" the pain tells me. "Look over there!" It used to take incapacitating agony to make me pay attention. But as I kept studying the correlations in my life, I learned to change course when I felt the first twinge. As a result, my pain has diminished, not advanced, as time passes.

I've seen this exercise work with all kinds of black beasts. I now believe that bêtes noires usually attack because we're thwarting our own destinies. Calming the beast turns us toward our best lives. So, when Janice replaced whiskey with yarn handicrafts, she realized that what she really wanted was to use her innate creativity. The more she created beautiful things, the less compelled she was to drink. Benjamin became so comfortable working with blue-collar employees that he outperformed the MBAs at his company. Colleen made time for yoga every day, and her self-esteem blossomed, improving every relationship in her life.

If you begin using Lifeline exercises to track your various bêtes noires, you will discover what aggravates them and how to quiet them. I've learned from hundreds of clients that your very worst issues can be tamed into helpful friends. One day your bête noire will be just a frisky dog or a flighty horse, an enjoyable and loyal companion, only occasionally causing a slight pain in the neck.

Martha Beck is the author of six books. Her most recent is Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life, No Matter What!

End of Article: If you Google Martha Beck you will find that she has a coaching site as well as being an author. She has a number of books on Amazon.

I grabbed a stack of papers and magazines and took them to my shredder to turn into dog bedding when O, The Oprah Magazine jumped out at me. Yes it did, and yes I recycle all my paper by shredding it into dog bedding. Anyway there was a headline on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine that caught my eye. Actually a different article all together and I tripped over 8 Steps to Conquer the Beast Within before I found the other. Kismet I suppose... I hope it is a blessing to you.

Gotta run, the day is flying by and I must be out the door to take care of Ranch and Kennel necessities.

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip.
Mary E. Robbins & the Hairballs
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream With Our Pomeranians
Independent Beachbody Coach: Getting Fit Physically & Financially

I woke up Pissed off

I was freaking because this is my weigh in day; and I had a very bad week. Days of uncontrollable eating, hiding, not working out. Over all my anxiety levels were off the charts and I was raving mad-angry all week. Ok I got on the scale: I thought I had gained weight but I had no idea that I had put on 6 pounds in one week. Good grief. I lost 5 pounds last week and gained 6 this week.

Ok so what am I going to do about it. How do I accomplish my weight loss goals.
1. go to bed at night. Take a sleeping pill if necessary.
2. journal
3. restart the workout program at beachbody- I am going to set the automatic scheduling program in my calendar at beachbody and follow through with the daily workouts. Last week I think I only made my workout 1 or 2 times at most. Bad news bears.
4. write out a daily schedule-not set in stone, but a get up, do this, then this, time for the other and so on- more like a daily plan-include editing time, meetings, workouts, kennel care, kennel editing, tax work, phone time, motivational reading time, rest time…maybe then everything won’t run together and result in all night sessions on the computer
5. food journal
6. plan some menus
7. work on Midwest center program

I’ve been tripping ever since my birthday. Might have a little to do with turning 49. Mostly it’s a reaction to the total stress overload the idiots at the Bill lodging caused by losing my husband. Then calling here saying they couldn’t find him when his bloody room number was in the freaking computer all the bloody time. Whoa nellie! Yes I am still very very very ..angry. Next to nothing is setting of a volcano of rage boiling up and out all over the place.

LuLu our yellow lab is so stressed out and anxiety ridden that she is shaking. Poor dog she shakes so bad she rattles anything she lies up against. The dogs woke me up in the wee hours of the morning. 3:30 a.m. I think. Wouldn’t have been so bad but it’s been 3 nights running that I haven’t had much sleep.

Just dawned on me what is going on. Because there hasn’t been anything out in the yards or around the yards to set them off. It’s been my attitude. I’ve been so tightly wound and angry that I’m effecting them big time. A wicked rage has been flaring at next to nothing. The full blown kind of anger that –geez you just want to grab a hammer and beat the stuffings out of whatever gets in your way. No I haven’t done that. But I know my dogs know that I feel like it. Someone must have done that to LuLu before we got her, because she is terrified when I get like that. I keep a very tight reign on my actions, especially when rage is boiling. I will not allow myself to act out physically harming the dogs or anyone else.

I am overreacting to every little thing. It’s amazing how writing brings realization; and often resolution. I can feel the tension draining out of my back muscles as I write.

I started the Midwest Center’s Attacking Anxiety and Depression CD/DVD series this week. I would wager that actively engaging the rollercoaster ride of my mind is part of what’s kicking the anger into overdrive. Part of me seriously does not want to change, hence the anger, the food binge (to stay fat) and so on.

Too bad, So sad another part of me is seriously looking forward to not being fat. In fact I am excited about being lean and physically fit. No more hiding in a fat suit. Whomp There it is!

No more hiding, that’s part of the reason I am going to go ahead and post this journal entry. Admit it, face it, put it out there, deal with it. Roller coasters are fine in carnivals or Disney land, but living on an emotional one tends to suck big time. Ppphhhhtttt! To the rollercoaster ride. I am doing this.

MY resolutions:
Live the greatest year of my life!
Live life now: appreciate each moment as it happens.
Live in peace within myself.

He he… I feel better already! From what I have seen so far the Midwest Center's program is very effective.

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream With Our Pomeranians
Independent Beachbody Coach: Getting Fit Physically and Financially

P.S. Guess I should say Getting Fit, Physically, Mentally, Spiritually, and Financially.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good Morning One and All

This has been quite the week, My birthday was on Feb. 5th which was also my weigh in day. I had stayed the same for 2nd week, and then lo and behold I bounced up 3 pounds. Grrr. Ok that happens, especially when you are building muscle. I knew I didn’t eat enough calories to make that happen with fat gain. (good reason to keep a food journal) I was a bit frustrated, but went on with my day. I am trying to stay away from the tape measure until I’ve lost 20 pounds. That would put my weight at 279lbs. I did weigh today-dropped the bounce plus one or a 4 pound loss. That puts me at 288lbs.

Back to the 5th, I popped onto my computer, wrote a couple of blog posts. One on Living in peace within yourself, no matter what is going on around you. This was on my Life is a journey blog, the other was on helping children deal with the death of a pet, this was on my Arfing News blog. .

I mentioned the blog posts because of the events that followed on my 49th birthday. Whoo, hoo… made it 49 years. Feb. 5th.

This is where it starts to get hairy. Later that day the railroad my husband works for calls me. Trying to find David to go to work. David was supposed to be at the other end of his run. So I told them he was at the lodging where he was supposed to be. One of the great things about David is when he works, he works. He doesn’t mess about. So I knew if he wasn’t where he was supposed to be there was a problem. Mind you this lodging, and railroad depot is out in the middle of rangeland. No towns for over 30 miles in any direction. It’s around 150 miles from our ranch.

The gentleman that called me said they couldn’t find him; and asked me again if he had come home for some kind of emergency. I said no he was there, and started to get worried. My husband has Type II diabetes, and uses insulin. Depending on how active he has been, and what/when he has eaten last his blood sugar can drop to very dangerous levels.

I asked the Mgr. if they had checked his room, the gym, a whole list of places on the property he could be. Usually he shows up 30 minutes early for work (yes he’s one of those) and he was not there.

I was trying not to panic, with visions of my husband confused from low blood sugar, heading for a coma and death on the wrong end of a train, or lost on the rangeland. It was just an hour before dark and temperatures drop quickly; the temps alone are reason for concern.

I told this Mgr. the only reason David wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be, is that something was wrong. I stressed the dangers of his sugar levels dropping; as in a body bag and funeral.

They had a team together looking for David with cans of full sugar soda pop. They scoured the lodging, the buildings at the depot, the parking lots and surrounding areas, and still couldn’t find him. By this time I was very concerned. I was wrapping things up here as quickly as I could, getting ready to jump in my pickup and roar across 150 miles to get to the depot to help look.

Mind you there are over 80 dogs here and I was in the middle of prepping their hot food when the railroad called.

The sheriff was being called to bring more people on board for the search, and ambulance alerted. I had just changed into my outside work/hiking boot type shoes and was heading for the door to get in the pick up truck when the phone rang again.

I took a deep breath and went for the phone. A number of my friends have sent their husbands off to work on the rail and had a corpse come home; gets a bit tense at times. My husband’s cell phone number was on the caller id. He was ok. (MASSIVE RELIEF!)

It turns out the desk clerk wrote down the wrong room number. The railroad depot Mgr. didn’t think to check the computer to see what room number my husband had entered when he logged off the computer.

I was relieved and completely exhausted, felt like a horse had kicked me in the chest. All that worry because someone wasn’t paying attention to their duties. Grrr. First it was a massive wave of emotion and relief, then it was pissed off on a magnitude that would make a volcano look small. My stomach dumped massive amounts of acid resulting in gastric attack after gastric attack, and swelling up from head to toe. Felt like a very large horse had kicked me in the chest for most of the week.

I am very glad that David is ok. I do love the fellow you know. I am glad he caught me before I made a 150 mile drive as fast as my pickup would go. I am rather put out that the entire situation could have been avoided by their desk clerk simply doing his/her job. The next time they call me I am going to tell them to check the railroad computer to see what room he is in. I wish I had known to tell them that this time. Such is life, I know now.

All things considered I did pretty good at living in peace within myself. I didn’t eat the entire frig,(just a half a peach pie) had a couple of bingy episodes, muscles still ache, from the tension but that’s a minor thing. Didn’t spiral into a depression or suicidal freak-out; that’s a good thing.

I could have done without the bloating; truthfully I could have done without the entire episode.

Sorry I haven’t been on the board. I did notice that working out first thing in the morning does wonders for my attitude all day long. Although I only made it 3 days this past week. Goal for this coming week is 6 days. I pushed play today: 5 more to reach weekly goal.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3, 5-6

Click below to get the body you want and the lifestyle you deserve.

My Resolutions:
Live the Greatest Year of my Life!
Live Life now: appreciate each moment as it happens!
Live in peace within myself!

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip.
Mary E. Robbins & the Hairballs
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream With Our Pomeranians

Independent Beachbody Coach: Getting Fit Physically and Financially

Yes it’s true, I am a rambler…

11 lb lost. 139 lb go.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

I saw the first blush of dawn on the eastern horizon this morning. This day I celebrate living 49 years. Give thanks for the years of life I have been blessed with and face the oncoming with joyous expectation.

Yes I actually do mean that. Major change from last year around this time. I was in a black hole of depression on a suicidal slide into pain racked oblivion.

So what made the change from then to now? It’s not so much the time that passed as it is a major change in mindset. There are still crisis’s, both minor and major that come rolling into my life to be dealt with.

Case in point: my mother took a header out of her power wheel chair and landed on her noggin. Beat her self up pretty badly, her neighbor found her and called me in a panic. Mom was on her way to the hospital in the ambulance. The neighbor was rather panicked, when she called me, I wasn’t sure whether mom would still be alive by the time I got to the hospital. It was a bit of a tense drive to be sure. My mother is on blood thinners so a head injury is extremely dangerous. (Yes she did survive, and is healing up nicely.)

Night before last David (my husband) put his hand on my shoulder in the middle of the night. Normally this would not wake me up, however his skin was cold and he was drenched in sweat. That means his blood sugar was dropping into very dangerous levels. Fortunately I woke up, and was able to raise his blood sugar before he was comatose. What if I had missed it? What if I hadn’t waked or he rolled the other way. Hello body bag, express way to a funeral.

Next major crisis, my youngest stepson, who just turned 29 years old, whom I love very much, has been diagnosed with Huntington’s. A nasty genetic disease that was in his biological mother’s bloodline. Huntington’s is a destructive life thief. It destroys your mind and body before it kills you in a very demeaning manner.

By the way, yes I do love all three of these people very much.

Of course there are more stressors, such as a fear mongering associate, grousing about the economy and government. What can I say; he made some poor financial decisions, now he has to deal with the consequences. Do I feel sorry for him, no I do not. Rather than leaning from his poor choices, he is spreading fear and strife.

As well as, a fear mongering neighbor. Going from ranch to ranch trying to spread fear and paranoia. As for the fear mongering neighbor, he can stay away from my ranch. I have no place in my life for those who deliberately strive to create strife.

Did I tell you all this for sympathy? No I did not, I told you to make a point. It is NOT the events, or stressors that come into your life that determine the quality of your life. It is your mindset in dealing with them.

I came to a realization. There is nothing I can do about how miserable other people choose to be. Yes it is a choice. I choose to live in peace within myself, to experience my joy, regardless of events surrounding me.

It’s your life, It’s your choice. What do you choose?

A couple of books I’ve found useful along these lines:
Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
by: Bryon Katie
The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life
by: Jeff Olson

My Life Resolution:
The Greatest Year of My Life
Live Life Now: appreciate each moment as it happens.
Live in Peace Within Myself.

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip.
Mary E. Robbins & the Hairballs
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream With Our Pomeranians
Independent Beach Body Coach
Decide Commit Succeed!

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Change your body, Change your health, and Change your Life!

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