Be Negative, But Don’t Make That Your Home

A while back, maybe 6 months or more now, I spoke to a woman about a problem she was having. I tried to help her. I thought I could help. But things are rarely simple. It turned out, that there was much more to the situation, and I couldn’t help her in the way that she wanted.

A few weeks after that, I spoke to that woman again. There was another problem. Once again, I tried to help. She was upset about another problem. She seemed rooted there. She couldn’t see anything outside of the situtation. So I tried to create space between her and that problem. I tried to refocus her. It seemed to work, but I was wrong.

Recently I spoke to this woman. There were a few new problems. Some of the old ones were still around. Some of these problems were very minor. They were not at all important. Some were reasonable, and I tried to work with her and listen to her. But the problems were not ending. She seemed determined to be upset about something, anything, or possibly even everything.

I realized shortly after the last time that I spoke with her that I have never heard her say anything positive. It’s always a problem. Always a complaint. Always an issue.

I know another person who also tends to lean more negative. Things are frequently bad. She never has time to do all the work that she needs to get done. There are always roadblocks. There are always new issues coming up. I’ve know this person for years now, and I’ve heard a lot of these types of issues. I’ve also heard a lot of positives. I’ve heard her laugh. I’ve heard her sing. I’ve seen her stressed out, and I’ve seen her relaxed. I’ve seen her moved by touching stories to the point of tears. I’ve seen her in many different situations with many different emotions. She’s complex, mostly because people are complex.

While she can be negative, that’s okay with me. We all can be negative because sometimes everything sucks. It’s good to get those feelings out. Sometimes it’s necessary.

I tend to be a positive person. I see the bright side of things. I love to laugh. I’m goofy as hell. I sing throughout the day about random topics: what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, if I feel hungry, if my dog does something cute, and on and on. I also love to dance silly. I use funny voices when I talk sometimes. I pretend to speak to my pets and that my pets are responding.

I also tend to be very optimistic. While everything sucks, things will work out in the end. While things may be difficult, they won’t be difficult forever. That’s my headspace. That’s where I live. I try to get perspective. I try to get context. I try to think big picture.

I realize that everyone can’t easily adopt this positive mindset. Some people genuinely have shitty things going on for them, and that’s why I think it’s absolutely fine to be negative. It’s not good to try to paint a positive picture when the world around you is crumbling. By accepting the negative, it can help to get it out.

Without getting into detail (only because it’s definitely way boring to everyone but me), the other day at work I was hella negative. Someone did something that threw my whole day off. I was pissed. At one point, I literally stomped around the office because I was upset and making the noise made me feel a little better. Then I got over it. I got the emotion out. I stomped around and burned off the extra energy. And I felt better.

The problem I have is when people make that negativity their home. It becomes their default setting. They’re constantly upset. There’s always a complaint. Like the woman I mentioned at the start of this post, there is never anything positive coming from them. Maybe for her, it started with one bad day, but it’s been months and years from what I can gather, and she still holding on to something.

(Without intending to get this song stuck in your head) sometimes, you have to simply let it go. Let it go! Be upset. Stomp around. Then move on.

If someone were to ask me what my motto is (which is such a weird thing to ask a person, but I guess it happens) I would say it’s: “Forward Focus.” Everyone is going to have a bad day. Things are going to suck. You’re allowed to get negative. It’s okay to get upset. But don’t stay there.

I wrote recently about gratitude (HERE and HERE). I like to think about all of the things that didn’t go wrong in a day. I like to recognize successes. I also acknowledge and evaluate opportunities for improvement. I recognize my failures and try to learn. I think about how I can apply what I’ve learned to get better. Rather than staying in the past, I think about the future. That’s the point of forward focus.

So people, you’re allowed time. I’d say a day, but take a week. Take a year if you have to. But try to gain perspective. Be negative. Use it to get whatever emotions you have out. But don’t make that space your home.


My First 10K

Let me tell you guys about the time I signed up for a 10K during my busiest season at work, didn’t train, but ran it anyway. It sucked. Here’s the story.

Some time ago (February. It was February) I got excited about the idea of running more. Something in my brain began craving all things running. I wanted to listen to running podcast and running audio books. I wanted to read about running form. I even picked up a running novel, Once a Runner, that I couldn’t really get into because of some fat shaming language in the first chapter (doodes, I know it was written in, like, the 70s, but come on. Get with it).

I hadn’t been running much. Over the summer, I had been running more, but I’d gotten really into kenpo. That was new and shinny and fun (it still is). But running took a back seat. And then it was winter, and guys, I HATE to be cold. Once the time changed, I couldn’t bring myself to get up before the sun and go for a run. So, I just didn’t run.

But once the weather started getting a little nicer, my body and my brain wanted to get back into it. Part of that was a desire to sign up for a race. With a quick search on the internet, I found the Moreno Valley Mother’s Day 5K/10K race organized by the Moreno Valley Road Runners (which I seriously didn’t even know existed). This was exciting: a race in my neighborhood! In the past, I’ve had to get up super early to drive out to the race location. Or I’ve skipped cool races all together because the spot was just too damn far. But Moreno Valley. I could do that.

After registering for the 10K option, I looked into training plans. I’d only ever “raced” a 5K, and my average mileage for my runs is two or three miles. I don’t run far. I don’t run fast. But I got it in my head that not only could I do a 10K, but I could crush a 10K. I’d train. Then I’d run it hella fast. And it would be easy.

You guys, I was so dumb. I got busy. Work got bananas. I had every intention on running on a regular schedule. I even bought Matt Fitzgerald’s book 80/20 Running, which I’ve mentioned before. I started reading it, but I didn’t even get too far into it before work threw me off track.

I got so off track that at one point I thought I would just skip the race. It would be easy to forget about it. I hadn’t really told many people that I was going to do it, so what would it matter if I didn’t go? Thankfully be awesome sister-in-law, with her enthusiasm and support, unknowingly persuaded me to stay with it. She even signed up to do it with me! After that, I was so pumped.

That enthusiasm did not last long into the actual race. I started off pretty excited. I was excited when I woke up. I was excited getting into the park, getting out of the car, and simply being near other runners. It was a Mother’s Day event, so there were lots of kids and people that I assume where their mothers. There was a LOT of pink. They even had finishers medals laid out on a table that were so pink they practically were glowing.

It was a small group of runners that day (maybe 50 people, but I honestly don’t know. I’m terrible at gauging a crowd). I was pumped and ready to go. When we started racing, I remember thinking how awesome it was to run in a group. I was feeling the energy of the crowd. At mile one I thought, “Only five more to go. I got this!”

Guys, I was not prepared for hills. I was not prepared for wind. And it wasn’t even windy. It was just a slight breeze that made it feel like I was being pushed backward. In a word, it was super hard. I hated running nearly the whole thing. I wanted to give up. I wanted to duck out with the 5K group rather than continuing on to do the full 10K. I wanted to walk those damn hills. I wanted to hitch a ride to the finish line with every car that drove by.

But I didn’t (okay. I walked a part of the race, but only a small part. And it wasn’t really up to me. It was a pretty steep hill, and my body literally just stopping running. It was like something pulled me back. I allowed myself to finish that hill walking, and then I didn’t stop running until I crossed the finish line).

I ran the rest of the race thinking, “Why did I decide to do this. This sucks.” I truly hated every minute of last half of that 10K. I kept thinking about how I should have trained more. I thought that if I could just lose a few pounds it would be easier for me to run. I thought about the few miles that I did put in on my treadmill and how I should have done them outside. I thought about how I should have done hill work because it was pretty clear that the course would have hills. I thought all of these negative things and only occasionally forced myself to look around me at the beautiful landscape that I was getting to run in.

I finished the run in 1 hour and 10 minutes. I was pretty pleased with that. As I was nearing the finish, I wanted to walk so badly. But I forced myself to finish strong, and I finished with a smile. My legs hurt. My feet hurt. I was thirsty, and I wanted to just sit down.

My sister-in-law finished ten minutes after me. I walked out to meet her and run the last stretch with her. My legs were aching badly, but I really wanted to be with her to finish it. I thought that it must have been torture for her to run the 10K too, and I figured I was offering support by being with her for the last steps of the awful experience. It turns out, she enjoyed the flipping thing.

She told me how when she felt like she needed to walk, she walk. She told me how she allowed herself to experience the scenery. It was a lovely morning, not too hot. We had some beautiful clouds. She didn’t stress over running the entire thing or making a certain time. She just did the 10K.

Honestly, that blew me away. It hadn’t occurred to me that by pushing myself so hard I was missing out on the experience of the 10K (and engaging in some pretty negative self talk). I didn’t allow myself to enjoy the feeling of running or connecting with the people around me. I missed out on the scenery and the smells of nature. All I could think about was how I wanted to quit, and how I couldn’t wait for the damn thing to be over.

Here’s the lesson: it’s okay to slow down. It okay to not be perfect or live up to whatever ideal experience you’ve build up in your head. In fact, it’s good to stop sometimes or go slow. By going fast (or kind of fast in my case) you miss out of so much of the experience.

And: BE NICER TO YOURSELF. Damn it, evie. Enough with the negative self talk. You’re pretty awesome. You finished your first 10K, and you did it smiling!! To be fair, I was mostly smiling because Johnny lovely was there supporting me at the finish line. That was awesome. But it also felt good to finish. I was happy.

After I stopped running, it hit me: the 10K was awesome. It hurt. It got lonely when most of the runners veered off to the 5K course while a few runners and I kept going for the longer option. Those hills were tough. My calves were already cramping before I got to the finish line. But damn, I’d do it again. The Road Runners even have a Valentine’s Day run that I’m planning on doing.

So, I messed up my training plan. Oh well. I could have guessed that it wouldn’t have gone perfectly. It’s literally peak season for me at work. I shouldn’t expect to be perfect. It’s awesome that I did a 10K. I’m going to try to keep it up. I’d like to race again and try to get under an hour. I’d like to build up my miles and eventually run a half marathon. I’ll get there, and when I do, I’ll try to slow down and allow myself to enjoy the experience.



Practicing Gratitude

All right guys. Last week, I wrote about how I was grateful that my nephew was okay after he was rushed to the hospital the week before because he had stopped breathing, turned blue, and was having seizures. Nothing is wrong. He’s fine. He’ll continue to be fine. We don’t have to worry.

But all too often, I forget that things will be fine. Because, daily, things tend to really suck.

“The world is a garbage fire.”

“Everything sucks.”

“Fuck everyone.”

These are things I sometimes (I’m not going to admit how often) think in my brain. Why? Because things are hard. People make then hard(er). Things pile on. Things get worse. And I (we) forget that things will be fine.

(Okay, I’m going to pause right quick and note that some things will NOT be fine. I used to think: “things always turn out fine in the end.” Dooodes, I was SO wrong. Sometimes, everything sucks. Bad things happen that profoundly change your world forever in a bad way. I learned this when my aunt died after battling cancer for a little over four months. It was the longest four months of my life. It was drawn out and excruciating. Those four months were a blur. It was so sudden. So, sometimes, things do not turn out fine. Barring this type of situation though, lots of stuff does turn out fine in the end.)

What I want to think about (and that’s what I’m doing by writing this blog: thinking things through for myself to learn hoping that you guys like it and think a little too) is how I can take a step back and learn to deal when things are tough. Normal tough though, like work being difficult, people being difficult, or run of the mill stuff that we have to deal with on the regular.

I think one answer can be to practice gratitude more often.

Right now y’all, birds are chirping outside. It’s a beautiful day here in sunny California. I got to sleep in. I played with my cat, Molly, and my dog. Betty (Marco, my other cat, was being a bit of a handful so I told him to go take a nap). And I’m WRITING! I LOVE to write. It feels good and natural and hard and lots of other super cheesy things.

I can easily bitch right now. I can list a bunch of stuff that sucks. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole of negativity. I want to stay positive right now.

So, here’s what I propose: let’s practice gratitude daily. Let’s not get swept up in the garbage fire of daily life. Let’s pause. Let’s reflect on how things aren’t all bad. And let’s acknowledge that some stuff is pretty okay.

Here are a few ways I want to start:

  1. Three Things.

Here’s how this one works: every day express three things that you’re grateful for. I’ve heard that some people do this at the dinner table with their families. I’m not going to assume that you all eat dinner together with a family. Maybe you don’t have one. Maybe you don’t eat together. I don’t know you.

Find a way to acknowledge three things. If can be to someone, like a family member or a friend. I can be on Twitter or Facebook or some other online social tool you use (#3things). Or it can be in private. Write it down somewhere. Or simply stop, think about three things, and let them sink in.

  1. Say “thank you” more.

This one’s simple you guys. Be nice. Be polite. Tell someone that did something nice for you that you appreciate it. I can be a quick comment or a text. Whatever works. And do it for all kinds of things. If someone helps you at work, take a moment and let that person know that you recognize their help. If someone takes you out to dinner or makes you food, say “thank you.” It took time for them to do that. Don’t take that action for granted. They may stop if you do.

2a. Do a Big Thank You.

I’m making this a subcategory because I’m building off of the previous idea. We can express gratitude more often, but it can become more of a gesture and less sincere very quickly. Try, when applicable, to do a Big Thank You. This is when you take a quick minute to express in a little more detail exactly what a person did for you that was awesome. If someone helped you with a project you were working on, send them an email. Don’t make it too long. Note one or two details about the work they helped with and why their help mattered. This takes so little time, but it makes a BIG impact. That’s why it’s called the Big Thank you.

  1. Do something nice for someone.

Putting nice things out into the world for other people feels good. I don’t believe in karma or anything like that. But doing nice things feels nice, and sometimes people return the favor. Recently, I had a co-worker who was stressing out over a big project she was working on. I took some time to help her. I did a few things that made a big impact on her mood. It helped get the project done. And it didn’t take much effort on my part to make a big impact on her.

Do more nice things. Rub someone’s back. Get them a glass of water. Help them with a project. Big or small, these things matter.

3a. Do something nice for yourself.

I’ve heard people say before something like, “I wish someone would                for me.” I dunno what the blank is. Something nice. “buy me flowers” or “take me somewhere.” My thought has always been, “Why don’t you do it for yourself?”

Recently, I bought myself flowers because I was having a bad day. People were making things harder than they needed to be. So, while I was at the store, I bought flowers because when I looked at them, they made me smile. I posted online how I had done this, and some people were shocked that I bought flowers for myself. Why? Why aren’t more people doing this?

If you’re stressed out, tired, upset, or whatever, do something nice for yourself. It can be flowers. It can be a cup of coffee. Take yourself to the movies or sit at home and watch a movie on your own. Take care of yourself more often (rather than hoping someone will do it for you.)

That’s where I’m going to start. I’m going to try to be more mindful this week and practice being more grateful for others and myself. I’m going to be honest. It may be difficult. But I’m gonna try. Please try with me.