What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened … Instead of always harping on a man’s faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut … Hold up to him his better self, his real self that can dare and do and win out! … People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts. — Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna
For most, 2016 was a year of upheaval. We saw political upsets across the globe and sociological unrest that I thought had abated decades earlier. U.S. cities were like the wild west with police and citizenry gunned down due to a basic distrust that has seeped into the very fiber of our being.
Personally, friends dealt with horrific tragedies, illness, homelessness, paralyzing fear and other hardships. But they also welcomed babies, announced engagements, triumphed over hardships, got well, undertook Herculean challenges and generally did what people do—carry on. It is in the way that we approach life’s ups and downs that always captures my attention. This is the core of our commonality—our very humanity. I think if we focused more on our shared hopes, dreams and challenges—and less on our differences—we could change the world. At least, we might have a little more empathy and tolerance for one another.
For me, 2016 had highs and lows in my work life. It ended with virtually NO WORK for the last six weeks of the year. Normally, that would have incurred far more stress, but a project earlier in the year allowed me to be a bit ahead of the game (for a change), so I won’t start panicking until February. I designed a training manual for a non-profit that is now being used in Uganda and Kenya to help impoverished woman become entrepreneurs and quite literally change the lives of their families. Additionally, I acquired a few small local projects and continue my relationship with a California agency. I love working with non-profits and am feeling optimistic about the year ahead.
On November 21st (four days before Thanksgiving), I decided to embark on the keto diet. Today, I woke up 13 pounds thinner (and thinner than I’ve been on January 1st in about 20 years). I did enjoy a regular Thanksgiving, but stayed keto throughout the rest of the holiday season with nary a bite of anything non-keto—even whilst attending a cookie exchange!
There are small victories beyond the scale: buttoning a coat for the first time in the 13 years I’ve owned the coat; fitting into a theater chair with ease without the wooden arms digging into my hips as they did last Christmas when I attended the same holiday show and sat in the exact same seat; less pain; having people tell me I look great. And FEELING great.
I have been determined to lose weight “once and for all” every year of the past three-plus decades, but the keto diet is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think about food all day because the higher fat you are supposed to have when eating keto is satiating. The hunger that usually accompanies weight loss diets is non-existent (while similar to Paleo, the most significant difference is full-fat dairy is allowed). I am convinced that this is the final journey to the svelte woman I used to be, and long to be again. Alas, like so many other aspects of my life, there is a LOT of baggage (aka hanging skin). I have made peace with the flab as I am weary of literally being “weighted” down. It’s also good for all manner of ailments and helps your brain focus. If you’re curious, be prepared: there is NO sugar, corn, potatoes, or grains allowed. Keto flies in the face of everything you’ve ever been taught about food. But it works (and is tasty too)!
I know a lot of people are feeling fearful about the coming year and the uncertainty and chaos of the world around us. But I think if we each try to live the best and highest life we can, treat each other with kindness and respect, and offer a hand when we can, it will all work out. This may be a serious bout of the Pollyanna syndrome (remember the “glad game?”) that my sister always thought I was afflicted with, but I do believe that our attitude goes far in creating the kind of life we lead. As I move into 2017, I am going to focus on doing work that matters, helping friends when I can and winning while losing. Life is a study of contrasts, isn’t it?
Happy New Year!