Redefining Progress

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Progress flows like a waterfall

One of my recent posts discussed how the path to self-discovery and healing doesn’t have the traditional timelines, deadlines, to-do lists or goals that the rest of life’s projects do, whether it’s building a new website at work, or cleaning your apartment. With that idea comes the tendency, at least for me, to not recognize or praise myself for the progress I have made- because it is harder to see personally how I’ve changed.

Sometimes it takes talking to someone else to figure that out; asking directly – have I changed? Do you think I’ve improved on x, y, z? And this goes for everything, I think. At work, maybe you’ve been trying for months to build your skills, show more leadership and project management skills, and show capacity for more responsibility. But maybe because you’ve been doing so much WORK, it’s hard to know if you really are growing and improving, so you have to ask your colleagues, or your supervisor – how I am doing? It’s like those bumper stickers on the back of 18-wheelers that ask “How is my driving?” with a number to call. The driver can’t tell crap about his driving because the truck is so big and his view is terrible from the cab. In life, sometimes our view of ourselves is so skewed, and we’re so judgmental about it that we can’t see how we’re doing, and we need a hotline of our own.

Credit: igopeople.com

Sometimes it takes someone asking you, “Well, how do YOU think you’re doing?” “Umm…welll…” I stumbled over that one, and then started finding examples of things that I noticed I was doing differently – and what’s more, I found examples of things that I thought I was doing differently, but wasn’t quite there yet. (Thanks Dad, really)

When you’re working on the Me Project – the project to be a better you, you might find yourself setting little rules for yourself. “Next time, don’t react this way, but do this instead.” “Don’t cry.” “Don’t get upset.” “Do communicate more clearly.” “Do realize you are not alone.” Funny enough, one of my struggles is that I have too many rules, and always have. I grew up with lots of rules, and I’ve continued to stick with rules, and make up rules until my head explodes. Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project reminds me that some rules can be about breaking the old rules. I read her “don’ts” and chuckle, and then I get all serious and say, ok, my rule is “No more rules!”

Progress is…feeling happy at the end of a day.

Progress is…feeling productive and satisfied about the work you did.

Progress is…feeling content with what you’ve got.

Progress is…not worrying about the stages of progress so much, and just BEING.

Times

Good times, bad times, new times, old times. Long times, short times. Sad times, happy times, miserable times, amazing times.

We all talk about the moments in our lives as “times,” as in, “I had such a great time last night” or “That was one of the best times of my life.” But what is it about these times make us remember them so vividly or maybe not so well at all? What makes them affect our dreams and our experiences and our futures?

As I have been on my journey of healing and reflection and renewal, I’m prompted to remember the time I did this or that, or the times when someone was nice or mean or hurtful or loving. I struggle to recall if something happened at a certain time or if my memory has embellished certain details because it all blurs together. I worry that by remembering really good times with certain people if I’m doing away with the progress I’ve made to admit the wrong they’ve done. I realize that passage of time can heal most, if not all wounds, and that sometimes the bad times don’t have to determine future good ones.

As time goes on, I think I’m understanding it more each and every day. What does time mean to you?

Getting there

Apparently my weekly sessions are helping – she told me this week that I seem to be showing more flexibility and less need for control. I’d like to think that is true, because sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes, I am still worrying and fearing and being emotional when I don’t need to be. Sometimes I still think about stuff that I should have let go awhile ago.

But I’m getting there. Except for the whole bad dream thing. It’s getting to the point where I’m annoyed at these dreams I’m having. For years, I’ve always had dreams of being chased, of being captured, bad guys coming after me, etc. And recently I’ve been having more episodes where I think someone is in my room and I’m scared to death. Last night – I was shot at in my dream. Through a window in my house, and then they were trying to get in to get me. I wonder if it’s because I watched “Taken” recently. Or, it might just be more of my issues coming up in weird ways.

The good news is that despite the bad dreams, I’ve been sleeping somewhat better in the last few days since Dan’s arrival. Just having him in the apartment and sleeping next to me is having a calming effect. It’s also good for us too, obviously, since we’re in a long-distance relationship. One more year of this, and then….dum dum dum….then who knows still? But that’s just one more thing to worry about that I can’t worry about, so moving on.

On a side note, I really loved reading Obama’s speech in Cairo. Really well written, covered great points, and is hopefully a good starting point to getting some peace in the Middle East a “new beginning” as his speech was titled. I also like that tomorrow is Friday.