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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

TheBrains Ponder the Efficacy of Rewards + Some Chart Bling

 I was talking with someone the other day about my chart and the bling stickers and how they're helping me, when I suddenly realized why I don't respond well to rewards and I am so inspired by glitter bits. Now let's see if I can translate that AhHa sensation into language other people can understand.

LEFT BRAIN: You'll need my help.

RIGHT BRAIN: But I'm the one who recognized it first.
 
  True. You are both right. Well, LB - see if you can explain. RB - listen and tell us if she's got it right.




LEFT BRAIN:It's like this. When you put some big reward out there - something you really want - then obviously you really want it. And we're not dysfunctional enough to think that we don't deserve the things we want. We're wise enough to think we don't deserve the things we can't afford but that's just going to stimulate us to either save for them or earn more for them. But have them? Of course we can have the things we want. We don't want heroin or tickets to a dog fight. We want things that are either neutral or good for us. Things that might even define us. Pretty clothes, vacation trips, a decent car, a new bathroom.

 RIGHT BRAIN:  (Ha! Won't get that in our lifetime, I betcha)

LEFT BRAIN: Funny. So tying the act of  getting things we really want - that we can afford and that at least do no harm - to our weight, our behavior or anything else, is playing a sick game of manipulation and punishment with ourselves. We would never do that with friends or children or loved ones. Why in the world would we do that to ourselves?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. That's just sick. If I want Pretty Christmas Clothes I can have them.

LEFT BRAIN:But a bling chart - well - that's so tiny - so insignificant it's like a sip of water - or a coloring book. It's just fun. A bling chart is like a board game. You have to follow the rules when you play a board game - or you aren't playing it - you're just playing with the pieces. But it doesn't matter if you actually win the board game. It's a game. So getting to put bling on a chart is something to do that's fun. If it also nudges you in the direction of healthy eating or more exercise or a calmer approach to meals - well, all the better.  Getting to put bling on a chart doesn't really make clothes fit better.  But knowing you get to put bling on the chart if you fulfill the small task of ... staying within your points/calories or setting the table and dining in a different way - well - that's just fine. That helps us remember before we pop that slice of cheese in our mouth or filch that cookie out of the lunch room at work. It's that pause that's important. Getting to play with chart bling is something that helps us be more mindful. You have to remember about the bling as one of the rules of the game. Then you choose - to bling or not to bling.

RIGHT BRAIN: LOL!  So we don't have to do the Reward Thing anymore right?

LEFT BRAIN:I don't see why we should. Unless you think of chart bling as a reward.

RIGHT BRAIN: I don't think. I feel. What about saving money? I mean - isn't that a reward?  And don't we already own that money and can't we do what we want with it? Within the limits of family debt, of course.

LEFT BRAIN:Well, yes we do. The only reason we'd save money would be for the fun of splurging on ourselves without having to adjust our spending elsewhere. We can splurge within the limits of family debt.

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. Hmm. Yes. Well. Hmmm. So we get to save money. We don't have to. Well. I feel like I want to save money too.

LEFT BRAIN:Alright. I am good with that. How much?

RIGHT BRAIN: Uh. I don't know.

LEFT BRAIN:How about $25 for each week we fill up that chart?

RIGHT BRAIN: What about the weeks when we only half way fill it?

LEFT BRAIN:Okay - How about $15 for every week we fill up some of it.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. I like that. I like that a lot. and then we get to go shopping for US in December.

LEFT BRAIN:Yep. Then we get to go shopping. And we won't feel either resentful or guilty about rewards ever again, right?

RIGHT BRAIN: RIGHT!

  Well. it looks like TheBrains have it all figured out. For now. Till things change. Tomorrow. At Tara.



LEFT BRAIN: (psst - she's SUCH an ENFP. She can't even come to closure with something as simple as this. But we love her anyway)

RIGHT BRAIN: And here's the chart with bling on it!  


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Something Fresh For Fall with TheBrains

Sweet. Inspired by this SparkPeople Blog  I'm going to set Three New SMART Goals. These will be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  Just thinking about doing this feels like standing in front of the candy counter and trying to choose only 3. And since this is the week that holds the First Day Of September - which is BIRTHDAY MONTH !!!! - I'm going to start today.

LEFT BRAIN: How timely.

RIGHT BRAIN: (snicker)

Oh. Hello. You two are always around, aren't you.

RIGHT BRAIN: You wouldn't be you without us.

LEFT BRAIN: I liked the way you opened the door to our participation too, with that sentence about the candy counter.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yes. Thanks for remembering me.

LEFT BRAIN: And thank you for being so calm and patient while we shopped, yet again, for a bathtub. It was worth it too, because we got a rather luxurious one, now, didn't we.

RIGHT BRAIN: and saved money too!

 You are both most graciously welcome. So. Three SMART goals for the fall. First off - how long should we give ourselves to reach these goals?

LEFT BRAIN: Till the first week in December. That's 3 months. It encompasses most of Autumn. And it will get us over the big Thanksgiving Feast. How do you feel about that?

RIGHT BRAIN: mmmm. feels pretty good to me. Feels like enough time to accomplish something without being unending.

 Okay. So. How many weeks is that - from now till the first week of December?

LEFT BRAIN: 13 weeks.  Think about it.  What do we want to accomplish in 13 weeks? And these are all weight related, fitness related, NOT werk related goals. If you want, we can do that another day for werk stuff.

RIGHT BRAIN: Whew.

LEFT BRAIN:  have another look at that list in Melissa Ruddy's blog. anything there that tempts you?

RIGHT BRAIN: They all do. I'm the one who can be tempted!

LEFT BRAIN: Yes and you're the one who can be tempted away. I think we ought to put a mighty big carrot out there to keep you focused.  And these ought to be just enough different to sort of wake us up. Like - what about eating dinner at the dining room table ... hmmm ... say ... twice a week? Just Himself and us - not waiting for company.

RIGHT BRAIN: oh. well. that sounds ... different. I don't see how that will get us to our Happy Weight and into pretty Christmas Dresses.

LEFT BRAIN: LOL - already picking out your rewards, huh?

RIGHT BRAIN: LOL You know me.

LEFT BRAIN: But I'm thinking it's the shift - the change - the ... the spicing things up of eating at the dining table that might just make things ... more fun as well as more focused.

RIGHT BRAIN: Alright. Yes. You know. I like that idea.

 LEFT BRAIN: And we can make it happen by going in to the gym on Thursday mornings early and doing strength training like we did when we had a trainer. That means we can go home early and take time with dinner.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yes. but other nights we're SOOO tired that .... twice a week might be too much.

LEFT BRAIN: alright here's an idea. What about Monday nights we eat without watching DVD's, but on the trays in the living room - so we can listen to music or talk. And Thursday nights we dine sur la table?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. Yes. I like that a lot.

LEFT BRAIN: Okay - that's Goal #1.  Movieless Mondays and Tabled Thursdays.

RIGHT BRAIN: What's Goal #2?

 LEFT BRAIN: Oh! Morning walks!
 RIGHT BRAIN: Oh yes! I love morning walks.

 LEFT BRAIN: You know that means cutting way back on the morning internet play.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yes but it'll help us get those 10K steps in without horning in on other exercise

LEFT BRAIN: And give us more time with the dogs - I miss not walking with them. And they're all those SMART things.

RIGHT BRAIN: so - how many?

LEFT BRAIN: I think - 3 werk days and one weekend. Of course, the weekend is usually a given and it doesn't count if we're away - like for Emily's wedding. so maybe we should keep it to 3 days a week. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.

RIGHT BRAIN: I like that. measurable and specific and attainable and all the rest of that SMART stuff.

LEFT BRAIN: So - Goal #2 is 3 Morning Dog Walks starting no later than 7:15? 7:30? Obviously not going to start THAT today. but minimum 7:30 we're out the door?

RIGHT BRAIN: It's a deal. what about Goal #3?

LEFT BRAIN: We-uhl. You know we're eating crazy bad right now. You KNOW 30 points 4 days a week will get us to our happy weight. You know what that last goal has to be.

RIGHT BRAIN: No. I don't know anything.  But I feel like we've indulged in snarky eating long enough. I'm okay with that as a final goal.

LEFT BRAIN: Alright. Goal #3 will be Eating at 30 Points 4 Days a Week. Any 4 that work for us. - now
would you like a chart?

 RIGHT BRAIN: Oooo yes! I'd LOVE a chart. Can we make one today?

LEFT BRAIN: LOL - if we get all our werk done.

 RIGHT BRAIN: oh. that sounds like another goal.

LEFT BRAIN: LOL - it is but it's a werk goal.

RIGHT BRAIN: And what about rewards? Can we have weekly rewards?

LEFT BRAIN: Hmmm. you know - they're always so hard to pick and so hard to deliver on. Especially if they're, ya know, acquiring something. How about this? How about making a Pretty Christmas Clothes Fund. And we can earn stars or something each week and if we do we can put money in the fund?

 RIGHT BRAIN: hmmm. I like the chart and stars thing. Or maybe even cooler stickers. but .. Not sure .. how much money? And do we have to get rid of clothes if we go buy new ones?

LEFT BRAIN: Of course we do.

RIGHT BRAIN: oh. hmm. That sounds like more work. more culling and clearing and stuff.

LEFT BRAIN: Oh - we'll have to do that anyway sometime this fall as we put away summer and get out winter.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. Okay. Well. Hmmm.  I like the stars.

 LEFT BRAIN: Alright - How's this for a plan? Let's just make the chart and get cool stickers and after a week - we'll decide how much $ we want to save. If we even want to save $. How do you like that?

 RIGHT BRAIN: (smiling) I like that a lot. I love it when we make charts.

LEFT BRAIN: I know you do. So let's be really productive today so we can make that chart this afternoon. And remember, too, why we're doing all this anyway?

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. Why are we?

LEFT BRAIN: Why - so we can dance through December like the Christmas Fairy in beautiful clothes and looking slender and sylphlike.

 RIGHT BRAIN: LOL!! I love that! I can just see me as a slyphan grandma-2-B.

LEFT BRAIN: LOL. We'll be a beautiful grandma. And our hair will be a normal color by then too.

 RIGHT BRAIN: Ugh! Don't remind me.

 RIGHT BRAIN:  LEFT BRAIN:    so - how do you like DaPlan?

I like it a lot. My thanks to you, my beautiful TheBrains and thanks to Sparker Melissa Rudy!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chatting with TheBrains on a Sunday Morning

It's a perfect summer Sunday morning and I'm all alone in a sparkling clean house. The air is warm and slightly humid but not at all enervating. It's simply delicious. I can hear a cardinal going "boidee boidee boidee" outside the open front door. I'm sure he's saying "It's mine It's mine It's Mine" but I sometimes pretend he's saying "come out come out come out". 


 There's also an indigo bunting trilling its fluttery song further out along the edge of the field. This year that field is full of corn. It's so tall it makes a green convertible tunnel for the lane to bisect. It won't stay green. It is, after all, a harvest crop and we all want it to ripen into golden food, but right now, and for the next week or so, it'll be very Oz-like in its greenness.

I woke up sliding around on brand new Laura Ashley sheets all sprinkled with blue flowers. This was a rare purchase on Friday as I hunted and gathered things to spruce up my house. I never buy printed sheets ... not because I don't like the idea of printed sheets (Florence King and I will agree on that) but because I don't like the colors or the designs in housewares these days. I haven't been able to find a quilt or bedspread I like in 20 years!! I don't need quiet muted grey and taupe colors to calm me down - I want beauty - I want to sleep either in clouds or a bed of flowers. I mean - I'm the gal with the enchanted forest and who puts herself to sleep by taking imaginary trips in the Magic Flying Bed.

RIGHT BRAIN: psst. psst. that's not true. You found that Williamsburg blue and white one you liked - you know, printed like toille.

LEFT BRAIN:Hush your mouth. You know what she's talking about. that's the Only one she found and when it has to be cleaned there isn't a spare to rotate with.

Oh hello. I hoped you two would pop out.

LEFT BRAIN:We're always here.

Yes. I know. You two are the analytical and the emotional sides of our consolidated whole. Just in case our vast readership was wondering, you know.





RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. and I sometimes resent the fact that you use a devil to represent me in that other place we blog.

LEFT BRAIN:It was the only choice she had among those emoticons. Besides, I bet you are secretly pleased to be thought the devilish side of us.

RIGHT BRAIN: LOL. You're right. I do like being a little ... um ... naughty.

LEFT BRAIN:I thought so. And if you want something different, Miss Arty-pants, you'll have to draw it.

RIGHT BRAIN: I'm workin' on it.

Hey you two. Don't get into an argument - not on this gorgeous day. This last Sunday of June. I want to totally thoroughly completely savor this day. With watermelon for breakfast.







RIGHT BRAIN: Oh yum!

LEFT BRAIN:And nutritious. And we won't argue. And if I sounded snippy, I apologize. Who knew how hard it was going to be to translate our artistic idea. And it's not as if you-know-who hasn't been trying.

RIGHT BRAIN: It's okay. I felt you just wanted to show off your linguistic skills. I didn't mind.

LEFT BRAIN:LOL. Touche. Sometimes it seems as if the emotional side of us is all complaints and sadness and frustration when really most of the time you're full of kindness and joy. I appreciate that about you.

RIGHT BRAIN: Just like I appreciate how your list making and rule following don't just keep us safe, they make unpleasant things go by faster. They're efficient.

Well. This is all good. I'm glad to hear you two are both in a good place. Especially since this has been a struggling 6 months.

LEFT BRAIN:Even longer, when you think about how hard December was with that massive change to Weight Watchers.

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh la, yes. I still feel the pinch of how angry I was.

LEFT BRAIN:You're okay now, though, aren't you?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. But it's harder to stick with it now.

LEFT BRAIN:Is it? I mean - a year ago we hadn't been at goal for months and months and this year we've been at goal since March. Don't you think that just cutting back on sugar makes it quick to get back to goal when we slide away from it?

RIGHT BRAIN: Hmmm. well. I don't think, but if I did, I feel like I'd think that. Yeah.

LEFT BRAIN:(shoves gently) You goof. I think it anyway. I know it.

So tell me now how you two feel about the present. What you think we should do to go forward. You have both seemed more peaceful and confident this past week. What brought about the turnaround?





RIGHT BRAIN: I can't tell if it was just emotional overload or if something really shifted

LEFT BRAIN:Mercury is no longer going retrograde

RIGHT BRAIN: But suddenly it felt as if everything is going to be alright.

LEFT BRAIN:Yeah. Even if those things don't go the way I thought they should go - for them to be alright, y'know.

RIGHT BRAIN: There you have it. If LadyGrammar here will end a sentence with "y'know" then ... for sure we're more relaxed and maybe we care less.

LEFT BRAIN:And of course, we got really good advice from our secret team member, Martha Beck. Remember? On how to tame the scary things? Here it is:

Today, look upon your life, your bank account, your family, each person you meet, as a wild horse. If a problem looks difficult, relax. If it looks impossible, relax even more. Then begin encouraging small changes, putting just enough pressure on yourself to move one turtle step forward. Then rest, savor, celebrate. Then step again. You’ll find that slow is fast, gentle is powerful, and stillness moves mountains.
~ Taming Wild Mustangs...Insight From Martha Beck ~


And when we tried it - we slid forward 3 whole spaces!

RIGHT BRAIN: It sure felt like we did.

LEFT BRAIN:We got that credit thing done and backed out of that Tuesday commitment ...

RIGHT BRAIN: LOL. and even found time for some retail therapy!

LEFT BRAIN:Yes. And we all know how much you love you some retail therapy. And doesn't it feel good to have the refrigerator cleaned? Don't you love those clear plastic organizers so you can pull out the bin of nuts or the bin of grains without having to paw through all that clutter?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yes. I've said it before. I love your organizing skills. I'm even willing to take out one thing for every new thing we add - especially new clothes.

LEFT BRAIN:Ahhh. Yes. That is really nice. And I don't mind us buying new clothes or things, so long as we can de-clutter as we go.... and, of course, so long as we don't spend money we don't have to spend.

Well. This all sounds very hunky-dory and happy and such. Just wanting to be sure, though. How about the crisis in the county government?






LEFT BRAIN:Oh that. It will sort itself out.

RIGHT BRAIN: And it isn't our responsibility. We should only pick up our own suitcase.

Okay - what about the national elections?

LEFT BRAIN:Same thing.

RIGHT BRAIN: Even more, probably.

What about the Hoskins Book?

LEFT BRAIN:Eh. You know we'll get it done.

RIGHT BRAIN: And you better stop bringing up stressful things or I'm going to lose my summertime carefree feeling.

LEFT BRAIN:No no. If there's something buried inside you'll become so frustrated you'll explode with something destructive and painful. Better look at it now and decide about it. Do you dread finishing it?

RIGHT BRAIN: No. No. I'm just so deeply bored with it. It's only fun to work on when H is here.

LEFT BRAIN:Well, she'll be back tomorrow. We can draw on her energy to get it done. And you will be happy when it's done, now, won't you?

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh gawd yes. I'll be so relieved it's over I'll have to be happy. I can't wait to cross it off your list.

LEFT BRAIN:Good. Then, to make you feel really happy, let's promise each other that every day until it's done we do something to push it forward. I'll make a list of steps.

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. You mean a promise?

LEFT BRAIN:I mean a Vow!

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. Hmm.

LEFT BRAIN:Remember - you will be soooooooo happy when you never ever ever have to think about it

RIGHT BRAIN: ahem

LEFT BRAIN:OR feel about it ever ever ever again in your whole life!

RIGHT BRAIN: (giggles) You are so right. Okay. That's a goal worth aiming for. I promise. No. I VOW!

LEFT BRAIN:Great. I bet you feel better already.

RIGHT BRAIN: I do.

This is good. So. So what about the focus groups?

RIGHT BRAIN: AAAAAAAACK! STOP THAT

LEFT BRAIN:Hush. Calm. She's right. What about them?

RIGHT BRAIN: What about that walk in White Oak Swamp? What about my watermelon breakfast?

LEFT BRAIN:Breakfast can wait. What about clearing out all the clutter in our heart?

RIGHT BRAIN: Sigh. Okay. What about those focus groups?

LEFT BRAIN:Well. What if we set a deadline of Friday to have them designed and a letter of invitation written and a complete list of key people we want to include? July 1. Think we could do that?

RIGHT BRAIN: Hmmm. Yes. I'll bring my energy.

LEFT BRAIN:Great. I'll bring my sheet of paper and pen for list making.

Well now. This is even more goodness. Now I have only one more thing to ask.

RIGHT BRAIN: OH NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! ENOUGH!

LEFT BRAIN:What is it?

It's about You Know What - and what we are wanting - and how we have let things slide - and how we have not been honest in the most tee-tiny molecular steps and how making all those head-ducking choices has finally coalesced into TheBigUnhappy.




RIGHT BRAIN: Darn you! I thought I could keep that secret from you.

Sorry honey. You can't keep secrets. You can only tell lies to us. In the end you'll always expose the secret through unhappiness and depression and acting out.





RIGHT BRAIN: Sigh.

That's the way it is. We're ALL in this together. And when you hurt, all of us hurts. All of me hurts. So - don't you think we should sit down and--





LEFT BRAIN:Make lists! Make a list of things we want that we're not getting and a list of things we are doing secretly that are totally harmless but display who we really are and make another list of things we don't like and want changed and

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh lordy. She's on a roll.

Yes. Just what I was hoping for. But you have to help her. Admit it. Even letting yourself imagine you're helping her has already made you feel happier, hasn't it?





RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. It's sooooo scary though. So scary to show people who you really are.

I know. But if you don't show people who you really are, they'll accidentally step all over you and hurt you way more than they would if you let them see you. The worst someone can do when she sees you and doesn't like you is to reject you. And honestly - why would you care if somebody rejects you? If she did, she'd be the crazy one. She'd be wrong.

RIGHT BRAIN: (chuckles) I'd forgotten that.

Well, remember it.

 LEFT BRAIN:Yes. Remember it. And help me with that list too. This week. Promise.

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh lord. More promises.

LEFT BRAIN:Yes. Promise me on this one too. Don't worry. I'm not asking you to post that list. Just make it. So you can bring it out when the time is right.

RIGHT BRAIN: Fair enough. Okay. I'll join you. But not right now. Right now it's breakfast time. And Enchanted Forest time.

LEFT BRAIN:And pack up the winter sweaters time.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. and clean out the battery drawer time

LEFT BRAIN:And roll out that rug time

RIGHT BRAIN: And clean out the back porch cabinet time

Alright you two. what it sounds like is Procrastination time.

RIGHT BRAIN: No! NoFair!

I know. It only sounded like it - I know some things take time to cook. Just so long as you get to this important happiness making project soon. In a "timely" manner.





RIGHT BRAIN: oooooo

 LEFT BRAIN:groan

RIGHT BRAIN: I hope you don't have any more questions.

Nope. I'm done.

LEFT BRAIN: RIGHT BRAIN: Thank goodness.