Yesterday initially was tough, but I can now say that I was able to turn it around and by the late afternoon and evening were pleasant. A large part of the change, hell, all of the change had to do with how I viewed things and how I forced myself to change my mindset.
During the last, roughly 9 weeks or so, I have been putting forth a concerted effort to work very hard to become more of the person I believe I should be, and I have made inroads in some of these efforts. Here is a listing of what have been my goals:
1. Maintain my walking status of walking 4-5 miles outside every day. That part has been the easiest. People who have read me for a while know that this task has been one of the significant successes I have had during the last few years. I am very quickly approaching day 800 of NEVER missing a single day walking outside for 4-5 miles. I am even jogging significant parts of the route at least a couple of times a week.
2. Get my walking DONE as early as possible during the day to not have it impact the schedules of others or of my family as a whole. I have had some pretty good success here as well. Before the last 9 weeks or so, I would walk at all sorts of different times of the day, and would sometimes end up leaving walking to the evening because of other things going on in the day. This would then sometimes impinge on family time and that is not a good thing. So, during the last 9 weeks or so, I have been much, much more successful at rousting myself out of bed earlier and getting my walk done and out of the way earlier. In effect I have carved more time out of the day. I am typically starting ON THE ROAD walking these days at about 5:30 am, even on weekends. I think during the last 9 weeks, I have had only two days where my walk ended up being later in the day, and the disruption that they caused helped me to value getting up earlier.
3. Getting to the gym on a regular basis. The earlier walking has helped in this regard enormously as well. I have always been "wanting" to get to the gym to help tone and build more upper body strength, but was not very consistent in getting there, nor on working there in a consistent fashion. During the last 9 weeks, I have been consistent in getting to the gym 4 days a week, and I am feeling some results. I have moved up three weights (10 pounds each) on each of the Nautilus machines I use at the gym and I am now lifting on most machines 62% of my body weight. Back before I started walking (I was heavier) and also when I was first toying with the idea of building up my upper body, I was lifting on the machines only 29% of my body weight.
4. Controlling of my emotions. Although this is a much harder goal, I can say that I have been seeing some progress as well. There are two different emotional states that I experience that I do not like in myself:
The first emotional state is what I term melancholy or despondency. There are times that I feel all manner of things are hopeless, from my life, to my work, and on and on and on. I have been working especially hard during the last 9 weeks on trying to keep as "realistic" a view of these feelings as I can. What I mean is, that a) I am accepting that I experience these feelings, b) I am trying to force myself to view them as REALISTICALLY as possible, c) I am keeping aware that often these feelings may have *some* validity, but that much of the time they feel or seem BIGGER than they really are, and d) that I have the ability to block or ignore these emotions if I so choose. Many of you may suggest blocking of ignoring the feelings is not a good effort, but you may misunderstand my meaning. I am saying that I have the ability (although it may be very hard to do at times) to block or ignore the feelings to work on finding other, more fruitful and happy ways to feel. The melancholy is still there, but I have packaged it or compartmentalized it in such a way that its impact on the other aspects of my life will be less.
The other emotional state is what I term anger or rage. Please do not get me wrong, I am a very gentle person, and I am not in any way, shape, or form a person who aggressive in terms of anger or rage. What I *do* experience, however, is a deep anger/rage that I experience in my mind. I think it may be a genetic response, perhaps due to surges of epinephrine when stressed, for I see it as a set of feelings experienced in my lineage through my mother's side of the family. Although my mother and my aunts and uncles on my mother's side were very kind, gentle people, you could tell when they were angry... they would "blow up" inside in such a way that even though there were no specific actions that they did, you could see by the set of their jaw, by gritting their teeth, by the position of their eyebrows, and by the look of their eyes that they were livid. And it would all happen in a manner of a few seconds. I have unfortunately inherited that same sort of response. And, in the past there have been times when I would holler or scream (if alone), or raise my voice, or lower my tone of voice, or grimace in such a way that people could easily see I was livid. During the last 9 weeks I have been working on trying to think through the feelings of anger or rage when I begin to experience them. I have been somewhat successful at instead of having that whole body effect of anger/rage take over and feel that way for hours, I have been in several circumstances able to recognize the start of those feelings and think through in my head ways to differently view the circumstances causing the surge of anger/rage. It is VERY tough to do, but I am getting better at it.
5. Increased emphasis on my faith. I am a practicing Roman Catholic, and although I have been very consistent in my beliefs, I have not typically emphasized in my mind how my philosophies about life and faith can help me to become a better person. I have been praying the Rosary every single day (during my walk) these last 9 weeks, and I feel that this contemplative time has helped me to focus more on the truly important things in life (family, love of family, hope for continued happiness for my kids, deeper love for my wife, a new happiness about work, continued good health for my family, help in my goal to quit (or mostly quit) smoking my pipe, hope to become a better person, hope that I am doing what I should be doing in life, etc.).
6. Significantly decreased or eliminated smoking of a pipe. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to indulge in my pipe and pipe tobacco 2-3 times a week. I do not know if that is realistic, or if I can only choose to quit or fully indulge. Right now, for the last three weeks or so, I have refrained from smoking until about 3pm in the afternoon each day. It has not been overly difficult, and I have therefore been not smoking for 2/3 of each day. Add to that that I am not smoking more during the 1/3 of the day I allow myself to indulge in pipes, and I can say I have made progress. Whether it is meaningful progress or not I am not sure yet. And I am not sure what my next step will be.
Those are the major areas I have been working on. There are other things as well, but they are more on the "back burner" so to speak as I work at keeping consistent with the above first. But I would like to get back to reading for pleasure more (and not just work related reading). I would like to get back to playing music again. And, I would like to indulge in photography. But those are not as important to me at the moment as continuing to establish the above 6.