Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘progress

Think Sticktoitiveness

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Stick-to-it-iveness.

If there is one simple key to self-improvement that could serve us well no matter what aspect of our lives we wish to address, I would select —whatever action toward better health you choose: repeat it every day.

Repeat it every day. Don’t stop. If you miss a day, don’t give up. Pick up the next day and the day after that. For a week. Then a month. Six months. A year. No reason to stop now. Keep doing that healthy thing every single day.

Look at the inverse. What do humans do that make themselves suffer negative consequences?

Smoke cigarettes? They smoke every day.

Eat poorly? Day after day.

Not get enough exercise? Harbor negative thoughts and feelings? Don’t get enough sleep? Neglect friends and family? Neglect themselves!

Most of the afflictions we heap upon ourselves grow into problems because of unhealthy choices enacted repeatedly, day after day, over an extended period of time. It’s illogical to think an easy remedy would erase the results in a fraction of the time it took to travel a great distance away from good health.

Turn around. Go the other way. Take a step toward optimal health and then do it again the next day. And then three hundred sixty-five more days after that.

Because. Progress accumulates.

I took the first steps to interrupt my slowly intensifying depression in 1993. As can happen in many situations, things got a little worse after the initial diagnosis and early treatments, but eventually progress settled in and incremental improvement began to develop. Slowly.

Sometimes, in waves. I can almost measure progress by decades. This year, I am noticing new levels of relief that reveal I am continuing to improve, even decades removed from the day doctors released me from medication and therapy treatments. A year ago, I didn’t notice that my mental health was anything less than prime.

It is only by experiencing this unprecedented level of healthy mindset lately that I’ve gained a sense that it wasn’t as good as this before.

Every day, I do something that helps. I also DON’T do things that harm. I don’t do negative self-talk like I used to. I make an effort every day to not do that. I do get exercise, I eat healthy, I smile, I pay better attention to energy, I send love, I sleep well, I write a daily blog. Doing these things regularly and over time, continues to provide accumulating improvements to my mental health.

This year, I am noticing improvements that weren’t so apparent last year.

It really does pay to stick to it.

I invite you to stop doing something today that isn’t healthy for you in the long-term. Replace that with one thing that is healthy that you can do every day. Do it for more days than you ever thought possible. Then do it for a few more years after that.

Here’s to the ongoing journey toward optimal health.

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Keep Going

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I’m on a roll and enjoying the fact that momentum from my recent decluttering success has me suddenly expanding the effort to reach items that have sat untouched for almost six years.

With my closet in the bedroom clean, and the drawers in my dresser unstuffed, I went on to tackle the pile of papers and odd collection of pocket leftovers that get dumped on the inviting flat expanse of the dresser top.

Included in the stack was the form for renewing my passport that I had filled out four months ago. That form was awaiting a headshot photo that met the specific requirements for dimensions and quality. It took a little while for Cyndie and me to find the right background to take the photo ourselves. Once that was done, I needed to print it on photo paper. That provided another easy opportunity for delay.

Friday, that renewal form finally made it to the post office and all that dresser top debris has now been dispatched to logical organized locations.

That accomplishment helped to fuel continued momentum that took me back out into the shop where there is now a glorious new open space where the foosball table top once stood. On the right side of the image above, there is a box against the wall that has been sitting there since we settled in here back in 2012.

We had removed three hanging light fixtures from the basement and I packaged them up to sell or give away. It’s just one of those things I didn’t get around to finishing that the box sat there untouched all this time.

Yesterday, I opened up the box, removed all the mouse-chewed bits of cardboard and packing paper, threw away the stash of acorns the rodents stowed, and laid out the light fixtures to take pictures for an ad.

They’re out there in the Craigslist universe now, hoping to find a new home.

And I am going to keep going.

I think I will finally throw out that old tattered seat I replaced on the lawn tractor that sold last month. I had placed the ripped vinyl seat back into the same box the new had come in. The tractor is gone, but I still have the throw-away seat left over from it. Really?

Boy, I gotta say, this decluttering progress is a real feel-good endeavor.

No wonder I’ve become so inspired to keep going.

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Written by johnwhays

October 7, 2018 at 9:50 am

Animal Progress

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Things are progressing nicely with both our horses and our new chickens. This time of year, the horses are in the process of shedding their winter coats. Yesterday, while I was cleaning up the paddock, Dezirea made several attempts to use me as a rubbing post for her forehead. I was a little surprised to see she still had her white blaze because my sleeve looked like it had received a full transfer of white hairs.

Legacy had rebuffed Cyndie on Saturday when she brushed out the rest of the herd, so she tried again at feeding time last night. He tolerated her efforts while munching the fresh hay she had just served. The ground was an eye-catching spectacle of white hair.

Maybe it is because of his light coloring, but it sure seems like he sheds a lot more than the other horses.

Meanwhile, the chicks are visibly maturing by the day. I was a little skeptical when Cyndie came in after a day to report they were much bigger, but sure enough, it was noticeable. Over the weekend they have shown significant progress in wing development. There are even a few first glimpses of tail feathers appearing.

I’m just happy we have succeeded in keeping all 10 alive thus far. Actually, Cyndie deserves all the credit. She has meticulously maintained their health with all the internet tools at her disposal, and a hair drier to fluff those little tail feathers after cleanings.

I’m chomping at the bit to get them out on the manure pile to eat bugs. The flies are already active outside, so watching the chicks scratch and peck in the brooder is wonderfully inspiring.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Growing Accustomed

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I had a moment over the weekend when I became aware of just how much comfort I am developing with many of the things that were beyond my sphere of exposure just a few years ago. That’s not entirely a surprise. I expected to get the hang of things in time. But, there is relief in being able to notice the progress.

I changed the oil and replaced the mower blades on the lawn tractor on Saturday. Detaching and sliding out the mower deck has become so simple and routine for me that I laughed to myself over the change of perspective about the task.

When we got the horses, I didn’t have any experience caring for a horse. It was a daunting feeling to be responsible for their well-being when knowing so little about them. I’ve grown a lot more comfortable reading their general health in the ensuing years.

I have been composting the horse manure long enough now that I am getting much better at recognizing progress, both when it’s happening, and when it’s not. It was interesting yesterday to discover that I needed to add water to piles I was turning, even though we had been receiving rain showers throughout the preceding 18 hours.

IMG_iP1340eThe micro organisms that generate intense heat while breaking down the manure, do an amazing job of drying out the material at the same time. If I neglect to turn the pile often enough, the composting process doesn’t transpire nearly as efficiently as it otherwise would.

Luckily, I’ve grown accustomed to having manure management be a significant part of my contribution here.

What can I say? I’m good at shoveling it.

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Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2016 at 6:00 am

Wood Speaks

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Sometimes, wood speaks to me, but I don’t always know what it says. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard words from a piece of wood. It’s more of a mysterious attraction to the visual. This piece has me wondering what it would look like smoothed.

DSCN4470eI have envisioned it both completely flat or smoothed with contours. I think contours is going to win, because there’s already too much material missing to sand it flat and still have much of the branch left. The branch is really the key element that makes this special.

Imagine how complicated it can be to stack firewood when every other piece seems to grab my attention for its potential to be beautiful in some form other than burning flames.

Luckily, I receive great pleasure from the visual presentation of stacked firewood, too, so it makes it a little easier for me to leave the split logs on the pile where they belong. That just leaves a chosen few that occasionally get pulled for more permanent duty.

I decided to take a picture of this one for reference, and now having posted here, I guess as incentive. I make no secret of my difficulty with finishing art projects that I start. It’s rather curious that my inspiration to become engaged with this new piece would occur so soon after discovering a handful of others in a box that had sat unopened since we moved here 3 years ago.

Why haven’t I become fixated on finishing the others, instead?

I don’t know. It’s something ripe for analysis, I suppose. I wouldn’t have to dig too deep to discover an issue with perfectionism and a fear of failure, I’m sure. Being unfinished, their imperfections are judged differently. Being unfinished, they still hold the potential to become even more beautiful than they already are.

Or it could simply be that I am wanting to improve my techniques and tooling, and hone my finishing skills to a point I will feel more prepared to take those unfinished pieces the rest of the way to completion, in both aesthetics and function.

Yeah. That’s why I’m starting another new project. It’s for practice. That’s it.

I’ll chronicle the progress for you here, so I have added incentive to actually make progress.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2016 at 9:03 am

Progress Marches

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One small step for Cyndie, one giant leap toward mobility without chronic joint pain. Yesterday, the visiting physical therapist rather quickly had Cyndie leaving behind the walker and using a cane to stroll around the house. Moments later, she was caning her way up and down the stairs to our basement.

It was fascinating progress to witness. What a blessing to have the guidance of the therapist to keep our patient moving forward with exercises and activities.

With a nod to the title of this blog, progress is relative. From an overall perspective, there is not a lot happening at Wintervale lately. I find myself repeatedly struggling with the decision of what I want to write about. At the same time, the progress Cyndie is experiencing toward recovery and rehabilitation seems huge. I’ll take that.

Whether we notice or not, progress is marching along.

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Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2014 at 7:00 am

Finally, Progress

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The hardest thing I have faced since becoming a full-time ranch manager has been getting contractors to bid jobs we need done. In the last few days I have successfully communicated with three of them. Two actually showed up in person. The other has already been here. Even though no work has actually begun, just getting them to see and discuss the situation, and estimate a time when they hope to actually do some work, is rewarding enough to fuel my dwindling supply of hope to get improvements in place before winter arrives in full force.

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It’s a bit like seeing signs of the sun preparing to make its appearance over the eastern horizon.

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With that bit of inspiration, I found myself drawn toward a chore I have been neglecting all summer long. One of our main trails through the woods had been left untended since the snow melted and it had become overgrown to the point of being difficult to discern.

DSCN2311eI was pleased to see how much growth had occurred in volunteer trees, most of them butternuts. Too bad they were growing in a path where they wouldn’t be able to remain. I used the power trimmer to do the bulk of the clearing, then made a few passes with a pole saw and my ratcheted pruner. There is much left to be done —I only went as far as one tank of gas on the trimmer allowed— but the part I did complete looks wonderful and inviting.

After dinner, where I devoured fresh-picked ears of gourmet sweet corn that Cyndie picked up on her way home, we took Delilah for a walk down that trail. It was a treat to experience all the “oohs” and “aahs” from Cyndie as she marveled over how great it looked. Then we arrived at the stretch where I had cut down trees on Monday to widen the southern leg of the trail. They still lay where they fell, all over the trail, in stark contrast to the section I had just trimmed.

It’s a work in progress. But, alas, there is finally some progress!

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2014 at 6:00 am