Category Archives: Habits

Radical Forgiveness – Day 5


I decided to shift my focus from online shopping to forgiveness because when I stopped shopping and buying stuff online I realized that being in a fugue state online masked a lot of negative feelings and enabled me to stuff all kinds of hurts and resentments down.

Although the distractions meant I didn’t have to deal with all the yuckiness … none of it went away. It just stayed there until I finally did something to deal with it.

Over the last week I’ve been reading Radical forgiveness (Colin Tipping) and I’ve been putting a lot of focus and energy into understanding the beliefs and preconceptions I’ve been holding as my way to interpret my world. The theme that keeps coming up for me is: I am doomed to spend my life being unappreciated and uncompensated for my gifts and am fated to a life of frustration and bitterness.

When I write this it’s feels pretty comical because it’s oh so dramatic and seems ridiculously extreme. Yet at least a handful of my friends seem to share these beliefs. One friend emails me from time to time complaining about “Earthlings” who just don’t get the brilliant services he offers and his frustration with trying to “get them to see the value.”

I can relate and I know also that complaining does absolutely nothing to improve the situation. I’m well-acquainted with complaining and grousing and although it feels good to have other people commiserate it never got me any closer to what I wanted.

So I figure I’d try the radical forgiveness approach to see if that will shift my way of showing up in the world.

For example, because I have been moving through my life with the assumption I’m a some sort misfit and doomed to live a life of people who love me but just don’t get me at best and being dismissed and rejected at worst, I realized that I’ve seen my world as a kind of emotional battlefield in which I’m just waiting to be rejected by the people I encounter.

Rejection doesn’t mean someone out and out saying, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard” and turning their back on me although that’s happened from time to time. It’s often very subtle things like someone interrupting me and saying “I have to be in another meeting in 5-minutes” or saying “What exactly is your question.”

I’ve learned that people rarely intend what they do and say to be a rejection. It’s my perception and super sensitivity to all those things that has me interpreting everything as that way.

I’m also learning I have a foundation story and then there are all kinds of little variations on the theme that pop up for me as well.

I’m not sure I’ve yet healed much so far but the first step of any process is insight and awareness and I’m hopeful that I’ll be moving closer to feeling peace in the future. And I’m also hopeful that I’ll at least be able to heal in terms of my emotional responses to specific situations that I’ve found trigger me.

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Filed under Choosing Joy, Habits, Radical Forgiveness

Day 21: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit – Results so far …


From Addiction to Forgiveness

It’s the official three week mark since I decided to stop my obsession online shopping behavior.

What surprises me is that it’s been a lot easier than I expected it to be. I honestly thought I’d struggle with stopping.

Results so Far

Some of the benefits I thought I might see as a result of ending online shopping included:

  • More time because my online shopping jags could go anywhere from 1 – 8+ hours at a stretch. I’d say the average shopping period was 2-3 hours. If I wasn’t shopping online what would I do with the extra time?
  • In fact, this doesn’t even include the time I spent trying things on and returning things I didn’t like or that didn’t work! So I could easily double the time to at least 4-6 hours!
  • Saving money because I tend to spend between $50 – $200 per shopping binge. Although my husband worries a lot about me spending a lot of money the truth is most of the stuff ends up returned. Nonetheless I’m still paying for shipping returned items back and in the case of heavier items like bags and shoes, shipping can get expensive.
  • Having more emotional space because it isn’t taken up in worrying about getting refunds and disputes with vendors.

Of all the above, the most noticeable benefit so far is with the money. During the 21 day period, I’ve spent only $50 in total. Two e-books and a software app. Figuring I usually spend $200 – $250 this is a big decrease and if I could have been a bit more patient I could have saved $10 getting one of the books from the library (the other was well worth owning).

I don’t yet feel an appreciable increase in time because so many other things have rushed in to fill the space. Still just having the time to spend on journaling and reading Radical Forgiveness this month has made a big difference in my emotional state.

21 Days of Tracking Feels Like a Good Stopping Point for Kicking My Online Shopping Addiction

At this point, I’m going to stop officially tracking my efforts to stop shopping online. This doesn’t mean I now give myself permission to go hog wild and back to my old habits.

It means I’ve been successful when it comes to internalizing a new set of habits. I’m so mindful now of my tendency to lapse into mindless shopping when I feel stressed out or am considering a painful action that I believe I’ve formed a new habit.

I realize this habit is new and still may be fragile. At the same time I feel ready to take on a new challenge in my life.

Beginning tomorrow, 12/3/14 I’ll be practicing 30 Days of Radical Forgiveness using Colin Tipping’s book as my guide. I’ll write more tomorrow about what I’ll be doing during this challenge and the results I hope to attain through practicing radical forgiveness.


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Filed under Celebration, Habits, Mindfulness, Radical Forgiveness

Day 11: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

What Would Epic A Do?

As I’ve been contemplating perfectionism I’ve been asking myself, what does it look like to be unconditionally lovable?

It’s hard for me to get there myself. I mean it’s hard for me to imagine myself as unconditionally lovable. Perfectionism is a hard habit to break. Every time I think about not doing something as well as possible a lot of resistance comes up.

So I’m using my cat, Gus, (A.K.A. Epic A) because I find it very easy to love Gus unconditionally.

We adopted Gus from a when he was barely 8-weeks old. He had the feline herpes virus which is very contagious and he had been separated from his litter mates and other animals.

Even when he was little Gus just got along well with people. He’s the kind of cat that greets you at the door and he always checks out visitors. My theory is that Gus was socialized at such a young age (he was barely weaned) he considers himself human or he considers us to be strange-looking cats.

Besides being very handsome, Gus has a very endearing “catsonality.” He seems to live his life assuming that everyone will love him and his needs will always be taken care of. Unlike most cats that meow and look worried when their bowl is empty, Gus purrs loudly and gives me friendly head butts until I figure out what he wants.

I nicknamed Gus “Epic A” for “Epic Adorableness” because he’s so naturally lovable. My teenage son cringes when I use this name because the word “epic” is so overused and because things the nickname “epic A” is just completely over the top in a nauseating way.

But I can’t help myself.

What’s important here is this: Gus does nothing useful in our home. Like most cats, he’s basically ornamental. But his lovability makes him incalculably precious to me. When I’m out of town, I miss him. When I return I can’t wait to get in the door to give him a cuddle and say hello.

In the scheme of things, my husband and son are way more important to me. There’s really no comparison. However, Gus is important because he’s the best example I can think of when I try to imagine what it would be like to be perfectly imperfect and yet be very easy to love.

When I described how I feel about Gus to a friend, she commented, “That’s how the Divine feels about you.”

This is a very beautiful idea and one I’d like to feel with ease. I believe when I feel that way about myself I am in the best possible position to do the work the Divine wants me to do.

So my question, “What would Epic A do?” is a serious one because Gus would never walk into a party with any worries about “will they like me? am I worthy of their attention?” He would be his curious, friendly self and assume he would be liked.

That seems like a really nice way to be in the world.

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Filed under Compassion, Gratitude, Habits, Perfectionsim, Receiving

Day 8: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

photo: Jez Page

photo: Jez Page

A Raging Case of Perfectionism

One of my measures of success is waking up in the morning and feeling excited about the upcoming day.

I usually wake up with a sense of dread and anxiety that feel like a low-grade fever. The feelings aren’t so strong that they interfere with my ability to function but enough so that I’d rather stay in bed and sleep late.

I was going to write that a raging case of perfectionism isn’t as bad as a raging case of herpes but I realized a raging case of herpes would be better because there are straightforward treatments for herpes. Perfectionism is something that I think our culture actually encourages in subtle ways.

But I’m not going to write about culture because I always have a choice in terms of what I allow to influence me. I’m going to write about why I’ve chosen perfectionism and how it messes with me and my efforts to do things differently.

I’m going to go back for a moment to the idea of looking forward to the day.

When I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I usually looked forward to the day, especially during summer vacation. In the town where I grew up there was an awesome swimming pool that was maybe a 10 minute walk from my home. It was actually 4 swimming pools: one for teenagers, one for adults, one for kids, and one for kids who proved they could swim. My sisters and I would eat breakfast and change into our bathing suits. Then we’d pick up our friends who lived across the street and walk to the pool.

I grew up in the Midwest. We lived close to Chicago and midwestern summers can be really hot and humid. So we were happy to spend our day at the pool. We’d usually take a break and get lunch then we’d head back to the pool. Sometimes we’d even go back after dinner.

If we didn’t go to the pool we’d ride our bikes or play games. If it was raining we’d play games inside or go to the library. I don’t remember being unhappy or bored very often. There was just too many fun things to do. I liked to draw and color and sometimes I’d work on crafty projects like needlepoint or knitting. Sometimes we’d just walk along the creek and look for snakes and muskrats. If we found a caterpillar we might put it in a jar with a stick and feed it leaves to see if it would spin a cocoon.

So I would say my childhood wasn’t unusual but it was a lot of fun and there were lots of simple things that I enjoyed.

When I was 11 we moved to a new town where there were more wealthy people and I had a hard time making friends and fitting in. The move felt like a shock to my system. I knew everyone in my old neighborhood and I always had friends to hang out with. In the new neighborhood the kids seemed different. A lot of them belonged to country clubs and their time was more scheduled. They were taking tennis lessons and playing golf and seemed restless when there wasn’t anything to do but hangout. Plus there wasn’t much to do that was within walking distance. If I wanted to go swimming or go to the movies, my mom had to drive me.

Up until 6th grade I didn’t worry about my weight or what I wore. I usually wore pants and a top. Maybe a dress on the first day of school. For a while I wore the same pair of pants to school every day and a lot of the kids made fun of me.

Then one day my mom went to a local department store and bought me a really nice pair of pants, a blouse, and a sweater. Everything fit me perfectly and I wore my new outfit to school the next day. I couldn’t believe how many girls in my class complimented me and told me how nice I looked and how much they liked my outfit. It was the most positive attention I had received since moving and I felt so happy and wonderful getting that recognition.

It’s funny because I was the exact same person I had been 24 hours earlier when I was wearing my dark red pants. It was like the new outfit transformed me in the eyes of the other girls into someone elegant, cool, and admirable! I love the attention and I loved belonging.

The other girls began inviting me to their parties and even though I found I wasn’t as comfortable as I was with my friends from my old town, it still felt good that other kids wanted to be with me.

I began reading Seventeen magazine to learn about fashion and started choosing my own clothes. I started buying makeup and perfume at the drugstore. When a huge mall opened near my house, I went every weekend with my friends and was always looking at the new fashions being shown.

When I turned 16 I started working part time and I’d spend all my money on clothes and makeup.

I was a teenager in the 1970’s and being thin was the look. It wasn’t different from the 1960s which was more about being natural. In the 1970’s it was being thin and elegant so you could wear designer jeans and slinky tops. Although I was never “fat,” I definitely didn’t have the kind of figure that looked good in designer jeans and slinky tops. I was kind of chubby-looking and in most of the pictures taken of me at that time I look uncomfortable and confined in my jeans and blouses.

I decided that I was going to go on a diet and take on the weight problem once and for all. My mom was always watching her weight and worrying about my dad’s weight so it was easy, even encouraged to go on a diet. The problem was once I started losing weight and getting complimented for how good I looked I decided that if losing 10 pounds was good, losing 20 pounds would be even better.

My diet turned into a full-blown eating disorder. I had anorexia and I found I couldn’t just lose a few pounds and maintain that weight lose. I developed this deep fear that if I gained any weight I’d never stop gaining. To keep off the weight I developed these elaborate rituals around food which is pretty common in anorexia.

I had foods I would eat in certain orders at certain times and if I broke any of these rituals I would freak out because I was sure it would lead to massive weight gain.

That’s when my perfectionism really kicked into high gear. Most of my energy went into food and clothes and keeping my bedroom neat. When I went to college, the perfectionism expanded to include my study habits and grades. Looking back what I had done was to create a very comfortable prison cell to live in. I was lonely, isolated, and living a very one-dimensional life but it was predictable and under my control. I had no real friends but that was ok because friends were too unpredictable and caused problems. I had no boyfriends and made no efforts to meet men because if girlfriends were a distraction, men were a major distraction.

Plus my appearance was not exactly what most men were attracted to unless they had a freaky side. But it didn’t matter. Even if someone was interested, I would have be oblivious.

I’ve written a lot. I think mostly to look at how I went from being someone who enjoyed her life to someone who is constantly anxious and slightly depressed. I’m seeing that becoming a perfectionist made sense because it seemed to be an answer to how I could feel happier and better about myself at one time in my life. But ultimately like most things it became a problem when I was ready to grow past it.

I’m going to write more about perfectionism tomorrow and how it shows up in my life currently.

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Filed under Compassion, Habits, Perfectionsim, Receiving

Day 5: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit


Last night I was up until midnight sorting through “stuff” and putting it away.

Some of this stuff comes from accumulating paper, office supplies, boxes, etc for over ten years without taking the time to periodically toss out things that were outdated, no longer useful, and so on.

Some of this stuff comes from buying things online in a knee jerk fashion without first deciding “do I actually need this?”

When I shop online it’s easy to buy stuff. I don’t have to have my credit cards in hand when I buy things from I just add things to my cart, click “Buy” and it’s done. I used to love 1-Click shopping. I still appreciate it but it makes impulse buying a little too easy for someone like me.

As an example, one retailer sent me an email letting me know that I had $1,900 of unused credit on my  credit card. My guess is they want t encourage me to use that credit to buy holiday gifts. My immediate emotional response to the subject headline was the same feeling I get when I’m washing my jeans and find a $20 bill in one of the pocket … like “Wow, I forgot about this! I meant to spend this and i didn’t . Yay! What fun stuff can I  buy?” But $1,900 in credit isn’t $1,900 in cash. If I spent that $1,900 and then it took me six months to pay off that debt, I would actually be spending a lot more than $1,900.

Although I opted out of receiving emails from this company, it’s interesting how many emails companies send on the pretext of offering useful information. Something i’m a lot more sensitive to now that I’ve made a conscious  decision not to buy online.

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Day 3: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

I decided to rename this “kicking the online shopping habit.” Although going on a “fast” has become super fashionable these days it the word still connotes giving up something I love and deprivation. Although online shopping feels good in a creepy instant gratification way, I wouldn’t say I love it so much as it sets me up to feel compelled to do it.

It’s been two full days since I stopped shopping online. I should stop here and give myself a pat on the back because I really have stopped. I’m not even “window shopping.” If I’m doing research on a project that’s a little different but I’ve been limiting my searches to search engines and haven’t actually visited any sites whose purpose is selling stuff.

MC900238229 So I’m throwing in some virtual balloons, confetti, and champagne to celebrate this fact.

Yesterday, I mentioned that online shopping is a type of addiction for me and I want to write more about that.

I haven’t yet felt anything like withdrawal’s only been a couple days but I have noticed at times how I’ve used online shopping as a way to avoid doing something unpleasant: making a difficult phone call, cleaning my office, or working out.

I’ll be done with my routine work like checking my email and going over my list of things to get done and now faced with the prospect of something important but unpleasant I’ll suddenly get the idea that “I really need to find a nice pair of shoes to wear with that little black dress I just bought.”

And three hours later, half the day has literally disappeared and I realize I haven’t gotten anything at all done. I remember one time when I started shopping at 10 am and only stopped because it was 6pm and had gotten so dark in my office I couldn’t see the keyboard anymore.

The funny thing is, usually the next day, I look at whatever it was that I was so obsessed with finding and don’t get why I would spend so much time compulsively searching every nook and cranny of the virtual universe. But that’s the nature of the online retail universe. It’s a lot of gaming .. that sense of achievement “Aha I finally found a pair of size 81/2 Frye boots in Palomino Tan!!” has those components of hunting and catching that wire right into my hunter gatherer brain.

I think it’s that perception and achievement and success that feels so good. Not to mention the perception that by somehow having a particular item, I’ll feel happier and more fulfilled. As though that object is a kind of magic talisman which will somehow enable me to be more than what I am.

I also am realizing that I can’t do things I don’t enjoy in hopes of finally being to do what I do enjoy. One of my coaches told me I would have to do presentations and call everyone I knew to invite them to attend those presentations in order to have enough clients to work with. I wanted to have the clients and I wanted to coach them because that’s what I enjoyed. But I didn’t really enjoy the cold calling. In fact I hated cold calling.

So it takes time and I’ve realized I need to find things I find intrinsically satisfying and am happy to do to attain the longer term results. But because this is a relatively new insight, I ‘m not sure what that work would be for me.

And I’ve been engaged in a lot of trial and error to discover what it is that I enjoy doing and can be a viable business. Trial and error means sometimes what I do isn’t very fun. It also means maybe what I’m working on will pay off and maybe it won’t.

Shopping online has bean a way to feel like I’m accomplishing something useful and a way to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty and to avoid doing things I find unpleasant, tedious .. even painful.

I guess looking at it this way, it makes sense that I’ve been spending a lot of time shopping online.

My one concern has been if I stop shopping online will I find other distractions and addictions that allow me to avoid the stuff I’ve been avoiding?

Yeah, duh!

So the question to explore is how can I frame things differently and do things differently so I don’t lapse into yet another addictive behavior?

Mindful Self-compassion feels like a fruitful place to explore.

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Filed under Celebrate, Habits, Work and Joy

Day 2: Online Shopping Fast

Hand lettering by Lisbet Boudens

Hand lettering by Lisbet Boudens

When I told someone about my 30-day online shopping fast they said, “Good luck with all the temptation.”

My son spent six weeks off the grid in Ecuador and said he didn’t miss the Internet at all while he was there. But as soon as he returned to the States he found himself back on the net watching Youtube videos and playing games.

I can relate to the desire to spend time in a place where there’s no Internet and therefore no way to relapse.

Sometimes I think it’s necessary to take yourself out of an environment that working on you in a negative way. I prefer not to go this route because at some point I’m going to have to re-enter the world and deal with it.

On the other hand, there are usually things I can do to alter my current environment. I’m a big believer in creating environments that “work on me” in positive ways. This is something I learned from one of my coaching instructors, Thomas J. Leonard, that rather than rely on our own will power, why not change our environment to support the change we want to be?

It’s an intriguing idea and in most cases one that’s underutilized.

After writing yesterday’s blog post, I checked my email and found three holiday promotions. I don’t subscribe to many retailer updates because the most retailers send daily updates (I don’t get why anyone would want daily updates from any company let alone the Gap or Saks Fifth Avenue). But there’s a handful of retail newsletters that still find there way into my inbox.

So when those emails show up, I’m unsubscribing.

Retailers whose updates I canceled yesterday:

  • Fancy
  • Kate Spade Saturdays
  • Blog Lovin
  • IKEA
  • Klury
  • Marimekko
  • House Industries (a typography studio which also happens to sell some really cool products…love the company and their products but at the moment it’s too easy to get lost on their website not to mention take off to visit partner sites).
  • Cuyana (another retailer I appreciate but don’t need the temptation)

At one point I was setting my Gmail filter so emails from retailers went directly into the trash. But I found myself actually going to my trash folder and moving these emails to my inbox.

That’s why I need to stop getting the emails entirely.

One good question is why do I feel so compelled to shop online to begin with? Good topic to think about and perhaps address in a blog post.

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Online Shopping “Fast” – Day 1


For a while now I’ve been thinking about the power of habits.

The word “habit” comes from the Latin word habitus —  condition, character, demeanor. The root meaning is “to hold,” which can be either in offering or in taking. Applied in Latin to both inner and outer states of being.  Habit can also meaning “to dwell” (habitat) and “to dress” (a nun’s habit).

The modern use of the word, habit, as a “customary practice” began 700 years ago. I’m guessing it evolved out of religious practice because religion was such a huge cultural influence at the time; it was important to know the time of day so you knew what prayers to say.

What’s interesting to me is how “habit” in Latin could refer to both the inner and outer states of being. The Romans placed great importance on character and bearing. That what was inside shaped your appearance.

I like that idea because I’ve been focusing on what’s inside…my values…when it comes to influencing my decisions, and actions.  This is often very challenging because outside influences can be so strong.

Part of this shift has been to spend less time on the Internet. I find it’s easy to lose, literally, hours by surfing without much purpose. It’s also easy for me to become obsessive and the obsession can feel like a purpose.

For example (this feels really embarrassing) yesterday I got the idea that I should find a scarf I saw for sale on earlier in the year. It was a nice scarf. As I recall it had a hummingbird or a dragonfly motif and came in two colors: black and amber. All of the sudden it seemed absolutely essential to my happiness that I find that scarf and buy it.

After I spent an hour trying to find the scarf on I searched Google and finally tried to find it by using the Wayback Machine to look at the scarves sold back in January and February.

I probably would have spent the entire evening trying to find this scarf if I didn’t need to start working on dinner.

So you could say I’ve developed a bad habit of obsessively searching the Internet for things that aren’t very important and I may add which aren’t bringing anything useful into my life. If I were a researcher or detective this might serve me but even then, you have to know when to quit because at some point, the possible benefits of the search are outweighed by the normal activities of life.

I’m thinking about committing a 30-day period to “unmaking” habits that no longer serve me. The habit of shopping online feels especially pernicious lately. There are lots of good reasons for doing a 30-day online shopping “fast.”

  1. I don’t need most of the things I buy online. I have more than enough clothes, office supplies, books, etc.
  2. Most of what I can buy online can be bought in the bricks and mortar world.
  3. There are other things I’d rather spend the money on.
  4. It takes up huge chucks of time finding things, trying on clothes, and then returning what I don’t like.
  5. It occupies my mind and when that happens I’m no longer mindful. In fact I often find I’m in a kind of “fugue state” when feels uncomfortably close to an addictive state.

These are pretty compelling reasons to go on e 30-day “fast.”

I also find that regardless of my success, the effort to change a habit is often enlightening. It’s hard to know the obstacles until you go on the journey.

So I’m going to consider today, Day 1 of my online shopping fast.

I’ll write about my experience on a daily basis as a way to keep accountable and so I can share what I learn with others.


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