Smarter than the Average Bear

I’m smart. It’s hard to say that without sounding like a braggart, but it’s true. And it bothers me sometimes in a way you might not expect.

I publish a note like this in October for two reasons. 1. To encourage you to consider taking the Mensa Admissions Test in October when it is 1/2 price. 2. To hold myself accountable for reaching my potential. (See below)

If you have any sense that you might be smarter than the average bear, I recommend you take a swing at the Mensa Admissions Test. But read this note first to understand exactly why I think its important for you to know your own IQ level.

For those of you that are competitive brainiacs, I’ll just get this out of the way. I don’t know my exact IQ number. The raw test score results I received gave me a percentile rank (more details below) not an intelligence quotient number that we are all more familiar with. So I only know a low IQ number that I at least ranked at. For what its worth (read more about that below too) my IQ is 135 or higher.

When I chose to take the Mensa admissions test, I didn’t tell anyone. Understandably, if I wasn’t accepted, I didn’t want to have to announce that to a lot of people. It’s like pregnancy. Assuming you want to get pregnant, you don’t go around telling everyone you *might* be pregnant before you have test results – in case you’re not.

But when I was accepted and then joined Mensa, I didn’t tell very many people. It’s not the kind of thing one can easily brag about without looking like a jerk. “Hey everybody! I’m really smart! Isn’t that great?!?” It’s not like pregnancy. Almost everyone is genuinely happy for you when you want to be pregnant and your test results show you are.

But I did tell a few people. I told the people that I knew would be genuinely happy for me. And I only told people to whom I could also explain that, armed with this new-found information, I don’t feel vindictive either. I feel no need to say “Haha world! Take that!” Thankfully.

To qualify for Mensa, you have to score in the top 2% of the general population on an accepted standardized intelligence test, also called the 98th percentile. You can qualify with pre-existing scores from certain tests, or you can take the Mensa Admissions Test and Mensa Wonderlic Test. (Some of you may recognize Wonderlic from the NFL draft or corporate business.)

But when I found out I scored in the 99th percentile, I told even fewer people. (In 2010, Mensa changed their policy on releasing specific scores to test takers. They used to only tell you yes/no if you made it in or not.) And that got me thinking more about why I wasn’t telling people something that I should obviously be proud of and celebrate about myself. I’ve come to realize there’s a stigma and level of judgment attached to being smart. A stigma I chose to avoid by keeping that information closely guarded. Until a few years ago when I started posting about it. Obviously, posting anything means it is no longer closely guarded. Now it’s out there, announced, for the world to know about me. Yep. I’m smart. Really smart. Scary, I know.

And now we run into the controversial topic of what intelligence actually is. What does it mean to be smart? Don’t misunderstand me that my IQ score indicates any level of superiority in anything other than the precise areas that the Mensa test assesses. Mensa’s website doesn’t publish any written description of the specific areas that the Mensa Admissions Test assesses. But accepted theories of intelligence indicate that a high IQ score demonstrates an ability in verbal comprehension, reasoning, perceptual speed, numerical ability, word fluency, associative memory, and spatial visualization. And that means I’m good at what? Recognizing patterns. Putting puzzles together. And writing blog posts…

And just as importantly, there are things that a high IQ score does NOT indicate. High IQ does NOT indicate knowledge or any level of education. I do not have more knowledge than anyone else, except in the areas I have learned more in. My doctor does not need to be smarter than me in order for me to trust her ability as a doctor. She has studied and learned a lot more in medicine than I have. I’m not innately better at knowledge trivia games than others. I am often not As Smart As A Fifth Grader. I really kind of stink at Scrabble.

A high IQ does not indicate skill. I am not more skilled at anything, except in the areas I have developed more skill in. A high IQ does not indicate motivation. It doesn’t measure focus. It doesn’t demonstrate my level of personal discipline. As a matter of fact, IQ alone only measures potential. It doesn’t measure any indication of achievement in the real world. High IQ, without motivation, focus, or discipline, will only leave you sitting on a rock feeling smart for yourself.

Knowledge and skill are a true measurement of success in the world. And those are developed with motivation, focus, and discipline. So, now that I’ve explained that there’s a stigma attached to being smart AND that it doesn’t measure any real achievement, WHY would I want to announce this, subject myself to all that judgment, and suggest that you do the same thing?? Because it does measure potential. It measures the ability to understand AS LONG AS the motivation and focus and discipline are added to it. I wish I had known this about myself earlier in my life. I wish I had known about my innate ability to understand something when I struggled to gain knowledge and develop skills. I wouldn’t have been able to give up on myself and say “I just can’t understand this.” I couldn’t have believed it was beyond my level of comprehension. As much as I HATE to admit it, my teachers were right when they commented on my report cards “Jennifer is not working to her full potential.” But I don’t hate it because I wasn’t working hard, I hate it because I believed my full potential was a lot lower than it actually is.

And now that I know what my potential is, the only reasons I can’t learn something, gain a specific knowledge, or develop a specific skill are because of a lack of motivation, focus, or discipline. That has made a big difference in my approach to learning something new. Now when I struggle to understand (and I still do – often), and I want to give up and say “that’s my limit of understanding,” I know I have to try a different approach to understand or try other learning techniques to get it into my thick skull.

And now that YOU know what my potential is, you know those are my only legitimate reasons too. AH, THERE’S THE RUB. Now I’ve gone and announced to the world that I can be held accountable for something I set my mind to do. That it really is within my reach if I add enough focus and discipline. That’s a pretty big burden to admit openly to the world. When I didn’t tell people about my IQ, I wasn’t only scared about the judgment and stigma, I didn’t tell people because until now, I could get away with not focusing as much and not motivating myself in order to accomplish things.

So again, if you suspect that you might also be smarter than the average bear, I recommend finding out for sure. Consider taking the Mensa Admissions Test. It will make you accountable to yourself about your own ability. And if you dare, tell a few other people that are willing to hold you accountable too.



Our most authentic self MIGHT be defined by our core personality traits, but NOT if that leaves us out of society.
This article, Finding Authenticity, was an interesting read and it helped me refine my own desire to be my most authentic self. Instead of only honoring my preferred personality traits, being my most authentic self also includes adaptive behaviors to function well in all situations. It’s a balancing act.
(If you need to backtrack and read more about 16 personality traits and the Meyers-Briggs Personality indicator, here’s the blog post I wrote about that.)
From the Authenticity article: “Total freedom to express our core preferences without restraint is an absurd concept that we best dispense with early.” True. It’s a fantasy blanket fort. Yeah, it feels awesome to be in there, but we can’t stay there all day. Not if we really want to be our best selves.
“The trick is making sure you find ways to stay true to your core personality while leveraging the power of your strengths and adapting to the complex world around you – all at the same time.” We are capable of more than just our core. It will take energy out of us, but that’s okay, energy is designed to be spent. Unspent energy at the end of the day isn’t readily available the next day. Instead of making more energy available, unspent energy at the end of the day will only make you get used to a lower threshold of energy use each day. The way to have more energy is to spend more energy and build a higher threshold.
“It may sound cliché but there is some truth to the idea that growth happens most when we leave our comfort zones.” How very, very true. Our core preferences are our comfort zones, but our growth doesn’t happen in complete comfort. There are growing pains. So personal development happens when we strengthen our abilities outside of our core preferences where we are already strong. 
As an INFP, one of my strongest traits is my introversion (88%). But as a Mediator in whole, if I always indulged my introversion, I would never spend time/energy with others; and understanding my place WITHIN the world is a strong part of my personality too.
I’m not all that capable of writing examples from the perspective of the other personality traits, but the article provides this one, “Instead of rejecting the ceremonial aspects [of a funeral or wedding], the rationalist might fully participate and even add a much-needed note of calm and even insight.” The rationalist’s reverence is not for the emotional impact of the ceremony, but instead a reverence for family and friends that are important to them.
Overall, achieving your intentional potential involves knowing your core self, but not always indulging only your core self. You have so much more potential than that.

Unsuccessfully Tracking my Habits, Even Though I Really Want To

Putting aside many flaws that are too difficult to mention here, Benjamin Franklin was diligent and methodical about his personal self-improvement. There are many reasons to not revere him, but there is one that is an excellent example to emulate. Franklin was one of the first to create a Habit Tracker. Habit Trackers are all the rage in the BuJo community, and I have attempted some of my own. I’m not perfect about it, but I suppose that’s the intention of it, to help us recognize our shortcomings so we can work on improving them.

If you are unfamiliar with the idea, this Pinterest search for “Habit Tracker” will help you understand. What I have realized in my own attempts to use habit trackers is that I do not ever need to create one for more than a week at a time. I do not like using monthly trackers, and goodness knows I would never want to track the same thing every day for a year. Kudos to those who do, it just isn’t my style.

But I keep coming back to it, hoping it can inspire me somehow, so I keep attempting to create my own. I can see the value of the information to better understand myself and to keep track of when things happen. But I don’t manage to actually document my behavior consistently. This week I am using a health tracker (shown in the picture)*, where I track my water intake, protein, steps per day, minutes of continuous exercise, taking my vitamins morning and afternoon, how much sleep I get, and my weight (Just once. I’m only weighing myself once a week. Officially…). This tracker is very ambitious for me, and we’ll see how well it goes. I started it on Tuesday, so three days in I’m a little shaky. Today I had to fill in the details for yesterday as best as I could remember them.

[*If you don’t see a picture of my BuJo at the top of the page, and instead see the top of a blank journal and pen, then you’re on the front page of my blog instead of the page for this blog entry. To get to this blog entry’s dedicated page, where I have a specific photo for this post, click the title of this blog post. ]

Franklin’s habit tracker (also in the picture) helped him keep track of thirteen virtues he wanted to use to better himself. You can read the description for each of the virtues in the link. They are definitely quality virtues to strive for. He kept a little notebook where he kept track of the weather and other daily events, and in it, he made a little chart with abbreviations for each down the first column, and across the top row, he indicated each day of the week. He said he would only concentrate on each virtue for a week at a time. He tracked all thirteen each week, but only concentrated on changing his behavior for the better for one at a time. He said, that way, he might improve himself on all thirteen virtues by the end of thirteen weeks, and then he would start his focus again on the first one and start the cycle all over again.

For years, in my early thirties, I used a Franklin Covey Planner. The company started with Franklin Planners, named after Benjamin Franklin. The flexibility of their systems was my favorite part about them. I used to use a full-size 8”x10”, two-page per day format, and it helped me track, plan, and organize my life and my career. I bought supplemental packs whenever my budget would allow it and browsed the Franklin Covey store many times per month. Sometimes I would just go in there for ideas, and then recreate my own spreads for a lot less money. This is essentially the idea of a Bullet Journal now, and the BuJo community thrives on idea sharing.

My calendar has been digital for over 15 years now, ever since my first Palm Pilot, but I still use paper to keep track of to-do lists and other things. I have some hybrid methods now too, such as using my BuJo for lists and also using Google Keep, which is a virtual bulletin board for notes and lists.

Tracking is an effective way to be able to reference information and synthesize information to understand yourself better. I am continuously searching for a better understanding of myself, but I can’t seem to commit to the daily task of tracking. I have no idea why. Maybe it’ll be easier someday, or maybe I will finally find the method that makes me choose to do it. If Benjamin Franklin could commit to it, with all his character flaws, I can too.

My brain went fishing, and I didn’t take the bait

Cognitive Distortion, Unhelpful Thinking Styles, or Brain Phishing/Fishing. These three titles describe the same idea. I underestimated just how influential they can be in my mental health. Depending on which source you use, there are 10-15 different ways that our thoughts can lead us down the wrong path when we’re analyzing ourselves. (Which, I don’t know about you, but I do A LOT.) My counselor calls it phishing, just like email scams, because it’s a scam that can lead you to feed it more information, and that can be very damaging. She also relates it to fishing, because it lures us with a familiar bait, and if we fall for it and take the bait, it will take us for a ride we don’t need to be on. In professional psychological terms, it is called cognitive distortion, because it is a distorted process of cognition. And in layman’s terms, it is called Unhelpful Thinking Styles, because, well, that’s self-explanatory, as all layman’s terms should be.

My counselor introduced me to 10 in this worksheet. I can identify with some, and some I know I am not lured or deceived by. In my research, I found this description that lists 15, and the additional 5 are helpful to me too. I will describe them here, but first I want to explain when I finally could recognize it happening to me.

My counselor taught me about this a few months ago, and I had a hard time figuring out what to do with it. She was asking me to stop trusting my thoughts. That was going to shake my foundation if I couldn’t trust my thoughts. I looked through the list and could vaguely associate with some of them, and I knew that others didn’t affect me much. I drew them in my Bullet Journal, and the photo above is that page.

Jump to Wednesday the 4th, two weeks ago, when I was headed to the first month’s nutrition class (post-surgery) back at the surgery center’s office. I was thinking about the big picture, of why I had surgery, and my weight-loss process, and how fortunate I felt about it all. Then this thought jumped into my head, “You really don’t deserve this. You’re not worthy of it. You’re unlovable.” I was taken aback. Where did this come from? Without knowing about cognitive distortion, I would have assumed this thought had “escaped” from somewhere deep inside my core. Somewhere that I had repressed or that this was “truth” that was escaping to bring me back down to reality. But at that moment, because I DID know about cognitive distortion, I could separate myself from those thoughts and dismiss them. Not without convincing. But the thought really didn’t seem to come from deep inside my core; I recognized it as a fishing lure, and I decided not to take the bait. I told myself, “I am lovable, I am loved by many. I do deserve this because I am doing the hard work to earn it. And I am worthy of regaining my physical health.”

It really was a paradigm shift for me. Because of many positive experiences in my adulthood, I had grown to implicitly trust my thoughts and my intuition. I’m an INFP, after all, and in Mensa. Thoughts and intuition ARE who I am. And then, there I was, dismissing random thoughts because I could separate them from myself and realize they were not true. It was a breakthrough. And when I told my therapist about it, she was almost giddy. She told me she was very proud of me, and then she asked me if I could identify what had brought on that dissonant thought. I realized it was because I was headed to that 1-month post-op class. That I would be sitting in a room with 30 other 1-month post-op people, and I didn’t want to feel judged. I didn’t want to be labeled. And so, somehow, illogically, I was labeling myself unworthy, undeserving, and unlovable. Funny how the mind works sometimes. And even funnier how it DOESN’T work sometimes.

So, as I go through these descriptions, see if you recognize any of your faulty patterns of thinking. See if you fall for any of these phishing scams in your own brain.

In no particular order:

ALL OR NOTHING THINKING – Sometimes called “Black or White Thinking”. Examples: “If I’m not perfect, I have failed.” Or “Either I do it right, or not at all.” This one hits me when I disappoint other people. One of the ways I counter it with my bullet journaling, which isn’t perfect at all, and is my own collection of doodles, notes, and not-perfectness.

MENTAL FILTER – Only paying attention to certain types of evidence. Examples: Only noticing our failures but not our successes. Or only noticing other’s successes, but not their failures. Journaling and tracking help me counter this. I have a faulty memory when it comes to how well I’m doing sometimes.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – The tendency to be sure of something without any evidence at all, or very flimsy evidence. There are 2 main types: 1) Mindreading – imagining we know what others are thinking, 2) Fortune-telling – predicting the future. I don’t think I fall for this one as often. I’m better at recognizing this as “unknown” information. But it can catch me sometimes.

EMOTIONAL REASONING – Assuming that because we feel a certain way, what we think must be true. Examples: “I feel embarrassed, so I must have done something wrong, or I’m an idiot.” This is a huge one for me. I trust my emotions to guide me a lot. What I didn’t realize is that my emotions are not always based on logical reasoning. How I feel is not always a natural conclusion of a reasonable thought process. Writing it out sounds ridiculously simple, but it isn’t always easy for me to realize that my emotions are sometimes untrustworthy.

LABELING – Assigning labels to ourselves and to other people. Examples: “I’m a loser.” “I’m completely useless.” “They’re such idiots.” I didn’t initially think this one affected me, but apparently, my brain throws out this bait every now and then to see if I’ll bite.

DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE – Discounting the good things that have happened or that you have done for some reason or another. Example: “That doesn’t count.” I do this a lot when I am counting my successes. It takes perspective to see progress, and sometimes we don’t see it clearly.

MAGNIFICATION AND MINIMIZATION also called CATASTROPHIZING – Blowing things out of proportion or inappropriately shrinking something to make it seem less important. Example: “I messed up on this project, I’m going to get fired and I’ll never get another job.” This is so easy to do, but we can’t let ourselves get carried away with these unhelpful thoughts.

BEING CRITICAL or SHOULD-ING AND MUST-ING – Using critical words like “should” and “must” and “ought” can make us feel guilty, or like we have already failed. If we apply “shoulds” to other people, the result is often frustration. “Should” refers to the implicit or explicit rules we live by. Recognizing what those rules are is one way to follow the logic and see if this is a phishing scam or truth.

PERSONALIZATION – Blaming yourself or taking responsibility for something that wasn’t completely your fault. Conversely, blaming other people for something that was your fault.

These are the 10 I learned from my therapist. The other source here offers more ideas of faulty, unhelpful thinking: Fallacy of Fairness, Control Fallacies, Fallacy of Change, Always Being Right, and Karma Fallacy, also called Heaven’s Reward Fallacy. This article addresses all 15 and offers therapeutic ways to help recognize and dismiss these cognitive distortions.

In all, being able to resist the bait of unhelpful thinking styles will help us all strive towards our potential. And that’s why I am so open about it here. Because I am intentional about reaching my potential, and I want the same for you.



My Health Planner

So last week I bought a planner. I know, I know, what about the Bullet Journal system you rave about, Jen? I admit it was a moment of weakness and impulsiveness. I substituted shopping for buying fast food to fulfill that reward system in my head. Not a great system, but it’s a crutch right now that I’m working on getting independent from.

But, as it turns out, it became a wonderful tool for me to use for my diet and health. In the picture, you can see all of the information packets I am trying to take in and organize into my routine. There are SO many details to keep track of: my diet stages, portion sizes, vitamins and meds, water intake, workout plan, workout reality, steps per day, heart rate while exercising, weight, the healing process, pain levels, exercise and lifting restrictions, and more. My planner is full!

I decided to use the monthly format to organize the planning and the daily formats for tracking. So, the monthly layout shows me the stages of my diet, my exercise plan from my trainer, my doctor’s appointments at the surgery center, what “Post-op Day” it is, post-op week, and the monthly anniversary is marked on every 27th of the month. (My birthday will be the 4-month mark!) There are so many things that are measured by post-op days, weeks, and months, that I needed to write it all out to keep track. That way I don’t have to count on a calendar just to figure out when I can eat vegetables or lift more than a gallon of milk!

So, what this has shown me, in a bigger perspective, is just how far my mind has shifted to a new me. 6 months ago, I resented tracking my food intake with every fiber of my being. And I actively resisted it and it made me feel bad. Even when there were good days of tracking good foods, I just felt obedient to someone else’s suggestion instead of it being internal. Now, food tracking in an internal drive that I want to use to make sure I’m keeping on-track with enough food each day, and the right levels of protein. The mindset shift happened because I used to be trying to stop eating bad things, and now I’m trying to eat enough of the good things. And to be clear, this mind shift would have never happened without the surgery. The surgery was a big direction change in my life, as it is supposed to be! Recovering from surgery and having a smaller capacity for food has made a huge difference.

The other thing that is easier for me post-surgery is sticking with the program. Before my surgery, when I was tired of a weight loss program, or if I (sometimes arbitrarily) decided it wasn’t working, I would lose focus and sometimes quit. It was much harder to be motivated when I wasn’t seeing any results.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean the whole process is easy. Easier, but not easy. It is still me and my willpower that is making my food choices meal by meal, and choosing to walk, and choosing to track, and choosing to do all these steps in the program. I could choose not to, but I am focused, and I want to stay on this path. I’m not going to dwell on the possibilities of quitting. My new therapy model isn’t about figuring out why I do what I do. It’s about ACTing on it. [A]ccept where you are, [C]hoose the direction you want to go, and [T]ake action. I want to follow the path of this program, and that’s where I’m headed.

Even though my surgery was only 14 days ago, I feel a bit like I’ve been through a vortex, or I found Platform 9¾, or somehow am now genetically enhanced. I feel like the path ahead of me, while long and challenging, is more realistic and doable than it was before. Planning how to get there and tracking my progress are tools of accomplishment now, and it feels wonderful.

My Big Decision. Also, “Thanks, Facebook!”

Facebook outed me. Sort of. I had no intention of talking on Facebook or publicly about my bariatric surgery process until I finished surgery this month on the 27th. But I did comment on it on a public page. I thought it was obscure enough. The wife of one of my sister’s high school friends just had surgery. She’s 5 weeks ahead of my process. But then facebook’s algorithms decided to share it with a dear friend of mine from college whom I had not yet told about my process. She is in the middle of her own bariatric journey too, which I think (hope) is how she came to be notified in her news feed of my comment over there. Thanks, Facebook! Oh well. No harm done. I’m just facing the music sooner than I intended. Hopefully, that means ya’ll will be singing with me for joy.

So now I’ll share my journey with all of you. I have decided to have bariatric surgery. Specifically, I am going to have a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. That’s fancy terminology for a stomach reduction.

I’m not going to list all of the diet methods I have tried before. I don’t think it should be an important part of the narrative. I don’t feel I owe a justification to the public for my decision to have surgery. Suffice it to say, when I told my doctor, she said, “I think that’s the right next step for you. You’re not rushing into that decision.” And trust me, she would be willing to say it if she thought I was rushing to that conclusion instead of less invasive methods. I’m an open person, but I don’t want to reinforce the script that “proves” I have no self-control or self-discipline in order to arrive at this choice. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.   

It took quite a bit of mental fitness to get me to this point. As an adult, I don’t suffer from low self-esteem because of the way my body looks. I did as a teenager, but I worked hard to overcome that mindset, and I felt empowered that my body was just bigger than others, not worse. Did I have to start hating myself in the mirror to want to lose weight? No. That wouldn’t be the right way to do it at all. So I ate for health and didn’t worry that my body translated it differently than others. At least I thought I was only eating for my health. Last summer I started to see a counselor for what I was starting to realize was actually an emotional eating issue. At the start of therapy, I would say “I like healthy foods, so I don’t have that obstacle. I just make bad choices day to day.” Then I realized I started to resent making good choices. That’s what helped me realize there was more than just hunger being satisfied with my bad food choices. I’m working on this with my counselor. It’s hard work, but it will be an integral part of my success post-surgery. It already is a good part of my success so far.

Now I know that when I am alone I am the most vulnerable. That I try to sneak unhealthy snacks as “treats” and “get away with it.” It is/was pretty short-sighted to think I was getting away with it because my hips don’t lie. (Shakira, Shakira.) My body has definitely been negatively affected by my emotional choices about food.

Another emotional hurdle I had to overcome was choosing to leave what I’ll affectionately call the “Big Girls Club”. Again, remember, I don’t have low self-esteem issues with my weight. I can be just as beautiful and as happy as the next girl, no matter what size jeans she wears. It’s easier to be big when at least one of your friends is big too. It’s just a difference, not a deficit.  But I started to notice that my weight was affecting my mobility, even compared to my other big girl friends. And that’s when I realized I had to make a very personal choice for me, and that I wasn’t betraying other big girls by choosing to leave the club. Because it is still very true that healthy bodies come in all sizes. My body just wasn’t as healthy anymore.

I don’t have many of the typical symptoms of unhealthiness related to weight. I’m going to be very vulnerable here, but I think I’ve been demonstrating that already. I just now feel the need to say it because I’m going to talk the numbers. At 320 lbs., standing 5’6”, at 46 years old, I don’t suffer from many health-related issues. I am not diabetic, nor pre-diabetic at all. I have had high cholesterol in my lifetime, but it is not out of range right now. I have also had high blood pressure in the past, but not for the last 8 years. I have hypothyroidism, which is a contributor to my weight issue, not a symptom of it. And I did have foot swelling issues, but mostly in one foot, so I don’t directly attribute that to my weight. My heart is strong and healthy, and I have no breathing issues. I don’t suffer from frequent indigestion, GERD, nor IBS. So I am not unhealthy because of my weight. I have what is called “idiopathic hypersomnia.” It means that no amount of sleep feels restorative to me and that I am always tired. As I’m sure you can figure out too, the “idiopathic” part means that other causes of extreme sleepiness have to be ruled out. Over the past ten years, my doctors and I have ruled out many other causes, and last June, my sleep specialist doctor gently asked me (again), “Could it be related to your weight?”

I also started to notice that I do have some symptoms of unhealthy issues that are related to my weight. My right knee is bothersome on stairs. It crackles and pops. And both of my knees can’t bear my weight while kneeling. My left hip aches, but that’s where 4 fractures had to heal from a bad car accident. Still, I had to realize that my body is less capable because of my weight.

It was very difficult for me to come to the realization that my physical pains and lack of mobility were leaving me behind in activities I wanted to do. Walking up the ramps at the professional baseball stadium was horrible. I stopped being able to sit on the floor with the youth group. I started to buy more household things at the convenience store because the store was smaller to navigate and I didn’t have the energy to walk the grocery store. I was crushed this summer when the youth group had a scavenger hunt activity in a park that I was unfamiliar with. I realized that because I didn’t know the parking situation, or walking situation, or seating situation, that I was too scared to go. And my husband is very physically active. One of my biggest motivations is to be able to hike and bike with him. For anyone that knows him, and his extreme level of endurance, just know that my goal is still realistic. I know that when he and I can go biking, while I ride in a straight line forward, he will be riding in circles around me! I won’t be able to match his level of fitness for a long, long time, if ever. But he is the greatest part of my support system and I look forward to getting closer to his fitness level. Since he is striving forward in his fitness too, I will always have that goal ahead of me. I look forward to that challenge.  

It has been an intentional balancing act to come to terms with my unhappiness about the health and mobility of my physical body without developing self-esteem issues about the way my body looks. Reread that sentence, please. I crafted it very carefully to say exactly what I mean.

I want to be physically healthier. And one of the ways I am going to effect that change is to lose weight with this surgery. (The grammar cop in me is screaming to tell you that yes, “effect” is used correctly there in its verb form, to produce or to cause to come into being.)

Postscript: I will be posting about my surgery periodically in this Intentional Potential blog because it is a part of my journey to reach my best potential. But I don’t want this topic to take over my blog. Because it isn’t the most important part of me, it’s just one part of my journey.

What My Bullet Journal Has Taught Me About Consumerism And Prescriptions.

I love my Bullet Journal – BuJo for short. It is an organizational method for planning, scheduling, and documenting your life. Ryder Carroll, the original creator of the Bullet Journal method, describes it as “a way to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” When it works best, it allows you to capture all those things that you typically have on post-its, calendars, handouts, and especially those things in your head that you never manage to write down in the right place. And when it doesn’t work best for you, it is very easy to start again with another BuJo method with no wasted, half-filled calendars or planners. Just start new the very next day. It is highly customizable because, basically, you create it yourself. The method starts with a plain notebook and pens. Then you create yearly, monthly, weekly, and/or daily pages to plan and document your life. And any of those pages can be easily interrupted with ANYTHING else you want to keep in one place. Notes from a committee meeting, to do lists, an ongoing list of library books, fun quotes, new vocabulary, phone numbers, anything. If the idea is completely new to you, here’s the official page with a short introduction.

Even after two years of Bullet Journaling, the introductory video at the site above helps me remember some of the tips and tricks of the methods that I don’t use well yet. The tagline of BuJo is “the analog system for the digital age.” This has not replaced my digital calendar. I still use that for my scheduling. But the BuJo system supplements it with options for me to develop and plan my time that isn’t scheduled. I mostly use it as a place to document my personal development notes and goals. Monthly challenges that offer journaling prompts. Quiz results from personality profiles. It’s the place I can practice new ideas without having to permanently commit to them. I promise I will give you a peek into my BuJo sometime soon. But for now, I just want to talk about the big picture, and not get carried away with the details. Because there are lots and lots of fun details.

Having a blank book to create my plans was intimidating at first. But then I discovered the VAST community of BuJo enthusiasts! Many of them have spun the world of planning and organizing into professional businesses that offer ideas, inspiration, and even accessories for your planner. I’ll share some specific BuJo enthusiasts in other posts too. There are many, and it will take an entire post to share the goods!

But understand this, BuJo-ing is one of the LEAST EXPENSIVE planner methods out there because all you need is a notebook and a pen. That realization has come back as a reality check many, many times in the last few years. For example, when a weekly layout fails to help me during a particular week, I no longer go searching at the office supply store for a different planner to help me organize my life. I don’t have to BUY a solution. Planners have become a huge retail industry lately. Not just since Franklin Covey in the 90’s, but in creative ways in the last 5 years. There is now an entire aisle and overflow into the main aisle at Michaels for planning systems, stickers, pens, washi tape, and other accessories – promising you inspiration and organization to “DO this thing” and make it “Your Best Year Ever”. While these are fun, the answer to the best planner method does not have to rely on purchasing the best planner method. It just has to rely on you figuring out what works best for YOU. And sometimes the best way to do that is with blank paper that you can design into your own plan of attack on your schedule and goals.

So my BuJo helps me fight my consumerist tendencies. Instead of looking outwards for the best methods, I have to look inwards.

In turn, then, this also helped me apply the same concepts to the bigger picture. It helped me with my approach to other self-help methods. My sister helped me start reading A Miracle Morning. I have considered the Kondo Method to declutter. I tried the Wahls Protocol for healthy eating. I will talk about these in more detail in later posts. But my point here is, I kept searching for a system/protocol/method/approach to adopt wholly and adhere completely to, to best fulfill my life. I wanted a prescription to take to solve my problems. And what BuJo has helped me realize in my “big picture” too is that I was going at it all wrong. There isn’t ONE method that I should adhere to completely. I should not follow someone else’s prescription of how to function in my organization, my closet, my health, or my life. I must figure out what works best for me. It isn’t that I just haven’t found the right prescription. I must apply the parts that will be helpful to me, and not fret about the ones that don’t.

This thing called “Life” doesn’t work with an all or nothing approach. It is best lived with good pieces arranged differently for each person. My BuJo helps me arrange mine for me. #WhyIBuJo