Teach an old dog new tricks

As I was driving to school today, a quote I had read somewhere resonated in my head: “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” I read this a while ago but it didn’t really hit too close to home for me. My initial thought was that pretty much the only thing I “repeatedly do” lately is be inconsistent. Not until today did I make the connection.

I am what I repeatedly do. Actions that are repeated again and again form habits. Therefore, in order to be healthy, I have to repeatedly act in healthy ways – form healthy habits. The opposite of this, being unhealthy, obviously means acting in unhealthy ways, thereby forming unhealthy habits. What was not so obvious to me at first is that inconsistent “attempts” at healthy behavior is actually just as hurtful to my cause as blatantly unhealthy behaviors.

It has been easiest for me to see this when I watch the reflection of our parenting skills in our son’s behaviors. For instance, though it was never really “decided” for or against it, after Bug was born, so was the family bed in our house. It was so nice when he was nursing to have him right within arm’s reach, to be able to feed him and resettle us both for the next short stretch of sleep. It certainly had its perks. Now, though, we’ve decided it’s best for our family to have the baby in his own crib at night. Mommy and Daddy need their space back, thank you… especially with our second on the way. This is an issue we’ve been struggling with for a few months now. I have been checking out books from the library and Google-ing various methods of transitioning him. We hate to hear our little boy cry so of course we tried all the “no-cry” methods we came across, with no success. The past couple of nights we have tried the extinction method and he actually has cried less and slept more than with the other methods. The trouble with the no-cry methods is that I would wear down before him, break consistency and give in and bring him back to our bed, thereby reinforcing the same habit we are trying to break. This goes to show how important consistency is to developing healthy behavior patterns.

As for me, the patterns that I have developed in my own life are mostly habits I learned as a child. Clearly, if I am exhibiting unhealthy behavior, then I am repeatedly making unhealthy choices similar to those I made as a youth. What I need to do now is relearn the poor habits I learned when I was younger and turn them into good habits.

Of course, philosophical revelations are lot easier had than done. This is where the trouble starts… Then again, maybe it’s where the fun begins.



My Story

Like most, my life is far from perfect. It didn’t have a perfect beginning but I have spent its entirety working toward a more perfect middle and ending. I experienced a childhood that shaped me into a strong, independent and passionate woman. Much of what I experienced in childhood also shaped me into a negative, isolated and doubtful little girl, confused, lost and angry at the world. I recall reading somewhere about how connecting with your inner child can help you achieve a more balanced life. I was having difficulty finding my inner child until I recognized that maybe I knew her all along, I was just ashamed to face her. My inner child is a sad and scared little girl, cowering from the world with her back against the wall of a dark cave. She’s naive, distrusting of most and juggles between being filled with anger and being completely hopeless.

Your inner child greatly influences your actions as an adult. Think about a child’s behavior: it is impulsive and impatient, prone to throwing a tantrum if he or she doesn’t get what he or she wants. As an adult, we have to learn to act more mature, postponing immediate gratification and acting civilly even though we’re throwing a tantrum on the inside. If your inner child hasn’t learned how to act properly, it’s going to be reflected on the outside – by your behaviors. Since my inner child is negative, my behaviors as an adult are negative.

I am learning how to help this hurt child inside me become the happy, healthy and thriving adult I want to be – the kind of person that I hope I’m raising my own child to be. So far, realizing all of this has been my biggest step. I always felt like I understood my past because of years of therapy, but I could never figure out how it was affecting my present. It turns out I was missing a vital key in my life, the puzzle piece that connects all the other pieces: I was missing God.

I’ve never been an especially religious person. I called myself spiritual because I’ve always believed in a Higher Power, but I had difficulty making an actual connection with God. Over the past few years, He has continually placed a woman named Joyce Meyer in my path in the form of both books and televised sermons. This woman has introduced to me to God. It’s as though I have always felt His presence, but my inner child was too afraid to turn around and introduce herself; even though she knew He was there to help her, she was too shy to ask for the help. Now that Ms. Meyer has done the hard part and we have been introduced, my inner child and I are learning together how to live in the Spirit of God, where I know I will find true freedom.

For me, this means maintaining a healthy, happy and balanced life. Some internal reflection has made me realize my truth – I am not living a very healthy life. So my focus is on becoming healthier physically, as well as mentally, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally.

American Dream Maker is where I am going to record my trials and errors, hypotheses and experiments, successes and failures along the way. I am in the middle of the unfolding of my own personal love story (in the works of being told as a novel currently entitled Becoming Mrs. Casey). I have searched for and found my prince and the road to happily ever after began. Now, I’m learning how bring the happy to the ever after as we bring our American Dream to life. And you, my friend, are invited along for the ride.