Back in June, Kody asked me to attend a motivational seminar with him in Austin. I love an excuse for a road trip to Austin, where our twenty-five-year-old, baby girl, Lauren lives, and I may have mentioned before my tendency to seek positivity, so I anticipated a fabulous weekend.
Have you ever experienced a time when you had the best intentions, and something just goes way wrong? Well, I wish I could say that our family treats each other with ultimate kindness and respect twenty-four hours a day, seven days of the week, but on this Friday night as Kody, Lauren, and I dined at an upscale Thai restaurant, civil conversation took a leave of absence. Alcohol may or may not have played a part. All of us partook, and I recall an ugly, meaningless argument that ruined the night. The seminar to begin early Saturday morning occurred when Kody and I both needed a shift in perspective and lifestyle.
To this day, I find myself thinking about aha moments from that weekend, starting with energy and Einstein’s theory of special relativity. I find myself thinking about E = mc2. I find myself thinking about how mass and energy are the same physical entity and can be exchanged into each other. I remind myself that Einstein was a physicist and a genius and that I’m an English teacher of average intelligence as I grapple with the nuances of his theory. However, if mass comprises energy, then everything is energy. Everything includes thoughts and feelings. That weekend in a conference room amidst a wooded retreat outside of the city, our group of fellow seminar attendees watched three videos showing the effect of positive and negative thought on water, rice, and plants. When you have seven or eight minutes, watch all three. I upgraded my WordPress account to include them here.
The videos reveal how energy speaks to energy. I connect this information to conversations and relationships gone wrong in my life. In my notes from the weekend, I wrote, “96% of our thoughts and feelings are the same each day which continues to reinforce our behavior.” I didn’t cite that source, but even without the statistic, the statement rings true. I also jotted down a Tony Robbins quote, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
My notes continued with bullets, “Once we understand our thoughts and our triggers, we can begin to reprogram. Observe how you…
- Spend time
- Connect with others
We have to surround ourselves with positive energy:
- God/a higher power
Before the end of that weekend, we wrote goal statements for our lives and letters to ourselves to be sent and received at an unspecified time in the future. My letter from me to me appeared in my mailbox this week. I foresee a possibility of completely embarrassing myself by sharing it and an alternate possibility that the excerpt might illustrate the importance of controlling the self-talk that happens inside the brain.
Opening that envelope on the back patio of my gutted Houston home, I couldn’t help laughing out loud, and I felt thankful for the insights from that weekend and my typed seminar takeaways saved on my laptop. My handwritten notes didn’t survive the Houston flood of August 28, so I don’t remember the exact wording of my personal goal. I do remember the gist centered around the health of my body, mind, and spirit with the effect of improving personal relationships.
As we left Austin late that Sunday afternoon, our host Damon Flowers challenged us to commit 100% to an action step every day for the next thirty days to reach our goals. I committed then and there to being alcohol-free for thirty days. I’ve done this a few times in recent years, and what can I say? I like my wine, and I love my whiskey (neat). Being alcohol-free is a challenge for me. This time I tried a new technique—meditation: “I am healthy, body, mind, and spirit. I am filled with gratitude and hope, peace and love, and my energy flows to others.” During those thirty days, I committed to meditation and communed more with God, expressing gratitude more than anything, I spent some quality time in the gym, and I started a plant-based diet. Over those thirty days, I fulfilled my commitment without a backslide and felt pretty amazing as a result.
Over the past four months, post alcohol abstinence, I’ve cut back on my whiskey consumption, opting for wine most of the time, and I’ve maintained my plant based diet, which, for me, is easier than giving up alcohol. I’ve lost about twenty pounds, and I’ve bought smaller clothes. I feel grateful for healthier choices and just plain great. I’m flawed, no doubt. There are still many days that I have the best intentions, and something goes way wrong. But I realize I’m a work in progress, and I remind myself that everyone else is, too.