I have chosen a personal word for 2014: radiant. In choosing this word I am playing a little game with myself, using an indirect, or even a reverse-psychology approach.

What I really want, you see, is to get back on track, regain lost momentum, and accomplish something in the way of writing a book and other projects related to Congo and life in general.

Many wonderful things happened or got started in 2013, partly thanks to a really fine word I chose in January 2013: flow. But in the last month or so the flow has stopped, I’ve lost momentum and confidence, and motivation has ground to a halt. I have been feeling down on myself as a result.

The new year is a good time to press the restart button, so I was hoping to find a word that would work as well as flow did last year. But all the words I could think of had a slightly punitive cast to them, or, at least, a “should” factor that I felt might have just the wrong effect. Words like “momentum” or “pursue” or “resolve.” Yes, that is what I need but they do not inspire me like flow did. They require willpower and engage the inner parent rather than charm the inner child and the playful artist into cooperating.

I just spent 10 days with my three-year-old granddaughter and so I have gotten a refresher course in reverse psychology. Don’t eat the vegetables; they’re for grownups. It’s too far for you to walk; somebody should carry you. Of course, she saw through it, recognized it as a game, but she can’t resist games and she would play along, at least for a few bites or blocks, and everybody was much happier.

The no-you-can’t/yes-I-can game is one we play all our lives and I’m thinking it may have some merit. A little reverse, or at least indirect psychology, as opposed to the direct approach: You should do this. You must do this. We carry with us the three-year-old’s tendency to rebel at direct orders, as well as the three-year-old’s love of games. How can we harness these tendencies to continue to enhance our lives, become better persons, and even, maybe, reach a goal or two?

By choosing radiant as my word, I am telling myself I should concentrate on being rather than doing this year–even while I am hoping to do quite a lot.

The thing about concentrating on doing and achieving is it can turn you into a noodge and a grouch and a bore who believes that anything important happens as a result of your own willpower. Meanwhile, life can pass by under your nose and you don’t appreciate it, let alone pick up the energy that is available to you each day from your surroundings, your interactions, and your own soul.

The radiant person, by contrast, both radiates and reflects life energy, going with and contributing to flow. This is how I want to be this year. What happens as a result is anyone’s guess and my surprise.

A happy and radiant new year to all.


I guess I have found my weight maintenance, as opposed to weight loss formula: stick with the plan except have seconds every now and then, or a few evening snacks. I have been doing this for several weeks because the strict discipline I need to actually lose weight is flagging. Obeying my body and indulging my spirits, I am letting up a little. And indeed, I am holding steady.

But I am hovering half or three-quarters of a pound above my goal, which is 145.8. (I did see it once but it disappeared by my weekly weigh-in day.)

Why that odd number for a goal? It is 10 percent below the weight at which I signed on to Weight Watchers. It is actually more than 10 percent below my starting weight, because I lost more than 5 pounds on my own before WW. But I read somewhere that losing more than 10 percent at a time isn’t good because it encourages rebounding. Maybe my body is saying, you already lost more than your 10 percent, let’s just keep it there for a while.

But this is very boring. I want to reach a milestone. I want to see what bells and whistles WW online offers when I reach goal and 10 percent at the same time. (Those little stars and words of cyber praise bring a silly kind of satisfaction.)

What I really want to do is throw the discipline out the window.

However, what this low hovering is teaching me is that if I think losing 22 pounds is hard, guess what. Keeping them off is even harder. Because I’ll have to keep up the discipline without the reward of seeing weekly progress.

I’ll have to keep up the three miles a day or equivalent.

I’ll have to keep counting points and stick close to the minimum.

I’ll have to keep drowning the evening snacking urges in herbal tea.

One six-ounce glass of wine, weekends only.


All of this will have to continue after I reach that magical, mythical 145.8. Reaching my goal changes nothing. I may be able to let up a little, like I have been doing recently, but not a lot.

What has to change is my mentality. Setting a goal tricks you into adopting discipline. Eventually you will reach the goal and, unless you can immediately set another goal,  you have to concentrate on the intrinsic rewards of that discipline. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

The fact is, my tummy feels much better going to bed on chamomile tea rather than Trader Joe’s Sesame Sticks. I can’t even drink two glasses of wine anymore without getting a headache. The thought of cheesecake turns my stomach. If I crave anything it’s veggies and brown rice and some sweet, ripe papaya.

My daily exercise makes me feel good and sleep well. My energy level is at a new normal, much higher than before. Even though the midriff bulge isn’t gone, it’s hideable. I like looking in the mirror and I like trying on clothes.

I have to remind myself of these things and be grateful and pat myself on the back. That’s a good shoulder stretch, too.