This project's goal is to give each family member and myself just 10 minutes of unconditional positive regard every day. All attention is focused on the other person for those 10 minutes and only positive comments or thoughts are allowed. Just 10 minutes often becomes much more. Try it and see. You'll find the Just 10 guidelines on the right side of this blog.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Walk and Talk

I try and avoid multi-tasking when giving the Just 10 but yesterday I decided to try and incorporate a Walk and Talk and get my son outside so we could both air out our minds.  While I wouldn't recommend a Walk and Talk for deep or heavy conversations, yesterday's Walk and Talk was exactly what we both needed.

Both of us got some exercise, despite the rain.  The tension that had built over the rainy afternoon when we all we stuck inside together, disappeared.  My son asked me if he had to be positive during the Just 10 as well.  I told him I think that would be a great idea.  It was an idea he readily accepted without the whining that, up to then, had been almost constant that day.  Our Just 10 quickly became a "Just 20" but neither of us minded and we were both a little sad that it ended so soon.

Each day that I devote to getting in my family's Just 10 is a good day.  The positive time we spend together often lasts much longer than the 10 minutes allotted.  Yesterday, before our walk, I was dreading the rainy spring break that loomed ahead.  After our Just 10, I looked forward to it and still am this morning.  That's the magic of Just 10.  Try it.  I promise you'll enjoy it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Creeping Out of the Padded Room

The rain has kept us inside and we've done a good job grating against one another today.  I crawled in the "padded room inside my head" and closed the door some time ago.  I occasionally peak out so I can chastise the silly, noisy people in the hall.  As much as I don't feel like leaving my "padded room", now might be the best time to sit down and give the people I live with Just 10.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Just 10 Schedule

As I start to write this, there has been a incident in the background with water on the bathroom floor.  There's yelling and a few tears.  Earlier, my post seemed so self-indulgent that I actually felt a bit guilty over all that I gain from Just 10.  The ruckus in the background reminded me how easy it is to be critical.  (It could just as easily have been me angry, yelling about the mess.)  Just 10 is important because everyone needs occasional unconditional positive regard.   They especially need it from their loved ones who can often be the most critical and harshest judges. 

At the end of my life, I want my children and my husband to remember those Just 10 moments, when they were loved and valued and I want those moments to greatly outweigh those in which I was less than kind or fair, or loving.

Being remembered as a loving parent or wife would certainly be nice for me but what's most important is that my children and my husband (currently Mr. Angry and understandably so) see their goodness reflected back to them in the eyes of someone who cares, someone who can forgive their faults and see the potential within so that they can face the world with a greater confidence and belief in themselves.  A little love can do so much and as a mom and wife, I have a responsibility to my family to love them into being better people.  

I can't change what they choose to do but when I listen to them for Just 10 without judgment, without criticism, they have an opportunity to experience themselves in a positive way and over time that will make all the difference.    I love them despite the yelling, tears and water on the floor.  They need time to experience that love and Just 10 does just that.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Learning to be Simple

I think that one of the reason's Just 10 is a good idea is that it's a simple idea.  Making life complicated is something that I do well.  Often that complexity clouds the issue and it's hard to find the way.  It's also easier to give up.  During one of my Just 10's this weekend, I realized that I've made the struggle with my weight a complicated issue.

It's really not.  I simple consume too many calories and am not burning enough.  Decreasing intake and increasing activity is a simple concept.  I've been using all the psychological reasons why I eat as an excuse not to do what needs to be done.

So I'm making losing weight as simple as I can and I'm providing a simple motivator.  It's so simple I'm embarrassed to admit what it is but here goes.  If I can get though an evening without snacking, I earn one quarter in my "Good Choice Jar" .  If I exercise I earn 1 quarter.  At the end of the month I have the potential of having earned about $15.  While that is certainly not a fortune and won't motivate many, it does motivate me.  It will be money for one of my favorite thrifty haunts, the Goodwill Outlet where junk and treasure hopelessly intertwine and await discovery.

After years of making losing weight ridiculously complicated, it's time to simplify.  Simplifying doesn't mean that it will be easy but it does make it clear what needs to be done.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Most people have something in their lives they'd like to change and often that something is something about themselves.  Just 10 is a great idea and you'd think that I'd be so committed to it that I'd never forget to make the time in any given day.  Wrong.

Change is often a challenge.  It would be easy for me to get discouraged and give up when I find that I've failed to make time for my family's Just 10.  Fortunately, I read a book about weight loss recently that said that one of the biggest problems is focusing on how we failed and not on how and when we succeeded.  It all comes back to that focus thing again.

Just 10 is a great idea and I don't always get to it but I'm not giving up.  I'm confident that as I continue to renew my commitment especially, after a day when I completely forgot to do it, it will get easier.  It will become a habit.  Ultimately, I hope to spend more of every day in a Just 10 frame of mind and the only way to get there is to practice by getting back up each time I fail.   There are always a lot of failures behind every great success.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Missing an Opportunity

This last week my son approached me about having his Just 10.  I got busy and failed to carve out the time so he came to me.  Apparently, it means that much to him.

I also missed an opportunity to give my husband his time this last Friday.  Friday has become our "date night".  I was overbooked and overly tired and the first thing to go was our date.  I didn't intend to send the message that my husband isn't important but that is just what I did.

Fortunately, it wasn't hard to tell that my husband was feeling neglected and disappointed.  Also fortunate was the fact that I could talk about it  and could acknowledge that I had made a mistake.  I'd missed the opportunity to devote some time and my attention to people that I love.  The side effects of that missed opportunity were painfully obvious to me.

Even though, I knew this was a good idea when I started it, I don't think I've even begun to experience just how good an idea this is.  I can already see a change in the members of my family and I feel a big chance in myself.   We're beginning to experience each other in very different and positive ways.  We're forging deeper and more genuine connections and it all started with Just 10.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love One Another. . . You've Got To Be Kidding

Lately, a lot of the people in my world haven't been showing their good side and that includes me.  I realized in my Just 10 yesterday that I just want to be loved.  I think this is what most people want but we have really odd ways of showing it.  We get defensive, we manipulate, we take our anger and frustration out on others, often the ones we profess to love the most.

Keeping our senses of self strong and healthy is a big challenge.  There is always someone out there who doesn't like us, talks behind our back, judges us and finds us lacking.  Much of the time, we're busy treating others the same way.

I used to think my mother and grandmother hopelessly simple minded when they said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all."  Neither of them was always successful at applying this maxim but I understand  how helpful it is to me now.  It's all about focus.  If I look for the negative, the chink in the armor, the weakness, I'll find it and in doing so I'll miss the good things that are also there.  There is no denying the negative.  I'm choosing not to let it ruin my day or my life.

Focusing on the positive will make my life easier.   Painful as it may be, not everyone is going to like me and I'm certainly not going to like everyone.  I'll always seek to be loved and I will often fail. Changing my thinking is an important way of showing myself the love and respect I deserve.    I'd like to think that by loving myself enough to get off the negative pathways I like to often travel, I'm becoming a better person.

If I can go to sleep at night knowing that I've learned something new about myself and my place in the world that day, it's been a good day.  So during my future Just 10 minutes,  I'm going to review the day before and find at least one positive thing that I learned that day as a result of something that at the time was unpleasant.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Husband's Just 10 and More

Since starting Just 10, I've also re-instituted date night with my significant other. The biggest challenge in my Just 10 plan is giving my husband his daily time. Date night helps me catch up with his Just 10 and a whole lot more.

Despite a lack of funds, that limits some of the date night options, we both really look forward to our time together once a week, away from the kids and the noise. This lack of funds also forces us to be creative and that can translate into having a lot more fun.

This creative piece also helps keep date night fresh. As we spend dedicated time together, I learn things about my husband that I wouldn't know if I didn't make time to focus on him. I discover that the man I assumed I knew changes and grows and there are many things I haven't really known or seen before. I'd like to think that I might just be a wee bit more interesting to him as well.

After 15 years of each others' company during which we have traversed the often muddy and rut-filled road of marriage, it's so nice to look forward to spending time and attention on the one who has been bouncing along in the same vehicle all those years.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I like Just 10

I waited by the door for my daughter to come home from school yesterday. I wanted to catch her as soon as she came home to make sure we had time for her Just 10. I learned more about her school day in those ten minutes than I have learned in months.

One of her first comments was "I like our ten minutes." So do I.

This morning I sat down with my son before his bus came. Sitting down isn't something that always comes easily to him but in less than 2 minutes we were thoroughly engrossed in conversation and enjoying some good laughs to start the day.

A lot of our lives are filled with problems. We struggle with financial worries, with less than good health, with disappointments and frustrating jobs, we are often focus of someone's anger or harsh judgments. At times life feels so out of control. It's easy to forget that there are a few very important things we can control. Choosing how to spend our time is really choosing how we spend our lives.

Even when we feel trapped by situations and circumstances, we can still choose how to respond. We can become victims or we can participate in our lives by re-framing things to our advantage. We can look for the positive in each other, in ourselves and even in the troubles in our lives. While it is a skill that requires much practice and patience, the alternative stinks. I'd much rather be the caged bird that sings, than the one who never learns to sing at all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Being is More Important Than Becoming

When I was 21, I entered a Roman Catholic religious order. For almost 3 years I was Sister Carol. During those years, I learned what Charles Dickens meant when he started his Tale of Two Cities with "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

One of my main unconscious motives in joining the Sisters was an attempt to regain my innocence. Even though I was young and naive, life had left me feeling damaged with an old and tired soul. I wanted my Eden on earth. The reality was so different. At times, I felt like I'd stumbled into hell.

Ironically, after all these years, there are still moments when I long for the peace and serenity that I also found there in God's company. In the midst of scandals and injustice, God remained the still point around which everything revolved.

Instead of running from life like I wanted to, I ran straight into life's arms. In the insanity of impossible schedules, exhaustion, sexual advances and depression, I was shown that becoming is not nearly as important as being.

That is still true today. I just keep forgetting. I fill my life with lists of to-dos, obligations and responsibilities and I lose something of myself in the process. When I get caught up in becoming, I forget to be. Being is always more important. So for my Just 10 today, I remembered to be.